Notes: This is probably one of the bloodiest things I have ever written. If you are in any wayt squeamish when watching ER, do not read. If horror movies make you cringe and have nightmares, go read Micey's Bobby story.
Ah. Continuity. Almost forgot it. This is set sometime after Excalibur #125. However, one of the things that happened during Onslut was Alex turning to the Dark Side. Nuhuh. Didn't happen, here. And the ptb can bite me.
Rating: R. Possibly NC17.
Dedications: First, to queenB, because she inspired me to write Betsy all those months ago (even if this wasn't quite what you were looking for). Oh, and because the end scene is partially inspired by Undercloak (If you haven't read it, FIE on you. Off with your head!). And, secondly, to Lynx, because she's impeccably evil and ready to listen to crazy ideas.
Again. I can NOT stress this enough. Blood
scares you? Turn back now and read something lighter.
"Thought she deserved no less than she'd
There was blood everywhere. It stuck to her, clung to her, it wouldn't come off. She shook, trying to remove it, trying to be free.
Water. She needed water.
There was a sink in the next room. A sink, but there was--something on the floor, in front of it. Blood. There was a pool of blood, with... something sitting in it. Something that caused the blood.
She stared at it, shaking, then turned and ran for the door. No. Get out.
Her hands, she realised, her hands were red, soaked. As if she'd dipped them in that pool of blood.
*What had happened?*
Could she remember? Did she want to? No. It was gone. There had been an instant, a fleeting memory, then no more. She sobbed as she shoved at the door. Need to get out.
It was raining. Rain was water. Water was good. She held her hands out, letting the rain beat the red off of them. And tried to ignore the tears mixing with the rain.
The rain was cold, the street she stood in dark. At the corner, she could see the lights to the next street. Sudden terror flared through her.
*She had to make the lights.*
Her feet and legs moved, taking her towards the light. Quicker now, quickly. She burst out into the middle of the light-flooded street and froze, panting for breath.
She was safe.
Kitty Pryde happily constructed a huge sandwich in the kitchen of the X-Men's Mansion. It mainly consisted of layers of lettuce and cheese and the occasional tomato. And one or two pickle slices. To go with this lovely repast, was a tall glass of orange juice. It was all very healthy. Except for the ice cream she had awaiting her in the freezer.
"Ah, a masterpiece of culinary origin," She mumbled, placing the last slice of cheese on the lettuce. And now, for the top piece of bread. She slipped it on very carefully, stood back and beamed. It was like a work of art, really.
Of course, why she was making said work of art in the middle of the night while it stormed incessantly, she didn't know. If this were like a movie, she reflected, there would be someone sauntering into the kitchen to knife her soon.
As if that thought had conjured it, the back door slammed open and a bulky figure staggered in and nearly collapsed onto the table. With a start, Kitty realised it was Alex Summers, and he was carrying Psylocke over his shoulder.
"Oh my God." She stepped towards him, sandwich forgotten. "What happened?"
With a careful heave, Alex lay the unconscious ninja on the table, "I'm not sure. I was driving here--I needed to see Scott in the morning--and I nearly ran her down, then she collapsed on me." He ran a hand through his hair, looking worried. "She had blood on her. Still does--and, these scratches." He carefully pulled up the jacket Betsy was wrapped in--it had come from the car. There were long thin scratches covering her side and stomach.
"I'll call Hank."
"Do that." He replied, picking Betsy up in his arms, "I'll head for the med-lab."
She fought the tide of red, swimming, desperate. The surface was near, it had to be. Dimly, she suddenly realised she heard voices.
"She's lost a lot of blood."
"Well, transfuse her, then."
"Alex, it's not that simple, I have to--"
"It's okay, Alex, Hank is going to do all he can."
With a gasp, she surfaced and opened her eyes. Med-lab. She was in the med-lab. Betsy Braddock focused on that as a familiar place, and tried to sit up.
Several people came running as she yelped. "Don't move, Betsy, you're very badly wounded."
"Hank, I thought you said she wouldn't wake up."
"It's okay, Betsy." Kitty, her mind identified as the young woman carefully caught her hand. "You're safe."
"Safe." She rasped. Violet eyes widened in remembered pain and terror. "I'm not safe. None of us are--he's out there still. Alive, whole. And waiting." She began to shiver again, remembering rain on her skin, washing away the blood.
"Who, Betsy?" Alex Summers' blond head came into view over Kitty's shoulder. He looked as worried as Kitty.
"You can't go alone, Alex."
Havok looked up from his preparations, mouth set in a grim line. "And why not?"
"Because I won't let you," Kitty Pryde grinned cheerfully at him, "Besides, I'm in uniform, and I'm VERY hard to shake." She grinned as he took in the jeans and sweat shirt, "One thing I learned in England--dress inconspicuously."
A half-grin crossed Alex's face and he nodded, "All right, then. But stay out of my way, Pryde."
"Plan to, Summers." Kitty turned to the door, then stopped and looked at him, "It wasn't your fault."
"I know." Alex shook his head an cursed softly, "But I could have tried harder when Val forced him on us. Could have shot him myself, then."
"That's why you came up here, isn't it?"
"He disappeared two days ago. We've had no luck finding him--Raven suggested someone coming here and having Wolverine track him." Alex snorted, "I was elected to come up."
Kitty chuckled, "I think we'll find him. Any idea where Betsy was injured?"
"Not too far from here. Maybe in town somewhere? The motel?"
She nodded and turned to go again, "I'll be back in a moment."
Alex had, in fact, talked himself blue in the face about Sabretooth. So had Forge, and even Raven. None of them had wanted him on the team. They'd all heard what he did to Betsy, and young Tabitha. Lorna especially had warned Val that she would quit. She hadn't, but it had been a near thing. The only reason she'd stayed was to keep an eye on Sabes.
The mansion was quiet around him as he waited in the kitchen for Kitty. So many people, and all asleep. Except for a few who worked to keep Betsy alive. And then there were he and Kitty. Alex wondered absently why he was going out solo with just a young girl at his side. Maybe it was that he felt obscurely responsible. Or, maybe it was so that there would be less witnesses.
The drive into Salem Center was relatively short, and they didn't talk other than to agree to watch casually for signs of disturbances. Kitty was beginning to wonder if Alex was humouring her and planning to not find anything when the sight of police cars surrounding a house set back from the road caught her eye. "Alex, there."
He looked and swiftly pulled over and parked. "Let's go. Be careful."
She snorted, "As if I wouldn't."
"I know. Let me do the talking," he continued quickly when she would have said something, "I'm a government agent, I might have some pull here. You're only a civilian."
"Right." She grinned suddenly and pulled something out of her pocket, "Except for this."
"British Intel. Got that from an old friend for some help we gave him." Sadness crossed her features for an instant, then was gone, "Anyway, it's official, and I can use it to get into a crime scene--if I have to."
"Okay." He nodded slowly, "Just... still let me do the talking, since it's not American."
"Got it." She repocketed the id card. "Let's go, it's getting cold in the rain."
The officer at the yellow tape gave Alex's id a cursory glance, and blinked at Kitty's, but shrugged and let them in when Alex said they 'happened to be in the neighbourhood.'
Alex studied the movement of everyone and quickly began to wonder if there was actually anyone in charge there. People were moving around sort of sporadically, and sometimes frantically. He frowned as two state troopers dashed out of the small house and leaned into the bushes. They were apparently throwing up their dinners.
He glanced at Kitty and swore. The young woman had melted away from him silently. He glanced around, trying to spot her and caught a glimpse of her jeans as they entered the side wall of the house. Damn. She might easily blow their cover, if seen.
"Excuse me, coming through!" Two men shouldered their way past him, carrying very bulky equipment. One staggered as he tripped on something in the grass and Alex steadied him. "Thanks, man. Hey, do I know you?"
"No." Alex nodded at the equipment, "What is that stuff, anyway?"
"Hey, you're not with the newspaper, are you?"
"Oh," The man sounded somewhat disappointed, "Well, it's for analysing blood at a crime scene."
Alex wandered closer to the house, and wondered who had owned it, who had lived there. He had a bad suspicion they were dead now.
"Alex?" Kitty was back and she was grabbing his arm while looking quite pale.
"What is it?"
"You need to see this."
Sounds in the night, screams, a cry of pain. Something roared, and then there was the crash of something large into bushes. Amanda Soren awoke and shivered. There was something outside the house. And if it didn't stop making noise soon, it would wake her mother. She bet it was a bunch of feral cats playing in the garbage again.
With a groan of annoyance, she slipped out of bed, grabbing a flashlight and her robe on the way to her door. Once in the hallway, the sounds diminished, making them harder to locate. No matter, this close to the woods they'd probably be on the covered carport.
She stepped through the dark kitchen and opened the side door. Flipping on the flashlight, she stepped out onto the cool concrete. The night air was warm around her, humid, as if a storm were approaching. The sounds came from the treeline to her right, and she moved to point the light that way.
The woman slowly standing and then swaying in the light, had purple hair and blood coating her side. "Hello?"
On the ground at the woman's feet lay a body, covered in some sort of blonde hair--fur. It was fur.
Amanda gasped and stepped back into the doorway, "Oh my God."
"Help me." The woman moaned, legs buckling. She swayed in the light, kneeling. "Please."
She'd taken a step towards the woman involuntarily, then shrugged. Whoever she was, whatever she'd done, she needed help. Quickly, Amanda helped the woman to her feet and began walking back to the house. Her flashlight, she had to shove into a pocket as the woman needed both her arms for stability.
They went into the kitchen, and the woman slid to the floor. Amanda turned to close the door and blinked. The lump she thought had been the body was gone. That thought crossed her mind and was followed by another, who had ripped up the woman laying on her kitchen floor?
Kitty phased them through the wall, into the kitchen. Alex blinked at the floor--there were small pools of blood scattered around. There was blood on the walls, too. And in a corner, a canvas-covered patch. He looked at Kitty, "Body?"
"Part of one," she replied grimly.
He stiffened, the blood smell hitting him. "Ah."
"There are three bodies in the house." She shrugged and pulled on his arm, "But the one you need to see is this way."
Alex reflected as she tugged him through another wall that Kitty turned very mature when things were serious. He wasn't used to that, really. He was used to the little teenagers turning into gushy piles of, "Ooh, watch me be Kewl!"
It was a nice change.
They were in the living room, now. More blood and covered things abounded. The stench of blood was worse, as if the heat that had been out in the storm was invading the air conditioned inside.
Kitty led him quite normally down the hall to the master bedroom. The interior was as blood-soaked as the rest. She gave it a cursory glance, then pulled him into the small attached bath. "Here."
He stared down at the canvas-covered bulge on the floor, "That's..."
She looked at him, "Hang on to your lunch." With a quick movement, she peeled the canvas off, revealing what was underneath.
"Oh my God..." Alex choked out before turning away to lean against the wall, eyes closed.
The thing glooped as she replaced the canvas and he felt her touch his shoulder, "I'm sorry, but you had to see..."
"I know." He breathed carefully, fighting the nausea surging through his body. With careful steps, he entered the hall and began heading for the doorway, out of the house. They needed to get out of the house.
"Hello, frail. Miss me?"
Betsy whimpered deep within as Sabretooth hauled her onto the couch. The young girl, the one who'd come to her aid, lay in a pool of blood. She wasn't dead. Yet. But she knew it wouldn't be long before he ripped her to pieces like the animal he was.
Pain flared down her side as he pressed down on the claw-marks already there, "You're tough. I like that in a woman." He smirked. "But I bet you'll scream for me like the others did."
Her eyes snapped open, and she glared at him, finally pushed. "You're nothing but an animal Creed. You don't have what it takes to make me scream."
"We'll have to see about that." He chuckled and wrapped a piece of rope around her hands, "Stay there, frail. I need to finish what I started with my appetiser."
She watched hollowly as he prowled back over to the young blonde. Then she closed her eyes and reached out mentally. Amanda, her name was Amanda. *:Amanda...:*
A whimper echoed through her mind and Betsy winced along with the girl as Creed sliced absently along her arm with one claw.
*:Amanda. Listen to me. I can help you, but you have to listen.:*
Who are you?
Help me, her mind wailed. Please!
*:I will, child.:* With a touch of sadness, Betsy gently extinguished the life of Amanda Soren. She would never survive what Sabretooth had planned. Right? Psylocke tried to justify it to herself as she reopened her eyes to view Creed screaming in rage.
"And that matters?"
"She can't scream for me, now." He growled, raking claws down the body in his arms. He threw it against the wall, watching it slide down to lie broken on the rug. "But you can."
"I already told you, you'll never make me scream."
"We'll see about that," With a swiftness that startled her, he grabbed her by her hair and began dragging her across the rug.
Betsy took the chance and rolled, wrapping her left leg around his, then shoving the right foot into his knee. It popped out and he let out a howl of rage. She yanked backwards, wincing as hair was torn from roots, and freed her head. A roll and she was on her feet, facing him again.
"You'll pay for that." He rasped. Pain was in his eyes as he began advancing towards her.
"I'm already dead, how will I pay?" She snorted at him. "You're nothing, Creed. Nothing." She pulled her hands apart, rope falling to the floor. "You can't even tie a decent knot."
He roared and charged her, slightly awkward as his knee healed itself. Betsy ducked under him, grabbed and threw him into the wall. He impacted rather loudly, but she ignored it in favour of running from the room. Her side ached from the exertion.
With presence of mind, she dashed down the hall and skidded into the larger bedroom. She slammed the door and leaned against it, panting.
"Hello?" The voice sounded clogged with sleep, and Betsy winced as Amanda's mother flipped on the bedside lamp. "Oh my God. Who the fuck are you? Where's Amanda?"
Before she could answer, Creed's body slammed against the door, accompanied by his snarl about killing her and painting the walls with her blood. Betsy leaned on the door harder, and looked at the woman in the bed, "Is there a lock for this door?"
"You're dead, you Asian bitch!"
The woman blinked, then slid from the bed and came over. "It's here," Her hand shook as she punched the little button in, "Can he break the door?"
"Call 911, they'll at least be able to contain him once they get here." I hope, she thought. The door shuddered again. Then stopped, as Creed suddenly moved away from it. Betsy looked frantically around the room, searching for something to shove in front of the door. There was nothing that was large enough.
Betsy stepped away from it, towards the bed and froze. She could hear him right outside the door, he was doing something. Her nostrils twitched, picking up the scent of blood.
"Hey, frail, betcha they can't find all the pieces of this little girl, now."
"What are you doing, Creed?"
"She pulls apart in such nice-sized pieces."
Feeling sick to her stomach, Betsy glanced at the older woman, praying she hadn't caught the implications of that. But she had. Tears were running down her face as she looked at the door, hearing the sounds. "He's got her, doesn't he? My baby."
The sounds outside the door stopped, "Frail, I think I'll go decorate the kitchen. Back in a moment, then I'll have to bring you out to see the job I've done."
"I can't get through--I think the phone's off." With a sob, the woman threw the phone against the wall. "My baby, he's got her."
"Ma'am, I really think--" Betsy stopped and turned to the door. He was back, she could sense him on the other side. She frowned. What was he doing now?
"He can get in here. Oh, Gods."
"He's trying something." Betsy looked frantically around. Weapon, weapon, Gods, anything would do. She dove across the bed and picked up the large walking stick against the wall. "Get behind me."
As the words left he mouth, there was a splintering sound, and the top half of the door shattered inwards. "Frail, frail, frail, you know this is only going to make it hurt worse."
"Bite me, Creed." She stepped in front of the bed, the stick held carefully.
"Oh, I'll do much worse," he chuckled and stepped over the door and into the room, "Now, are you going to fight again? You know how much that annoys me."
Without answering, she jumped forward, swinging the staff up. It caught him in the shoulder as he dodged. Before she could pull it back for another strike, a massive hand grabbed the shaft and pulled. Betsy had a choice, be pulled into him, or let go. She dropped backwards, tugging the staff vainly.
Sabretooth grabbed the other end and swung the staff, taking her with it. The wall was very close, suddenly. Pain flared through her as she impacted with it, spinning away and trying to get her feet back. Creed slammed the staff against her ribs and something gave. She went down, hacking.
"There, now, ma'am, your daughter tasted so wonderful, I wonder what you taste like."
Betsy heard the woman scream as the room swam around her head. Pain was a jagged friend as she fought to reach out to the woman mentally. She couldn't save her, she couldn't save any of them. But she could ease her away so she didn't have to feel the pain.
Time suddenly stopped passing as she felt for her. The woman was there, and then suddenly wasn't, before Betsy could touch her. A blink of an eye, and then she realised there was something dripping down her cheek. The object hanging over her head was pulled back so she could see it.
"She didn't scream enough," Creed remarked, pouting. he shook the head in his hand by the blonde hair, "It's so disappointing when they don't scream."
Betsy convulsed, throwing up the little amount of bile in her stomach. She panted and fought to regain control of her body as Creed moved away, chuckling.
"You fucking monster."
"Now, now, frail, is that anyway to talk to me?"
Something whispered on the edge of her senses, then. Something that felt familiar, let us in, it called. Let us in, we can save you still.
Rage flared through her and she yelled back, "NO!"
The Crimson Dawn mumbled and skittered away.
"No, what, frail?"
"No, you will not kill me." The rage seemed to fill her with energy, and she surged to her feet and threw herself at him. He was shocked. It was long enough for her to dig jagged-edged fingernails into his neck and begin pulling.
They were sitting in the car, in silence. Alex was behind the wheel, Kitty in the passenger seat. The car sat where he'd parked it.
"I know what you're thinking." Kitty broke the silence, "And we can't tell them."
"I know." With a decisive feeling, Alex started the car. "I need to call Val. She needs to know, and we'll go about this from there."
Kitty slumped into the chair and fought not to sleep. She'd been sitting there, watching Betsy sleep, for hours now. Hours in which the ninja barely moved and seemed not to even breath. But she was, and she was alive.
And Sabretooth was dead. She had to face that fact, and the fact that Betsy had killed him. Death wasn't something she'd ever thought the bastard would get. But Betsy had done it.
The voice of the purple-haired ninja was raspy with disuse and sleep. Kitty hopped out of the chair and went towards the side of the bed. "Hey, you."
"Hey. What're you doing here?" Betsy's voice was slightly stronger.
"Watching you sleep." Kitty picked up the slim hand and gripped it. There was still a crust of blood under the ragged nails, "Betsy, what do you remember about last night?"
"It rained." Terror flickered through the amethyst eyes, "Kitty, Sabretooth--he's still out there."
"You don't remember, do you?" Kitty sighed and tightened her grip on Betsy's hand. "Tell me what you remember, Betsy--from the beginning."
With a nod, Betsy began a halting narrative of meeting Sabretooth in the woods near Harry's. She fought him, was wounded and ended up at the house. Kitty winced softly as she told of Amanda and her mother's deaths.
"And then, he was standing there, Kit. With, with *that* and something snapped. I think I hit him, and ran." Betsy whimpered, "The next thing I remember is waking up in Alex's car and him telling me I'd be okay." Urgency returned to Betsy's features and she tried to sit up.
"Stop that." Kitty carefully eased the ninja back down. "You're not going anywhere, and, Sabes is..."
"What? Where is he, Kitty?"
"Dead? How?" She clenched the hand Kitty was holding, "Kitty, tell me."
"Someone pulled his head off."
Betsy's eyes widened in shock. "Head... off?"
"Yes." Kitty smoothed a hand over Betsy's forehead and sighed, "Was there anyone else there last night?"
"No." Betsy's gaze turned shadowed, "Wait. The Crimson Dawn." She reached up her free hand and ran a finger over the red mark she'd received all those months before. "It... tried to convince me to let it take over. I wouldn't let it. Kitty, what if... what if it did?"
"Then you killed Sabretooth, an animal who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds."
"There is no question, Alex, she's going to be taken into the custody of the American government."
Alex cursed under his breath, then replied calmly into the phone, "No, she's not."
"Now, Alex," Val Cooper chided, "She's responsible for the death of a man. A man who is a government operative."
"Fuck that, Val. You KNOW what that piece of shit did. Betsy killed him. End of story. Turn it into a government conspiracy, or what have you, but she stays here, recovers and is *innocent*."
"Can't do that, I--"
"Bullshit, you can't. You did it for Creed, and we BOTH know what he's done." Alex paused for an instant, then continued, calmer, "You do this, Cooper, and I will go to the press about Creed."
"It won't work, you know."
"Won't it? How about if I throw in a few of the surveillance tapes from various places where he's murdered people?"
Val was silent for a moment, then replied, sounding weary, "Don't start this dance, Summers."
"All it takes is one word from you, Cooper, and we'll see how many people get knocked out of power."
He heard her sigh and felt a smirk cross his lips. "Don't smirk, Summers, it's not becoming."
She cursed at him, then chuckled, "I'll do what I can. Don't tell the locals anything yet."
"Only Pryde and I know, Cooper."
"Good. Keep it that way." And she hung up.
Alex looked at the phone and grinned. He'd won. Almost. Hopefully Cooper would be able to keep her end of the bargain. Of course, knowing her, she would. With another chuckle, he wandered off to the medlab to tell Kitty what was up.
"I killed a man..."
"A very bad man."
Alex stopped outside the room and blinked. Apparently, Betsy was awake. She and Kitty were arguing softly, it appeared.
"Right or wrong, a man is dead, Kitty. By my hand."
Kitty sounded exasperated as she answered, "If he had killed you, would you still be so upset?"
"Yes, you killed a man who's murdered thousands upon thousands of people." Kitty snorted, "Sounds like you did a public service, to me."
"But I enjoyed it, Kit."
There was silence, and Alex stepped into it calmly. "That's actually normal, in a case where it's high stress and a release like that."
"Alex." Betsy stared at him out of shadowed eyes.
"I saw what he did to the people in that house, Betsy. You did nothing wrong." He snorted, "Trust me, I've done far worse."
"What's going to happen to me?"
"I just got off the phone with Val. She's taking care of things." Alex looked at Kitty. "I need to get something to eat, you ladies want anything?"
"Soup." Kitty replied promptly, "There should be some chicken noodle in the cupboard."
"Right. Um, just for now, neither of you mention this to anyone, all right?"
Betsy studied him for a moment, then nodded.
"Right, I'll be back in a bit with that soup, ladies." Alex smiled and sauntered out.
Val Cooper swore under her breath. Things were now a nightmare. No one was happy. But the solution was clear. Coverup. Don't let the public know, and never let the underlings figure it out. She sighed and picked the phone up again. Only a few more calls to make.
A week went by and then Betsy became the holy terror invalid. She hated being stuck in bed, everyone having to wait on her hand and foot. Of the people who did, the ones she went less hard on were Alex and Kitty. And even they had soup, pillows and spoons thrown at them.
"Now, chere, Gambit doesn't need his new shirt ruined."
"Bite me, Gumbo."
"Where would the lady like the bite?"
A pillow slammed into his chest. "Go. Away."
Remy rolled his eyes at the irate ninja, "Betsy, stop it, I'm jus' bringin' you lunch."
She growled at him. He blinked. "I am fucking SICK of this, Gambit! I've been here all damned week, and I need to get OUT!"
"Has Hank said you could get out of bed?"
"He hasn't said I couldn't," She replied evasively.
He chuckled, "Well, then, chere," he stepped up to the bed and scooped her up into his arms. She whooped, "Let's go outside, shall we?"
She snagged the sheet and draped it over her nightgown clad self. "Let's."
Carefully, Gambit stepped out into the hall and headed for the elevator with his burden. Betsy pushed the buttons for it, then sighed happily as they stepped out into the main hall. Gambit turned to the back of the house and the kitchen and continued on his way to the outside.
Betsy slid an arm around his neck for better balance and ignored everyone as they stepped into the kitchen.
The chatter stopped as Gambit walked calmly towards the back door. For about two seconds, the silence dragged, then Hank broke it with a cry of shock, "Oh my stars and garters! Betsy, you should not be out of bed yet."
"It's okay, Henry," She said softly, "I just need a break. I'm going insane down there."
Jean chuckled, "I understand the feeling, let her be, Hank. She won't break."
"I remember Pete. He was a horrible patient," Kitty supplied with a grin, "I think Moira actually tied him down once so he couldn't leave the bed."
"Ach Katchen. And then he proceeded to curse loudly until his voice went," Kurt Wagner replied, grinning. "Wasn't it you that went down and let him out that time?"
During the resulting discussion, Remy slipped out the door and walked down the steps to stand in the sun.
"It's so peaceful out here."
He chuckled, "Except when we be under attack, neh?"
"No rest for the wicked," She answered, sounding wistful.
"Betsy, d'you think you can stand?"
"Arms getting tired, Gambit? I thought any ladies man worth his salt would be able to hold on forever," she teased him.
"That's all right, Gambit, I'll hold her." Alex stepped up to stand next to them. He smiled tiredly at Betsy, "It's all fixed now."
"Good." She winced as Remy lowered her feet and then swayed between the two men as she attempted to stand. "Um, no. Don't think I can stand *just* yet." She leaned on Alex and he picked her up quickly. "In fact, much as I love the sun, I think it would be good to go sit down again."
"Promise to throw no more spoons, Chere?"
With a chuckle, Alex and Remy carefully re-entered the mansion with the invalid from hell.
"...Today it was discovered that a grizzly bear had mauled a local woman and her daughter...."