Professor Xavier looked up as he at last heard a knock at the door, followed by the turning of the heavy brass knob and shrill squeak of the hinges. Jean entered the massive chamber.
"Professor? Are you here? I'm sorry I'm late, I…"
Xavier appeared from a side hallway, pressing a button on his metal chair and gliding soundlessly towards her.
"Do not worry, Jean, I understand completely, I'm just glad you're here now. I'm in great need of your opinion as to what to do about Scott, and I thought there was none better to ask than you."
As he spoke, Xavier led Jean to his bedchamber, where Scott lay on the bed, surrounded in a soft red haze.
"As far as I can see, Jean, we have two possible courses of action. First, we can let him awake as he is now. However, after peering deeply into his thoughts I've concluded he is filled with far too much hate and rage to remain an X-men at this point, so from there the only possibility I can think of is to permanently banish him from the team, and the mansion…."
He paused and looked up, surprised as Jean began to massage his neck and shoulders. She smiled down at him sweetly, her full, pink lips curling in a way that wasn't entirely innocent. He felt his jaw drop limply in shock as he felt her mind begin to caress his own. Gathering up all the strength he could muster, he tried to block her from his mind, but either he was too weak, or she had just become too powerful.
"..Then.. umm… there is our second option…"
For the first time in countless years, Xavier was at a loss for words. The thoughts that had been so clear only a moment ago were now tinged in a rose haze.
"The second option, which is to… "
He found the sentence and the thought cut off completely as one long, slender finger pressed itself against his lips, and Jean made a soft, "shhhh" sound.
"Professor, please… try not to worry yourself with such utterly useless problems as this when there are much more… urgent matters… that require your attention…"
Taking his hand in hers, she placed it on her chest above her swiftly beating heart. It lingered there for a minute, absorbing the heat and softness of her skin, before she again moved his hand, placing it on the ample curve of one full breast. Xavier's eyes shot swiftly up to hers, the vituperative words dying on his tongue as he saw the hungry, vulnerable look in tear glazed eyes.
"Oh Jean… what has happened to us…."
Jean slipped into Xavier's lap, her hands gently stroking his face and chest as her mouth descended upon his…
Remy sighed heavily as he at last stepped beneath the hot, pulsing spray of water. For a long time he stood, eyes clenched tightly shut as he let the thick layers of dried blood dissolve from his skin and hair. Only after he was certain all visual reminders of the events of the day were gone did he open his eyes and reach for the bottle of French imported Cinnamon shampoo he usually kept on the shelf outside the curtain. Instead, he found himself staring blankly at a lone bottle of Pert Plus two in one, Shampoo and Conditioner.
"Merde.. completely forgot dis aint my bathroom. But honestly… Pert Plus? No wonder Wolvie's hair always stick straight up…"
Remy mumbled to himself as he gingerly picked up the bottle of shampoo and proceeded to viciously scrub his hair and scalp with the thick, soapy substance. Tilting his head back, he let the last traces of battle slip down the drain with the bubbles. Standing there beneath the warm, hypnotic pulse of water, his body began to completely relax; tense muscles going limp as complete exhaustion overwhelmed him. He felt the dreamy whirl of sleep begin to pull at his mind, impossible to resist and slowly drawing him into surrender. His body slumped against the slippery tile wall, eyes drooping shut in sleep when a blast of previously undetected emotions suddenly hit him with the equivalent force of a metal pipe to the back of his skull. His entire body tensed immediately and his eyes flew open, the gentle intake of breath catching in his lungs and nearly choking him. Too startled to really consider who these feelings might belong to, or even realize he'd left the door open to begin with, he threw back the shower curtain, standing absolutely naked and poised for battle. Remy wasn't at all sure what he had expected to find on the opposite side of the curtain, but it certainly wasn't HER. At first, he wanted to just pull the curtain back shut and pretend it was all a dream, but then it hit him. Fear. Terror even. He felt it more strongly than anything he'd ever felt in his life; even more strongly than his own racing heart. Her face and eyes betrayed nothing of it, but he felt it; he knew. Reaching for a towel, he stepped blindly from the shower, completely forgetting the spray of water behind him. Grasping the towel limply at his waist, he stepped closer to the girl, staring down at her as if he might be able to read her thoughts if he tried hard enough. Lifetimes came and went as they tried to guess what the other might be thinking. Meanwhile the rug outside the shower was becoming saturated with the misguided spray of the shower, and the dripping moisture from Remy's own body. Slowly, he raised his free hand, bringing it closer to her face, closer and closer. He could feel the heat of her skin, even as her body turned to stone. The tips of his fingers could almost imagine the feel of that skin, and the pull at his very life force that would come with it. Abruptly he jumped, pulling sharply away as the intercom buzzed with Storm's frantic voice.
"Remy, please, you are urgently needed in the med-lab. Please.. hurry!"
In the background could be heard the metallic echoes of medical instruments hitting the floor, a loud crash, a deep threatening growl. Even as the sounds were still registering in his brain, Remy pushed the girl aside and ran out the door, sprinting down the hall and to the elevator. His mind was whirling so quickly he did not even realize he was still dripping wet and naked until he reached the elevator. Grasping the flimsy towel held precariously over his groin, Remy began swiping at chest, arms, and legs as the small box quickly began dropping, one floor after another. As the metal doors opened he rushed out, knocking over Bobby in the process and nearly slipping on the smooth, cold tiles of the floor. He threw open the med-lab doors and threw open the door to the small, sterile room he knew contained Logan.
Once inside, he found a most peculiar sight, one that he would have been forced to laugh at under different conditions. Logan stood atop the exam table, the medical gown ripped and splattered with blood, most likely his own. Storm, in turn, stood firmly and regal as ever, hands on her hips, glaring at the wild man. As he opened the door both turned, staring at him.
Logan squinted at the bright intrusion of light, trying to identify the form in the entrance of the cave. Sniffing the air, he realized… it was the pup. Dropping down to a crouch he made to leap for him and drag him back into the cave, this time certain not to loose him again. His muscles were already coiling when the white haired female stepped in his path, blocking him from his prize. Growling deep in his throat, his warned her to move, but she did not. Her scent spoke of challenge. The thick, metal claws shot immediately from his knuckles, and he barred his teeth, preparing to draw blood if he must.
"Stormy… back away real slow… please. Y..your in his way."
"Brother, I am under strict orders not let him leave the med-lab under any.."
Remy looked urgently back and forth between the two, his heart nearly stopping as Logan's body coiled to pounce.
"Stormy it aint out he wants, its me, now please move.. pleaseee"
Storm heistated a moment out of shock, but when Logan made to swipe at her she quickly retreated to the small door where Remy stood.
"Remy, please, I am not sure it is the best idea to leave you…."
Remy winked at her and shooed her out the door.
"We be find, Stormy. You know we will… he won't hurt me. T'anks for de petite break, but now it be time for you ta go get some rest."
And with that, he closed the door, plunging the room back into darkness.
"Jubilation, I must confess, if it had not been for your blatant disobedience of my direct medical orders, I can but only imagine the misery of which these past hours would have consisted."
Hank smiled warmly at the girl sitting beside him. Her own smile beamed back up at him as she took one enormous, blue furred hand in both of hers.
"My thoughts exactly, Hank. My thoughts exactly…."
She trailed off somewhat dazedly as she watched beams of light from a full moon dance across the tiled counter. So strange to think only a matter of hours ago she had been so filled with pain she could hardly think straight. How long ago had that been? 2…3 hours? Maybe 4. Never had she imagined her trip downstairs for a glass of juice and a stolen Twinkie to end like this. Looking up, she found a pair of impossibly beautiful, dark eyes gazing back, and suddenly it hit her. For the first time in as long as she could remember, the glasses were gone. There was something else different too though. Along with the glasses had gone the distant, clinical look that always lurked there. It seemed almost as if he was really seeing her for the first time, not as a child, or teammate, or friend… but as a woman. Hank lifted the other warm, furred hand and stroked it tenderly through her hair and down her back. The breath in her throat caught sharply and she felt tears welling in her eyes.
Huge, blue furred arms seemed to swallow her small frame as Hank pulled her into a bear hug.
Leaping down from the strange, hard nest, Logan approached the pup, sniffing the air apprehensively. A strange scent lingered around the pup, but it was him, and Logan could barely contain the joy and relief in his heart. Snorting and nipping gently, he herded the pup back to the nest, annoyed by the odd smell masking the pup's sweet, natural scent and set on cleansing him of it immediately. The pup moved slowly, too slowly and Logan nudged his thigh with his own snout as the pup climbed into the nest, trying to hurry him along. He laughed as the pup yipped and scrambled up as fast as he could, growling softly at Logan.
Remy had been relieved he had arrived in time and ended a standoff that would most likely have ended in bloodshed. He'd felt so relieved in fact, he had not struggled or pulled away when Logan began to sniff him and nudge him towards the medical bed, he had even begun to climb in on his own, until he felt Logan's rough, unshaved cheek against his bare thigh. As quickly as that, the sense of relief and security was gone, and it suddenly hit him that he might not be as safe as he thought. Looking at the feral man before him, Remy suddenly realized that being closed all alone in a dark room with Logan, he might very easily become a new kind of prey.
Logan stared questioningly at the pup, now crouched on the far side of the nest against a wall and growling pathetically at him. Usually such an act that compromised his complete dominance would have infuriated him, but the pup stunk of absolute terror, and was beginning to shake. Fear was not what he had intended, and Logan knew from experience that it was no way to win the pup as his mate. Slowly, he crawled forward, crouching down so as not to scare the pup any further.
Remy huddled in the far corner, on the very edge of the exam table where it backed up against a wall. At first, he tried to reason with the wolf man moving steadily toward him, eventually resorting to growling in hopes Logan's animal side would get the message. However, Logan only proceeded to climb onto the bed, crawling closer and closer. Remy began to panic.
Logan froze as the pup began to whimper, shaking as if he were caught in a trap. Instinctively Logan reached forward to calm the frightened young male, but somehow this only made things worse, as the pup tumbled from the nest onto the cold, hard floor of the cave, the white material around his waist falling away, leaving the pup bare and frightened. The whimpering got louder. Confused, worried, and slightly frustrated, Logan jumped down from the nest as well, approaching the pup, who had begun to cry. Wrapping one paw around his waist and gently biting into his scruff, Logan lifted the shivering pup into the nest, pulling the covers up with his teeth and curling his own body around the long, lean form beside him. Slowly, the shivering stopped, and the pup's swift, shallow breaths calmed with sleep. Tenderly, Logan began licking the pup's face and fur, replacing the foreign scent with his own.
She wasn't sure exactly when he'd pulled her up out of her chair and into his lap, but Jubilee found herself safely cradled there as Hank rocked her back and forth. She also wasn't sure just how long she'd been crying, but the fur beneath her face was very wet. Jubilee looked up from the mass of blue fur her face was buried in, hugging Hank tighter. That got his attention, and he smiled down at her, opening his mouth to make some intelligent, witty remark or another. Jubilee was too quick though, tangling her fingers in the fur on his head and pulling him down to press a very soft, chaste kiss to his lips before the words even had a chance. Hanks eyes shot wide open with shock, and his jaw hung slightly as she pulled away to look at him. She was just about to lean in for another kiss when first one scream, then another echoed down the halls, and a series of small explosions shook the entire house. Hank snapped from his stupor immediately, replacing Jubilee to her former seat and dashing out of the kitchen calling over his shoulder..
"I'm afraid we'll have to continue this little chat another time, my dear… please forgive my hasty exit…"
Hank's warmth still echoed through her, but the screams made her blood run cold. The strange paradox of feelings briefly froze her on the spot, until she heard another scream, this one coming from the med-lab. Unconscious of the pain in her ankle, Jubilee was on her feet instantly and hobbling as fast as possible to the lab.
Hank was not entirely certain of the precise origin of the screams, but he ran in the general direction as quickly as he could. He stepped out of the elevator onto the second floor, looking around in the darkness, uncertain of where to go next when Ororo sped around the corner.
"Henry! Thank the Goddess, please… you must hurry… I fear we may already be too late…"
Storm's usual grace and composure were gone. Her voice was frantic and tears streamed unchecked down her face as she ran back the way she had come, leading Hank to the private chambers of Charles Xavier. Stepping carefully into the pitch dark room, he followed the faint glow of red light pouring down the hallway. He'd almost forgotten Storm was there altogether, until she grabbed hold of his hand to lead the way. As they entered the bedchamber, Hank froze, unable to think or move or even breathe. Ororo burst once more into tears, slumping against the wall before crumpling to the floor. Hank tried hard not to throw up.
Jubilee pushed the door to the med-lab open. A sickening silence hung in the air. The only sound was the ever present hum of various machines and computers, eternally performing strange tests and calculations. She stood, staring at the plain white door that led to the room Hank had assigned to Logan. Her hand rested on the doorknob. Afraid of what she'd find if she turned the brass orb in her hand, but equally scared of what might happen if she didn't. A shrill, broken howl broke the spell of silence and Jubilee pushed open the door, staring into the hot, dark room. Her presence was met by a weak, pathetic growl.
Somewhere in Xavier's room, Hank could hear breathing. The knowledge that somewhere within the haze of smoke and dust Charles Xavier still lived, the hope that he might not be too late after all, spurred him into action. Rushing forward into the room, he followed the slight sound of breathing, lifting shards of splintered oak that had once been furniture. The floor beneath his feet began to groan loudly in protest. Carefully he moved from the weak spot in the floor.
"Storm, I greatly need your assistance. I fear that as a result of the explosions the floor and other structures necessary to the stability of this room have been severely weakened and will not hold up for very much longer. It is of absolute necessity that we remove the professor immediately and evacuate this wing of the mansion."
Storm stared blankly at Hank for a moment before getting shakily to her feet and using her powers of the winds to gently lift herself from the ground so as not to put any additional weight on the floor.
"Thank you Storm. Please, remain strong. Everything will be alright, just help me locate the Professor."
"Hank… its not just the Professor…"
Storm lifted a large twisted mass of wood that had once been the bed, falling back with a scream when she saw what lay beneath it. Turning abruptly Hank saw the cause of Storm's anguish, for laying prone amongst the wreckage, was the burnt and bleeding body of their former leader; Scott.
Hank dropped to the floor beside the body, checking for breath, a pulse, any possible sign of life, but there was none. Hank looked to Storm with abject terror.