Blood dripped from the counter like spilled milk. She turned in slow motion to see Wolverine, claws buried to the hilt in Sabretooth's chest and slicing downward. Storm hovered behind them, yelling something to her, but she couldn't hear over the roaring of blood and adrenaline in her ears. She turned back to the stainless steel counter; there was so much blood. Too much blood. She cast her eyes about the no-longer sterile lab for the source. Movement drew her gaze upward, and she found him dangling from a crossbeam, garroted and just this side of dead. She used her power to sever the nylon rope that held him suspended and float him down to her level. Where was it all coming from? She examined him as best she could amid the chaos of the attack and finally found a deep gash across his lower back.
There was a flash of red followed by a crash off to her right, then Cyclops was yelling at her to 'move! move! move!', but she couldn't leave him, not like this, not when she could save him. She could save him, couldn't she? She pushed doubt from her mind with a shake of her head; it would do no good here. Of course she could save him. She had to, she owed him that much.
She swept her gaze about the lab, seeing but not seeing Gambit run out of playing cards and reach for the glass beakers that had somehow escaped injury; Rogue flying up and out of reach of someone, then swooping back down to take a bullet in the shoulder; Iceman and Pyro in a standoff, their powers canceling each other out; Colossus with one hand around Toad's tongue and the other hand around his neck, lifting him off his feet. Her eyes found what she was searching for. She concentrated and the cabinet opened. As the battle raged on around her she sifted through the supplies with eerie calmness, looking for sutures and bandages. If she could close the wound, stop the bleeding, maybe he would live.
She floated the supplies across the room, dodging exploding sample vials and flying mutants and her own coppery fear. There was no time to be afraid; she had to save him.
She concentrated on the task at hand, forced herself to see him as just a faceless patient. The only way she could help him was to forget who he was, what he'd done for her, for all of them, because if she thought about that she'd break down screaming.
There was too much blood on the counter; too much blood on her hands, but she pressed bandages to the gaping wound anyway, denying what years of experience had taught her.
Her eyes searched the lab desperately for Beast - she needed him now - where was he? Her gaze locked with Pyro's over Iceman's shoulder before moving on, and in that brief moment, he sent a tongue of flame arcing her way. She threw herself flat, instinctively protecting her patient, and felt her hair singe as the fire passed over her and ignited the scattered papers and other debris on the counter behind her.
Time returned to normal speed, then accelerated, as Cyclops suddenly gripped her under her arms and pulled her to her feet, yelling in her ear and pushing her towards an exit. She dug her heels in and protested that she wasn't going to leave him, until Beast appeared from the acrid smoke rapidly filling the room and slung her patient over his shoulder and bounded towards safety.
She cast a fleeting look over her shoulder as they fled. The fire was spreading voraciously towards the oxygen tanks. She sent out a rapid mental warning to the others in the room, as Cyclops all but threw her into the hallway. Beast was already at the stairs on the other end of the hall and she managed a glance behind as they raced to meet him.
Several mutants tumbled out of the laboratory doors, but she was dragged into the stairwell before she could identify them. Cyclops shoved her up the stairs, and then disappeared back into the corridor. She had a moments hesitation before a mental headcount assured her that her teammates were relatively uninjured and on their way out.
She used her powers to literally fly after Beast, who was bounding up the stairs three at a time and vaulting the railing on the turns. Level after level she fought back hysteria until finally they emerged on the ground floor. Beast threw the door off its hinges and burst into the hall, slipping a bit on the perfectly waxed marble floor. He regained his footing as the first explosion rocked the lower levels.
They paused at the sound, at the low vibrations rattling the lead paned windows in the mahogany doors that separated the medical wing from the rest of the house. She knew the explosion would be contained to the sublevels, yet couldn't stop a shudder of apprehension. With the next rumbling blast Beast was on the move, down the hall towards the student infirmary. She followed close on his heels, opened the team link to let the others know where to regroup (and to reassure herself that everyone was safe), then focused on the man hanging limply over Beast's shoulder. He was fading; she knew there wasn't much time.
She flung open the doors to the sickbay with her telekinesis and dogged Beast inside. He rushed to the nearest flat surface and gingerly laid the man down. She barely noticed as Storm, Rogue and Gambit stumbled into the room, bloody but alive and upright. She moved past them towards the supply cabinet in a futile search for more gauze. Her mind knew what her heart desperately denied.
Colossus filled the doorway for a moment, supporting Iceman with an arm about his waist. They stopped short and stared wide-eyed and disbelieving at the man lying pale and unmoving on the cold examining table. She ignored them as she'd done the others, but in the back of her mind she noted Iceman's injuries for later evaluation.
She returned to her patient's side (she couldn't think of him as anything else just yet) with the gauze. Knowing it was useless but still feeling the need to do something to make the inevitable not happen. Cyclops herded a rather gory Wolverine into the med bay as she pressed her fingers to Charles' throat and held her breath to better feel the faint, fluttering pulse under his skin. At her touch, his eyelids struggled open and he tried to focus on her. He said her name - his voice barely more than a stirring of the air - and she leaned closer. His eyes rolled, found hers, and focused. There was a heart-stopping moment of vertigo as the room fell away, then quickly rebuilt itself as whatever tenuous hold he'd found slipped from his grasp.
She heard Scott come up behind her, knew it was him from the gentle stroke of his fingers at the base of her neck. She heard him speaking, but not what he said. She was afraid to look at Hank, afraid to take her eyes from the man who'd raised her for the second half of her life. She heard Ororo, Remy and Rogue gasp in turn and shift closer. From the corner of her eye she saw Piotr and Bobby shuffle towards the exam table. Logan moved next, with a slight shake of his body, like a dog throwing off water. She felt Scott take a deep breath and rest his head against her shoulder. Across from her, Hank sighed heavily and brought a hand up to cover his eyes.
Her own eyes burned with angry tears as she felt the connection she'd come to take for granted, come to hardly notice anymore, break and slip away with the last of his breath. With trembling fingers, she sought the watch on his wrist as the others held their breath around her.
Eight sixteen a.m.