Lair of the Stealth Bunnies
History Chapter Seven
“We’re home!” Jubilee called as she slammed the mansion door behind her with her usual enthusiasm. The closest windows shivered in their frames. She tossed her dufflebag to the floor. “Hello! Anyone around?” She ducked into the kitchen and began rummaging through the fridge, then gave it up for the freezer in the quest for ice cream.
“Did you have a good time?” Jean leaned in to ask.
“Do we have any chocolate? Oh, yeah. You should see all those cute guys runnin’ around in leather. Yummy.”
Jean’s eyebrow arched. “And where was Logan while you were... sight seeing?”
“Biker bonding. Jean, I got this really cool leather outfit I want your opinion on. It’s cut down to here...” Jubilee gestured with her spoon, then burst into giggles. “I’m sorry, Jean, but the look on your face! No, seriously, I spent most of the time at the beach. It’s really beautiful up there. An’ I did make Wolvie take me shoppin’ at the outlets, ‘cause I need new things for school an’ all. We packed ‘em up an’ shipped ‘em straight to Massachusetts.” She stopped her stream of chatter long enough to eat a mouthful of ice cream. “An’ we went on a lot of tours on the bike. Wolvie wanted to camp, but I said no, ‘cause I wanted a bed, y’know, an’ a shower. So I made him find a motel, which wasn’t easy. There were over 40,000 bikers! If I didn’t have my shades, I woulda gone blind from all the chrome.” She finger-combed her wind-blown hair. “So, what’s happened here? Where is everyone?”
Jean had found a bowl and helped herself to some of the ice cream. “It’s been quiet, especially without out resident firecracker.” She smiled fondly at Jubilee. “I think almost everyone took off for the weekend. Storm went to a garden show this morning. I know Remy and Rogue stayed here, but I think they went to the movies this afternoon.”
Jubilee ate another bite of ice cream smugly.
“Yes, it did work,” Jean said in response to her thought. “But I’m still not sure setting her hair on fire was... appropriate.” She licked her spoon off. “I’ll bet it was pretty fun to watch, though.”
“It was,” Jubilee said with a satisfied sigh. “Hey, ya wanna see the cool tattoo I got?” She started to roll up her sleeve. Jean squawked, and Jubilee laughed. “Gotcha again.”
Jean rapped Jubilee’s head with her spoon. “Smart mouth.”
“Your point bein’?”
Jean gave the girl an impromptu hug. “I’ve missed you, Jubilee.”
“Did you?” Jubilee searched her eyes hungrily. The child was starved for a family. She hid it so well, behind bravado and mischief, that it was easy to forget.
Jean gave her another hug. “What say we do some shopping tomorrow? Maybe catch a movie?”
Jubilee’s face lit up with a huge grin. “Cool, Jean. That’d be great.”
Jean tossed the empty ice cream carton away. “We’ll have to get more ice cream, too. That was Scott’s.”
“Whoops.” But Jubilee didn’t sound apologetic in the slightest.
There was a tap on the door and Logan leaned in. “Hiya, Red. What’s Cyke doin’ sittin’ out under the maple tree in his recliner?”
“It was a compromise,” Jean said airily.
“”Don’t ask,” Jubilee told Logan.
“I won’t.” After all, he had known Jean and Scott for years. “You seen Evie?”
Jean paused in the middle of rinsing her bowl. “She’s not at the cabin? She was talking about having some of her peppercorn stew ready for you.”
“That she did,” Logan said, a touch smugly. “She’s got that crock-pot thing goin’.”
“Oh, good,” Jean said happily. “I’ll stop by with my Tupperware. She promised to make plenty. Jubilee, why don’t you come and eat with Scott and me?”
Jubilee started to say that she’d rather eat with Wolvie, then realized why Jean was asking. “Oh. Sure. After all, I’ve been seein’ _his_ table manners all week. Or lack thereof.”
“See if I take ya anywhere with me again,” Logan said in a light tone. “No, she ain’t at the cabin. By the scent, she ain’t been there since early this morning.”
“She went riding this morning.” Jean held up a soothing hand. “hank cleared her for it. She probably just lost track of time.”
Jean turned the water off and looked at him. “You don’t like it though.”
“Ya read my mind, Red. Ain’t like Evie to lose track o’ time.”
“No,” she said slowly, his concern contagious. “No, it isn’t, is it?”
“Can you sense her?”
Jean was already running to the door. “no, I can’t. I’ll get the others and help search.”
“I won’t wait for ya, darlin’. I should be able to follow her scent.”
*All right. I’ve got a link on you, Logan.*
Jubilee matched pace with Logan as he strode to the stables. “Ya think she’s hurt, Wolvie?”
“If she was conscious, Jean’d be able to sense her.” He sifted through the scents on the air. “We put too much damn trust in being safe here.” His head snapped to the west suddenly. “Got it! Jeannie!”
*We’re coming, Logan!*
He bolted along one of the bridal paths. He knew them all, knew every inch of the woods surrounding the mansion. Eve knew them well, too. They both had the same love for the woods. These were a poor substitute for the Canadian Rockies or the Adirondacks, but for stretches of time, they were still home. He could smell the joy she had felt in freedom, of riding through the woods, the peace at feeling safe.
A mile later, he smelled the blood.
Jubilee caught up with him in the small clearing. He was crouching next to the body of a horse. The ground was drenched with blood, the air thick with the copper smell.
“Wolvie?” she quavered.
He ignored her. Instead, he looked around, his gaze traveling the clearing. His nostrils were flaring, sorting through the smells, and he was rhythmically unsheathing and sheathing his claws. The metallic sound was loud in the silence of the woods. Even the insects and birds shunned the area.
“Wolvie?” she asked again, stepping forward.
His eyes met hers then, sanity battling bloodlust. “She ain’t here, Jubes,” he said, his words barely intelligible with growling.
“What happened?” she fought to keep her voice steady.
“Sabretooth happened,” he snarled, then he was running past her, back towards the mansion.
*Jean!* she shouted mentally.
*I see, Jubilee. We’re meeting him. Gambit’s almost to you now.*
“P’tite?” The Cajun broke out from the path. He drew his breath in a hiss. “Merde!”
“What happened, Remy?” she cried.
“Give me a moment, p’tite.” Remy crouched by the body of the horse as Wolverine had done.
“Wolvie said it was Sabretooth.”
“Wolverine would know, now, wouldn’t he? De chere didn’t see him. He killed de horse first. Her leg was trapped under de body.” The thief pointed at the marks in the churned up ground around the horse’s body.
Jubilee moved closer. The horse’s neck and belly had been clawed open. She never would have thought there was so much blood in a horse. She hadn’t realized until now just how big the animals were. “Is that all from the horse, or--”
Remy looked at her sharply. “Prob’bly,” he said quickly, even though she knew he couldn’t possibly know.
She pulled her gaze away from the horse and saw the small huddled form of the dog. She ran over to it. “Remy?”
“I saw it. The dog’s dead, p’tite,” he said gently. He picked something up from the ground. The dying sunlight flashed off metal.
“De chere’s knife,” he said, holding it up. The blade had been snapped. “It looks like she drew blood. Not dat dis li’l toy’d have much effect ‘gainst Sabretooth.”
Jubilee touched the dog’s body. It was cold. “Oh, Remy. We were s’posed to take care of her.”
Remy’s hand fell on her shoulder. “C’mon, Jubes. We’ll go find her, non?”
“You think she’s alive?”
“Either way,” the thief said, “we’ll find her and bring her home.”
Jubilee looked at the dog again, then gathered the small body in her arms. “An’ then we’ll deal with Sabretooth.”
“Non, p’tite. _Wolverine_ deals with Sabretooth.”
“Ya can’t sense him either?”
“No,” Jean said with frustration.
“An’ why not?”
“Well, if I knew that, I’d be able to get around it and sense him, wouldn’t I?”
“Can’t you follow the scent, Logan?” Scott asked.
It was a mild enough rebuke, but it hit on raw nerves over a raw temper. Logan had yet to stop the rhythmic unsheathing and sheathing his claws. “If I could get a scent, I wouldn’t be wastin’ time chattin’ with ya two. He took her someplace in a car, and I lost the scent at the road.”
Scott rested a soothing hand on Jean’s shoulder. “How old’s the scent.”
“Morning. From the blood.”
Jean flinched under Scott’s fingers. He felt the guilt, the sense of responsibility, the sense of failure through their link. *Easy, love. Concentrate on finding her. Don’t let the rest cloud your thinking.*
*It’s not that easy, Scott.*
She was probably getting a battering from Logan. He was so worked up that he didn’t care what it was doing to Jean.
But, to be honest, if it had been Jean missing, Scott figured he’d be acting the same way himself.
Jubilee and Remy ran in. The girl was cradling the body of Eve’s dog. Blood smeared her hands and shirt. “Anything?” she asked, her eyes pleading.
No one answered her.
They didn’t have to.
She set the dog down in a corner and wrapped the body in a throw blanket. She rubbed her hands on her shorts, smearing more blood. She looked at her hands blankly. “Now what?”
“We get all our ‘paths searchin’,” Logan said. “The rest a’ us tear that section of the woods apart. Look for anything that might let on where Creed took her.”
“You think Creed’s just going to drop hints for us to find?” Scott asked, just barely keeping his voice even. Logan was reacting, not thinking.
“Actually, Cyke, I do,” Logan snarled, knowing the thought process behind Scott’s lack of emotion. “Creed loves these games. An’ it’s better ‘n waitin’ around, doin’ nothin’.”
Scott nodded. “All right. You lead the outdoor team, Wolverine. It’s getting dark fast, so move it, people.”
Logan was out of the room before Scott had finished speaking. Jubilee darted after him, on his heels in a few steps. She had known he was going to break at any instant and had been watching for it. She had been amazed he had waited this long.
They nearly bowled Storm over at the door. Logan didn’t, simply because his reflexes were so fast, and Jubilee had been a step or two behind him and therefore had an extra second to react. “Outta my way, ‘Ro,” Logan growled. Then he froze, sniffing. “Whatcha got?”
Storm handed him a package. “This was just delivered for you by special messenger.”
It reeked of Sabretooth.
He ripped it open. It was a videotape.
He turned and ran back down the hall again into the War Room. Jean and Scott were still there, Jean with her eyes closed, her face creased in concentration. Her eyes flew open when Logan burst in. “Logan!”
He ignored her and stalked over to one of the monitors, shoving the tape in. Then he paused, his finger hovering over the play button.
He knew Creed. Knew him real well.
He had a pretty good idea what was on the tape.
“Jubes,” he said, “Evie left the crockpot on. Why don’t you go turn it off before it burns the cabin down?”
Jubilee’s jaw set. “Not a chance, Wolvie. I ain’t leavin’.”
“Get out of here, Jubilee.” His fist clenched. “You shouldn’t be seein’ this.”
“I’m not a kid. Stop protectin’ me.”
He threw her a look of boiling rage. “I ain’t protecting _you_, kid. What’s on that tape... I don’t think Evie would want anyone to see it. In fact, all of ya, get out.”
“Logan,” Scott said, “If there’s any hint on that take where she is, the more set of eyes the better.”
“Get out!” Wolverine roared, and Jean went, dragging both Scott and Jubilee by their collars. She slammed the door shut behind them with her TK.
“Jean--” Scott began.
“Don’t even,” she said softly. As quiet as her voice was, it cut through his like steel. “Scott, just don’t even.” She pushed past him to pull Jubilee in her arms. “Come on, honey. Let’s go take care of that crockpot.”
Jubilee shot another glance at the door, then let Jean pull her away.
Logan watched the tape. He had to, if there was any way of finding Eve from it.
She was alive.
Creed wasn’t going to kill her.
Because hurting her was a much more effective way of getting to Logan.
And Creed could hurt her a lot.
And Logan had to watch.
Then he heard Jubilee scream his name, followed by Jean’s telepathic shout.
And he knew they had found her.