"Chica!" Jubilee squealed, "You just have to buy that top!"

"Are yah crazy or just plain stupid?" I asked, staring at myself in the mirror. I was in 'Casey's', a high priced store in the middle of the Mall. Me and Jubilee had come for our daily routine of shops and Latte on a Saturday morning. So here I was standing in front of a mirror, wearing a tiny dark green halter top that she had forced me into.

"It barely covers mah chest Jubilee! No one would dare come more than 10 feet of me with this thing on!"

Unwilling to listen to her protests, I closed the curtain. Throwing the top out to her waiting hands, I changed back into my usual outfit of my white t-shirt with long green sleeves, complete with a thick woolen scarf. Adjusting my ever-present black gloves, I walked out of the dressing area. I walked up to the counter where Jubilee was purchasing some items for herself.

The sales lady beamed at Jubilee as she handed a large bag over.

"Have a nice day and thank you for shopping at Casey's."

We smiled back as we walked out of the store. I peeked inside the bag, curious at what Jubilee had bought. My mouth dropped open and I grabbed at her hands. Pulling the bag from her reach, I opened it up and pulled out the tiny green halter top.

"Jubilee!" I gritted my teeth in an attempt not to scream at her. "Why did you buy this? Ah told yah, ah can't wear it!"

Jubilee just smiled back at me as she grabbed the bag and stuffed the top back inside. "Well, than we'll keep it in the back of the closet until you can." She swung the bag over her shoulder and began to walk towards the coffee shop. "Plus, I already spent up to my limit and I can always borrow it." She said with a grin. I merely rolled my eyes, followed her to the coffee shop to our awaiting lattes.



Almost an hour later, after shopping and collecting three more bags of clothing, I finally managed to grab the credit card from Jubilee.

"Can we please go home now?" I pleaded, tucking the credit into my back pocket.

Jubilee looked back at me, her bottom lip pouting like a spoilt child.

We stared at each other until Jubilee gave in.

"Fine." She sighed.

Quickly fishing my cellphone out of my backpack before she could change her mind, I hit speed dial and the ringing tone began to sound. A sickly sweet voice came over the phone.

"Xavier's School for the Gifted, Jean speaking."

"Hey Jean. Can you get Scott ta come pick me and Jubes up from the mall?" Listening intently, I heard muffled voices as Jean conveyed the message.

"He says that's fine." She said. "Meet him by the old Pizza Hutt on Bladden Street, K?"

"Sweet. Thanks Jean." I said, hanging up.

Bladden Street was an industrial area down the street from the Mall. Most of the buildings were old storage warehouses, packed full of old junk that people forgot about or want to hide. The Pizza Hutt stood beside a group of these warehouses, abandoned after a fire ripped through it, leaving a shell of what it once was. Walking over, Jubilee sat on the front steps as the leant against the stairwell. We were talking about Bobby's apparent crush on me, when a blood curdling scream filled the air.


Startled, I looked around for the source. Jubilee leaped to her feet, taking a defensive stance. When the scream came again, she grabbed my hand. Abandoning my backpack, I pulled Jubilee towards an old warehouse across the street.

"I think it's coming from in there." I whispered as we approached the door. I turned at the handle, but it was locked. I felt around in my hair, looking for a bobby pin to pick the lock with. Remembering the credit card, I pulled it out of my pocket and was about to use it when Jubilee's hand grasped my wrist and the card was removed from my fingers.

"Give me back the card." I whispered, holding out my hand. She looked at me and then at the golden card. With a stubborn look across her face, she shook her head.

"Give me the Goddam card Jubes!" I whispered angrily, grabbing for it.

Jubilee looked at the card with sorrow before slowly placing it in my hand. I turned to unlock the door as she mumbled "Who died and made her Cyclops."

Flicking the card through the side of the door, I pressed against the resistance and grinned in satisfaction as I heard the lock click. I swung open the door, just as the screaming inside ceased.

"Where did you learn that from?" Jubilee asked as we advanced through the door.

I shrugged. "Logan, I guess."

Our footsteps echoed as we stepped into a large storeroom, filled with piles of brown cardboard and metallic boxes and large bulky object covered in plastic sheets. It stank of cigarettes and milder, the floor was covered with a thin layer of dust. Using hand signals, I motioned for Jubilee to check out two piles, I headed towards an overturned table. As I walked round it, I found the source of the screams.

It was a little girl, roughly around the age of six or seven. Her knees were tucked into her chest, her arms wrapped around them. Her face was tucked into her knees, hidden by a mane of thick brown hair. The small frame of the girl shook as she sobbed into her dirty white t-shirt.

Waving my arms I tried to catch Jubilee's attention as she searched all the way on the other side of the warehouse. Catching her attention, I pointing down at the girl and Jubilee began to casually walk over. Crouching down beside the girl, I gently put her hand on her shoulder to comfort her. The sobbing stopped and her head lifted to reveal two piercing blue eyes.

"Who are you?" she asked, wiping her nose with her wrist.

"We're here ta help yah." I said soothingly. Sanding up, I turned to look at Jubilee. "We need ta ring sc.........."

"Watch out!" Jubilee screamed, pointing behind me as she busted into a sprint.

Spinning around, the little girl had disappeared and Mystique had taken her place. She smiled at me, pulling a pair of black gloves onto her hands.

"I didn't think it would be this easy." She said, delivering a quick punch to my stomach. Shaking off the pain and shock, I sent a sharp kick to Mystique's face, causing her to stumble. Mystique recovered, dropping to the ground, kicking my feet out from underneath me.

I hit the ground head first and an instant headache spread through my head. I lay dazed as a black fist connected with my face, my lip splitting open and dribbling blood as Mystiques fist hit again and again. Held down by Mystique's strong left arm, I struggled unsuccessfully against her grip. I lifted my head and screamed for help.

Jubilee stopped running three feet away from me. She lifted her hands and my eyesight was filled with a flash of bright colors and Mystique was thrown off me.

"Thanks Jubes." I said standing up, ignoring the dizziness that racked my head.

Jubilee kicked Mystique in the side as she attempted to get up. Confident, Jubilee threw another punch, but Mystique grabbed her at the wrist, twisting it up behind her back. Jubilee screamed in pain as a loud crack was heard. Mystique had broken her arm. Mystique released her hand and Jubilee fell forward. Mystique stood over Jubilee as she kicked up at her blue attacker.

"Leave her alone!" I screamed.

Turning her head to face me, Mystique grinned sadistically as she slowly stood on Jubilees outstretched right leg, snapping Jubilee's ankle. Jubilee rolled over, whimpering quietly into the dusty floor. Laughing at Jubilee, Mystique turned to me.

"Yah gonna pay for hurting mah friend." I threatened quietly. Jubilee curled up into a fetal position on the ground, whimpered as she cradled her limp arm.

Mystqiue smiled at me. Before I could stop her, she delivered a quick kick to the back of the head, knocked Jubilee unconscious. I felt my blood boil with rage. This bitch is going down. Recalling the training Scott had given me in the Danger room, I charged at Mystique, delivering a sharp elbow to her spine and knocking her the ground.

Receiving a hard kick to the stomach, I stumbled slightly and collected a kick to my head for it. Blood trickled out of a cut on my forehead, turning my white streak a deep crimson. I pushed the white streaks back behind my ears, from where they had come loose. Standing facing Mystique, I watched as Mystique circled me, her piercing stare searching for a weak spot.

Lowering my centre of gravity, I tackled her into a group of empty boxes. Sitting on top of her, I punched at her blue face, her bleeding nose tainting my black gloves. Her breathes become ragged as I continued to hit her over and over again. Attempting to push me off herself, Mystique turned over and I quickly took advantage and grabbed her short red hair.
Pushing her face into the ground, I leant over to speak into her ear.

"You fucking bitch. Don't you know, yah don't eva mess...... with...... mah....... friends!" I accompanied the last four words with her face meeting the floorboards.

Mystique body went limp and I let go of her hair. Standing up, I kicked her lifeless body once to check that she was out. But the bitch wasn't done. She moved so fast I didn't have time to react. Her arm wrapped around my protected neck and I felt the air disappear from my lungs as she applied pressure.

My feet scrapped the ground as Mystique pulled me back towards the overturned table. I saw the glint of sliver and Mystique voice echoed in my ear.

"Don't worry. I won't hurt your friends......" She whispered. "I'll just hurt you."

I screamed out in pain as I felt the painfully familiar feeling of a steel blade sink into my skin. Waves of pain and nausea spread through my body as I felt the blade twist inside me.
Looking down, the white of my t-shirt turned red as the warm blood through it. Mystique withdrew her knife and pushed me over into a box. I slid down the side, leaving a trail of blood across it. Mystique placed her foot over my wound and her laugh echoed through the warehouse as she pressed down.

Groaning in pain, my eyesight went blurry and my stomach grew nauseous. Picking me up, Mystique flung me over her shoulder and stepped over Jubilee's unconscious figure.

Walking towards the door, she paused an accented voice broke through the silence.

"Put the pretty Chere down, or dis cajan is gonna have to cause sum pain."

Spinning around, Mystique dropped me to the ground. Winded by the hard floor, I lay gasping for breath as my eyesight blurred. A figure dressed totally in black jumped down from his position on top of a large pile of boxes to in front of me. Closing my eyes, I listened as Mystique began hand-to-hand combat with this mysterious savior.

After what seemed forever, a loud thud resounded in the warehouse as a body hit hard against the ground. I lay still, praying that it was Mystique. Opening my eyes, I saw a blurred vision of the figure in black stood over Mystique, a knife held to her neck.

He paused for a moment. "Leave." He said, pulling the knife away from her neck. Mystique scampered towards the door.

"You made yourself a very powerful enemy." she yelled, stumbling out of the warehouse door.

The man dropped the knife and walked over towards the unconscious Jubilee. As my vision cleared, I focused on the dark stranger. His face was hidden by a pair of black Ray Bans and the collar of his full black trench coat. A ripped red silk shirt flapped out from underneath his coat, suiting his black pants. I watched as he knelt down on one knee and leant over the unconscious Jubilee, carefully assessing her injuries. He looked around the warehouse, then scooped Jubilee up into his arms and headed for the door. No I thought to myself, he can't take her. Desperately searching for energy, I raised my arm and grabbed his ankle as he walked past. He paused looking down at me.

"Leave her alone." I begged my voice feeble and quiet.

Staring at me through his black sunglasses, he waited until I loosen my grip and he continued, carrying Jubilee outside.

Taking in a deep breath, I bit my lip in pain as I lifted myself off the dusty ground. Pushing away the pain, I wiped my forehead and stood up, ready for the Figure in Black. No body takes my friends and gets away with it. As he came through the door, I kicked at his face, which he successfully blocked with him forearm. Throwing a punch, I hit him in the stomach, my weak blow having no affect on him. He made no attempt to strike back as he blocked my weak punches, one after another.

Pausing in my tiredness, my headache grew worse and I felt weak in the knees. Losing the strength to stand, my knees gave in and just as they did, he reached out his arms and caught me. Taking me up in his strong arms, he whispered into my ear.

"Hush Chere, nothing will happen to you. I promise."

Taking me outside, he placed me on the steps outside the closed pizza hutt, right next to the unconscious Jubilee. His fingers gingerly touched my blood soaked t-shirt. He leaned over me and removed his black Ray Bans. I flinched in surprise as his black eyes with red pupils gazed into mine. Rolling up my T-shirt, his face turned grim as he looked down at my stab wound. Reached down to touch it, I grabbed his wrist.

"Can't touch me," I warned. "My skin's deadly."

Considering my warning, he looked back down at my stomach. Looking around, he found my backpack. Pulling out one of my thick woolen scarves, he wrapped it around my stomach, tying it tightly at my side. Wincing in pain, tears sprung to my eyes.

He noticed my tears and using my scarf, he gently wiped them away. Slipped back on his sunglasses, he gently applied pressure to the wound. Looking down, the scarf was already soaked in blood and his hands were dyed crimson. My eye wandered over to my bag and I noticed my grey cellphone poking out. Grabbing at it, I pressed speed dial to the jeep's car phone and lifted it to my ear.

"Hello?"

"Scott, I need you to hurry." I gasped. "Jubes and I were attacked."

"I'll be right there." Scott's voice sounded scared as he hung up.

Turing off the phone, I dropped it to the ground. The man stood up, looking around.

"I haf to go now Chere. Take care."

And before I could object, he ran off down a side alley.

Rolling over in pain, I vomited up blood. The pain in my side was getting worse and I wasn't sure how much longer I could take it. I heard the roar of the Jeep pulled up behind me and the slam of the door as Scott got out.

"Jubilee? Marie? Oh god....."

I tried to move my head to see him, but found I couldn't move. Scott appeared above me, snapping a pair of surgical onto my hands. He gently maneuvered my head so I was looking straight up. I stared at the sky as I felt him pulled back the scarf covering my stomach. My vision went blurry and I fought against the promised comfort of unconsciousness. I must stay awake, if not only to protect Jubilee........

Blinking slowly, my body began to felt numb as Scott gently slapped my face.

"Stay with me Rogue. Please, just stay with me......"

Unable to fight anymore, I closed me eyes and the darkness consumed me.