This is a one chapter fic off of the "Stripes" AU, coming from Steph's POV.

-Ice Lynx

------------My Father------------

I see him standing in the shadows.


And all I can think is; Why?

He looks like he's hurting. I don't like him hurting.

He's in one of those moods again, where he gets lost in memory and time. I wish I could bring him back, and I probably could if I wanted to, but I won't. I never do.

Hank told me that I should respect his distance when he stands in the shadows or doesn't come down to eat, he needs his time to reflect on the battles he's been in with others and himself, and the experiences that he's endured. Hank says I've been and experience for him, that he probably needs time to reflect on me and my sisters and mother.

I bet he reflects on her a lot.

He's told me some things about himself, right off the bat I knew he had no memories of a family or when he was younger, and now I know that the skeleton inside him was given by others, that his name might have originally been James, and that he's known to some only by Weapon X, to others as the Wolverine, to most here in the mansion by Logan. No one calls him James. Heh, he'd probably gut them if they did.

I should make a mental note to tell Mark to call him that.

Now he's closed his eyes, a look of almost pain on his face. I don't see that often, even in a fight, even when me n' Rogue have tickled him to the point of tears, or I've done something bad to myself again.

I hate that look.

When he lifts his hand to rub his temple I see his knuckles are both very red and very white. That means his claws have been out very recently. Again I wonder why, but that question could be used for pretty much everything about him, and it won't give you any answers either. The answers don't matter anyway.

Nothing about who he is matters as long as he's here.

For the two something years I've known him, I've grown to realize there's a meaning for everything he does and why he is like he is, but that meaning is something very few people would ever understand. Certainly not me. I doubt he knows the full reason.

Maybe it's the experience he broods over every once in a while.

Whatever it is, it always creeps me out to see him like that. I wish he'd stop.

He must have been standing there for an hour or more. I think I'm getting worried about him.

He's darkish and a bit freaky at times, yet somehow always in a responsible way. And he always knows when I've gotten into trouble. How? But that's as bad as 'why?'.

Alright, that's it. It is time for me to interfere; I cannot let him turn into a rock before I beat him in the danger room.

He looks over as I approach. I'm careful in case he plans on being snappy like last time. I must be calm, and mature, and adultish when I go up to him.

If he wants to start rooting to the spot it is my responsibility to subtly deliver him into the real world. Thinking for a while is fine, by all means, he should think a little more once in a while, like when considering let me pierce my lip. But thinking and grimacing and impersonating a statue for more than two hours is not good for anyone.

Still I must be collected when I wake him.

He always treats me like an adult when I really try to be one. Well, almost always.

"Hey- I'm here to save you from the pigeons!" I shout. He blinks, a bit slow to catch my mature humor. I get up close and throw my arms around him, I'm already three inches taller than him and Hank says I'm probably going to grow more, but he still calls me "kid" and "midget". I think it's a bit rich for him to call anyone 'midget'.

"What're ya doin' kid?" he grunts.

"I told you," I say. "Saving ya from becoming from a statue."

"Yeh've been spyin' on me?" he asks. I raise a hand and trace the corner of his mouth with one hand.

He can take a joke, even if his humor is always a bit dry, or sarcastic, or totally nonsensical.

"That's it, that's it, I see a smile? No? Yes... there it is!" I cheer and hug him again, and he laughs.

He laughs like a grizzly bear. All mean but underneath the growl you can see how cute and fuzzy and loveable he is. He acts like a gorilla though....

"Calm down, I ain't turnin' into a statue," he said. I grunt and shrug, and suddenly he looks all serious again. "Hey kid, can I ask ya somethin'?"

Smells like one too.

"Depends," I say. He grunts now. And when he grunts, you know he's gonna do something stupid or say something intelligent or just get all mad or loving. I don't particularly like it when he grunts.

"Midget, honestly, am I a good-"

"Fighter?" I interrupt. "Oh yes, you scare me outta a bunch of matches. Philosopher? No, ya can't think well too often. Doctor? No, you-" he chuckles now and shakes his head, disturbing my train of thought. Probably best, I couldn't think of how to compare him to Hank and not get embarrassed or stupid on him.

"Nah- I was gonna ask father," he said. I blink now. He wants to know if he's a good father? Like he ever has to ask? And now he's looking at me all seriously and calmly; I'm not exactly used to that look and I'm quite sure I'll never pull it off myself. Not right now anyway.

It's ridiculous that he's asking me, this is the guy who hauled my butt out of a tree so I wouldn't be barbecued by lightning, brought me to this school, spent countless hours training me how to defend myself, gave me a home and a family bigger than my old one, and more honest and accepting too, and who on a regular basis saved me from the three M's; Mark, Magneto, and Myself.

This is the man who gave me a home and showed me that it's not easy to patch a hole his head'll make in walls. He'd given me advice when Remy was being an idiot and when I went on my first mission alone he told me to calm down and focus and that I'd be fine. Whenever there was a problem he knew what to say to get me out of a funk and off my butt and fix the problem.

"Are you a good old man?" I ask, and he nods, not grinning like he normally would.

He showed me how to kick tail with nunchuks.

"You adopted me right after you told me to blow your brains out," I pointed out. He nods, still not smiling. "Ya beat me if I mess up on anything." He grunts.

"I'm not above spankin' ya fer acting outta line, that's different," he said. I stick my tongue out at him in response.

He's always there, day or night. He hit me once, when I was really bad, and I deserved it.

"You saved me from Mark a lotta times," I say.

He saves me from every boy I meet, whether I want him to or not.

"If I didn't Blue woulda," he shrugged, half smiling and looking somewhere between mischievous and happy. I hate that look.

"That's supposed t' mean?" I ask.

"Nuthin'," he says, winking at me. I swat him on the shoulder.

He makes it a joke that he knows I like Hank, and he assures me it's not too obvious and that Hank likes me back, even if the bloke will never admit it.

"Yeah, you're a pain in the butt frequently, but you're ok," I say. "A bit grouchy, and touchy, and often very shrew like-" he laughs.

"I love ya too, darlin'," he replies. I smile and hug him.

I love hugging him, he's like a short, sometimes smelly and hairless other than the mane that can stick in your eyes but very cuddly. Not as cuddly as Hank, but....

"Love ya daddy," I say sweetly. Then I smile at him. "Can I have fifty bucks?"

"Not on yer life, go earn it."

Grr grr grr....