Wanda unbuckled her seatbelt and gently slipped her arm out from under Kurt as the plane levelled out. She moved silently towards the front of the cabin, her eyes searching left and right.
“What are you doing?” Pietro demanded.
“Looking for a first aid kit or something.” She looked back at Kurt. His head hung forward, his face completely obscured by indigo hair. “We’ve gotta get him patched up…or we’re gonna have a dead elf on our hands…”
Pietro looked at the blue-furred X-Man in alarm. “He’s THAT bad?”
“He’s lost a lot of blood, Pietro.” She sighed. “And it doesn’t look like slowing…” She looked at her palm, stained from where she’d been holding the curtain to his injury during take off. “If we’re flying to wherever it is they’re taking us it’s gotta be a fair distance…he could very well bleed to death before we get there!”
“I think we should avoid that…” Pietro said quietly.
“You’re actually concerned for another human being?” She arched a brow. “There may be hope for you yet.”
“Yeah, well…he’s a freak…but I guess he’s a nice freak…I don’t wanna see him die…” He admitted. “I also don’t want to be stuck in here with a corpse…”
“You are a true humanitarian, Pietro…” Kurt mumbled.
Wanda pulled open one of the overhead compartments. “Beer?” She frowned.
“Well…if we can’t patch him up we can all get nicely wasted…” Pietro smirked as he pulled open another compartment. “Blankets…”
“They’ll help…” Wanda nodded.
“Try under the seats…” Kurt suggested, his voice slurring.
Wanda crouched and felt beneath the seat closest to the door. Her fingers found something hard, rectangular. She dragged out a white metal box, emblazed with green crosses.
“Jackpot!” Pietro beamed. Then he realised something. “Um…you DO know first aid, right?”
“No…” She admitted. “Do you?”
They turned when they heard Kurt let out an exasperated breath. “Vhat DID mother dear teach you people?”
“She pretty much left us on our own.” Pietro shrugged.
“Yeah…” Kurt looked at the floor, a definite tone of bitterness in his voice. “She’s good at that.” He looked up at them. “Bring it here…”
Wanda placed it on the seat beside him, opening it as she did so. He began rummaging through it with his good hand. “There is a bathroom in the back?” He asked.
Pietro headed towards the back of the cabin, pulling open the door he found there. “Yep.” He reported.
“Get some vater…” Kurt said, fighting to remain focused on the task at hand.
“Right…” Pietro disappeared through the door.
Kurt looked up at Wanda. “You squeamish?”
“Not really…” She replied. “Why?”
“I can hardly bandage mein own Schulter, ja?”
She frowned. She didn’t have any trouble understanding what he said, but Kurt’s English was usually very good, better than hers even. He was slipping…
“I should be able to handle it…” She smiled, hopefully reassuringly. “As long as you talk me through it…” She looked at the supplies he’d assembled in the lid of the first aid kit. She had no idea where to even start.
“Scissors…” He said.
“Scissors?” She repeated.
“Cut the shirt off…” Her eyes widened at the suggestion. “You need easy access to the Wunde…and it vould not be a gut idea to pull it off over mein head…”
“Right…” She pulled the fabric away from his body carefully. He winced slightly as she tugged it from where it was stuck to the injury. She jabbed the scissors through and began cutting along the form-fitting sleeve. She baulked when she saw the deep red gash in his soft blue flesh. She swallowed the bile in her throat.
“You okay?” He asked, trying to glance back at her and immediately regretting it.
“Yeah…” She said as she gulped in some air. “It’s just…well…quite a mess…”
“You don’t have to tell me…” He chuckled slightly. “To me it feels like the Grand Canyon…”
“Typical…” Pietro teased as he re-entered the main cabin. “I’m gone for a few minutes and you’ve got his shirt…EUEW!” He almost dropped the water when he saw the now revealed wound.
“I’m sure it von’t be so bad once it is cleaned…” Kurt tried to reassure them.
“There is no way I am touching that!” Pietro all but shrieked.
“It’s just blood.” Wanda rolled her eyes at his reaction. “I’ll take care of it.”
Pietro pulled a face at the now very red bowl of water. Kurt had drifted off again as Wanda gently cleansed the wound.
“Kurt?” She questioned as she dropped the sodden rag she’d been using in the bowl. She glanced at her brother. “Get rid of that, will you?” She gestured at the scarlet liquid.
“Gross…” He grumbled as he lifted the bowl, holding it as far away from himself as possible as he headed towards the back of the plane.
“Kurt?” She gently shook his good shoulder. He awoke with a start. “You were right.” She said softly. “It doesn’t look nearly so bad now that it’s cleaned up.”
“Vhat does it look like?” He asked. “How big…how deep?”
“Couple of inches long…pretty deep…not so deep that I can see bone or anything…”
Kurt frowned. “Feels vorse…”
Truthfully, it WAS worse. A deep, ugly trench was torn in the muscle of his shoulder. She didn’t know much about such things, but she’d lay money that the shoulder would never be what it was. It was one of those injuries that would plague him forever…the sort old people complained about when the weather was bad. But she didn’t want to worry him with that right now…
“It’s still bleeding…” She told him. “Not nearly so much though…”
“Okay…” Kurt licked his lips. “The pad…” He gestured towards the sealed package. She tore it open. It was a thick wad of fabric, obviously for absorbing the blood. She placed it over his injury. “Ja…that is right…” He nodded. “Now…” he raised his good arm. “Bind it…firmly but not tightly…ve don’t vant to cut off the circulation…I vould like have two arms vhen this is over…”
She began winding the thick crepe bandage around his chest and shoulder, carefully trying to match the grain of his fur. She knew animals didn’t like it when they were patted against the grain…she could only imagine how uncomfortable such a thing must be for Kurt.
‘The things he has to put up with…’ She thought.
“Okay?” She asked as she finished. “Not too tight?”
“Nein…it is fein…” He took a few deep breaths. “Now…” He gestured weakly towards the final package. Wanda pulled out a large, triangular piece of cloth. “Sling…” He rasped. “Immobilise the arm…lessen…the drag…on…the shoulder…”
“C’mon, Kurt…” She said. “Stay with me…” She gently strapped his injured arm to his chest.
“Help me…to the…couch…” He gestured towards the row of seats that lined the wall opposite the door.
“Let me…” Pietro slung Kurt’s good arm over his shoulder. “He’s heavier than he looks…”
“How’d you know that?” Wanda frowned.
“He’s nothing but muscle…” Pietro pointed out. “Muscle is heavy…and Mystique said something about him having more muscles than normal…” He chuckled as Kurt stretched out on the soft white cushions. “Serve ‘em right if you bleed all over their cushions…”
“I’ll see vhat I can do…” Kurt mumbled as he put his feet up on the arm. “Vhere ist that decke…”
“Decke?” Pietro arched a brow.
“I though you knew Deutche…”
Wanda threw her brother a blanket.
“Oh…right…” Pietro beamed. “Decke…” He draped it over Kurt.
“Anything else we can do?” Wanda asked.
“Just make sure I keep breathing…don’t let me overheat…” Kurt told her. “Say varm encouraging things to me…”
“Such as?” Pietro asked.
“’Everything is going to be alright, Kurt…’, ‘Ve vill get out of this just fine, Kurt…’, things like that…”
“You’re not gonna buy that…” Pietro pointed out.
“Perhaps not…” Kurt admitted. “But it vould be good to hear…”
“I can’t believe they got away…” Scott whispered.
Jean was doing her best to comfort him, but she knew exactly how he felt. And she would of even if she hadn’t been a telepath. They’d already lost Evan, and though his departure had been voluntary, and he wasn’t in any kind of danger, the loss of a team-mate still hung heavily over their heads.
But Kurt was in real danger. He was already injured, and they had no idea who had taken him or their reason for doing so.
And what of Wanda and Pietro? Why had that particular group been singled out?
“Any geneticist worth their PhD would LOVE to get their hands on Kurt…” Hank was saying. “He’s a fascinating subject…so obviously human, and yet so obviously not…”
“Perhaps…” Xavier agreed. “But what of the other two? Pietro and Wanda are not such obvious mutants…”
“AND they were abducted by mutants…” Kitty pointed out from her seat at the computer. She’d spent the better part of the afternoon trying to hack into the airport’s system to download the flight plan of their mysterious jet, but so far had failed to do so. “I mean, if a geneticist already has mutants on the payroll, why would they go after more?”
Xavier frowned. “What connects them?”
“Maybe it’s a ransom thing…” Rogue suggested quietly.
“Ransom?” Xavier arched a brow.
“Well…” She went on. “HIS Momma and THEIR Popa…well…given’ their track record…they probably got lotsa enemies out there…and we all seen Mystique’s twisted devotion to Kurt…she’d probably do anythin’ to get him back…”
“True…” Logan agreed. “But Magneto don’t seem to care squat about his kids…”
“He seems to like Pietro well enough…” Rogue pointed out. “It’s like he’s his own little mini me or somethin’…”
“It would explain why they weren’t interested in Kitty.” Jean nodded sagely.
“But what did they mean when they called me a first rounder?” She asked, spinning her chair to face them.
“First rounder?” Xavier frowned.
“The one that skewered Kurt…” She cringed as she said it. “He said that HE…whoever HE is…has no interest in first rounds…”
The group exchanged a series of puzzled glances, none sure what it could mean.
None but one, anyway.
“Oh my God…” Hank said, eyes wide. “They’re second generation…”
“They're what?” Scott frowned at the blue, furry scientist.
“Second generation mutants…” Hank extended. “The mutant offspring of mutant parents…quite possibly the first of their kind!”
“How does that make a difference?” Rogue asked. “Are you sayin’ they’re more mutant than the rest of us?”
“Essentially…” Hank was on a roll now. “Think about it! Wanda’s immensely powerful…Kurt’s got multiple powers…”
“He does?” Kitty questioned.
“Of course…his physical adaptations have nothing to do with his teleportation ability. List everything he can do…the agility…the ability to stick to just about anything…his spatial awareness…the eyes…the tail…it’s quite a list…”
“And Pietro?” Scott arched a brow. “HE’S not really powerful…and all he does is move real fast.”
“True…” Hank agreed. “But all three of them came into their powers earlier than the rest of us.”
“They did?” Kitty questioned.
“Yes…they did.” Xavier nodded. “I don’t know about Pietro, but Wanda was institutionalised when she was still a child…complete with uncontrollable powers. And Kurt was born looking the way he does…his adoptive parents told me he was quite a handful…”
“And he said he’d been teleporting all his life!” Kitty added.
“Well…” Scott interjected. “That might explain why they were taken…but not by WHO!”
“Yeah, yeah…” Kitty returned to her work. “I’m on it…”
It seemed like hours had ticked by. Kitty sat hunched over the keyboard. Scott paced the length of the room. Jean tried to read a book. Rogue stared moodily out the window.
“All hail the goddess of computing!” Kitty exclaimed, suddenly as she wheeled back from the computer, grabbing the page from the printer even before it had finished and brandishing it over her head.
Scott snatched it from her and began scanning it. “Owned by one N. Essex…resident of London…oh no…” the colour visibly drained from his face.
“What?” Kitty looked at him, wide eyed. “What is it?”
“Flight plan says they were heading for Montreal…” He looked up. “They’re out of the country.”
“Without passports…” Kitty added. “At least it’s Canada…they won’t get into big trouble with customs…”
“Ah hate to burst ya bubble and all…” Rogue interjected. “But just because it says they went to Montreal it doesn’t mean they did…”
“C’mon, Rogue…” Scott began.
“No…” Kitty shook her head sadly. “She’s right. These guys were creepy…sneaky…I wouldn’t put it past them to like totally fabricate their documentation…”
“In their place…Ah’d do it…” Rogue added.
“They could be anywhere…” Kitty shoulders sagged.
“DAMN!” Scott growled. He turned on Jean. “Other ways of finding them, huh?”
“I don’t care for your tone, Scott.” She shot back. “Can you find out if the plane arrived in Montreal from there?” Jean asked Kitty, indicating the computer.
“I can try…” She said, turning back to her work.
“I’m gonna ask the professor if he’s heard of this Essex guy…” Scott said as he left the room, grimly clutching the print out. “There’s something familiar about that name…”
“Essex?” Xavier arched a brow. “I can’t say it’s a name I’m familiar with…”
“I have to agree with Scott…” Hank said. “There IS something familiar about it…but I can’t for the life of me say why…”
“So what’s our next move?” Scott asked. “Kitty’s seeing if the flight plan’s accurate…but there’s gotta be more that we can do…”
“Perhaps we can get Kitty to do some sort of search on the Internet.” Ororo suggested. “There can’t be too many Londoners named Essex with the financial power to own their own jet.”
“Yes…” Xavier agreed. “And as much as I’m loath to suggest it…I think we should bring Mystique in on this…”
“Are you nuts?!” Scott exploded. “After all she’s pulled…” 'Not to mention what I did to her...'
“She has connections that we don’t…” Xavier pointed out. “She may very well know who this Essex is.” He sighed deeply. “If nothing else, she should at least be told about what’s happened to her son…”
“She doesn’t deserve to call him son…” Scott grumbled.
“She had her reasons for what she did, Scott.” Xavier said. “And I do believe that Kurt has had an effect on her…”
“And the Elf’s probably better off NOT being raised by her…” Logan added. “Can you imagine what he’d’ve been like?”
Pietro’s eyes fluttered open, widening quickly when he remembered where he was. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but they’d been travelling so long he really couldn’t help himself. Now he had no idea what time it was.
‘Man I wish I wore a watch…’ He thought.
The cabin was fairly dark now, illuminated by dim lights set in the roof above the row of overhead compartments. There was no light coming from outside now, the windows now totally black. Night had come without him knowing.
‘Must have been hours since we left Bayville…’
Then he remembered Kurt.
The X-Man had been in a bad way. He really needed proper medical attention. His head flicked towards where he’d been sleeping on the couch. Wanda had fallen asleep in the seat near his head, her hand still resting on his indigo hair from where she’d been soothingly stroking it. Kurt was still obviously pale, even in the dim light, but his breathing was regular and he at least looked comfortable.
‘And HE’S got a watch…’ Pietro thought as he eyed the chunky timepiece that also housed his holographic projector.
Wanda stirred as she heard Pietro move towards them. “What time is it?” She asked, still a little groggy.
“That’s what I was about to find out.” Pietro said as he reached for Kurt’s left wrist.
Kurt awoke with a snort at the sudden jostle of his arm, sitting up instinctively, and letting out a shriek as his shoulder exploded with pain.
“Hey!” Wanda scolded. “Be careful!” She gently pushed him back down.
He sighed. “Not a dream, then…”
“Afraid not…” Pietro confirmed.
“How long have I been out?” He asked.
“Not sure…” Pietro admitted. “Quite a while…it’s dark out now…”
“You’re looking a little better.” Wanda smiled shyly. “You’re a deeper shade of blue…”
Kurt raised his arm and looked at his watch. “Eleven seventeen…ve have been airborne for over twelve hours…or at least on this plane for over twelve hours…” He closed his eyes. “Have ve changed direction at all?”
“Not sure…” Pietro frowned. “Why?”
“I am trying to figure out vhere ve are…”
“And how exactly are you going to do that?” Pietro arched a brow.
“Are we over vater?”
Wanda leaned over and peered out the window. It was dark, and they were quite high up, but she could see moonlight reflecting off the waves. “Yeah…” she confirmed. “It’s all I can see…” She looked at the elfin X-Man. “How did you know that?”
“Ve are heading in a north-easterly direction.” He explained. “Nothing much east of Bayville but the Atlantic ocean…”
“How the hell can you tell we’re heading in a north-easterly direction?” Pietro demanded.
“All part and parcel of my teleportation ability…” He smiled weakly. “I am mentally attuned to the earth’s lay lines…to latitude and longitude…I need to be so I can travel along them when I teleport…or so Forge and Beast tell me…it is all instinctual for me…”
“They’ve actually analysed how your power works?” Wanda asked.
“Ja…” Kurt shrugged. “Personally I can think of much better things to fill my spare time…”
“So we’re heading for Europe?” Pietro asked.
“Ja…” Kurt agreed. “Looks like ve are going home…”
“These guys don’t mess about do they?” Wanda said, looking more than a little nervous. “We’re a long way from any help…”
“They’re never gonna track us down!” Pietro cried out.
“And without our powers…” Wanda added.
“You just had to bring that up, didn’t you…” Pietro mumbled.
“They did something to us?” Kurt asked, his golden eyes filling with fear.
“Nah…” Pietro growled. “Plane’s got power dampers in it…” He paused as he had a thought. “So all we gotta do is wait until we land…bust out…and we’re gone!”
“Of course!” Kurt said with mock enthusiasm. “I am just so sure that they never thought of that!” He became suddenly serious. “They are professionals, Pietro…they have probably planed for just about every contingency…”
“Okay, okay…” Pietro grumbled. “No need to rub it in…”
“And I vouldn’t be surprised if they are listening in on us right now…” He added. “So they vill be prepared if ve do decide to plan something…”
“Heh…” Riptide chuckled to himself. “Little fuzzball’s pretty smart!”
Scalphunter snorted. “Either that, or he’s watched way too many movies…”
“If they are listening in I hope they plan on feeding us pretty soon…” Pietro mumbled. He arched a brow at the look he got from his companions.
“You think you’re the only one with an accelerated metabolism?” He asked.
“It’s true…” Wanda looked at Kurt. “He used to practically inhale his food when we were kids…”
“Hardly surprising vhen you’re stuck on fast forward…”