"But then why take me at all?" I snapped, slamming an open hand onto the desk in front of me. Xavier just stared at me until the flush crept up my neck and into my face, upon which I apologized and sat back in my seat, arms crossed protectively over my stomach.

All of the senior X-Men, including Wolverine, were crammed into Xavier's office as we compared notes and tried to figure out a plan of action. I could only offer what I'd blurted to Xavier during the plane ride: that I had given Magneto information, that he had kept Kelly as a prisoner longer than myself and had not only replaced him with Mystique in the working world but somehow altered his genetic structure enough to force a mutation to show.

"He saw an opportunity to get everything he wanted in one fell swoop, and he took it." Scott cut an imposing figure next to Jean, glasses flashing in the afternoon light.

"Indeed. He wanted Marie," Xavier said, his fingers tapping along the arms of his chair. "He truly just wanted to get her as easily as he could, and he seemed to think I would be willing to sacrifice much for your sake." I flinched a bit, at that, because by his own words, he hadn't deemed me of enough importance to do just that. But I couldn't blame him. Marie came to his door frightened and displaying a powerful and deadly mutation. He wasn't about to turn her over to Magnets-for-brains just because the old man asked nicely. "Even though it did not turn out as he expected, he still received much intelligence about the mutant community, which he will find most valuable. That alone made it worth the attempt."

"I'll tell you everything I told him," I promised.

"That won't get her back," Logan snarled, teeth gnashing. I skinned my lips back, baring fangs, feeling my ears pin to my head.

"You think I don't know that?!" I hissed. "She's ten times as important to me as she is to you, Logan." I ached with the urge to toss a blade at him, but restrained myself. He was still recovering after the last time I'd done just that.

"We have been talking with a lot of the students over the past few hours," Storm gracefully interrupted, flicking myself and Logan a withering glance before continuing on, addressing Xavier. "She had been in the library that entire morning and stepped outside after lunch. She was sitting on the bench overlooking the courtyard, reading, when Bobby Drake approached her. They had a short conversation and she returned to the mansion. After that... well. I asked one of the telepaths to see where she was, as one of her assignments for my class was done rather poorly. He could not find her, and when we swept the house and the grounds, she was nowhere to be found."

"I'll kill him," I promised, leaping to my feet with enough force to send my chair skittering behind me. Jean grabbed my arm, however, and waved a hand, bringing my chair back to its original position.

"Hear her out," Jean asked, a knowing look in her eyes. Probably lifted the story straight from Storm's brain, and I envied her for that ability right now, because I had a lifetime's worth of rage and desperately needed an outlet.

Storm nodded regally at Jean and continued, not a hair out of place despite one of her students being gone. "When we spoke with Bobby, he denied ever speaking with her. He had been in the common room, playing with John and some of the younger children, all of which confirm his presence there and not outside."

Everyone paused for a moment to let that sink in.

"Mystique," I snarled, and followed it up with a profusion of curse words that got me glares (and one impressed eyebrow-raise from the King of Bar Fights himself) from everyone at the table.

"Magneto must have contacted her as soon as they were in the helicopter," Scott pointed out. "He probably ordered her to the mansion as a contingency plan, in case the trade fell through."

"Well, it worked." I flexed my hands, biting my lip hard enough for one of the fangs to cut into the soft skin. I licked the blood away irritably. "Rogue's gone, Magneto could have her right now, so what can we do?"

Xavier traded a glance with Jean. "Cerebro," he murmured.

I wanted to smack myself. Of course. The thing that turns crazy smart and powerful Xavier into basically the only guy on the planet that could know more about you than the NSA.

"I will locate Rogue and meet you in the hangar," he said, rolling out from behind his desk and beating us all to the exit. The rest of us filed out in singles and pairs, Scott immediately taking off at a run-walk to go visit his precious baby Blackbird before we all took it for a ride again.

"What the hell is Cerebral?" Logan said gruffly, nearly startling me out of my skin. As it was, I jumped several inches in the air and whirled on him, fists cocked and silver spitting around my knuckles. He obligingly took a step back and let me regain control of myself.

"Cerebro," I corrected, sliding into the elevator. "It's... it's a... how do I explain this?" I made helmet motions and said, "It basically expands the range and power of his telepathy. He could find and infiltrate any mind on the planet if he really wanted."

"But he'll be able to find the kid?" Logan demanded.

I could only nod. "Unless she's dead or has a telepathy-blocking helmet on-" oh please Magneto, don't be that cruel "-he'll find her no problem."

I hope.

The good news was Xavier did indeed find her.

The bad news was, she was on a train. In the most popular train station in the entire state. Surrounded by people.

At least it hadn't left yet. Chasing down a running train would be an utter bitch.

"Why do I have to go with him, though?" I whined, readjusting the baseball cap for the thousandth time since Jean had handed it to me along with a pair of sunglasses. White hair I could maybe pass off. Pointy ears? Silver eyes? Not a chance.

Because I forget, sometimes, that I don't look normal and that someone would try and kill me since I'm a dirty mutant.

"She and Logan are friends, and he's worried about her," Jean said, zipping her jacket over her standard X-Men leathers. Next to me, Scott wasn't even trying to be inconspicuous, instead opting for a frown as his only disguise. No wait, I lied, he's pulling on a jacket too. Copy-cat.

"But he's a dick," I said, pouting.

"I heard that," Logan retorted.

"You were meant to," I shot back, and returned my attention to Jean. She just gave me a sad smile and turned back to her love.

Jean, Scott, and Ororo were going to head into the train station in case Rogue had a change of heart. Xavier was going to wait outside where it was a little less hectic, so he could do his thing and not look like a total creep.

I, on the other hand, got stuck going with Logan into the train to talk to Rogue.

Not that I minded that, because I love Rogue dearly (or, I loved my Rogue, bless her angsty little heart). It was Logan I had a problem with. My Rogue had never had a preferential attachment to anyone other than Kurt, because they were siblings, but at least we could relate to each other. Logan just seemed like a really good way to either scare her off or scare everyone else off and get us shanked in the process.

We disembarked (though I do honestly think the jet flight was a little unnecessary) and made our way to the train station in a totally-not-suspicious-at-all clump of people. Logan glared everyone down enough for himself, myself, and Scott.

Now I know why Scott's such an ass all the time. No one can be intimidated by his glare and it is a self-perpetuating cycle.

"She's on that train, headed south," Jean reported. Logan and I broke away, leaving the rest to fend for themselves.

We cut a brisk pace through the throngs of people, most of which could sense that we were not fucking around and cleared a path for us. There was one occasion involving a middle-aged man talking on a cell phone who ran straight into us, but all I had to do was rip my sunglasses off and bare my teeth to make him run in the opposite direction.

I was beginning to feel a stitch in my side (I was far too out of shape in speed-walking) when we at last found the right gate. Logan and I managed to slip past the preliminary conductor's check and entered into the train. I crinkled my nose; it smelled like sweat. Next to me, Logan coughed.

"I think I see her!" I said excitedly. And I could, at least, I thought I could. I spotted a head of brown hair and a young face before I took off, pelting down the aisle and ignoring the angry whispers I left in my wake.


Her head snapped up. "Loki?"

I flung myself into the empty seat across from her. Logan sat down on her right a second later. Ignoring him, I grabbed her gloved hands, grasping them tightly as she flinched and tried to pull away.

Gentling the protective mama bear fury I had for her, I slipped my sunglasses off. "Why did you run, Rogue?" I asked quietly.

"I... I coulda hurt you," she whispered. Her eyes flicked over to Logan's. "I did hurt you."

"Yes," Logan admitted, his normal gruffness softened. I had to revise my opinion of him in that instant, because I could swear I saw something like fondness in his face as he gazed at her. "But I hurt you first. And if you'd rather think of it this way, then I helped save you when I almost killed you."

"Please, Rogue," I said beseechingly. "Whatever Bobby said to you, it wasn't true. It wasn't him. Bobby might be stupid, but he would never drive out one of Xavier's kids. Especially not the ones who need it most."

She looked lost, and hopeful, and terrified of that hope. I could empathize.

"He... he told me I had to leave. That the Professor was gonna lock me up 'cause my powers are too dangerous." She choked back a sob. "He said there was no place for me there, and that everyone h-hated me."

Mildly impressed by the fact she hadn't started crying yet, I promised then and there that the next time I saw Mystique, I was going to kill her. No questions asked. Anyone who would help Magneto's sick plot by preying on the fears of a young, dangerous mutant like Rogue needed to be gone from this world.

"I don't hate you," Logan said, one corner of his mouth quirking up in what could almost be called a smile. "Hell, I've hurt myself worse than you did, kid. Just relax."

"You're my friend," I chimed in. "You listened to me when I needed it. I'll return the favor as soon as we get home, okay? And you can tell me all about everything. We'll pig out on ice cream and pop and do everything that young kids like us are supposed to do, and we'll just forget about all the shitty stuff until the next day." I squeezed her hands a little tighter. "Just, please come with us, okay?"

She nodded vigorously, her eyes rimmed in red, and we stood in tandem. Logan ran one hand through his hair before swinging it out in a manly one-armed hug. Rogue practically squeaked, but she did seem a bit happier. She fished her hands from my grip and aimlessly straightened her coat before grabbing her bag.

"I'm ready," she said firmly.

That was when the back of the train exploded.

It would have been much worse if we had been moving, but as the figure responsible appeared through the dust and sparks, I realized it wouldn't have mattered if we'd been a mile away or a thousand.

Magneto floated a few inches off the ground, arms held aloft, his most benevolent look pasted on his face as he surveyed the wreckage. People were groaning, crying, screaming, and bleeding all around me. I responded by ripping my hat off, hissing, and swinging my arms around to launch several massive scythes of wind straight at his chest.

Nonchalantly, as if he defended himself from energy-made-knife-y wind every day, he grabbed a bulkhead and moved it to intercept. It fell to pieces, but the man behind was unharmed.

Logan snarled. A familiar snikt reached my ears just moments before I realized how much of a bad idea that was going to turn out to be.

I could only watch helplessly as Logan barreled down the aisle only to be stopped mid-strike mere inches from ripping Magneto's belly open. I waved for Rogue to get behind me and fell into a ready position.

"Tell me," Magneto drawled lazily, "does that magnificent metal run throughout your entire body?"


With a flick of his wrist, Magneto drew Logan up into the air, arms aloft and legs pinned together. I could hear him grunting in pain from the other end of the car.

"Loki," Magneto said, a small smile playing on his lips. I hissed, silver eyes flashing in the dim evening light. "I would like the girl, if you please."

"Over my dead body," I promised lowly.

"So be it."

He launched Logan at me like some kind of angry, bladed missile. I barely got out of the way to avoid being gored, but his claws cut deeply into my arm, and even worse, it was the good one. White-hot agony danced up and down my arm as blood poured from the three slices.

"No!" Rogue shrieked, trying to get around me and at the wound.

"You can't touch it!" I yelled, just as the acrid scent of burning clothing hit my nose. "It's corrosive!"

Magneto touched down lightly, taking a ponderous step forward. From his belt rose what looked to be a dart.

Shoving the pain away, I mentally prepared to take the hit. "Get ready to run," I hissed to Rogue. "Get off the train, go into the station. Jean, Scott, and Ororo are waiting for you." In my head, I cried out for Xavier or Jean, but I think all I broadcasted was a mix of pain and fear and burning anger.

Swallowing, Rogue nodded.

The dart zipped from his hand like it was possessed. I tried to time it correctly, tried to leap in front of it so that Rogue could escape and be spared Magneto's tender ministrations, but even as I bent my knees for the jump, Logan came crashing into me, all several hundred pounds of his metal-augmented frame.

We slammed into the bulkhead. More pain burst in my head like an expanding mushroom cloud.

My vision blurred and down we went.

Steps ahead of me, Rogue dropped, clutching at her neck.

Realization of my failure chased me into unconsciousness.

A/N: I so love writing those feel-good scenes followed by action. Loki's also really good at getting hurt. It's his other superpower, haha.