Kitty was grateful the snow had stopped falling several hours ago, and the wind had died down as the sun had started to set. she made her way through the ankle-deep snow towards the cabin, listening to the snow crunched under her boots with each step. It was the only sound other than her breathing. There was no real path that she could see as she picked her way through the trees, but Logan probably liked it that way.
Or the path was just covered in snow. That could also be the case.
Kitty could just barely see it in the dim twilight, and she desperately wished that she'd waited until morning. But she'd been too impatient to wait. Kitty shivered despite her coat, and wished she had a better pair of gloves. Logan would probably grumble at her about proper weather gear, but Kitty could live with that.
As she grew closer to the cabin, she couldn't make out any lights but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Neither did the shadows moving in the trees. Logan would be at the cabin. He'd scowl at her for coming up to find him, but she had perfectly good reasons. He'd been gone from the mansion for almost two months without any contact, not even a postcard -- and he always sent her a postcard.
The wind picked up, and Kitty pulled her hood closer around her face. Damn, but she hated being cold.
Ororo and Scott had assured her that he was just being Logan, but Kitty was worried. So, she'd packed up her backpack and headed up to Canada, the frozen north. She'd left a note to be polite; it wasn't as if she need permission. She was twenty-three, not one of the kids.
Kitty stopped and peered through the growing darkness at the cabin. Something didn't look right.
There was another crunching sound, like footsteps in the snow, behind her. She swallowed hard and took off in a half run to the cabin. When she reached it, the sight of it stopped her dead in her tracks.
Logan's cabin was a burned-out shell.
"Logan?" she called out, then cursed her stupidity.
The front door was splintered, and she carefully squeezed her way past it. The smell of smoke still clung to the wood, thick and heavy, and Kitty could also smell the sickly sweet scent of something wet and rotten. She pulled a flashlight from her backpack then pressed her sleeve over her nose.
The narrow beam of light didn't reveal much other than broken furniture. Kitty picked her way through the wreckage, almost tripping several times. The light jumped around as her hand trembled from fear as much as from the cold.
There were claw marks in some places, bullet holes in others. Kitty chewed on her bottom lip as she made her way over to a dark object on the floor by one of the walls. She almost retched at the smell.
She knew that smell but god she wished she didn't. Something dead -- something burnt.
Pressing her hand firmly over her mouth, she moved the beam of light to the object. A blackened corpse lay before her.
Kitty stumbled back a few feet. It couldn't be Logan, she told herself. It couldn't be. "No," she whispered.
Her chest tightened and she choked back a sob. "It can't be him," she said, her voice wavering slightly. She made herself move closer to the body again; there had to be something left that would tell her who this person was. But the corpse still had its head, so it couldn't be Logan. He'd told her himself that beheading was the only way to really kill him.
She reached out, her hand trembling, to turn the body.
"It isn't the runt," a voice behind her said.
Kitty bit back a scream and whirled around. The flashlight beam illuminated the figure of a man she'd recognize anywhere.
Victor Creed. Otherwise know as Sabertooth, the man who seemed obsessed with killing Logan.
"What have you done with Logan?" she demanded, proud when she managed to keep the tremor out of her voice. She held her ground -- there was no way she could ' take' him but she could phase out, quick enough, and get away from him. Or at least that's what she told herself.
Creed grinned at her in a way that made her sort of queasy. "All sorts of things, kitten," he told her, lazily moving towards her. "Recently, nothing at all."
"I'm supposed to believe that?" She wanted to take a step back, to phase. She wanted to run all the way back to the mansion. But instead she raised her chin and glared at him.
He laughed. "Believe what you want." He stopped a few steps away from her, looking her over speculatively.
Kitty tightened her grip on the flashlight, and put her on her best 'don't mess with me' face. "You aren't just paying a social call." She gestured at the mess with her free hand. "But this doesn't look like your style."
"Really now? Tell me, what would my style look like, kitten? Since you know me so damn well?" he asked, scratching the side of his face with one of his nails.
She swallowed hard, her heart pounding fast. "Not enough things destroyed," she snapped. "And fire doesn't really seem like your thing. Besides if you had done this, you wouldn't be hanging around here, you'd be tracking down Logan. All this looks like it happened at least a week ago. You aren't that patient."
"Looks like the runt taught you something," Creed commented, with a snort. "I was enjoying a little vaction in Mexico when some gentlemen came calling."
He showed his teeth more than smiled and Kitty felt more curious than afraid. "Oh?"
"Taught them a lesson about interrupting a man on vacation. Got me curious, and spent a some time...questioning...one of them. According to the late Agent Dyson, they'd had sent agents to pick up Logan, too." Creed paused. "Too bad Dyson died before I could get out of him why they wanted the both of us."
Kitty pressed her lips into a thin line. She wasn't sure if she believed him but if Creed had killed Logan he'd be bragging about it, and his words had the or "a" ring of truth to them. "Why would you care what happened to Logan?"
Creed narrowed his eyes at her. "None of your business. All you need to know is that no one gets to kill him but me."
Shivering, Kitty took a step backwards. "Well, this is has been informative and all, but I really should be going..." She could phase through the wall behind her and high-tail it back to town, call Scott or Ororo, tell them what was going on. So much for handling this on her own.
"Don't you want to find him?" Creed asked.
Kitty blinked. "What?" she asked stupidly.
"I thought you wanted to find Logan. Well, don't you?" he pressed.
She couldn't read his expression and she couldn't fathom why he was asking her that. Or why he hadn't tried to gut her. "Why do you care?"
"Curiosity. You think you can find him all on your lonesome, don't you?"
Kitty bristled. "I can find him just fine on my own," she declared. She tucked on her free hand under her arm, her teeth chattering slightly.
Creed snorted. "Sure, you can, kitten," he told her derisively.
"What am I supposed to do? Go with you? As if," Kitty said. She made a face. "Despite the red jacket, I'm not Little Red Riding Hood."
"And I'm not the Big Bad Wolf." He folded his arm across his chest and raised an eyebrow. "Whoever nabbed him took him further north. They're going to be on the look out for me. But they're going to be looking for a lone man, not, say, a husband and wife."
"Are you crazy -- wait don't answer that, yes, you are crazy. No. No, no, no," Kitty protested. "Even if I was crazy enough to go anywhere with you -- which I'm not -- no one would fall for that. You're, like, a hundred years older than me, for one thing."
"Much as it pains me, you probably know some of the runt's currents habits better than me. And you, little girl, aren't going to get far on your own." He turned towards the splintered door, then looked back over his shoulder at her. "Or are you going to run home with your tail between your legs and let someone else find him?"
She glared at his back, but pressed her lips together. She wasn't going to satisfy him with an answer.
Creed chuckled, and pulled the door the rest of the way off its hinges. Kitty shivered, wondering how long he'd been in the cabin watching her before he'd spoken. "Eight a.m., tomorrow morning. My truck will be in front of that little inn you're staying at."
"I'm not going anywhere with you, Creed," Kitty hissed.
He chuckled again. "Sure, you aren't, kitten."
Kitty barely resisted the urge to throw her flashlight at Creed's retreating back.
The next morning, her breath smoking in the crisp air, Kitty climbed into the passenger seat of Victor Creed's truck. She tossed her backpack behind the seat, and glared at him out of the corner of her eye.
"This doesn't mean I trust you," she informed him.
He grinned as he shifted the truck into gear. "Kitten, I'd be disappointed if you did."