"Did he shoot you in the head?" "Yeah." Wolverine nodded. "It's getting to be a habit."
So, as the cacophony of noise dissipated from his ears, Wolverine forced his body off the ground and lunged towards Mystique.
The woman heard him coming from a mile away. She met his face with the bottom of her foot.
"Don't you know enough to stay down?" she hissed.
"I'm a slow learner," Wolverine replied.
The two fighters launched at each other, abandoning Graydon Creed to his own devices. The politician scrambled down the corridor and around a corner. In his haste, he stumbled over the body of a female police officer, presumably where Mystique had found her disguise, and fell to the ground. Feverishly, Creed searched the woman until he found what he was looking for. The officer's gun was secure in her holster and his for the taking.
Cold gun in his hand, the senator nodded. He slowly crept back around the corner where the fight was progressing. Wolverine had his hand closed around Mystique's throat and she was battering him with her feet.
Completely enthralled with each other, they would be easy prey. Creed pulled the trigger.
Wolverine hit the ground with a thud as the bullet ricocheted off of the adamantium plating of his skull. Mystique raised an eyebrow and glanced in the direction of the blast.
"Classy," she commented.
"No more than trash deserves," her son shot back.
"I'll keep that in mind when I kill you," Mystique replied.
Their feud was interrupted by a bamf sound.
"The reinforcements have arrived!" Nightcrawler offered Mystique an elaborate bow and cheeky grin.
"You idiot," she snarled.
Nightcrawler was taken aback by the raw strength the shapeshifter exhibited as she grabbed him by the shoulders and spun herself in front of him. Instinctively, Nightcrawler back flipped away from the woman, his blue furred formed matching her blue skinned body in agility. Before he could strike a defensive stance, he was caught off guard by a gunshot.
Mystique felt her rib crack as the bone reflected the bullet, so she knew that the injury wasn't life threatening. But that didn't stop the pain from searing through her.
It took a moment for the red exploding from the side of Mystique to register in Kurt Wagner's mind. With a silent prayer, he wrapped an arm around the injured woman and teleported back towards the safety of the group of X-Men he had been scouting for.
With every move he made, a low hissing sound escaped her clenched teeth. Nightcrawler's brows furrowed as he gazed at the woman in his charge. Safe in his arms, Mystique grazed her fingers across the slash marks in the teleporter's midsection.
"You're hurt anyway," she murmured.
"That was just a parting gift from a good friend," Nightcrawler quipped. "Bad dancer."
Mystique shook her head.
"Why did you do that?" Nightcrawler asked. "You saved me at your own expense."
"It was instinct," Mystique replied. "A mistake I do not wish to repeat."
Nightcrawler nodded and teleported with her again. When they emerged from the blue-violet smoke they were faced with Cyclops, who was leaning on Rachel's shoulder for support.
"Correct me if I'm wrong," Cyclops began. "But I thought you were going to Creed. Or Wolverine at the very least."
Mystique smiled at the X-Men's field leader. "If you don't kill Creed," she said. "He will kill you."
"Easy for you to say," Cyclops retorted.
"I wasn't the one who shot your hairy friend in the head," Mystique replied.
Cyclops blanched. "He's going to be cranky when he comes to," the field leader grumbled.
"So what do we do now?" Nightcrawler asked.
"Aside from Creed himself, the only threat that remains is Magneto," Charles Xavier said quietly. "Sabretooth is unconscious and will remain so for another hour or two, Mystique is wounded. But on the other hand Cyclops is also wounded and there's no way of telling what condition Wolverine is in."
"Cranky," Cyclops repeated. "I'd bet my life on it."
"And like the dogs they are, they abandoned you to be slaughtered," Creed murmured.
The senator circled the still mutant slowly. He held the gun against Wolverine's temple.
"Strange," he noted. "I was certain that I shot you directly. The bullet should be lodged in your brain, not the wall. Not that it matters. I'll make sure you're dead."
The Wolverine's eyes opened. In a single fluid movement, the gun was sliced in two by Wolverine's claws.
"Impossible!" Creed spluttered.
"Here's some advice," Wolverine growled. He hoisted Creed up by the man's collar. "Shoot first, talk later."
Creed was allowed a gasp before Wolverine's adamantium strong forehead came crashing down along the bridge of his nose. He lost consciousness seconds after he heard the mutant mutter, "asshole."
Wolverine settled on his haunches in front of Creed at full attention. Now he truly understood why Magneto wanted the bastard dead. He had half a mind to do the job for him. The only thing that stopped Wolverine from acting on his impulse was Rogue.
He didn't like the look on her face when she said, "Ah believe her." She was too young to look that serious. Maybe what Bobby had said about Rogue using her power was right.
So, he couldn't kill Creed. There'd have to another way to make him suffer. Or at least to see to it that he wasn't a threat to mutants politically. Maybe a nice smear campaign. Wolverine supposed that if it was made public knowledge that Creed had two mutant parents while simultaneously being anti-mutant, his funds would dry up on both ends.
"It's about time you showed up," Wolverine grunted. He didn't even bother to look up.
"Did he shoot you in the head?"
"Yeah." Wolverine nodded. "It's getting to be a habit."
"As is running into you," Magneto noted. "Is there anyway to get you to peacefully step aside?"
"No," Wolverine said. "That would ruin my reputation."
"Pity." Magneto sighed.
As quickly as his claws were unsheathed, Wolverine found himself suspended in the air. His lip curled up in a sneer.
"I suppose it was too much to ask you to fight fairly," Wolverine growled. "Like a real man."
"I hardly call those claws of yours fair," Magneto replied.
Wolverine glowered as the Master of Magnetism forced his claws back into his forearm.
"Besides," Magneto continued. "I think I'm being rather generous. If I was feeling particularly cruel I could reshape your adamantium skeleton. Imagine dagger-like ribs stabbing your vital organs every time you take a breath."
"If that was coming from someone with the balls to back it up with, I might've felt threatened," Wolverine snorted.
A smile crooked the silver haired man's lips. "I do not doubt that you have the... balls to try to stop me," Magneto said. "But right now you are at my mercy. I'm going to assassinate Graydon Creed and the most you can do is grossly exaggerate pieces of your anatomy."
With a flick of Magneto's fingers, the destroyed gun rose up through the air. He eyed the weapon critically before discarding it piece by piece. Finally, all that remained floating was a single bullet.
"This seems fitting, I think," Magneto murmured.
Only a slight smile from the old man hinted at anything. The bullet began to spin clockwise, slow at first, but gradually faster. Once it became a blur, Magneto used a finger to point it at Creed's skull.
"Bang," he whispered.
Mere inches from Creed's forehead, the bullet halted. Magneto frowned and narrowed his eyes in concentration. The bullet edged itself a little closer to Creed's head. Magneto spared a glance down the corridor.
"Stop fighting me, child," he said.
"I can't do that," Rachel replied. Sweat ran freely down the girl's forehead as she telekinetically fought for control of the bullet.
Behind Rachel the remaining X-Men anxiously watched. Mystique slipped from Nightcrawler's arms and slowly made her way over to Magneto.
"I had wondered where you had wandered off to," Magneto commented.
"I have curious children," Mystique murmured as she joined the older man's side.
"Erik, think about what you're doing," Xavier pleaded.
"I already have, Charles," Magneto replied solemnly. "My obligation is the protection of the mutant race, not peaceful coexistence."
With a blink of his blue eyes, Magneto changed his force on the bullet from directly against Rachel's to an angle, sending it into the wall.
Rachel took a few steps towards Magento. In turn, Magneto levitated Wolverine over towards the other X-Men. Mystique left a red smear on the wall as she slid down to sit.
"I don't want to kill you," Magneto said.
"I can't die." Rachel smiled grimly. "I haven't been born yet."
"So you are determined to test your theory." Magneto looked sad.
"I've got to," Rachel replied. "The world's at stake."
"Ever the hero, eh, child?" Magneto gave the girl an understanding smile.
"You bet," Rachel said.
"Then let's end this," Magneto decided.
Immediately Rachel was lifted from the ground by her prosthetic limbs. The girl didn't blink; she simply focused all of her concentration on Magneto's helmet. As the Master of Magnetism slammed her against a wall, she flung his helmet off of his head.
Rachel was dropped to the ground as she gained her first foothold into Magneto's mind. Her breathing was pained, Magneto had succeeded in fracturing some ribs when she collided with the wall, but she was making progress.
"That was a great idea," Cyclops noted. "Without his helmet any telepath could easily subdue him."
Wolverine chuckled. "That really isn't a subdued look in her eyes."
"What do you mean?" Cyclops demanded.
"That kid's got the face of a killer," Wolverine replied.