Xavier"s voice conveyed his concern. "Francis is trying to protect Logan from Sabertooth. How soon can you get there?"
"We're almost there. Just a bit further." Scott turned to Jean and gave her a reassuring nod, and did not see the oncoming car until it was too late. He swerved to avoid the collision and the van slid into the trees, grinding to a stop against a pine tree.
Logan moaned in pain as Sabertooth pulled him back. He tried to struggle but he had no strength to do so. The pain was so intense in his back he could barely breathe. Sabertooth had hold of his hair. With the last bit of strength he had, he unsheathed his claws, ready to end it, one way or another.
He tried to focus his eyes, to see his assailant, when he was suddenly free. He heard his attacker grunt loudly, and heard him crash to the ground. He rolled over in time to see his son standing over Sabertooth, a wide grin on his face.
Sabertooth glared at the boy, who had apparently head butted him in the side. He suddenly wore a look of recognition, and smiled at the boy. Francis moved slowly between the giant and his father.
"Go on, Dad, get out of here. Toni is up the hill. She can help you out of here. I'll be ok." Francis set himself to defend his father.
Sabertooth slowly rose to his feet, rubbing his side. "Nice move. Sneak attack." He turned his head slightly to address Logan. "Remind you of someone?"
Logan could only grunt. "Fuck you!"
Francis looked at his father, then back at the giant towering over him. He slowly began to inch away, hoping to make the man follow him. "Come and get me, dickwad!"
Sabertooth winced. "Such language from a little one. You've been a bad influence Wolverine."
Logan watched his adopted son, and tried in vain to speak to him. "Get...out of...here kid! I...can...handle...this." He lowered his head to the ground, his eyes still firmly planted on his son. Sabertooth crept forward, and Francis continued to inch away, his full attention on the giant, a sly grin on his face.
Sabertooth suddenly lunged at the boy, and just as suddenly, found himself face down in the dirt. Logan looked on in shock as the giant roared and tried to sit up, his legs tangled together by what looked like a large metallic snake. It slithered off, and Logan gasped when it slowly transformed into Toni, looking terrified.
The giant roared again, and sprang to his feet. Francis took this opportunity to begin taunting him. "HAHA!!!! Another sneak attack! Aw, man, you suck at this, don't you? HAHAHA!! Knocked on your ass by a couple of kids!"
Logan could only look on in horror. "No! Kid...stay out of...this!" He knew what the kid was doing. He had seen it before. The kid knew he had the speed to dodge any attack, and the agility to stay just out of the way, but he was not dealing with two overweight bullies in the Canadian Rockies, this was Sabertooth, and he possessed speed and agility as well. However, his taunts were having an effect, as the giant roared and trembled in his anger. He was no longer composed. He was now just plain dangerous. "Kid! Get...out...of here!"
Scott rubbed the bump on his head as he inspected the damage to the van. Jean and Rogue stood at his side, and Storm walked around the side of the van, rubbing her sore arm. From inside, they could hear the professor's voice, calling from the radio. "SCOTT? JEAN? ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"
Jean leaned in, and took the microphone. "Yes, we're fine. But we'll have to continue on foot. What's happening? Is Francis alright?"
"Yes, for the moment, but please hurry."
The team gathered themselves, and took off into the woods.
As Francis had intended, Sabertooth was stalking him, and had completely forgotten about Logan. The two inched away, and Toni took the opportunity to creep over to where Logan was. "Come on, I'll help you to the bike," she whispered. She tugged at his arm, and he winced and groaned, and rolled over on his back, wincing once again. "We have to get out of here."
"Can't..leave...the kid alone."
"He'll be ok. He's doing fine." She once again tugged at Logan's arm.
He pulled away sharply. "You...don't understand...the kid...can't..." He tried to get to his feet, glancing at the retreating twosome. He could hear the boy's taunts.
"God Damn, you stink. Ever heard of a bath? They invented this thing called soap especially for people like you. You really should try it."
Sabertooth growled at the boy, and in a flash, lunged at him. Francis bolted into the woods, with Sabertooth in pursuit.
Logan struggled to his feet. "NO!!" He stumbled and fell once again, and Toni ran to him.
"Please, we have to get out of here. You're hurt, you need help." Toni's eyes showed her fright, and she trembled with fear.
"I...can't...I have to...help him...he's...in danger." He once again crawled to his feet, and began to stagger in the direction his son had taken. Toni ran in front of him, blocking his way. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a gash on Logan's cheek slowly begin to fade. "Get out...of my way...stay here...wait for the others...they'll be here...just stay out of this." He pushed her out of the way, and disappeared into the woods.
She stood, sobbing in the dark, alone. Her mind was clouded with the image of the slowly fading gash. Francis had often bragged that his father was able to do amazing things, but until she had seen it with her own eyes, she just thought it was the boy's vivid imagination. Now she knew it was not.
The team approached the abandoned dirt bike. Scott scanned the woods. "They can't be far. Jean, can you pick up anything?"
Jean stood very still, and closed her eyes. "This way." She ran in the direction the children had run, with her team mates close behind.
Toni shivered in the cool damp night air, unsure what to do. She looked around, and saw nothing but shadows, shadows she imagined were moving, closing in on her. She sank to her knees and sobbed, her hands over her eyes, protecting herself from the imagined threats that surrounded her.
She then heard a distant sound. Someone or something was crashing through the woods. She did the only thing she could, and her body melted into a pool of ooze, and slid under a fallen tree to hide.
The team slowed when Jean suddenly stopped, looking around in a panic. Scott slowly approached her.
"What is it?" He gently touched her arm.
She scanned the immediate area for movement. "Toni? Can you hear me? It's Jean. You can come out, it's alright. We're here." She stood very still and watched, and the others took their cue from her.
They heard a faint sound, and focused their attention on the fallen tree. With wide eyes, and a wave of relief, they saw Toni's shape reform before their eyes. She looked exhausted and petrified, and she ran to Jean and dove into her waiting arms, sobbing uncontrollably.
Jean comforted her, but there was still unfinished business that needed attention. "It's over Toni. You're safe now. Where are Francis and Logan? Where did they go?"
Toni looked up into Jean's eyes. "I don't know. They just ran off. That big guy was chasing Franky, and Mr. Logan went off after them."
"I...I don't know. That way...I think." She pointed behind her, up a small rise.
Scott looked off in the direction she indicated. "Ok, let's go. Rogue, you take Toni back to the van and wait for the professor to come and get you. Tell him what's going on. Let's go."
Rogue began to protest. "Hey, I'm going with you."
A sharp stern look from Jean made her back down immediately. "Someone needs to take care of her. We'll take care of everything else, don't worry." Jean released Toni, and followed behind Scott and Storm, leaving Toni and Rogue behind.