————— Warren Worthington’s Quarters ————–

Archangel emerged from the shower wrapped in a robe and towelling his blonde hair dry. He had just finished a gruelling training session with his squad, the Defenders, and was now going to take some time to relax. He thought about asking Paige if she would like to go into Westchester for a romantic dinner. Thinking about it he then decided she would probably prefer renting a movie and snuggling up on the couch, eating a chinese take-away. He quickly dressed and was staring out his window over the lake. Glancing around he spotted the members of the Marauders squad lounging down by the jetty.

Oh how he loathed Gambit for that choice in name. Of all the X-Men, Warren was the only one who had not fully accepted the Cajun back into the ranks of the X-Men with total trust. His dislike of the man ran deep, ever since discovering that it was he who had led the murderous, original Marauders into the Morlock tunnels causing a hellish massacre. Warren had been severely beaten and his wings had nearly had to be amputated during that time. As it was it was nearly a full year before he had been able to fly again.

He shivered at the memory,the long months he had spent earth-bound. Anyone who could not fly of their own accord would ever be able to sympathise with Warren. With how restricted it feels to have the delights of the sky taken away from you. This was in part the reason that his entire squad consisted of mutant kids who had some ability to fly. Opening the window and tasting the cool summer air of the early afternoon, Warren decided that now would be an excellent time for a brief flight. Even though he had just finished a training session he still wanted to fly.

As he placed one foot on the ledge of the window, he heard a knock at the door. Considering ignoring it he thought that he had probably flown enough today anyway, and reluctantly closed the window. Opening the door he instantly congratulated himself on his choice to do so, as on the other side stood his better half, Paige Guthrie, otherwise known as the X-Man, Husk. “Hey hun” she drawled as she strolled past him into his room and sat on the edge of the bed. Although she had her own chambers Paige felt more relaxed in the bed of Warren Worthington than in her own.

Walking over to the bed and kissing her on the cheek he asked “So any plans for the evening?”

“Well I thought maybe we could just rent a video and order take out” she suggested. Rolling his eyes Warren began to chuckle, which earned him a punch in the side. “What?” she asked indignantly.

“Nothing, I was just thinking of something funny. Yeah, movie and take out sounds fine to me”.

“Great there is a great thriller that just came out and I’ve been dying to see it” she enthused. For the second time in as many minutes Warren rolled his eyes but then gave in and told her to go ahead and rent it. Paige was addicted to movies that scared the living hell out of her. She would jump and scream and clutch Warren as the film played out its predictable story line, and then, at the end she would toss and turn in her sleep reliving it in her dreams. Often Warren was subject to kicks and punches in the middle of his sleep and occasionally she would morph into steel or stone giving him quite a shock.

“Great” she replied when Warren did not voice any objections. “So how are Jay and Melody getting on in their training?” she asked well aware that Warren had just finished a drill session in the Danger Room with them.

“Honestly… they are doing great” he replied “Melody is getting far more acrobatic with her manoeuvres, and Wing and her have finally stopped distracting each other. Jay is doing really well. I’m beginning to think he should have been made Squad Leader…”. As the words left his mouth he immediately regretted them.

Paige rose up from the bed, and assuming her lecturing stance of one hand on the hip the other waving in the air, she said “Ah told ya. Ah said when ya first thought of this flying squad that Jay would be great for the leader. But nooooooo! You hadta pick the wealthy upstart who gives himself the name that means Godlike. How conceited. Ah can’t believe you are only seeing it now”

“I thought Norman would have benefited from the responsibility” he defended.

“Hah!” she exclaimed “that young man knows as much about responsibility as he does about being poor”.

“Ah! So it’s his wealth that riles you” taunted Warren trying to get her back to the good mood she had entered on. For a moment she looked incredulous that he would even say such a thing but then noticed the cheeky smirk on his face and she laughed.

“Yeah, ya hit the nail on the head there. Ah can’t stand rich people because ah never had half of what they have” she played up to him. “In that case ah shall no longer be spending time with you watching movies… or anything else” she added looking pointedly at the bed. Sensing her mood immediately Warren swept her up in his arms and planted a kiss on her laughing mouth. He was about to give her another more demanding one when a bright flash of light near blinded them. Reacting on instinct he covered Paige with his body and dived for the floor behind the large bed. Just as he did so the whole room began to shake, the glass of the window shattering, flying across the room and embedding itself in the far wall. Warren himself reached back and pulled a large shard from his back. Wincing at the pain he ignored it. Thanks to his healing blood he would be fine in a matter of minutes.

Getting up he helped Paige pull herself to her feet. “What in blue blazes was that?” she asked walking toward the shattered window. Joining her they both looked out the window onto a scene of carnage. The entire grounds were a complete mess and bits of the large estate wall were strewn across the lawns. Looking briefly down to were the Marauders had been lounging on the jetty, he saw that there was nothing but the messy lake shore now. The boathouse and jetty were just a jumble of ruins. He could not make out if the students sitting there minutes ago were still alive .His eyes were still stinging from the light of the explosion.

Hearing a tearing noise beside him he looked around to see that Paige had shucked off her outer skin to reveal her steel form underneath. She seemed to be worriedly scanning the grounds and Warren thought he knew why. A second later she said quietly “I have to find my brother and sisters”.

Seeking to calm her slightly he said “I’ll go and check on Jay and Melody if you go and look for Elizabeth. I’m sure Sam can handle himself”. He took Paige by the shoulders and stared into her eyes “They will be fine” he said, “Beth is probably with the rest of her squad and Jay and Melody are most likely still downstairs. I’ll go and check and make sure they and the rest of my squad are fine”.

She nodded her assent and watched as he flew out the smashed window and swept out of sight. She felt gratified that he shared her concern for her siblings and that she could safely leave the safety of the two younger ones in his hands. Beth on the other hand was much too headstrong, and as leader of the Wolverine Squad she was bound to be outside where the danger was highest. She stalked out of the room determined to find her youngest sister and save her from herself.

————— The Staff Lounge —————

Amara Aquilla leaned over the couch and nabbed the remote control out of Everett’s hands.

“Hey” he yelled in surprise as Amara laughed and switched the channel.

“Sorry Everett but my show is on and I really don’t want to miss it” she said jumping into an armchair and making herself comfortable. Everett sank back onto the couch and silently grumped about the situation. His attitude only slightly improved as Danielle Moonstar walked into the room.

“Has it started yet?” she asked Amara, sitting on the arm of the couch not even glancing at the other occupant of the room as she did so.

“Just about to” came Amara’s distant reply.

“Ahem!” said Everett, annoyed that Dani had not even acknowledged his presence.

“Oh! Hi Ev, didn’t see you there” said Dani looking briefly at Everett before turning back to look at the TV. Everett went back to his grumpy mood. At least they were watching something with a mildly interesting storyline. He sat in silence watching as the two women gasped and shrieked with amazement as they watched the first fifteen minutes of the show called LOST. He didn’t get it, the show was good but the twists and plot lines were confusing at best and just plain boring at worst.

“Oh God that doctor is so cute” sighed Dani as the advertisements began. Ah, now he got it. He should have known these two would only watch it for the eye candy. Saying that though, there were a couple of female characters that he didn’t mind oggling himself.

“So?” said Dani suddenly to Amara who had stood up and was fetching a drink from the cabinet behind the chair.

Feigning innocence she replied “So what?”

“Sow buttons!!! What do you think, so? Don’t keep me in suspense, how was the date last night?” said Dani impatiently. Everett sat up at this, he hadn’t known Amara had been on a date.

“His name is Antonio” said Amara wistfully. “I met him over the summer when I was working with some geologists in the Canary Islands. He is amazing. We went for dinner, a bit of a walk around the grounds and then he left”

“That’s it!” said Dani sounding a bit disappointed “he left?”

Turning to face Dani, Amara smirked a little and sipped from the cup of coffee she had poured herself. “Yes he left” she confirmed, and then a few seconds later “this morning”. She then burst into a fit of laughter at the shocked expression on Dani’s face. Everett smiled to himself. He had saw the person they were describing leave this morning. He had been out for his morning jog when a streak of flame soared past him. Thinking it was Rogue he had yelled out to watch were she was going. As he did so the figure turned in the sky and waved an apology. He knew then it was not Anna, but he had no idea who it was. Not a villain for sure, he doubted that they would be so polite. Well mystery solved he thought to himself.

“Well he must have been good you’re certainly looking rosy this morning” said Dani as she got off the arm of the couch and moved to the doorway “I’m going to the kitchen does anyone want anything?” she asked.

“I’ll have a ….” Everett didn’t get to finish the sentence as at that moment a bright flash lit up the lounge the three staff members were watching TV in. Even through the closed curtains the flare was astonishingly bright and the after image was burned onto his eyelids.

“Guys, is everyone ok?” he heard Amara’s voice from somewhere to his right.

“I’m fine, I think, but I can’t see” he heard Dani reply.

“Me neither. Just give your eyes a second” said Everett into the white light. The very next second they were knocked to their feet as a massive quake slammed he building. Everett felt something cut a slice across his shoulder and another across his side. Not deep wounds he assessed, but annoying none the less. Rubbing his eyes a bit more, he stood up and was finally able to see. Interesting he thought, I’ve never been at the mansion when it gets destroyed.

The room was a mess and the two girls were sitting up checking themselves for injuries. Amara quickly took in the room and immediately shifted to her magma like form. She would not be easily injured like this she thought. She glanced over at Everett who seemed fine, and then at Dani who looked shaken but otherwise alright. “So what just happened?” she asked.

“I was hoping you could tell me. I take that wasn’t an earthquake or anything then?” replied Everett.

“No, nothing geological or geologically manipulated anyway. I would have felt it coming” stated Magma.

“Um… I’m going to go find the kids” said Dani looking at Amara. They both had mentorship over two of the student squads of the school.

“Hang on Dani” said Amara placing her hand on Dani’s shoulder as she went to go out the door “Let’s see what has actually happened before we go rushing off”

“Ok, but then I’m finding the kids. God knows what that blast has done to them”

“Uh … Dani. It’s probably not the blast that should be worrying you” said Everett staring out the window.

“What do you mean?” she asked as she came to stand alongside him.