They didn't reach the next town. A tree on the side of road right fell in front of the camper. Right in front of it, and as Logan wasn't wearing his seatbelt, he went flying through the windshield when the front end crashed into the abruptly felled tree.
It took him a moment to climb back to his feet, and he was a little unsteady at first, but he was soon walking back to the camper, spitting blood and his injuries healing as he cracked his neck.
"You alright?" he called.
"Stuck, but unharmed," she called back as she wriggled her wand out of her sleeve holster. "An' workin' on the first."
Logan nodded and moved to check the tree, and the front of the camper. See if he would be able to move the former, and as for the latter, get it limping as far as the next town. A smell tickled his nose though, and the stump looked like it had been deliberately broken. Logan pushed the claws out.
Marie had, by this point, freed herself from the stuck seat-belt-and-seat situation she was in, and put out the fire that had somehow started in the back of the camper. Then she bit her tongue so as not to release the surprised gasp that had leapt into her throat at the sight of a very large, very hairy person wearing lots of fur tackled Logan, picked him up, and threw him into a tree . An impressive feat of strength, considering how much all the adimantium on Logan's bones must weigh him down.
Then the hairy guy picked up the broken-off bit of tree and used it to tee Logan onto the hood of the camper before he could regain his feet.
"Ennervate," Marie shot out at Logan when she saw his eyes were shut and his claws had automatically retracted.
Logan shot up again, looked around, and then used the hood as a springboard to launch himself at their hairy assailant.
A red beam of light hit their attacker about a second after Logan's fists. He managed to get up from both though, and leapt away, vanishing in the snow and the trees.
"Are you two alright?" a dark-skinned, white-haired woman asked as she approached.
"Yeah," Logan answered gruffly as he gave the two people in the one-piece biker-leathers a quick once-over. "Kid?" he called.
"I'm fine," she answered, and hopped out of the cabin of the trailer to prove it, her bag slung over her shoulder. "Who're you?" she asked the two strangers.
"I'm Storm, this is Cyclops," the brown-skinned beauty said, introducing herself and her companion. "We represent a safe place for mutants."
"A safe place," Marie repeated.
"What kind of place?" Logan asked.
"It's chiefly a school," Cyclops supplied. "But there's room and board for all mutants offered."
"Kid, you finish school before you started your road-trip?" Logan asked.
"Yeah," Marie agreed. "Took a lot of extra studyin', but I got my diploma."
"We also offer support, help, and training for those who have any sort of trouble controlling their mutations," Storm explained quickly. "And protection. That was Sabertooth. He currently works for a mutant called Magneto. For some reason, they have apparently decided to target you."
"Sabertooth? Magneto? Storm and Cyclops?" Logan repeated, starting to get incredulous with the whole situation. "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
"Ororo Munroe, and Scott Summers," Storm supplied. "Magneto's real name is Erik Lensherr, but if anybody knows Sabertooth's real name, they aren't sharing. Anonymity is kind of important for our continued safety though, so if you don't mind..."
"We've got a jet waiting, just a bit down the road," Cyclops picked up. "The school's in Westchester, New York."
"Kid?" Logan asked.
"I don't mind either way," Marie answered. "But I guess it would be a little less cold there?"
Logan nodded. "Give me a sec to grab my stuff. Damn trailer's been trashed anyway," he grumbled.
"I'll get your bike," Marie offered with a smile as she danced off around the camper towards the box-trailer hitched to the back.
"The hell you will," Logan called after her, though he was smiling as well.
"I'll help," Cyclops offered at once. "I teach the shop class at the school. Besides, wouldn't want her or the bike damaged by her trying to move it on her own."
Logan nodded in acceptance. Ten minutes later, they were in the air and on their way to New York, and Logan was wondering how the kid knew just how to handle a motorbike. She hadn't needed Cyclops' help to either get it down from the box-trailer, or to get it into the jet. One-eye had done the securing once it was in place though.
Logan had made a start on the folder Rogue had given him while they sat together in the back of the jet as it flew down from Canada to New York State in the USA. She sat next to him, holding his hand in her gloved one, while the folder rested on his lap and he used his other hand to turn the pages. That little bit of physical contact kept him grounded as he read backwards through his own history.
"Your mother researched all this?" he asked softly.
"Uh-huh," Rogue confirmed.
"She's good," he praised.
"One of the best," she answered proudly, a smile on her face.
"Glad she's not working for Stryker," Logan said as he turned over another page. The next had a list of all the mutants that Stryker had... collected. All of the mutants he'd used, caged, employed, blackmailed, manipulated, and experimented on.
It wasn't fun reading, but Logan made himself read it. He'd been part of this before he'd gotten out, then been tricked into being part of it again before he very forcibly shut it all down. Still had nightmares about when the adimantium was bonded to his bones. Good to finally have a name for the impressive metal that never needed sharpening – and apparently coated his natural bone claws, rather than being completely artificial.
Before Stryker had picked him and his brother up, Logan's life was just about a history of all the wars Canada had fought in, starting with the American Civil War. Canada wasn't quite a nation at that stage, but that hardly mattered to this particular file. Later, he and his brother got sent to Africa for the Second Boer War, then it was World War One and Two, which were followed by Korea and then 'Nam, though they'd had to join the American army for that last one. Canada didn't officially participate in the Vietnam war.
That last one had been where and when Stryker had picked them up, so clearly going wherever wars were happening had ultimately been a mistake.
Logan had finally reached where the records ran out just as the noises coming from the engine changed.
"We're here," Scott called back to them from his place in the co-pilot's chair.
"C'mon," Ororo urged. "We'll get you two settled in, then you can meet the Professor."
"He should be done teaching his physics class by then," Scott agreed, just a little dryly.
"What is this place?" Logan asked once they'd been shown to an austere office and introduced to a bald man in a wheelchair, and a red-head in a red dress.
A man called Professor Charles Xavier, and a woman called Jean Grey.
"My School for the Gifted," the Professor answered. "A place where mutants can complete their educations in safety and anonymity."
"Hiding, you mean," Rogue noted.
"Anonymity is a mutant's first defence against the world's hostility," Xavier countered. "To the public, it's a school for gifted youngsters, nothing more. Cyclops, Storm, and Jean were some of my first students."
"No code-name?" Rogue asked, question directed to the red-head in question.
There was a moment of silent floundering before Jean gave up and shook her head.
"I protected them, taught them to control their powers," Xavier took up once more, "and in time, teach others to do the same."
"A visor, or a pair of sunglasses, isn't what I'd call control," Logan said. "It's what I'd call a stop-gap."
"What would you call control?" Ororo asked curiously.
It was Rogue who answered, instead of Logan.
"I'd say you've got 'control' when you don't need the shades any more," she stated plainly. "I can guess why you pro'lly don't wanna practice though."
Scott shifted uncomfortably where he stood.
"The students are mostly run-aways," Xavier pressed on. "Frightened, alone. Some with gifts so extreme, they've become a danger to themselves and those around them. Like you, Rogue," he offered kindly.
"You have someone else here who can't touch people?" Rogue queried.
"We have all sorts," Xavier diverted carefully. "And here you can be surrounded by others your own age. You can learn here, be accepted, not feared."
"I guess I've only got my high school diploma," Rogue allowed tentatively. "I could go for a college degree."
"And after?" Logan demanded. He wanted to know what would be expected of them if they accepted all this hospitality. "What then?"
"Entirely up to you," Ororo promised. "Rejoin the world as educated people, or stay on to teach others, to become what the kids started calling 'X-men', and I admit, we kinda picked it up too."
"There are mutants out there with incredible powers," Xavier pressed. "Many who do not share my respect for mankind. If no one is equipped to oppose them, then humanity's days could be over. Please, just give us forty-eight hours to find out what Magneto wants with you," he requested, and the plea was directed to Logan. "And I will use all of my powers to help piece together what you've lost, and find what you're looking for."
Logan looked to Rogue, to get an idea of what she thought of all this. She'd left her home three years ago, just to track him down and give him a file about his own life. He owed her for that.
Rogue gently squeezed his hand.
"Rogue is plenty smart enough for college, and I don't remember ever goin' to school at all," Logan decided at last, and looked over the collection of very clean people in front of him. "So how about we just work with that for now?"
"You want to enrol as a student?" Scott asked, surprised.
Marie smiled to herself as she walked in on her parents kissing. Dream-walked, to be specific. It wasn't the first time, it wouldn't be the last, and considering how her father was Aesir and her mother seriously 'tweaked' by the Red Room... there would be no "Ick! Old people kissing!" reaction for... quite some time. Besides, she knew that they could only be together like this, unless her father found some way down to Earth without Odin finding out about it.
He was working on it, but it wasn't easy.
"Are we celebratin' something?" she asked when Loki finally set Natasha back on her feet.
He'd been holding her a foot off the floor and spinning her around while they kissed. It was clearly a joyful moment.
"Marie!" Loki cried happily. Two great strides and he was before her, whereupon he swept her up into his arms and spun her around, just as he had been doing for Natasha – though without the lip-lock.
Marie shrieked with surprised laughter as she was spun around by her father.
"Hey, come on, tell me!" she begged. "What's the party for?"
"Your father has found another path through the realms to us. A way around Odin's measures and Heimdall's sight," Natasha said, her face flushed with happiness.
"For the first time in centuries, I was able to visit with Fenris in person, and with Hel, and Jormungandr," Loki said. "And tomorrow, I'm going to slip down to Midgard. The only trick then will be finding you two."
"I'm in Westchester, New York," Marie offered at once. "Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters."
Natasha frowned. "You were in Canada last night. How'd you get there so fast?" she asked, confused and concerned.
Marie conjured the memory of being attacked by Sabertooth and then collected by the X-Men for her parents to review.
"You found him then," Loki noted, as with a gesture the figure of the Wolverine was isolated from the memory for his consideration. "You like him?"
"Then I'll have to meet him when I come to visit you at this school," Loki decided.
Marie smiled. "Just not while he's in class, okay Father? Logan's decided to take advantage of the fact it's kinda a school for freaks, get educated since he can't remember ever learning school stuff."
"According to his file, he was only ever as educated as a soldier in the army needed to be," Natasha pointed out. "A lot of the time, soldiers didn't need a lot of schooling."
Marie nodded again, acknowledging that fact. Then a thought struck her.
"Will I be getting a new little brother or sister, now that you can visit us, Father?" she asked.
Natasha blushed at the implication, while Loki coughed into his hand.
"That's up to your mother," Loki said firmly.
"Maybe," Natasha allowed. "Would you like a brother or sister?"
"I..." Marie hesitated. "I'd want to be able to touch 'em."
Natasha and Loki both wrapped their arms around their daughter.
"I'll help," Loki promised as he pressed a kiss to Marie's temple. Her powers didn't matter when dream-walking, where reality was flexible. "I'll be able to help."
Marie hugged her parents back.
At that moment, a scream echoed out from beyond the house that was their part of the dream world.
"That's Logan's voice," Marie recognised.
Loki let the house fade from around them, and drew them all closer to where the clawed mutant's mind was.
"He's trapped in his terrors," Loki said after a moment of analysing the dream beyond the private walls of the individual mind. Walls reinforced with pain and anger and hate and fear. Walls that it would not be wise to breach. "When he wakes, it will be violently."
"I can't leave him trapped in that," Marie insisted.
"You can either slip into his dream and risk yourself against the machinations of his horrors, or you can go to his room and wake him," Loki said plainly.
"Love you both," Marie said, and kissed first her mother, then her father on the cheek. Then she faded away and woke up.
"Logan," Marie called as she hovered cautiously over him in her pink nightgown.
He was tossing and turning in his bed, no shirt on and covered in sweat.
If she'd known he slept without a shirt, she'd have grabbed a pair of gloves so that she could shake him awake without fear of accidentally hurting him.
"Logan, wake up," she urged him.
Then he did, and just as Loki had warned, he woke violently.
A roar, and his claws were out, and she shrieked in shock and pain as they went right through her chest and out her back.
For a moment, he just stared at her, shocked and horrified by what he'd done. Then he pulled his claws back in, and Marie found she couldn't even gasp at that, only stumble a bit to the side until she hit the edge of the bed. A detached part of her brain supplied that what that meant was he'd probably sliced through her wind-pipe, meaning she couldn't use her lungs.
"Help me," Logan called as he carefully guided Marie to sit on the bed by him. His hands were safe on her sleeves. "Somebody help!" he yelled urgently.
Rogue deliberately ignored the danger to Logan as she set one of her bare hands over his. A mixture between an offer of comfort to him, and the only real option that she had for saving herself at this point.
He stiffened at the feel, and Marie quickly pulled away. It wasn't like she needed to hold on. She could feel herself healing already, could feel herself continuing to heal even as Logan stared at her with his mouth hanging open and his chest seized as he fought through the pain of her mutation's pull.
Particularly, he was staring at the part of her chest where his claws had gone through. Three perfect little lines that were healing up as he watched.
"Sorry," she wheezed softly, still only able to get a little wind into her lungs. "Are you alright?"
"Am I -? Rogue, Kid..." Logan choked out as a bunch of teenagers thundered up to the doorway.
The first to reach that point stopped and stared as the three perfect little lines on Marie's back closed up without even leaving a scar. Scott flicked on the light and they were able to see it all that much more clearly.
"I'm healing," Rogue said, and her voice was stronger. "Just fine, see? But you were having terrors and I just touched you."
"Did you know you'd heal?" Logan demanded softly, his large hands now gripping her sleeve-covered arms firmly. "Did you know you could do that?"
Marie bit her lip, then nodded. Her various attempts to control her skin along the road had needed test subjects after all, and some of them had been mutants. She knew very well what she could do – but still the ability to turn her skin completely off eluded her.
"Rogue? Logan?" Ororo called. "Everything alright?"
"There was an accident," Rogue called back, but her voice was still weak.
"Please let the kids know to not try and wake me up from a nightmare," Logan added. "This time, thanks to a combo of Rogue's mutation and mine, everything turned out okay. No guarantees for anybody else."
Jean started ushering the kids back to their rooms and beds.
Logan was in the lower levels of the mansion, getting a medical check-up after the previous night's misadventures (and being tested on his academic aptitude at the same time, the multitasking was Ororo's idea). Dr Grey was also running extra tests on him to see what-all had been done to him, and what was his mutation. Rogue had been in shortly after breakfast so that a bunch of quick x-rays and scans could be taken – to make sure she really was properly healed. She'd been out before ten.
Now Rogue was outside, enjoying the sun as she caught up on some reading and waited for the visit that she alone knew was coming. Specifically, she was reading her way through a small pile of magical newspapers, spelled to look like their non-magical equivalents to anybody who did not themselves have a magical core.
She kept up correspondence with her old school friends of course – she was a Hufflepuff, that's what they did – but some things just needed a little extra information to understand, hence the papers. Not that there was a whole lot of journalistic integrity in the British rag The Daily Prophet, but between it, The Quibbler and letters from her friends, Marie was able to figure out everything well enough.
Susan had recently entered the Auror programme. The Prophet suspected there would be another generation of Bones women running the department soon. Fred and George were doing well with their shop, news that was reinforced by the large advertisements they were able to afford in both papers. Dumbledore was dead – and with his passing, Rita Skeeter was free to finally drag all the old man's dirty laundry out of the shadows and into the public eye, though how much of that was true or just Rita's poison quill, it was hard to tell.
Hannah was engaged to Ernie, would be marrying him some time in June, and would Marie please come back to England to be one of her bridesmaids? It would be quite the event, since Ernie's grandfather had been made Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot since Dumbledore's passing.
Hermione had taken up an apprenticeship under McGonagall, and there was a little speculation in the direction that the young witch would take up the post of Transfiguration Professor when she'd completed it. At the moment, the Headmistress of Hogwarts was still teaching, though she'd had to pass on the position of Head of Gryffindor to the new Defence teacher – the curse there was finally broken, now that Voldemort was completely, totally, utterly, categorically dead.
There had been several staffing changes, actually. Binns had been exorcised and replaced by a Ravenclaw alumnus; Snape had retired; Divination had been moved out of its tower to the ground floor and McGonagall had somehow persuaded one of the centaurs to teach the subject – though apparently Sybil Trelawny, the previous Divination teacher, was permitted to continue living in the castle. It wasn't like she came down from her tower all that often, so she was hardly a disturbance about the place.
Sirius was still voting proxy for the Potter seat in the Wizengamot, and was hemming and hawing about breaking up with his non-magical girlfriend. Not because she was non-magical, but because Sirius was beginning to feel like, if she were a witch, she'd be slipping him love potions.
"Rogue," a voice called.
She looked up from her reading to see one of the many students she'd been introduced to on her initial tour around the school.
"Bobby, right?" she checked.
The boy nodded. "Rogue... what happened?" he asked. "They say you're stealing other mutant's powers."
"That would imply that any mutant I touch loses their powers," Rogue countered, "which doesn't happen, if you were hoping for it."
Bobby shook his head. "Rogue, you never use your powers on another mutant!" he said, not loudly, but very firmly.
"I had no choice if I wanted to live to see today," Rogue countered, "and the only person who has any right to be offended by what I did is actually really glad that I could."
"If I were you, I'd get myself out of here," Bobby spoke over her.
Marie narrowed her eyes at him then. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"Listen, the other students are freaked," Bobby said plainly. "And Professor Xavier is furious. I don't know what he'll do with you."
Rogue turned away from the boy.
"I think it'll be easier on your own," the boy pressed. "You should go."
Just then, an elegant, long-fingered hand slammed down on Bobby's shoulder.
"You should leave my daughter alone," a voice like silk-covered steel whispered.
"Father!" Marie yelped happily, and stood from the bench she'd been sitting on.
Loki grinned and circled around so that he could sweep his baby girl up into his arms.
"Oh, my little girl, I've missed you so much," he said as he swung her about happily.
"Father, I'm eighteen!" Marie objected, though she was smiling.
"And you're only just five-two," Loki countered with a fond smirk as he set her down on the grass again. "Which makes you the smallest person in our family."
Rogue rolled her eyes, but wrapped her arms around her father's torso and just burrowed her face into his chest happily.
Unseen by either father or daughter (they were both just too wrapped up in the fact that they were holding each other while standing on the grass of Midgard, and not dreaming at all), Bobby frowned and left.
The students stopped and stared at the man in the impeccable suit that was walking through the halls of their school, an arm casually thrown around the girl they now all worried about being within a foot of, for fear of an accident. The man was tall, almost seven foot, and frightfully handsome with his smooth skin, his bright green eyes, and his jet black hair.
Not enough that they rarely (if ever) saw any adults around the school that weren't their teachers, but the Rogue was cuddled up to his side. There was a beaming smile on her face and she was as carefree as could be, even though this stranger's hand was almost perilously close to the gaps in her clothing where the skin showed – and they now all had some idea as to what that skin was capable of.
Rogue pointed her guest to an vacant couch, they sat down together, and every ear in the place metaphorically (and in some cases, literally) bent in their direction. The man held out his hand and twisted it, and after that it was possible to see that they were talking, but utterly impossible to hear anything they said.
All the students who were watching – some being subtle about it, others blatantly staring – were surprised to see the Rogue take her so-very-long gloves off and remove her scarf, so her neck and arms were exposed. Eyes around the room bugged out when the man took it upon himself to tuck her hair back behind her ears, and let his hand linger on her cheek. He wasn't wearing gloves after all.
The Rogue winced, and the man grimaced.
All of them could see dark veins appearing over his face and on the hand that was touching her, could see the way they all pulsed towards the Rogue.
She had to force his hand from her cheek, and she was visibly babbling at him, though it was still impossible to hear what was being said.
The man gave his head a shake, blinked a couple of times, then smiled up down at her and said something that must have been reassuring, because the Rogue calmed down and smiled back.
The man raised his hand again, and set it on top of her hair.
The students all flinched, anticipating a repeat of just a moment before, but it seemed that the Rogue's hair was barrier enough, that only skin to skin contact worked.
The pair closed their eyes, and the students recognised a telepathic connection. They'd all seen the Professor and Dr Grey practising, using their powers for one reason or another – this was probably a deep level of psychic connection, since the Professor only concentrated like these two were doing if he was going in deep.
They were at it for so long, most of the students got bored of watching and went back to what they'd been doing before. A couple of them didn't twitch though, kept their eyes on the pair, and saw when they came out of it.
The Rogue stared at her hands. The man smiled and pressed a kiss to her forehead, then pulled away. There had been no sign of the Rogue's life- and power-sucking mutation.
She was grinning hugely as she tackled the man in a hug, and he kissed her brow and cheek a couple more times.
It was about then that the Professor arrived, with Cyclops at his side.
"Rogue," the Professor called, just a little sternly.
"Yes Professor?" Marie answered innocently.
The suited man seated beside her smirked, but gave her a gentle nudge.
"Father, this is Professor Charles Xavier, and Mr Scott Summers," Marie presented. "Professor, Mr Summers, this is my father."
"James Potter, British Lord," Loki presented himself as he stood. He would be found by Heimdall in an instant if he introduced himself by his real name. James Potter was a generally common enough name that it wouldn't catch the Gatekeeper's notice, however. "Thank you for looking out for my little princess."
"I thought Rogue was a run-away?" Scott said, clearly confused despite the way his sunglasses hid nearly half his expression.
Marie shook her head.
"Due to a long list of extenuating circumstances, topping which is the fact that I've been legally dead for almost two decades, I've been unable to actually physically be in my daughter's company since she was fifteen months old," Loki explained.
"I'd been planning on getting my diploma early and goin' on a road-trip before my mutation manifested," Rogue offered, "and the couple who adopted me when my real parents were assumed dead knew that I'd be tryin' to catch up with them."
"Now, we've got your little difficulty sorted out," Loki said, "would you mind terribly if I disappeared to see about talking your mother into giving you a younger sibling?"
Marie smiled, eyes shut as she twitched a little.
"Father, you and Mother are both still young and attractive people, but I don't need the mental image in my head of you two having reunion sex," she answered plainly.
"Little difficulty?" Scott asked the Professor softly.
Not softly enough though, as both father and daughter heard.
"My inability to touch people without hurting them," Rogue clarified. It turned out that the secret to controlling her mutation was in her magic. It wasn't an answer that would help many (if any) of the other kids, but it would help her, and that was enough. She turned to her father. "I thought you wanted to meet Logan," she reminded him.
"Ah, yes, I did. Do. Quite right," Loki agreed, "and I suppose your mother is working right now and I shouldn't intrude..."
"You didn't make plans last night? I'll send her a text while you talk to Logan," Marie offered with a teasing smile.
Loki nodded, pressed a kiss to her forehead, and gave her a one-armed, fatherly squeeze.
"Gentlemen, if one of you would please be so kind as to direct me to wherever you're keeping Mr Howlett?" Loki requested.
Marie was in too good a mood. While her father went to talk to Logan, she decided to go out to a café and have a treacle tart and a cream soda to celebrate having control over her skin. While she waited for her order to be brought out, Marie sent that text to her mother.
Father in Westchester. On his way to you as soon as he's done talking to Logan, but he doesn't want to interrupt your work. Skin problem resolved. Love you.
A full minute hadn't passed when she got an answer.
It's a paperwork day. I'll let him know myself he's free to interrupt. Glad you've got everything under control. Love you too.
Marie smiled, and smiled wider when her treacle tart and cream soda were set in front of her by the waitress.
Not that she got to taste either, as at that moment, a needle abruptly slid into her skin and delivered a very fast acting sedative.
"Father, Mother, I hate to interrupt, but I think I've just been kidnapped," Marie called out into the dream-world, pulling her parents (both of whom were awake) to her as hard as she could.
"I haven't left the Institute yet," Loki answered as he appeared, not even asking if she was sure, and a dark expression taking over his face.
"And I did say it was a paperwork day," Natasha said as she also faded into view. She was clearly just as unhappy as her husband over the prospect of her baby girl being snatched.
"Can you tell who -?" Loki began. His issues with his children being taken were old and extremely valid.
"Well, there was a bite of metal like I was getting an injection at the doctor's, and then I'm out like a light," Marie offered. "So not the Allfather, and probably not any magicals."
"At least it's not as bad as it could be," Loki grumbled. "I'm on my way, baby girl."
"I'm coming too," Natasha insisted at once. "Give me five to suit-up. Of course, if Clint catches me at that, he'll want to come along as well."
"I have no idea where I'm being taken, and I am currently drugged, so you've got a bit longer than that until I can give you directions," Marie pointed out.
"I can find you anywhere," Loki said plainly, "and I dare say these X-Men will also be willing to lend a hand as soon as they find out you've been taken. Your Mr Howlett, most certainly."
A hopeful smile lit up the girl's face.
Loki sighed. "Yes yes," he grumbled. "He's impressed me. I approve. There's still the matter of getting your mother's approval though," he pointed out.
"And I'll get a chance to meet him myself when we come get you," Natasha said with a resolute nod. "Loki, should I meet you in Westchester, or start sweeping the country for our baby?"
"What's wrong?" Logan asked when Loki came back to himself in Xavier's mansion. They'd been having a perfectly normal conversation, right up until he'd turned his gaze inwards and stopped responding to outside stimuli except in the most basic of fashions.
"Someone has just kidnapped my little girl," Loki answered shortly.
"Rogue?" Logan checked, eyes wide with concern.
"Mr Potter, if there's anything I can do to help -" Logan started.
"That is very much appreciated," Loki agreed as he raised a hand to cut off the other man's concerned offer. "My baby isn't the damsel-in-distress type, all of our family are quite capable, but she's been drugged and there's no knowing who has taken her or why."
"The Professor should be able to help," Storm offered at once. She'd stayed behind to continue discussing education options with Logan (and Rogue's father, once she found out who he was).
"Thank you," Loki agreed. "I admit the 'who' and 'why' don't matter to me nearly so much as 'where' right now though, and that I need no help with. Knowing anything else will just make getting her back... less messy."
"D'you think it could be the same people that attacked us on the road in Canada?" Logan suggested.
"But why would they want...?" Storm questioned, confused.
"A girl who can absorb the memories and mutations of others?" Loki finished, an eyebrow raised pointedly. "Not for anything good, of that, you can be quite sure. At least I needn't worry about her virtue, due to the known nature of her mutation."
Both Logan and Storm felt both sick with worry at the implication and mildly relieved that Rogue was safe from that specific form of violation.
Loki's eyes fluttered to half-mast as he sought his baby's physical presence with his magic.
"I believe that they are moving towards New York City," he declared.
"Wasn't there some sort of big political thing happening there soon?" Logan queried, semi-rhetorically, the recollection of the news story the other night when he'd met Marie looming large in his mind's eye. "Just about all the world leaders in one place, Ellis Island. If whoever's taken Rogue forces her to absorb some mutation there..."
"She could practically be an unwilling time bomb," Ororo finished, eyes wide with horror.
"Thankfully, that won't be an issue," Loki said firmly.
"Mr Potter?" Ororo questioned, brow furrowed in confusion.
"I helped her get her mutation under control before making my way down here to meet Mr Howlett," Loki explained. "She won't be absorbing anything she doesn't want."
"You said she was drugged though," Logan pointed out cautiously. "That won't be a problem?"
Loki shook his head. "No," he declared with certainty. "She'll have to wake up and turn her mutation on if they want her to absorb anything, and when she wakes up, she'll give them hell," he said with a wicked grin.
A smile crept up Logan's face as he thought on that, and Ororo was clearly holding in giggles. After all, when a girl has been kidnapped is never the place for giggles, even at the prospect of the victim being the sort to make her captors regret their decision.
The problem with her situation, Marie was learning, was that the unlocking charm wouldn't do her any good if there was a mutant nearby who would feel every time the metal in the handcuffs clicked, and quicker than she could shed the cuffs, he clicked them right back. She didn't want to magically exhaust herself with pointless attempts either. Stupidity was, after all, repeating the same action over and over again, and expecting a different result – and Marie was not stupid.
So, instead, she decided to be generally passive-aggressive until she had a chance to do something other than glare at her captors.
The mutant who had introduced himself to her as Magneto (she'd demanded to know his real name, the name his father gave him, and he'd admitted to Erik Lensherr) stepped into the part of the boat where she was restrained. The boat itself had stopped, pulled up along side Liberty Island.
"Magnificent, isn't she?" he offered as he looked out the window to the giant statue of Lady Liberty.
"I bet she was prettier when she was polished and new," Marie countered.
"I first saw her in nineteen-forty-nine," Magneto shared, almost companionably. "America was going to be the land of tolerance. Of peace," he said, and there was a hint of derision in his tone, as though he scoffed at his own youthful naivety.
"And a fine example you're setting," Marie quipped. "You're planning to kill me, I know you are."
Magneto turned away from the window to look at her, and there was a truly apologetic expression on his face.
"Yes," he agreed, "because there is no 'land of tolerance'. There is no peace. Not here, or anywhere else. Women and children, whole families, destroyed simply because they were born different from those in power."
"But now you're the one with power, and it's you doing it," Marie sneered. "Destroying lives, tearing apart families. I suppose your reasoning is more justified than, say, Hitler's? He was only paving the way for the 'master race' too, after all."
All colour drained out of the old man's face.
"I'd apologise for bringing up bad memories," Marie offered, since she could tell her captor was old enough to have been alive during the second world war. "But I'm handcuffed and about to be killed for someone else's ideals."
From just outside of the cabin, there came a heavy thump, like a body being dropped.
Magneto frowned and pushed aside the black plastic that covered the door.
Marie smiled to see that Sabertooth was down, a carbon-fibre arrow sticking out of his back – and a glass tube in that arrow that had clearly held some sort of drug before it was injected into the feral mutant. A drug which, judging from the snore that had just erupted from him, was a fast-acting and very potent tranquilizer.
Magneto stepped out over him, clearly intent on finding whoever it was that had attacked his most robust of allies.
Marie was left in the cabin of the boat, only able to hear the yelling going on outside. She decided to try her luck with the cuffs again, since Magneto was distracted.
"Alohamora," she incanted, her hands twisted so that her fingers were at least touching her wand where it was held to her forearm by the basilisk-skin wand-holder.
The cuffs clicked open, and as they didn't immediately clicked back, Marie was able to pull them off. She took a moment to rub at her chaffed wrists, then to rub feeling back into her legs, which had gone numb from where and how she'd been forced to sit for so long. Carefully, she stood.
A familiar red-head appeared in front of her then.
"Marie," Natasha breathed as she pulled her daughter into a tight embrace. "Are you alright baby?"
"A little traumatised," Marie admitted, a wobble in her voice now that she was in her mother's arms and allowed to stop being brave. Of course, she was holding onto her mother just as tightly as Natasha was holding her. "But I'm not hurt."
"Your new employers are very industrious, my love," Loki said when he stepped into the cabin with them a moment later. "Agent Barton reported the capture of Magneto, only for Director Fury to radio back five minutes later saying that a completely metal-free prison was ready and waiting, and a similarly metal-free transport was on its way to collect him."
"Erik Lensherr has been on the radar for years," Natasha replied as she held out an arm for her husband to join the hug. "This is the first time he's ever attempted something quite as radical as exposing a bevy of world leaders to unsafe levels of radiation though."
"... So, I'm getting a younger sibling then? And you approve of my choice for boyfriend?"
"In order: probably, and reluctantly."