Author: Notmanos
E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Rating: R
Disclaimer:  The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the
character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics.  No copyright
infringement intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be a patron of the
arts, I won't object. ;-)  Oh, and Bob is *my* character - keep your hands off!   

She didn't know anymore. Maybe it was all the stress, the new students and the new fears of renewed anti - mutant laws, all the strange things happening with Bob and Logan. And Scott was kidnapped and briefly taken and brainwashed by those people who wanted Logan. Bob seemed to have "pushed" him into a healthy mindset about what had happened to him, but she couldn't help but think it might have had a deeper reach into Scott's mind than even Bob could have anticipated.

Jean leaned her head against the cool glass and closed her eyes. What she wouldn't give to have things just as they used to be.

They rode in silence until they reached the movie theater, a quaint, old fashioned type - meaning it was not a multiplex in a mall. It called itself the Grand Cinema, and it was: converted from a hotel in the late '60's, the interior still bore the red velvet carpets in the lobby ( now the main ticket counter and snack station ) and the hallways that sprawled between separate theaters like the distances between grand ballrooms, which was actually what they used to be. There were only four screens, and none ever played  the same movie as its far off neighbor.

Usually, before she even described the plush rose and navy velvet seats, everyone guessed - correctly - it was an "arthouse" theater, the type that showed independent and foreign films. Probably the only time gunfire and explosions was seen in the Grand Cinema was when they were showing "La Femme Nikita" or "Run Lola Run", and even then they were arty.

But they had seen some good films there. Scott loved big explosion movies as much as any man, but to her genuine surprise he actually liked an occasional subtitled film, and actually counted a long, grim, subtitled film - "Stalingrad" - as one of his all time favorites. Then again, it was a World War Two film, and he secretly had a great passion for those; his top two favorite movies of all times were "The Guns of Navarone" and "Bridge On The River Kwai", which he would freely admit he had probably seen more times than was healthy.  Sometimes she worried about him.

Since this was a " date " - at least in theory - he wasn't taking her to a war movie tonight ( well, how could he? "Das Boot, The Director's Cut" was no longer playing ). No, tonight it was some French film which she forgot the title of, but no matter, because she doubted she'd be paying much attention to the film.

Too bad there wasn't a comedy showing. They could both probably use the lightening up.

It wasn't that she didn't like the occasional foreign film - of course she did - but every now and then the subtitles got annoying ( it was hard to read the film and watch the action on screen at the same time ), and you just had to be in the mood for it. If this movie was depressing, considering the mood they were both in, they'd probably wallow in self - pity afterwards. They were starting to do so right now, in fact.

Although the Grand Cinema was a lovely piece of architecture in an 'arty' part of town, the outside of the building kept the dull brick facade that the former hotel owner had installed, as he intended to sell it as an office building originally. There was no marquee sign either, just flyers and mini - posters for all the films currently showing hidden behind glass topped frames that hung on the outside, on either side of the glass doors. There were big black letters spelling "Grand Cinema" over the doorway, but they seemed like an afterthought, and in dim light became almost invisible against the aged mud brown bricks.

It shared a cracked parking lot around back with a neighboring bookstore/coffee shop that called itself "The Knowing Bean". Scott once said, "Wow. There's a name too dorky even for me." Not only did that make her smile, but she once went in and bought a book on neurobiology, just so she could give Scott a birthday present in one of their bags, with the logo emblazoned across the front. He laughed, and pronounced it the geekiest bag in the history of bags; it was now on the upper shelf of their closet, filled with either sweaters or t - shirts, depending on whether it was summer or winter.

Scott did have a sense of humor; he did have light moments. But lately they seemed to be becoming few and far between. And maybe that was true for her as well.

There were less than a dozen cars in the lot, which was not a surprise. It was a Tuesday night, and there was no "sleeper" indy hit currently screening here. Scott's car was the sleekest, nicest one here; although none of the other cars were exactly beaters, they were in general sensible cars - well used Saabs, Saturns and older Lexuses, even a lovingly restored Volkswagen - that you might expect people deemed "intellectuals" ( and the occasionally arty and parent subsidized college student ) to drive. But at least that crowd was generally too p.c. to openly stare.

They sat in the car for a moment after he killed the engine, staring at nothing through the windshield. "Should we just give up now?" He wondered.

She didn't know if he meant give up on the date, the movie, or their entire relationship. But she decided she didn't really want to know, ignorance being bliss and all. "No. We're here, we might as well go see the film. Unless you'd rather grab a latte and go sit in The Knowing Bean for a while."

He smiled weakly at her stab at humor. "Yes, maybe we can discuss Proust and talk about the death of modern literature."

"And then we'll buy armfuls of Grisham and Steel novels before we leave."

They both smiled as they pictured the look on the hapless clerk's face.

"But I kind of liked "The Client"," Scott said, as they both got out of the car.

She shook her head and refrained from comment, but maybe they could salvage the evening after all.

It was decidedly quiet as they reached the front of the Grand Cinema, but that wasn't unusual, as this was one of those rare parts of New York that only seemed to come to life on select Friday and Saturday nights, and even then only in a controlled, sporadic way, as if everyone was afraid of aggravating their headache.

But as soon as Scott opened the glass door, playing the gallant gentleman and holding it open for her, they both smelled something odd. Over the comforting, familiar scent of fresh popcorn was something heavy and rank, and familiar to her, but not in this setting.

Blood. Lots of blood.

They both leaned in for a look, braced for the worst, ready to use their powers at any second.

There was no need - whatever had occurred had happened long before they arrived.

Most of the dim lights in the wide lobby had been broken, so the whole scene was bathed in a half light that made the blood on the walls look like splashes of black paint. The large, horseshoe shaped mahogany front desk turned ticket counter had three bodies splayed on it like casually discarded dolls, and the glass side of the old fashioned popcorn machine had the counter girl broken through it, blood and popcorn forming a ghoulish pool on the velvet carpet beneath her.

The body closest to them was a man in a sweater with leather patches on the elbows. He looked like a college professor, but she knew from past visits he was the manager of the cinema. His face was turned away from them, head at an odd angle suggesting his neck had been broken, but it looked like his stomach had been hollowed out, leaving nothing but a bloody, garish hole where his abdomen used to be.

She closed her eyes and held a hand to her nose and mouth as Scott gasped, "Good god, what happened here?"

A massacre. But since that was obvious, she didn't bother to tell him.


Logan found piecing together the events of the night before even more challenging than usual. He had been in the shower for a good five minutes before he even remembered the name of the woman.

The memories didn't come back in a rush but a slow trickle, like a leak in a faucet. Clia took him to a real dive, and when she called it a pit, she wasn't using hyperbole: it was a literal pit, a bar in the basement of an otherwise condemned building, whose collapsed floors shifted overhead whenever anyone shut the door. But no one seemed concerned that the roof was going to fall in, so it didn't bother him either.

It smelled horrible, like a demon sauna, but since all the patrons and even the bartender was a demon, what did he expect? They seemed to more or less ignore him, maybe because he was with Clia, and in a way that was disappointing - he was still itching for a good fight.

Instead of getting him a beer, she ordered them both a drink called "Seeing God". "You have to try it," she insisted. "You'll never find anything like it in a Human bar."

He considered that a good thing, but hell, it was just booze - it wasn't like it would effect him.

Man, was he dumb sometimes.

He should have known it might be more than booze,or at least relatively inhuman booze. He thought it smelled weird - like ambergris and freesia - but it looked innocuous, just a glass of translucent amber liquid. So he held his breath and gulped it down, and while it burned a bit going down and had an aftertaste like a sweet honeydew melon, it seemed like nothing special at all - like most booze, it
was just like water to him.

For exactly ten minutes.

Then he became aware of a sort of warm sensation spreading throughout his skin,diffusing through his blood, and by the time it reached his face in a flush of heat, he felt really, impossibly good. He felt lightheaded, but in a good way, and nearly everything seemed funny. Clia leaned over, and said, "Isn't it great?"

And when she touched his arm, there was an explosion of tactile sensation that nearly knocked him off his chair. It was like every nerve in his body was feeding back messages at tenfold the rate of normal, and it was ... incredible. There were no words for how good it honestly felt. He had never felt anything like it.

After that, the night got really fuzzy. He actually didn't remember much at all from that time until he woke up. She could have very well drugged him - if it was new to his system, and especially if it was demon based, it might get to him - and who knew what the hell she could have done. He should have known better than to trust a Belial.

Once his head had cleared up as much as it was going to, he toweled himself off and started searching for his clothes. He found his jeans first, and discovered there was a huge gash in the right leg, just over and including the knee. There was a little blood discoloring the edges, but it only smelled like his, and he didn't really care, but he was disappointed if he got in a fight and couldn't remember it. Well, it was hardly the first time, was it?

He found his t - shirt on a lamp, and his boxers partially draped on the dusty windowsill, and only then did it slowly dawn on him that this "apartment" was in fact a hotel room. A rather large hotel room, but still just that, and judging from the smell of Clia and the personal items scattered about, this was something she had been living in for some time.

He'd just put on the clothes he had found and started searching for the rest when he heard the front door open, and a sharp noise of impact, like a small, solid ( but mostly plastic ) item had been thrown and broken against a wall. He looked around the corner, just in time to see Clia storm in and slam the door, cursing under her breath. Seeing him, she jumped slightly. "Problem?" He wondered. A glance in the direction of the noise showed the broken remains of a cell phone strewn over the steel grey carpet.

"Oh, I hate cell phones. They never work when you need them to." She said, running a hand through her glossy black hair.

A short glance at the aggressively pastel front room showed a very old fashioned looking beige telephone on a side table, underneath an ugly ivory lamp. "Why not use the land line?"

She gave the phone a cursory glance. "Oh, that piece of shit thing isn't working either. I can't seem to get an outside line."

"Why do you need an outside line?" He wondered, coming into the front room. He saw his jacket on the floor next to the side table.

She arched an eyebrow at him. " 'Cause I want to call someone. Is that all right with you?"

"Call 'em about me?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

He grabbed his coat off the floor, and gave her a hard look. "You drugged me."

She scoffed. "I did not."

He shrugged on his jacket and just raised an eyebrow at her. He'd only get physical if he had to - she was a Belial, and he could kick her ass with his hands tied behind his back and a sucking chest wound.

"Oh, is it my fucking fault the drink hit you so hard?" She shot back defensively, crossing her arms over her chest. "Humans."

"You knew it would."

"You didn't complain last night."

"How do I know that? I can't remember last night!"

She shook her head and made a derisive noise. "No wonder you're so grouchy."

"I am not grouchy - I don't like getting set up."

"Set up? For what? If I was really a villain, don't you think you'd have woken up in a dungeon or something?"

Okay, that was a point for her. "Maybe I was supposed to, but you can't get through to your contacts."

She rolled her eyes, and he knew then she wasn't lying. Whatever she was up to, it had nothing to do with him. "Get over yourself, man! Why the hell would I want you? I mean sure, you were a good fuck - for a Human - but please! " Her exasperation soon turned to curiosity. "Why are you so paranoid? Are you wanted or something?"

"Something," he snapped, not really wanting to get into it. He really had to stop sleeping with demons.

She scrutinized him with her violently blue eyes, obviously not believing him, but she had no desire to mix it up with him. "Fine, whatever," she said, throwing her arms up in disgust. "So, Grumpy, do you wanna go get some breakfast, or would you rather sulk around here like a tiger with a sore paw?"

He glared at her, but she seemed far from intimidated. Why? Belials weren't that stupid, were they? Oh, well, maybe ...

"Yeah, sure, why not?" If this was a set up, he might as well play it out and see where it all ended up.


As usual, the newspaper reporters seemed to be on crack.

"Robbery?" Scott said, replying aloud to the headline of the article. "There was no robbery - the cash register and safe were untouched!"

"A random crime has to have some meaning," Jean said, with a weary sigh. "And if one can't be found, some people find it comforting to ascribe one, whether it fits or not."

They were sitting in the dining room, ostensibly having breakfast, but since they were up so late last night talking to the police ( so much for that date ) it was actually early afternoon, and they had the dining room all to themselves. Ironically, they had no appetite to speak of.

Scott folded up the front page and set it aside, no longer interested in reading the rest. They knew exactly how many were dead: even as Jean used her cell phone to call the police, they still had a look around, to see if there were any survivors, being careful to avoid any potential evidence. They found patrons dead in two of the four movie theaters ( luckily, there was only nine in one and five in the other - apparently Indian musicals and philosophical Italian films were not the big draws ), and since the films were still running they held out some hope the projectionist was alive, just oblivious to everything that had gone on. But it had been a futile hope. The machines were running, as they were supposed to do, but the projectionist was dead on the floor, in a pool of his own blood.

This was unbelievable. How could someone come in and kill twenty nine people, all at virtually the same time, in no time at all? It didn't look like there was a struggle either ... and several had their stomachs hollowed out.

It was obvious that there was more than one killer at work. And mostly not even a normal killer. He was hoping demonic because he hated to think mutant.

"Do you think it was coincidence?" Jean asked, picking sullenly at her fruit salad, which she hadn't eaten more than simply rearranged it on her plate.

"What do you mean?"

"That we were the first people to arrive on the scene."

He hadn't thought of that before, but he hadn't thought of much except the details of the crime scene, mentally scouring it in hopes of remembering some key, crucial detail that would point towards the perpetrators. But all he could remember was the blood, the grotesque wounds, and the sickening rage and madness behind it all. If there were actual clues, they eluded him.

"Who knew we were going to the theater?"

"Who didn't? Everyone here knew, and we were regulars there, Scott; even the manager knew us by name."

"True." That was a troubling thought. Maybe they were supposed to be at the theater during the attack, but because they were late ...

They were late. Holy shit.

Jean shrugged a single shoulder and started shoving an orange wedge around her plate. "Maybe Logan's paranoia has rubbed off on me."

"Maybe not," he mused, looking out the window. Here you got a view of the side garden, little used saved for ornamental purposes, but every now and then he caught a hint of moment at the edge of his vision, one of the kids - or perhaps several - moving at a speed to great to be seen by the Human eye. He heard a distant, put upon shout of, "Hey, no flying! That's not fair!" The laurel hedges swayed as if they caught a cross breeze from a rotor.

"But why would someone target us?" She said, playing devil's advocate to her own troubling hypothesis. "And why would they kill everyone if they discovered we weren't there?"

Scott considered that a moment, frowning down at the toast he never bothered to eat, and realized, with a cold shock of horror: "They saw them. They saw them, and couldn't be allowed to tell anyone what they saw. " It was really the only thing that made logical sense - they couldn't have witnesses. Not just to their crime, but them.

Jean stared across at him, startled by that thought. A worry line creased her brow, and the clang of her fork dropping to the plate sounded as violent as breaking glass in the tiny space. "But why? And why not wait for us?"

He shook his head. He didn't know, and he couldn't even begin to guess. But he knew that if they had dodged a bullet this time, it wouldn't be for long.


Logan knew there was something wrong the moment they stepped outside.

He knew they were in a small town on the bottom end of Ontario, a place called Saint Michel, a tiny burg with city pretensions that never really took off. It went out of its way to appear more urban than rural ( they seemed inordinately proud of their Thai restaurant ), but whether it was made of brick and clapboard or steel and glass, a closed building was a closed building. It all looked like a town trying too damn hard to be relevant, and failing.

So the fact that he and Clia seemed to be the only ones out at this time of the morning was not terribly surprising. The main problem was the sky.

It was an odd sort of greyish blue, like the sun was partially obscured by rain clouds - but he couldn't see any clouds. Or the sun, for that matter.As he was looking around for them, over the rooftops of the miniaturized urban landscape, Clia asked, "What is it?"

"This place has weather, right?"

She looked up and around, joining him in what seemed like a pointless search for the sun. It didn't smell like rain either, and he could always smell it long before it happened. "Huh," she said, and he thought he heard a certain tension in her voice, like she was afraid of something. Did she have something to do with this?

"Maybe we're in the wrong part of town," she suggested.

He frowned at her. "The wrong part of town to see the sky?"

She got a churlish look on her face, full lips thinning in distaste. "Hey, the CompTech building blocks the view."

He shook his head and walked off to his bike, wondering what the hell all of this could mean. It wasn't like the sky had completely disappeared - obviously not - but where the hell was the sun?

To be fair, the buildings did cluster around here, so close that there was hardly an alley between them; it reminded him of commuters on a bullet train in Tokyo, crammed so tight together no one could move without inadvertently committing third degree assault. But none were bigger than ten stories, so it wasn't like they were lost in a forest of skyscrapers.

He was really starting to get a bad feeling about this. But it was once they were on the road he saw why.

The roads in the "downtown" area of Saint Michel were winding, making the urban section a sort of island surrounded by the moats of streets leading into the more pastoral "outskirts" ( although he hated to call them outskirts, as that implied an actual city of some size ), so as soon as he drove about a half mile down the road ( Clia indicated there was a decent coffee shop on the very edge of the city ), they had a wonderfully unobstructed view of the supposedly occluded sky.

He stopped the bike in the center of the road, and Clia sighed loudly, annoyed. "What's wrong?"

Logan stood up, not quite sure what he was seeing at first, and ignored her. It looked like there was a wall of heavy grey fog on the horizon, raising straight up to the sky like a funnel cloud, but it was not moving, and it seemed to surround what he could see of this part of Saint Michel like the pathetic little hamlet was permanently stuck in the eye of a static hurricane. He tried to follow it along, look for a crack in the armor or the seam in the wall, but there was none of either. It explained why the sunlight seemed so odd - it was on the other side of the barricade. "What the fuck is this?" He asked her, wondering what she would say.

He felt her arms go loose around his waist, and for the first time she seemed to notice what he was looking at. "Holy shit, they did it," she exclaimed, then clamped her mouth shut so fast he was surprised she didn't bust any teeth.

He stared over his shoulder at her, smelling nothing but a sudden, low grade fear. "Who did what?" He wondered if this "they" were the people she was attempting to raise on the phone.

At first she just stared back at him, trying on a guileless look that didn't quite fit her face. "Paved the road. I never thought - "

He snarled at her, and that shut her up. Her eyes widened, and she looked at him like he was a crazy person. "Whoa, you get big time into your deal, don't you?"

If looks could have killed, he'd have had a body to get rid of. "Start talking."

She glared right back at him, but the undertone of fear was stronger now, heavier. Finally she rolled her eyes and looked away, huffing an impatient sigh through her nose. "Look, it's my stupid ex, okay?"

"Your ex boyfriend built the Great Wall of Canada?"

"Oh, he wishes. No, it's not really a wall."

"Then what the hell is it?" He wondered if his claws would cut through it if he just found the right place.

"It's a ... well, it's hard to explain."

"Try." He wondered if she had any idea how dangerous it was to get to the edge of his patience.

She gave him a petulant look, as if he was making her life difficult on purpose. He didn't want her life story, or the whole saga of her and her stupid ass ex boyfriend: he only wanted to know what the fuck happened to the rest of the world. "It's a reality barrier. I think. Or something like that."

"What do you mean you think? I thought you knew."

"Well, I do ... sorta. Look, sue me if I didn't pay attention to the death cult's entire speech - "

"Death cult?" He interrupted. Oh, this just got better and better.

But she ignored him. " - because I didn't get into that kinda deal, all right? Keenan always had to attach himself to things to make him feel big, all right? God knows the dick wasn't cutting it."

He bet. "Keenan? A Belial too?"

"No, a Human. Demon fucker." Responding to the look on his face, she elaborated: "A guy who likes to fuck demons? I'm sure you've had women who're mutant fuckers - you know, just want the cheap thrill of a roll in the hay with a freak -"


"Well, sorry, Mr. Sensitive. If it's anything, you're the most good looking fr- mutant I've ever met. Really dig the hair helmet; I mean, that takes balls."

He scowled at her, but - much like with Bob - it was the waste of a good scowl.Maybe the attitude wasn't a Bob thing but a Belial thing: they honestly didn't give a shit what you thought of them at any point. Not that Bob was a real Belial, but hey, maybe some of the pose rubbed off.

He turned his glare back to their small slice of sky, and asked, "What the hell's a reality barrier?"

"A barrier to lock out reality. Well, as we know it."

He shook his head. "You're gonna have to do better than that."

"I'm not sure I can. Just 'cause I'm a demon doesn't mean I know all this occult shit, all right? I'm from Saskatchewan - what do ya want from me?"

This was absolutely it. He was never, ever sleeping with a demon again. Once he took a deep breath and got his anger as much under control as possible under the circumstances, he asked, "Where can I find this death cult?"

She shrugged a single shoulder, acting completely unconcerned. "The fuck if I know. Last time I saw 'em they were in the sewer, but that was just for the ceremony. I didn't ask him where they hung out."

He wondered if she really was this useless; if so, he could be fully justified in knocking her out and leaving her here. But if she did know something and was simply lying, he'd lose his best chance at info. Oh god damn it - why'd she have to be a Belial? With a boyfriend in a death cult? Better yet, why the hell did he have to end up here, in this nowhere town on the Canadian border, currently being girded with some demonic wall of smog?

Man, his luck sucked.

He sighed heavily, and mentally counted to one hundred and ten. He could only promise himself that at some point, if not right now, he would give Clia a piece of his mind. Assuming he could spare it. "Point me to the goddamn sewers," he groused, sitting back down and revving the engine.

"It's weird how often I've heard that," Clia replied, wrapping her arms around his waist.

He didn't know if that was a joke or not, but he really didn't care. He just wanted to get the fuck out of here.


Bob found them sitting at a table on the back patio, sharing sodas and a bag of chips, and glumly passing around a newspaper. Brendan was sitting to the right of Bobby, and both were sitting opposite Rogue, who sitting on the other bench all by herself. Even though she was wearing a purple long sleeved shirt and black satin opera gloves, it was always a wise decision to keep out of arm's reach.

It seemed preternaturally kind of them to take the awkward new kids under their wings ( Matt was currently with Xavier, leaving Brendan especially alone ), but Rogue had been new here herself not too long ago, and Bobby would follow her lead. Also, he seemed like a generally nice kid, fairly well adjusted, although Bob couldn't say he knew him very well. Still, he got no bad "vibes" from him.

As he came over, Rogue and Bobby looked up with awareness, but Brendan just gazed at him curiously, too new to recognize him. Bob noted that his eyes remained red, even though he wasn't in his demon guise, and otherwise Brendan looked as perfectly Human as Rogue and Bobby, with a round, pale face, and a thick shock of short black hair. He was a good looking kid actually, and he wondered if he was going to take this hard or not.

Bob sat on the bench next to Brendan as Rogue and Bobby greeted him warmly. "Bob," Rogue's boyfriend said, almost like a game show host welcoming a new contestant.

"Oh hey, does that mean we're havin' a party tonight?" Rogue asked cheerfully. She had to squint a bit, because even though she sat on the bench most shaded from the afternoon sun by a giant oak, when the wind ruffled its branches, sun stabbed down right into her face. Maybe he should offer her some sunglasses.

"I don't know about that," he said, not committing either way. "What'cha looking at?"

Bobby passed him the newspaper, and realizing that Bren and him were strangers, said, "Oh, Brendan, this is Bob. Bob, this is Brendan. He's new here."

"I know. Howdy, mate."

Brendan looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "You're Australian?"

Bob nodded, unfolding the newspaper. "And you're from Pittsburgh."

Brendan looked slightly nonplussed. "You a mind reader?"

"No, he's got this really cool power," Bobby enthused. "He can make people do whatever he wants. He just says it and people do it. I mean, like that." He snapped his fingers for emphasis, and Bob was sort of amused that he was slightly envious of his "powers". But, to his credit, it was only slightly.

Rogue glanced uncomfortably between him and Bob. She hadn't told him he was a demon? Maybe she wasn't sure how to explain it. Bob gave her a small smile, to let her know it was okay. She returned it, but weakly.

"Cool," Brendan said.

"He lectures here sometimes, but he's a friend of Logan's," Rogue offered, as if that explained everything.

Brendan looked shocked. "Logan has friends?" The kid hadn't met him yet, but had obviously heard stories of the school's "Major Bad Ass". He was already appropriately awed, and was pretty much expecting Logan to be seven feet tall and four hundred pounds of pure muscle, snarling like a angry lion every time he spoke ( if he spoke ), with machetes instead of fingers on his hands. But he had the right mental concept about the hair, he had to give him that.

Bob glanced at the paper. There was something about a local mutant registration bill trying to be forced through to the Governor's office. "Don't worry, I don't think this will pass. Not this session anyways."

As he folded it back up and set it aside, Bobby appraised with cool blue eyes, and asked, "You're that certain of humanity?"

"No, I'm that certain of the current fiscal budget. They don't have the money to implement it now, and they know it." Of course, if there was some "mutant crisis", they could probably get that dough from the state's emergency fund. He hoped that no one was so rabidly prejudiced that they were willing to stage a "crisis" to get that money. But it was a possibility. Still, he wasn't telling the kids that.

Patches of golden sunlight seemed to appear and disappear on the stained cedar picnic table, as if chasing the black shadows of the branches across the surface, and Bob said, very quietly:"You can't hear this. Bobby, Marie, go inside. Think of a good reason."

Suddenly Bobby, who had been searching the bag for the last of the potato chips, looked at Rogue and said, "I wonder if Amara and Sean are finished playing "Banjo Kazooie"."

Rogue cocked an eyebrow at him, obviously knowing what he was talking about. "How many times did I kill you in "Goldeneye" last time? Seven, eight?"

"You cheated." He accused playfully.

"I did not!" Bob knew she deliberately muffed a kick aimed at Bobby's leg under the table. "Is it my fault Logan knew all about rocket launchers?"

"Yeah. It's not like you can read up on that stuff."

"Actually you can, if you know the right websites," Bob said, and when they gave him a surprised look, he gave them a wink and a smile. Of course he was serious, but it was bad enough that they were kids and one of them actually knew all about rocket launchers. At least it was through Logan's memories, and nothing she had had to learn herself.

"Last one there has to be Ivan," Rogue said, getting up from the table and sprinting off to the house.