"Belladonna Boudreaux-LeBeau, meet Roe."
"A pleasure to meet you, ma'am," the twelve year old said politely.
"A pleasure. So you are our new apprentice?"
"Let me show you around Crow's Bluff."
"Watch out, Lightening. Don't believe anything she tells you about me."
"Come on, Sweetie. I'll teach you everything I know about manipulating Remy."
"Great." Gambit laughed to himself. Belle led Roe into the newly built city of Crow's Bluff. "Singing Wolf," Remy called with a come-here gesture.
"How, White Man," the Chicago born Cherokee teased. "What's up?"
"See that new kid there?"
"She's our new daughter. Watch over her?"
"Hmm. How much you paying?"
"Mercenary asshole." Remy shook his head. "Should never have saved y'r sorry ass. Y' get y'r normal plus overtime if we need you for more than ten hours a day. Of course, if anythin' happens to the petite, I ain't gonna keep Nightshade away from y'."
"You drive a hard bargain. But it's better than sitting on my hands with nothing to do until the supply trucks get here. We're setting up the irrigation systems. You sure go all out. And you respect the old lands too. Amazing."
"Y' met Mattie right?"
"Mattie raised Belle and me both some. She's the advisor t' our clans. That femme got a direct line t' the Gods. They don' like us interferin' in things we need t' respect. They don' care much for Sacred Spaces bein' disturbed. And we need all the help we can get, so we don't piss off any gods."
"Smart. So when do I get to meet my new client?"
Remy grinned. "Let's catch up with the femmes and keep them from plottin' t' overthrow the world."
"Thought that was the plan?"
"Don't know about you, boy, but I wanna be in on the ruling class f' once."
Singing Wolf laughed.
"And take off those glasses!" Charles snapped finally. Jean pushed Scott's red shades to the top of her head. Hard shards of green ice stared at the professor. A small tear-drop tattoo now adorned the corner of her left eye.
For a moment, Xavier regretted having broken her link to Scott, but it had merely been giving her false hope. But now, he didn't know the young woman in front of him. Gone was the den mother. In her place sat a field leader. She was still held in high regard by the children. She always had a kind word or hug for them.
It was obvious now that the glasses were more than a tribute to her husband. They were to hide the fact that her smile never reached her eyes. "Logan tells me you've asked him to teach you to fight."
"I'm the leader of this team. If we get in to a situation where my powers are nullified, I want to be able to defend them."
"X-men don't kill."
"I didn't ask him to teach me to kill. But in any case that's pure bullshit, Professor. It's no game out there. It's a war and the enemy has no reason not to kill us. We are called terrorists. My name is now on the top ten most wanted list for being a militant mutant. Get with the program. This is life and death. We don't commit murder. We'll leave that to Mystique. But if we have to kill to survive, I have no problem with it."
"Don't give me the Dream speech. Save it for some new recruit. Storm's missing, presumed dead. Scott is considered dead by everyone except me. Kitty is still recovering from the beating she took at the hands of the FOH. Hank refuses to return to the states. We can't afford any more casualties. Hell, Jubilee knows more about hand to hand than I do. She's teaching classes in it. She's moving down to the boathouse with me to watch over the gardens."
"Fine. Jean, I still thinků"
//Forget it, Professor. You've used up your chances with me. Scott is still alive, even if no one else believes it. Even if he isn't, this is me now. Get used to it.//
//Jeanů// She blocked him out of her mind and stood. "I'll see you after dinner."
For the first time since his son had died, Charles Xavier wept.
"Jean?" Bobby croaked. This was a Jean Bobby had never seen. She was wearing tight black jeans, combat boots and a leather bodice. Her hair fell over her shoulders. She put on a short leather jacket.
Logan stopped dead. "Jean?"
"I need a change of pace. Where are your keys, Logan?" she asked in the flat voice that had characterized her most of the time since Scott had been killed. Logan held them out to her and she left.
"We follow her right?"
"Damn straight we do. Move it before we lose her."
//I don't want company, boys. I can take care of myself. I'm a pretty remember?//
Bobby winced. Logan snarled. He couldn't move. "Stop bein' a bitch, Jeannie."
Jean let them go as she roared out of the compound. She had an appointment with a few beers and a tattoo artist.
Kitty looked up at the man. "Where's your helmet?"
Magneto smiled. "I don't need it here. Welcome to The Havens."
Kitty managed a weak smile. "My equipment?"
"Has been set up in your room. Charles assured me that you'd be happier with them available."
"Damn skippy." Magneto put a hand on her shoulder and she faded away. "Sorry."
"No, I should have thought."
Kitty shrugged as she became solid again. "It's an instinct reaction. I'm doing better. Cecilia says. . . well, I'll need the crutches for the rest of my life. But I'm away from the assholes who did this. They can't get here right?"
"Correct. You are safe here."
She beamed at him. "Now, let's see about getting you some extra spending cash. Kitty Pryde, hacker extrordinare is here to help with all your financing needs."
"Mama," Rogue began, then stopped. She considered her words. "Mama, I don't think Preacher's cut out for this work. He needs to be with Nightwind or with Xavier. He's not getting it."
"He don't understand that bein' seen is something we want to avoid. He's got it into his head that playin' avenin' angel is going to help out. He's gonna get shot."
"Maybe. But if he does, Lena will heal him. There's no reason to make him stop. He won't say anything about us to anyone. He believes."
"What good will that do if he's dead? They'll be able to identify. . ."
"No, we have no records. Remember? There's no danger. Let him do what he's best at, Rogue. Use his fearlessness as your strength"
"Besides," Preacher said, "I wear Kevlar." He winked at Rogue.
The red-head frowned. She nodded. "Fine. If ya get killed it ain't on my head."