There was a great deal of activity in Xavier's office, as the judge confered with the lawyers involved. Faxes came and went, phone calls were made and received. Logan sat in the tv room, with Francis sitting in his lap, resting his head on his shoulder. It was an uncomfortable position for Logan, but he put up with it. Francis was drained and exhausted, emotionally and physically. He stared at the tv, not really aware of what was on. Occasionally, he would close his eyes, in a light sleep, but would open them again when a lawyer passed through. He would watch the stranger, wide eyed, until he or she would disappear from sight.
Seated in a deep chair, next to the sofa was the boy's grandmother, looking every bit as spent as Francis. She watched him, and smiled at him. Logan was also aware that she was studying him as well. He could feel her eyes on him. She was trying to gauge who he was, what he was. She could see the attachment Francis had for the big man. She occasionally would try to make small talk, discussing the weather, the mansion, what Francis got for his birthday. When she spoke, the boy perked up a bit, chirping at her happily for a time, only to droop once more. Logan knew that despite what Xavier had said, there was a possibility that the boy would be turned over to the grandmother. He hoped, however, that she had seen how content and happy he was and just simply leave him be, and allow him to stay. As long as the boy was not returned to his mother, then he would accept the judge's decision.
Logan could feel the boy's heart beating rapidly. His breathing was steady but shallow. Not unlike he behaved when Logan first laid eyes on him. He had come very far in the preceding months, learning, making friends, discovering there were people in the world who cared about him, and were not out to hurt him. He glanced over at the boy's grandmother, who was still watching them.
She held up a finger in front of her lips. "He's asleep." She whispered. Logan simply nodded. "Poor thing is exhausted." She rose from her chair, and slid in next to them on the couch. "I can't believe how big he's gotten." Logan gave another nod. "I've been speaking to your boss, the headmaster?"
"Yes. I wanted to know a little more about how he's been fairing. He says that you two are nearly inseparable. He told me that my little guy really looks up to you. Thank you for taking such good care of him."
Logan chose not to say anything, and nodded once more.,
"I wasn't to certain about you when I first met you. I thoughtthat you were, if you'll pardon me for beng a bit blunt, a bit of a bastard. You do have a certain air about you."
"A lot of people think that."
"But I can honestly say that I have never seen Franky this close to anyone before. This Xavier told me that when Franky first came here, you were the only one who could even go near him, and talk to him. You put your life on the line for him. Can I ask you why?"
"Didn't want to see him get stomped."
"You just happened to be in the neighborhood?"
"Yeah, something like that."
She paused and looked away for a moment. Logan could tell there was something on her mind. She was searching for a way to put it into words. She looked back at him, her eyes moist.
"Do you know?"
"About.......about what happened?"
"And you know how it happened?"
"Does it matter? A propane tank went up. Had the same thing happen to me once." Logan was beginning to get uncomfortable now. The judge asking his questions, now these questions.
"No. That's what the officials said. Franky did it."
"He blew up the house. My daughter told me that he went crazy, and he set off the tank."
Logan glared at the woman. He knew what had happened, or at least he had an idea. He had seen what Francis could do. He could envision the same thing happening then too.
"Your daughter told you that, did she?"
"She told me she had disciplined him, and he went crazy and-"
"And you believed her? Do you think this kid could do anything like that?"
She recoiled at the tone in his voice. Although he was whispering, his intent was clear.
"No, I don't."
"Fine. End of discussion." He froze when Francis shifted a bit. He remembered what Francis had said when the judge asked him if he caused the explosion. He had said yes. Obviously, Stella had told the judge her little story as well. He closed his eyes for a moment, feeling his rage build. Something about that woman made his skin crawl. The boy's grandmother had said that her daughter had disciplined him. Something about that statement didn't sit right. Not right at all.
Logan opened his eyes when he felt Francis move once more. He lifted his head, looking around as if he didn't know where he was. It was a quick squeeze from Logan around his waist that woke him up completely.
"Did I miss anything? Was I asleep long? What time is it? Can I stay? Did Mr. Judge Hanson say I can stay?" Francis looked around and saw his grandmother sitting next to them on the couch. He smiled brightly at her. "Hi. What'cha doing?"
She reached up and brushed the hair from his forehead. "Nothing, sweetie. Just watching you sleep."
They all jumped when they heard a loud commotion coming from Xavier's office. Logan looked up to see Xavier rolling out the door, looking very concerned, and a bit angry. Logan did not need to hear what was going on, he already knew. Something had suddenly gone very wrong.
Xavier approached the couch. "Logan. I need to speak to you."
Francis too could see something was wrong. "What's wrong? You said everything was ok. You said the judge liked me. Tell me what's wrong." He was already tearing up.
"Francis, something came up. Logan, can you come with me, please?"
Logan barked his response. "No. You got something to say. Say it."
Xavier saw that Logan was serious. He didn't want to play games anymore. No more niceties. "Alright. It's about Francis' mother. It seems that another judge has ruled that the papers she signed giving up her parental rights are null and void. She was under duress, under the infuence of drugs and alcohol. The bottom line is that .........." He looked at Francis as his voice trailed off.
Logan was seething. "What the fuck are you talking about? You mean to tell me that she gets him back? No way. No fucking way. I ain't giving him back to that bitch."
Francis just sat, staring at the man in the wheel chair. His grandmother wept quietly next to him. Logan's rage was threatening to overcome him, and the way he felt at this very moment, he didn't care.
"Who was this judge who decided all this? That prick has no idea what's going on."
"You are correct, she doesn't. She merely ruled on the motions before her."
"Frank, sweetie?" They all spun to see a triumphant Stella standing behind them. "Come on sweetie. Did you hear? Mommy can take you home now. Wait until you see my apartment. It has a big room just for you."
Francis didn't really hear her. He looked sadly at Logan. "I want to stay here. Can I stay here? Can I ask that Judge man if I can stay?" His voice was oddly soft and delicate, with none of the excitedness he usually exhibited, even when frightened. Although no tears flowed down his cheeks, his eyes glistened with them. Logan felt a chill. He had seen the boy like this before. His eyes were unfocused, lifeless, and his body limp. When his mother again addressed him, he still did not acknowledge her.
"Sweetie? I can't wait to get you home. You'll even have your own tv. You can bring all your things with you."
Logan glared at the woman. With Francis still on his lap, he shouted at her. "This ain't done yet! He doesn't want to go with you! He wants to stay here. Why don't you crawl back under the rock you came from and just leave him alone?!"
Francis was very still. He began to mumble to himself, which frightened his grandmother and angered Logan further.
"Why can't I stay here? Why won't these people let me stay? I don't want to leave. I got homework to do. I have to play with Steph. She wants to come over and swim....."
Logan glanced at Xavier, who had his eyes closed, attempting to find out what was wrong with the boy, what was going on in his mind. His eyes suddenly snapped open, and Logan could see the concern and dread in his eyes. He knew Francis was in trouble, and he had to get him out of there, before someone got hurt. He stood, holding the boy close to him, and tried to leave the room.
"Where the hell are you going? Put my son down!"
"Get the fuck outta my way!" Logan tried to shove his way passed her, only to run into a wall of her attorneys, each chattering and threatening about kidnapping and lawsuits. Logan realized it may have been too late, as he could already smell ozone in the air, he could hear the air around him pop and hiss and the hair on his body stood up. He could feel the change happening in Francis as he continued to babble to himself.
Logan's attention was completely on the boy now. He could hear shouting. He could hear the boy's grandmother pleading with her daughter. He could hear Stella insult everyone. He could hear Xavier begging for calm. It was all too late. Only Logan noticed the aura appear around the boy. He could feel the energy surge through his body. Then, above the shouting and crying and the roaring in his ears, Logan could hear Stella's voice, clearly. "Sweetie? I even bought you a brand new kitten."
Francis suddenly changed. He squeezed his eyes shut, as if in terrible pain. Logan could feel the energy increase rapidly. The boy's eyes shot open, and as Logan backed away from everyone to protect them, he heard a scream erupt from deep inside the boy. It was an inhuman, primal, ear shattering scream, and all the arguing and shouting stopped. The only sound in the room was this scream, which carried to every corner of the mansion, echoeing and resonating in every hallway, every room, every person in it's path.
The flash of white that occured then was followed by a deadly silence, and Logan found himself once again the victim of the boy's power, flying through the air, and crashing through the plate glass window...................................................