Chapter 8: Halloween

Mack had grabbed her coat, gloves, and hat on her way out the door. She stormed off towards the woods, away from the mansion, away from the cottage, away from everyone. If tempers could grow hot, then the frosty that had started to settle on the ground would have melted away.

'The nerve of that man!' Mack growled to her self. She kicked a small tree and kept moving through the woods. After almost twenty minutes of walking, Mack found a large tree that had fallen over and sat down. It had started to snow. Big fluffy white snowflakes drifted down around her.

A taunting chittering noise sounded from one of the trees before her. Mack scanned the trees and found a squirrel watching her. Taunting her.

"Shut up!" Mack yelled. The squirrel moved a few inches and chittered again. Mack, still seething, focused her force fields. Made a narrow shield and elongated it until the tree branch snapped. The squirrel merely jumped to another branch, squeaked at her, and bounded off through the tree branches. "Stupid squirrel."

Mack stood up and pulled on her coat collar. The sun was still partially out, though mostly covered by clouds, but the wind had picked up. Mack sneered into the wind and trudged on through the woods with hopes that a bear would spring up and kill her, or at least provide some entertainment.

Sean glanced up at his clock. It had been a few hours since Mack had stormed out of the house. He frowned and looked down at what he was working on. His mind bested him and told him to go apologize. He shouldn't have sent Remy those glares and he definitely shouldn't have kissed his assistant. His mind railed about how wrong that was.

Sean locked up his study and pulled on his shoes. He peered outside. The snow had picked up and the sun had started to set. Sean pulled his coat on and decided to trudge over to the Mansion, where he expected to find Mack.

In a gust of wind and snowflakes, the Mansion's kitchen door opened and closed, revealing Sean in its wake. Jubilee was in the middle of making a sandwich that would make the comic strip character Dagwood (from 'Blondie') happy.

"Hey Sean" Jubilee said with a smile. Sean signaled with his hands to ask where Mack was, but Jubilee looked at him with a blank stare. After his hands stopped moving, she pushed a pen towards him and pulled a pad of paper from a drawer. "You know I can't read sign language."

Sean quickly wrote down what he had just signed.

"Nope. Haven't seen her today" Jubilee said. "I saw Remy though. He's kinda pissed at you I think."

Sean scowled and looked outside.

"Something wrong?" Jubilee asked before biting into her sandwich.

Sean wrote 'She stormed out of the cottage.'

"Oh" Jubilee said. Sean wrote 'A few hours ago'. "And you don't know where she went. Well…perhaps someone around here has seen her."

Mack was huddle up against a tree. She was thoroughly lost. She had tried to retrace her steps, but the falling snow had covered most of her tracks. In the growing darkness, she was having trouble finding her way. She stood up and started to move again. She couldn't be that far from the mansion.

"Hey Wolvie" Jubilee said bounding into the lounge. A few of the guys were watching a baseball game on espn.

"Hey Darlin'" Logan said. Logan saw Sean enter the room behind his girl. "Irish."

"Have you seen Mackenzie?" Jubilee asked.

"Nope" Logan replied. Kurt turned to listen to the conversation, as did Beast. "Why?"

Sean signed what had happened.

"Oh dear" Beast said.

"She stormed off and Sean's worried" Jubilee said for the others. Sean signed again.

"You think she might have gone into the woods?" Beast said. "Well, how long has she been gone?"

"A few hours" Jubilee chimed in. Logan looked out the window at the falling snow and at the dim light.

"I'll go see what I can find" Logan said getting up. Jubilee quickly moved to kiss him on the cheek. Logan smirked and took a bite of her sandwich. "This shouldn't take long."

Mack felt her fingers and toes turning cold. Actually, they had started getting cold a while ago. They were just freezing now. Mack picked herself up and started walking, hoping that she'd warm up a little.

She walked, what she hoped, was the way back. She didn't recognize anything. The trees seemed different, the open spaces seemed different, had that log been there before?

Mack stopped when she saw a small ditch that had once, if you knew your geology, been a creek.

"Fuck" Mack said. She hit a tree with her fists. "Where the hell am I!" Snow fell down from the branches above. "Dammit!"

Logan trudged through the snow. Nearly six inches had fallen in the last few hours. It would probably melt off the next day, but it meant that Mack's scent would be hard to track. He trudged through the woods until he lost her scent.

"Mack?" Logan called. He was guessing that the temperature had dropped to about 25F.

Mack turned away from the ditch and walked away from it. Her toes felt like ice cubes in her boots. She stopped and tried moving her toes, but they were numb.

"Oh great" Mack groaned. "I'm going to die. Probably ten feet from the mansion and I'm going to turn blue, get hypothermia, and die. They won't find me until the smell gets bad." She trudged on still talking to herself. "They'll find a finger here, a toe there, just frozen into little ice cubes."

"Hey kid" A gruff voice called to her. Mack stopped and turned around. She couldn't see anything in the dark forest.

"Hello?" Mack called. She waited until she saw the short man appear from the woods. "Logan? What're you doing out here?"

"Missing a ball game" Logan replied. Mack crossed her arms.

"I was just on my way back" Mack said. Her throat felt scratchy and she started coughing.

"Yeah" Logan said. "You sound just peachy."

"I just haven't talked in a while" Mack said. She stepped towards Logan, stumbling with her frozen feet. "Since you're here though, I suppose I'll walk back with you."

"Wonderful" Logan replied. He looked her over. "You sure you're okay?"

"Never better" Mack chimed.

"You look frozen" Logan said. Mack involuntarily shivered but kept her head up.

"Perhaps I'm a little chilled, but I'm fine. Thanks" Mack grumbled. Logan nodded and started the walk back to the mansion.

By the time Logan and Mack reached the expansive lawn of the mansion, Mack was trying not to groan over her numb toes. Logan watched her. After being in Canada, he was no fool to people in the cold.

"Kid, all you had to do was ask me for some help" Logan said picking her up in a swift motion.

"Put me down, I can walk" Mack replied. Logan just gave her one of his classic 'shut up' looks and made his way to the mansion. He opened the kitchen door with Mack tossed over his shoulder. "You are so not funny right now."

Logan trudged into the lounge with Mack still over his shoulder. She had her arms crossed and was giving her best angry pout.

"Found her" Logan gruffed. "Hank, she's frozen."

"I am not. I'm fine" Mack said.

"Darlin', if you were any more frozen, you'd be a popsicle" Logan replied. He tossed her onto the couch next to Kurt.

"Whoa. He's right. You are cold, frauline. I can feel it from here" Kurt said moving away from her. Hank moved from his spot over to Mack. He felt her cheeks.

"My dear, I'm surprised you're not hypothermic" Beast replied. He moved to undo her boots. She winced when he pulled off her boots. Beast noticed and instantly removed her socks. Her feet were white and her toenails dark purple. "I need a large bowl of cool water immediately." Beast looked up at Mack, who looked somewhat surprised. "How did you not feel this?"

"I just thought I was a little cold" Mack said. "Are they going to fall off or something?"

"Funny" Beast said dryly. "No. But your circulation to your feet has nearly stopped by the look of things, and that could kill you."

"Superb" Mack replied. Kurt handed Beast a large bowl of cool water. Hank pulled Mack's feet into the cool water. "This isn't very cool."

Hank touched the water. "Yes. It is."

Mack pulled off her coat and crossed her arms. Her cheeks were bright pink, as was her nose and chin.

Hank didn't let her leave the mansion until she was back to her usual color and temperature. Only then was she allowed to slink back to the cottage she had stormed away from earlier. She felt foolish to boot.

She took a deep breath before entering the cottage. She just trotted up the stairs and into her room. She immediately started changing into her pajamas. She had a slight chill and Hank had told her to wear loose clothing.

There was a soft knock at her door.

/ Yeah// Mack answered mentally.

/ Are ye okay// Sean asked from the other side of the door. Mack pulled on her sweat pants and pulled open her door. Sean looked slightly depressed and extremely sorry.

"I'm fine" Mack answered sharper then she meant. She took off her sweater and pulled on her robe.

/ Ay'm sorry / Sean said. He moved into her room and leaned against her wall. / I didn't think tha' ye weren't socializing. I jus' didnae realize it. /

Mack sat down on her bed, not knowing what to say. Sean moved from the wall and held his hand out to her.

/ Friends// Sean asked. Mack shook his hand.

"Friends" Mack replied. Sean sat next to her.

/ Ay'll try ta lighten up / Sean said. / Ay'm jus' having a tough time with my voice gone. /

"Just…just remember that life isn't all about work" Mack said. "Okay?"

Sean nodded. They said their goodnights and waited for the next day.

Halloween night came by at a snails pace. Mack, deciding that a day off would be beneficial, started her day by running a few miles in the X Mansion's indoor gym which was followed by her first danger room experience with Logan and Jubilee. By noon, Mack was sure that she had lost twenty pounds from the exercise and promptly feasted on Chinese take-out.

Sean was barely around. Mack had seen him early in the morning, reading the paper and drinking coffee, and then once again when she was lounging on the couch watching 'The Burbs'. Mack flipped through the paper, stared out the window at the snow, and finally resorted to watching the weather channel until five o'clock came around.

Mack knocked on Sean's study door and entered when she heard Sean bid her welcome. She moved over to his computer desk and perched near the monitor.

"The party at the mansion starts in an hour" Mack said. Sean kept typing and looked like he could care less. "You're still going right?"

/ Yes / Sean answered.

"Okay…well…I'm going to go get ready" Mack said. "I'll see you there I guess."

The mansion was lit up with orange lights that graced the windows and was decorated with paper pumpkins. Mack pulled her coat closer to her body as a strong wind blew. She hurried along, silently slipping in through the kitchen entrance. She put her coat on the, surprisingly, empty kitchen counter.

Mack looked down at her self. Barely covered…at least she had a pair of chaps on. She straightened her costume and made her way towards the sounds of the party.

The party was full of people Mack didn't know. She noticed a few, here and there, but they all seemed rather busy talking to other people. Mack spotted the bar and one person who she knew wouldn't be in a costume.

"Hey" Mack said moving onto an empty stool next to Logan. He looked her up and down and took a swig of beer.

"Christ! You too?" Logan said. Mack signaled for a beer.

"What?" Mack asked. She looked down at herself. "What?"

"Yer all barely wearin' a thing" Logan said. Mack looked at her reflection in the mirror that sat behind the counter. She was in an orange bikini, black and orange striped vest and chaps, a cowboy hat, and she had orange fringy arm bracers on.

"I'm not that scantily clad" Mack replied. She spotted Storm and Rogue in a group behind her and Logan. Storm was in some piece of cloth which could technically be called a dress that had wings and Rogue was in….a bikini and paint? Mack shook her head. "I see what you mean."

"Where's Irish?" Logan asked. Mack took her beer, which appeared while she was trying to figure out Rogue's costume, and took a long drink.

"No idea" Mack said. "He said he was coming. Why aren't you in a costume?"

"I don't wear costumes" Logan said. Mack snorted and took another sip of her beer. "Aren't you going to dance or do some kind of bullshit like that?"

"No" Mack replied.

"Yer telling me that you come here, dressed like that, and you're just going to sit here?" Logan asked.

"Yeah. Pretty much" Mack said. Logan raised an eyebrow and called for six shots of whiskey. "I mean, I don't really know anyone." Mack looked at the crowd and turned back to Logan. "Do some of these people even live here?"

"We have X-Factor and a few others over" Logan replied. Logan pushed a shot glass in front of Mack. "Here."

Mack took the shot and chased it with beer without a flinch.

"Hey Logan. Who's your friend?" A guy asked with a slap to Logan's back.

"Bobby, Mack. Mack, Bobby" Logan said. Bobby was wearing a giant eyeball costume.

"Yeah" Bobby said. "I just came back from a long vacation in Argentina."

"Boston" Logan quipped.

"You say tomato, I say tomato" Bobby said. "I haven't seen you around here before, Mack."

"I'm Sean Cassidy's assistant" Mack said with a smile. Logan tapped on the bar, signaling that another shot was ready. Mack turned and did another shot with Logan.

"Sean's here?" Bobby asked with a smile.

"He said he was going to show up, but I haven't seen him" Mack reported.

"I'll find him" Bobby said. He leaned in as much as Logan would let him. "Perhaps later, we could grab some coffee or something and—"

"Drake" Logan said in warning tone.

"Fine" Bobby said before disappearing into the crowd again. Mack found another shot before her and quickly downed it.

"Thanks for being so grumpy Logan" Mack said in a miffed tone. "I barely know anyone as it is."

"He's only interested in one thing, kid" Logan said. The bartender set up another six shots of whiskey. "Here, kid, have another."

Feeling like a fool, Sean entered the mansion and found his way to the party area. He had spent thirty minutes alone trying to get his hair done. He had wanted to use hairspray, but found that Mack didn't have any lying around. He had done his best to achieve caveman hair.

He strode into the party and was immediately pulled aside by a giant eyeball.

"Sean!" Bobby said handing the Irishman a beer. "Long time no see, pal. Hey, is that chick that works for you seeing anyone?"

Sean took a sip of his beer and used his plastic club to hit Bobby in the head.

"What?" Bobby asked.

"Hey Bobster! Hey Sean!" Jubilee said with a smile as she bounced over. She was in a 1940s style red bathing suit that had devilish styling to it.

"Looking good, Jubes" Bobby said.

"Nice fur skirt, Sean" Jubilee said with a giggle. Sean gave a grumpy look. "Oh lighten up. I like it. You look good as a caveman." Jubilee smiled and held out a small plate that held a variety of candy. "You guys up for a few shots with me, Paige, and Kurt?"

"I'm in" Bobby said. Sean nodded and took a large swig of beer. Signaling for the men to follow, Jubilee led them to the shot glasses.

"…And when I found out who he really was, it was too late" Mack said with a slight slur. Logan gave her a grunt before finishing his beer. "I traveled until Xavier found me. He told me to come here."

"I've heard worse stories kid" Logan replied. Logan signaled for a new beer.

"I bet" Mack grunted. Logan grunted back.

"If Stephen is smart, he won't be back" Logan replied. Mack finished her beer and stood up.

"Stephen isn't the smartest guy" Mack replied.

"Where are you heading, darlin'?" Logan asked.

"I'm getting tired" Mack said. "What time is it?"

"Almost eleven" Logan said pointing to the clock behind the bar. Mack stretched and scratched her abdomen.

"Night" Mack said.

"You want some help back?" Logan asked. Mack shook her head no. "Night, kid."

Mack stumbled through the mansion until she made her way into the kitchen. She stopped in the doorway when she registered Scott and Emma in the kitchen. Scott moved aside and Emma moved from sitting on the counter to standing.

"Sorry" Mack said distantly. Her vision was slightly off and she was sure that she wasn't walking a straight line.

"Mack?" Scott called as Mack stumbled to retrieve her coat.

"I'm good" Mack said. She opened the door and left Scott to Emma.