Into the Night

He had been shot.

Shot while trying to protect the streets of New York.

Shot while using his mutant powers to protect a world that both hates and fears him.

And at this exact moment, as he sits on a ledge at the top of the four story hospital he was brought to, Jamie Madrox has no idea why he risks his life for those "normal" humans out there.

He used to want to find the X-Men. He used to want to gather mutants to him and bring them to safety. Safety from the Sentinels? There weren't any more Sentinels. That's what it started out as. He'd saved Cecilia from the Sentinels. Then they saved Jubilee, and then Sara.

Then the X-Men came, and Magneto, and they traveled to D.C. to meet the mutant heroes. They were Jamie's heroes, these X-Men.

They met Dominic and Calvin. And the six of them became X-Force, Cecilia, Jubilee, Marrow, Avalanche, Mimic, and Jamie, the Multiple Man. It all seemed to childish now.

He had been shot. In the right shoulder, barely missing a lung. It wasn't so bad; he had blacked out and woke up in a hospital bed. Bandaged and drugged and whatnot, but alone. Foolish doctors.

He immediately created a duplicate to replace him. The wound didn't hurt that much. And he escaped to the roof, to be alone. To sort out his thoughts.

The X-Men didn't matter anymore. In fact, Jamie was pretty sure they were in Europe anyway.

All that mattered was some big idiot mutant named Guido Carosella. A partner in crime to Reaper, the man who had shot Jamie as he was dying. Guido was still out there, a criminal, and it was Jamie's responsibility to bring him in.

Jamie had, after all, let him get away.

The plan had originally been to rescue mutants from the Sentinels and bring them to Magneto and his mutant haven in the Savage Land.

The Sentinels are gone. Magneto is dead. The X-Men have disappeared.

They have no jobs, they have no homes, they have no lives; X-Force has nothing but each other. But Jamie now at least has a mission. Some little task to take his mind off the troubles.

"I'm coming for you big man," he whispered into the night as he stood and headed for the fire escape.

* * * *

"I'm doin' fine guys," a being that looked incredibly like Jamie Madrox told his friends standing beside his bed. "This fine nurse here is makin' me all better." And he smiled at the young blonde women standing by his pillow closer to the window.

"That's great Madrox," Jubilee said with true sincerity, "we'll have you out and back on the mean streets in no time. Just look at all the crime that you're letting happen while you're stuck here."

"Haha kid," Madrox joked as he rubbed his hand through her hair in a playful gesture, "why aren't you out there takin' care of it for me?"

All of X-Force was at bedside.

Sara and Cecilia had called them directly from the hospital as soon as they knew Jamie was being taken care of. Cecilia had stayed by his said the entire time, except for one little trip to the bathroom, which left the young mutant alone. But then Jamie Madrox is never "alone".

Dominic Petros, Calvin Rankin, and Jubilee all rushed from the hotel room they were staying in to the hospital. Jubilee had quickly joined Cecilia at bedside. Dominic hung back a little, while Sara and Calvin hugged the wall. This was not a pleasant place to be.

"Just get better Jamie," Cecilia said, taking his hand.

"No worries there Cecilia," Jamie joked with a grin on his face, "that's what I plan on doin'."

Dominic moved to the window. It was night out, a dark night. Jamie would be okay; the young man had spirit, someone like that could never truly be beaten. The last thing he needed was another person gushing over him. If only Sara would say something instead of hiding in the back under her cloak. Poor little girl.

Something caught Dominic's attention out the window. A man was charging down the fire escape. He watched as the trench-coated figure made it to the bottom, and dropped down the little bit at the end. As he landed, he gripped his shoulder in pain, but moved on. Before this mystery man turned a corner, he looked back at the window Dominic was at. He saw Dominic gawk in surprise, and gave him a grin and a thumbs up.

And then he was gone.

Dominic cursed under his breath and turned to Madrox on the bed. The duplicate gave him the same corny grin and thumbs up, like nothing was amiss.

"Please leave now," the nurse interrupted, "he needs his rest. If you'd please see the doctor outside, he'll need to talk to you about the wound. Bullet wounds are…rather suspicious, so please leave the room." She shooed X-Force out of the room, never even suspecting they were mutants. Sara was hidden by her cloak.

They got out in the hall and Cecilia and Jubilee hugged.

"We have to go," Dominic said heading towards the exit.

"What do you mean?" Cecilia asked letting go of Jubilee, "We have to talk to the police Dominic. Tell them about those punks and that giant mutant on the loose."

The earth-shaker stopped, put his hand to his forehead and sighed.

"That's not Jamie Madrox in there," he said calmly looking at Cecilia.

"What?" she asks not really hearing him.

"Dammit," Calvin said quietly, "a duplicate."

"Yep," Dominic said, "I saw the real Jamie bounding down the fire escape. He'd gotten out."

"But I was with him the whole time," Cecilia argued. Calvin and Jubilee were already taking Dominic's lead and heading to the door.

"Except…" Sara commented, joining her teammates.

"When I went to the bath…dammit Jamie!" Cecilia startled, "What the hell does he think he's doing. He shouldn't be out with that wound."

"Well he is," Dominic said holding the elevator open for her, the others were already inside. The hustle and bustle of the hospital paid no attention to the small group.

"What do you think he's doing?" Cecilia pondered heading to the elevator.

"He's most likely going after that guy you let get away," Calvin said.

"We let him get away 'cause Madrox was shot," Sara said, jabbing her elbow into Calvin's ribs. He let out a pretend "oof".

"So we gotta chase him down?" Jubilee asks once Cecilia was in and Dominic was pressing the button for the bottom floor.

"Nope," he responded, "we're not going to be able to find Jamie in this city. We're going after Guido Carosella, we find him, we find Jamie."

"Well how come we can find this Guido in the city but not Madrox?" Jubilee asked.

"Oh," Dominic sighed, "I have my ways."

And with that, they had reached the ground floor and the exit.

* * * *

"We've found him sir," the voice came over the walkie talkie.

Jamie Madrox looked down at the small black handheld device on the coffee joint table. He smiled. Setting down his disposable cup, Madrox reached forth and grabbed it, bring it to his mouth.

"Where are you dupe?" he asked the duplicate, one of the many patrolling the city, on the other end.

"This isn't good news," the dupe said slowly, "he's here in a dive in Hell's Kitchen. Not really safe territory."

"Well you're there okay," Madrox responded, "what's the name and address of the joint?"

The dupe read off the name of "Frank's" and raddled off the address for the original Jamie Madrox.

"Thanks, I'm on my way," Madrox responded, quickly leaving the coffee joint near Times Square. It was beautiful at night.

He gripped his baseball bat tightly.

Madrox decided to walk to Hell's Kitchen. It wasn't too far a walk, and he needed the time to think. Guido Carosella was going down, as many Jamie's as it took would beat the giant man with bats until he was a mess. Then they would drag him to the police. It would be beautiful.

Somewhat psychotic, Madrox mused, but beautiful revenge nonetheless.

As he walked, he drew in the duplicates that were throughout the city. After Cecilia had gone to the bathroom, he had gotten up, created the duplicate, changed into his normal clothes, and headed to the roof. He had seen Dominic through the window in his room, and he smiled at him, Dominic would take them to find Madrox.

That would be good. He could use the others to cheer him up.

Then Madrox had hit a local toy store, bought a bat and a pair of walkie talkies. That's when he created all the duplicates, around 100 maybe, and gave them each one of the newly duplicated walkie talkies. When Jamie multiplied, the stuff he was holding multiplied with him. That's why the duplicates didn't end up naked, so they each duplicated with a walkie talkie. Then they were all off scowering the city for Guido Carosella. Finally, one of them had succeeded.

That duplicate was waiting for him down the road from the bar/restaurant known as Frank's.

"Good job," Madrox said as he punched the copy hard in the stomach. A duplicate was formed.

"Jeez, why'd you hit me so hard?" the duplicate asked holding his stomach.

"Frustration?" Madrox offered.

The created duplicate just shrugged.

"Exactly," the original agreed. "So where is this guy?"

"He's down in the bar down the street," the hurt duplicate answered, "I saw him here on the street, and followed him to the bar and watched him sit down. We just gotta go wait by the entrance, and when he leaves, fustigate'im." He punched his fist into an open palm, creating another duplicate.

"Sounds like a plan to me," the second duplicate answered.

"Then we go wait," the original concluded, hitting the baseball bat against an open palm, creating a new duplicate with a baseball bat.

The five of them walked slowly down the empty and dark street. Random working streetlights lit the way, while the majority of windows in the low class housing were black. It was an evil neighborhood, but Madrox was not afraid. He'd already been shot once, and now he had an infinite number of bodyguards to take the next bullet.

No, he was on a mission; nothing would stop him.

They sat by the outside wall of the bar, in the dark. They hid the baseball bats, and just sat menacingly in the dark. Carosella would leave the bar, and he would be jumped. It was dark enough so that no one could see that these men were identical. But then only one person entered the bar as they were waiting.

The minutes stretched into hours, but Madrox was very anxious. His time would be soon. His revenge would be swift.

Heheh, what the hell was he doing?

Sitting in the dark waiting to pounce on some guy with baseball bats. For what? Because he was shot? Because he was beaten in a fight in front of Cecilia and Sara?

Did this monster really deserve such a beating? A defeating?

Madrox told himself that yeah, Carosella did. He was a criminal, trying to rob a pizza joint, and who knows what else. He was a crook, a mutant using his powers for crime. Who better to take him in than Jamie Madrox, mutant avenger.

A police force to keep other mutants in line? Could that work?

Is that the next step for X-Force?


It isn't going to be like that.

Except for Carosella. Carosella got away because Jamie couldn't act.

Jamie Madrox would bring him in.

* * * *

The door to Jack's pub flung open violently and slammed against the wall.

Michail, working the bar for the night while Jack was in the back with some bitch, looked to see who had caused the ruckus.

Leading the way in was a young man dressed darkly, followed by a smart-looking African-American woman in cornrows and glasses, and then an even younger Japanese kid, followed by two more even younger kids.

"Hey!" Michail shouted, "No kids in the bar!"

The first man looked at him, raised his clenched fist, and the ground rumbled underneath Michail and he fell.

"Petros!" someone from one of the filled tables yelled and got to his feet.

"Shut up Thompson!" Dominic Petros shouted at the man as he pointed the devastating hand at him.

"Haven't seen your mutie ass in a long time Petros," Thompson joked, and others around him stood as well. Michail was getting to his feet. A lot of the patrons were heading to the back.

"I said shut up!" Dominic shouted, rage covered his face. The rest of his team hid behind him, this was a side of their friend they had never seen. "I'm looking for Ronald Klumm." He lowered his hand to his side.

"What makes you think we're gonna give you Ronnie?" Stynger, Thompson's partner, sneered.

Dominic just stared.

"Dominic?" Cecilia whispered quietly. He held up his hand to silence her. Then he held both arms out, hands limp.

In one swift move, he clenched his fists upward and whipped his hands back in a swimming motion. Instantly, the ground shook beneath the bar and everyone in front of X-Force feel violently to the ground. Bottles fell off the wall and crashed, tables were upturned.

"Hey, watch your mutie crap Petros!" Thompson squealed as he checked his elbow.

"I said 'I'm looking for Ronnie Klumm'," Dominic responded slowly.

"H-here I-I am Dom," a shakey voice came from the back. A squat balding man quivered from the back. He was dressed in plain clothes and looked very much afraid.

"Ronnie!" one man yelped trying to stop the little man from moving forward.

"Ronnay!" Dominic surged, extremely happy all of a sudden. He swung his arm around Ronald Klumm's small shoulders and led him through his friends to the outside of the bar, flipping the bird to those left in the restaurant. The two exited the establishment, the others followed.

"Hey!" Thompson shouted after them, rising to his feet.

With a snarl, Sara snapped off a bone dagger and launched it at the man. It didn't strike him, merely grazed his arm enough to draw blood and stick into the back wall. He didn't make a move after that.

Outside, Dominic was peppering Ronnie.

"Where is Guido Carosella?" Dominic asked, his hands on Ronnie's shoulders, his face inches from the twerp.

"I don't know," Ronnie said, more than a little afraid.

"Sara!" Dominic shouted, never taking his eyes from Ronnie's.

The young girl quickly produced another dagger, and jabbed it lightly into the small of Ronnie's back. Jubilee hung back against the wall, tossing fireworks casually from her hand.

"I will not ask again…" Dominic said to Ronnie.

"He usually hangs out nowadays at Frank's," Ronnie squealed, "him and Pantu Reaper and their boys." Ronnie was sweating in the dark.

They waited a couple of seconds. Calvin cleared his throat.

"You're not telling me something…" Dominic said slowly.

"Sorry Dom, just rememberin'," Ronnie added quickly, "yeah, yeah, apparently some trouble went down, uh, earlier tonight. They was bustin' Toni's when some punks came and busted them up. Mutant punks…hey! What you want with…"

Dominic backhanded him across the face, shutting him up. He threw Ronnie to the ground. Sara backed away quickly.

"Guido's at Frank's?" he asked the poor little man.

"That's where he usually hangs out," Ronnie said, rising to one knee, "Reaper's dead you know."

Dominic sighed, "I know." Ronnie stood.

"What have you got yourself into Dom?" Ronnie asked his old friend. Dominic slouched.

"It's a tough world Ronnie," Dominic sighed, "guy's gotta make new decisions and choices."

"I'm glad you survived them Sentinels," Ronnie said, placing his hand on Dominic's shoulder. The young mutant brushed it off.

"Don't pretend Ronnie," Dominic said, "this mutant thing is a bitch, but I've found a way to deal. Heheh, I'm on the other side now. Side of the angels now Ronnie. Reaper got what he deserved, and Guido's next. They're going down because they messed with us, the rest of you, well your time may come. New choices are made all the time old friend, now get out of here, tell'em X-Force is in town, mutants are afraid of you anymore."

With that, he turned away from Ronald Klumm and stuck his hands in his pockets. He started strolling down the street, the others followed, Sara gave Ronnie a nasty look as she bumped into him before following the group.

After a few seconds.

"What did you use to do before you joined us?" Cecilia asked, walking next to Dominic.

"Why do you ask?" he answered, looking forward. He knew where Frank's was.

"Because after all this time it's finally come into play," she answered. The others remained quiet. "I know we don't pry about each other, we each might need our privacy. But I just happen to know be curious about what the hell just happened back there. In the bar, with that guy, what were you Dominic?"

He stopped, sighed, and turned to his friends.

"I used to work in organized crime," he said calmly, no one gasped or anything, just kept listening. "I was at the end of the line for the head crime boss the Kingpin. He was the number one big guy in town; he owned everything and almost everyone. He operated, of course, without really getting involved. His grunt work was done by small gangs throughout the city, thugs who reported to a boss, who then would report to Kingpin or his men. I was one of the thugs, a nobody."

Calvin and Sara took a seat on some steps to on old housing place; he put his arm around her cloaked shoulders. Jubilee and Cecilia moved closer together for warmth.

"Pantu Hurageb, the Reaper, and Guido Carosella were bosses, they were partners and ran the same gang. They would have been my superiors had I been one of their thugs. But I worked for a guy named Bubbah. Now Thompson back in the bar was a boss. Just to get the hierarchy straight with you."

He shifted his wait, and watched to scantily clad women walk down the sidewalk across the street. It was an empty night in this part of New York.

"Ronnie Klumm was an important man, a know-it-all kind of observer of all the gangs. That's how I knew he'd know where Guido would be. Or at least I assumed he would know. Anyway, eventually the good old mutant powers started coming into play. I used to be able to keep them in check, but eventually they came out, and I was caught. Like I said, I was a nobody, I was ridiculed and kicked out with a price on my head. Hell, it's probably still on my head. But they kicked me out and I ran, and fortunately found you guys. A safehaven.

"Reaper and Carosella were bosses, they weren't kicked out because of their powers. Hell, Carosella was hit by a car, and his power of absorbing kinetic energy made him erupt into that hulking, disorderly monstrosity you told me about. So well anyway, that's my story. Now it's all going to hell, Kingpin was busted by Spider-Man and the Daily Bugle, and now the rest are all on the run, scared. Now Guido could be hanging out at Frank's, so we're going there. Hopefully we'll find Jamie."

He shrugged.

Jubilee ran up and gave him a hug.

"Thanks for sharing," she said softly.

"Hey c'mon," he chuckled, "so I'm a hardened criminal, no big deal. Now c'mon, we got a leader on the loose."

She laughed and let him go. The others followed behind as Dominic led the way deep into Hell's Kitchen.

* * * *

"Carosella!" Madrox shouted at the large man who had just exited the bar with two other men. He gripped the baseball bat tightly; his duplicates had snuck off silently into the night to surround his prey.

The unproportional giant turned slowly. His two companions, both dressed in rugged leather, both shorter than Guido turned too. Guido Carosella was dressed in oversized leather as well, and a rugged shirt. And jeans, tight jeans. He wore the same small shades, at night, and had the same small bit of white hair.

He looked disgruntled.

"Who the hell are you?" the man on Guido's right asked. Jamie could see the truth dawn in the large man's face, he knew who he was facing.

"I wasn't talking to you," Jamie said slowly.

"What are you doing here?" Guido asked before the thug could respond.

"Don't worry about this chump Guido," the other man said, putting his arm up to stop Guido from advancing. "We'll take him for ya, nobody messes with youse tonight."

Jamie just smiled.


Both of Guido's companions hit the ground hard as baseball bats swung and hit them in the back. Two duplicates had struck; the thugs were on the ground, maybe with broken backs.

It didn't matter.

Guido looked angry, and easily swatted the duplicates away, unknowingly creating more.

"You're supposed to be dead!" he shouted at Madrox. "You were shot tonight!"

"Yeah," Jamie responded, "I know. Hurt like hell, but now I'm out of the hospital, and I wasn't about to let you get away so easily."

"You killed Pantu!" Guido shouted, anger in his eyes.

"I didn't kill anybody," Madrox said calmly, "now shut up. You're coming with me, we're going to the police."

"Hell NO!" Guido Carosella shouted and charged at the little man holding the bat.

Jamie ducked easily under the large man's hands and hit himself in the shoulder creating a dupe. The dupe rammed upwards with his bat but was smashed against a wall by Guido who barely felt the hit.

The original darted to the side, creating two duplicates as he ran. The two duplicates charged at Guido, along with the others who had come out of the shadows. They swarmed him like insects, hitting with bats.

But the big man would not go down. He punched and swung his massive arms. Duplicates flew off like thrown footballs. Hurling through the sky to land with a dull thud, only to create another duplicate who would then charge into the fight.

The original Jamie Madrox watched from the sidelines, he could be killed. He would let his duplicates deal with the angry monster. Guido's roars could be heard a ways off, but no one was around. The streets were empty, but the bar was quickly emptying.

A number of suited men ran out with guns, handguns, and began firing at duplicates. Jamie doubled over with pain as his duplicates were being shot. But each bullet fired would create even more duplicates to fight. The new men from the bar were also being overcome by pure numbers, and in the center, a large disfigured man fought against an increasing number of smaller insects.

"Stop this!" one man shouted above the yelling, "Right now!" Jamie stood slowly and looked at this new man. He was dressed in a business suit with a tie and everything. A hooker was with him, and he was holding a gun to a young girl's head. She was blonde and dressed in dirty clothing; she was struggling.

Instantly, Madrox reabsorbed all this duplicates and threw the baseball bat down.

"Don't hurt her," he said carefully, stepping into the group of battered thugs.

The man in the suit smiled.

"I won't mutant," he reholstered the gun in his coat and pushed the teenager, crying, into the arms of the prostitute. "Boys!"

Two thugs moved in quickly and grabbed Madrox's arms, holding him. A third went up and punched him hard in the stomach.

A duplicate was created, and it punched the guy back angrily. The thug wouldn't take that, and punched the duplicate too. This created yet another duplicate who also punched the guy in the face.

"Hey! Don't punch him Nimble!" the man in the suit shouted. The thug grabbed his nose and moved back into the small crowd that had formed of the men from the bar plus Guido. Jamie reabsorbed the duplicates, still being held by the two men.

"Let the girl go," Madrox said slowly to the man in the suit.

"Haha," the man laughed, "where's she gonna go? She's a street urchin, a runaway. She has no home; she belongs to us. She's a mutant by the way, little mutant girl. She'd make a good soldier for us. Lucky thing we had her here when you started attacking Guido huh?"

Jamie just stared at him.

"Guido?" the man asked, "Who is this clown?"

"He's just some mutant Mister Bubbah," Guido answered, "him and some mutant friends attacked me and Reaper earlier tonight at Toni's. Pantu's dead 'cause of him."

"So you're the shining knight who saved Toni's huh?" Mister Bubbah asked Jamie. "You're lucky I can't smack ya mutant, stoppin' that bust aaand killin' Reaper are two pretty major offense."

"Just shoot him Bubbah," Nimble suggested.

"I should shoot you moron," Mister Bubbah sighed, "jeez Nimble, ya moron, did ya not see his mutant power? He creates more'o'im when he's hit. That's even better than Reaper and Guido, and this little chick here. No, we can use him."

"I'll never work for you," Jamie said defiantly.

"Who ever said you had a choice?" Mister Bubbah asked getting in his face.

"I did," a voice called from down the street.

The entire group turned to see a group of people, highlighted by streetlights behind them, making it almost as if they were on display.

"Who the hell are you?" Mister Bubbah asked.

"Avalanche!" Madrox shouted, "X-Force!"

"Who?" Mister Bubbah turned to Jamie.

"Petros!" a man from the crowd gasped.

"Petros!" Mister Bubbah shrieked, turning to X-Force and drawing his gun.

He didn't get to use it, because a sharp bone projectile instantly sliced through his hand. X-Force was attacking.

The ground surged with power as Dominic Petros used his mutant gifts to knock most of the thugs to the ground. Including the ones holding Jamie. Madrox instantly began creating duplicates to fight with.

Sara ripped off her cloak and charged into battle with whoever would get close enough. She sprang lightly from the ground and planted her foot firmly in the neck of one such man.

Jubilee, and Calvin mimicking Jubilee, both marched down the left side of the street, blasting plasma bolts at the men. Cecilia hung in the back.

Even the young mutant girl got into the act, apparently throwing dark orange plasma spheres from her hands. They would hit the men, and apparently explode. It was an easy battle.

Mutant vs. Man.

Evolution's proper course?


Jamie stopped fighting and reabsorbed his duplicates. He looked around at the battle before him. The thugs from the bar were dropping like flies. Whether it was a plasma blast, an exploding ball of something, or a bone dagger, they didn't stand a chance against the small band of mutants.

Sara was scuffling with a couple. Cecilia still stood towards the back, not even attacking at all. Dominic was done as well, standing over the unconscious body of Mister Bubbah. Jubilee, Calvin, and that new girl were blasting away at the giant Guido Carosella. He was the only one really standing.

Earlier in the night, Jamie Madrox had been shot in a fight just like this one. Underworld punks, criminals without leadership just randomly trying to make their life of crime. This time, he had come for revenge. But it was the exact same fight.

It had been a long night.

Jubilee, Calvin, and the girl had Guido back against the wall, cringing.

"Stop," Madrox said calmly. They stopped and turned to him. Even the giant Guido looked, wondering why he was saved.

"What is it Madrox?" Dominic came up beside him.

"Stop fighting him, just stop," Jamie almost pleaded, "we're done here."

"But we came to bust this doof Madrox," Jubilee complained, "what's wrong with you?"

"I've just had enough for one night," he said jokingly, with a little chuckle. Then he just started laughing.

Cecilia soon joined him, chuckling lightly at him at first, then getting into it.

The Calvin started laughing, and Dominic. Even Sara laughed.

And finally, after sneering at them all, Jubilee began to chuckle too.

They were in the middle of Hell's Kitchen, the toughest part of the city. They were fighting and had won, but yet, that was it.

And it was funny.

They laughed for a full minute, full belly laughs. Guido Carosella and the teenage girl just stood and stared. They could have ran, either one, but they didn't.

Soon enough, the laughter stopped. X-Force righted themselves and looked at their "prisoners".

"So what are we going to do with you?" Madrox asked, looking at the teenage girl.

"Why are you asking me?" she squeaked, a high-pitch nervous voice.

"What's your name?" Cecilia asked her.

"Smith," she said curtly, "Tabitha Smith."

"Hello Tabitha," Cecilia responded.

Guido tried to slip away, but was stopped when Sara stabbed a bone dagger into the brick wall with a snarl.

"Welcome to the flock Tabitha," Madrox said with a grin.

"Um, okay," she said reluctantly. She didn't know what else to do. She had nothing really in the world, a horrible family somewhere, but they didn't matter. All that mattered was the night and these people.

The group didn't know what to do next. They were waiting for Jamie to say something. He just stared at Guido against the wall and sighed. They stood in silence for a few seconds, before Dominic broke the ice.

"I'm leaving Jamie, guys," he said earnestly.

"What?" Cecilia squeaked, putting her hands to her mouth in surprise.

"Leaving?" Jubilee asked, taking a step forward.

Jamie just nodded, never taking his eyes off of the large mutant.

"I…well," Dominic started, "taking it back to those guys at the bar, my old collegues. It felt right. The Kingpin is gone, and there are a lot of loose ends he left running around this city. Like our friend there. I, well, I want to go off on my own, see if I can do something good and put them away."

"Starting with him?" Jamie asked, turning to his friend.

"Yeah, I'll take him in," Dominic said moving next to Jamie.

"Well then, god-speed friend," Jamie said and they clasped hands. Jubilee ran in for a hug, as did Cecilia. Sara and Calvin both shook Dominic's hand.

"You're gonna do fine," Sara told him.

"I know," Dominic said and turned to Tabitha Smith, "but I think maybe I could use some help. Just a little."

She got red in the face.

"What? Me?" she asked nervously.

"Yeah you," he replied with a grin, "you're a runaway right? You've got nothing, except for some extraordinary powers. Would you like to join me on my little crusade? These monsters were about to sell you as a weapon. Time to pay them back."

"I…I, well," she stuttered, "sure." And they shook hands.

"Well then, we've got a bunch of knocked-out goombas at our feet, better find some way to call the police," he said with a chuckle.

"We'll call them on our way out Dom," Jamie said, hitting him on the shoulder, "don't worry about it."

They embraced quickly, and Jamie Madrox slowly started walking down the darkened street.

"Dawn's coming," he said calmly, looking at the brightening skies.

Cecilia took Sara's hand and they followed after him, occasionally glancing back at Dominic and Tabitha.

Sara was crying.

Calvin was next; he caught up to them and placed his arm across Sara's shoulders.

Jubilee brought up the rear. Hugging Dominic quickly again, and then joining the others.

Dominic laughed calmly and turned away, hiding his own tears.

He looked towards Tabitha. She was tossing one of her little mutant time bombs up and down in her hand like a baseball, toying with Guido Carosella. The big man wasn't going to put up a fight.

Dominic looked down at Mister Bubbah, his former boss. He kicked him lightly in the side.

Ever since that man had chased him from New York, Dominic Petros had been running. Running from the mob, running from the Sentinels, running from Weapon X, always running with X-Force. It was hard being a mutant.

It was hard being a person.

He looked over the man on the ground. Ripped suit, crumpled tie, a regular mob bossman. He used to fear Bubbah's wrath, the chewing out.

He chuckled to himself as he realized that finally, the running had stopped.

No more fear.

No more hiding.

Finally, no more running.

It would be his city.

Have you ever felt an earthquake in New York City?