Second chances

A/N: This is kind of an unusual story. The end of it will surprise you. It's not entirely what you think.

Disclaimers: I don't own the X-Men and am not making any money from their use.

Feedback: I love getting feedback. I have no life to speak of so I need all the hugs I can get.

Chapter 1: Death and Life

Logan was floating. He couldn't feel his body and he was in total darkness. The only thing that kept him from panicking was that he could hear and smell so he knew that he wasn't in a sensory deprivation tank. It felt almost as if he were dreaming. He wanted to tell the kids to shut up so he could get some sleep but, for some reason, he couldn't open hes mouth.

The sounds were a roar in his sensitive ears. He couldn't make out what everyone was saying. The beeping of monitors filled his ears, sounding like the gong of a large clock heard too close. Why didn't it hurt, he wondered. Noise this close and loud usually gave him a ringing headache. The scents were a muddle of people he knew and the Med Lab. The one scent he could make out was blood; his own and Jubilee's.

He struggled against the darkness. Jubilee was hurt. He needed to be there and protect her. She just came back to the X-Mensix months ago. She still needed him to keep her out of trouble. Wake up, stupid, he told himself. You can't sleep while Jubilee's in pain.

"Wolvie!" he heard Jubilee scream. He struggled harder. Somewhere, a monitor faltered, the rhythm irregular. Jubes was dying! He had to wake up!

"Wolvie, No!" she cried. He could smell tears. Come on, come on, wake up! He was beginning to panic.

BeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeP

"Don't leave me!" someone screamed. He struggled harder, trying to break through. Why couldn't he wake up?

White light blossomed before his eyes. He felt the pull of ...something. What it was, he couldn't name. He wanted the light more than he could explain but the pull from the opposite direction was intense. He wanted desperately to investigate the the shining light. It felt so warm and inviting, like a blanket on a cold winter night. He reached out to touch it but it seemed to shrink away from him. No ...it wasn't shrinking... he was being pulled away from it! He stretched out, trying to reach the light. It grew smaller and smaller. It shrank to a pinpoint and winked out. He roared in frustration.

The moment the light disappeared, pain blossomed in his chest making him moan in agony. His eyes flew open. Everything was blurred except the door of the Med Lab. Standing just inside the door was a woman. Tall with long, wavy brown hair, she wasn't beautiful but she had an inner glow that couldn't be faked. Fresh pain lanced through him and he closed his eyes, hissing. When he opened them, the woman was gone.

"Logan," he heard someone gasp. He focused and found Jean leaning over him, tears streaming down her face. "Oh, thank God! We thought you were going to die."

"Where is she?" he asked in a low, pain filled whisper.

"Jubilee?" she asked. "She's in the bed next to you." She stepped aside to allow Hank to look at his wounds.

"Other one," he gasped as Hank probed the holes in his chest. "By the door."

Confused faces greeted his question. "There was no one by the door," Hank told him.

The memory was fading quickly. He couldn't remember what she looked like except that she had brown hair. After a moment, that was gone as well. The only thing he remembered was that he saw someone at the door when he opened his eyes. Someone that didn't belong. His thoughts shifted to his partner.

"Jubes?" he asked, pain rising again.

"She has shrapnel in her leg and a fractured collar bone but she will be fine," Hank assured him. "I will need to operate and remove the bits of metal as soon as you are stable."

"I'll be fine," he told him. "Do what ya need ta fer Jubilee." Hank nodded and turned away.

Logan reached out and grabbed Hanks wrist in a surprisingly strong grasp. Hank turned back, a question in his eyes. "Don't let her die," Logan begged. "I won't survive if she dies." Hank looked in his eyes and nodded. Logan released him and slumped back of the bed.

"Logan?" Cyclops stepped up to the bed.

"I'll be okay," he reassured his leader. "What happened, Cyke?"

"A riot in Albany," he told his teammate. "We had gotten control of the situation when some yahoo came up with a rocket launcher. He was aiming at Jubilee for some reason. You threw her up in the air and dodged the rocket but it hit a dumpster behind you. The shrapnel from the rocket and the dumpster flew everywhere. Ten people were injured but you took the brunt of the explosion. It happened too fast for Jean to shield you. She barely was able to shield herself.

"You had twenty-seven holes in you chest, thirteen went through your heart, the rest through your lungs and back. Your left kidney was destroyed and you had huge holes in your intestines. You flat lined on us twice. Shit, Logan, I thought you were going to die this time. I don't think I've ever seen you hurt so bad."

"I died?" Logan gasped as a new wave of pain washed over him. "Does that mean I get some time off?"

"Don't push it," Scott said with a lopsided smile. "You're going to have to help Jubilee during her recovery."

"Scott, Hank likes to sugar coat things. I know you'll tell me the truth. How bad is she injured?"

"It's pretty bad," he sighed as he sat in the chair beside the bed. "She took several large pieces of metal in her leg. Her femoral artery was ripped up in a couple of places. If Hank can't rebuild it, she will loose her leg."

"Oh God," Logan whispered. "Ya can't let that happen, Cyke. It'll kill her."

"I know," he said, looking at his hands. "I have Rogue looking for Worthington. He may be able to help her."

"I'll give her the blood," Logan told him desperately.

"You don't have any to spare," Scott protested.

"I don't give a shit," he growled. "She can't die!"

Scott's expression bloomed with dawning comprehension. "You love her," he whispered.

"Of course I love her. I raised her."

"No, Logan," he clarified himself. "You're in love with her. There's a difference."

"I..." he stopped, thinking.

"I've never lied to you, Wolverine," Scott told him. "And you've never lied to me about anything important. Don't start lying to yourself."

His communicator chirped for attention. He listened intently to the voice in his ear. "Rogue found him," he told Logan. "They're on their way back. They should be here in just under an hour. I'm going to let you rest. As soon as they get here, I'll send Warren down." He got up and started for the door.

"Cyke," Logan stopped him. "Thanks fer telling me the truth."

"Think about what I said," he instructed. "This kind of a chance doesn't come around all that often." Logan closed his eyes and nodded.

He must have passed out after that. The next time he opened his eyes, Worthington was sitting in a chair beside Jubilee's bed, his head in his hands. He looked very pale. Hank was standing beside his bed looking expectant.

"Welcome back, my feral friend," he said cheerfully.

"How long?" he rasped, his throat dry.

"Thirty-one hours," Hank told him as he held a cup of water to his lips. Logan took large, thirsty gulps and nodded his thanks.

"How's Jubes?" the pain in his chest diminishing quickly.

"Much improved," Hank told him. He began to remove the IV lines and monitor leads. "I wasn't sure Warren's blood would help after so much time but it seemed to do the trick. Her artery has repaired itself and the fractures have completely healed. She should be up and in trouble in a few days. Now, if I could get Warren to go to bed, everything would be precisely as I want them."

"I'll help ya," he said sitting up. He gasped as pain lanced from his shoulder across his chest to his hip.

"You're not ready to do any heavy lifting," Beast warned him. "Go to your room and rest. I'll put our doner to bed down here. I would like to keep an eye on him for a few hours."

He walked around the bed and lifted the tall mutant into his strong arms. Warren woke with a start and began to struggle.

"Logan is awake," Hank told him. "We will watch Jubilee while you sleep." He took the protesting man over to a bed on the other side of the room and placed him gently down. "Stay here. If you get up, I'll give you a taste of the sedative I've developed for Wolverine." Warren gulped and nodded. He knew his healing factor wasn't as effective as Logan's. Anything developed for Wolverine would keep him out for several days. Beast smiled in satisfaction and returned to Jubilee.

"Ya really have somethin' that can put me out?" Logan asked in a low voice.

"No," Hank replied in the same voice. "But he doesn't know that."

"Wolvie?" Jubilee's weak voice called him. He turned and sat in the chair beside her bed and took her hand in his.

"I'm here darlin'," he told her.

"My leg aches," she complained.

"I can take care of that," Hank said as he opened a drawer next to the bed.

"What happened?" she asked. "Last thing I saw was the fire escape coming up on me.

"Rocket launcher," Logan told her. "I threw ya up in the air ta get ya out of the way. I didn't get ya far enough away and ya got some shrapnel in yer leg." She paled and flipped the sheet off of her. Dressings covered the healing wounds but her leg was intact. "Bird-Boy gave ya some blood."

"Was it that bad?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said. "Yer artery was damaged. Hank thought ya might loose yer leg."

"This will take care of the pain," Hank said as he injected a syringe of clear fluid into her IV line.

It took about two minutes but the pain in her leg began to fade. "Bless you Hank," she sighed in relief. "Keep me comfortable and I'll have your children." Logan began to growl.

"I think Wolverine might have something to say about that," Hank laughed as he walked away.

Jubilee watched the play of emotions over Logan's face. "Wolvie?" she drew his attention. "What's wrong?"

"Ya scared me ta death," he told her. "I thought ya were going ta die on me." He pulled the sheet back over her and added a blanket to keep her warm. "I almost lost ya, Jubes."

"I'm not gonna die on ya Wolvie," she said, her eyes drooping. "I haven't given ya gray hair yet." She gave a huge yawn. "I gotta sleep." Her eyes closed and her face relaxed. Within seconds, she was in a deep sleep.

He stayed by her bed for several hours, his chest still aching. Jean stopped in to check on them and to bring him dinner. He picked at his food without eating much. His appetite seemed to elude him. He usually ate very well after an injury. He needed the protein to rebuild the damaged tissues and organs, but for some reason, he couldn't eat now.

He remained so lost in thought that he didn't notice Hank's approach until he felt the hairy paw land on his shoulder.

"Logan, are you all right?" Hank asked concerned. "I've been calling you for several seconds."

"Hum?" Logan asked. He looked down and saw that he was rubbing his chest in small circles, trying to ease the deep ache. "Oh. Just a little left over aching. It'll be gone tomorrow."

"It's been almost forty-eight hours Logan," Hank was concerned. "Shouldn't the pain be gone by now?"

"I've never had ta regrow my heart before," he grinned. "Ya gotta give me a little more time."

"Maybe," Hank mused.

"I'm gonna go take a shower and change," Logan told him as he got up. "Can ya keep an eye on Jubilee while I'm gone?"

Hank gave him a look that said 'Like I'd ever ignore a patient'. Logan had the grace to look chagrined as he turned and strode out of the Med Lab.

He stood under the hot spray for what seemed like hours, soaking the aches out of his body and thinking about the fight. For the first time in a long time, he couldn't remember the details of the battle. He could recall being summoned to the War Room for the briefing and going off in the Blackbird but from landing on, all he remembered were flashes. The only clear recollection of the battle he had was the moment he saw the rocket pointed at Jubilee. Before that were snippets of the action. After that, nothing. Cyke had told him that he threw Jubilee up into the air, trying to get her clear but he couldn't remember it. He didn't remember dodging to avoid the missal and he most defiantly didn't remember the explosion. And why the hell did his chest still hurt?

He turned the water off with a twist of his wrist and pushed open the show door. Grabbing a towel, he dried himself off quickly and wrapped the damp cloth around his waist. He used his forearm to clear the accumulated steam from the mirror and looked at he chest.

The wounds were completely healed. Not even a fine scar remained, not that he expected one. His skin was usually the last thing that healed. The main priority for his healing factor was his heart, lungs and brain. His body would delay healing everything else until the three main organs were completely healed. In this injury, he would have healed his heart and lung first. Then his intestines and other injured abdominal organs. His skin and kidney would be last. The fact that he had healed the skin told him that his heart and lung were fully healed. So why did he still have the pain in his chest? Maybe he should talk to Hank.

Knock, knock.

He came out of the bathroom and looked at the clock. Twelve-thirty six. Who the hell would be banging on his door at this hour?

The knock came again, this time accompanied by a voice.

"Wolverine," Gambit called through the door.

"Whatcha want, Gumbo?" Logan asked as he opened the door.

A beer was thrust into his hand by the tall, red eyed mutant as he pushed his way inside. "Came ta ask how you're doin' and how the petite's doin'," Remy said as he flopped down on the bed. "Looks like you're doin' fine."

"Jubilee is gonna be fine," he said. "Thanks fer the beer, now get out."

"Temper, Wolverine," Remy smiled. "Ya know, the petite getting hurt like this made Gambit t'ink. She's all grown up now. She's an X-Man and getting hurt is part of the job but seein' her in so much pain, it hurt Gambit too. I don' know if I 'd survive if she'd died. Gambit got ta t'inkin', she's young and beautiful. Maybe she want someone ta love before she dies. Maybe she needs ol' Gambit ta show her..."

Gambit suddenly found himself hauled off the bed and pinned to the wall by two adamantium claws on either side of his neck, the third pressing into his throat, Wolverine's angry face very close to his.

"Stay away from her," Wolverine growled through clenched teeth. "She's not fer you."

Gambit reached up and touched a claw with one finger and it began to glow pink with restrained energy. "Put me down and retract your claws," he warned.

It was a stand off. Logan knew he couldn't kill the bastard. Jubilee liked the lusty Cajun and she'd never forgive him if he gutted him. He relaxed his grip and let the tall mutant drop to the floor. Remy drew the charge back and the glow faded.

"You want her for yourself," Remy observed.

"I never said that," Logan told him. "I know she don't need you."

"Gambit think ya do want the petite," He smirked. "She's beautiful, non? So beautiful that men notice her now. Soon, she want bebes. If ya wait, she'll pick someone else ta give her those bebes."

Logan paled and sat down, hard, on the bed. "She's just a kid herself," he protested. "She can't be havin' babies yet." The thought of Jubilee having children by anyone was appalling.

"She's twenty-three," Gambit told him. "Lotta girls have bebes by now. The petite'll make a good mama, don't ya t'ink?"

Logan nodded, still in shock. When did Jubilee grow up and how could he have missed it?

"Get some sleep Logan. Ya look like shit." He opened the door and turned back to look at his stunned friend. "Ya don't want ta scare her off by lookin' like ya died two weeks ago and forgot ta fall down" He left, closing the door behind him with a click.

Gambit headed to the kitchen to get another beer. Scott and Jean were already there when he arrived.

"Well?" Scott asked. "What happened.?"

"Gambit gave him a few t'ings ta t'ink about," Remy told him, satisfied with his talk with Wolverine.

"What did you say?" Jean asked anxiously.

"Played the baby card," said Gambit.

"You didn't!" Jean squealed. "That's mean."

"Putting them back together as partners didn't work Jean," Scott sighed. "Maybe he needs to change his focus to her sex life."

"Petites' biological clock is ticking away," Remy told her taking a long drink from his beer. "He don' do something ta reset the alarm, she'll find someone who will."

"Will she?" Jean asked. "She's loved Logan for years."

"She's a beautiful and vivacious woman," Scott observed. "Any man would be lucky to get her but I want them both to be happy. I think she would love her own choice but Logan ..."

"Wolverine will only be happy with her," Jean completed.

"Wolverine chases away every date she has," Gambit said. "She don' have a chance of finding a man as long as he loves her."

"We know he's not about to fall out of love with her and she's been in love with him since she was sixteen so our only option is to overcome his misplaced chivalry and get them together." said Jean.

"For the sake of all of us," Gambit moaned.

"This last six months have been hell," Scott mentioned. "I won't last another six months."