"Well, I’m back!"
"Where the hell have you been?"
"What? I was only gone for a moment!"
"You’ve been gone for ages, it felt like months!"
"Don’t exaggerate! I’ve only been gone for..." The young man looked at his watch. "Whoa. Sorry, I guess that was longer than I thought."
The young man smiled
"So...did you miss me?"
"Remember me?" (Part 1)
By Dave Cousens
A small gas station closed for the weekend.
You’ve been here before, don’t worry it’ll all come back to you.
The sun shone across the glorious countryside of Westchester, bringing comfortable warmth to the air. The day was calm and quiet; a pleasant surprise considering the meteorological office had forecast the coming of the apocalypse.
Calm and quiet, except for the presence of Dr Cecilia Reyes, who was interrogating the mutant known as Iceman.
"You still haven’t answered me Drake, where were you?" Cecilia inquired, tapping her foot impatiently.
"Oh, I was just getting a can of Coke." Robert Drake answered dismissively.
The attractive young woman eyed him suspiciously.
"MmHmm." A sadistic grin danced across her face. "So, where is it then?"
"Where’s what?" Bobby asked, sounding slightly off balance.
"The Coke can. Where is it?"
"Uh...heh..." Bobby scratched the back of his head and avoided eye contact with his tormentor. "I...uh...changed my mind."
Cecilia folded her arms and stared at Drake.
Bobby looked back at her. She wouldn’t look away.
The outcome was inevitable.
"Okay! Okay!" He waved his arms in frustration. "The damned machine wouldn’t work again!"
Cecilia erupted into laughter.
"It’s not funny!" Drake protested. "I’m telling you that thing’s evil! It hates me! Even now, I bet it’s laughing at me!"
Cecilia’s eyes rolled comically. "Oh Bobby, whatever am I going to do with you?"
Bobby looked back across at the machine and squinted suspiciously.
"Maybe it’s a TransFormer..."
Scott Summers looked across the field and watched his two teammates flirting with each other. He smiled. After all of the recent trouble and chaos that the X-Men had been through it was nice to see that life could carry on regardless.
"Ah young love, I remember it well lad." An Irish voice spoke softly.
Scott looked over his shoulder and smiled at Sean Cassidy, the headmaster of Xavier's school for gifted youngsters.
"Getting nostalgic Sean?"
Sean grinned and stroked his chin with consideration.
"Oh, by the way, I wouldn’t let Cecilia hear you say anything about her and Bobby." Scott advised. "She’s quite...forceful." Scott said, with a smile flickering across his lips.
"So, Scott?" Sean turned to the X-Men’s field leader. "Not that I don’t appreciate the glorious scenery and all, but why is it that were all just standing in a field by a petrol station?"
"Well there are two reasons really. You remember being told about the ‘purple ghost’ that keeps appearing in the local area?"
Banshee nodded in confirmation. "The wee lass that keeps asking for help?"
Cyclops nodded back. "Well, Hank thinks that he’s determined a pattern to the appearances and he’s invented a device that should act as a beacon to the ghost, hopefully allowing whatever it is to focus enough so that it doesn’t disappear again."
Sean raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure that’s wise, lad?
Scott’s eyes narrowed slightly. "Honestly? I don’t know."
The young man smiled as he was thinking. "But to be fair, I do know I over think things too often. I’m going with my instincts on this one. If it’s an innocent creature then we’ll have done the right thing and tried to help. If it’s the next Sinister then...well, I’ll blast it!"
Sean smiled in response, and then tilted his head quizzically.
"Didn’t you say there were two reasons why were doin’ this Scott?"
"Ah. Yeah." Scott scratched the back of his neck almost embarrassedly. "I thought that after Rogue’s umm...departure...that we...uh..."
Banshee raised an eyebrow at Scott.
"They need something to do. They’re all so tense they’d kill each other if they spent another day in the mansion!"
Banshee’s face grew into a great big smile, which was quickly followed by laughter.
"This is the X-Men’s greatest leader!" He laughed hysterically, resting his hands on his knees for support.
Cyclops nodded uncomfortably. "Yeah, thanks."
One of the more...disreputable neighbourhoods that the city has to offer.
"Michael? Can we please take the other route?"
"Antonia, sweetheart?" the young mans voice said reassuringly. "I’ve told you that you have nothing to worry about. The streets of America are still a safe place to live, trust me."
The young girl smiled anxiously at her lover’s statement.
"It wouldn’t take too much longer to walk around the other way." Her eyes pleaded. "I just don’t like this street, it’s too secluded."
Michael sighed inwardly and brushed back his jet-black hair. Antonia did have a point; they were dressed far too well to be walking through an area that the local police normally chose to ‘overlook’. He was wearing a long black and definitely expensive coat, which covered an equally expensive designer suit. Antonia was wearing the finest clothing that Ralph Lauren had to offer. Michael always made sure that she had nothing but the best, and although she loved him for it, she couldn’t help but have nagging doubts about exactly where he was getting the money from to pay for this life of luxury.
Every time that Antonia had asked him what he did to obtain such wealth he had dismissed her with some charming remark.
Antonia clung to her partners arm tightly. He offered her a comforting smile and then continued to chew his gum.
There was a distant sound of glass breaking followed by malevolent laughter. Antonia’s stomach twisted in panic. She gripped Michael’s arm, but didn’t make a sound. Michael stared forward grimly.
Eight silhouettes appeared like ghosts. From faint specters in the shadows they slowly gained menacing form. Like a pack of wolves, they instinctively stopped and examined the young couple. They shared a collective grin.
"Michael!" Antonia whispered desperately.
The young mans face remained calm. "Just keep walking." He commanded. "They won’t bother us if we don’t show fear."
He took her trembling hand and held it steady and continued to walk towards the pack.
Each member of the gang started to laugh with anticipation.
The leader of the gang took the lead and quickened his pace.
"Hoo boys! Looks like we gonna have some fun after all!"
Mocking laughter resonated through the enclosed alley. Antonia broke into a cold sweat.
Michael’s vision didn’t waver. He focused on a single point, directly past the malicious mob.
Antonia looked ahead and saw the grins of the street gang. It suddenly became all she could focus on.
They were predators’ teeth.
She was going to die.
Suddenly she realised she was numb. Antonia knew that she was walking but she could not feel her legs. Her body was limp. She was being moved solely by the strength in Michael’s left arm.
The gang formed a straight line, blocking the walkway.
"She looks too good for you rich boy!" The leader snarled. "She be good enough for us though. Maybe we should take her!"
The other predators muttered in agreement.
Antonia’s blood ran cold.
Michael motioned for her to stand still and slowly walked ahead of her. He stood tall and fixed his gaze on the leader. As he closed the distance between them, his eyes held his opponents gaze.
Very calmly he opened his mouth. "You’ve had your fun guys. Now, would you please let us pass?"
The leader’s eyes opened wildly. "Oh, we gonna have our fun, boy." He spat out venomously. "First we gonna kill you, and then we gonna take yo’ bitch there. And then we gonna kill her and take her again!"
The thug viciously drew a knife from his jacket and lunged for Michael.
"Stop." Michael demanded quietly.
The leader of the gang found his whole body frozen in motion. He began to panic inwardly as he realised his body wouldn’t respond. He was paralyzed.
A moment of fear came across the gang, spurring one of them to lash out. Michael effortlessly sidestepped his attacker and indignantly spat his gum into the thug’s eye. The thug screamed in pain, and fell to the floor thrashing wildly.
The remaining six hesitated for a moment, attempting to reassess the situation. They watched as Michael’s skin turned to a pale white and the end of his hands transformed into talons. It was now his turn to smile sadistically. He took a step towards them. They took one back.
"Shhh." He ordered. "Just watch."
He extended one finger and moved it slowly across their leader’s neck; a line of crimson liquid appeared and started to flow.
One of the gang vomited. Michael looked directly at the leader’s face and spat contemptuously.
The leader’s body collapsed on the floor, making pathetic gurgling noises. The others watched in terror.
Michael turned to address the others. They all stared into his eyes, transfixed by his gaze. In unison each person reached into their jackets and pulled out a gun. Tears ran down their faces as they helplessly aimed their firearms towards their skulls. A faint odour of fresh urine entered the air.
Michael’s lip twisted with hatred.
Antonia’s life was lost in a red haze. Reality had abandoned her. She could hear a voice...
"You’re safe now sweetheart. You’re safe."
"Alors Henri! How much longer is dis gonna take?"
"Despair not, my agitated compatriot. Everyone’s favourite blue furred Beast is approaching a satisfyingly sufficient state of readiness!"
Gambit sighed and let his head roll back so that he was facing the sky.
If you’ve ever had one of those days where you’ve been at a loose end and been waiting for something to happen, you’ll understand how Remy LeBeau is feeling.
Gambit gently stroked the bridge of his nose and deeply exhaled. The Beast looked across at his teammate and realised Gambit’s mood.
Henry McCoy had always been driven by an insatiable curiosity of all things scientific. He could happily spend days examining sub atomic particles to ascertain why a protein strain reacts to a certain catalyst. For him this sort of thing was relaxing. Henry realised though that Gambit wasn’t feeling particularly useful by simply watching his friend tinker around with a machine that looks like it came from page 63 of ‘insane technical genius’ catalogue.
Beast raised his reading glasses so that they were perched on top of his head.
"Y’know, you can always talk to me about it if you want?" Beast offered softly.
"Hmm?" Gambit feigned ignorance. "Talk about what?"
Gambit turned away from his friend. He stood with his hands in his pockets and kicked a small stone across the dirt and into the nearby grass. He sighed heavily.
Beast sat on top of the metallic machine that he had been creating for the last 6 hours and quietly waited.
After about a minute, Gambit broke his silence.
"I dunno Henri. Rogue just...it’s that..." Gambit sighed again and slowly moved his hand through his hair, pulling the strands away from his face. "I guess I’m just worried about her. Dat’s all."
Henry McCoy smiled sympathetically. He lowered himself from his perch and walked up to the troubled young man. Remy felt the weight of McCoy’s oversized left hand on his right shoulder.
"Remy...Rogue knows where we are. She knows that she can always come back to us when she’s ready."
Henry’s voice continued in its understanding tone.
"I know that she said some...disturbing things, but I do not believe that they were aimed at you. You were simply the easiest target."
Gambit gave a bitter laugh in response and continues to stare at the dirt he was moving with his foot.
"I believe that she was not trying to get away from us, but rather she was simply attempting to extricate herself from her current situation to correctly ascertain a more objective perspective upon which to return to the our collective group."
Gambit looked up at Beast. "Y’know, you almost did it Henri."
The Beast looked confused and scratched the back of his head.
"Did what?" he inquired.
Gambit’s expression turned into a grin. "You almost went through a whole conversation without using any two-hundred dollar words!"
Henry McCoy’s expression turned from confusion to unexpected amusement.
"Well then assist me immediately, my Cajun compatriot, for I have a task to accomplish that requires your attention and I fear that my more simplified vocabulary will become increasingly diminutive!"
The Beast picked up Gambit and threw him over his shoulder. Gambit began to laugh.
"We must expedite our actions! Our available chronological units are rapidly depleting!"
England. Land of the Royal family, the metric system and incessant rain.
The locals here have a saying. "I wish I was in Spain!"
A typically abandoned pub in the countryside stands defiantly against the abuse of the downpour and high winds. The mutant known as Logan pulled into the car park and turned off his Harley. He put his foot down and it sunk into a dank, suspiciously brown puddle. Logan muttered obscenities to himself as he walked towards the pub.
He opened the heavy oak door, the water that was dripping from his leather jacket drenched the welcome mat that read: ‘abandon hope all ye who enter here!’
The inside of the pub was only slightly warmer. Logan removed his motorcycle helmet and ruffled his hair as he looked around for his ‘contact’. He sniffed the air. With his hyper keen senses he could detect no more than ten people in the entire place, four of who were drunken teenagers, far too young to be legally consuming the alcohol that was causing them to pathetically giggle in a secluded booth. Amidst the stale odour of cigarettes and alcohol Logan got a whiff of tobacco, more specifically Marlboro tobacco.
He followed the bar around to see a man sitting by himself in a long black coat with a whisky, neat.
Pete Wisdom looked up and took his cigarette from his mouth.
"So you’re the famous Wolverine huh?" Wisdom asked eyeing the newcomer standing beside him.
For a moment the two just stared at one another.
Wisdom took another drag on his cigarette.
"What?" Wolverine asked gruffly.
"Nothin’. Just figured you’d be taller."
Logan glared at the Englishman and then pulled up a chair and joined Wisdom at his corner table.
"I can see what Kitty liked about you." Logan quietly jibed.
Wisdom grimaced slightly, focusing on a stain on the wooden table he was sat at. Then he looked back up at Logan.
"We can play games all day sunshine, but to be honest you don’t strike me as the sort who’s after deep and meaningful conversation."
Logan nodded. Although he didn’t want to like Pete Wisdom, largely due to the fact that Wisdom once had a relationship with Kitty Pride, a young girl who Logan had taken under his wing, Logan couldn’t help but find a kindred spirit in Wisdom.
To be continued...