The fucking light was blinding him. Wolverine growled, placing one arm over his eyes. His nose told him who was hovering over him and he snarled, "Get that goddamn penlight outta my eye, Blue boy, or I'll shove it so far up yer ass--"
"He's awake, Professor."
"Wolverine." Xavier rolled to the side of the elevated bed. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got hit by a truck." he growled. His head was pounding, a lingering pain his healing factor hadn't yet dealt with. Wolverine sat up slowly, trying to recall how he'd ended up in the med lab, dark and disturbing images flashed in his mind. He looked up and his eyes met Alison's. He had never seen Dazzler cry, but she looked positively red rimmed and Gumbo was holding her, looking just as bad. Immediately he tensed, demanding, "Where is she?"
He was on his feet in an instant claws bursting forth with a -SNIKT- and he snarled again, "Where. Is. She?"
Easy, Wolverine. I will take you to her.
Without a word Wolverine snatched his shirt from the chair beside the bed, pulling it one even though it was tattered and ripped.
As they exited the room, Cyclops asked, "Sir?" Giving Wolverine a wary look.
He needs to see her, Scott.
Scott nodded in understanding.
Silently Xavier lead the way from the med lab towards the elevator. Wolverine noticed that Scooter, Jean and Colossus were tailing them, as well as Gambit and Ali but he didn't give a shit. If they were heading to the elevator that meant 'Ro was upstairs, and that meant she was unhurt. He felt his heart beat excitedly. He needed to see her, to hold her, needed it so much so that his arms ached with it.
On the elevator Wolverine felt the floor shift as they began to descend. Going down? He felt the hairs along his body stand up. He finally noticed the fear emanating from the others, could almost taste it, it was so strong. There was a hiss and the doors opened into a long hallway.
"Where is she?" he demanded again, his own fear pricking at him.
Xavier held up a hand, halting the others, giving he and Wolverine space. A flat pad sat on the wall beside him and the Professor placed the palm of his hand against it, entered a password, followed by a voice identification and retinol scan, finishing with a DNA swab from his mouth.
Wolverine tensed further. That was some damn tight security. As the gray steel doors slid apart a large glass wall was revealed. Wolverine took a few halting steps forward. He pressed both of his open palms to the glass, leaning his forehead against it, his chest heaving. 'Ro.
Behind the thick glass barrier, in the center of an empty room was a faintly glowing tank, long wires and cables running from it, filled with a strange, thick looking pink liquid. Storm was floating inside the tank, eyes closed, her long cloud hair fanned out above her head, wires and metal rods poking all over her body, her head held in place by two long dowels in her temples. She looked so young and so broken that for a minute Logan couldn't draw air into his body, completely consumed with emotion.
The others watched him cautiously, expecting violence. Jean turned her face into Scott's shoulder at the look of acute anguish that crossed Wolverine's face. The grief and agony pouring from him was staggering, and the rage was terrifying. He was close to losing it, she knew and she was afraid of what would happen if he did.
"What the hell is this place?"
"It's a stasis chamber. Built by a gifted young man, who in his own right--"
"Not really giving a shit about who built it." Wolverine growled. "I want my wife out of there." He took an uneven breath. "How long until we can get her out?" No one responded. Logan turned, giving Xavier a hard stare. "How long 'til we take her out?"
It was Ali who spoke, her tough as nails exterior cracking. "They aren't taking her out." She clutched Gambit's hand, giving Xavier an accusatory glare.
"Like hell!" Wolverine snapped. "Ya can't expect her ta spend the rest of her life in a fuckin' tube?" He slammed his hand into the glass, but it didn't even crack. "Let her out!"
"I can not," Xavier said with quiet conviction. "This was her idea, Wolverine. This was the only means she was left with."
"I don't believe you," Wolverine snarled, his lip curling back. His fist slammed the glass wall again. "Let her out!"
"We can't." Xavier insisted. "The Shadow King has her mind. To let her out would mean destruction on a scale we can not possibly deal with. That is only her body, Wolverine. Storm is lost to us."
"If that fucker I is in control, then how the fuck didjya get her in that damn thing?"
Xavier sighed. "Storm had planned for this eventuality a while ago. She knew I could trap Farouk briefly an that's all the time she needed to draw the storm back into her body, shocking her system, effectively knocking herself out cold."
Wolverine stared through the glass. She looked so fragile, and so alone. "There has to be another way. Let me in there with her. I need ta talk ta her."
"I'm afraid that's not possible."
-SNIKT- "Make it possible."
Beast was approaching from the hallway, saying in his rumbling gentle tone, "What the Professor is trying to convey to you, my friend, is that we can not get in the room itself even if we wanted to. The air has been vacuumed from the chamber. There is no atmosphere in the room beyond the glass, Wolverine. We cannot enter."
Wolverine felt his anger mounting, his body trembling in rage. If they thought they could keep him from 'Ro, they were sadly fucking mistaken.
The claws on Wolverine's hands began to extend and retract in a menacing manner. "I want my wife back!" he roared. He lifted his fist to strike the glass with his adamantium claws when Xavier sounded in his head.
No. If you breach the glass an automatic safety launches and the tank will be infused with a toxin, killing her.
"YEEAARRGGG!" Wolverine pounded the glass savagely again and again with his bare knuckles until crimson streaks ran along the clear wall. He wanted to claw his way in that room, bust open that tank, rip his love from the offensive wires and probes and take her away with him, where she belonged. 'Ro. His wife. The light to his dark. Trapped. Frozen. Lost. "AAAARRRGGHHHH!"
Ali bit her lip to keep from screaming with him as they all watched in silence as Wolverine sank to his knees, panting, holding his bloody hands up to his face. "Give her back," he whispered hoarsely to no one in particular. They had expected the violence, been prepared to subdue him if they could, but the unbearable sadness was altogether unexpected.
"I am sorry, Wolverine." Xavier placed his hand on the fallen man's shoulder.
"Move it, or I slice it off," Wolverine snarled. He rose to his feet, saying deadly soft, "I want to be alone with my wife now."
The Professor studied Wolverine's impassive face. "Of course." Xavier motioned for the others to leave.
As Gambit passed he placed his hand carefully on Wolverine's shoulder. "You made 'er 'appy, mon frere. 'Appier den I ever seen 'er. T'ank you."
No response from Wolverine.
The doors hissed shut leaving Logan staring through three feet of bullet proof glass and fifteen feet of empty space towards the tank that encased his wife. He ran one bloodied hand through his hair. "Fuck, 'Ro." he whispered.
After a few silent moments he reached out and touched the glass. "I'm so sorry, baby. I failed ya, darlin'. I promised ta keep ya safe and I failed." He took a ragged breath. "I know ya can't hear me, but I need ta talk ta ya now. I need ya ta know a few things."
He smiled sadly. "Yer the only thing in my life that ever brought me any happiness, darlin'. Ever. I knew the day I met ya that you were gonna be trouble, but I couldn't stay away." he chuckled softly. "I felt ya calling ta me, stirring my blood, making me ache…and right now I'm scared, darlin', cuz I don't feel ya now." He leaned his forehead against the glass. "Xavier says yer already gone, but I don't buy it. Yer in there, I know ya are, even if I can't feel ya. Yer too strong ta give up, 'Roro. Yer the strongest woman I know. Hell, yer the strongest person I know. Who else can take down four sentinels in one strike? Who else would raid a military base just ta save my worthless ass, and have the guts ta face me down, and bring me back from the edge.? You did that, darlin'. You saved me, and I'm sorry, baby…so sorry, I couldn't save you." He swallowed past the lump in his throat. "I don't deserve ya, 'Ro. I never did, but it didn't stop me from taking ya. I still can't believe ya said yes." a short bark of humorless laughter. "Never woulda thought I'd be married. Then again, I never knew there was someone like you out there. Yer so goddamn good. Shit, Ali told me ya went and hugged Jeannie after ya whipped her ass. That's a special kinda class, 'Ro. Yer an exceptional woman. I don't think I ever told ya that."
His hands fisted and a wave of pure anguish tore threw him. "Now I have ta be honest here, darlin'. I am royally fuckin' pissed. The others are afraid I'm gonna go feral and wipe 'em out. God knows I want ta make something' hurt right now, but I won't. Not because I'm a big man or some other self righteous, lame ass excuse, but because I know ya'd be disappointed if I turned. And I ain't gonna let ya down again." His fingers stroked the glass. "Can ya feel me here, baby? I'm here. I won't leave ya alone."
Four days later
"You have to eat, Wolverine," Ali was shoving a sandwich towards him. It was early in the morning and Ali was surprised she'd caught him. Gambit had told her he thought he'd seen him heading to the boathouse and Ali had immediately followed. This was the first anyone had seen of him in the past four days.
A dark menacing growl rumbled in his throat. "Go away."
"Eat and I'll leave."
Wolverine's dark eyes glittered. "Go away."
Ali sat on the floor in the doorway.
Wolverine bared his fangs at her.
Despite the trickle of genuine fear she felt, Ali held her ground. "Eat."
"I'm not hungry."
"Storm wouldn't want you to kill yourself, Wolverine."
He swatted the plate from her hands, the ceramic shattering on the floor. "I'm not hungry!"
"Fine!" Ali stood angrily. "You're not the only one who misses her, you know!"
Wolverine let out his breath in a long sigh. "I know, Alison. I'm just the one that misses her the most."
Ali touched the hand holding the cheesy wedding photo of the group of them that the wife of the Justice had taken right after the ceremony. Goofy drunken grins on all their faces, Ali on Gambit's back, Kitty giving Kurt bunny ears and Wolverine and Storm locked in a passionate kiss. "I know. You bringing that to the room?"
"Yeah. I thought she may--"
"Wolverine!" Kitty was screaming, racing over the small hill, tears streaming down her face. "She's dying!"
He was in motion before the words had completely left Kitty's mouth, racing for the Institute, his heart thudding frantically in his chest. No. She wouldn't leave him!
He burst through the front doors, not even pausing, sliding across the foyer and racing along the hall, students pressing against the walls to stay out of his way. He could hear Ali and Kitty coming behind him and he caught a whiff of cigarette as Gambit's hand shot out, holding the elevator for him.
"What happened?" He raged.
"Don' know, Wolverine. One minute evert'in was quiet, da next an alarm is going off and Stormy's vitals dropped clean off."
Wolverine felt like someone just kicked him in the gut. "Is she…?"
Gambit shook his head. "Don' know."
The elevator doors slid open and the two men were greeted by a savage looking man with matted, lank hair and gnarly fingers, his mouth open to reveal pointed yellow teeth. He lunged at them and Wolverine slit his throat without so much as blinking. There were three other such creatures in the hall.
"What the fuck?"
"Hounds." Gambit said in a low voice. "Saw dem once before, right before my padnat ran away. Dey be his pets."
"Dey be ground meat!" Wolverine snarled, leaping from the elevator, slicing the two figures closest to him. Blood sprayed the walls and they fell away from him, to the floor, scarlet pooling around their prone forms. The third hound was busy trying to get through the glass.
A faint tink was the only warning before the glass began to crack, a long branch forming and splintering its way across the barricade.
The elevator doors opened again and an optic blast flung the third hound away from the wall. Xavier and Jean followed Scott from the shaft.
"It's crackin'," Wolverine said, watching in horror as the glass shifted, ready to fracture. "We have ta get her out of there before it opens."
"We can't get to her," Charles said. "The room was designed to never be opened."
"I won't accept that!"
"Professor, surely we can't just let her die," Jean said softly.
"What do you suggest I do, Marvel Girl? I have tried to reach her mind and I can not. She is no longer there."
"Or maybe you're just not the person she needs to reach her," Jean shot back, surprising them with her tenacity.
For a moment Storm's words came back to him 'I'll fight for Wolverine.' Xavier gave Jean a stare. "You do not know what he is capable of, Jean. The Shadow King is a dangerous adversary."
Wolverine growled down at him. "Yer fear is no reason ta give up on Storm. She wouldn't give up on you!"
The comment was not understood by most present, but Wolverine knew the Professor understood. Charles looked at the splintering glass and sighed.
"Don't you think I want to save her? I do! I just know my own limitations when faced with Farouk. I can't anchor you and fight him at the same time, Wolverine."
"Then let me anchor him." Jean stepped forward.
There was a stunned silence.
"What?" Jean crossed her arms. "I'm not completely heartless."
With a curt nod, Charles motioned Jean forward. "We shall try," Xavier said. He reached for Jean's hand and she in turn for Wolverine's. "Once inside the final decision will have to be hers. We can pull her back by force if necessary, but it could damage her. I won't do that unless forced to, I would rather let her decide."
Jean gave Wolverine's fingers a gentle squeeze. "We'll get her back."
Blackness. Disorientation. Fear. Overwhelming.
Where are we?
Where are you?
Yeah, that helps.
Moving. Black sand rolling. Burying them.
What's goin' on?
It's Farouk, trying to dislodge us. Hold onto something.
Like what, a fuckin' handle bar?
Like a memory.
Laughter. Warm and sultry. Music to the senses.
Where is she?
I don't know. I still can't see.
…Holding off Farouk. Not much time to find her. Call to her.
Flashes of white light. Tingling. Warmth. Darkness. Falling. Cold.
Still here, Jean.
Ororo! You answer me damn it!
Burst of white. Falling. Clouds. Cerulean eyes.
…Who are you?
Child's voice. Small and afraid.
She's regressed. Pushed her mind to a youthful state of limited awareness.
She's a kid.
Storm, you there?
Fear. Falling. Fading to black.
How 'bout ya leave the talkin' ta me.
Well, talk then…the Professor's growing faint…
I ain't leavin' here without ya, wife.
Soft feminine laughter. Cool breeze. Damp blades of grass.
That's right, baby. Remember me.
Blue sky. Tall trees. The boat house.
There you are.
Logan, what are you doing?
Came ta get ya.
Tears. Sadness. Aching. Tenderness.
Oh, Logan. You have to leave. I can feel him coming.
I ain't going without ya.
Warm wind. Scent of rain. Love.
Wolverine! Look out!
Jean. Afraid. Far away.
"She's mine!" The Shadow King appeared in physical form, exhibiting how much power he had. No vacant mist or impression like they were, instead a solid mass of dark energy.
Wolverine felt the danger and tried to jerk his astral self out of the way but he felt red hot talons rake across his mind, making him roar in agony. He could feel the pain so acutely, like nothing he'd ever felt before. His mind was a pit of acid fire. How could she stand this? He could feel himself drifting, the pain making him lose what presence of mind he had here. He felt Jean and Xavier pulling him back and he roared in fury. Ororo!
Anger. Seething. Fury, Tempest.
"You dare touch him!" Storm slowly materialized from the mist.
Farouk was surprised, but he hid it behind a sickening smile. His jagged teeth gleamed at her. "Come to me, Storm. You know your destiny." His voice was low, almost musical, compelling.
Clouds swirled. Ororo closed her mind to everything but the abomination in front of her. She focused completely, unblinking, making him squirm.
He spoke again, sweetly, his words compelling in their ancient tongue. "Come, my queen. Leave the worthless animal to rot."
Ororo was still, balanced on the balls of her feet, her breath moving evenly in and out of her lungs as Logan had taught her. Farouk. Shadow King. Hideous monster. Mortal enemy.
He reached one talon covered hand out to her. "Come."
Storm rushed him, straight as an arrow, imagining a dagger in her hand as she moved, plunging it straight at his heart. The movement caught him off guard and though the blade sank deep in his chest he managed to slam his talons into her shoulders, raking deep, oozing furrows in her flesh. He dissolved into shadows and mist, swirling around her.
"Fight me, coward," she hissed.
The air shifted and so too the clouds, changing into dark oil, the muck sucking at her feet, clinging to her ankles like a living thing. It began to crawl up her legs, tightening as it went, threatening to cocoon her. Ororo tried to block her fear.
Steel gray eyes. The gentle scratch of whiskers. Smell of cigars.
She opened blazing eyes. The darkness dissolved and once again she stood on a white cloud. The air became thick, hard to breathe, stale.
"Behind you, Ororo." The Shadow King's voice whispered in her ear.
She whirled, visualizing another dagger as she did, plunging it into his neck. Farouk roared his hate at her, tearing the blade from his neck.
Ororo whirled, lashing out with her foot, sweeping his legs out from under him.
Farouk snarled at her revealing long fangs. "Why do you fight me? You never have before," he hissed.
Ororo didn't respond.
"I see." Farouk cocked his misshapen head. "You fight for the animal."
"I fight for my husband, as he would fight for me." She threw two blades at him, striking him in the chest.
Farouk dissolved, a roar of agony echoing in her mind.
You did it, Ororo. Come to me and we'll go home.
Logan shimmered into being. Dark shirt, jeans and cowboy hat. Just how she loved him.
"You know something?" she asked huskily, moving towards him.
"No, what?" he asked when she was almost in his arms.
"Not fooled." She crouched low, driving her hand through bone and muscle, straight to the heart. She closed her fingers around it and leapt backwards, tearing the blackened organ from his chest.
The Shadow King screeched like a wounded animal, his hands covering his gaping chest.
"Your in my mind, Farouk, and I'm no longer the frightened child you once knew. This time we play by my rules." Lightning burst from every direction, converging on the beating heart in her hand, turning it to ash. "Bye, now."
Logan opened his eyes, blinking against the fluorescent lights. "Storm?"
Jean and Xavier shook their heads, neither of them had pulled her out.
"No." Wolverine wanted to howl the pain was so intense. They'd lost.
"Uh, guys…" Ali was in the room now, watching as the glass spider webbed further. "I think we should back up." She was pushing Kitty behind her, moving back towards the elevator.
"I ain't leavin' her here alone!"
"The atmosphere will correct itself as the glass shatters, Alison. Jean has telekinetic shields in place. We are safe here." Xavier said, his voice mournful. "She will not be alone." He sent that to Wolverine.
"It's not the glass I'm worried about." She grinned, pointing. "It's Storm."
In the center of the room, floating in the thick liquid Ororo's eyes shot open, glowing against the dark. The liquid in the tank began to bubble, nearly boiling. Cracks ran up the sides.
"How is she doing that? There's no atmosphere in there." Jean whispered.
"I don't think she cares." Ali stated, still ushering Kitty backwards. "To quote visor-boy: Move people!" They all moved towards the elevator.
"Jean!" Xavier commanded as the tank exploded, the entire room shaking.
Jean grunted with the effort to maintain the psi-shield she erected as pink liquid and glass sloshed from the stasis chamber. As soon as Jean released them Logan raced into the room, slipping on the slimy fluid. He didn't care. All he cared about was the woman kneeling in the center of the room, coughing and pulling wires and rods from her body.
She looked up, eyes white. Low evil, maniacal laughter.
Suddenly she burst into warm, sultry giggles. "You should see the look on your face." She grinned up at him.
He growled down at her. "You have a sick sense of humor, wife."
"Mmmhm. But you love me anyway."
"Yes I do." He knelt beside her, cradling her face.
"Great, then help me pull out the rest of these things. I feel like a pincushion."
"Storm?" Xavier rolled as close to the broken partition as he could.
She looked up at him, her grin brilliant. "I don't think I'll need my inhibitors anymore."
"I can't believe you came after me." Ororo was drying her hair with a white towel. Immediately upon arrival at their house she had wanted a shower, claiming she felt like an escapee from the center of a jelly donut. Unwilling to let her go for even a moment Logan had washed her, dried her and placed her on the bed.
"You woulda done the same."
She smiled. "Yes, I would have." She tilted her head. "Only sooner."
He crawled up the bed towards her. "Vixen."
"Mmmm." She traced his jaw. "I love you, Logan."
He turned his face, nuzzling her palm and placing a moist kiss in the center. "I love ya, 'Ro."
She leaned forward, pressing her damp lips to his. Logan groaned, hugging her close. Ororo moved her mouth, tugging at his lower lip. "I need to be with you."
Logan's blood heated and thickened. "Are you sure you're feeling up to it?"
Ororo deepened her kiss, sending her tongue into his mouth to stroke and cajole. "Definitely."
Logan needed no further urging. He laid her gently back against the pillows, pulling the blankets away from her, his rough hands skimming their way down her flawless body. She moved against him wantonly. "I need you."
Logan removed the towel from around his waist, covering her with his body, savoring the feel of his skin pressed to hers, the way her nipples hardened into tight peaks against his hard chest, the way her legs parted almost involuntarily, accepting him without reservation. He watched her eyes darken to a midnight blue so deep they nearly rivaled his for opacity.
His beautiful wife swung one long leg around his waist, urging him forward. With a deep rumble he slowly entered her, filling her to the point of bursting. Ororo's head rolled back, her mouth opening as a throaty moan escaped. "Logan!" She moved against him restlessly, driving him mad with desire. God, he was already inside her and still he swelled. She opened her eyes, holding his gaze as he moved. Her lips parted and her breath hissed between clenched teeth. Fuck, she was sexy. He'd never seen anything as erotic as 'Ro in her passion. He cupped her generous breasts, bending his head to flick her nipples with the tip of his tongue, watching her face as he did. She twisted against him, her little squirms making him pant. "'Ro. I'll never get enough of this." he warned.
"Me either," she grunted.
"Yer mine, baby. I ain't ever gonna let ya go," he swore.
Ororo sobbed in ecstasy, feeling her orgasm approaching. She clutched the pillows behind her head, arching off the mattress to meet his hard surges eagerly. "Goddess!" The air sizzled, electricity arcing between them. It was another new experience for them, sharing the low voltage current, making every nerve ending intensely sensitive.
Logan moved fully on her now, his face in her neck. She accepted him willingly, relishing the feelings he invoked in her. He caught her face in his hands, kissing her as though he was afraid she would dissolve into thin air, a quiet desperation in his hunger tonight. She felt her body quaking and shook with the first ripples of release.
"That's it, baby," he grunted. "Ahhh, yer so hot." He kissed her again frantically, his own body shuddering.
Ororo kissed him back reassuringly, her arms leaving the pillows to circle his neck. She wrapped her legs around his hips, clinging to him. "My fierce warrior. You saved me," she said into his mouth.
At her gentle words Logan's orgasm took a sharp pinnacle and he bit her shoulder to keep from screaming. He collapsed on top of her, drenched in sweat, unwilling to move away from her.
"Hold me, 'Ro," he growled. "Don't ever let me go."
"Never," she promised. "Never."