Silk and Steel: Parts 1-7

by Beck

SUMMARY: A Response to A certain Line in Everything I need to know I learned from the X-Men

Which was created by the Amazingly talented Wolvie and Jubes Story Board Crew :) Creed and Blink and another character of mine, NO MARY SUES ALLOWED

AUTHORS NOTE: I Think Clarice has a spine, in AOA she・s had to kill people to defend herself and Creed, so why should that change? She・s shy and naïve but not weak check this if you don・t believe me. I also think Creed has a certain amount of intelligence, he・s more feral that Wolvie but that doesn・t make him dumb *rant over* :) Enjoy

In my country 18 is legal for anything :) so sue me if you don’t like it! No ones taken up my X-men offer in the FEEDBACK section, doesn't it appeal? Memories or flashbacks are in italics

DISCLAIMER: Everything you recognise belongs to Marvel, lucky them, Anyone you don・t know which includes Sarah are mine, I made them up in my mad little head, any reference to people real or fictional is a terrible mistake or new psychic powers.

THANKS: Everyone I・ve ever worked with on a fic, who know how awful I am ! And to The people, who are inspiring and inspired.

FEEDBACK: *deep breath* feedback will be worshiped adored looked over and poured with melted chocolate covered in whipped cream eaten and cherished nourished and thanked for later, everyone who feeds the feedback machine gets the X Man/Woman of choice covered in the feedback chocolate combo and hand delivered via my mail @ the following address. [email protected] Flamers will Be Personally Delivered to Vic and Wolvie and used for Amiko・s Sushi lunches.


Part 1: Hazy Shade of Winter

A tiny little thing, lying twisted in the snow, a snippet of purple and the stench of burned cloth. Her eyes flickered open taking in the cold darkness of a typical Canadian winter. Wide and terrified, as if snow hadn't been much of an opener in her life, or perhaps she had seen the bad things lurking in the shadows.

But when she caught sight of him, there was no fear at all, and there should have been, he was one of the bad things. She swallowed, once, twice. Throat muscles working in skin that was rapidly bluing with cold, before managing two words in a voice that sounded as though screams had scraped it raw. "Mr Creed?

And then her lids fluttered closed, gone again, passed out completely this time. But in the frail・s eyes, there had been something like, relief? He looked down at her, she couldn・t be that old, thirteen or fourteen, half naked in the falling snow she・d be dead soon. Exposure would take care of yet another who was too weak to live.

Nature red in tooth and claw, he・d read that before, Canadian winters were long, and dark, it encouraged reading something. Turning away he picked up the deer he・d snagged and started to move away before stopping dead.

He closed his eyes against the impulse, he・d be turning into the runt soon, all compassion and little frail・s followin・ him ・round. But he couldn・t leave her there to die. Heaving a sigh he turned back and scooped her up. She weighed less than the deer, and she was shivering with cold. It looked as if he would be heading back to civilisation earlier than he・d thought.

It was perhaps a half mile to the car, he・d stopped for no reason at all, if he・d believed in fate then he would have said that he had meant to be there to pick the pup off of the floor. But he didn't, so the fact that he had wanted food to bring to cabin with him explained it away. A shudder against his chest got him moving faster, now he・d got her he didn't want her dying on him.

Sliding her into the jeeps passenger seat and strapping her in he hesitated. He・d never had hypothermia, healing factor kicked in before that had a chance to start, but it was pretty obvious that the frail was right there. Shrugging out of his coat, he pushed it over her, that was a start, the jeep was fairly new, so the heating system worked, he pushed it on full blast and angled it at her.

Blankets weren・t something he kept in his cars, so for now she・d have to do. He couldn・t keep her in the cabin, she・d never survive, so it was back to good old NY, but first to get out of the snowstorm. Slamming her door he went over the bonnet to his own and climbed in, shaking the snow off of the vest he was wearing before gunning the engine.

Mixing antifreeze into the petrol seemed to have solved that cold start problem, although he hated to think what the corrosives were doing to the engine block. He backed the jeep into a three point turn and started off into the snow at his usual breakneck speed, before slowing. It was obvious that the puppy didn't have a healing factor, he growled, a low rumble before speaking to the air.

"You・re more trouble than you・re worth"

Several miles later that statement came into its own, he had managed to steer them into Yellowknife, the place was almost dead during the winter nights, much much too cold for people to go in and out of buildings. Taking her to the hospital was pretty much out of the question, he couldn・t tell them anything about her, and he couldn・t just leave her there・..

He looked at himself in the drivers mirror, same Vic Creed, so why not? Turning to look at the pup he had his answer. She was so blatantly mutant, and up here that marked bad, hate wasn・t confined to the big city. He stopped the jeep outside the motel and repeated the slide across the bonnet to get her, it wasn・t done to look impressive, it was quicker, and the metal was warm.

Pulling her out of the car he wrapped her from head to foot in his jacket, lucky she was so small. Then he tucked her under one arm and walked into the lobby. The man behind the desk knew him right away.

"Mr Creed, sir, I thought you were heading home today"

He shook his head.


Most other people would have offered some sort of explanation, but why bother? Even if the mans greedy little eyes were watching the bundle under his arm with something almost predatory. Then the clerk shrugged and reaching up took down the key.

"Room six again?"

He nodded and caught the thrown key, she was easy to support with one arm, light as a feather, but still shaking.


It sounded like a question and a demand, ・is there・ and ・there・d better be・ in one word. The clerk・s finger pointed at a chalk menu above his head. It wasn・t that late, about nine or ten, but several things were crossed off.

"I want the soup, the tea, the coffee and everything else that・s got meat in it"

Starving was not the word for the feelings his stomach was giving him at the moment, the clerk looked a bit put out, but he nodded and wrote it down.

"In the room?"

He nodded back, a curt shift of his chin and headed up the stairs. He pushed the key into the lock and slammed his way into the room before crossing to the bed and putting her down. He looked at the thin drawn features. She wasn・t good, she was shaking with cold but he could feel the heat of her from the other end of the bed.

A knock at the door, before he・d had time to think of anything to do, so he tossed his coat over her and took the trolley with a tip and a growl. He was ravenous but she had to be sorted out first. He picked up the tea mug, no cups, they had remembered from last time. He pulled her out from under the coat and wrapped her in the blankets one handed before pulling her up so that she rested against his chest.

"Okay pup, you have to drink this, otherwise your gonna die, and, even if I・d think that was useful, I don・t wan・ it to happen, got me?"

He tipped it, the stuff was almost lukewarm, the coffee would be steaming but they・d never managed to get the tea hot around here. It traced into her mouth, she choked, spluttered and then swallowed convulsively. Half a cupful at least before she stopped.

A flutter of sensation against his cheek, lashes opening, seemed she was gonna join him for a little while at least. "Mr Creed?" the voice was still rough, but there was less distress there, she was relaxed almost asleep, that was better than unconscious, although her temperature was still burning against his skin.

"・S Right frail" another murmur before she almost snuggled into him "You・re gonna have to eat before you sleep pup" the murmur was a protest now, but he shook her, seemed to much effort to disentangle her, so he stood and took them both to the trolley before bringing them both back to the bed to feed her.

Tomato soup, his lip curled, cheap and nasty from the smell of it. But anything was better than nothing at all. He managed to get her to eat a grand total of three spoonfuls before she refused to eat anymore "Strong willed for a frail" it was a grumble but he let it go, before going to the trolley and grabbing at the food.

As he ate he looked over at the bed, the kid was still, and her breathing was shallow on the air. She wasn・t better but she wasn・t worse, which was a good thing. The food was pretty much gone, not high quality but probably better than the stringy little deer that he・d left in the snow. He walked into the bathroom and stripped down, wincing at the deep break in his ribs that was still healing after his last encounter with the runt.

Washing off he slid into the shower, hot water half relaxing him. He wasn・t ever fully relaxed, but he could at least get warm, and he was more than ready to sleep・.. A scream wrenched through the rooms, the water was suddenly unimportant as he dashed out of the shower and back into the bedroom. The pup was still asleep but that didn't stop her from screaming.

He pulled a much too short motel issue robe from the back of the bathroom door and wrapped himself in it before sitting on the bed. How did you comfort a frail puppy who was having nightmares? Awkwardly he pulled her up onto his shoulder and stroked her the way he would have with a kitten, from the crown of her fever dry head down over to her neck where her pulse was hammering like a mad thing and back again.

The screams had stopped, and the whimpers were dying down, but she was still clinging to him like some sort of monkey. He rolled his eyes, before laying backwards onto the bed and dragging the mess of blankets over them both.

"Fine frail, fine, tonight you can hang on me, but tomorrow I want some answers and you can sleep by yourself."

He wasn・t sure who he was saying it to, but it made him feel better to say it, even if he did have a sinking feeling about whether or not it was going to happen.

Part 2: What I Am

Warm, that was the first thought that entered her head, she was warm, and cosy, but she still felt terrible. Then something came to her, Mr Creed, he had been there to pick her out of the snow. But that was impossible, she had been ill, she had imagined it. Mr Creed was dead, he had forced her to blink, at the final moment, forced her to go. Without him and Kyle, she hadn't known where to go, what to do, so she had just thrown herself into the blinkspace.

Then it had been cold, and she had been so hurt, because she knew that they were dead, all of them. Magneto and Rogue, the others, and Mr Creed. That had hurt the most, and then the shadow with his face had come to take her out of the dark. Things were muddled after that, warmth, then cold, strangling and muffled. Liquid tracing down her throat, being hot with lava running through her veins and the shaking as if the marrow of her bones had been changed into glacier ice.

And now she was warm again, but she didn't feel bad now, she was snuggled. Kyle had liked to snuggle・ She blocked the idea out of her mind and pulled herself upwards, she was in a bed, in what looked like a motel. Tacky décor, seventies style, yeah, a motel. Then she turned and looked down, before screaming.

Eyes snapped open, same feral look, but, but. He almost pounced on her pinning her to the bed. "You awake Frail" She blinked up at him, how did he expect her to answer with his hand over her mouth, typical Mr Creed・・.Mr Creed. Her mind hit the pause button as she stared up at him. There were less scars on his face somehow, but the face was the same, the eyes. She swallowed and he moved his hand.

"Well?" the word was a growl and she nodded, eyes wide, the shock was starting to wear off now. She had managed to blink herself into somewhere else, Mr Creed was here, and she was here, but this definitely wasn・t Kansas anymore. Something like disgust passed over his face "Then why the screamin・?" he slid off of the bed, the robe he was wearing was really much too short, and she was sure she heard a mutter of ・haven・t done ・ny thin・ yet・

She coughed, before managing to get a word out, her voice was still soft but it sounded raw. The passage through the blinkspace had been long, and hard. "Sorry" He was leaning against the window and half turned to look at her. Shrewd, the eyes were feral but shrewd, he shifted across the room, same wolf like grace, but more wary, as if he expected to be attacked at any moment. The sound of water pouring and then a glass was pushed in front of her face.

"Drink, pup" She swallowed the entire glass and looked up at him, he was looking out of the window again, and she hadn't noticed him move. But he was watching her, she could feel it. "What landed ya in the snow, frail?" The question was blunt and pointed at the snow outside of the window. "I blinked there Mr Creed" That got his attention, he had half turned so that it was obvious that she had his attention, it came to her then, how ripped and torn her archers uniform was.

If her skin hadn't been purple naturally, she would have been blushing, she shifted so that the blankets pulled up to her chin and continued to watch Mr Creed, he had an almost familiar look on his face, the ・should I ask or not・ face. "Blinked?" The word was full of meanings, but not on the surface, just rough growled accent. The other Mr Creed had always known, but this one didn't, she was confused, and her stomach was queasy, but she was going to try to explain.

"I moved" Her brow wrinkled up in confusion, how did you explain it? She made a small blink hole next to her head and gently put her hand through it, concentrating so that it appeared on the other side of the room. Then she pulled her hand back again. "Like that" She pulled her hand back under the blankets to rub it, it stung, to blink a part of herself like that.

He was still watching her, and thinking, but she had to ask, had to make sure, otherwise, otherwise, something in her would go mad. "Mr Creed?" A slight noise, somewhere between a grunt and a cough "Do you know me?" Feral gold eyes turned to her, but there was no recognition in them, she didn't need his shake of the head, but something else had occurred. "But ya know me, dontcha frail" She had to nod, he would smell the lie on her.

A prowling move and he was sitting on the edge of the bed, that was the difference, her Mr Creed hadn't been so close to being feral, this Mr Creed was balanced right on the edge of it. Leaning forward he sniffed, confusion was hidden very quickly "An・ I smell myself on ya, but it ain・t right" She didn't lean back, in a way this was still Mr Creed, he had still taken care of her, and she could still trust him.

"It is you, sort of" He sat back and she focused on picking at the balls of material that had collected on the surface of the blanket, bobbles of brown stuff. She picked at them with jagged edged fingernails until a larger paw covered her・s "Tell it frail" that pricked at her temper "My name・s Clarice, or Blink, not frail" She knew what frail meant in Mr Creeds vocabulary, and it wasn・t complimentary.

The silence gathered again, he wasn・t saying anything but she could almost feel the still waiting, and she sighed in defeat, a huff of air. "I suppose it must have been another place, another universe even. There were two of us with you, had been since we were kids, Me and Kyle." For a minute she had to stop, she was crying again, that had to stop soon, she couldn・t grieve forever, at least she hoped not. She managed a shaky breath and started talking again, "We, me, ・n Kyle and you, Mr Creed, were with the other X Men, trying to stop Apocalypse, and we beat him"

The memory still had the power to make her smile "You kicked Holocaust around the room" She could remember the furious denial she had felt that Mr Creed could be beaten, but she wasn・t going to say it, it was a private humiliation. "And the bombs were coming, to blow us apart・." Her voice trailed off, she was here, sick but safe but they were gone, gone forever. She had escaped but the bombs had taken her friends, her family, even the babies. The sobs were choking her now, and she felt dizzy and sick, the blackness caught her when her back was turned.

He caught the pup as she passed out, settling her against him almost instinctively. The story she had told was almost unbelievable, but he believed her, she stank of truth, it had built up as she talked, that and the grief and pain. The picture almost fitted, but him, an・ pup・s that was almost wrong, but only almost.

He looked down at the reddish purple hair against his shoulder and shook his head, looked like he was stuck with this one. Him and the X dweebs・ He shook his head, Sarah could take care of her, and he could, a slight smirk crossed his face, she・d do.

A stirring against his shoulder told him she・d com ・round again, they・d move soon, but for now, she had to get well, and he had to examine the state of his sanity.

Part 3: Crash

The smash of car on car outside the window distracted her from the thoughts that had haunted her. Typical New York, from the swearing that she could just catch one of the drivers at least had been a cabbie. She walked over to the window and looked the full fourteen stories down, the penthouse had a perfect view, right across to central park, yes, there was the bright cab, and impacted into the side of it was an old style Chevy, she hoped the insurance was good.

Stepping away from the window she looked around, the furnishings were tastefully underdone, chrome and wood, a skull of something neither human or animal over the fireplace. Silk rugs on the floor, over all it was easy to keep clean, and after all, that・s what it said on her job agreement, she would keep the place clean.

One of the chrome appliances caught and threw back the slight smile she gave at that thought, that was how Vic had decided to give her time and money to recuperate after saving his tail. The apartment was hers while he wandered off to Canada, to ・unwind・ as if he ever would. She put the expresso machine on to heat the water and shifted back to the window. Her canvas was set up there, but the portrait she painted on it had nothing to do with panoramic view of the city that she had from the window.

It was a panther, beautiful and stately, pacing though a landscape that was made of black glass, there were a sequence of cracks behind it firing red, as if by movement it was breaking its world, the red and the perfect gold of its eyes were the only colours there. To a less discerning eye it would have been perfect, but in her own eyes it was still flawed, something was still elementally wrong.

A click at the door brought eyes the same colour as the landscape focused, there would have been a warning if anyone other than the owner had come up in the private lift, but still, better to be safe than sorry. She lifted the mini Uzi from her paint box and rested it on her thigh. The door swung open and she started to smile at the massive blonde in the doorway, before she noticed the tiny bundle that he was holding cradled in one arm.

Dropping the gun she stood up, the movement strikingly swift. "Vic, what the hell?!" he looked at her, eyes as challenging as the panthers, the same flashing deadly grace. And then a half smiled "Sarah, glad you・re here" Glad, ah no, she shook her head in instant denial "I don・t care Vic, whatever it is I don・t care" For a moment he looked angry and then he allowed the edge of the blanket to drop.

The sleeping face it revealed was as innocent in sleep as that of a small child・s, despite being older, early teens, the skin was purple, but under that she could see the pale weariness of recent illness. Her second thought was that the girl was much to slim and needed feeding・.. Then she realised how thoroughly her curiosity had been roused "Oh" she made several rude gestures in the mercenary sign language that she had grown up with, which brought a flare of appreciation to Creed・s eyes.

She moved behind him and shut the door, before shifting in front of him again. "Well come on then, we・ll but the little on to bed, and then you can tell me what you were thinking to bring a child here of all places" the long suffering roll of his eyes almost brought on an explosion of temper but she shifted quietly towards the small guest bedroom that at the moment held the door to Vic・s private weapon arsenal. She peeled back the light coloured coverlet and indicated it. Creed was much too big for the room they were in but he managed to sit on the bed with the child.

When he finally had her settled to his liking he moved away, and she saw how very tiny the girl was. Even her hair was purple by the looks of it, and it wasn・t paint. Amazing, the child must have had a terrible time, being that blatantly mutant. She backed out of the room and closed the door, Victor was already pacing the living room, back and forth, like a caged animal. Waiting for her questions, how unusual, she would have thought he・d run while her back was turned.

Sprawling onto the couch she raised and eyebrow before just settling back and waiting. After around fifteen minutes he sighed in defeat and started to talk "Her name・s Blink, and I pulled her out of the snow up in Canada" The story he related after that had her alternately surprised and in fits of laughter. The thought of Victor Creed, the ferocious Sabertooth nursing a child, was much too much. Although he didn't appreciate it the way she did, he had his revenge. "I thought I・d keep her here, with you"

About to object to him keeping the girl like a pet she did a double take, "Me, take care of a kid! Vic!" his smile was full of teeth, not at all charming "She・ll make more mess for you to clean up, an・ stop ya thinkin・" a rare insight from someone who was determined to hide all traces of intelligence set her back on her heels. To have someone there who would keep her mind off of that last disastrous mission.

Her own eyes met his, gold and black clashing almost sending up sparks before she nodded. "Ok, I・ll do it, but you better come back from time to time, all kids need a male role model, or they turn out like me" A mock shudder from her companion had her laughing, but he was edging for the door, she stood shaking her head. "Don・t you dare go without saying goodbye" He sighed, but to her surprise actually moved towards the bedroom, she wished she knew how the kid had done it. She had been Vic・s lover, was his friend, and he didn't do a thing for her that he didn't have to.


It would have comforted her to know that Sabertooth felt exactly the same, even as he looked down at Clarice, fast asleep against the pillows. She had been a tiny bundle most of the way back from Canada, but when she had been awake there had been a big, adult personality looking back at him from white eyes. She was smart too, knowing what he wanted to know without having to be asked, or course, she knew him, or at least a version of him, better than anyone else on the planet.

Putting down a hand he ruffled her hair and turned to leave. "Mr Creed" a sleepy murmur, the edge still slightly rough, he turned in the doorway, blocking out the light from the living room window "Yeah Clarry?" the nickname had come easily too, for some odd reason, he chose to ignore it, that was always easiest, "・r you going away?" still the sleepy little voice, he made the slight noise that marked yeah, and she turned over against the pillows as if trying to find a cool spot.

When no sounds came he started to leave again, and only his hearing would have caught her final words "Take care, ・n come back soon" The slight twisted smile caught at his lips, he banished it before he turned to Sarah blowing a mocking kiss and walking out of the door, glad to be going again, but somehow wishing to stay.

Part 4: The Whole World Lost Its Head

 Five Years Later

She was humming under her breath as she sprinted up the steps to the apartment complex after a hectic day of sales shopping, just because a girl has purple skin doesn't mean she can・t enjoy a little retail therapy. Plus it was helping her concentrate on the fact that Vic was missing again, and this time not just on his normal jaunt she was sure of it, Sarah had told her, eight or ten times at least not to worry, that he was a big boy and could take care of himself.

Well of course he could, she was certain of it, it was just, just something in her told her that she should be worried and she wasn・t sure what it was. Unlocking the private lift with her key, she waved to the doorman on duty and stepped inside, coming face to face with herself in the mirrored doors.

Normally she wouldn・t stare, knowing that the mirrors were connected to cameras in the apartment. But today seemed to be of those days where staring helped her concentrate. It certainly didn't help other people, to be stared at with dead white eyes, she didn't possess any pupils but she saw perfectly, lots of people thought she was blind, just another ・poor disabled mutie・ that made her glad of home study, college would have been too painful, with people staring at every move she made.

The clothes she wore marked her apart in a different way, she had money, her dark slacks were of Armani manufacture and the house of Versachi had over charged for the green cashmere sweater she was wearing, but then, they were never short of money the three of them, the sort of overcharging Sarah and Vic believed in was manic. The door pinged open and she looked around the inside of the apartment, Sarah was in, but in the bathroom. It was easy for her to pick up the signals of occupation that her surrogate mother left around, the painting equipment by the window was the biggest clue however.

She stretched, heading for the open plan kitchen, feeling at home. Smiling she paused for a moment to savour the word, home. It was a nice idea, so different from when she・d woken after that first night to find herself alone in the apartment with the strange woman Sarah Blastdotter washing dishes in the kitchen, despite the presence of a dishwasher, and singing under her breath.

Sarah was small, no more than five foot one, the same height as the thirteen year old Clarice, five inches shorter than her now, a tumble of red gold hair falling over a green robe, which was cut for a man but long enough to touch the floor on her, she had looked tiny and defenceless, but one look into those flawed obsidian eyes as she turned had shattered any illusions. Sarah had taken care of her, taught her about life, how to shop how to eat in company without suffering the panic attacks that had almost shattered her, and she・d taught her about, this, Mr Creed.

・He・s no sweetheart darling girl, but he・ll look after ya, go into the jaws of hell and pull you back out, that・s his loyalty to you, and he・ll expect the same. He・s mad and bad and dangerous to know, and that・s his good points. I・ll only give you one piece of advice on Creed, don・t ever betray him little one, or nothing・ll save you・.・

There were dishes in the sink today, obviously Sarah had been caught up in whatever she was doing, otherwise she was a tiny cleaning machine. Dirt was an obsession Sarah couldn・t seem to shake. She smiled and began to run the hot water, squeezing bubbles into the water as it ran out of the taps, she ignored the yellow rubber gloves that were lying on the drying rack and pushed her hands straight into the water, it was fairly cold outside and the sudden warmth made the tips of her fingers tingle.

"What・ve I told you about that? You・ll have fingers like prunes" She relaxed the tension from her shoulders and turned her head to look over her shoulder "Sorry my hands were cold" Sarah sighed and then smiled, her eyes were distracted and dark circled "No gloves again?" she giggled a small and contented sound, the mercenary worried about dishpan hands, it was too funny really, but those dark circles proved that she wasn・t the only one to still have nightmares of events over five years old.

・She walked into the bathroom to find Sarah hunched over the basin shaking and crying, marks carved into her back, a stalking tiger formed of, what her experiences told her were heated knife marks and whip strikes, an artistry of pain・ All she had been able to on that day, almost a week after she had been carried into Sarah・s life was to walk outside and shake, she couldn・t have helped, not with her own memories so fresh, but now, perhaps・.

"Did you have the nightmare again?" it had been their private code, things she thought were scary had become ・the nightmare・ so that she didn't have to think of them individually, her own nightmares were only a product of stress now, but Sarah・s. Sarah・s were terrifying. For a moment the older woman looked as if she was going to deny it all and then she sighed before nodding, it was the most Sarah had ever said, then she pushed in front of Clarice "Let me finish here, then tell me what・s wrong with that painting"

It had become a game with them, she didn't know anything about art except that Leonardo had painted the Mona Lisa and that the museum of art was a good place to go if you were being chased by FOH. But Sarah liked her to look, she had started it in that first week, to teach her the art of seeing details, it had been the start of the most unusual education s girl could have. Hunting with Vic, combat with them both, a laughing memory as she crossed the room ・Victor Creed lying on his back with the fifteen year old her sitting on his chest with one of her spears at his throat "The other me taught you good Clarry, now tell me what・re you gonna do about the claws at ・ur back?・"

She was still smiling as she looked at the portrait, for a moment she couldn・t pick out exactly what it was, and then she caught it, there was a tiger sitting on the branch of the tree, another cat painting, but for the first time it was the tiger, it marked the same snarling defiance as the scars that decorated Sarah・s back, she・d almost missed it in the darkness of the jungle setting, only the glimpse of orange in the water pooled at the bottom of the canvas had caught her attention drawing her eye to the still predator.

The kitchen was silent, so Sarah had to be close by, she didn't have the heightened senses that Vic and Sarah herself possessed but she had learnt to tell where and when people were near her. "It・s the best you・ve ever done, but then you know that" Sarah stepped into her field of view, she wasn・t smiling, but the look on her face was slightly less tense than before. "I know, but its not the best I・ve ever done, that・s hidden away" she raised an eyebrow, she wasn・t going to ask to see, Sarah would let that happen in her own good time, she was about to ask what Sarah thought was wrong with it when the bell rang.

Her tension went from nothing to one hundred in about ten seconds flat, she looked at Sarah who・s stance was battle ready, she should have looked stupid in slippers and a robe, but she didn't she looked deadly. "Go into the kitchen Blink, and have the gun pointed at the door" They・d taken to hiding the Mini Uzi in the kitchen, you couldn・t take it to the door in case it was the delivery boy or the mail man with a huge package, but they could be ready.

Slipping into the kitchen on silent feet she blessed the fact she was in the moccasins that Vic had brought her, she was as quiet as a shadow in them. When she had the gun pointed at the door she nodded and Sarah swung it open.


What Sarah Blastdotter hadn't expected when opening the door to the private elevator was to be confronted with three people wearing what could loosely be termed spandex, underworld bosses, shifty looking people delivering weapons, money, or both, or the pizza delivery man, but not ・superheroes・ one of which was looking more than a little disconcerted at having a very small feminine looking woman open the door to them in her robe. She decided to play on it.

"Can I help you?" She gave them her best, I'm small and slightly confused smile which caused the front runner to shift slightly uncomfortably. She knew three out of four of them by reputation, the slight Asian girl in the long black trench was a mystery but the other three were X men, and from the visor and the underpants outside my trousers look the first in line was Cyclops. "Ma・am there seems to have been a horrible mistake, we were informed that a Victor Creed lived here"

Her own tension went up, but she didn't let it show on the outside, she just went into a spate of rapid blinking. "Creed? No I don・t think so, I live here, with my daughter" She flicked her fingers at Blink to stay quiet and stay out of it, the woman of the group stepped forward, delicate redhead, taller than herself, had to be the other Summers, Cyclops・s wife. "I know this is disturbing Mrs?" she smiled slightly her internal barriers carefully repulsing any form of psychic probing "Ms Blast" The woman nodded "Ms Blast, but may we come in, just to try and find out if he・s been here, perhaps when you weren・t in residence?"

She pretended to dither while watching Clarice shift the Uzi so that it was out of sight behind the expresso machine and then nodded "Well, alright, but I don・t know about this" she stepped back from the door allowing them to enter the apartment. It was then that she got a full view of the last figure in the lift and sighed, Wolverine. He・d know what she said was lies the minute he stepped inside, however hard she cleaned Vic・s darker musk hung inside the apartment like a security blanket.

That wasn・t what caused the commotion however, all four sets of eyes had fastened on Blink and stuck, the red head, Jean whatever Summers turned to her "Your daughter is a Mutant?" she gave the M in mutant a capital letter as if it was all important "No, of course I'm not, I just use a lot of face paint" That was Blink, sarcasm thick in her voice, the younger girl was gaping like a fish, and then she managed to spit out the words that were choking her "Clarice Ferguson?"

Cool as a cucumber that was her Blink, she frowned "No, Claire Blast, I believe you・ve met my mother" the girl looked ready to deny that when Wolverine spoke "ifs she・s your ma or not ain・t the problem, the whole place stinks of Sabertooth" Blink・s eyes flew to her・s and she nodded before removing the four inch blade from the sheath on her arm just as Blink gently moved the Uzi into position her finger on the trigger, the safety she noted with unconscious approval was off, and must have been from the first.

"Everyone stay calm" she admonished in an orderly, ・mother knows best・ voice "Or my dear heart over there will have to get antsy" She caught the twitch of a smile that flashed across Clarice・s face and almost smiled in reply, but she had to concentrate on the ones in front of her, they were dangerous, even if they were naïve. "Now, if we work through this calmly we could all leave this room alive and relatively unscathed" the younger girl was hanging off of Wolverines arm, probably a wise move, she knew of the little mans temper from Vic.

Cyclops seemed to be in charge again "We still only want to find Victor Creed Ma・am" it was Blink that spoke, quiet and firm from the other side of the room "Liar" She had a well developed sense of truth or lie, instincts they had helped her hone until she could use them almost as well as a mutant ability, she must have read something in the faces of the assorted X people. The two Summers・s seemed to have had a quick non verbal conversation, before Cyclops spoke again "Very well miss, we want to find Victor Creed and we・d like you to consider our school"

She saw Blinks finger tighten on the trigger and spoke herself to try and ease the pressure away from the point of no return she could see it heading towards. "I don・t think my Claire will be going anywhere in the foreseeable future unless she wants to, and as for Creed, what do you want with him?" She saw Blinks fingers ease and let a little of her air out, in some ways she and Vic had overtrained Clarice, but that threat would have scared her to death, remove her from Creed, she・d like to see someone try.

She・d of course then like to see them bleed when Vic found out about it and decided to take her back.

None of the X men had taken he cue to speak so she decided to prod them along a little "He I know would like to kill him, and I・ve never been keen on sending someone their death in the mail" she had gestured at Wolverine, who was almost snarling under his breath, but she could handle a feral male, she・d been doing it for years now. Cyclops had finally decided to talk "Ms Blast, if that・s your name" she grinned slightly, suspicion had finally hit "It・ll do" he nodded before continuing "Sabertooth is a criminal you can tell us where he is" She let one of her eyebrows slide up "If you were working for the DOJ I might tell you, but you・re not, and you wouldn・t be here if you were just tracking him down, now try the other one, its got bells on"

The girl was looking at Blink with something like disbelief still on her face but she was the one who spoke next looking straight at her friends purple face "He helped me out, and someone got him for it, an we・re tryin ta help him out" she didn't look away from the X men but flicked her fingers at Blink ~believe her?~ Clarice didn't move her fingers but nodded once before speaking leaving her free to observe "If we were to believe that, why come here?" Cyclops nodded once at something that the redhead had said "Because this is his last known address, its taken us almost a week to track it down"

For a moment the room was silent before Blink stepped away from the Uzi after unracking the clip and slipping it into the pocket of her slacks "Should have taken longer, you may as well sit down because we don・t know where he is either"

Part 5: Self Control

 Clarice seated herself on the leather sofa with an outside appearance of complete self control, the untouchable mask that she had learnt to wear that eternity ago when she had been a soldier in Magnetos army, when Apocalypse had reigned. It had been a long while since she・d had to wear it here, in her sanctuary, looking over at the X men she felt that they had somehow violated her safe haven, by bringing their outside cares into it.

The girl knew her name, and the colour of her skin, so there had been a Clarice Ferguson in this universe before she had appeared in the deep Canadian snow. She intercepted another of the girls darting glances and raised her eyebrows, they had to be the same age, the girl was perhaps a year older and yet, the other was still unfinished half trained. Or at least on the surface, an uncanny sense of intuition told her that the girl would be quite handy in a fight.

"You are unsure as to Sabertooth whereabouts then?" that was the visored man, this universes Cyclops she rolled her eyes "I said it didn't I?" Sarah had leant against the kitchen cabinets making ・be calm・ gestures, but she couldn・t quite manage it, she was rarely sarcastic but these people could push you to the edge. And the girl was still staring, she had finally had enough, she was worried about Vic and this girl seemed to have some macabre interest in the triangular birthmarks over her eyes. Turning she met electric blue eyes with her own solid white gaze "What?"

Rudeness had never been one of her finer points, but living with Mr Creed you had to have a certain handle on bluntness, the girl didn't seem to mind "Your names not Claire Blast is it" she sighed, oh why the hell not, the day was going from bad to worse, and the visored geek didn't want to speak at the moment "No, its Clarice Ferguson, you were right the first time, but what it has to do with you is beyond me" The ixnay gestures that Sarah was making were somewhat interesting but the girls reaction was better "You can・t be, Clarice Ferguson・s dead, she died years ago"

Rolling her eyes again wasn・t going to work so she just stared, the girl was in ripped jeans and a trench, compared to her own Armani elegance she looked very young "I・m not dead, and I・ve been living with Sarah since I was thirteen" that got her more attention "You・ve been living in New York for five years and you haven・t come to our attention" that was the redhead, she had the look of Phoenix but not the attitude. She sighed "Obviously, now we・ve had all of the useless q and a could we get down to business"

Settling back she watched as the visor tracked to Sarah "Ms Blast, Sabertooth・s last known whereabouts・." His voice trailed off as Sarah made a ・cut・ gesture with her hand "This isn・t my show, talk to Blink" The girl who had been relaxing was suddenly bolt upright again "Blink?" she let red purple eyebrows slide up "Yes, my work name, I・d be more comfortable if you used it, my name is for friends" The little man seemed to be more interested now, he had been sitting in the brooding quiet that she associated with one of Vic・s bad moods now it seemed he was going to speak.

"So, what d・ ya enemies call ya kid?" She focused, blue eyes, a darker shade than the girls, rock of ages this one, alive a lot longer than he looked, like Mr Creed she let a slight smile creep onto her face, the first since these people had walked into her home "They don・t call me anything, I don・t have any enemies" she left the word living off of the end of the sentence, he was smart enough not to need the clarification. He gave her a nod before turning to Cyclops "That・d ・xplain why the ・tooth・s been hidin・ himself, couldn・t have a kid like this with him workin・ for someone like the brotherhood"

She could have contradicted him on that, she knew where and who Vic worked for, she・d kept his books for a little while before turning it over to Sarah, once she・d hit sixteen she・d started working with him, she・d seen the blood and the fury, but she・d never been in danger not really, Vic was like a living shield. Both Cyclops and the redhead were raising an argument "Really Logan, she・s a child, Sabertooth has shown in abundance what he thinks of having a child tagging along" Well it seemed that the redhead spoke for them both.

The little man, Logan, shook his head "Then why does she stink of him even more than this place does?" he made a gesture with his hand that encompassed the room before looking back at her "You been working with the ・tooth kid?" She was going to ignore him that seemed safer "well? What did you want us to do?" The woman seemed to understand that she didn't want to answer the question "Well, we thought whoever might be living here might know where Sabertooth was supposed to be"

Looking over at Sarah she nodded and watched her friend leave the room before returning her attention to the X men "You do understand that we・re helping on one condition?" the two men went still, the tension skyrocketed and she almost cracked another smile, it was the younger girl that spoke "What?" She tilted her head on to one side and let one of her eyebrows lift "That we go with you of course"

The silence that Sarah entered into was deafening, her surrogate mother noticed the tension and shifted into it with a national grace that Clarice envied "The books Blink, I have no idea what to do with the gibberish Creed uses" A lie but a well done one, if they made it out that she was the only one that knew anything they couldn・t split them up, nor could they ignore her, and she didn't like being ignored. She was probably spoilt to death, but then being the only child that Sarah could spoil had some effect on their relationship, and Vic had never ignored her, she had never been a child to him either, but he had never ignored her.

She opened up the books and flipped to the final page, filled not with Sarah・s neat hand and the mercenary argot they used but Vic・s scrawl ・Asril, Canada, favour・ three words that wouldn・t mean anything to the X men or even to Sarah, but she knew them. Asril was an old flame of Vic・s untrustworthy as hell but one of the best spies that could be bought for money. She had put them up once and had made some comments that she hadn't understood at the time, and that had made Vic spitting mad. She・d thought they were going to get into a fight at their safe haven but Asril had laughed it off, saying it was nothing.

Vic had been heading into Canada then, but he was almost a month overdue back, her nineteenth birthday was in three days, and he・d never missed a birthday yet, but now, the whole set-up stank of trap, especially since Asril, who believed in saving favours had called Vic in on a moments notice. Of course she could have been in trouble just that badly, but to call Vic in without him taking the rest of them meant he hadn't thought it was bad, yes, on the whole things stank.

She looked up to find them all watching her, even Sarah who she would have expected to be in the know, but then Sarah had never worried over Vic the way she did. She stared into Cyclops・s visor "I want your word that wherever I tell you to go I go with you" he shifted slightly on the sofa making a squeaking noise, leather on spandex, not a good sound combination. But she didn't let up, she could outstare a snake if she had to, one of the advantages of having no pupils or iris・s. Finally he nodded, very well, where did he go. She let the corner of her mouth quirk "Canada, but I can・t tell you where, I can only program the co-ordinates in" she put a hand up in a gesture she was lifting from Sarah "Its someone・s home, and they・ve paid a lot of money not to be found easily"

He nodded and she nodded back "We can be gone in a minute, just stay put and don・t play with anything, I switched on the security when you came in, I don・t want to blow you up while we have such a good relationship going" Standing up she moved away with Sarah into the back bedrooms where they lived, a corridor away from Vic・s master suite, he was biggest so he got the biggest room. All perfectly fair, plus that was the only one with an en suite bathroom, and no one wanted Vic trailing soaking wet through the halls.

"Do you really know where your going Clarice?" She was Clarice out of their hearing, only Sarah called her Clarice, everyone else called her Blink, except Vic, of course. She nodded, "Course I do" Then she leant against the wall and passed a hand over her forehead the set of her face softening "Did I pull it off alright?" her voice had softened she knew, to her normal husky soprano away from the attitude laden bark she had been using. Sarah smiled "It was straight out of the Victor Creed book of threat, he・d be proud"

Letting a tiny sigh escape she smiled back at Sarah before turning into her own room, walking across it she let the soothing tones of green, blue and gold wash over her as she opened the walnut wardrobe. Vic had decided years ago that her archers uniform didn't suit the work they were doing, spandex was not a Victor Creed accessory. Reaching into the depths behind her casual designer clothing she pulled out the two piece suit, it comprised of a leotard made of a very light durable body armour in a purple so dark that it was almost black and a pair of black leather pants.

Most people will assume that black leather isn・t flexible, but hers was, it also had a high grade armour lining. The amount that Vic had paid the Hand for them was this side of extortionate, just, they had been a gift for her sixteenth birthday when it was obvious that she wasn・t going to grow anymore. She slipped out the boots that went with them calf high leather and dyed the same shade as the leotard.

She stripped out of her clothes in a whisper of an instant, no underwear required within the suit, it would have made awful lines, as well as impairing her movements. Her own figure caught in the full-length mirror grabbed her attention. She was slender by nature but now her ribs were countable, since Vic had missed his deadline she hadn't been eating properly, he・d ring a peal over her head when he found out・.

She swallowed and looked away, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. She slid into the suit with ease lacing up the boots and tucking the set of knives that had been Vic・s eighteenth birthday gift into them. Sarah gave her pretty feminine things, Vic gave her things to keep her alive. It was an odd system but it worked. She・d never gotten to grips with hand guns so Vic had compromised and given her a knife long enough to be a sword and taught her how to strap it upside down along her back so that someone of her height could draw it. She pushed that on and pushed her waist length red purple hair into a braid, it still swung long, but she・d never had it short so knew instinctively how to cope with it.

She walked into the hall to wait for Sarah, she didn't have to linger long, Sarah・s fall of hair had been tamed into a French braid, something Sarah・d tried to explain over and over again but that she・d never mastered. Her outfit was a dark grey and the boots cut off mid thigh, how Sarah managed to move so quietly was beyond her, she did it but her boots had assassins soles, toughened but heel less, Sarah・s had three inch heels, and she was still deadly quiet.

Sarah also had several guns strapped to herself in reachable positions, one of them was a sawn off machine gun, she couldn・t restrain the smile and gave her friend a high five. Before walking back into the living room to come face to face with the frowning girl. "You almost killed Wolvie" she lifted her eyebrows at the girl "Did he move?" cool as ice, it was a good lesson to have in their business, the girl nodded and she sighed "then its his own fault, I presume he has a healing factor?" the girl nodded again "Then he・ll be fine, nothing in here was meant to be fatal to a healing factored individual"

Walking past the girl she looked at Logan who was stretched out on the couch with a rent in his spandex, there was a discarded spear on the floor red with drying blood for almost a foot "Hmm that・s meant to disembowel, but then I suppose the height is a factor" She tilted her head to one side, keeping it together with the faintest of threads, scared to death inside "Well, shall we go then?"

She watched the Cyclops nod and then making to stand stop dead "the security?" she・d honestly forgotten and slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand before reaching into the toaster on the breakfast bar and depressing a hidden button. "Done, Sarah remind me on the way out?" Sarah nodded before tapping the symbol on her chest "Fine, fine, I・ll remember" She walked into the waiting lift, lifting an eyebrow at the girl who was already inside, she moved fast. "Now let's go."

Part 6: Walking On Broken Glass

 Clarice was fast asleep across from her, face as relaxed as it got when they were sleeping in the field, and it seemed that she regarded the Blackbird as the field. Sometimes it hurt to see what her trusting little girl had grown up to be, but as the screaming row with Victor had proved just after the girls fifteenth birthday and the appearance of the first set of knives, there were times when she wasn・t a little girl at all, and never had been.

・ "You can・t Creed, over my dead body, she・s just a kid, no matter what she did wherever she came from. You gave her to me to look after, and now you・re going to turn her into one of us, a worse version because she・ll think its normal!" The bass growl that rumbled out of Creed・s chest would have stopped her dead, it wasn・t his warning growl it was his ・you・re going to die・ growl but she was too angry to care. "You can・t make a fifteen year old into a merc, might as well have sent her to the X freaks and let them turn her into a ・superhero・ He had moved then, so fast she・d barely picked it up and wrapped his hand around her throat picking her off of the floor "Don・t ever let me even catch ya even thinkin・ that idea frail, or I・ll gut ya" the easy familiarity was gone from his eyes, they were cold and hard, his killers eyes. "Stop it! or so help me god I・ll hurt you both" Creed・s eyes had moved from hers to Clarice・s the girl had been in bed, she was in a long blue flannel night gown still small, and defenceless. But one of those spears was clasped in her hand and glowing with energy, and her eyes were set with purpose. Creed had put her down gently and turned to the girl "Clarry, pup・"

She smiled to herself it was the only time she・d seen Victor Creed look so actively upset, he tried to keep their home life fairly harmonious they had tried not to fight or scream at each other within Clarice・s hearing, but as she got older she had finally told them that sneaking out onto the balcony didn't work, not when she was sure half of New York State could hear them. And Clarice had been angry enough that night to leave, she・d threatened it, said she could pick up a contract with Tyger Ty, which was true enough the girl had been good then when only Vic was training her on the sly, now. Looking over that the sleeping girl, now she was truly her daughter, and a fair partner to her and Creed.

Jean Grey Summers wandered down from the cockpit and looked first at Clarice and then at her "Logan tells me that he knows you from the mercenary circuit, as Shadow Tiger" Sarah nodded "That・s right, but I・ve been off the circuit for years now" The redhead nodded "I know, but I thought you might need to know, we・re making a stop at Westchester, to pick up some other members of our team"

Great, just what she needed more X dweebs, but she nodded, before catching the flicker of uncertainty in the other woman・s eyes "And what else?" Yep there it was, irritation and embarrassment rolled all into one, good thing Clarice hadn't been awake or all hell would have broken loose. "We want Clarice to see the school" she shook her head "Don・t call her that, it・ll only piss her off, she・s Blink to business acquaintances, and that・s all you people are, she was serious when she told you that"

How do you explain to the self righteous that what they want isn・t necessarily what everyone else does? "She won・t go to your school, you can・t force her to and she won・t" For a moment the woman looked put out, and then her eyes firmed "Why not, we・ve been training young mutants here and at the Massachusetts academy successfully for years, like Jubilee" One wave of a graceful hand indicated the girl in ripped jeans "And countless others, Cl・Blink would be safe enough with us, if you・re worried about handing her over"

She shook her head, how was it people were so patently bad at understanding things, and yet managed to stay alive for so long? This woman was a doctor for gods sake. "I don・t think you understand, Blink is her own woman" another shake of that perfect fiery head "She is eighteen, that means she・s still under the offices of her legal guardian" She smiled "But Blink doesn't exist on the legal records, just like I don・t, or Creed" The woman paused for a moment and then continued equally determined "You must understand that she would be better of with us? With her own kind"

That finally caught at her simmering temper and the room suddenly got brighter as the pupils of her eyes became lengthways slits. "Blink is with her own kind, she is with me, and Creed" The woman・s shock would have been amusing at any other time, but her voice was rising "You would consider Victor Creed to be part of the girls life, for gods sake the mans an animal, he doesn't even deserve the label of human being" She winced at the last, Blink wouldn・t have been able to sleep through that display, and she heard the sharp noise of metal on metal as that huge knife of Clarice・s slid free.

"Did I hear what I thought I just heard Shadow?" she looked over the redheads shoulder to see that wicked blade paused not an inch from the woman・s spine "Hear what Blink?" best to play it cool, Clarice didn't have Vic・s explosive temper but you could learn quite a lot just from osmosis, and Blink would be on edge just from the thought of being separated from Creed the bond between the pair was watertight. "This person saying that Mr Creed was an animal and shouldn・t be part of my life?" ah damn, if she・d only heard the last part it might have been manageable, but the part about her not being part of his life・ If lying was possible she・d be doing it now, but the woman seemed determined to dig her own hole.

"I did say that and its true" who did the woman think she was, Mrs Invulnerable? She・d seen what that blade could do, but then the woman could move things with her brain, but could she move them faster than Clarice could manage a lunge with that blade, she doubted it, not when Blink was on a hair trigger. "But she can・t Blink, she can・t make you go anywhere, that・s why your off the records, that・s why Creed did it" She watched Blink ease down with a silent sigh, the blade eased backwards into that sheath with a confusing display of double jointedness that she wished she could copy and Blink shifted back into her seat fingers moving. ~I don・t trust them, they want to take me away from you~ she shook her head ~Not from me kiddo, from Vic~

Delicate features hardened into a resolved mask ~Over my cold unbreathing body~ the similarity to her memory almost made her smile until she looked at the set mask of her friend, she meant it, premonition wasn・t one of her varied talents but the chill that proclamation sent down her spine was all too real. She looked at the redhead who was still poised on the edge of her seat and sighed "You can move now, I thought you would have been able to tell that she・s back in place"

The telepath moved and looked at Clarice "Whatever hold they・ve got over you, you can always come to us" and then she shifted back towards the cockpit stepping out of sight in an instant. Blink shook her head, lines of tiredness and disbelief etched into the purple skin "Stupid woman why would I want to go anywhere, your not going to throw me out" She half laughed "I couldn・t, Vic・d gut me" that brought a laugh from Clarice as well before they settled back in accordance with the landing warning lights.


Charles Xavier watched from the window of his study as the blackbird settled down, Jean was beyond unsettled about the two women they had found at Sabertooth・s home. He continued to watch as they emerged, the first out of the shadows after his student・s was the purple skinned girl, no, woman that Jean had identified as Blink. She moved with a stalking confidence that reminded his of Jubilee after a little two much exposure to Wolverine, but more so, as if that was the only was she had walked in her entire life, that long hunters stride.

The woman slightly behind her was less of a mystery, apparently she was known to several of his X men as the Shadow Tiger, a mercenary with few convictions except the one that told her to stay alive. Seeing her with a younger woman, in Victor Creed・s home, both of them obviously protective of each other and of Sabertooth was startling. Jean had offered the girl a place with them and had been turned down. Violently.

Over the course of his musings the people had made their way into the house and he could feel them making their way to his study. Both of the women were shielded, the shields locked down tight, which for a pair who apparently had no telepathic powers was a feat of extreme mental discipline. Another thing that was bothering him was that Jubilee had known the girl, after delving into Emma Frosts records at Massachusetts he had found the records of one Clarice Ferguson deceased almost six years ago. The girls couldn・t be one and the same, not if she had been with Shadow Tiger for five years, and in that Jean had sensed no lie.

A knock sounded at the door and he turned the chair he was sitting in so that he was behind the desk and facing the door, for first impressions he preferred to hide his crippled status. Scott was first through the door followed by the others of his students, and then the women, wary as hunted cats at the last. He watched a glance go between them and then the flicker of fingers, nods and shakes of the head before Blink stepped forward.

Whoever had chosen her clothing had chosen well, the blacks and deep purples took the edge off of her alien skin tone, making it look like she was simply flushed, and that the triangles over her eyes which were obviously birthmarks could be tattoos. The only thing not hidden were those pure white eyes, and that would give her an advantage if people believed that she was blind. He inclined his head to her, she was obviously their elected leader. "Blink I believe" a slight smile tugged at the corner of her mouth before she spoke with an oddly inflected yet cultured voice "Professor Xavier, a pleasure, if the circumstances were different I would of course be more delighted to be here"

The look on Jeans face was almost picturesque, it was obvious that the young woman hadn't treated them with this display of manners, but he wondered if they had treated her with the manners she would have expected "Of course, will you be seated?" there were several chairs scattered around the room, the other woman took one near the door and Blink seated herself in a chair next to his desk "You choose to sit with your back to the door?" Another one of those slight half smiles, it seemed she was completely unfazed by his ignoring the X men and had decided to do the same "Of course, Shadow is watching the door, and if something was coming through the window or from behind me either she・d get it or I would"

Self confidence was rife in her tones, she knew that she could either escape or kill her enemies, military training or mercenary. He was having a hard time thinking it, but from the way she lounged in the chair he would have said that the marks of her training were Sabertooth・s he wanted to shake the idea away but Jeannies mental conversation came back to him.

* She was adamant about not being removed from the woman, but leaving her in one of Sabertooth・s lairs Charles, it really can・t be done, for gods sake she・s younger than Jubilee・*

At the time it had been her youth that had worried him, but now he realised that it wasn・t necessarily the woman she wanted to be left with, but Creed himself. "My X men will help you find Victor Creed" her indolent slouch snapped to attention, she・d been taught to listen and observe, he felt a slight pang for the fact that she wouldn・t bring this training to them and show the others, but then Logan could teach that if he ever gained the patience.

"I trust you to bring them back safely" there was no irony in his tone, he had an idea that the girl would have no problems keeping them together, that or the Shadow Tiger would. But the look on Scotts face now, ah, well for all the trouble he would have later the internal laughs he was getting were enough. The girl nodded, there were lines of seriousness on that face now, she had understood what he was asking "Later this evening you may choose who you want with you" she cocked her head on one side "I will of course take any advice you have to offer"

Sound practice that, Creed had taught her very well indeed, whatever bound them must be strong. "Of course" he slid a list of people across the table to her, she looked at them before crossing off one name with the fountain pen on his desk. He glanced at the list, Jeans name had been firmly scored through he raised his eyebrows at her and she answered them in a perfectly reasonable perfectly logical fashion "One, I don・t know if I could handle the sexual tension that that body suit of hers creates, and two there would be a definite conflict of interest, I have no interest in heroism I need the people that go to listen to me because I know what I'm doing, only one person gets to mother me and it isn・t her"

The final words were given with a burst of very dark sarcasm and he nodded "you will of course be able to provide a demonstration to the others showing that you・re capable of leadership" to his surprise she shook her head "I can give them a demonstration of combat skill but leadership is something else all together. If they don・t think they can follow me then they aren・t coming" Wise words from such a young speaker, but then the expression on her face was anything but young. "Scott will show you the way to the briefing room and then to the danger room after" she stood up and crooked a finger, the older woman got up and walked to her side. Scott lead them from his office closing the door quietly behind them before the room exploded into protest.

"Professor!" "Listen here Chuck・" The only one who was quiet was Jubilee, he looked over to her and spoke "What do you think Jubilee?" The young girl looked up from her in-depth study of the carpet, she would be twenty one this year, but like the girl who had just left her eyes showed many years of experience that she shouldn・t have had. With Jubilation Lee he had felt like a cradle robber, but at least with them she had had a chance to grow up in other things at her own pace, she had kept her bubble for years. Blink it seemed had never been a child at all.

"I think I・d like ta go with her" he could see the protest building but raised his hand for silence "Why?" Jubilee smiled, that full blown smile that he・d only ever seen from her "Because she can do it, what she・s said she can, ・cos she・s desperate" valley girl attitude and the sort of insight that he would have expected from Jean if she had looked beyond the purple girls youth "Oh?" Jubilee nodded "She・s gotta find him, dunno why but its there in every move she made, and when I thought she was gonna stab Red on the Blackbird just for what she said" The little Asian firecracker shook her head, and he felt the same, that was why she didn't want Jean with her, not only had she been babied her mentor had also probably been insulted.

"So you think she・s capable of leading a mission Jubilation?" another smile this one set around the edges "Yes sir" he nodded again "Then I suggest you report to the briefing room and put your name on her list" Jubilee slipped from her chair and he was left alone with a fuming Wolverine and a silent Jean.

"Jean I have been requested to keep you at home" it took a moment but then it sunk in and her eyes widened "She was saying those things about me!?" He tilted a shoulder upwards "I would suspect so, you・ve made her quite irate, whatever you said to cause a near stabbing is probably the cause of it" For a moment she continued to look insulted and then sank back into her chair, lower lip slightly pouty like a child "Very well then" it wasn・t often that Jean didn't go with the team on a mission, but then, he・d never expected to be putting together a mission to rescue Sabertooth.

Then he looked at Wolverine, the mans eyes were slightly distanced, dark thoughtful blue. Before he nodded "Kids right, the girl can do it, ・cos she・s got ta, not ・cos she wants ta, I・ll keep an eye on em" blunt and straight to the point, Logan had never changed, he nodded and watched the small man slip out of the room before returning his gaze to Jean. "I・ll be relying on you to monitor the team via Cerebro and your link to Scott. Jean lifted out of her self absorption and nodded before she also left the room, Charles Xavier moved himself towards the door with a thought, he intended to see the team this Blink put together and then this demonstration of skill, both he thought with a rare chuckle would be interesting to see.

Chapter 7: Baby I Don't Care

The fact that the man in front of her was angry she supposed shouldn・t have been amusing, but it was, she was hard put to keep up the steely mask she・d adopted. The Professor had known instantly what she wanted, and how she intended to go about it, the fact that he trusted her with his pupils was a great honour that she would one day, in strictest confidence thank him for, abjectly.

The man in spandex, now identified as Scott had stopped once at the intercom to tell the others what was going on and where the meeting was going to be, in such a terse tone of voice that she had thought that perhaps those yellow underpants were a tad too tight. Now however they had appeared at the briefing room door, she watched him go in and listened to the tide of noise before turning to Sarah. Who to her surprise nodded and winked "You・ll knock em dead kiddo, now go in there and find us a decent team"

She returned the wink before walking in, the first thing that locked in her eyes was a bright head of red hair centred with a white streak and under it assessing green eyes. The world shook, Vic had been beyond careful to keep her out of contact with anyone that could cause flashbacks from her past, and now she・d almost walked into one. She covered over her shock in an instant, thanking providence again for her white inscrutable gaze. But tonight there would be nightmares.

Drawing a breath she walked around the circular table before taking a chair, which probably drew attention from the people sitting around it, there she gathered her thoughts before looking up. The girl and Logan had stolen in to the back of the room and it was now deadly silent, she made a quick circuit of the room with her eyes, noticing with irony that Sarah had taken up a place behind her and to her right, which was her place behind Vic Sarah had stood to the left she recalled the explanation ・ "He won・t gut you if you make him angry, he will gut me"・ Then she spoke her voice perfectly clear in the now silent room "I・m sure you・re all quite aware of why you・re here?"

A few nod・s answered her, and she took a deep breath, it was fighting all of her natural inclinations to talk like this, but she had to and that was that. Then she saw Sarah・s hand tighten of the back of her chair. "What Blinks trying to say, without much help from you staring lot is that Xavier asked her to lead this mission and to choose her team" Drill sergeant 101 a perfect voice, she didn't smile her thanks, she・d tell her later; she simply nodded and waited for the uproar to die down.

She・d seen the door crack open and the reflection of light from a bald dome, which meant the Professor was listening; then the man sitting across the table from her spoke "You mean th・ Professor wans・ us to follow the p・tite femme?" she looked at him a little more closely, he had the look of, she glanced up at Sarah who nodded and she shook her head slowly "What did I do to deserve falling into a place with a Le Beau in it?" that brought him up short and as she looked up and saw the girls amused face she almost smiled herself, especially when the thumbs up appeared.

"Since you・re not Jean Luc I presume you・re his son and leave it there, the accent is almost as recognisable as the face" she continued to look around the table, not anyone else she recognised from this universe so she turned to Rogue "You are highly recommended by the Professor Rogue" the woman blushed and then put her head down, definitely a change in attitude "Well sugah, I can surely come, but" no change in accent, she made a gesture with one hand "But?" "Y・all・s so young" she let half a smile creep onto her face, she should have expected it.

Drawing in a breath she prepared herself "A little history then, before I join the ranks of children and animals in the hoard・s of those not to be worked with" That brought a snigger from the girl but Sarah was tense behind her, she could almost see those midnight eyes flashing. "I have been living with Victor Creed as his ward since I was thirteen years old and have been an equal partner in the ・family business・ since I was sixteen" she had lifted her hands to make the inverted commas of family business and now was looking into faces some stunned, some set, and one pair of understanding eyes, which belonged to the girl. She was getting more and more interesting as the day went by.

"You mean to tell us that you have been in the business of assassination since you were sixteen?" she looked at the blue furred man with the awesomely correct vocabulary and shook her head "Of course not" she ignored the sighs of relief "I・ve been a mercenary since I was sixteen, assassination is messy" it had been a slight lie but she didn・t think any one would have picked it up, except that there happened to be a feral in the room, and he didn't think she should hide such things. "You were lyin・ ・bout somethin・ in that lot kiddo, now what was it?" she sighed ignoring the looks of renewed scepticism "Fine, I・ve been a mercenary since I was fifteen, well fourteen and eleven months and I have on occasion been an assassin"

The little man nodded before looking away and she concentrated on the table at large, before turning her undivided attention to Rogue "Any better" the southern woman looked deep in thought and then she nodded "I can do it sugah, anyone who can shut up Remy there has ma respect" She smiled with half of her mouth "My thanks" then she looked over their heads to the girl "Well?" The little Asian looked surprised at being consulted and then nodded vigorously "We・re in, both of us" she indicated the little man, he was under the thumb it seemed; now if only Vic was capable of being managed that way.

She flicked her fingers by her hair as if she was fiddling ~three?~ four taps followed on the top of her back, then five, four if possible five was better. The blue man was watching them "I shall join your gathering, in case there is a need for medical attention" she nodded, a grudging fourth, he wanted to keep an eye on the girl if she was any judge. The fifth was a surprise "This Cajun・s goin・ too" She turned to look at him, hard not to banter as she had with Jean Luc, this was his son "Do I really want you along, are you capable of keeping out of trouble?"

He was obviously not used to being asked if he was trustworthy, but a pair of giggles from the other side of the table put him back onto his feet "but of course p・tite" she sighed "First rule, my name is Blink, not kid, not p・tite nothing else, second rule I・m in charge, if something kills me then Shadow Tiger" she waved behind her "Is my second she・ll see you back here alive" then she lifted her voice slightly more "Does that meet with your agreement Professor?" The door swung open to reveal Xavier in silhouette smiling slightly "But of course Blink, now I believe you promised me a practical demonstration"

A quick side-step there as to why he had been listening outside the door she tilted her head to show her amusement "But of course, and for my team, they should know that I won・t lead from the rear" He nodded, and she half smiled before heading out of the door, lead again by the silently fuming Scott.


She had stayed with the new team in the briefing room, dissent was a bad thing in a team but to her surprise all that went on was a little gentle teasing. Then the Professor nodded to her and she crossed to his side "they are ready for them in the observation room" she nodded again before pulling out her best drill sergeants voice, best she got used to being the hard shouter, it was taking it out of Clarice to try for even this long. "Time to move boys and girls" that brought a few heads up, but Logan was the one who nodded, but then he・d been with the Merc・s himself, and probably knew how to fit into more teams than any of the others.

The girl would follow him, the blue one would follow the girl. She looked at the other two Rogue and Le Beau, Blink had been right there was a resemblance to Jean Luc but not much of one. He made a slightly mocking bow and she nodded, what a collection, she just hoped that Clarice impressed enough for them to follow her. The walk down to the observation room was short, the high tech equipment was appreciated. The place was quite obviously capable of producing some kiss ass training simulations. And there was Clarice, standing in the middle of an expanse of metal, completely alone and unarmed except for the glints of metal at her boot tops.

She looked at Xavier who was sitting at the control panel "Blink has asked me to choose a program that would test her, but I feel she overestimates my understanding of her limits" Looking down at Clarice she smiled "Run whatever you・d run to test Vic, she・ll manage" she mentally crossed her fingers, she・d seen Blink manage to take Creed down but it had been in a friendly match not a battle situation, and she・d been at the top of her physical peak not as she was now, tired and malnourished.

The Professor didn't ask her twice he programmed the sequence in and the room outside changed. A jungle scene, uncannily like the one she had painted sprang into life, on the speakers she could hear the coughing saw of the Jaguars hunting call and felt a shudder move through her. "Her heart rate・s gone right up, adrenaline・s pumping, the girls ready" That was Jubilee reading off the figures from another monitor but her eyes were fixed on the girl in purple and black.

There was a man in the undergrowth, she could see him but Clarice was acting as if he didn't exist, bending slightly to look at her reflection in the water the man sprang and Blink turned faster than lighting and put one of her knives into his throat. Then she paused, waiting. "What is she doing?" a late comer, this white haired woman but she answered anyway "She・s waiting. Conserving energy, the enemy will always come to you if they really want you"

Whatever intelligence was running the Professors machine seemed to hear her because out of the brush came six men. One of them at least was mutant judging from the scorched earth where Blink had been standing a moment before. She had blinked herself onto a tree branch and had thrown her giant knife, it was standing out of one of the men・s backs like an obscene decoration, he crumpled but Clarice・s attention had already moved.

The last of the three tiny knives had taken out two of the men, the third had supposedly missed its mark and landed in a tree some forty feet above the ground. But she doubted it was an accident, the verbal beating Blink would have gotten from Creed for such a mistake had drilled them out of her long ago. That left her with two men, the lightning strike that caused her to blink again showed that one of them was the mutant. She saw the look that crossed Clarice・s face as she blinked once more finishing behind the other man, she caught his head in a lock and twisted once savagely with all the strength of her arm. The crack reverberated around the silent observation room.

She watched in silent horror as Blink tipped her head back and looked up, moving in time to catch her own knife in the shoulder as the other came down. This man was talking and whatever he was telling her was making her more and more angry. "What・s he saying to her?" The professor didn't look away from the tableau that was unfolding below "I don・t know, he・ll be taunting her about her nearest and dearest I believe, the program adapts so that only the person in the room can hear it."

Her head shook almost of its own violation, she wouldn・t say the words but she mouthed them, the words whispers of breath on the air ・ah no. don・t taunt her about Creed, she・ll flip・ Feral behaviour was mostly genetically hardwired but Clarice had been brought up by two different incarnations of the same feral man, the temper had rubbed off, and when she lost control she lost it spectacularly. She watched Clarice・s glowsticks appearing in her hands, and from there on in it moved in slow motion, six of those sticks flying out and moving like homing missiles to impact into the mans shoulders and kneecaps, taking him down the final two, narrow pointed and slim taking him through his eyes.

Then Clarice knelt beside him and her harsh breathed words were audible to the entire control room, a husky growled soprano "Oh Baby, I don・t think you understand, I don・t care" then a blink hole appeared in the mans chest, his whimpers had been audible and so was his scream. For a moment the simulated forest sounds were silent with it and then Blink looked upwards and the forest faded. She stood, pulling the knife from the shoulder of her armour showing a neat hole which was mending itself, the blood running off of her hand showed she was injured.

"Satisfied?" For a moment she thought that Xavier was going to say something trite instead he merely answered "Truly, your team will meet you in the Blackbirds hanger in fifteen minutes." She watched Clarice nod and move out of the danger room before she realised all eyes were on her "She・s extremely competent Ms Shadow Tiger, a credit to you" that was the furry blue man, she inclined her head "She is a credit to her teacher, Mr?" The man looked slightly flustered for all of three seconds "Gracious, how rude of me, McCoy, Hank McCoy at your service" She nodded back before the Cajun caught her attention "Her ・teacher・ who dat be den?"

She let her eyebrows slide up "Ya werent listnin・ in the brief? Victor Creed is her teacher" he looked at her, questions obviously trembling on his lips, but her retreat into the harsh accent of her youth seemed to have stopped him short and he turned for the door "I wouldn・t bother going too far, get whatever you need, not spandex please, it makes too much noise, and then we・re due in the hanger in fifteen minutes" He tilted his head up at her before catching Rogues gloved hand and leaving.

Walking towards the door the girl Jubilee caught up to her "I can do some of what she did, but that bit at the end" a shudder moved over refined Asian features "how could she bear it" She looked over at Logan who nodded "She lost her temper, I'm sure you・ve seen some temper tantrums worse than that" the girl nodded "Well then, that was all it was, Blink has learnt to kill without thinking about it at the time, it・s a harsh lesson that I・d rather no one had to learn" The girl continued to watch her before nodding and walking out of the door "But she thinks about it later" the sentence was uttered in a low growl from beside her, she looked up into the dark blue of Logan・s eyes "We all do" she nodded and they left the room together leaving behind the Professor and Hank McCoy.

"You think it will work Charles?" The professor wrinkled his brow "I believe so Hank, I believe so" Hank McCoy turned his furry head to look out over the danger rooms empty titanium surfaces "She is dangerous, riding the edge of control" This time the Professor smiled "Aren・t we all Hank, when those we care for are in danger?" The blue scientist was silent "She・s running on a fine line Charles" The smile was gone, Xaviers face was again inscrutable "And again Hank, aren・t we all" The silence that followed that sentence was almost a speech unto itself until Hank McCoy shook himself "Ah well, I must gather my things" Charles Xavier smiled "Yes, you have ten minutes"

When the doctor was gone Charles Xavier allowed his worry to gather on his brow "I just hope she doesn't step over the edge in pursuit of her goals and forget in the process what they are"

To Be Continued...and be sure to pester the author for more!