For the thousandth time that day Ororo Monroe wondered if she was making the biggest mistake of her life. She was seated in the back of a long black limo, across from a man she had met only a handful of times recently, heading towards his upper New York estate. Her hand tightened reflexively on the bottle of water in her hand. If she wasn't careful she was going to spill her Perrier all over the expensive leather interior of the car.

"Nervous?" The man across from her asked.

Ororo raised one snow white eyebrow. "No."

He copied the look, saying nothing. His skepticism was written all over his face.

Ororo crossed her arms, staring out the heavily tinted windows of the limo, briefly wondering if they were bulletproof.

"They are." Her companion replied.

Ororo gave him a startled look. "Don't do that," she said taking a sip from her green bottle, her eyes never leaving his.

"My apologies. Habit, you know."

"No. I don't know. In general I like to mind my own business."

Silence again.

The limo was turning now, Ororo realized, closing her eyes, allowing her body to feel the movement of the vehicle. They were climbing a slight incline, stopping in front of a heavy wrought iron gate so that the driver could enter some security code, allowing them access to the estate beyond.

"I think you will be happy here, Ororo."

For a moment she did not reply, then capping her drink muttered, "Beats jail."

She pressed the small intercom button on her right, allowing her to speak with the driver. "Hey, Jeeves, you might want to check the tire pressure in the rear right tire. It feels a bit low."

"Of course, Miss Munroe." Came a level cultured tone.

The car was slowing, turning again. A winding drive? She wondered. Suddenly she felt a twinge in her stomach. Was she really going to do this? Was she really about to join a team of mutant superhero crime fighters? Could she stay in one place for more than two nights? Could she place herself in contact with other people once again? Ignoring all the questions racing through her mind she instead thought about the reason she had agreed to come to this place and firmed her resolve. She didn't have a choice.

"Ready?" Her companion again.

"Sure." She sounded far more certain than she felt.

The car door was suddenly opened, and a tall, aging gentleman was leaning in, holding out his hand for hers. "Miss Munroe?"

Taking the outstretched hand, allowing the driver to assist her from the limo Ororo found herself staring at the most beautiful home she had ever seen. Deep red brick trimmed in white, large columns supporting the front porch, bright green ivy climbing the sides of the building, clinging to it like a lover reluctant to let go. Ororo placed one hand over her already shaded eyes, taking in the expansive yard. A pool shimmered in the distance, tennis and basketball courts on either side of the facility. Several expensive looking cars in the driveway ahead of the limo, and she assumed several more in the large garage alongside the mansion.

Large and Luxurious were the two words that popped into her mind. Instantly she began to memorize the layout, the easiest ways in and out, the rooms most likely to have--


"Sorry. Habit, you know."

Her companion coughed into his hand. He allowed her another moment of gawking before saying, "Welcome, Ororo, to the Xavier Institute."

"Home of the X-Men," she said nodding. "Tell me, Charles, you having a bit of an ego trip here or what?"

Before Professor Charles Xavier could answer he picked up on a mental image and rolled his wheelchair to the right.

"Heads!" A shout sounded half a second before a football slammed into the window of the limo, in the spot Xavier's head had been but a moment ago, bouncing off and spinning at Ororo's feet.

She bent down retrieving it and when she stood she was face to face with a very large mutant, steel skin glinting in the bright sun.

"Sorry. Bobby's got no game." the sizeable man said, voice accented thick Russian.

"Hey! I heard that!" A flash of silver and cold as another mutant whizzed by on what appeared to be an ice slide, dousing the larger mutant with a pile of snow.

The first young man was looking at her, cocking his head, seemingly oblivious to the snow dripping down his metal torso. "You new?"

Ororo nodded, uncapping her water and taking another long drink, noticing that her arrival was drawing a small crowd. She twisted the black band she wore around her wrist in agitation. Great. Just great.

Jean Grey was sitting underneath one of the large oak trees that dotted the front lawn of the Institute, a red and white checked blanket underneath her, her current flame, Wolverine laying beside her, arms behind his head, watching her with glittering black eyes.

She leaned over him, sliding her mouth over his. He slipped one hand into her shoulder length red hair, letting her kiss him. She shifted slightly so that her chest was pressed against his. "Ever make love outdoors?" she whispered, voice husky.

"No," he responded in his deep graveled voice. "But I have fucked outside a couple of times."

"Jeez, Wolverine." Jean pushed away from him. "That was classy."

He said nothing, just placing his muscular arm back behind his head, causing the black material of his T-shirt to tighten over his broad chest.

Jean groaned, God he was so sexy. He positively oozed sex, she thought, her hand trailing lightly over his stomach. She was about to kiss him again when she noticed several of the students making their way towards the front gate. "Wonder what's going on?" she said.

Wolverine tilted his head back, looking in the direction Jean had been. "Looks like Chuck brought a new recruit."

"That's odd. He usually sends me to pick them up."

"Maybe this one's personal." Wolverine said on a yawn. He really didn't give a shit about yet another sniveling teenage puppy Chuck was bringing to take up space.

Jean noticed Scott Summer's walking towards the gate at an accelerated rate, and her eyes narrowed. "C'mon." she said. "Let's go take a peek at the latest freak."

Wolverine grunted, closing his eyes. "All set, Jeannie."

"That's all right. I'll just go with Scott." she said icily, getting to her feet. She was halfway to the driveway when she felt the hair on the nape of her neck stand on end and knew that Wolverine was sauntering behind her. She smiled.

It was a bit unsettling that effect he had on her, she thought as she walked, most times she felt like lame prey to his predator. That was part of the attraction, she supposed, he was the ultimate challenge. The wild card. The maverick. Mr. unpredictable. She had just about every male at the school panting after her, and some of the females, willing to do her bidding, jumping through her hoops. Including Wolverine, even if he was a little slower than most at getting around to it. But unlike the others there was always an edge to him, a limit to what he was willing to give and what he was willing to take. That didn't really bother Jean, she liked this game they played. She liked being the good girl with the bad boy, the one no one else could have, or no one else dared to have. It was exciting, and it was a huge ego boost.

Approaching a smaller group of people that included Cyclops and Beast, Jean asked, "What's going on?"

"New recruit." Scott said. His jaw tightened at the sight of Wolverine. "The Professor just got back."

"Who is it?"

"That has yet to be determined as it is currently next to impossible to garner visual confirmation of this new prodigal son." that was Hank McCoy, Beast to the fellow X-Men.

"Right." Jean rolled her eyes. "Okay, separate." she commanded. Not surprisingly several people moved aside to let her through. Wolverine wrapped one arm across her shoulders, flashing Scott a predatory grin, leading Jean down the sloped lawn towards the drive. Scott trailed behind them scowling.

As soon as the made their way to the front of the crowd forming they noticed the new recruit. Standing beside the professor was a woman with creamy caramel skin, dressed in faded blue jeans, frayed at the waist, a ball cap and sunglasses, wearing a black sleeveless top with the words 'Mutants Do It Better!' printed in bright white letters across the front of it. She was lean but well curved, Wolverine noted giving her a brief once over. Her crossed arms were toned and tight, but the ample globes resting on top of them were soft and well formed. She seemed more rugged, stronger than the usual X-females he had come across. She lifted her head as if sensing she was being studied, but quickly turned her attention back to the man in the wheel chair at her side as he said something only she could hear.

As the four of them approached the mystery woman removed her ball cap and sunglasses, tossing them back through the still open door of the limo with a careless flick, then looked at Xavier, muttering, "Happy now."

When she turned back to face them Wolverine felt like he had been punched in the gut. She was absolutely breathtaking. A mass of shiny white hair tumbled down her back and over one shoulder, shining and glinting in the sunlight. Without her sunglasses he was able to see her almond shaped, outrageously blue eyes, framed by thick long black lashes. Her lush lips were pursed slightly as if she were concentrating, but even so he could tell they were full and plump.

"Whoa." Said Scott softly from behind him.

"Yeah. Whoa." Hank echoed.

"Ah, Marvel Girl, Cyclops, I'm glad you're here. I would like you to meet the newest member of our team--" Xavier began, gesturing towards the woman next to him.

"Storm." Ororo said hurriedly.

"Storm." Charles finished, giving Ororo a small smile. "Storm these are some of your fellow X-men. Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Hank McCoy and Wolverine."

"Hello." She held each of their gazes steadily, even his Wolverine noticed, mildly impressed by that. There were few people who could look him straight in the eye. Her gaze lingered on him the longest, almost warily as if she had picked up that he was the most dangerous of the people in front of her. He could smell no fear, but her eyes watched his movements carefully, guardedly.

They were all staring at her. Ororo tried not to be bothered by their open looks, after all she had gotten those looks for most of her life. The dark girl with the white hair. She rarely went unnoticed, but she had hoped that here may be a little different. There were so many other mutants hanging around, why fixate on her?

She studied the people around her carefully. The petite red head was smiling at her, but it looked a trifle forced. She was a pretty girl, Ororo thought. Her fiery tresses flaring out around her oval face, vivid green eyes and cute button nose.

However it was the man beside her, with his arm draped around the redhead's shoulders that caught her attention and held it. He practically screamed dominant male. Dominant male and Danger. He was well built, muscular and handsome. No, handsome wasn't the word, he was far more than that. He exuded animal magnetism, drawing her attention to him. His dark ebony hair stood in wild disarray, save for two thick locks resting over his forehead. One side of his mouth was tilted up in a knowing smile. What is it you think you know? She wondered.

All of his features were commanding, but it was his dark gaze that held her rooted where she stood. She had felt it before she saw him. Now he was looking at her, mouth quirked, his eyes boring into her like he could see every secret she had, every hidden part of her. It was a feeling she disliked intensely.

Moving her gaze to the man Charles had called Cyclops Ororo extended her hand. She remembered Xavier telling her who the leader of the X-men was, and who she would be trained under. She couldn't see his eyes because of the ruby red shades he wore, but she got the impression of friendly eyes.

"Nice to meet you," she said.

"Uhm, uh, yeah. Nice to see you. I mean meet you." Scott corrected lamely taking her hand. He had a decent grip, she noted. Strong, but not overpowering. You could tell a lot about a person from their handshake she had learned over the years.

"Is he always this articulate?" Ororo asked the large, furry man next to Cyclops.

"Huh?" He asked, blinking rapidly.


"Come, Storm. I will show you to your room, then perhaps you'd care to join me for dinner." Charles said.

"Sounds like a plan." Ororo said. "Hey, Jeeves, need hand with those bags?" She asked over her shoulder.

"His name is Winston." the redhead corrected, her tone contemptuous.

"Yeah, I know." Ororo stated, a bit unnerved by the open animosity she was sensing coming from the other woman. She turned her back to them, making her way to the rear of the limo. "Here, let me." She took her single bag from the older man's hands.

"It is no trouble at all, Miss Munroe." Winston argued.

"I know, but you know us modern independent women. Can't have a man do anything for us, for fear that we'll be shoved back into the kitchen, frilly pink apron tied around our waist and the shackles of motherhood clamped around our ankles. Blame Judith Butler and her strong essays on gender roles," Ororo said lifting her bag. "Thanks anyway, Jeeves." She gave him a wink. Without another word Ororo followed Charles up the drive, not giving them even a backward glance.

"Wow." Hank said.

"Too bad you're taken," Scott said, referring to Hank's longtime girlfriend Cecilia Richards.

"Alas, you are correct my fearless leader, my heart is spoken for by a veritable angel among mortals. However, you are as single as they come."

"Thanks for the reminder." Scott grinned. "Hey, Professor, Storm wait up!" He sprinted up the drive.

"Hnh." Wolverine grunted.

"With a name like Storm one must wonder what her powers are?" Beast mused aloud.

"'You mean besides the amazing ability t'stick her chest out?" Jean grumbled.

Wolverine looked down at her one eyebrow raised. She was staring after Storm and the Professor, glaring daggers. "Well, well, darlin'. Jealous?"

"Of that? Hardly."

"Jean, you don't even know her," Hank admonished, surprised by his friend's reaction.

"I don't have to eat shit to know I won't like it." Jean said. "Come on, Wolverine." She tugged his arm.

"Naw. I'm all set, Red. I think I'll take a spin."

"Can I come?"

Wolverine looked at her. She knew he didn't take anyone with him on his bike, that was his baby, his solitude. Jean glowered, then spinning on her heel walked away, sending him the mental image of her flipping him off. "Women." He growled.

Jean found the Professor, Scott and Storm on the second floor of the Institute. They were standing in the hallway, talking amiably amongst each other. Xavier turned his head, sensing her approach.

"Hello, Jean We were just about to show Storm her room."

"Oh. Whee, what fun."

Scott gave her a look at her sarcastic tone. Xavier raised one eyebrow. "So which one is it?" She asked, ignoring them.

"It's not on this floor. As a matter of fact, Scott will have to show you as I can't take my wheelchair up the narrow steps. When you are settled have Cyclops bring you to my office. We have much to discuss."

"Sure, Charles." Ororo said. She gave into her impulse and bent, kissing the man on his bald head.

Charles? Jean grit her teeth. She had been an X-man for two years and she still called Xavier Professor. And kiss him? She wouldn't dream of it.

"Shall we?" Scott was saying to Storm, holding his elbow out to her.

"We shall," said Storm, placing her hand in the crook of his arm.

"Coming Jean?" he called over his shoulder as they made their way down the hallway. She didn't answer but fell into step behind them. Where were they going? The only thing up this way was the attic? Was Xavier stuffing the new girl in the attic. Jean smiled a little at the thought.

Once at the top of the stairs Scott fished a silver key out of his pocket. "Here you go," he handed it to Storm.

She tilted her head then, without the key, turned the handle. The door opened easily. "Not locked."

"Uh, yeah. Well, this is yours anyway." He pressed the key into her hand, disconcerted by her direct gaze. Scott had the feeling she was studying him, assessing his actions. Watching him. It reminded him way to much of Wolverine to be comfortable.

"Thanks guys, I got it from here." She stepped through the door, closing it gently behind her, ignoring the surprised droop of Cyclops mouth.

The inside of the attic was beautiful. The hardwood floors had been stripped and polished, a large bed sat in the center of the room beneath a large open skylight, the white ruffles of the bed skirt rustling in the breeze. A potted orchid sat on a dark cherry nightstand, a small card next to the base. Ororo set her bag down, walking over to the flower, picking up the card. On it, written in unfamiliar handwriting, were two simple words, but they made her chest feel tight. Welcome Home.

Once the contents of her single bag were unpacked and sorted Ororo looked around her room once more. She couldn't believe what a great room she had. Wide and spacious, complete with sky light and it's own balcony. Perfect, she thought pushing open the glass double doors, the sheer pale curtains fluttering in the breeze. She leaned against the railing taking in the expansive yard that lay below her. There were still several people roaming around in the yard, and the mutants she had seen earlier were still playing football. In the distance she heard the unmistakable rumble of thunder and sighed contentedly. Mother nature was whipping up a doozey. Hating to depart the balcony before the shower began, Ororo reluctantly walked back into her room, closing the double doors behind her. Time to get ready for dinner with Charles.

From the courtyard below Wolverine glanced up, catching a glimpse of snow white hair and stunning profile as the newest recruit turned away from the third story balcony railing and walked back inside. She was damn pleasant to look at, he thought. Not your typical cookie cutter beauty, that one. No she was exotic and wild, and had the scent to match. Earthy, natural and very pleasant. He remembered the punched in the gut feeling he got when he'd first seen her, mildly surprised that he felt it again just now.

"Wolverine. There you are." Jean called, marching towards him from the porch, her red hair flaming in the fading sunlight.

"Red." He flicked his lighter, cupping his hand around the flame as the wind picked up, lighting the cigar clenched between his teeth. She gave him a reproachful glare. He sat silent.

"You know the Professor hates you smoking."

"I'm outside," he said flatly. "What do ya need, Jean?"

"I was hoping you and I could go into town and spend some quality time together." She said, running her fingertips along his arm. Wolverine was once again silent, and Jean wished that she could read his mind, but she couldn't. Wolverine was damn near impervious to telepathy. No getting in unless he wanted you to.

"Well?" she prodded when he didn't say anything.

Just then Scott appeared on the front porch, and though his eyes were hidden behind his visor Wolverine knew he was looking straight at him and Jean. Smiling his sexiest smile, Wolverine leaned in, kissing the corner of Jean's mouth, then running his tongue against the seam of her lips. She sighed, easily melting into him.

Scott turned away, fists clenched. He strode back in the mansion, only looking back once.

"Is that a yes?" Jean asked breathlessly.

Wolverine pulled back slightly, smile gone. "Not tonight, Jean." He pushed himself away from her, striding across the pavement to the garage. He was ready for that ride now.

Back inside the mansion Scott strode down the halls, his teeth grinding. What did she see in that animal? He wondered for what felt like the hundredth time.

"Hi. It's Scott, right?"

Scott turned, drawn to the sound of a warm sultry voice. Storm stood in the open lobby, her head tilted to one side, long white braid draping over her bare shoulder. When he didn't respond right away she assumed he hadn't heard her. She walked towards him, her long cream colored sundress fluttering at her ankles as she moved, barefoot, across the marble tiles.

"Or do you prefer Cyclops," she said when she was next to him.

"Cyclops is fine." he said at last. She was nearly as tall as he was, Scott noticed. She was looking at him with those eyes that saw too much again and he looked away unnerved. "Ready for your dinner?" he asked.

"As I'll ever be," she muttered.

"Normally we all eat in the dining hall with everyone else, but the Professor would like to have dinner with you in his office," Scott said as they made their way down the hall. They reached the elevator but Storm stepped away from it. "Are there stairs?" she asked.

Confused Scott said, "Uh, yeah. Over there."

"Thanks." Storm moved towards the stairwell.

"Do you want me to come with you?" he asked.

"No, I'm pretty good at finding my way." Storm made her way down the stairs. The boy scout was nice enough, she mused, but he had a serious stick lodged deep in his backend. She could tell by the rigid set of his shoulders, and the slightly arrogant tilt of his jaw, like he was trying to prove something. She felt a little guilty for thinking that about the guy, but she called 'em like she saw 'em.

Storm followed the hall until she came to a large mahogany door.

"Enter." Came a mild male voice.

Ororo frowned, she hadn't even knocked yet. Opening the door she said, "You know, Charles, it wouldn't kill you to not do that."

Charles chuckled. "You always seem to say exactly what's on your mind, Storm."

She shrugged. "Why not?"

"It is not an insult, it's refreshing. You'd be surprised how many people don't do that."

She raised one eyebrow.

"All right," he conceded, "maybe you would believe it."

"Mmhm." Ororo glanced around the room. It was nice, sparsely decorated, but nice. A large potted plant stood in one corner, its green leaves turning brown at the tips. She moved towards it, running her hand along the leaves, and stems. "You should take better care of your plants."

"I know," Charles agreed. "But it is difficult to find the time."

Ororo said nothing, forming a small rain cloud in the palm of her hand, sprinkling the dry soil until it was rich brown.

"That is one of the things I wished to speak with you about," Charles was saying.

"You want me to water your plants?" she asked skeptically.

"No. But I would like you to teach a Botany class."

Storm paused in her watering, casting Xavier a disbelieving look over her shoulder. "You're kidding."

"No. I am very serious."

"Look, Charles, I appreciate that this is some sort of mutant high as well as a training facility for your world renowned X-men, but I am not a teacher, nor do I have the inclination to be one."

"Storm. A condition of your being here was that you would work for me for at least one year. It's not much to ask, in return for a home." He rolled his chair to the window, looking outside. He knew that a home was the one thing Ororo Munroe desired more than anything. It was a desire he could use to his advantage if necessary.

"I agreed to join your little group of vigilantes." Storm said, irritation growing.

He turned his head back to her. "The X-Men are far more than 'vigilantes', they are teachers, trainers and role models for the younger students."

Storm scoffed. "Yeah, a pick-pocket, car-jacker and all around thief is just the type of role model you want a kid to have."

Charles frowned at her sarcasm. "In a perfect world, no. I would not want to have you as a role model for my students. However, the world is far from perfect and my students need to be prepared for the hardships they'll face as mutants. They need to be able to defend themselves. Besides, I will have need of several of the skills that you mentioned."

Storm was quiet for a moment. Then she asked, "If I refuse?"

Xavier didn't even blink. "Then I'll withdraw my offer to assist you."

Storm's eyes snapped angrily. "I thought you were different." she said tightly.

"No one gets something for nothing, Storm."

"Fine. You have a Botany teacher and thief on your team, Xavier. But when my year is up, I'm gone. So you'd better figure out real quick how to fix my problem." She ground out between clenched teeth. Turning she marched towards the door, saying over her shoulder, "A word of caution, Xavier. I am only willing to be manipulated so far."

He nodded. "Aren't you going to eat?" Charles asked mildly, rolling over to the small table he had set out.

"I've lost my appetite." She opened the door, slamming it behind her. As she strode down the hall she yanked the elastic from her hair angrily, letting it fall loose about her waist. This is a bang up first day, Storm thought moodily. Thunder boomed outside. About time.

Storm hurried up the stairs, nearly running as she went. Once in her attic loft she threw open the balcony doors and with a quick peek outside she confirmed that the students had all gone inside to get out of the torrential downpour. She stepped onto her balcony, letting the soothing rain pour down on her.

Inside his office Charles Xavier sat thinking. He needed Storm on his team. Needed her for some very specific assignments. However, it was apparent that the lure of a home was not going to be strong enough to get her to stay. He would need something stronger to tie her to them. He closed his eyes, mentally reviewing all the information he had on her. He hated manipulation, but as it was, he was left with little option.

He sat up straighter in his wheelchair, remembering a fleeting impression he had gotten from Storm's mind when they had first met. Someone she wanted to protect. Charles pushed the intercom button. "Winston, I need a phonebook."


Ororo threw her blankets aside. There was just no sleeping tonight. Not that that was a big surprise, she couldn't remember the last time she'd gotten a full nights sleep. Goddess, she could use one. It had been so long since she'd had any peace. Realizing she was agitating herself she took a deep breath, filling her lungs. She let it out slowly. Better.

Striding to her balcony she peered through the glass windows. There was a forest nearby. Perhaps a nice walk would help calm her nerves. Ororo pulled on a pair of sweatpants under her oversized nightshirt. She slipped out of the doors, leaping from the balcony, using the winds at her command to slow her decent.

"Going somewhere?" A deep graveled voice asked from the shadows.

Ororo spun around, her stance defensive. "Who's there?"

Flame from a struck match briefly illuminated the commanding features of the man she had met earlier, the one who made her heart beat just a little faster, who looked like he could see straight through her…Wolverine.

"Storm." He returned. She hadn't realized she'd said his name out loud.

"I was going for a walk." She said.

"A bit late fer that dontchya think."

Storm crossed her arms. "Not that it's any of your business, but no, it's not."

"Actually, darlin', it is my business. I'm the one that has ta fetch yer sorry ass if something' happens ta ya while yer out traipsing' the lawn." He looked down. "In yer bare feet no less."

"I don't need a babysitter, Wolverine. I am quite capable of taking care of myself. But if it makes you feel any better you're welcome to join me." Why had she done that?

Wolverine was momentarily taken back. Aside from Jean wanting him for sex, no one ever invited him to do anything. Not that he minded, he disliked most of the sniveling brats roaming around the Institute. "Naw, you just getchyer butt back in the house and up ta bed." he said.


Wolverine stepped forward, a cloud of smoke from his cigar hanging in the damp air. "I said get back in the house," he growled at her.

"And I said no," she snarled right back.

This was definitely something new. A challenger. He stepped away from her. "Have it yer way, darlin'."

Ororo blinked. Had he just backed down? Somehow that didn't fit the impression she had gotten from him earlier. She turned, heading towards the wooded tree line in the distance. She hadn't gone more than a hundred yards when she got the distinct impression she was being followed. She turned her head slightly, but could see no one. Hmm.

Wolverine watched her from the shadows. She paused, turning her head, searching. He was impressed that she could sense him, not many people could. She shrugged one shoulder and continued to walk. As she entered the forest she sighed happily. She moved along the grass and roots as if she were not walking through them, but as if she was moving with them, as much a part of nature as the foliage themselves.

"If you want to join me, the offer is still open." The sound of her sultry smooth voice reached him. He didn't move. "I didn't think you'd back down from a little thing like me, you just don't seem the type," her tone was teasing.

"And just what do you think you know about me after meeting me for thirty seconds." His breath stirred the hair at the nape of her neck. Good lord the man was silent and quick. Everything she'd heard about him came rushing back. Merciless killer. Assassin. Soulless.

Ororo didn't dare turn around, he was too close. Instead she focused on keeping her breathing even. "I don't know much, only what Charles told me of you."

"And what flattering words did Chuck have to say about me." His voice was deeper, more graveled and just as close as before.

"He said that you were an assassin. The best assassin in the world."

Wolverine was surprised. She had known he was a killer and she had still invited him on a walk? Was she soft in the head? "And what do you think of that?" He asked quietly.

"I hope he's right."

Yep, definitely soft in the head. "Why, darlin'? Is there someone you want killed?"

Ororo shrugged nonchalantly. "I hope it doesn't come to that, but yeah, maybe." She turned then, faltering a little at his close proximity. She stumbled backwards but strong arms enfolded her, keeping her from falling. She found her hands pressed flat against his broad black t-shirt covered chest, his heart beat thudding beneath her right palm.

"Storm," Wolverine whispered. "Is an interesting name."

"So is Wolverine," she countered.

He didn't know why it happened, but it did. "Logan."

She smiled and Wolverine was floored. He could not have imagined that she could be more beautiful, but that smile lit up her face. Everything but her eyes, where up close as he was, he could see the sadness buried within their blue depths.

"Hello, Logan. I'm Ororo."

He liked the way his name sounded on her lips. Not one person at the Institute knew his real name, save perhaps Xavier, but he never used it, and Wolverine was mildly confused by his willingness to give it to this woman. Looking at her he felt drawn to her, he could feel his head bending forward…

"Don't worry, Logan. I won't tell if you won't tell." For a moment he thought she was talking about kissing him, but then he realized she was referring to their names. She detached herself from his arms, standing a few feet away, looking very composed where he felt damn near bereft without her in his arms. What the fuck?

There was a shift in the air and Wolverine could smell the unmistakable scent of ozone. The thunderstorm that hit that afternoon was not quite done with them it seemed. "We should get back," he said. "It'll be raining soon."

Ororo lifted her face to the sky. "I think we'll be fine."

"I'm telling ya, there's a thunderstorm in the making. The nose don't lie." He said, growling a little.

Turning towards him Ororo raised one hand in the air. There was a sizzle and then a crack as lightening exploded from the sky, streaking down into her open palm. Her hair flew about her face, her eyes glowing eerie white. "Again, I think we'll be fine." she said, the bolt dancing along her fingertips, arching into her other hand.

"So, that's yer power." Wolverine said.

"Yes, this and my amazing ability to stick out my chest." Her tone was dry, one corner of her mouth turned up.

For the first time in a long time Wolverine laughed. "I think I'm gonna like having ya around, 'Ro."