Kurt sighed in deep contentment as he lay back against the tiles of the institute roof. The weather was pleasant but the freedom of going outside in daylight hours would've made the chilliest bone-drenching rain something to dance in. He'd been out in this for a while. His fur and costume were getting hot due to the dark colored material; however this was no cause for upset. On the contrary, he felt ridiculously spoiled.

Xavier had treated him like a human above all, yet understanding and considerate of the things that made Kurt special. For instance, the uniform Xavier had supplied him with fit his body like a dream. It was tailored especially for him, close-fitting but stretchy to allow full flexibility. It even had a comfortable outlet for his tail.

That verdammt tail. When he was seven, he had realized one day that the spaded appendage had become too thick around the base to fit comfortably through the holes his mother had sewn into the seat of every pair of pants he'd owned. Of course Kurt had cried. He hadn't wanted his tail to grow any more; it was quite enough he had one. God bless her, his mother hadn't been upset at all about this growth spurt. She'd spent the day with him curled up in her lap and taught him how to sew - something she thought everyone with an ounce of good sense should teach their children.

Thinking of her and the way she had held him that day, kissing away his tears of shame, Kurt felt a profound pang of homesickness. Had he really made the right choice? He'd called his parents as soon as he'd arrived at the Institute with Xavier's permission. The sheer amount of relief in their voices at his safe arrival had filled him with guilt and worry. Papa admitted that they hadn't slept a wink since they put him on the plane to Canada, not even after one of their friends had called in inform them that Kurt was safely on the train to Bayville.

He'd passed unharmed through a lot of real danger to get here, but his parents had suffered through fears of a thousand possibilities. If anything happened to him, they would never forgive themselves for letting him come to America. Kurt loved them too much to allow them to grieve like that. For that reason first among others, he refused to be careless with this new gift.

The inducer could get broken or fall off. The battery could wear out. Someone could accidentally touch him. A number of disasters could happen and Kurt was not eager to experience any of them. The part of him that itched to leave the Institute grounds and go exploring in the sunlight clashed with these worries. Kurt shifted and put one arm over his eyes to keep the sun out of them. Well at least he could go to school without worry. School was just a place to learn and sit behind a desk. No-one would bother him there so long as he looked normal.

Kurt sighed gently, and then suddenly sat up to peer in confusion at the red convertible that rolled through the gates and up the driveway to the Institute. Seated inside were Scott and Todd. Xavier and Ororo both were walking to meet them. Kurt bit his lip. Had there been trouble at school? Not wanting to eavesdrop or be accused of as such, Kurt backed away from the roof's edge and teleported into his room.

He'd find out what was going on later.


Todd's eyes focused on the sterile gauze wrapped around his injured hand. The incisions were not deep enough to require stitches, and they didn't hurt. Or perhaps they had yet to.

Charles' brow furrowed in concern at the silence of his youngest charge. The teen had come to him in a considerable amount of distress. The fear wasn't as wild as it had been during the previous connection with Todd at the payphone. Now that Mystique was no longer able to torment him - for the moment, anyway - it had lessened considerably. But it was still there.

At the sound of a polite cough, Todd nervously glanced at Xavier and just as quickly shifted his eyes away.

"Well, now that you're in a safer environment, would you care to tell me what happened?" Xavier already knew most of what had happened but there were obscured details and he needed to hear Todd recounting it. This wasn't the type of experience one kept bottled up.

Todd gave an indistinguishable mutter and kept his eyes on the ground. Xavier reached across and put a firm hand on his shoulder. "Look at me, Todd . . ."

The young mutant obeyed, yellow eyes bright with unshed tears.

"As far as I can see, you've done nothing wrong. I'm glad you came to me when you thought you were in trouble. Whatever happened, I'm here right now to listen to your side of the story, not to judge you. "

"What's the point in telling?" Todd replied despondently. "You're a telepath. Wouldn't it be better if you just . . . went ahead and saw for yourself?"

Charles bowed his head. "I understand. You haven't had much experience with being trusted, have you?"

Dammit, this was hard. Todd hated having his hopes brought up for nothing. He swallowed dryly, promising himself he would not show any further weakness. "I'm a troublemaker, everybody knows it. Why you pretendin' it's news? Jeez, dawg, just this mornin' you collected stolen money from me."

"Which you gave over without fuss or lie. All of it, while you could have attempted to keep some for yourself. I think that shows there might be a spark of honesty in you somewhere, don't you?" The Professor's eyes were friendly. The boy's heart wondered how friendly they'd look after Xavier heard what he had to say. He might as well be done with it then.

"Principal Darkholme's real name is Mystique. She was trying to get me to fight for Magneto. I - I really can't tell you who or what that is," he quavered apologetically. He could feel himself trembling and made a vain effort to stop. "She didn't explain it to me very well."

"That's all right. Please, go on," Xavier told the agitated teen. Todd was mentally begging Xavier to go into his mind; to take what he needed to know and just let him leave if that was best. Telling was painful. Being listened to was worse. The boy was used to the grownups already knowing what he'd done wrong and then punishing him. The fact that Todd hadn't done anything wrong was lost to years of conditioning that whatever bad things befell him was automatically and without fail, his fault. Xavier wanted more than anything to draw him out of that mindset, and by giving Tolensky the opportunity to tell his side of things, was hopefully making some progress.

What Charles wasn't prepared for was how much strain it was causing the boy to have tradition broken so suddenly, and yet still be utterly convinced that this was not going to end in his favor.

You can do this, Todd. Xavier pushed gently into the frog-teen's mind. He searched for the bit of helpful logic that was being crushed by fear and doubt, and brought it up front. If he was going to kick you out for somethin' that you haven't done, why's he takin' time to listen to you?

Todd blinked at that thought, and the barrier of self-blame and hopelessness began to crumble just a bit around the edges. Shakily he continued. "I was supposed to join up with you like a normal recruit, find out all I could 'bout the mansion and take info back to her. On top of that, to steal files from somethin' called Cerebro. I said no, so she went all freaky and attacked me."

"How did she attack you?" Charles pressed gently. Todd's heart skipped a beat. The man honestly appeared to believe him at his word. But why? How could he tell? Todd was too confused to be relieved.

As the boy continued, Charles listened with more than his ears. From what he could gather, Mystique's threats had been realistic, unlike the nightmarish illusions. She knew that Todd would have had nowhere to turn and no-one to believe him had he still been living on his own. Through unlucky circumstances and past misdemeanors, Todd was a young man used to being on the wrong side of the law and therefore unprotected by it.

Having finished, Toad apprehensively returned the older man's solemn gaze. Xavier sighed and rested his chin between thumb and fingers for a brief moment.

"You, uh," Todd ventured. "Really think I'm on the level?"

"Whatever do you mean?"

"How do you know without . . . knowing? Honestly, if you hadn't offered me a place to stay and all that, I might've agreed to her."

Xavier raised one eyebrow. "You may have, perhaps," he said, casually.

"Don't it bother you that I might've been your enemy if I didn't come here first?"

"Mr. Tolensky, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you refused Mystique because of something much stronger than 'first come, first serve' philosophy. Why do you really think it was that you came to decline her invitation?"

"Because I was stupid. You shoulda seen her. I mean, only a true idiot would've said 'no' to something breathin' down their neck through fangs like that. I wanted more than anything to say yes and not die, but . . . but if I had to fight Kurt and the rest of you, my life would suck." Todd's gaze widened in genuine surprise at what he'd just declared, but he didn't regret them at all.

Xavier smiled. "Indeed?"

"Y-Yeah. I guess it's cause nobody ever gave me the time of day before. But you listen to me, y'know? I didn't wanna leave you, or Kurt, or anybody . . . 'cause . . . 'cause I ain't never had a home bef. . ." The teen couldn't finish. He hid his face between bare knees because breathing cooler air seemed to generate an uncomfortable prickling sensation behind his eyes and in his throat.

"Todd." The amphibian felt gentle hands on his shoulders, and to his mortification, could not hold back a sniffle. "I don't need to read your mind to see that you're a very courageous young man. I want you to realize this for yourself. You stood up for yourself despite your fear, and managed to escape when things turned violent. That shows a quality of bravery I'm not likely to discard. In other words, you are in no uncertain terms staying here for as long as you choose."

It was a time before Todd could stammer out a thank you, or in fact, anything at all distinguishable.

"You're quite welcome." Xavier replied gently. "And as for Darkholme . . . I'm certain she will not approach you or any other student at school in a threatening manner again."

"How?" the boy asked, helping himself to the box of Kleenex with one hand, while he shielded his tear-stained face with the other. "I mean, the lady's pretty unstable. You sure she'll listen to you?"

Charles sighed. "I'm not certain. But I do have ways of persuasion. Silence can sometimes be the strongest weapon."

Todd looked up in alarm, all vanity purposes forgotten. "You're not gonna say anything? But what if she does this to other mutants? As long as she's principal --"

"I know exactly who and where she is," finished Xavier. Todd looked bothered for a moment, then comprehension dawned.

"You're gonna spy on her."

"I'm going to keep tabs on her current identity. I don't want her to be forced out of her disguise. Mystique is very hard to track, even with Cerebro. Right now she needs money and power to recruit young mutants such as yourself. In this position of power, Mystique has to appear to be a law-abiding citizen. I can track her movements if I believe them to mean harm to my students. But if she's someone else - who isn't under scrutiny - she can get away with a lot more."

"Personally, I think she's gettin' away with plenty already," Toad grumbled. What were the kids who weren't under Xavier's protection supposed to do? Xavier couldn't look after everyone . . . but maybe he didn't have to.

Tolensky chewed thoughtfully on a corner of his lip. "You telling the others who she is?"

"All the students will know who Darkholme is by morning at the least, and hopefully they too will understand why I prefer to keep her within my sights. The events of today have convinced me even further that knowledge is the best defense."

"As much as I'd like to see her sacked, yo, that does make sense. Anyway, if it's okay . . . I think I'd like to find a place where I can chill out."

Charles nodded. "I would suggest it."

And as soon as Todd left, Xavier was going to pick up the phone and have a little chat with the guardians of Duncan Matthews, Bruce Malchin, and Jeff Corey.


"What happened?"

Raven closed her eyes and sighed heavily. Magneto. Of course he would be infuriated about this. Damn that little . . .

"I'm sorry, sir," she attempted. "We were overconfident about the boy's availability."

Magneto's voice was cold. "We, Mystique?"

"I was overconfident," Raven corrected. She took the seat at the oaken desk to conceal the slight quivering of her knees. "Xavier got to the boy first because I was careless. He was a drifter, a nobody. I thought he would be overlooked."

"Obviously you were mistaken."

Raven sat unmoving, seeing little purpose in reminding Magneto that he had been the one who'd expressed his opinion that Charles would never try to recruit someone like Todd Tolensky into his noble team of X-men; that she should stop worrying about something that would never happen. As it was, she was in enough trouble for disregarding Magneto's advice on how to approach the boy.

"If you had done as I said," he was saying, "Perhaps he would have questioned his place with Xavier."

"I thought he had no-one."

"Well, as proven, you thought wrong. I am disappointed with you, Mystique. You practically sent the boy to Xavier."

"Xavier can have him. Anyone could see that Tolensky was a waste of time," Raven growled dismissively. She was tired and starting to get a headache from the whole stupid muddle of things. A stapler lifted off the desktop and opened, hovering between her wide eyes. Raven drew back in her chair the whole way though it did little good to shake off the malicious office appliance. "M-Magneto, I . . . Forgive me, please!"

"Even if Todd would have proved a less than exemplary soldier, it doesn't reflect well on us to be unable to recruit even the simplest of mutants. On top of that, Xavier will have now become aware of the fact that you are working for me. That is not information I wanted him to have!"

Unable to tear her gaze away from the stapler's readiness to perform, Mystique's mind scrambled for an answer. "That may not necessarily be the case," she gasped. "What if Tolensky hasn't said anything for fear of being doubted? It will only be a matter of time before he is tired of being mistrusted and leaves Xavier's school."

"You are making blind guesses at best, Mystique. You underestimated the boy's worth, and now you underestimate Xavier's fondness for strays. He'll take that boy under his wing and turn him into yet another tool which can be used against us." Magneto made a disgusted gesture and the stapler fell to its former lifeless state. "I will know if and when he tries to remove you from this office. Whatever miracle you're hoping for that Xavier will not believe the boy enough to take action against you, its prospects are rather dim."


Mystique swallowed dryly and scanned the room, even though she knew Magneto was already gone. Unable to keep from trembling, Raven tossed the stapler into a trashcan and folded her hands on the desk for just a moment's repose. Magneto had abandoned her to her own devices but she wasn't going to sit this out and wait for the best. The outcome of this disaster was up to her. A drawer opened containing files and folders of paperwork. She sighed and drew one of the folders out, dropping it on her desk with a heavy smack.

It was going to be a long night.


Scott had gone back to school before Kurt could ask him anything, but Todd had been allowed to remain home. Judging by Ororo's agitation in the kitchen (she'd nearly dropped a teacup twice while drying it) this was something big.

In the hopes that anything considered unwelcome intrusion would be forgiven between friends, Kurt made his way to the boy's room. He cleared his throat gently as he approached the half-open doorway and gave another of his famous ghost knocks on the frame.

"Kurt?" a hopeful voice sounded from within. The door swung open. "Yo, come in, man! You ain't gonna believe what . . . Gah!" As suddenly as he'd appeared, Todd vanished from sight. Kurt blinked in utter confusion until two things hit him. The first was that he had his inducer still on. The second, that Todd had never seen him with his inducer on and this must be the reason why Todd was clinging to the ceiling and regarding him in a growing state of alarm.

"Easy, easy, it's just me!" Kurt vowed, holding up both hands peacefully. His fingers turned off the inducer, reverting back to natural form. "Ta Da!"

"GAAAAAHHH!" Todd hollered, flattening himself against the ceiling.

"Todd! What is up with you?" With a bamf, Kurt appeared upside-down next to him. Todd yelped again, and let go of the ceiling. Kurt made a failed grab for him and winced as Todd just missed the bed.

"Ooooh . . ." he groaned brokenly from the floor. Todd wobbled to his feet even as Kurt somersaulted down to assist him. "Okay, okay. It is you. My bad."

"Now do you mind telling me what that was all about?" Kurt asked, helping the smaller teen onto the bed. "I was under the impression you were used to me."

"Wasn't you. The change between forms is what caught me off guard. I got on a shape-shifter's shit list today."

Kurt raised an eyebrow. "You mean another mutant? Is Xavier going to try and recruit him?"

"It's a her, and no he's definitely not." Briefly, Todd sketched out the events of that morning. He found that it was far easier to talk about this time than it had been with the Professor. Kurt's eyes were wide with intrigue.

"No way," he breathed. "We have an insane mutant were-wench for a principal?"

"About as weird as it gets. But you got a story of your own, boy. Where did you pick up this mad prop?" The frog-boy held up Kurt's wrist to look closer at the watch. "From the Professor?"

"Ja, isn't it super? I can go anywhere with this thing!"

"Wicked! See, I knew he'd come through for ya."

"Of course I have to be careful, but the Professor says I can go to school tomorrow!"

". . . I fail to see why that's a good thing, yo."

Nightcrawler rolled his eyes. "Don't be like that. I'm sure Principal Darkholme won't give us trouble so long as we don't give her more than the usual." He winked. Todd looked skeptical. "Oh, come on! This is the first I've ever been able to mingle with strangers. In daylight! Psychos in the faculty aside, how can I not be excited about this?"

"Then I really do hate to put a damper on it for ya, but the novelty's gonna get old real quick. High school has a thousand and three ways of putting the poop in your party-life."

Kurt's tail swished in vexation. "Fein, it'll be horrible, but I'd still rather go than be cooped up inside and go stir-crazy." The elf could feel his heart drooping with disappointment. He'd thought Todd would be happy that he was going to school with him.

Todd might've flippantly said that going stir-crazy in hell itself would be better than Bayville High, but in a moment of insight, realized Kurt was not in a joking mood about this. "Okay, I'm sorry. I had a sucky day and while that probably won't happen to you beyond anything you can't handle, I just wanted to give you fair warnin'. One high school, many levels of persecution. With or without the wonder watch. Know what I'm sayin?"

"Believe me," Kurt softened, putting an arm around Tolensky's shoulders. "Persecution and I are old friends. There'll be no surprises for me."


Strands of coarse sandy hair blew about the stranger's face as he stared down from a mountain ledge. His target was leaving a convenience store and heading toward a motorcycle, obviously to go back to wherever he was staying.

Victor Creed wasn't the kind of man to believe in luck, but after months of hunting this guy down, it seemed like he'd finally caught a break. All he had to do now was follow Logan back to the secluded woods where they could resume their little 'argument'. Or so he thought.

Sabertooth's eyes narrowed as Logan's bike headed in the opposite direction, towards town. He couldn't imagine why. The man valued seclusion and quiet since the urban smells and sounds threw off his advanced senses. Creed snarled to himself in vexation and his claws dug into the rocky terrain. He'd have to wait a bit longer to pinpoint Logan's current lodgings. For all he knew at this moment, the man could be leaving the state.

Just as he was about to climb down and follow the scent afoot, another scent made him wary that he was not alone up here. Victor whirled around, coat fluttering and snapping. Floating before him was a man in crimson and metal attire, complete with cape and helm.

"Who're you?" Creed rumbled.

"You may call me Magneto. I have an interesting proposition for you."

"Not interested." He started to climb down and, though he'd never own up to it, yowled in surprise as he felt himself being lifted into the air.

"What about now, friend?"

"I think you should put me down before you get tired, old man. I'm no lightweight." But Victor had to admit, Magneto had gotten his attention.

"I see you're playing cat and mouse. What if I could give you an easier time of catching him?"

"I'd have to say that I don't need your help. Takes all the fun out of it."

Magneto smirked. "You consider trekking miles through the deserts of Nevada after scent trails 'fun'?"

Sabertooth growled low in his throat. "How long have you been following me?"

"I found you by chance if that's what you mean. But I know someone who can find mutants - any mutant in the world - with the aid of a machine called Cerebro. Help me get to it, and you'll have your mouse."

Sabertooth either grimaced or smiled; it was hard to tell which. His answer, however, did not leave Magneto disappointed.


"And then he gave five pages of homework on Calculus - five pages - because that idiot Andre wouldn't turn off his cell phone in class!" Jean fumed from the passenger seat of Scott's car.

Scott drove on in silence, his mind on something other than Jean talking. And apparently, also on something other than driving.

"Mr. Jordan said that if we -- Scott! That was a stop sign!"

"Shoot!" Scott looked behind him nervously to see that there was no cop car that had seen the misdemeanor. Only an old woman who turned left into the lane behind him honking furiously at his disregard for traffic laws. "Sorry, Jean. I got distracted."

"Do you want me to drive?"

"No, I'm fine now."

"So, uh, how was your day?" Jean asked. Scott didn't feel like talking about it, and so relayed the events another way. The red-head gasped. "Oh, Scott . . . Who do you think it was?"

Scott risked a glance at her and it was not a happy one. "You tell me."

Her eyebrow raised at the not-so-subtle indication. "Duncan? I know you and he don't get along, but he's got better things to do than beat freshmen into a living pulp."

"You don't appear to know the guy very well, Jean."

"Would I date a guy who didn't have a life?" Silence. "Well?"

Scott whistled nonchalantly, pretending he hadn't heard the question.

"Scott!" Jean snapped, then sighed. "Okay, he does seem the brawn over brain type. A little."

"He's a first class jerk. Read his mind and you'll see."

She shook her head. "No, I'd rather not. I want this relationship to be built on trust, and if I'm always snooping around in his mind what's the point? I might end up judging him too much. You know, especially for thoughts that boys sometimes have that aren't exactly . . . shall we say pure?"

She'd seen thoughts like those before. Jean suppressed a shudder. Some of Duncan's 'kink' ideas were just disturbing, which is why she made it a point not to wander through his mind. She was still new at this and the likelihood of accidentally coming across another rope and handcuff fantasy was a bit high for her comfort level. What mattered - or what should matter - was that he behaved like the perfect gentleman to her.

"Hey, don't take it seriously," Scott was saying. "If Duncan or any of his friends are the perps, it's not your responsibility to get involved. I'm just looking out for your safety."

Jean smiled at him, but her tone was firm. "Thanks, but I can take care of myself."


Night was beginning to drop its purple hues over the east coast, and for the students at the Institute it meant finishing up homework and getting ready to wind down for the night. Well, half the students anyway.

Scott threw down his pen at another set of galloping thumps out in the hallway passing his room. Yanking the door ajar, Scott opened his mouth to yell at whoever was creating the noise and managed to inhale a great gulp of blue fur before he was flattened.

"Ach! I'm sorry! Sorry!" Kurt tried desperately to untangle himself from Scott's dazed form.

"You okay, Summers?"

"I'm fine," Scott muttered, between spitting and coughing out tufts of Kurt's coat. Kurt was brushing himself off and muttering a litany of apologies.

"Yo, we didn't see you," Todd added. "No harm meant."

"No harm done, except I'm trying to finish a History essay and you guys are making a racket. What are you doing?"

"We're playing wall-tag. It's good exercise!" the elf grinned, now attempting to brush himself off Scott.

"Do it outside then. There's plenty room for running amok on the grounds."

Kurt brightened at this. "Jawhol. It is getting a bit hot indoors. Some cool air may be just the thing." He turned to exchange hi-fives with Todd. "You're it," Kurt informed, then 'ported away. Todd blinked, then realized he'd been had.

"I said no 'portin! Aw, that's it, blue boy! You in trouble now!"

"Come and get me, Kermit!" the elf catcalled from downstairs. Todd took off hopping towards the source.

Scott rolled his eyes and retreated into the relative safety of his room, grumbling. "They keep this up when Logan gets back, they'll get more exercise then they could ever hope for."

"I'm gainin' on ya!"

"As if, slowpoke! You couldn't catch flies on a windshield!"

"Oh yeah!" Todd rebounded off the tree and landed in a network of branches that were interlaced, which meant he could hop across them as if they were the forest floor. It was a slight advantage over Kurt who was using tree trunks that were further apart and had to take more time and energy making the jumps.

"You have no sense of challenge," Kurt complained lightly. He could port away the minute Todd looked ready to pounce, but where was the fun in that? Ah, now the trees were getting thicker. The elf headed toward up the branches on his side of the canopy and looked over to see Todd racing alongside him.

Little did they know that their game was taking them deeper into the woods surrounding the Institute, and over the path of a lone figure walking towards it.


Logan was not happy.

He'd had little luck finding out what he wanted to about his past, the fumes from the cities he'd ridden through had been nauseating to breathe in, and now his bike's front wheel was dented thanks to loose gravel on the road and a turn that was just a touch too sharp for such conditions. Wolverine's scratches had finished healing forty paces back, but the right side of his jeans was worn down and almost shredded by the friction of the road.

Coulda been worse, Logan thought to himself. And if I hadn't been in such a damn hurry to get back, I mighta been more careful.

The newspaper photo at the convenience store had looked like Cyke's work, but he couldn't be sure of that or the circumstances surrounding it. What if the kid had been attacked? What if it was a completely new mutant?

"Maybe Xavier's right about gettin' a cell," he muttered, and winced inwardly at the intrusion that would promise.

A sudden noise reached his ears. Logan sniffed the air and growled at the unfamiliar smells of two people headed his way. Neither were human. One smelled of fur and sulfur, the other of damp decomposing plant-life. Combined, the unpleasantness was enough to set Logan on edge.

He started walking again toward the Institute, determined to intercept and interrogate.

Kurt had lost sight of Todd during their race. One minute the froggish teen was hopping across from him, the next, gone. Nightcrawler didn't spare a moment to think the younger mutant wasn't up to something. He kept his pace up, but opened his senses to his surroundings, in case Todd had switched sides and was right on his heels.

A twig breaking from the ground below was what made Kurt stop. It was a direct violation of the game rules to touch the ground and Todd knew it. Nightcrawler's muscles tensed.

"Cheaters never prosper!" he yelled and merrily pounced.

The elf's bones jarred as he landed on two hundred and plus pounds of adamantium, and whoever he'd landed on wasn't too happy about it either. Kurt found himself tossed aside like a toy, the wind whooshing out of his lungs as his back slammed into a thick pine.

Low growls and footsteps approached his sprawled form as Kurt tried desperately to breathe again.

"Crawler! Look out!"

For the second time that night, there was the sound of one body colliding with an unyielding second, followed by a pained cry from Todd as he failed to dodge a retaliatory kick. A wet splat and disgruntled cursing indicated that Todd wasn't down for keeps. Kurt was still gasping for air when something grabbed hold of his arm and tugged. "Come on, I don't think my slime's gonna hold him."

"Can't run," Kurt wheezed. "Hold on to me."

Toad's grip tightened nervously as Nightcrawler concentrated on the Institute. It wasn't far, and they'd be safe so long as he kept focused, but his mind was panicking and came up blank. Kurt gave a whimper of frustration and tried to think of just one specific location within the mansion.

"Whoever you are, you're in for a world of hurt if you're after trouble," the mystery man snarled. Metal rang out with a sharp 'snikt'. Todd and Kurt both saw gleaming blades illuminated by leaf-filtered streams of the gibbet moon overhead. Their hearts leaped in their throat, constricting any screams that may be forthcoming. In terror, the boys clung to each other and Kurt's instinct to flee overrode all sense of precaution.

Logan took a step forward and stopped as his triggered aggressiveness allowed certain facts to sink in. He'd had no time to realize a few seconds ago, but now that he could see them shaking, fear frozen upon their features . . .

Goddamn it. They're just kids.

His claws retracted. "It's okay," he said, gruffly. "I ain't gonna . . ." Logan trailed off in confusion, staring at the empty space before him. Brimstone and sulfur clouded his nose and he turned his face away with a cough.

"Where the hell did they go?"

To Be Continued . . .

A/N: Yes, I know, another damn cliffhanger. I keep thinking if I end it on a cliffhanger I'll get to writing it faster, but sometimes it just doesn't work that way. --; I would've written more, but I felt that all of you had waited long enough. Hope this is worth the wait. RL likes to take me by the tailcoats sometimes, as it does to all of us. Thank you for being so patient with meeee!

Next chapter, you guessed it. Todd and Kurt get up close and personal with the Danger Room. And then Kurt's first day at school. It would've taken another fifteen pages to resolve that, and I think this chapter is long enough.

And I have to add a disclaimer I neglected due to ignorance from the last chapter. The band I referenced to Kurt liking was the Beatles, and I thought it was mentioned in the show or comics that he liked that band, but now I realize actually comes from Internutter's universe. Sorry Nutter! ;