Scott and Jean-Paul had agreed to meet in Manhattan, at the 92nd Street Y, where the crime scene investigation was ongoing. Although Scott was traveling only a few miles and Jean-Paul over two thousand, it was Northstar who arrived first.
That was no surprise. Jean-Paul had wasted no time. He’d coached Wendy on what to say to Ezra, “Tell him Papa and Daddy are working. He knows ‘work’ is something that makes you go away, but you always come back” – a catch in his voice at the end. That was it and he left. Mutant gifts of flight and super speed meant he was arriving while Scott and Logan were still getting onto the highway.
It wasn’t until Jean-Paul arrived that it occurred to him he should have taken a few more minutes to think about what to bring with him and what to say once he got there. He hadn’t thought coherently about anything, really, his brain taken over by fear. He’d landed right on 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, instead of trying for some out-of-the-way spot as he usually did.
Jean-Paul was shaking with fear as he touched the sidewalk. Probably with cold, too, as he had no coat or hat, but he was supremely unaware of the elements. As oblivious to the gasps and stares of passersby unused to seeing a flying mutant as he was to the weather, Jean-Paul walked into the lobby of the 92nd Street Y. It was a place he’d been to numerous times before, with Adam for lectures and with Ezra for children’s concerts. The security station was there in the lobby as he remembered it, but the usual guards had been replaced by men in the blue uniforms of the NYPD. One of the cops asked him for ID.
Still in the torn jeans and Canadiens jersey he’d been wearing to do repairs around the outpost, Jean-Paul had no wallet, no passport, no identification of any kind. Scott had called ahead to make sure the police on the scene were expecting Northstar, but they knew nothing about him other than his name, his X-Men code name, and the fact that he was Adam’s spouse.
There still mightn’t have been a problem if Jean-Paul had thought the situation through and dealt with it calmly. He could have asked the cops to call Cyclops en route, and had Scott talk to him and then vouch for him, or even had the cops take his picture and send it to Scott’s cell phone, if they wanted to be sure. Or Jean-Paul could have offered information to verify his identity or even asked them what he could do to prove his identity.
He didn't do any of that, at least not at first, when the officer asked for identification. Instead he became belligerent, a belligerence that got the cops’ backs up, as well. Worry bordering on panic about Adam, and the strong feeling that he himself was better equipped to deal with Sacred Honor than either the NYPD or the FBI, made Jean-Paul short-tempered.
“Merde!” he yelled, after the third attempt to assure them he was who he said he was. “My partner could by dying while you’re delaying. I’ve told you enough to make clear that I’m not just some guy off the street. What do I need to tell you about Adam to prove that I’m his lover?”
“Calm down, buddy. We just got here. It don’t matter what you tell us – we don’t know anything about that guy except he was snatched from the panel tonight. You can tell us anything from his favorite breakfast cereal to the size of his dick and it’s not gonna prove anything. We’ve got orders to let in a Jean-Paul Beaubier, code name Northstar” – derisive air quotation marks making clear what New York’s Finest thinks of code names – “and as soon as you show me some ID that proves you’re him I let you in. So far you ain’t shown nothing.”
“I don’t have anything. I came here as soon as I was told my partner was kidnapped.”
“Yeah, from somewhere in Canada. It just happened a couple of hours ago. You want us to believe you got all this way in that time?”
“I’m a mutant! I can fly!” he yelled, rising into the air in demonstration. “And at super speed.”
The cops looked at him, open-mouthed. Jean-Paul descended and the cop who had been speaking to him collected himself and continued. “Okay, you’re a mutant. I’m telling you, I’ve got my orders. I don’t know nothing but what they told me.”
“So stop this bullshit and let me talk to someone who does know something.”
Jean-Paul’s last outburst didn’t persuade the cops at the entrance, but it was loud enough to carry into the conference room just behind the security desk, where the witnesses were being held. Miriam Greenfield – all 4’11” and 110 pounds of her – pushed her way past the cop at the conference room door before he knew what was happening. “Jean-Paul!” she yelled, tears streaming down her face, and then her arms were around him and she was sobbing into his chest.
“It will be okay, Miriam,” he told her, holding her close, his aspect changing instantly from angry to soothing. “We’ll get him back. I swear to you I won’t let them hurt him.” And then to the cops, “This is my mother-in-law. Do you want to check with your colleague at the conference room door that she is who I say? Or can you just let her vouch for me?”
“They won’t let you in?” Miriam’s indignation overwhelmed her fear for Adam’s safety, at least for the moment. As she turned to the men in uniform to give them a piece of her mind, there was a knock at the front door. Through the glass doors, Jean-Paul saw Scott, in an X-Man uniform and with his visor on, being let in by one of the cops.
Cyclops strode over to where Northstar and Adam’s mother were standing and introduced himself to the police officers. Whether it was because of the credentials Scott flashed, his commanding manner, or some combination of the two, it was clear that Scott was instantly in charge.
"I need to speak to the FBI agents immediately," he told the cops, who meekly nodded assent. "They should be expecting me. Agent Kline called ahead."
"They're in one of the offices in the back. I'll take you there." It was the same cop who had told Jean-Paul to calm down.
"Northstar will accompany me," Scott said in a tone that made clear he expected no disagreement. Jean-Paul walked past the cops to Scott's side. Miriam began to follow him. "Miriam," Scott added, "Can you stay here and identify Logan for the officers? He's parking the car and I don't want him to have any trouble getting in when he arrives." She nodded. "Thanks," he said, adding "It's going to be okay. We'll get him back."
She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. “I know you will.”
The policeman escorted Cyclops and Northstar through a corridor and knocked on an office door. A voice inside said, "Come in" and the two of them entered, the uniformed officer heading back. There were two men in suits in the office, one behind a desk and on a phone, the other seated off to the side, with a laptop in front of him. They gestured to Jean-Paul and Scott to sit down in the chairs in front of the desk. The one on the phone said "With you in a moment" and went back to his call. The guy in front of the laptop tapped keys intermittently.
"Good you thought of having Miriam identify Logan," Jean-Paul whispered to Scott, not wanting to interrupt the work of the G-Men. "I had a hell of a time getting in."
"Oh I didn't really need her to do that. I gave them Logan's picture and fingerprints when I arrived. Yours, too. Not in time in your case - sorry." He paused and looked at the G-Men, verifying they were still busy. "I just wanted to keep Miriam occupied while we're being briefed. If I hadn't she would have insisted on sitting in on this. She lived through Adam being kidnapped - I don't think it's good for her to hear about it all over again right now. Plus I don't want to be worrying about protecting her feelings while we're working." He stopped, realizing the implications of what he'd said. "I'm not forgetting what this is like for you, you know that, right? It's just that you're used to it and she's not."
Jean-Paul shrugged. "I don't think I am used to it. I'm not partnered with a combatant. I can barely stand to sit here and wait when they've got him. I didn't expect..."
"I know. No one could have anticipated this. Look, I’m someone who is partnered with a combatant, who always has been. So listen to me. Here’s what we need to do. This is how we get him out safely: we pay close attention during this briefing; we think; we plan; we act. What we don’t do is feel. You listen to what the G-Men and the cops and the witnesses say; you work with me on the plan and then you follow my orders. You behave just like you would on any other mission. We execute the plan and get him out of there and home safely. Then – and only then – do you get to feel."
"You okay?" Arthur hugged his wife as he said it.
She pulled back and nodded. They sat down side by side on the couch. "Yeah, for now. At least I managed to get through telling Ezra where his papa went, without really telling him anything." She looked around. "We'd better be careful what we say in front of April, too. Little pitchers and all that.”
“I wish we knew more."
"Yeah, me too. Did you get hold of anyone at Xavier's?"
He nodded. "I talked to Rogue while you were with the kids. She’ll make sure someone calls us with updates as they get them there.”
"But she couldn't tell you anything now?"
"No, she doesn't know much more than what's on the news. NYPD and FBI are on-site. Homeland Security’s en route. Martin Kline, the X-Men’s FBI liaison, called Scott and he and Logan met Jean-Paul at the Y. The witnesses’ statements have all been taken. Sacred Honor is claiming responsibility.”
“But it can’t be Sacred Honor. They’re all dead!”
“Yeah, that’s what it said on the news, too. That ‘domestic terrorist group Sacred Honor’ had all died in a ‘mass suicide’ but an NYPD spokesman said a note left at the scene claimed they were responsible for the kidnapping.”
“It wasn’t mass suicide.”
“Well, we know that,” Arthur replied, “but that’s the official story – that they unleashed all their bioterrorism agents on themselves, after they were found out. Like a twenty first century Jonestown. So they’re speculating on the news that some of them declined to drink the koolaid, so to speak, and escaped.”
“Do you think any of them could have gotten out?”
He shook his head. “No, not from how Scott described it at the mission post-mortem. Remember? That disease-causing mutant let go everything he had. No one could even go near the compound without lots of protective equipment when the National Guard went in afterwards. There were no survivors and no sign that anyone had gotten out in time. They checked all the hospitals in the area. Anyone who’d escaped would have needed medical attention.”
Wendy thought for a minute. “Well, then some of them must not have been in the compound at the time.”
“That’s possible. Or it’s a new group, patterning themselves after the old one. These ‘patriot’ militia groups all revere Sacred Honor. They were the most successful. They started a whole war.”
“I think a lot of them still believe that mutants started the war and Sacred Honor just took the fall. That’s the story Marley is giving out – that it wasn’t mass suicide, that the X-Men killed them before they could tell the truth about the mutant plot that started the war, and then planted the evidence that showed Sacred Honor was behind the whole thing.”
“Well, that’s crazy.”
“Of course it is, darling.” She patted his arm. “They were compulsive documenters and the X-Men turned over all the documentation to the Feds. Plus, Adam had infiltrated them years before, so there was a whole history to compare to. It’s like Holocaust denial. People believe what they want to believe.” They sat in silence for a minute.
“They must hate Adam more than anything, whoever they are,” Wendy said. “If not for him, nobody would have known what Sacred Honor was up to. The X-Men wouldn’t have been able to find all that proof." They both thought about that for a minute. "What are they going to do to Adam?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“I don’t know. I hope to God he’s still alive.”