Try as he might, Logan simply could not close the gap between him and the boy. He followed the boy's path, but it was becoming increasingly difficult, as the boy was able to slide between fence posts and in small gaps in hedge rows, which only served to slow Logan down. He began hacking away at obstacles, certain that the professor would not mind. Scott would, but right now, Logan could care less. Francis was running at top speed, and showed no sign of slowing down. Logan was running at his top speed as well, but it just wasn't fast enough. He tried calling to the boy.
"HEY, KID!! SLOW DOWN!! NO ONE IS GOING TO HURT YOU!! JUST STOP!!"
Francis did not appear to hear him. He tried once more, in a far more stern tone.
"GODDAMMIT!!! I SAID STOP!! I AIN'T IN THE MOOD TO PLAY TAG!! DID YOU HEAR ME?" Again, no sign that he was getting through.
Logan could see that the boy was heading toward a very tall, very thick hedge-row, separating the estate from the highway. If the kid would only get hung up in the underbrush, maybe Logan could catch up. He lowered his head, and ran as fast as he could. He lifted his head in time to see Francis dive head first into the hedge. He could hear the boy crashing through the bushes. As soon as he reached the bushes, he began to slice his way through. However, his wish that the kid would be slowed down was not answered. He could see movement ahead of him, and could see the boy made it through the hedge with little trouble.
He increased his thrashing of the hedge, but froze when he heard the deafening shriek of tires, and then a sickening thud. Francis had run out into the road, and did not see the car that struck him.
Inside the mansion, Xavier had been following Logan's progress. He gasped loudly. Judge Hanson, who had not left his side, was concerned. "What's wrong?"
Xavier ignored him. "Jean, Scott! Logan needs you. Out on the highway! Go!" Jean and Scott ran off, rushing out of the mansion.
The boy's grandmother approached the professor. "Is it Franky?" She covered her mouth with a trembling hand.
Xavier frowned and lowered his head. "Yes. He's been struck by a car out on the highway."
The grandmother fell to her knees. "Oh God, no." She collapsed to the floor, and Storm ran to comfort her.
Hanson leaned toward the professor, whispering. "Is it bad?"
"I don't know." He glared openly at Stella, who remained frozen against the wall. She now stepped forward, her voice a soft whisper.
"How do you know what happened out on the road? What are you? How did you know about that stupid cat?"
Xavier's voice was cold, unfeeling. "You don't even care if your son is alive or dead, do you?"
Judge Hanson stepped forward, stopping in front of the woman. "My decision has been made. I will see to it that you never see that boy for as long as you live. I will do everything in my power to see that you will be 'punished' for every sick twisted thing you did to him. I promise you that."
Again, her face was defiant. "The judge ruled that I am still his mother. You can't take that away from me."
The judge could barely control his rage. "Just you watch me."
Logan emerged from the undergrowth and approached the stopped car. The driver, an elderly women, was near panic, and in tears. "Oh God. I didn't see him! He just ran out into the road! I couldn't stop! Don't let him be dead! Oh sweet Jesus! I couldn't stop!" Logan ran passed her, and to the small boy sprawled on the side of the road. The impact had sent him flying about 30-40 feet up the road. He lay on his stomach, with his left arm under him. Logan could see the scrapes on his body, caused by sliding on the pavement. The boy was very still, but he was still breathing. The smell of blood choked Logan as he reached out to touch Francis on the back. He twitched and winced, and released a moan that made Logan cringe. His eyes fluttered open, and he immediately saw his friend leaning over him. He tried to move, but Logan stopped him.
He spoke gently, softly, and tried to keep the rain from falling on the boy. "Easy. Don't move. You'll be ok. Dr. Jean is on her way."
Francis stilled, and blinked away his pain. He took a pained breath and spoke. "I was flying."
Logan smiled down at the boy. "Well, now you know how I feel everytime you give me a zap, huh?"
Francis only weakly smiled, his lips bloody. Logan could hear the sound of an SUV approaching. He knew without looking, that it was Jean. He gently rubbed the boy's back as he heard the vehicle slide to a stop. Almost immediately, Jean knelt next to Francis, and wordlessly began to treat him. In time, sirens neared, and the police and rescue services arrived.
The paramedics attempted to move Logan out of the way, but were unsuccessful. "Sir, we need for you to move out of our way so we can treat your son."
Logan looked up and glared, growling his response. "No."
Jean eased the tension somewhat. "I'm Dr. Jean Grey, and this is the boy's guardian. I've stabilized him, and immobilized his left arm. Do you have a cervical collar? And we'll need a backboard as well."
As Jean carefully placed the collar on his neck, Francis winced and fixed his eyes on Logan. "It hurts." He squeezed his eyes shut, and tears dripped from their corners.
"I know, kid. But it needs to be done. It won't be for long, just until you get to the hospital."
The boy's eyes shot open. "Hospital? I don't wanna go. Can't you take me back to the school? I don't want to go!"
Both Jean and Logan tried to soothe the panicked child. Logan grabbed his good hand and squeezed it gently. "Don't tell me you don't want to go in the ambulance? I'll make 'em turn on the siren for you." He turned to the frustrated paramedics. "Right?" They jumped and agreed at once. Jean looked at Logan and smiled, and then addressed Francis.
"Personally, I think it's Logan who wants to take a ride in the ambulance, with the siren blaring. What do you think?"
Francis smiled weakly, and coughed out a pain filled giggle. "Uh huh," was all he could manage to say.
After straping the boy to a backboard, it was time to load him into the ambulance. At last, Logan allowed the paramedics access to him. He was placed on a stretcher, and loaded into the ambulance, with Logan following behind. One brave paramedic grabbed Logan by the arm. "I'm sorry sir, but you will.....have....to follow....behind......" Logan only glared, and growled once more, indicating he was indeed riding in the ambulance. The paramedic wisely backed down, but voiced his displeasure to the doctor. "This is against the rules. Only patients are allowed back there. He isn't even the boy's parent."
Dr. Grey had finished giving instructions to Scott, who drove off back toward the mansion. She too climbed into the back of the ambulance, but paused long enough to address the medic. "Screw the rules."
At the hospital, Francis cried as a nurse cut his clothing off. "Those are brand new. Please don't cut them." He also cried with pain, for as the items of clothing were removed, the extent of the scraping and bruising became painfully clear. His whole left side was discolored and swollen. His knees, elbows, and hip were badly scraped, and raw. His rib cage had already turned a deep reddish-purple. And it was obvious that his left arm was broken.
Logan stood by his side, holding his good hand. "Fercrissakes. We'll get you new clothes. They're all ripped up and bloody anyway."
Francis looked up into Logan's eyes, his own emerald green eyes shiny with tears. "I'm glad it wasn't my Yankee's jersey. That woulda sucked big time." He smiled, and kept his eyes locked on his friend and guardian.
Logan grinned as well. "Yeah, that sure woulda sucked." He glanced up at Jean, who was flitting about, barking orders at everyone. There was no argument, for she was the doctor in charge. Even the ER physician yielded to her. Logan had to admit, he had never really seen her in action before. Most of the time she was treating him, and he was more than likely out cold. She really was pretty good. She ordered IVs and blood work and respiratory therapy and X-rays. Of course, Logan was asked to leave the room during the x-ray, but was back at Francis' side as soon as it was done. In no time, the boy was assessed.
Jean walked to the boy's side, and wiped a stray hair from his forehead. "How you feel?"
"Oh, like shit, huh? I see." She shot a glare at Logan, who shrugged, and then continued. "Is the pain easing some?"
"A little. Did you give me a Tylenol shot?"
Jean laughed a little. "Oh, something better. You'll be much more comfortable in a bit. We have to take some more pictures though. But they won't hurt."
"Can Logan come with me?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Because...uh...well, we are going to be in a room with magnets." She leaned down to whisper in his ear. "And you know that Logan and magnets don't mix, right?"
Francis smiled, indicating he understood. "Oh, that's right."
As the nurse pushed the stretcher out of the room, Logan took Jean by the elbow. "So, you gonna say what's wrong?"
Jean put her hand on his shoulder. "He has a pretty bad fracture of his left arm, just above the elbow, three cracked ribs, and a slew of bumps and bruises. I can't be certain, but I think he'll be fine. I'm just getting an MRI to be sure, but I don't think he has any internal bleeding or damage. He was pretty lucky. The car must not have been going that fast when it hit him."
"It was going fast enough."
"Take it easy. He's breathing ok, he's still conscious, he's responding to commands. He'll be ok."
Logan looked into Jean's eyes, as a sort of silent thank you. He could see just outside the door that Scott had arrived. "Well, the vultures are here." Jean turned and Logan saw Scott smile at her. She looked back at Logan, and scolded him. "Will you stop? He's worried too." However, she could tell from the look in his eyes, that Logan already knew that, all too well.
They all sat in the waiting room, all except for Logan, who prowled the room like a caged animal. Everyone knew to leave him be. They chatted and comforted each other as they waited. The boy's grandmother sat stunned in a corner, with Storm chatting quietly with her. The professor, Rogue, Judge Hanson and Scott sat in a circle, discussing the day's occurences.
"So what do you think will happen to Stella now?" Scott asked as he sipped his coffee.
"I can't say for certain. First, she must be found. Then we'll deal with her." The judge looked relieved, and a little sad.
"How did she slip away?" Rogue leaned forward, her eyes on the pacing Logan.
The professor sighed. "With all the confusion after the accident, she just disappeared. The police have been informed, as have her attorneys, and the judge that made that poor decision. She has also been informed that information was withheld in the case she ruled on. Frankly, all hell is breaking loose over this."
"But the good news is that Francis will not be returned to her, ever again. But I am sorry that she knows about all of you." Hanson glanced at each of them in turn.
"Yes, well. This is not the first time we have been threatened, and it certainly won't be the last. We will deal with the problem, should it arise."
Judge Hanson smiled. "Oh, I know you will."
Just then Jean entered the room. She walked directly to Logan, and smiled. "You can go see him now, he's very drowsy, but the MRI showed-" She did not get the chance to finish her sentence. Logan flew out the door, and was gone in a flash. Jean smiled to herself as she approached the boy's grandmother. "He's fine. He's going to be very sore for a while, but aside from the broken arm and cracked ribs, we could find no other injuries. He's sedated, and will probably sleep the rest of the night, but if you want to go see him, that's fine."
The grandmother looked at the door the Logan had fled through. She spoke very softly. "It's ok. Let's give them some time alone."