The kids were late meeting them back at the agreed upon spot. Bobby showed up ten minutes late, and Jubilee had to be tracked down. Fortunately, with Logan there, that didn't take too long. The four of them agreed on a small Italian restaurant in one corner of the food court and entered it.
A too-young waitress with frazzled hair and nerves seated them at a table. She took their orders and whisked away before they could tell her she hadn't asked them what they wanted to drink.
Sara shrugged and untied her jacket from her waist and hung it over the back of her chair. Logan took his own brown leather coat off and slung it over the back of his own seat. The teens chattered at them excitedly about what they'd done that morning. Bobby apparently owned the new spot in the high score list for an arcade game called Dragon Ball Z. Jubilee had found the mother of all sales at Rave. The kids finally shut up when the food came. Logan held the waitress' arm to keep her there long enough for the four to tell her what they wanted for drinks. She noted it down absently and skipped away again.
"Betcha she forgets to bring them," Logan said out of the corner of his mouth.
"I'd lose if I took that bet," Sara answered him.
"So what do you want to do?" Jubilee asked the two adults. "See a movie? Do some more shopping?"
"Go back to the arcade?" Bobby interjected helpfully.
"You keep playin' those games and you're not going to have a brain left," Logan warned him.
"We need to be back by four. I've got work to do and you've got chores waiting," Sara told them. "That leaves us about another forty minutes or so. We'll go to one more store - all of us, together (she said the last part staring first at Jubilee and then Logan who both sighed) - and then we'll head back."
"Okay. How about that music shop upstairs?" Bobby agreed easily.
"Sounds fine with me," Sara said. Jubilee nodded and Logan shrugged.
"Our company isn't that boring, is it?" Sara asked the dark-haired man.
"It's not the company. It's the setting." Logan wiped his mouth with his napkin and dropped it onto his now empty plate. "I hate crowds."
"I know the feeling, but it's not bad every now and again," Sara answered. She motioned to the waitress to bring their check.
When the check arrived Glow grabbed it before anyone else could see it. She rose, grabbing her jacket, her bags and made her way to the register to pay. The others caught up to her as she was getting her change back.
"Lead the way kids. We old people will follow," she told the adolescents, tucking her money back in her wallet and then into her front jean pocket.
She swung her two bags over her left shoulder and looped her other arm through Logan's and pulled him along so he wouldn't lag behind.
The kids scattered to different sections of the music store when they reached it. Sara, as if realizing for the first time she'd been walking arm-in-arm with Logan, blushed and let go of him. She picked a music section of her own to browse and left him to his own thoughts. Glow became involved in going through the collection of late 60's early 70's music. She picked up a Janis Joplin CD and started to read the back of it.
She turned around, completely surprised. Logan stood behind her. She stammered, "She's always been one of my favorites. I grew up listening to my brother blasting her from his 8-track stereo. It seems so long ago."
He took a step closer to her and pretended to read the back of the CD. "So which song's your favorite out of this collection?"
She turned back to the list and quickly scanned it. "Oh definitely this one, 'Me and Bobby McGee'."
"Why?" His lips were right next to her ear now.
She caught her breath and answered, "There's this one line that says freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. I just think it kinda describes my life, you know?"
She turned to face him and almost jumped at how close he was to her. Their lips were bare centimeters apart. He took the side of her cheek in his hand. "Yeah, I know."
He pressed his lips to hers in a soft kiss. When they pulled their lips apart she leaned against him, resting her forehead on his shoulder.
"I have a confession to make," she spoke softly.
"That was my first kiss."
Logan pulled back from her, startled. He held onto her shoulders and looked into her eyes and saw the truth of her statement. "I'm surprised."
"I've spent the last thirty-three years of my life either as a guinea pig or hunting for those who made me one." She gave him a crooked smile. "Doesn't leave you any time for a love life."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know… I don't want you to think… " He began. She silenced him with one finger over his lips.
"I liked it. Thank you." Sara gazed at him before shifting her eyes to a point behind him. "But maybe we could continue this conversation when we don't have two people spying on us from over the top of the ‘golden oldies' section."
Logan turned with a curious eye to see Jubilee and Bobby stand up from where they'd been crouched down behind the display.
"I think it's time we all went home. Don't you?" Glow asked the kids, motioning them out in front of her. As she put the Joplin CD back she took hold of Logan's hand.
He squeezed her hand back, and then released it as they followed the adolescents out of the mall.
The four mutants had timed their arrival back home perfectly. The build-up of electricity in Glow's body was starting to turn her eyes orange again. By the time they'd reached the mansion her pupils were neon. Jean was also out of her classes, had eaten something, and was ready to get going on their research.
The two women had sequestered themselves back in the research lab in the lower level. Jean was starting to make some headway in reassembling the data on the procedure that gave Logan his adimantium skeleton. She had no idea what Glow was looking for, but the other woman had been typing furiously, keeping multiple windows open and even doing some coding in DOS mode.
"Oh, my G-d."
Jean turned to ask Glow what she'd found, but stopped. The woman was shaking from head to toe; her skin pale, and her eyes wide.
"What is it?" The telepath asked softly with concern.
"I think I'm gonna be sick." Glow got up and moved away from the screen. She waved Jean to her seat and walked to the wall leaning against it and taking deep breaths.
Jean sat down and began to read out loud. "Log book Day 12 of the Weapon X Procedure. I now realize that transferring this process over to the mutant designated Glow will be impractical. I had hoped that infusing her skeleton with the adimantium alloy would boost her conductivity beyond the currently useful state. It has come to my attention that she would not survive this process, as she does not possess the healing ability. Research will be initiated on how to reproduce the mutant's healing factor so that it may be used in others. I had an argument with the doctor who appears to be in charge of this experiment. He is wasting this mutant's time and talents trying to develop the perfect weapon for the military. With his healing capabilities the cure for every known disease to man could be housed within his body…"
"Now I think I'm going to be sick," Jean blanched when she finished reading. "They're talking about you… and Logan, like you're not even sentient."
"Welcome to life with Future Tech." Glow sat down on a couch nearby. "How… how. I mean, what do I tell him? How do I tell him? How do you face something like this? And that's not even the half of it. Read the entry after."
"I'm not sure I want to." Jean nevertheless scrolled down the screen and began to read out loud again. "Log book Day 17, Weapon X Procedure. The test subject designated Weapon X has become mentally unstable. Despite my advisement to terminate him while we are still in control of his mind and body…"
Jean gasped and grew even paler before she continued. "The doctors renting this facility resist. Weapon X has already killed three of his attendants in his madness before he could be subdued. The doses of tranquilizers being injected into him to render and keep him unconscious are currently eight times the normal dosage for a man of his size. His regenerative capabilities are astounding and it is regretful that I was not allowed to test him before he degenerated into this state. I am recommending to the chair people of F.T.L. that they conclude this project and eject the current renters before something untoward happens."
"There's a break in the entry where the file was corrupted," Glow said as she got up and leaned over Jean, typing a few keys. "Here's the rest of it I found lumped in with some medical stats."
Jean began her macabre reading once more. "I warned them. I warned the board. I warned the scientists of the mutant's instability. Now they have no choice but to shut down this lab and cover up the mess that happened here. Weapon X finally succeeded in breaking free of his controllers and escaped, leaving a wake of blood in his path. According to the one survivor I found upon my return to the compound from my meeting, the subject was heading further north, naked, bleeding profusely, and howling incoherently. It is my fervent hope that he is too weak in his current condition to survive, and passes away before anything else can happen."
"That's it. The log just ends." Jean scrolled down further but found nothing else.
"I think I need a break," Glow stood up and walked out of the room.
"Sure," Jean called after her. "I understand completely."
She turned back to the screen in bewilderment. How could a single group of people be so monstrous? She saved the work Glow had been doing and tried to shut down the computer.
An error message popped up, "Windows still running application. Shut down now or allow application to continue running?"
"Application? What application? I turned everything off!" Jean was puzzled until she looked at the little blinking light on the modem icon. She opened it and her mouth dropped. A massive amount of information was being transmitted. Now that she knew what she was looking for she quickly located the file being sent and opened it.
"Professor," she thought telepathically, projecting her comments to Xavier. "I think I have something you should see."
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