Wolf Among Birds by paxnirvana Format for use with submitting fanfic.
Wolf Among Birds
by paxnirvana

Rating: R

Author's Note: Movieverse. Rating for near-sex and Logan's bad language.

Disclaimer: Not mine, they're Marvels. I make nothin' off this, nor do I want to. It's all in good fun, guys.

* * * * *

In the light chill of the late summer evening, the man leaned against the sun-heated stone of the school's walls, watching the stars with jaded eyes. Further north they were brighter, harder, clearer. Here their pitiless light was muted and subdued by the trappings of civilization. Subdued. At the thought, he sucked hard on his cigar, taking the heavy smoke deep into his lungs defiantly. Without a cough, he released the smoke and his breath back into the night, scenting the air. The burning in his lungs faded as his mutant metabolism healed the damage the smoke caused almost as it happened. His lips curled in a wry smile as he lowered the cigar.

Smoking. Fighting. Driving fast. Risks all, but he courted them. Pain was his old friend, only death was still a stranger.

"I suppose I should be grateful that you're smoking outside the building now," a woman's quiet voice said from the darkness. He had heard someone approaching, but their scent had been obscured by the cigar smoke. He grinned wolfishly into the darkness. Jean. And she was minus the jerk.

"You should try it some time, Red," he said gruffly. "Quite a rush."

"No, thank you, Logan," she said formally, her prim tone stirring his devilish nature. "I prefer my lungs in their original condition."

"Your lungs look fine to me," he said, leering at her in the darkness. The starlight had illuminated her at last, as she stepped away from the overhanging bushes beside the path. She was wearing some kind of thin wrap over a sleek, practical one-piece swimsuit. She looked impossibly elegant and breath-stealingly beautiful, even with her wet hair wrapped in a towel.

"Crass, Logan," she said in a reproving tone. "Not everyone has the advantage of a healing ability like your own." Like a doctor lecturing a student. Which she was. A doctor that is. Brains as well as beauty. Maybe that was why he wanted her so bad. He dropped the cigar in the dirt next to the path, crushing it out firmly under his booted foot to ensure it didn't smolder. He wanted to catch her scent - to smell her skin, even if its normal perfume would be obscured by the chemicals from the pool.

She had watched him extinguish the cigar, and obviously thought he had done it for her, for she gave him a slightly warmer smile when he looked up at her again. But when he stepped closer to her, the smile faded. Her hand tightened where it held the loose cotton wrap together at her throat, but she didn't back away. That was just one of the many things he liked about her; she had guts.

"What do you see in him, Red?" he asked. She watched him gravely.

"Scott and I have been through a great deal together, Logan," she said. "And we grew up together here at the school. He is my friend as well as my lover." He growled involuntarily at the word, his head lifting sharply as he glared at her. She met his glare calmly, her dark gaze remote.

"He's a two-by-four, Red," he snarled. "The Prof's got more life in him."

"That's your opinion, Logan," she said. "Scott has great responsibility here and the Professor. . . "

"Yeah, team," Logan interrupted her shortly, his tone mocking. "You could do better, Red."

"And I suppose you consider yourself to be the 'better'?" she said calmly enough, but her eyes were snapping with the temper he knew she fought constantly. It was something he sensed in her, that kindred spirit, that wildness lurking just under the smooth fa├žade. But her mutant ability demanded constant control. Just once, he'd like to see her cut loose. Preferably with him.

He shrugged, taking a half-step closer to her. "Your words, Red, not mine."

"That's close enough, Logan," she said, her frosty tone almost enough to deter him. But then he'd never been very good at taking orders. He could smell her now, fresh and rich and smooth, even under the lingering chlorine. And he could sense her heightened pulse, the faint increase in her breathing that indicated rising stress. His own pulse speeded up in response.

"Why? Makin' you nervous?"

"You are attempting to intimidate me, Logan," she said quietly, watching him from knowing eyes. "It won't work."

"Don't wanna intimidate you, Red," he said, stopping a bare inch from her shoulder. He had hemmed her in against the hedge - if she stepped way from him into the bushes to get away, she would be admitting his effect on her. He'd already assessed her pride in her self-control. So, as he expected, she stayed still in the shadows with him, close in his near-embrace, his chest nearly pressed against her. She turned her head toward him but did not look over. He watched her expressions from close up, savoring the dismay, the reluctant interest, the frustration that passed all-too briefly across her face.

"Logan," she said warningly.

"Gonna mind-zap me, Red?" he whispered huskily.

"It would serve you right," she said, then shook her head tightly. "That's a misuse of my abilities, besides, I have nothing to fear from you." Then she looked at him. They were not quite eye-level - she was wearing only flat sandals and he was wearing his heavy boots - but close enough that he could feel her startled breath puff against his chin. He caught her gaze as if it had been his goal all along.

"Don't you?" he whispered.

"You would never harm me," she said with quiet certainty, her eyes dark wells.

"No, I'd never harm you," he said, his voice nearly a purr now.

The tension was thick between them, like the searing moments before one of Ororo's lightning bolts struck. So lost in the instant were they, that even Logan didn't hear the quick, stealthy footsteps behind them.

"You look like the right one," an unfamiliar voice said suddenly behind them. "Big nasty guy with a hairy face. Uh-uh - that's you. 'Bye now!"

Jean's eyes widened in shock as she looked past his shoulder. In an instinctive protective move, Logan grabbed her arm. At almost the same time, he felt a small hand smack into his back. Light burst around them both.

"Teleporter!" Jean cried out as the night, the school grounds, and upstate New York disappeared around them.

* * * * *

In an instant, they were falling through darkness. Logan, tightening his grip on Jean, pulled her into his arms, twisting in mid-fall so that he was below her. If he landed on her, he thought grimly, his metal-laced body would crush her.

"Logan!" Jean's cry was filled with shock and fear.

The ground came up with a rush. About a fifteen foot fall, he guessed. Then they hit. Hard. His skull hit with a sickening crack and he went instantly limp.

Jean, dazed but unhurt, lay sprawled on top of Logan's inert body for a long moment. It was dark, wherever they were now, she noted. The impact had sounded like concrete or stone. Logan's heart beat steadily under her, reassuring her that he was still alive. The doctor in her screamed that he should be dead, that no one could survive such a fall unprotected. As he had just protected her. She had witnessed his incredible healing power first hand - when he punched his own claws through his chest to free himself from Magneto's trap at the top of the Statue of Liberty.

"Logan, are you all right?" she called. Under her, the big body shuddered once, then he stirred, groaned and swore. His mutant metabolism might heal him at miraculous speed, but it did nothing for his pain.

"Yeah," he said thickly. "You hurt?"

"No, I'm fine," she said, pushing away from him to climb to her feet. He let her go, wary now.

"Where the hell are we?" he asked, looking around into the darkness.

"I don't know," Jean said. "But I think we were teleported here. That girl. . ."

Logan rolled to his feet, crouching warily as he searched around them with his other senses for immediate danger. No light at all. But there were scents. Others had been there before them, recently, but there was no one around now. The place smelled chill and earthy, and their voices echoed as if they were underground. The floor was mortared stone.

"Great, another rampaging mutant. How far from the school could we be?"

"No way to tell," Jean said, her tone dry. "But I've never encountered a teleporter who could move our kind of mass much more than a few miles. This seemed planned somehow."

"I heard some kid," Logan agreed gruffly, embarrassed that someone had managed to get that close to him without his knowledge. "Somethin' hit me in the back."

"Most teleporters need contact of some kind," Jean said calmly in her best lecture-hall voice.

"Sounded like she was after me," he said.

"But we were in contact," she said, still in her teacher-voice. "That obviously transferred the effect to me as well."

It was his fault then, he realized. His fault she was stuck in here with him. She didn't say it but it loomed in the dark between them. "So, there was more to move than the little creep expected and we didn't go quite where they wanted us to?"

"Perhaps," Jean said, her teeth chattering. Logan realized then that she was just wearing a stupid thin covering over a damp bathing suit. And she had a wet towel wrapped around her head to boot.

"Shit," he said, shedding his leather jacket. "You're gonna freeze." He found her in the darkness with unerring accuracy. She flinched back when he touched her shoulder, but accepted the warm jacket he draped around her gratefully.

"Thank you," she said through her shivers.

"I'll be right back," he growled, anxious now for her sake. Hypothermia wasn't anything to screw around with. At least for someone without his mutation's advantage. He prowled away, testing the air, listening closely to the echoes. It wasn't a huge space. It was some kind of disused underground facility with a high ceiling and a heavy metal door that appeared to be barred from the outside. Cool, fresh air seeped in around the door, so they weren't too deep underground. He popped a single claw part way out, testing the door itself and the mortar around it. All solid. After listening carefully to make sure no one was outside waiting, he rattled the door experimentally. Very thick, very heavy. Very locked.

He went back to Jean's side. She had crouched down on the floor, huddling in his big jacket for warmth.

"No luck, Red," he huffed in disgust as he sank down beside her. "There's a door, but it's pretty solid. Locked from the outside."

"I don't sense anyone nearby either. Wherever we are, it's fairly remote," she said, shivering.

"Can the Prof find us with that helmet-thing of his?"

"Cerebro? Yes, he can eventually locate us with it, if this location isn't shielded in some way."

"'Eventually' sucks," he snapped, throwing himself on the ground next to her. "You're gonna freeze first. C'mere." He pulled her onto his lap, folding her long bare legs so that they rested on his jeans-clad ones, twisting the jacket so it covered her back and arms, and pressing her against his chest. The thin cover-up she wrapped across her legs. She was so chilled already that she didn't protest the familiarity, but simply burrowed against him, seeking his warmth.

"Ohh," she sighed. "Warm, you're so warm." He stripped the towel from her head, glad that her hair wasn't soaking, but it was entirely too damp for his peace of mind. More heat loss occurred through the head than anywhere else, he knew. He leaned forward momentarily, earning a protest from Jean, and stripped off his T-shirt. It wasn't much, but it was dry, so he wound it around her head, tucking her damp hair away from her skin. The towel he folded and used as a pad behind his own back, so he wouldn't be in direct contact with the cold stone wall - the damp towel was bad enough. She settled back down into his arms with a contented sigh, her head tucked under his chin trustingly.

She felt good in his arms. All soft, scented woman. And he fought his sudden response, knowing it was a losing battle.

"Can you light fires with that talent of yours?" he asked gruffly, trying to distract her from his growing arousal.

"No," she said softly. "Why, did you find something that might burn?"

"No," he admitted, shifting uncomfortably. Then he could think of nothing else to say that wouldn't stretch his control. Hell, just listening to her smooth, cultured voice was a turn-on. They sat in tense silence for a while. He was fighting the nearly overwhelming urge to toss her down on his jacket and warm her from the inside out. Fighting and losing. Maybe.

"It's alright you know," she said softly, in her doctor-voice. "It's a perfectly normal physiological response."

"Better you don't talk about it, Red," he said between clenched teeth. "M'control's hangin' by a thread."

She fell silent then, tightening her grip on the jacket covering her. He held her close, keeping her as warm as he could. Eventually she drifted into sleep, her hand relaxing and slipping down to clutch his biceps instead. The feel of her soft hand on his skin tormented him. He wanted her now more than ever, but something about the trusting way she curled into him, and the fearless words she had spoken earlier stopped him.

He would have to endure.

* * * * *

Most of the night had passed, and Logan estimated it was shortly after dawn. He had snatched a little sleep, but had spent most of the night awake and annoyed. A weak light filled the chamber, letting him see the shadowy walls, but little detail. Light meant a hole of some kind - maybe one he could widen.

"Time to wake up, princess," he whispered to the woman in his arms. Jean stirred softly, her hand snaking around his neck possessively, obviously used to sleeping with another person. The thought of who she usually woke beside churned his guts with anger.

"Umm," she said, burying her face under his jaw. Her breath on his skin, her small motions as she woke were tormenting him. He smothered a frustrated growl, clutched her tightly against him for a moment then shook her gently.

"C'mon, baby," he said gruffly. "I'll be happy to take you up on that offer after we get out of here."

"W-what?" Jean said, eyes snapping open. She sat up hastily, pulling her hands away from him and drawing his jacket tightly around her. His T-shirt had fallen from her hair the night before and her hair fell around her face in disheveled snarls. She climbed off his lap, shivering as the cool air touched skin that had been warmed against his body all night long. Logan climbed stiffly to his feet. She glanced at his bare chest then looked hastily away. He snatched his T-shirt off the floor, tugging it on over his head impatiently.

"There's a little light now anyway," she said, looking around their prison curiously. She walked around the edge of the room, trying to stretch out and warm her legs. Logan remained standing near where they had sat all night, watching her. She stopped near the door.

"It's dawn," he growled. "Sense anyone nearby?"

"Oh!" she said, suddenly, her gaze snapping around to stare at Logan. "Yes."

"Jean?" a familiar voice called faintly from outside the door. They could hear the sound of running feet.

"We're here, Scott," she called back, her gaze locked with Logan's. He didn't change expression, simply watched her with his usual mocking insolence.

"There's a padlock on the bar," Scott called to them. "I'm going to cut it. Stand back, Ororo."

The muted zing of Scott's ability presaged the rattling opening of the door. A lantern shown into the chamber, illuminating the stone walls. "Jean, I'm so glad you're safe," Ororo called, rushing into the room to hug her friend. "And you too, Logan."

"Storm," he said, nodding his head to her then throwing a challenging glare at Scott. "One-eye."

"Did you find the teleporter who did this?" Jean asked, drawing Logan's coat self-consciously tighter. Ororo nodded, glancing curiously between the nervous Jean and the glowering Logan.

"Yes, the professor is examining her now." Scott's reply was all cool professionalism.

"I wanna talk to this kid," Logan growled, and stalked past them all. Jean gave Scott a wavering smile as they all filed out of the underground room. Scott fell into step beside her, his hands clasped behind his back. Ororo followed with the lantern.

"Are you alright?" he asked quietly. Jean loosened one hand from her clutch on the jacket and touched his arm. He dropped his hands and took her hand in his own, squeezing it tightly.

"I'm fine, Scott," she said just as quietly.

"C'mon!" Logan called impatiently from the entrance, morning light pouring in around him.

* * * * *

The return to the School was made in awkward silence. Logan insisted on driving. Scott and Jean sat in the back seat with Jean huddled against him in the leather jacket, still chilled. They had been sent further than both had guessed, just over ten miles away, and off into the woods on back roads.

When they reached the garage, the professor was waiting for them, Rogue at his side. The girl looked anxiously at the still-glowering Logan, smiling in relief only when he gave her a brief, quirked smile in return.

"What's the story, Prof?" Logan growled.

"Jean, would you like to change first?" Professor Xavier asked in a mild tone, ignoring Logan for the moment.

"What I'd really like is a hot bath. Please don't wait for me," Jean said, nodding to them all. Scott watched her walk away, brows furrowed. With his eyes concealed, as always, behind his red glasses it was hard to read his emotions. Logan watched her walk away too, smirk firmly planted on his face. He lifted a sardonic brow at Scott, shrugged and turned back to the professor.

"You still got the kid?"

"Yes, the young woman is waiting for us in my office."

"Alone?" Logan tensed.

"I am monitoring her," the professor said with a small smile before turning his chair and starting back into the school. Logan shuddered and followed. The rest trailed along behind.

"So why 'port me out o' here anyway?"

"Apparently someone is willing to expend a great deal of money and effort for your presence, Logan," the professor said. Logan snorted in disgust.

"Real popular alla sudden - why not ask me?"

"Ah, now that is the question isn't it? Perhaps we should ask our young guest."

They approached the professor's office, and the door swung open in response to a control in the professor's chair. Logan saw a small figure huddled in one of the leather chairs in front of the desk. The small person had drawn her feet up on the chair and she clutched her raised knees desperately, staring at them all with wide, dark eyes. He was reminded, suddenly, of his first meeting with Rogue.

"You!" the girl said, her head jerking up when she saw Logan. "Damn, how'd they find you so quick? I'll never get paid now."

She looked young, maybe sixteen or seventeen, with long straight, dusty black hair dyed in muti-colored streaks and a graceful Asian face buried under thick, tear-smeared make-up. Her clothes consisted of a tattered-looking dress made up of multi-colored layers of fabric, torn black leggings and biker boots. But even as he identified her, he made a mental correction. Not Asian, Pacific Islander mix of some kind. He shook his head briefly, not knowing how he knew the difference. He'd spent all his known life in the North, wandering Alaska and Northern Canada. Inuit, he knew, but how did he come to know the subtle differences between other races?

"Me," he snarled, stalking closer to the girl until Summers's hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Don't get too close, she could send you off again," Scott said warningly. Logan looked pointedly at the other man's hand. After a deliberate hesitation, Scott lifted it off.

"So? Make you happy, wouldn't it?" Logan glared into the red lenses. Scott's expression betrayed nothing beyond a lifted brow.

"Yes, it would," the erstwhile team leader said quietly. "Now that Jean's back where she belongs."

"This is Nene," the Professor interrupted their impromptu pissing match coolly. "She apparently works for hire."

"So who hired you, kid?" Logan snarled, easily transferring his irritation from one target to another. The girl cringed back in the chair.

"They told me not to let you spot me, that I'd only get the one chance. You were supposed to go all the way to the pick-up point. But you're heavier than they told me, and that woman! Too much. I had to drop you guys in the back-up spot."

"Yeah, drop was right. Coulda killed her, you know," Logan growled.

"Wasn't s'posed to get her anyway. 'Sides, what's it matter? You're gonna kill me anyway," the girl said, huddling down behind her knees and watching him warily over them. Logan straightened up, annoyed by the girl's resigned fear. Behind him, Rogue gave a snort of disgust.

"He's not gonna kill ya, stupid. He doesn't kill people - he helps them," she said loyally. He shot her a disgusted look over his shoulder, but Rogue only beamed proudly back at him. Logan shook his head. Soft, he was getting soft. First Jean, now Rogue. Disarmed by women.

The professor cleared his throat, raising a peaked brow at Logan. Logan shrugged and turned away, grumbling under his breath.

"There will be no more talk of killing, my dear," the professor said gravely. The young woman lifted her face then, staring at him from wide eyes. "You're a mutant, just as all of us here are. This place is a haven for mutants. A school for teaching academic skills as well as how to manage your own unique power. Perhaps you would be more interested in staying on with us? As a student perhaps?"

"No," she said, shaking her head anxiously. "Ditched school long time ago. Rather work."

"Your employers will no doubt be quite disappointed that you were unable to deliver your target as promised," the professor pointed out quietly. "It would be in your best interests to lie low for a while. And this is the perfect place. I promise you, no one will bother you here." The professor spoke with such complete and utter confidence, that she almost agreed on the spot. But she shot Logan another frightened look, glancing around at the grim or carefully blank faces surrounding her. Only the professor seemed determined to treat her with any degree of warmth.

"I dunno," she said, lifting a hand and brushing back her multi-colored locks. "Never had a place like this to stay before."

Logan shifted restlessly against the wall, but the professor ignored him.

"Well, it's early yet, Nene," the professor said kindly. "We'll find you a room and a meal and let you think about it for a while. I only ask that you avoid Logan. As a sign of good faith."

"I'm onto her now," Logan growled. Nene flinched and huddled into her arms again. Ororo stepped forward, determined suddenly to shelter this young woman who was obviously frightened by the unexpected consequences of her actions.

"That's enough, Logan. I'm Ororo. Why don't you come with me, Nene," she said gently. "We'll find some dinner." After gesturing to a disgruntled Rogue to follow, the three women left.

Once Ororo led the young women out of the professor's office, steering a wide path around Logan, Scott turned to the professor with some concern. "Is that wise, sir? She could send anyone on to that pick-up location now, if she cared too. Even Ororo."

"I appreciate your caution, Scott," the professor said, guiding his chair around behind his desk. "But I sense Nene is honorable, in her own way. She was contracted for Logan, and Logan's the only one she might teleport away. As long as you steer clear of her, Logan, I don't believe she'll be tempted to send anyone else off in your place."

"So you say, Professor," Logan snorted. "I'll stay clear of her. See that she stays clear of me." Then he turned and stalked out.

* * * * *

In the deepening darkness of evening, Jean stood in the hallway outside Logan's room, his jacket draped over her arm. She'd already delayed nearly a full day in this errand. She didn't want to put it off any longer, but she hesitated a moment, strangely nervous. Taking a deep breath, she raised her hand and started to knock. The door swung open before she so much as tapped it, a solemn Logan standing on the other side.

"How long were you going to stand there anyway?" he growled. Most of the time Logan growled. So far, he seldom bit.

"I wanted to thank you for the use of your jacket . . .," Jean began, but Logan turned away, stalking further into his room. She followed him inside, closing the door behind her. No sense letting curious students in on their exchange.

"No big deal," he said, stuffing his hands into his pockets and glowering at her.

"I would have frozen without it," she said, meeting his angry gaze.

"There were other ways I could have kept you warm," he rumbled, watching her closely. She gasped, taking a half-step back from him. "But I didn't want our first time to be more for survival than fun."

"First time? What makes you believe I'll ever sleep with you?" Jean snapped, outraged and thrilled all at the same time. What was happening to her? Why did Logan affect her so? She loved Scott. She had always loved Scott. Logan was nothing to her; merely another mutant, worthy of study and protection here at the school, but nothing more. He couldn't be. He was wild and untamed and primal, the antithesis of everything she worked for. But he was brave too, and willing to sacrifice for those he cared about. As he had for Rogue. He was watching her now, like a hunting beast, assessing her weaknesses, witnessing her mental turmoil. Waiting.

"Who said anything about sleeping, Red?" he purred, leaning against the wall and watching her from hooded eyes.

"Logan, you're impossible," Jean sighed, turning to drape his jacket over the end of the bed.

"Impossible is my specialty," he said quietly, from beside her. She jumped, whirling to face him, now standing a few scant inches away. How had he managed to move across the room so quickly and so silently? He reached up a hand then, to touch the end of her stubby braid where it lay on the point of her shoulder.

"Our first time. . . it'll be in your bed. And you'll invite me in. . . " his voice trailed off, as he stared deeply into her eyes. Jean backed away, sensing his certainty and his determination, as well as a touch of vulnerability.

"Logan, please," she begged. "Let it be. I love Scott."

"Prove it," he said, watching her intently. "Walk out."

"What?" she said, confused.

"Walk out now," he said, his voice a low purr again. Then he stepped toward her. She backed a half step away, then her pride caught her and she held her ground. He stepped up to her and put his hands on her shoulders, gently, carefully as if she were a trapped bird. "Leave before I do more," he whispered, leaning toward her, his breath warm on her face. She gasped, her hands rising up to push on his chest, yes, to push him away. Those weren't her hands curling against his hard muscles were they? Those weren't her lips trembling, waiting for the touch of his to make them burn. . . his dark gaze bored into her own, then flickered down to her parted lips. A shock ran through her, as if he had kissed her. She shivered. Then his head bent and his lips touched hers for the barest instant before she shoved him away with her arms and her talent.

"No!" she cried as Logan stumbled back, surprised by the strength of her telekinesis. She stood there for an instant in horrified shock, her hand over her tingling lips, her eyes wide with fear and uncertainty. "What am I doing?" She whirled then and ran out of the room, yanking the door open with her talent, leaving it swinging wildly behind her.

* * * * *

Ororo Munro stood, shocked, at the end of the hallway, a stack of exam books clutched in her arms, as Jean Grey ran from Logan's room as if all the demons of hell were hard on her heels. Her friend's face had been pale and strained, on the verge of tears. Jean darted into the suite she shared with Scott, slamming the door closed behind her. Ororo sighed heavily. She had papers to grade, lesson plans to review, not her friend's confused emotions to untangle. But this nonsense with Logan had gone on long enough. She made a brief stop in her own room to drop off the exam books before she stalked down to Logan's door. Without bothering to knock, she entered, closing the door behind her with a quiet click.

Logan was lying on his bed, shirtless, his arms behind his head, his narrowed eyes glaring at the booted feet propped up heedlessly on the antique foot board. He looked up at Ororo's entrance in mild irritation.

"My day for visitors, I guess," he said, raking his gaze over her dismissingly. She was dressed in a long, graceful sweater and calf-length pants, shoes like ballet slippers on her feet. Her hair was tied loosely back by a colorful, filmy scarf. She looked every inch the schoolteacher come to scold the naughty student, he thought with disgust.

"Leave her be, Logan," Ororo said sharply, impatient with his insolent attitude.

"Don't know what yer talking about, lady," he said with smug indifference. Ororo's eyes narrowed in irritation. "Don't play games with me, Logan," she warned softly. "I'm not a sheltered academic, like Jean. You will leave her alone."

Her tone had him sitting up, his expression nearly a sneer. "Takes two to play, lady," he said. "I haven't done a thing to her. 'Cept keep her alive last night."

Ororo stalked over to his bedside, outrage evident in her posture, her expression. The faintest whiff of ozone filled the air. Logan became more wary. Electrocution wasn't high on his list of fun experiences.

"I have eyes," she snapped. "She loves Scott, loves him deeply and truly. You don't need to make waves for them." She was glaring down at him, a slender woman with long, snow-white hair. He felt suddenly vulnerable, sitting there on the bed. But he knew better than to move. She was tense and poised to strike like a hunting cat. And he'd seen her in action already.

"Seems to me if she loves him so much I shouldn't be able to mess her up then, should I?"

"Don't play games," Ororo warned again, her eyes fading into whiteness. A prelude to power. "She's never encountered anyone like you. Someone with few rules, few morals, and fewer limits. It's bound to make her curious. Don't confuse her. If it's just a woman you need, find someone else. But leave Jean Grey alone."

"Damn 'Ro," he said, tense and wary. "Tell me what you really think."

"I think you're a sad and lonely man, Logan," she said as danger faded from her eyes, taking him at his word. "And I pity you."

"Pity, eh?" he said with a snarl. Then he lunged and caught her against himself, looking down into her startled face. "You're a woman, 'Ro. I guess you'll do." Then he dropped his lips over hers. She stiffened in his hold, feeling the heat of him, the pressure of his lips, the shuddering need in him. Then her eyes went blind with power.

* * * * *

Downstairs Professor Charles Xavier looked up in some alarm as he felt a violent surge of heated emotion followed closely by the sound of an explosion - or thunder. The walls shook, glass rattled and the young woman seated beside him leapt to her feet in alarm. The noise soon subsided, but running feet could be heard in the hallways, voices calling out.

"It's alright, Nene," the professor said mildly after a moment's scan of the situation. "Just a rather unorthodox type of lesson, I believe. Now sit down my dear, and we'll continue our discussion of what you'd like to learn here."

"A lesson, huh?" the young woman said, licking her lips nervously. She darted a look toward the hall, then back at the serene professor before settling back down in the chair with wary care.

* * * * *

Ororo stood in the center of Logan's room, her hair flying about her, the long strands crackling brightly with lingering static. The stench of ozone was heavy in the air. Wind howled through the shattered window and glass lay in glittering shards over everything. Logan himself lay against the far wall, looking singed, a hand pressed to his forehead.

"Crap," he growled, trying to shake off the pain. The sound of running feet came to his door, someone the handle. It seemed to be locked, or jammed somehow, for the door stayed stubbornly closed. Then he looked at the enraged woman in the center of his room and knew better. She was keeping it closed with her winds.

"Logan? What's going on in there?" It was Scott, ever the leader, trying to take control of an unknown situation. Other feet approached, and they both heard the voices of students raised in fear, excitement and confusion.

"Get lost, Summers," Logan called with a snarl, climbing slowly to his feet yet never taking his eyes off of Ororo. "This is personal shit."

"That was an explosion!"

"I'm handling it!" Logan shouted back over the sound of the wind. Ororo stood in the center of the maelstrom, her hands raised into the wild air. Her eyes were white yet her face was calm. She shook her head at him sadly as he slowly approached her, but he kept to his course with a snarl fixed on his lips.

"I warned you," she said before the wind grabbed him and tossed him out the broken window. He spun against the wind's grasp, popping his claws and raking futilely at the casement as he flew through it. Trying to stop his fall, he only shattered more glass. He let his claws retract and braced himself for impact. But he should have known better. She was a softie at heart. The wind held him aloft, carrying him away from the building. She walked to his broken window, her gait serene and controlled, watching him. Then he realized where she was sending him.

"Don't do it!" he shouted at her, helpless as he tumbled in the wind's grasp, outraged at her audacity. She shook her head at him sadly again, a faint smile on her lips as she released the winds. He fell like a brick toward the swimming pool. He plunged into the water with a howl of annoyance, a reluctantly admiring snarl on his face.

She followed her victim down, letting the raging winds carry her body like a leaf. She landed gracefully beside the pool, looking down her nose at the man spluttering angrily in the deep end.

"Shit, 'Ro," he yelled, struggling to keep his head above water. "I'm too heavy to swim!" He sank back under the surface of the pool as Ororo's eyes widened in alarm. His metal skeleton she hadn't considered beyond the extra strength it had taken to shift him. Acting quickly, she tossed him a life ring from the safety equipment near the fence. He looped a brawny arm over it, gasping for air as his face came above the surface. The ring, overloaded by his weight, barely kept his face out of the water. Stripping off her cumbersome sweater, she dived neatly into the pool. Then she swam cautiously up beside him.

"I had forgotten," she said in apology. He glared at her, baring his teeth. "Get me out of here," he said, spitting water out furiously. She grabbed the rope on the edge of the ring and with strong strokes, towed it and it's heavy burden toward the shallow end of the big pool. As soon as his feet touched bottom he grabbed for her bare shoulders, spinning her around and glaring into her face. She staggered off balance, her body brushing up against his.

"Don't pity me!" he shouted into her face.

"Don't manhandle me!" she shouted back, her long hair streaming in pale ribbons about them both in the clear water, her eyes flashing with anger. He stared at her then, shocked out of his own anger. She was wearing only a lacy white bra, now translucent with water. He could see the dark shadows of her nipples under the thin fabric and he suddenly couldn't tear his gaze away. His abrupt silence and wide-eyed stare annoyed her. She pulled away from him, slogging through the shallower water toward the broad steps. He stumbled after her, the life ring still caught under his arm, his expression dazed.

"Christ, 'Ro," he said, frozen on the steps, as she walked free of the pool, water streaming down her graceful body. "You're beautiful when you're pissed off."

"Predictable, so excuse me if I'm not flattered, Logan," she snapped, heading for the changing rooms behind the pool. "And must you swear all the time?" She entered the small building with one last frozen glare back at him. The door shut behind her with a firm click. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of slamming it.

"Shit, say one nice thing to a woman and she jumps down your throat," he growled, standing at the edge of the pool, dripping. He looked down at his boots in disgust. They were sodden and filled with water. He parked himself on a lounge chair and tried to yank them off. The water made it difficult, swelling the leather and sticking them to his socks and he cursed again. He was sitting there, draining water out of his boots when Scott and several students arrived.

Summers came to a halt, crossing his arms over his chest and letting a tiny smile tug at the corner of his usually grim mouth. Logan threw his ruined boots on the pool decking in disgust.

"What was that all about?" Scott asked, mindful of the teenagers clustered around the area, eyes wide, ears hungry. "Ororo made quite a mess of your room."

"None o' your business, One-Eye," he growled with predictable irritation. He sat on the lounger, arms braced on his thighs, glaring down at his water-logged boots. "Women," Logan snarled in disgust. Scott laughed shortly, then turned away, herding the students back toward the building. "You're on your own there, pal," he said, shaking his head. He caught sight of Ororo's discarded sweater then, and an eyebrow rose in puzzlement. But he thought it better to get the kids away than stay and question the hostile Wolverine. The Professor would have told him if anyone had been physically hurt. It apparently was just some kind of private disagreement. Which was strange because Ororo was usually the calmest of people. Wolverine must have gone far out of his way to annoy her.

Logan sat on the lounger in his wet jeans, glaring after the departed Cyclops, until he heard the door to the changing rooms open again. He stood in a blur, as if whirling to face a possible foe. But Ororo walked calmly out, her hair bound up in a towel, a long robe covering her. Her bare feet peeked out from under the robe, which showed occasional flashes of bare leg as well.

"Gonna toss me in the pool again?" he growled. She looked him over coolly.

"Do I need to?" she replied. He stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head. She smiled thinly at him. "I'm the same woman I was yesterday, Logan. Or are you so shallow that a glimpse of a lace bra can change your opinion?"

"How 'bout a bolt of lightnin'?" he snapped back. "It hurt, 'Ro. Still hurts." He rotated his shoulders slowly as if all his joints were stiff. Which they were.

"And you're hurting my friend. Both my friends, even if Scott isn't completely aware of it yet." She narrowed her eyes at him. "I don't care for that."

"Oh, I warned him, 'Ro, he's not in the dark," Logan said with a wolfish smile. Ororo rolled her eyes at him in disgust. "Men can be so pathetic," she said shortly. "All this macho posturing. Leave it be, Logan."

"Don't worry, 'Ro," he said grimly. "I won't be 'round here to bug her much longer I promise you."

"And so very predictable. You'll run will you? Well, Marie will miss you if none of the rest of us will," she snapped, stung herself for some odd reason. They had fought together, she thought. Worked side by side to halt evil's advance. Of course she'd miss him. She drew herself up and looked at him coldly. "I hope you find what you think you're looking for, Logan, because I don't think you'll find it anywhere but inside you." Then she turned and with regal dignity stalked away.

* * * * *

Logan sped along through the still summer night, enjoying the feel of the wind in his hair. The brief satisfaction it had given him to steal One-Eye's precious bike had long since faded. Already he felt a pang of longing for the people he had left behind. But he quelled it angrily. They didn't understand, didn't know the things he had to face. Now that his lack had been pointed out to him, and the dreams had started, he had to know. He had to face his past.

The high-powered bike screamed along into the night, heading north and west. Alone.

-- fin --