Chapter 12: Schadenfreude
Minx took a long drag on the cigarette she had bummed off a high-school jock and his pals and checked the parking lot once again. She was standing out by the curb at the front of the mall, her nerves and emotions stretched so tight, she felt like they were going to snap at any minute. It had been fifteen minutes but felt like hours since she’d made the call to Cynthia. Where the hell was she? Minx kept sneaking peeks back inside the mall entrance, half-hoping and half-fearing to find her friend, Jubilee, there. But so far, Minx’s plan was working. As she finished the smoke and dropped the butt to the ground to crush under her foot, a silver four-door Lexus glided to a stop directly in front of her. The passenger window lowered with a faint whir and a light-haired punk a little older than Minx leaned out to give her the once over.
“Get in,” the punk said, his smile slick and self-assured.
His cold steel-colored eyes examined her with a haughty confidence born of someone who was used to feeling superior. Minx instantly hated him.
“Who the fuck are you?” she spat and edged away from the curb, wary.
Quicksilver’s smile widened. She had attitude - he liked that.
“You called. We came. Now hop in and let’s blow this place.”
Minx frowned and bent to peer into the window past the smart-mouthed dude to the driver. She relaxed – it was Cynthia. The door locks snapped and Minx grabbed the rear door handle and swung open the door. She did not see Jubilee darting out the mall entrance towards her as she slid into the back seat and pulled the heavy door shut. The punk turned in his seat and once again checked her out.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Minx snarled at him as she self consciously tugged down the hem of her skirt, but he only laughed as if he were used to the reaction.
Minx studied him. He was lean but not thin – more athletic, she thought, like a runner or track jock. His hair was the palest blond, almost white like Ororo’s but not as brilliant in tone. It was slicked back with little wisps almost like the wing’s on Mercury’s hat sticking from the sides. Minx thought it looked stupid. She caught Cynthia’s eye in the rear view mirror and nodded toward the young man.
“Who’s your little friend?”
“I’m sorry, this is my son, Pietro.” Cynthia replied as she pulled away from the curb and maneuvered around a Mazda loaded with teens trying to pile out of the vehicle. “Forgive his rude behavior. He’s a bit taken with you, it seems.”
Pietro shot Cynthia a dirty look and then slumped down angrily in the front seat. Minx snorted and settled back into the plush leather of her own seat as the car turned down one of the many aisles of the parking lot, seeking the quickest route out to the main road.
“Thanks for coming to get me,” Minx said, “I’m glad I didn’t throw your number away.”
Cynthia smiled to herself, her eyes hooded and malevolent. “So am I, dear…so am I.”
Jubilee swore under her breath as the Lexus began pulling away from the front of the mall. It had been sheer luck that she had spotted Minx before her friend had hopped into the car, but that luck was now running out as the car began to turn down one of the busy aisles in the lot. There was no way she could keep up with the vehicle on foot, not even wearing her rollerblades, and unlike Minx, Jubilee wasn’t familiar with the fine art of car-jacking. She stopped in her tracks, squinting trying to memorize the license plate before it was too late. Then her ears picked up the familiar rumble of Cyclop’s tricked out motorcycle and she grinned. The cavalry was here! Wolverine skidded up to the curb beside Jubilee, the tires on the bike squealing in protest as the rear one bumped the curb. Wolverine knew there was no time to waste when he saw the look on Jubilee’s face.
“Wolvie!” Jubilee exclaimed over the loud rumble of the motorcycle’s engine, “You gotta go after her!” The girl pointed towards the main road fronting the mall. “Minx hopped in the back of that silver Lexus heading out the South exit.”
Wolverine craned his neck back towards the road and squinted, sighting the car in question as it rolled to a stop at the exit. The light had just turned red; he still had time. Without a single word to Jubilee, Wolverine gunned the engine and spun the bike in a tight turn, the tires laying a patch of rubber on the ground and leaving a cloud of smoke in their wake. He let go of the clutch, popping the front wheel in the air and took off across the mall lot after his daughter.
“Oh, don’t mind me!” Jubilee coughed as the cloud of burnt tire and exhaust enveloped her. She angrily fanned at the noxious fumes. “I’ll just wait here for the next bus,” she muttered.
No sooner had the words left her mouth than Jubilee sighted the X-team’s familiar black Jeep Cherokee being driven by Scott crawling along behind the steady stream of vehicles turning into the mall entrance. Jubilee hopped off the curb and began trotting toward the vehicle waving frantically at the group inside. The SUV slowed to a stop next to her and the rear door swung open.
“Be needin’ a ride, petite?” Gambit casually joked as he made room on the seat to let the girl climb in.
Jubilee grinned back at the Cajun as she slammed the door behind her and leaned over the front seat between Storm and Cyclops. Storm gave the teen a cryptic smile as Cyclops put the car in gear and attempted to swing back around the way they had come.
“You just missed Wolvie,” Jubilee stated as the Cherokee turned out of the mall lot and onto the main road. She pointed toward the distance. “He’s on the tail of a silver four-door Lexus – fancy one with all the trimmings. I think that lady from the mall is driving it, and Minx is with her.”
Cyclops nodded and veered around the slower moving traffic in order to catch the light before it changed. He zipped through the intersection as the light went from yellow to red, much to the dismay of the oncoming traffic. He ignored the horns and put his foot down on the gas.
“See, it’s a good thing I followed Minx, huh?” Jubilee chirped up as she settled back into her seat beside Gambit who was busy shuffling and reshuffling a deck of cards, small blue sparks occasionally spitting from the plastic-coated deck.
“That’s a matter of opinion, young lady,” Cyclops grimly remarked. “You know better than to just take off like that with no warning or backup.”
Storm nodded in agreement with her co-leader.
“Why didn’t you just come to us, Jubilee? We may have been able to stop Minx before she had even left the school grounds.”
“Hey, I was just trying to be pro-ac, pro-,” Jubilee faltered at the word she wanted, “I was trying to think ahead.” She finished in frustration and looked from Storm to Cyclops expectantly. “Wolvie does it all the time.”
Storm cut her off abruptly, “Yes, but you are not Wolverine, Jubilee,” the older woman stated. “Nor are you capable of handling yourself as Wolverine can in an extreme battle situation should one arise.”
Jubilee glowered at her teammate and slumped in her seat, annoyed at being lectured for what she thought was a fine act of heroism and quick thinking.
“I can handle myself,” she pouted, “It’s Minx we need to worry about.”
“You’re right,” Cyclops said, his tone one of no-nonsense the others recognized as his team-leader voice.
He passed another angry motorist who laid on the horn and gave him the finger.
“We need to focus on the situation at hand and rescue Minx. There’ll be plenty of time to discuss your insubordination later.” He shot Jubilee a warning look over his shoulder. “And trust me, Jubilee, we will be discussing it.”
Jubilee waited until her command leader had returned his attention to the road before sticking her tongue out at him. Gambit caught her and chuckled.
Minx yawned lazily and tried her best to stay awake, but the constant hum of the road and general quietness inside the car was making it rather difficult. Neither Cynthia nor her feeb of a son had made much effort to hold a conversation with her, which was actually fine with Minx. She wasn’t really in the mood for polite chit-chat. She had just left behind all that was familiar to her and was unsure of her next move. All she wanted to do was crawl into a hole somewhere and sleep for about a year. Her head ached from the whirling thoughts and emotions it now carried.
Gazing up, the girl spied Pietro once again glancing nervously back at her. She gave him her best scowl, utterly annoyed at his unwanted attentions. Last time I wear a mini-skirt to run away, she thought to herself. Pietro didn’t seem to notice her warning look. It was then that Minx realized the boy wasn’t staring at her at all. He was, in fact, glancing out the back window of the car, his eyes flickering with apprehension. Puzzled by this, Minx turned in her seat to check the view herself when she felt the car suddenly speed up. She braced herself against the seat as the sudden burst of speed pushed her backwards. Minx leaned forward to check the speedometer over Cynthia’s shoulder. Sure enough, the older woman had the Lexus up to 76mph. Pietro shot her a funny look and then smiled. It made Minx’s stomach clench. She cleared her throat.
“Uh, Cynthia? Don’t ya think we’re going a bit fast?” she commented as the Lexus whipped past the rest of the traffic around it, other cars and landmarks blurring by at a dizzying pace.
Cynthia smiled sweetly, but never took her attention from the road ahead.
“Now, Nicole dear, you shouldn’t bother yourself with such silly things.”
Cynthia reached back and gently but assertively pushed the teen back into her seat.
“You should buckle up, dear. We wouldn’t want you to get hurt, now would we?”
Her short laugh was cold and made Minx’s skin crawl. Something wasn’t right here. The door locks suddenly clicked down, and Minx was sure that something was most definitely wrong. She tried to lean over the front seat again, but this time, Pietro shoved the dark barrel of a 9mm Glock into her face, the tip bumping up against her forehead. Minx froze.
“Mummsy told you to sit your ass back down and buckle up, cupcake,” he sternly told her and pressed the gun barrel into her forehead harder to emphasize his point.
“Oookaay.” Minx mumbled as she complied edging backwards into her seat and carefully reaching for the seatbelt, her movements slow and deliberate.
She didn’t want to make the young man nervous – it wouldn’t do to get a bullet in the head. Minx kept her attention on the gun as she quietly snapped the belt around her waist and then held her hands up to show Pietro.
“Good girl,” he said and then lowered the gun somewhat while still keeping it trained on her form. He glanced past her and out the back window again then shot Cynthia a look of apprehension. “He’s gaining on us, Mystie.”
“Misty?” Minx questioned and looked at Cynthia in confusion. “Who’s Misty?”
Cynthia laughed, the corners of her deeply painted mouth coming up in a malevolent grin as she caught Minx’s eye in the rearview mirror. The woman’s laugh was low, throaty and decidedly evil. Black as pitch, Minx thought.
“Dear, sweet, Nicole,” Cynthia mocked the girl as her form began to shimmer and transform. “How naïve you have been. Almost as trusting as your father.”
At this, Mystique’s shape altered into that of Stephen Anderson, and Minx felt her heart freeze. Her father’s face turned from the driver’s seat and gave her a small, sad shake of the head.
“Oh, what a delight it was to feel his neck snapping like a twig beneath my foot. The look of surprise on his face as he died was such a kick. And your mother wasn’t much better now, was she?”
Once again, Mystique morphed and now Minx’s mother, Claire, was behind the wheel. Minx’s head spun as an icy chill of horror ran down her spine. She moaned in disbelief and tried to push herself into the corner of the seat. Mystique continued to torment the girl.
“Claire was so happy to see her husband home in the middle of the day that she never even thought twice about why he’d be there.” Mystique laughed watching the tears splash down Minx’s face. “She didn’t even put up a fight when I killed her. It was almost as if she wanted to die. But you, you little brat…you had to cause trouble for me, didn’t you? If you had only stayed in your room playing with your little dolly a few minutes more, I could have taken you then and there instead of having to fly halfway across the states almost a decade later to finish the job!”
Minx couldn’t speak. Her horror at Mystique’s ugly tale of deceit and treachery left her unable to move or think. She looked up at the back of her mother’s head and felt sick to her stomach. Her breath hitched as she relived that night six years ago, seeing the entire scene with a new, uglier perspective than before. Minx closed her eyes tight and fought the bile that rose in her throat. She hadn’t killed them…it wasn’t her fault…Quicksilver guffawed as Mystique focused her attention back on the road. The wind was picking up and snow had begun to fall dusting the road.
“Oh, you’ve got her totally freaked, Mystique,” Quicksilver snorted in sick pleasure as he watched Minx moaning and shivering in shock. “The girl’s about to wet her pants!”
Mystique quickly morphed into her normal blue visage and risked a quick peek over her seat at Minx.
“I suppose you’ve begun to realize that I was never your mother’s best friend?” she said as she turned her attention back to the road and pushed the car even faster despite the fact that the snow was falling even harder now, the powder now thicker and wetter.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, we were friends – once,” the mutant’s lips crinkled into an ugly sneer, her yellow eyes flashing. “Until that little witch took what should have been mine! How could that stupid flatscan of a woman ever think that she was better than me? I should have been the one to share his affections, not her! I was his partner,” Mystique hissed angrily, “his back up. Who knew Logan better than me? Who could ever understand him better than another mutant? And I would have had him too, if your whore of a mother hadn’t thrown herself at him!”
Minx blinked and tried to slow her breathing before she hyper-ventilated. The blue lady kept on babbling angrily about her mother, and how she ‘stole’ Logan away, but Minx wasn’t listening. She was too stunned by seeing the forms of her parents to pay attention to the soap opera Mystique was reciting. Her head spun and she felt her skin grow clammy as her vision began to darken. Time to pass out, she thought distractedly. But then, Minx’s ears picked up the distinct throaty growl of a familiar bike and she focused on that shutting out all the other interference going on in her overloaded mind. She concentrated hard on the engine sound as it grew steadily louder – concentrated hard because it kept her from screaming. It was Cyke’s motorcycle – it had to be!
Trying not to bring attention to herself, Minx steadied her breathing and sat up a little in her seat. Pietro was still watching her, so she kept her fear visible – not hard to do since she was actually quite terrified at the moment, her heart thudding against her chest. She’d been in scrapes before, but none this serious. She leaned her head over slightly, resting her cheek on the cool leather seat and risked a quick glance out the window at the side view mirror near Mystique. Her heart leapt – it was indeed the team leader’s bike, but her father was riding it, his dark shaggy head hunching forward over the handlebars, face aimed into the spray of the snowstorm. He was about five cars behind them and had the bike going flat out, swerving dangerously out into the oncoming traffic now and then to get around a vehicle and thereby get that much closer to the Lexus.
Feeling a little calmer now that a possible rescue was in sight, Minx sat up straighter and quickly assessed the situation. She was being held at gunpoint in the back seat of a locked car by two murderous nut balls – one a very nasty, very blue mutant. Logan was coming up fast behind them and they knew he was there. So, Minx reasoned, she needed to create some kind of diversion to possibly slow the car down enough for Logan to catch up.
“What’s going on here?” Minx demanded as she folded her hands into her lap over the seatbelt lock. “Why did you kill my parents, you ugly bitch? Where are you taking me?”
“If you had just been a little smarter, child, and stayed hidden instead of showing up at Xavier’s, you more than likely would have enjoyed a long life.” Mystique wryly commented. “Magneto would never have known you were alive, but now...well, he has plans for you. Plans that will make The Brotherhood a power not to be ignored.”
“The what?” Minx asked.
She was carefully undoing her seatbelt preparing to make her move.
“The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants,” Quicksilver proudly announced. “That’s my father’s organization. We believe that mutants are superior to humans and therefore should be the rightful rulers of this planet. And we will use any means necessary to accomplish that.”
“Oh, you’ve been reading way too many comic books there, junior.” Minx shot back, her confidence returning and with it, a growing surge of hatred and anger towards her captors.
These people had murdered her family and they were going to pay, she thought to herself. She had gotten the belt undone and inched forward on the seat.
“Ya know, most folks don’t take too kindly to being forced into submission by a bunch of crazies, or haven’t you read the papers lately?”
“We are not crazy!” Mystique angrily shot back. “We are indeed superior to homo sapiens. And you were to be our means to greatness, our –“
She didn’t get a chance to finish as Minx launched herself over the front seat to grab the steering wheel from a startled Mystique. The two females grappled with the wheel causing the Lexus to veer sharply into the far lane cutting off a little blue Chevy almost clipping the other car’s front bumper. Mystique got her elbow up into Minx’s face to pry her grip from the steering wheel, but the mutant quickly pulled it back when, with a low growl, the teen sank her teeth into the exposed blue flesh of the woman’s arm.
“Quicksilver!” Mystique yelped.
Minx caught a blur from the other side of the front seat and felt something hit her hard in the side of the head. She landed in the backseat half on, half off the seat, her ears ringing from the clout she had taken in the temple. Minx shook her head, her vision blurring somewhat and slowly climbed up onto the seat to stare in surprise at Pietro who was sitting calmly in the front seat once again.
“How the hell did you do that?” Minx murmured, rubbing her aching head.
“They don’t call me Quicksilver for nothing,” the young mutant quipped and once again brought the Glock up into her face. “Any more tricks and I’ll empty the clip into you before you can even blink.”
The car hit an icy patch on the road and skidded, Mystique suddenly yanking on the steering wheel to straighten back out. The sudden see-saw move left both Pietro and Minx sliding in their seats.
“Where the blazes did this storm come from?” Mystique angrily snapped watching the blizzard gust past the windshield all but hiding the road from view.
A motorcycle came into view out of the skirling snowstorm to the right of the car and Minx scrambled to the window pressing up against it to catch sight of Logan as the burly mutant maneuvered closer. His eyes met hers and her breath hitched. She had never been so glad as now to see that coarse, bullying runt. Her anger towards him forgotten, Minx shot the man a pleading look from the window, willing him to read her mind, to let him know she was okay, but unable to free herself. Mystique pressed the gas and the Lexus surged forward, the motorcycle disappearing into the white swirl outside. Minx swore and turned to attack her captors until she remembered that Quicksilver still had the gun trained on her.
The girl heard a low rumble and again pressed her face to the window. Wolverine appeared, his teeth bared in a feral sneer. He popped the claws on his left hand as he came abreast of the Lexus and reached out attempting to rake the door open. Mystique swerved into the next lane, and Wolverine’s metal blades only skittered harmlessly across the paint of the vehicle. The motorcycle surged forward and swung up alongside the speeding car once again. Pietro lowered his window, the sudden burst of freezing 85mph air catching Minx in the face swirling her hair madly about her head. Quicksilver steadied himself and took aim with the Glock, sighting down the barrel at Wolverine.
“No!” Minx shouted in horror, realizing what the nasty punk was about to do.
She launched herself at him, but not before he was able to squeeze off a shot at the mutant on the motorcycle. Minx screamed as she saw the bullet tear through the meaty part of Logan’s left bicep. The bike swerved dangerously on the snow-covered pavement as Wolverine lost the use of his arm. Quicksilver took aim again and hit the X-man again. Wolverine jerked in pain as the slug slammed into his shoulder, his adamantium-laced skeleton stopping the projectile in its path. The bike slowed and the Lexus broke away.
“You sonofabitch!” Minx growled and clawed at Quicksilver’s head, trying to gouge at his eyes.
He easily backhanded her across the face, his motion not even registering upon Minx’s slower reflexes until too late. Minx cried out and fell back onto her seat, the coppery taste of blood trickling into her mouth. She sat back up and licked at her cut lip, more angry than afraid now. These creeps had already killed her parents – they were not going to get that chance with Logan if she had any say. Much to her surprise, the motorcycle roared back up to the side of the car again. Minx stared in astonishment as Logan’s grim visage appeared at the window next to Mystique, his bushy whiskers and dark wild hair blown back from the gusting winds and snow. He gave Mystique an unmistakable leer. The bullet wounds had stopped bleeding, Minx noticed with awe. In fact, Logan looked to be unscathed. What the hell, she wondered then caught sight of Quicksilver as he attempted to fire past Mystique’s form and out the window at her father again.
“Oh, no you don’t,” she spat out and scrambled over the front seat to grapple the gun from the white-haired boy’s hand.
Minx snatched the gun barrel, struggling with it as Pietro tried to yank it out of her grip. She clamped down hard on the metal and poured all her anger and hatred into her hand. The metal of the Glock rapidly began to glow red-hot in Quicksilver’s hand, and he howled in outraged pain as the acrid smell of scorched flesh filled the car. The boy quickly let go of the smoking gun and pressed his injured hand under his armpit. The gun, still glowing, somersaulted once and bounced off Pietro’s thigh, sizzling against his pants before Quicksilver could knock it off himself. It landed on the floor of the car burning and melting the synthetic carpet. Pietro’s scream was high and harsh as he clamped his free hand to the smoldering hole in his pants. He didn’t even bother to try to stop Minx as she tried to reach for the door lock. Mystique snarled and snagged Minx by her hair viciously dragging her back and away from the door.
Minx bit her lip in pain as the older woman attempted to yank her backwards over the seat. Her scalp felt like it was on fire and the throbbing ache was so intense that she was sure a clump of her hair was being torn out by the roots. Mystique continued to reel her prisoner in, tugging mercilessly at the hank of locks she held. The Lexus swerved madly back and forth over the road as Mystique fought with the girl one-handed. Overcome by the pain, Minx reached up and behind her with both hands attempting to loosen the woman’s hold by digging her fingernails into the Mystique’s exposed wrist.
Outside, Logan slowed the roaring motorcycle down to ninety and neatly swung in behind the car to avoid being run over. The Lexus traveled to the far right lane, skidded on another patch of ice, and kissed the guard rail, metal shrieking as Logan opened the engine on the bike full out and veered up along the passenger side of the car once again. Fully healed, the bullet wounds gone, Logan extended the metal claws of his left hand once again and swung his arm up and around. This time the blades connected solidly with the trunk of the car, skewering straight through the near edge of the trunk lid. Sparks flew as his adamantium claws caught hold, and Logan was suddenly jerked from the bike, his legs flailing as he attempted to keep himself from being dragged under the wheels of the speeding vehicle. It felt as his arm was being torn from its socket, but Logan refused to give up his purchase on the vehicle. Grunting, he sunk his other set of claws into the car for better purchase and lifted his short stocky legs up onto the rear bumper before releasing his left claws and sinking them into the Lexus further up the trunk. He flattened his body against the icy metal to decrease the wind drag while hauling his body fully up onto the trunk lid and sneered into the rear window at his prey.
One hand still ensnared in her captive’s hair, Mystique yanked hard on the wheel with her other hand torqueing the car to the left and watched as Logan slid dangerously along the slick metal of the trunk. She spun the wheel back the other way, but Logan was able to maintain a solid grip despite the jarring motion of the car and the fact that his muscles were almost frozen from the bitter cold of the raging snowstorm. He growled low in his throat as he tried to pull himself up into a kneeling position to smash the rear window to bits with one bladed fist.
Emboldened by the promise of rescue, Minx twisted around to face her enemy, grimacing as she did so from the increase in tension on her hair. She began swinging blind punches at Mystique, trying to get the blue mutant to loosen her iron grip. Quicksilver, still whimpering from his burns, nonetheless flung himself onto Minx’s back with a shout and angrily flipped the girl into the back of the car. Minx sailed neatly over the seat smacking the back of her head hard on the side window. Her vision darkened momentarily from the impact and she fought the desire to just let go and black out. Groaning in pain, Minx groggily rubbed the back of her throbbing head. She slid down against the seat back swallowing to get a grip on the pain and glanced up to the rear window to check on Logan’s progress. She gasped and sat up wincing at the hammering in her head. Logan was gone!
“You fucking bitch!” Minx cried at Mystique as she launched herself up from the rear seat and began flailing at the woman’s head from behind.
“Would you take care of her, you idiot! I’m going to lose control of the car!” Mystique fairly shrieked at her comrade.
Quicksilver was nothing but a blur as he climbed over the seat and landed on top of the young teen. She huffed as the breath was knocked from her and tried to roll to the floor to get the man off of her. Quicksilver was too fast – he slammed her back onto the seat, his injured hand clamped about her throat tightening, cutting off her air supply. Minx, choking, her face darkening from lack of oxygen, grabbed feebly at the other’s hand to try to pull it free. Pietro swung his good arm back to deliver a punch to Minx’s snarling spitting face, and Minx steeled herself but the blow never came. Instead, three long thin adamantium blades punched through the roof of the car, and subsequently right through the boy’s raised fist.
Minx gulped for air as Pietro let go of her throat, the blood draining from his shocked face. The mutant slowly gazed up at his hand now impaled onto Logan’s claws, and he screamed, loud. Minx, now able to breathe again, took the opportunity to bring her right knee up into the man’s crotch, further causing the boy’s face to whiten. With a pitiful whimper, Quicksilver slumped down onto the car floor, doubled up and proceeded to vomit onto his knees. The blades in the roof of the car disengaged momentarily then plunged back into the roof about a foot closer to the door. Mystique swore and then gasped as the car was suddenly engulfed in a literal tornado of snow. She automatically braked, unable to see out the windshield and flipped the windshield wipers to their highest setting to no effect. The wind outside the car began to howl ominously and Minx squinted out the rear window barely making out a Jeep Cherokee directly behind them now.
“Storm!” Minx gleefully shouted as she suddenly realized who was manipulating the weather about the Lexus. The whole gang was here!
With Mystique preoccupied keeping the car on the road in the winter storm, and Quicksilver down for the count, Minx attempted once again to concentrate on getting the car door opened. She placed her hands on the window and focused her energy releasing a surge of cryogenic force into the object. The glass instantly began to frost up, tiny threads of ice sprouting over its surface. With a brittle creaking of stress, the glass froze as solid as if it had been dipped in liquid nitrogen. Turning her head slightly to avoid injury, Minx rammed her elbow into the frozen pane. It shattered outward in a burst of crystalline shards that were quickly driven away by the snow and wind. The blizzard came whistling into the vehicle instantly dropping the temperature around her by thirty degrees and causing her to shiver uncontrollably. Undaunted, Minx spit the pounding snow out of her face and reached towards the opening. As her numb fingers curled around the bottom of the window opening, a big hairy hand dropped down from nowhere and clamped over hers. The girl screamed. Logan’s face popped down from the roof of the car directly in front of her, his whiskers crusted with ice, and Minx nearly jumped out of her skin.
“You all right?” he yelled over the howling blizzard.
She nodded silently, relieved that her father was still alive, as Mystique shrieked in rage and attempted to reach for the gun on the floor while keeping a hand on the wheel at the same time. The Lexus swerved dangerously across the lanes and into the guardrail again. Wolverine disappeared momentarily as he tightened his grip while the car steadied once more. Not wasting any time, the X-man plunged one set of claws into the doorframe and began to carve the rear door away from its frame. The metal sliced away as easily as butter and in no time, Logan had the back door of the Lexus peeled open. He motioned for Minx, and she carefully crawled across the seat to him.
“Ya gotta jump, darlin’,” he shouted to her then pointed out and away from the speeding car.
Minx peered out past the open door at the terrain as it whipped by at 85mph and then gazed back up at Logan in utter disbelief. “Are you shitting me?!” she yelled back as she tried to back peddle into the relative safety of the car.
Logan reached in and snagged his child by the arm immediately stopping her hasty retreat.
“There’s no other way,” he calmly explained as he slowly pulled her closer to the gaping opening almost obliterated from sight by the whirling snow. “Ya hafta jump. Don’t think about it – just do it! Tuck and roll, kid.”
Minx, shivering from both the cold and what she was facing, chanced a quick look behind her and saw Mystique’s glaring visage. The blue-skinned mutant had finally managed to snatch the pistol from the floorboards and was now bringing it up and around to aim at Minx. Before the girl had a chance to react, she felt Logan’s muscular hand latch onto her upper arm and tug forcefully. The gun fired, the sound lost in the screeching winds outside. Minx felt something whiz through her hair and then she was being yanked from the careening car and thrown out into the swirling white maelstrom of the blizzard.
Minx tried to scream, but ended up with a mouthful of cold ice and her own hair. She choked as she felt her body arcing out and down. She couldn’t see anything but remembered Logan’s advice and managed to gather herself into a tight ball right before she hit the ground. She landed roughly, rolling into the snow-packed ditch on the side of the road. Coming to a stop, her head still spinning, she tried to orient herself. She lay still in the cold wet snow in a state of shock until she heard a car pulling up beside her, the SUV’s exhaust plume rising above the edge of the ditch and into her sight. The snowstorm began to abate as suddenly as it had appeared, the winds dying down instantly as Cyclops, Gambit, Jubilee and Storm piled out of the Cherokee.
“Chere, you all right?”
Gambit’s smooth southern drawl came to her and she smiled weakly as she tried to sit up, still woozy from the fall. Gambit knelt down beside the girl and brushed the snow and ice from her face, checking her over to make sure she was uninjured.
“You okay, li’l bit?” he asked again.
“I think so,” Minx managed with a groan.
Her brain felt as if it had been put in a blender on frappe and her body felt as if there wasn’t an inch anywhere that wasn’t bruised, scraped, bleeding or sore. Minx looked down and noticed that her sodden skirt was hiked up around her waist. Embarrassed, she quickly yanked it back down. Gambit didn’t take notice and she was thankful. Minx tasted blood once again in her mouth and realized she had bit her tongue when she had landed. She grimaced and spat a mouthful of blood and saliva out onto the pristine white snow. The Cajun slowly helped her to her feet as Storm and Cyclops went down the road to see about Logan. Jubilee ran up to her friend, slipping and sliding on the snowy ground but happy to see that Minx was safe. Minx took a step toward Jubilee then wobbled for a moment.
“Whoa there, Minxster,” Jubilee said and took her other arm to steady her. “Looks like you need a hand.”
“Thanks, guys,” Minx tiredly said.
“Let’s get you inside de Jeep, p’tite.”
Gambit slowly coaxed her towards the X-team vehicle as Storm and Wolverine trudged up with Cyclops behind them scanning the road for any sign of Mystique and Quicksilver. Minx stopped in her tracks when she saw Logan. His leather jacket was ripped at one armhole, the shoulder completely shredded, and two jagged bullet holes marred the other sleeve. Logan’s face and one hand were battered and bloody, but were already healing as he walked. Minx watched in fascination as the gash on the back of his hand grew smaller and then disappeared all together. Logan stopped a moment, stretching and popping his back into place, and Minx forgot all about her own injuries as her jaw dropped in total awe.
“Never seen him do that before, huh?” Jubilee whispered into her friend’s ear.
Completely healed, Logan glanced over and spied Minx being propped up between Gambit and Jubilee and his throat tightened. He began to trot towards the girl as Minx shrugged off her friend’s hands and began to slowly limp in Logan’s direction. Logan’s face was a mask of concern. The thought of Nikki, his child, in pain over something he’d done; something that could have been avoided had he been willing to pay more attention to the signs was killing him. He prided himself in being in control of the situation, of always being prepared. In battle, in training, in all aspects of his life he was always prepared and ready for anything; anything except love. And he did love Minx he suddenly realized, and he wanted what was best for her, though he somehow couldn’t help but feel that he had let her down. Logan quickly surveyed her face, her form as he came up to Minx.
“You, okay?” he asked her.
She nodded once, but wouldn’t meet his eyes.
“I guess you’re pretty mad at me.” She whispered as she continued to stare at her wet ice-frosted boots.
“Darlin’,” he said tentatively, “you did make me mad, I ain’t gonna lie about that. But there is nothin’ you will ever do that’ll make me quit caring for ya.”
Surprising everyone, Logan grabbed Minx up in a big bear hug squeezing her small frame into his. Minx returned the hug just as fiercely, glad they were both alive. Minx started crying as her father clutched her tightly.
“I am so sorry,” she sobbed softly.
“I know you are, Nikki. I know. But it’s over now, alright? Shhh,” he said, slightly rocking her in his arms.
Cyclops motioned for the others to get in the Jeep. Gambit grinned and climbed into the waiting SUV along with Cyclops and Storm, who looked like she was about to tear up from the emotional display between father and daughter. Jubilee hung back a moment watching the two, a look of longing momentarily crossing her face.
“Thought I’d lost you, kid,” Logan murmured softly into Minx’s hair as he held her.
“Me too,” Minx snuffled then suddenly pulled away from her father, her words coming out rushed and excited. “She killed them, Logan! She killed my parents! And she was going to kill me too but I don’t know why and –“
“Shhh.” Logan hushed her frightened babbling smoothing her hair and pulling her close again. “This ain’t the place for that, darlin’. Not here, not now.”
He picked her up easily cradling the girl in his arms and carried her to the warm comfort of the Jeep.
“Let’s get you home, little girl. We got a lot to talk about.”