Rating: NC-17 or R...ish. May have sexual situations... rating is mostly 'cause of language and such though.
Summary: Logan is captured, his memory wiped clean, and his body turned into a young man. Now it is up to Rogue and the rest of the X-Men to find a place for him at the institute—as a student.
A/N: My other stories are blocked... as in I have writers block. To those reading this that liked my other stories, thank you! I will never give up on them. May take a while obviously. Also, the updates for this story are also uncertain. Just warning you.
This takes place sometime after the first movie, and jumps straight into my Alternate Universe time-line, in which events happen that will in no way lead up to the second movie.
This is the Movie-verse, so Logan is a good 6 feet tall, Scott is about 5'10", and Ororo is about 5'7". However, I am making little cosmetic changes based off of the comic books, in minor ways. Logan's eyes will be blue, for example, Marie's are green. Small things, but I wanted you all to have the right pictures in your mind.
Mr. Sinister has a normal name and (a sinister) appearance created specifically for this fiction, so you don't need to flip frantically through all your back issues of the X-Men to figure out where I got it. As a matter of fact, everything but the Marvel universe names and certain locations are completely made up by me, and any resemblances to real people or situations, or fake people or situations, is completely coincidental.
In other words... it's a fictional story, and I don't own the Marvel parts of it. Pretty smooth lead into a disclaimer, wasn't it? I'm so proud of me.
Chapter 1: Re-forged
Date: Sometime in the near future
Location: Department J, Top Secret Military Medical Unit, Canada
Logan hung suspended in a dark oblivion, too unaware to care.
–– Beep –– Beep –– Beep ––
The rhythmic sound was the first sensation Logan became aware of. It was hypnotic, in a way, comforting in its secure predictability. For a time, he wondered what the sound was and what it could mean. Shouldn't he be scared? Angry? They were passing thoughts, leaving no emotional trail he could follow. After a time, oblivion came for him again, taking the sound away.
–– Bee-Beep –– Beep –– Bee-Beep –– Beep ––
He became aware of that strange sound again, only it seemed different from before. Less steady to his ears: less sure.
"Hmw ms dhe mahient?"
"Alh buo sjihns frr shesdh, dwu."
Logan frowned, or would have, if he could remember how. These new noises were vastly different from the other kind. He felt that he should know what they meant. Voices. Satisfaction flowed through him as he remembered what a voice was.
Those had been voices. People – Logan realized, the word forming unbidden. He latched onto the passing concept, suddenly uncomfortable with his own need to do so.
–– Bee-Beep –– Bee-Beep –– Bee-Beep –– Bee-Beep –– Bee-Beep ––
He felt uncomfortable with the voices; what did they mean? The rhythmic sounds from before were picking up speed, but this time they weren't hypnotic; there was no comfort for him any longer in the sound.
"X ccn veb tnam! Gqvw hem rote ynucioot ptafs!"
"Dif, tge hojake –"
"Sir! He's staxting to wuke up!"
More distorted voices drifted to him, their meanings slipping past him in a stream too fast for him to wade. They sounded urgent now – excited. It came to him then, that it was dark. Why was it so dark? Somehow he knew that it was unnatural. Sensation crept through him as he was still struggling with that question, so it was another few moments before he realized that he could feel. It was warm and comfortable… soothing. It told him that he should sleep, that it was okay; there was nothing to fear.
Without knowing why, he rebelled against the feeling, understanding only that it was important he do so.
–– BeBe-Beep –– Bee-Beep –– BeBe-Beep –– Bee-Beep –– BeBe-Beep –– Bee-Beep ––
He opened his blue eyes as, with a rush, memory returned to him. He was Logan. He had been searching for his past, but somehow, his past had come looking for him. They had captured him. No, please! Not again!
He floated in a green liquid, naked, with a mask over his mouth for air. The voices had stopped when his eyes opened, and now he understood why. He was awake. Men and women in lab coats or in security uniforms surrounded him, all staring at him through the thick glass that encased him in numb terror. Rage that they would dare do this to him a second time, quickly erased a flash of amusement that even now they feared him.
–– Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ––
Logan struggled to summon power into his limbs, but before he could act on his rage the lab people were in motion again, yelling technical jargon at one another and typing in things into computer terminals and flipping switches. Logan's air mask beeped in response, and something powerful rushed through his system, stealing all strength from his body. NO! Logan struggled, knowing with dread that it was useless.
His vision dimmed once more, his last thoughts of Xavier and his school, and of his promise to one young woman that he would return. Sorry Darlin', looks like I won't be coming back for those tags after all. Then that familiar oblivion came for him once more, deeper and darker than ever before.
–– Beep –– Beep –– Beep ––
Professor Nathaniel Essex sat silent in his office, with a semi-warm cup of coffee set upon his large mahogany desk, forgotten, as he stared at the report in his lap. The piece of furniture was an antique from early in the previous century, its panels elaborately carved with intricate designs that held no true meaning. As with most things made long ago, its dimensions were compact but sturdy, designed in a time when most people stood well under six feet tall.
The Professor, being a man of his times, stood six feet three inches, his muscles large and mostly in peek condition, despite the slight softening that had settled in his midriff as he entered his fifties. With a full head of mostly brown hair, lightly peppered with white, and a square jaw with deep-set, brooding dark eyes, he was what most women would have called handsome, even at this stage in his life. They would call him that if they dared; the perpetual scowl on his face usually served to banish any such notions younger woman might have had – or women of any age for that matter.
Nathaniel knew what they called him behind his back. They had taken to calling him Mr. Sinister, and other less complimentary names besides. He heard it all on his monitors, and allowed it. He was amused by the name. Besides, as long as they followed his orders, they could say whatever they wished when he wasn't around.
Nathaniel read through the dossier once more, still getting a little thrill from what he read in it. Logan, the Wolverine, had been recaptured a few months ago, and was even then going through the very last phase of his extensive surgery. That was old news; Nathaniel had been supervising the raid that had brought Logan in personally.
No, the reason for his excitement, was because the operation had been a complete success. The metal alloy Adamantium, the impervious metal that once set became nearly completely indestructible, had been successfully removed from Logan's system and replaced with a newer, synthesized version of the same metal. It had taken them almost two months to atomize the metal already grafted to his system, inch by slow inch.
The new Adamantium wasn't a mere coating – it was bonded to his bones now on a molecular level. Because the metal was lighter, but no less impervious to damage, Weapon X's response time and effectiveness would increase exponentially.
Of course, there were few notes remaining from the previous Weapon X program that had originally created Logan; so it was all guesswork and theories until they had actually eradicated the old Adamantium. They hadn't even known for sure that Logan's claws were actually bone underneath the metal, until they had completed the surgery. The men in power hadn't really cared in any case. They would do whatever it took to reforge Logan into their pet soldier again. They wanted their super-soldier mutant back, and they wanted it done right. Cost was not an issue. Professor Essex had gone into this fully expecting to kill the man in the attempt to improve him.
Which brought up another point worthy of his awe, and the other reason the Professor was staring at the report.
Their efforts to increase Logan's healing ability had met with astounding success. After taking samples from Logan himself, they had managed to create a drug that temporarily boosted his already impressive healing powers, so he could survive the painful Adamantium extraction process; it was much more painful and damaging to remove the Adamantium than it was to put it there in the first place. Without that drug, Logan would never have survived; the damage done to him in the extraction process was just too extensive.
For a short time, Logan's ability to heal had doubled, the shocking side effect being, his body had actually healed the damage time itself had done him over the years. The mans craggy features had smoothed and sharpened as his healing factor went into overdrive. Logan now had the body and looks of a twenty year old. A young man in the absolute prime of his life.
Even before the drug, who could truly say how many years of age his healing factor had already warded off in his lifetime, as it almost, but not quite, compensated for the ravages that time wrought. They should have known that by increasing his healing abilities, his body would finally, for a brief time, be able to overcome even that obstacle, and revitalize him. For the duration of the project, Logan had become his own fountain of youth.
All of which was just fine with them. Now he was not only more limber and healthy, but he would live as their pet soldier even longer. Hell, Logan might well live to see Armageddon, long after Nathaniel and the people who owned him had faded into dust.
Efforts were being made to use the healing solution that had worked so well for Logan on the average man, but had so far been met with complete failure. On the contrary, several of those animals injected with the substance, had been treated for poisoning. They were still trying to figure out the incongruity of that. Apparently, you needed to be Logan for it to work at all. It was a pity, thathis hightened healing abilitywas not permanent. Constant injections were needed for the effect to take place. Which really was a shame, but Nathaniel supposed one couldn't have everything.
Of course, there were some natural side effects to this whole ordeal. Logan had gone into severe shock mentally as well as physically when they began experimentation on him, often going into a catatonic state. Luckily, he always revived enough to continue, given a little time. It was Nathaniel's theory that Logan's healing factor protected his mind in some way, bringing him back to functioning status long after any other man would be raving mad.
The amount of pain Logan had gone through was impossible to calculate, and if the truth be known, the Professor tried not to think of it. He would have felt for Logan and sympathized with him, if Logan hadn't been a mutant. To Nathaniel, mutants were a genetic puzzle, with no more rights than a monkey.
From what could be gathered from the previous project, Logan had been pushed too far, too fast, too hard, and had ended up not only breaking out, but killing almost anyone stupid enough to get in his way in the process. Which was why there were so few records. It was remarkable how much destruction one berserk mutant with an axe to grind, impossibly sharp claws, and a healing factor could cause.
Luckily for the government, they had recovered a good bit of the data from the wreckage, while Logan himself had apparently lost all memory of the incident. Somehow, they had tracked Weapon X down again, and found him in Westchester, New York.
It had taken months of surveillance, and even more time to plan, in order to bring the Wolverine in. They had found that Logan, frustrated with his lack of memory, frequently left the Xavier Institute in search of clues. It had been on one of these trips that they had captured him. More than ten men had died in the attempt to restrain him, and more than double that had been hospitalized. But in the end, Logan had been reclaimed. That was all that really mattered. Logan was his now.
Of course, there was the danger that Logan's comrades would come looking for him. And a few had speculated that Xavier's Institute was really the home to some sort of military cult for mutants, but there had been no evidence to support that. Yet. Their spies had reported that Logan was a solitary man, and at no point were phone calls reported back to his friends in Salem Center. Not once, in the time they followed him. Nathaniel felt sure that once Logan didn't report in, they would simply assume he was off in some remote part of the world to find his place in the universe. It was ironic, that in a way he really had.
Smiling to himself, Nathaniel set the folder down on his table as he concluded that the project had been a resounding success. If they could train Logan, and keep this all secret, then Nathaniel would certainly get a promotion, with a large bonus attached. All he needed was time, patience, and above all: care.
There was only one dangerous part left. They would have to transfer Logan from Department J in Canada, to the training base in Mendoza, Argentina. The base in Department J simply wasn't equipped for the kind of guerrilla warfare training Logan required. Weapon X would be asleep for the flight.
His career was looking up; life couldn't be better.
Date: 2 months later
Location: Salem Center, Westchester New York, Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning
The sun peaked out for a moment above the sprawling school, before dark clouds hid it from sight once more. Marie Darkholme, also known as Rogue to those around her at the institute, sighed from her spot in bed as she stared out the windows nearby, the churning clouds mirroring her thoughts. The weather had been rough lately, but Ororo had refused to do something about it. She kept saying stuff like 'balance in nature,' or things like that. Ms. Munroe probably liked this crappy weather. She thought with disgust.
In a rare fit of rebellion, Marie had taken the day off from school, not really wanting to do much of anything. Turning from the window, she flopped onto her back and, snuggling deeper into her pillow, she stared at the ceiling as she thought about her life. She'd been doing a lot of that lately.
Life sucked; that's all there really was too it.
Oh, she supposed that technically, life was supposed to be great. She had a caring and wonderful boyfriend in Bobby. And every day, Professor Xavier had been working with her so she could control her mutant ability. These days, if Marie concentrated hard enough, she could keep herself from absorbing a persons powers and personality when she touched them for almost five minutes. Professor X had claimed that, now that the barrier of control had been breached, she would have to concentrate less each time she tried, until soon she would have complete control over her powers, awake or asleep. 'Sort of like potty training,' Bobby would often laugh.
Bobby Drake--also known as Iceman because of the powers he wielded--and Marie, hadn't wasted much time getting physical after that. They would kiss in corners or cuddle in out of the way places and explored things that she had thought un-explore-able for her, until recently. She had really liked it, in a way. Still, something had seemed to be missing that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Now that she could put her finger on anything she wanted, so to speak.
Bobby had wanted to move beyond kissing and heavy petting, and into the realm of maybe something more, but she just wasn't ready for that. For whatever reason, when he tried to move beyond kissing, something inside of her just shut down. Despite the fact that she cared for him deeply, she couldn't get over the feeling that it just seemed wrong, somehow. It was pretty frustrating for both of them.
School was good too. She still had more than a year before she graduated to the college level, but the load never seemed like it was too much, even with the extra training sessions in the danger-room that every student over thirteen had to do. 'To keep in ship-shape,' Scott Summers would say, often grinning like a dork. After graduating, she had the option to stay at the school and continue on as a college student. So, in reality, she might well be a student at the institute until well into her mid twenties. Marie got along with everyone, even the fire manipulator James, who seemed to have an even worse attitude than Logan used to have.
That's why life sucked. He had been gone, searching for his past for nearly half a year now: almost five months. No word from him. Nothing! Not even a post card. Marie had taken to wearing his dog tags again, more out of frustration than anything else. She had taken them off after he had left, because after she had gotten together with Bobby, he had started to look at them in a funny way. As though Logan's tags were some kind of competition.
She had thought that ridiculous for a time, but Marie wasn't so sure anymore that they weren't. She liked Bobby a lot, but at the moment, it was a real toss-up whether she would rather have Logan's tags around, or Bobby. She had started to miss Logan that much. When she had first taken them off, bits and pieces of Logan were still floating around in her head, so setting the tags aside had seemed like a small thing.
But over the next few months, Logan had started to fade from his place in her mind, as though the tags had been a link that she had severed. That had hurt her more than she thought it would. Before he had faded, she'd nearly gone crazy with annoyance when one of his little quirks would somehow work through into her everyday life. Sometimes, it could be extreme.
Marie would do what others had dubbed 'pulling a Wolvie,' and only afterwards would she realize what had happened. Like the time she had been caught in the kitchen, downing beer after beer, having discovered a hidden cache that Logan had no doubt stored away, the last time he was there. She didn't even like beer.
She had wanted her own head back, and her freedom from other peoples' memories. She had others in her head, of course, and she could suppress those, to a degree. But not Logan, never him. Marie remembered wishing, wistfully, to be free of him--at least in her mind. She'd been perfectly happy being around the real Logan, and when Logan left, she thought she could be content just holding onto his tags--and after that, there was Bobby.
But after her wish came true, after his voice and emotions and passion for life had faded away, like echoes dying in a cave, she had realized how much she had grown to love him in there, trapped in her mind by her power.
Marie could admit (even if only to herself), that she'd had a huge crush on Logan ever since first running into him, in that sleazy bar in the middle of Canada. He was just so... so damn sexy! But she was also sure that she had it mostly under control, now. She knew that he was way too old for her, no matter how you looked at it. He was thirty at least, and at most… well, who knew how old? He could be the first man, for all they knew--although that never seemed to matter when he stared at you with that look he had. She shivered just thinking about it.
Realizing where her thoughts were leading her, and the dark alley they ultimately led, she quickly stomped down hard on them, trying to think of something else. She had Bobby! Bobby… had nice eyes--and he was sweet. He could make her laugh, and they could talk about nearly anything.
Of course, Bobby wasn't Logan, something inside of her had to add, and she sighed in defeat. She wished Logan would come back, so she could think about something else!
"Marie, would you please join me in my study? It is urgent," the Professors voice said suddenly inside her mind, causing her to squeak in fright.
Marie still wasn't really used to someone doing that. For a moment she worried that he might have picked up on her thoughts about Logan, but dismissed the notion. Her little fantasies weren't that urgent, and she was almost positive that more than a few girls--the teachers included--fantasized about him too.
"On my way, Professor," Marie said, after she could gather herself, her southern accent apparent even in her thoughts. "Uh, would you mind… knockin' or somethin' before you do that? Ah almost wet myself," she had to add after a moment, as she got up from her bed.
An amused chuckle floated into her mind. "I shall remember to do so next time," he responded, good humor in his tone.
Quickly, Marie slipped into a pair of loose jeans and a tank top followed by the thin gloves she was never without--even with her progress with her powers--before heading for the Professors' office. The wide polished wooden halls outside her room where quiet on the way to her destination, all of the other students not having skipped out on class. A bit of nervousness stole over her as she walked, thinking of possible reasons why she had been summoned. Was he angry that she had taken the day off in the middle of the week? She had never done so before, but she couldn't imagine the headmaster of the school being happy about it. She should have known she couldn't hide from a telepath.
Bobby had been helping her catch up with some of the harder subject matter lately, and as a result, her grades had never been better, so skipping one day wouldn't affect anything. But try explaining that to a teacher.
Before she knew it, she was outside of the professors' door, a growing sense of trepidation rising within her. Taking a deep breath, she silently opened one of the overlarge, thick double-doors and stepped inside, only to halt as she took in the room. A large expensively decorated window dominated one wall, showing the school grounds outside and below, while the weather churned above. Thick beams of rich oak wood arched above, crisscrossing in a dome at the ceiling with impeccable style, before running down again, framing grand bookcases set into two of the walls, which she knew from experience held everything from books on poetry to advanced mechanics. Besides the Professor, two of the senior members of the X-Men were there in the spacious office, looking at her as she entered.
Jean Grey sat in stately grace in the rooms' only couch. She was in her late twenties, absolutely beautiful with thick red hair and green eyes, and a doctor on top of it all. She was also the one Logan had a thing for, which had not only annoyed Jean's boyfriend, but secretly had driven Marie crazy too. Jean and Logan hadn't seemed to mind. Scott Summers, her boyfriend in his mid twenties--known to everyone at the school as Cyclops because of the red visor he wore to contain his mutant power from exploding from his eyes--sat next to Jean. His face was set in grim lines, but it was hard to tell what he was really feeling, with the visor hiding his eyes.
Professor Charles Xavier sat in his wheelchair behind a large, expansive desk littered with papers and books. The Professor was completely bald, but his strong face made him seem almost ageless. He could have been anywhere from in his forties to his sixties. No one had ever told Marie how he had wound up paralyzed, and she had never asked.
It took her a moment to notice that Bobby was in the room as well. He stood as far from the others as he could, his hands clasped behind his back as he looked at her nervously. He must have been feeling the pressure in the room too, as he spent some of his pent up energy by tapping his foot onto the hardwood floor. Like Marie, he was seventeen.
With soft brown hair and crystal blue eyes, he was one of the cutest boys at the school. At least she thought so. Marie had never really understood what he saw in her, but ever since she had arrived with Logan at the school, Bobby had been her closest friend. Kissing aside, she still wasn't sure what she felt for him yet, but whether they had a future together or not, she knew she always wanted him as a friend.
"Please, come in Rogue," the Professor beckoned when she didn't move.
Everyone called her that, after her first introductions, when she had been afraid of giving her real name to these people, these strangers. People seemed to think that she liked it even more than her given name, and she had never told anyone they were wrong. The only two people that knew she regretted the name she chose for herself in those first days were the Professor, and Logan. Logan knew because she told him everything. The Professor knew because he never needed to be told anything at all. When they were alone, the Professor addressed her as Marie. In public, it was always Rogue. It saddened her, because she knew she would never tell people that she now hated that name. It reminded her why she was different, why she could never let people get too close. Even with her increasing control over her powers.
Wanting to gauge how much shit had hit the fan before any of it landed on her, she glanced quickly at everyone as she moved towards a comfortable chair and sitting, hoping for clues. Jean smiled at her, offering support, while giving away nothing on her face, other than a sense that she was worried. Jean was always like that: supportive and calm, even when anyone else would be screaming in panic. Maybe that's why Logan had felt so attracted to her? Logan himself hadn't even been sure why he liked Jean so much, from what Marie had been able to tell before he had faded from her mind. That didn't change the fact that his feelings had been very real.
His feelings towards Marie had been depressingly real too--his purely protective, platonic feelings for her. The reminder of Logan's feelings towards Jean and herself brought a quick, irrational anger to her. She fought down a sudden urge to slap the redhead. She knew the emotion was not only useless, but also unfair to everyone, yet sometimes she couldn't help it. Again she suppressed the feeling firmly, looking towards Bobby's face next, having skipped Scott, knowing she would never be able to read Scott's face.
"Logan isn't my boyfriend, and he never will be! Bobby is!" Marie reminded herself sharply, feeling a stab of guilt as she looked at him.
Bobby's blue eyes caught her green ones for a heartbeat, before he quickly looked a way with a sickly smile that Marie figured was supposed to be comforting. Nowhere near as good at controlling his emotions as the adults in the room, his manner still told her nothing. He was worried about something. She got that much. But he was showing so many other emotions, confusing her. She thought she saw all sorts of things. His fear and nervousness and worry were obvious. But why did she feel like me might be angry--or jealous? Upset was an understatement for Bobby Drake, she decided.
Marie had a very bad feeling. "What's goin' on, Professor?" she asked uncertainly, wishing that her voice hadn't trembled.
"I am afraid that I have some news that might affect you, Rogue," the Professor began without preamble, probably wanting to get this over with. Singled out, Marie looked around nervously, while the Professor continued. "With Cerebro's aid, I have detected a mutant in South America, somewhere in the middle of the Rain Forest," he said, then paused a moment as he seemed to gather himself.
Seeing Marie nod that she was with him so far, the Professor began again.
"The unusual thing was, that I was not particularly looking for this mutant. He seemed to reach out to me. It was a cry for help – for anyone's help -- but I sensed it was, perhaps unconsciously, aimed my way. When I focused on him, I found that I recognized him, although his thought patterns where… different. He was confused… and angry, running from something he doesn't understand." The Professor stopped again, looking into Marie's now anxious expression.
With a sick feeling she thought she now knew who he was talking about, and prayed that she was wrong. What would he be doing in South America? The Professor had said that this might affect her. MIGHT?
"It was Logan," the Professor confirmed. "And he was in very real danger, although from what I could not tell. I tried speaking with him, but his emotions are too strong; I cannot get through. I am sending the team out to pick him up. I sense he may not… be himself, so I would ask that you, Rogue, go with them. You and he shared a bond, and we may need that bond to bring him back to us," Professor Xavier finished, sitting calmly as he waited for her answer, his gaze soft and sympathetic.
Heart beating wildly, she thought she replied to the Professor, agreeing to go. She thought she might be standing and clutching the dog tags that hung around her neck. She might have even sensed Bobby coming to her, offering support as he took her by the shoulders. She registered all of that happening to her in a scientific, detached way, but her mind was elsewhere. The man that had rescued her from a life alone and on the run, and later saved her life again, was now in trouble himself. Now he needed her. Was he okay? Stupid question. Of course he's not okay! A hundred possibilities arose in her mind in which he was not.
Suddenly she remembered another thing the Professor had said that raised alarm gongs in her mind; "You and he shared a bond, and we may need that bond to bring him back to us." SHARED? Past tense? The professor believed that the bond might not exist any longer, but was willing to give anything a try.
She realized that Bobby had said something that she missed.
"Rogue? Are you alright?" Bobby was saying, his eyes filled with worry. "You don't have to go if--"
"NO! Ah'm… ah'm fine," Marie said fiercely, looking around at her teachers. She appreciated Bobby's concern, but she wasn't the one in trouble. "When do we leave?" she demanded, needing to go, needing to be active.
"Immediately," Scott answered, receiving a nod from the Professor. "We're taking the jet."
"You had best hurry," Professor Xavier said, as his eyes suddenly grew distant. "I do not think we have much time. Be very careful, my X-Men. In his current state, Logan is capable of anything."
Bobby begged to come along, but was refused. The reason Bobby had been allowed into the briefing was because of his relationship with Rogue. The only reason Marie was allowed to come on the mission was because of her friendship with Logan. Marie, assuring Bobby that it was fine, followed the others out of the office to the elevator leading to the underground hanger, where they kept the SR-71 Blackbird, a private stealth transport plane with technology never seen before—at least not by Marie.
She often wondered where the Professor got this technology. She knew he was rich, but honestly, she doubted Bill Gates had the kind of technology they used at the Institute. She wrestled with her emotions, fighting to keep an optimistic view. This was Logan, after all. He could take care of himself. He would be okay! So why did it feel like she was lying to herself?
"Please be okay, Logan," Marie whispered to herself as she followed the rest into the jet.
Time: Eight hours later
Location: The outskirts of Sao Francisco, two hundred miles south of the Amazon on the Kingu' river, Brazil
The rain forest was a busy place. Like a city, it teamed with life and sounds that never slept, or paused. Like a city, it had predators and prey that stalked the jungle or fled through it, ever alert, ever active. The weather in the Rain Forest was as wild as the land below it, one minute rainy, the next sunny and back again, never settling. The Forest was alive in every sense of the word, and like most things that lived, it was slowly dying at the hands of man. Each year it shrank a little more as the cities it bordered grew. Despite it all, it was large and strong, and would not die easily.
The Kingu' River was fast moving. Insects buzzed across its surface while things best left undisturbed prowled its murky brown and green waters. Rocks and tree roots disturbed its smoothly rushing waters, and every now and then, the river dipped into small waterfalls. Near the mouth of one such waterfall, a naked young man hid. And coming closer, predators searched for him.
They were drawing close, again.
Panting, the naked young man bolted from his hiding place near the rushing river, as he heard and smelt his pursuers approach from two sides. Skipping from rock to rock with easy grace, he made his way halfway across the river before stopping, tensing, as more movement and shouts erupted in the direction he had been heading. He was surrounded, and they had seen him. A pair of freshly minted dog tags clinked against his bare chest when he turned to look, as men dressed in camouflage and carrying weapons of some sort, appeared behind him. He didn't know exactly what the weapons were, but they were almost as effective as his claws. The men carried them in two hands, and they were long and black and fire shot out of one end when they were used, making him hurt if he wasn't careful.
The young man had no clear idea how long he had been running. The days and nights blended together and ran as one in his mind. Somehow, they had found him again. He didn't pause to wonder how; they were smart and plentiful, with weapons and resources that he didn't have. Once, he had tried to use one of the black weapons after taking one from a man he'd killed, but as he was examining it, the weapon had barked at him and it hit him between the eyes, knocking him out. After awakening later, he had left the treacherous weapon behind; at least his claws were reliable.
Even in the danger he was in, he wondered again why this was all happening, and what his dreams meant. Nightmares really, and for a moment, he half remembered searing pain and screams, molten agony followed by welcome unconsciousness. But other than that and his name, he couldn't remember much of anything at all. Logan. He repeated it to himself, happy that he had something of his own. Something they hadn't taken from him.
Whoever they were.
Anything further back than his escape was met in his mind by a white fuzz and cold fear. This morning had been a little different at least, a break from his usual dreams of terror. For a moment, between a tranquil dream involving open spaces, and opening his eyes, he could have sworn someone he trusted was watching over him. He had needed to struggle to remember the definition of what trust was, to fit his feelings. Sometimes he could do that; remember concepts rather than learn them.
Before his escape, they had started to teach him how to talk, or they had helped him remember how, which was almost the same thing. They had done a lot of things to him, although who they were was a mystery to him. He remembered waking up strapped to something in a confined place. Looking out a near-by window he'd seen that they seemed to be in flight, as clouds passed by beneath him. The rest was a confused jumble in his memory.
He remembered somehow getting free of his restraints, and attacking the men in black who watched over him. He remembered opening up the side of the wall after he had finished killing them, and his surprise at being sucked out of the small room when he made a hole large enough to fit through. He hadn't realized until he was falling that the wall had protected him from the environment outside. Logan remembered his terror and a strange exhilaration as he fell, the view wonderful as the vast landscape of the Earth quickly rushed up to meet him, and he remembered agony followed by blackness when he hit the forest and then the floor in full free-fall.
He had awoken after the sun had set, in one piece, and alone. He liked being alone. They wanted something from him. They liked to hurt him, he knew that much. They wanted to hurt him more, forever maybe, or use him, and he would not allow it any longer, so they hated him for it. Anger burned in his belly against these men, a fire hot enough to topple mountains. He hated them with a passion and he clung to it, finding comfort; it was the only thing he knew.
Now surrounded, his mind worked furiously for an escape route, as instinctively, razor sharp claws tore from the backs of each hand, followed as always by a brief instant of agony even as the punctures the claws had made healed themselves. He tried to avoid unsheathing the claws if he could help it. Not because of the pain: he simply didn't like the audible SNIKT sound they made when he brought them out, which could give his position away if he wasn't careful. Not that it mattered now. Of course, the pain his claws caused only served to enrage him further, and he growled low in rage as adrenalin shot through his system.
He almost started towards them, but as the nearest man raised his weapon, he dove for the water instead, when he heard clearly the click the weapon made, followed by its predictable bark, throwing things at him he would rather not catch. He'd found out the hard way that the clicking sound heralded pain if he didn't move in time. The good news was that he almost always moved faster than them. When he was ready for them, at any rate.
His senses protected him. If they got close enough, his ears heard when his enemy shifted, his nose could smell their odor and the emotion they radiated that preceded their actions, his eyes could tell what a man would do by the way he bunched his muscles, and his reflexes were fast enough to allow him to act on his senses before they could. Usually.
He splashed into the river, hearing the soft yet sharp sounds the rocks that the weapons threw made, as they punched through the water, searching for him.
At first, Logan would kill the men when they came for him. He used to take his time and hunt them down even as they hunted him. But soon, it had become clear that while he was killing a few of them, it gave the rest time to catch up, and they never stopped, no matter how many he killed. So instead, he ran, and it had worked for a while. Though they seemed to be getting better at finding him these days, and he was beginning to wonder if he shouldn't go back to the first plan after all. At least that way, he got to hurt them. He found that he liked hunting.
Quickly, Logan sank and settled at the bottom of the fairly deep river, accompanied by a cloud of mud that the river quickly carried away. Logan had learned how to swim, after a fashion, but a lot of times, it was easier to simply walk on the bottom of the river. He had little natural buoyancy, it seemed. He often wondered why the men chasing him never followed him down and gave chase. If he could sink like a stone, why couldn't they? Not one to question good fortune, he had long given up on the how's and why's of it. It just was. So he quickly marched down the river, allowing the current to help him, holding his breath and managing a smirk, confident in his escape.
His confidence was shattered and his eyes widened when the ground beneath him dropped away, and he cursed himself even as he pitched over the waterfall. He had forgotten about that. Falling, he found enough air to let out a surprised howl before he landed into the waters below, falling sharply onto the stones waiting for him at the bottom. Cursing, and losing precious air in the process, Logan allowed the river to carry him away, and allowed his body to heal the open wounds the fall had caused him.
After a few minutes, annoyed and wet, but with his wounds healed, he crawled out of the river onto the bank, taking great gulps of air as he looked around cautiously, searching for an enemy. Sniffing for their scent, he relaxed, realizing that he had escaped them, for the moment. Standing up, he broke into a run through the trees, hoping to widen the gap even more before the day ended.
Branches and undergrowth flashed past him as he ran; the forest a kaleidoscope of vibrant greens and browns and other colors that were at once exotic and wild, beautiful in their freedom.
Finally, exhausted and satisfied that he would not be caught that day; Logan stopped in a clearing in the trees, and stared panting at the sky, a clear blue, marbled with the gray tendrils of rain clouds. He wondered briefly again why he was hunted and who he was. His name was many things to him, but it couldn't tell him that. With a frustrated sigh he settled down on his haunches, resting his back against a tree, still staring at the sky; which was why he was watching when a giant black monster hovered above the clearing, large enough to block his view of the sky beyond.
Startled, Logan jumped to his feet, his mouth opened wide in shock as he stared at it. It looked like a strange, oversized bird to his mind as he stared at it in numb surprise. The bird shrieked at him, a constant whine to his ears, and a wind rose up from underneath it to blast him, although he couldn't see its wings beating. Looking closer, he realized with a shock that the sun was gleaming off its featherless ebony skin as it hung there, suspended.
Slowly, the monster started to settle, clearly bent on landing in Logan's clearing. Idly, Logan wondered how it tasted. It was then that he spotted a window that he had at first taken to be the monsters eye, and saw that a woman in black with red hair was peering back down at him. Not a bird then. More like a flying vessel of some sort. Even as Logan noted this, the bird descended, preparing to land in the clearing. He pictured what it might look like inside the bird. Did it have the same hollow hall he remembered from his escape, before he fell? Were there similar men in black, waiting inside of it? Logan snarled, knowing then that he couldn't even run from them any longer. If he ran, they would obviously just continue to chase him from the air. He would have to stand and fight.
His claws shot out once more, the pain a reminder that he could not let them have him again. Grimacing, he retracted the claws again, knowing how hard it was to use his hands with them out. He was struggling to get used to only bringing them out when he absolutely needed them.
Casting about himself, he started searching for a place to spring his attack.
Marie set foot onto the forest floor with a sigh of relief, glad to be out of the plane, at least for a while. Her nerves had been on edge the entire flight over, and she had ignored any conversation on the way. She knew it was rude, but at that point, it was either she tuned out conversation, or she broke down and screamed out her worry. She liked to think she had made the right choice.
The Blackbirds' Onboard Cerebro Navigational System, or the OCNS as Scott called it, had pinpointed Logan's position within moments of entering Brazilian airspace. Once the OCNS had a mutant located, it was nearly impossible to shake. She stepped down the ramp after it opened up to the forest, following Scott, although she knew she should think of him as Cyclops while on a mission. The red ruby quartz visor covering his eyes reflected the vegetation around them as he looked about, getting his bearings. The engines wound down, and soon after Jean appeared on the ramp, looking around cautiously.
"Are you sure you saw him, Jean?" Marie asked as she continued her search.
"He was watching as the plane landed, naked as the day he was born," Jean affirmed, looking a little uncomfortable. "He looked… different," she added, after a moment.
Marie felt sick with worry as she looked around for a sign of Logan. The OCNS had indicated that he was directly below the plane, and Jean had seen him, after all. Why hadn't he come out yet?
"Spread out," Cyclops ordered, slipping into the role of team leader easily. "Don't lose sight of each other."
"LOGAN!" Marie called anxiously, sure that he was close enough to hear.
Figuring it was a good idea, Jean and Cyclops yelled out for Logan too, as they all slowly moved away from the safety of the plane towards the forest. The trees were vast, spreading their branches heavenward as though claiming the sky for themselves. Alive was the word Marie felt mostly defined them. Everything around her, from the leaves and branches of the trees, to the strange vines and bushes that filled in the spaces in-between—everything–was a rich and vibrant green or dark brown. The forest was absolutely still, in the wake of the Blackbirds landing.
Still fairly close together, they all stopped at the fringes of what looked like an impossibly thick forest. Vines and bushes and trees vied for dominance against each other, while a few boulders covered in moss sat stubbornly against the vegetation. 'It would be very easy to get lost, in something as tangled as this place was,' Marie supposed. How were they going to find Logan in THAT?
Marie turned to Cyclops, about to repeat her inner monologue aloud, when everything went to hell.
A howl that chilled her to the bones erupted from the undergrowth directly next to Cyclops, accompanied by an explosion of dirt and leaves as a figure sprang out, plowing into the surprised X-Man and taking him to the ground. Marie jumped and shrieked in surprise, her heart hammering in her throat, as Cyclops rolled with his attacker, the two of them exchanging nasty body blows. Skidding to a halt a few yards back, they sorted themselves out, with Cyclops prone on his back while a very angry, very naked Wolverine growled, crouching on top of him.
"Logan, NO!" Marie screamed as she ran towards him, hearing a similar yell erupt from Jean.
Logan, perhaps too deep into a berserker rage to hear, slammed his fist down into Scott's face before anyone could do anything more than yell, thankfully without the claws. Unfortunately for Logan, the hit broke open Scott's visor. With a crackle, the energy the visor usually held in check poured out in a devastating torrent, before Cyclops could close his eyes.
Caught with no where to dodge, a surprised Logan was hit directly in his chest and neck, hurtling him up and off of Scott, to slam forcefully into a tree, where he fell limply to the ground in a heap. His bones, bonded to Adamantium, were heavy; moments later the tree trunk he'd hit cracked, starting to split in two, and as gravity took effect, it broke off to follow him to the ground, the tree trunk slamming on top of him with a deafening crash and a resounding thud, causing debris to fly everywhere as the three X-Men watched in dismay.
With a bloody eye squeezed shut, Cyclops got back up, wavering a little, his visor hiding his open eye from view.
"Jean, lift the tree, but be ready to drop it back onto him if we need to," he ordered with more calm than Marie thought she would be able to muster if she were in his place. Logan had just mauled the man, and Cyclops looked as calm as he had been before the attack!
"Right," she agreed after a moment, as one of her hands rose to her temple in concentration.
Even after all of her months living at the X mansion, Marie still felt that same awe as she watched another human, do something she had grown up believing was impossible. With a wobbly lurch the tree arose up into the air, to hover about five feet over the ground.
Expecting to see a flattened Wolverine, Marie gasped when she realized that he was gone, the ground bloody to mark the place where the tree had slammed into him.
"W-where do you think he is?" Marie wondered aloud, taking an involuntary step towards the spot.
"JEAN! Drop the tree!" Cyclops shouted abruptly, his voice tinged with panic. To late, as with another reverberating howl, Logan leaped from his place in the tree Jean had lifted, closing the distance between him and Jean faster than Marie could even gather breath to scream a warning. With a flying leap, Wolverine barreled into the surprised redhead in the same manner he had tackled Cyclops. But unlike Cyclops, Jean wasn't as physically tough. Shrieking in fright and shock, unable to concentrate to bring her powers into focus, Jean went down. By the time the tree trunk Jean had been holding thumped to the ground without her power supporting it, she was out cold, her red hair fanned around her. Standing over her, Logan turned to snarl at Cyclops, his eyes icy and feral.
With a snarl of his own, Cyclops opened his eye, letting a beam of pure energy shoot towards Logan. As though expecting the attack, Logan was already moving, the beam clipping his arm as he dodged to the side. With an inhuman howl Logan was whipped around by the strength of the beam, tumbling him to his side, but he caught himself quickly and continued moving anyway, his muscular arm dark and burnt.
Frustrated, aiming high to avoid accidentally hit Jean, who lay unmoving behind Logan, Cyclops continued his attacks, taking the shots he knew wouldn't harm the girl on the ground. Cyclops frowned, growing desperate as with each dodge, Wolverine grew closer to him, until with a final cry, he crashed into Cyclops again, his fist connecting solidly with Scott's chin, even as, with a cut-off whoop of victory, Cyclops nailed Logan again with a beam, this time directly in his face.
Frozen in horror, Marie could only watch as both men pitched sprawling onto their backs, knocked out, Logan's face a smoky ruin.
"Oh-my-god, oh-my-god," she chanted to herself as she took tentative step towards them. Nothing in the danger room had prepared her for this. Even as she watched, Logan's face was healing.
"Oh-my-GAWD," she squeaked as, now that the action was over, she took in just how naked Logan was. Playgirl pinups had nothing on Logan, she decided. Her face reddened as she realized what she was doing. He almost killed us! Stop checkin' him out!
She couldn't help herself. She had dreamed about this–literally. A pained groan erupted from Logan, as with a hammering heart, she realized he was waking up. 'What am ah supposed to do!' She wondered frantically while, trembling, she took off her gloves, hoping against hope he would listen to reason. Staring at his face, she got another shock as it hit her just how… young, he seemed. Just a few years older than her! This WAS Logan, wasn't it? After all, he hadn't shown his claws and…
Her doubts were dashed as with a sharp SNIKT, claws sprouted from Logan's hands while he rolled smoothly into a crouch, regarding her with a predators gaze. Logan had never looked at her the way he was looking at her now, as though he were a wolf deciding how to reach the chicken. She fought the urge to wet herself. He looked like he was going to kill her! Just like that, with no more remorse than Marie would have over eating a hard-boiled egg.
Marie started to raise her hands in a calming gesture, but it seemed that was exactly what Logan had been waiting for. Between one breath and the next, Logan was inside of her guard, and she was on the ground, his claws poised above her. She hardly noticed the transition, as with harsh breaths she struggled to control her terror.
"No Logan, please, god no," she whimpered, searching his ice blue eyes for any sign of hope or mercy. Logan tensed as though to strike, but his face clouded in confusion as he stared back down at her, his fists trembling slightly as he fought some inner battle.
"Lo-gan," he repeated, breathing the name brokenly, his foul breath attesting to long weeks without a toothbrush. "Why?" he demanded, his fists shaking as his claws inched down towards her, halting before they touched her. With a SNAKT sound, his claws disappeared into his arms again, as he glared down at her.
"Ah don't…" Marie began, only to be cut off with a squeak, as he grabbed her by the throat in one large hand.
"WHY!" he howled, only rage showing in his eyes now.
He had chosen the wrong place to grab her. In her fright, Marie had forgotten about her own ability. Reflexively, she grabbed onto the arm holding her throat with both hands. Her neck was only half covered by her suit; the rest was clutched firmly in Logan's hand. Logan's face reflected his pain, as his system started to shut down, his expression changing to mystification as he struggled to understand what was happening to him. Marie gasped as, with a rush, Logan's life flowed into her, his personality plowing its way into her mind with hurricane force.
All at once, months of hard living punctuated with terror-filled memories and dreams assaulted her, blocking out the here and now. For hard, long moments, she saw life through his eyes; felt it with his heart; thought it using his mind. She found that Logan knew almost nothing. Nothing but terror and anger, confusion and pain, as he ran from the men in black as the sun arose until long after it set. He knew basic English, most of it remembered, some of it taught. And hunting; he knew the hunt. Then she watched through his eyes, as the monster appeared in the sky, landing, allowing more people in black to emerge from it. These men in black looked different, and carried no black weapons.
But he was not fooled, even as they shouted his name. They were his enemy–his curse. It had only been through the fact that they carried no weapons--as he knew them--that he had kept the claws sheathed. Perhaps he could speak with them. Convince them to leave him be. He would attack the larger ones first, leaving him to speak with the smaller one. She felt his rage and torment as though the emotions were her own, until finally, laboriously, she pushed it back, finding her own thoughts and feelings at last.
With a start she found Logan beside her with his hand still weakly clutching her neck, his mouth frothing as his body went through massive convulsions.
"LOGAN!" she screamed as she realized what she had done to him. What he had done to himself in his ignorance.
This wasn't the Logan she had known. This was the Wolverine as he had been fifteen years before. Whoever had experimented on Logan all those years ago, had reached him again. They'd done it to him again, torturing him, while she'd stayed safe at home, enjoying life in the mansion. Putting on her gloves, she gathered him up in her suddenly strong arms, using her borrowed strength to rest his now still head in her lap, as tears spilt out onto her cheeks.
She was just as guilty as the monsters that had done this to him. She was guilty of abandonment. He had needed her, while she had been safe at home, kissing Bobby. That she couldn't have known about his captivity didn't seem like a good enough excuse to her. She should have gone with Logan. She could have found a way; he'd never said no to her for long.
"Ah'm so sorry," she sobbed into his dirty black hair, as she clutched him, rocking.
"Don't be," Jean's voice slurred from a small distance away. "I think you just saved our lives."
Without thinking, she looked up into Jean's weary, bruised face, and snarled a challenge as the telepathic woman drew closer. Marie was pulling a 'Wolvie', but she couldn't bring herself to fight it, or care.
Suddenly wary, Jean slowed and stopped, her intelligent green eyes assessing the situation. "We're just going to put him on the plane, Rogue. Okay? We'll put Logan on the plane, and Scott, and we'll go home. I promise," she explained carefully, in a soothing voice, crouching down until she was eye level with Marie.
Realizing what she was doing, Marie struggled a moment, pushing again at the part of Logan's new personality that had come to the fore without her permission. It took all of Marie's self control to nod in Jean's general direction and help her carry Logan into the medical bed inside the X-jet. Jean didn't speak with Marie the entire time they strapped the unconscious Logan down, or while they picked up Scott and settled him into the other bed on the opposite wall. Jean shared certain traits with Professor X, such as never needing to be told something.
O-ooookay, there's the first chapter. I wrote this story differently than my others... I like to experiment. Hopefully I can get more out to you! Did you enjoy it? Hate it? I liked it, personally. I always wanted to read a story about a younger Logan in a modern setting. Until next time, see yah!