Author's Note: Hope you like it ... Enjoy:)

Chapter 1: Old Wounds

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by Marvel Characters, Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Xavier Institute

Boathouse

9 months since the defeat of The Shadow King

"Rrraaaaurrgggh!" Six blades of lethal adamantium shot forth, spraying blood against a soft beige comforter. Heavy panting filled the still night air.

"Logan!" Ororo shot up in bed, immediately reaching for her husband.

He turned on her suddenly, savagely snarling at her, pinning her to the bed, his claws burying deep in the down pillows beside her head. He growled viciously, his gleaming white teeth bared against the haunted shadows of his face. He lowered his face to hers, snarling and sniffing.

Ororo tilted her head, giving him full access to her neck, making herself vulnerable to his attack should he so choose. He wouldn't, she knew. He never did. Slowly, so not to startle him, she moved her hands up his tense forearms, along his shoulders, burrowing her fingers in his thick mane of midnight hair. "It's all right, Logan. I have you now," she whispered, pulling him closer, rubbing her lips over his, not kissing, just touching. "I'm here, love."

"…'Ro?"

She nuzzled him, an imitation of his familiar, affectionate gesture. "Hi."

Slowly reality began to set in and Logan was horrified to find his fists planted beside his wife's lovely face, claws buried through the pillows, into the mattress. He retracted instantly, searching her frantically for any sign of injury. "Are ya alright?" he demanded, his voice raspy.

"Of course I'm alright." Ororo said in her soothing, velvety timbre. "Another one?"

Logan sat back, sighing heavily, running one hand through his constantly disheveled hair. "Yeah."

Ororo sat up as well, hooking her arms under his, hugging him. At first he was stiff and unresponsive, as he always was right after the nightmares, but soon he relaxed against her, his thick arms circling her. He nuzzled against her neck and his whiskers scratched lightly on her skin. It was a most welcome sensation, reminding her of his maleness and of his recent possession of her. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Another heavy sigh. "There's not much ta talk about, darlin'. Same as always. I wake up and it's gone."

She hugged him tighter. "It'll come."

Logan shifted so that he was looking down at her upturned face. He traced one finger along her brow, along her jaw, moving to tease her full bottom lip. She was a miracle, he thought, gazing into her trusting blue depths. She had unflappable faith in him and unconditional love for him, both of which he was certain he didn't deserve. He clasped her to him, concealing his face in her neck, inhaling the sweet vanilla and earth scent that was hers and hers alone.

His nightmares were getting progressively worse, each one more vivid and real than the one before. Although he hated lying to Ororo, he wasn't being entirely honest with her about how much of his dreams he remembered. He didn't hide the truth because he thought she wouldn't understand the dreams, because he knew she would, if anyone knew nightmares, it was 'Ro. The reason he didn't tell her about the rooms with the scientists and the tubes and needles was because of the way it all made him feel. Afraid. It was a disturbing sensation, for Logan. He was known as the X-man who was not afraid of anyone, or anything, and he hadn't been…until now. He was more than afraid of the monster in his dream; the one person that haunted him, that relished in the blood, hungered for the hunt, delighted in the pain. That person terrified him, but what terrified him even more was tonight the monster that took such pleasure in killing had a face and Logan had recognized it. It was him.

Sensing that he was still feeling the lingering effects of the dream, Ororo began to trail silky kisses along his neck and along his stubbled jaw. She never badgered him for more than he was willing to share, she simply held him, gave him her support, her unconditional acceptance, offering him her heart and her love to keep the darkness at bay.

In the few short months of their marriage Logan was continuously amazed by Ororo. He remembered how she had touched him the first night she had been witness to one of his nightmares. Instead of screaming and cowering away from him she had wrapped her arms around him and kissed him, speaking to him in low soothing tones. That had been four months ago and although the dreams were coming with less frequency they were arriving with far more intensity.

Still, Ororo was unafraid, and nonjudgmental. She never flinched from his fangs, never once looking away from his glittering black gaze, and never allowed him to feel shame at himself, telling him in no uncertain terms that being forced to do horrible things did not make him a monster, those that used him were the monsters. She said that he was redeeming himself daily with his fight against evil alongside the X-Men, she argued that he had saved himself and was a man of uncompromising honor. He didn't fight with her over it, it would be pointless. Once Ororo made up her mind about something nothing would sway her. However, she was wrong. It wasn't himself that kept him from falling back into the darkness that he harbored inside, it was her. She was his salvation.

Fresh beads of sweat broke out across his forehead and he shuddered. He felt his beautiful Windrider's soft lips on his cheek, her fingers running through his hair. He tilted her face towards his. "Love me, 'Ro." he murmured against her sleep plumped lips.

She smiled tenderly at him. "Always."

Without taking his eyes from hers he gently pushed her back against the bedding, kissing her hotly, ferociously, his hands sliding down her body, making her moan and wiggle against him. He groaned, shoving the blankets out of his way so that he could settle himself in the cradle of her hips. He entered her slowly, drawing a sharp breath as he felt her body clench around his, welcoming him home.

Logan closed his eyes as she wrapped her gloriously long legs around his waist, pulling him tighter against her, undulating her hips as he moved. His breathing turned ragged, his heart threatening to burst from his chest.

Ororo kissed him slowly, moving her tongue in and out of his mouth in the same rhythm that he was moving within her. No matter how many times they were together it always felt magical and unique. He made her feel loved, and wanted and brought out in her a scorching passion that she hadn't known she possessed.

Their tempo was increasing, the springs of their mattress groaning as he shifted position, unable to hold back, needing to lose himself in her. Ororo was arching beneath him, crying out as her body quaked. God she was beautiful. Logan growled, latching onto the soft spot between her shoulder and neck, biting her. Marking her. His. Always…

Gentle fingers stirred the hair at Logan's temple, moving in lazy circles. He was already fast asleep, drained from the dream and their fierce lovemaking. Ororo sighed contentedly, enjoying the feel of her husband pressed against her. She knew he would not be moving from his current position, he never did after a nightmare. He would spend the remainder of the night pressed against her body and every so often would move his lips, kissing her, whispering in his sleep. Ororo didn't mind. If her body offered him comfort and gave him even a moments peace, she would offer it up to him gladly.

"Sleep well, husband. I'll keep the nightmares away." Ororo kissed the top of his head. Logan rumbled softly in his sleep, nuzzling her. For a long time Ororo laid awake, stroking his hair, trying not to imagine what horrors would make her husband lash out like a man possessed. Her eyes began to glow white in the dark Whoever had hurt him would suffer, she vowed. She thought of Wraith and his sick look of pleasure as Wolverine was riddled with bullets, collapsing to the ground. She ground her teeth, thinking of all Logan had probably endured at that cruel monster's hands. Closing her eyes Ororo wished that man a slow and painful death followed by a quick ride to hell.

Morning

The sound of loud, pounding bass and heavy grinding guitar rifts filtered through the steel doors, causing Wolverine and Gambit to exchange knowing glances. The heavy music blaring from the Danger Room could only mean that Ali and 'Ro were the room's current occupants.

The two men entered the small elevator that lead to the observation turret and a moment later had their suspicions confirmed. Below them on the floor Ali was blasting several robotic attackers with streams of powerful laser light, her head bobbing to the music all the while.

If you wanna step up (step up),

You're gonna get knocked down (knocked down).

If you wanna step up (step up),

You're gonna get knocked down.

Behind her a droid raised its arm to strike and beside Wolverine, Gambit tensed. He shouldn't have worried, as Ali leaned back, capturing the robots featureless face between her palms and twisting around, flipping the droid.

The heel of a thick black boot came down, smashing the robot's head, small sparks shooting into the air. Ali looked over at Storm who was currently going hand to hand with several interactive soldier holograms and smiled. This was fun!

Storm moved with precision and grace, hitting and kicking, deflecting and throwing, making it look as easy as breathing. Whatever Wolverine was teaching her was effective and it showed. As Ali watched, a slight smirk on her face, Storm flipped, wrapping her legs around the last hologram's neck, twisting and snapping. The soldier fell to the floor with a thud.

"Der be worse ways ta die," Gambit said, nudging Wolverine.

"Can it, Cajun."

In the Danger Room, the gun turrets swung open, firing on the two girls. In a spectacular display of acrobatics, Storm avoided the stun pellets, flipping and twisting in fluid motions, trusting her instincts to guide her. Ali on the other hand took a different approach. Tearing the front torso from one of the fallen robots and using it as a shield.

Lightening danced along the walls, shorting the circuits of the motion detectors, freezing the guns where they were, giving Ali ample opportunity to knock them out of commission with some concentrated light.

As the smoke cleared and the room settled, the two women stood laughing triumphantly.

"You two wan' a real challenge?" Gambit said over the intercom, startling them.

Storm shielded her eyes, looking up at the reflective glass. "If you think you're man enough."

Gambit tossed Wolverine a look over his shoulder. "Wanna?"

A feral grin.

"Be right down."

An hour later the four of them, showered and changed, made their way through the halls on their way to the scheduled afternoon briefing. "We are so gonna own you next time," Ali said tugging the sleeves of her dark sweater as they walked through the main lobby.

"Is dat right?"

"You better believe it." She said smugly. Gambit took her hand, bringing it to his lips, kissing it slowly.

"You already own my heart, ma petite bella," he murmured. "Leave me and da Wolverine our pride, non. Such a fragile man as 'e is, 'e wouldn' take da defeat well. Poor lamb."

Wolverine chuffed. "It seems to me that the root of your tongue goes straight through to your ass, because you talk so much shit, Gumbo."

"You jus' be jealous of dis Cajun boys charm," Gambit replied good naturedly.

"Yeah. That's it." Wolverine said flatly.

"Let's go see if big C will let us ride to the meeting on his lap," Ali suggested.

"Non. You and Stormy sit on him, you give dat man a 'eart attack." Gambit chided.

Ali pouted. "Prude."

Ororo laughed. Prude is not a term she associated with her brother. He gave her a dirty look, which only made her laugh harder.

They paused beneath the decorative arch separating the lobby from the family room and Gambit began nudging Ali, pointing up. A bough of shamrock hung directly overhead. It had been one of the new teacher's, Sean's, idea for St. Patrick's Day to use clovers like mistletoe.

Also noticing the leafy ball, Logan pulled a startled Ororo into his arms.

"What are you doing?" Ororo laughed, surprised.

"There are rules about these things," he said seriously. "Strict rules." Then his mouth claimed hers in a scorching kiss. Ororo shuddered, eyes closing as she was immediately lost in her husband's embrace.

Gambit had to clear his throat three times before they broke apart. "Dis be a place of learnin'," he scolded with humor.

"Ali's right. You are a prude," Storm responded. "What happened to my Gambit, huh? The flirt? The charmer? The--?"

Gambit shouldered past Wolverine planting a bold kiss on Storm's lips.

Wolverine's low growl only encouraged him and Gambit tilted Storm back over his arm in a low dip, her long hair held from the floor by Gambit's threaded fingers. He turned his head up towards Wolverine with a devilish grin. "Dat's 'ow you do it, mon frere."

"Ya got two seconds ta unhand my wife, Gumbo, or I forget yer family and carve ya like the turkey ya are."

"Behave." Ororo laughed, swatting Gambit's shoulder. He pulled her upright again giving her a wink.

"Jus' keeping' da man on 'is toes."

"Mmhm." Ali tapped her foot, trying her best to appear angry. "Hey, Wolverine, c'mere, big boy."

Ororo placed a hand on his arm. "I don't share," she teased.

"Man hog," Ali pouted dramatically.

"Oh, all right." Storm said with a sigh. "But I guarantee you'll never look at Gambit the same way again."

"Non, non. Not necessary," Gambit drawled, enveloping Ali in a warm embrace.

"Well if he kisses as well as he's hung--"

"Alison!"

"Just saying."

Wolverine cleared his throat. "Well, if we're done talkin' 'bout my anatomy, there's a meeting ta get ta."

"Of course, sweetie." Ororo winked at Ali, mouthing: Better.

War Room

"These are our most recent satellite images of a small base cerebro located a few weeks ago. I believe it is a mutant detention center of sorts." Xavier indicated a large cylinder shaped building. "I sense there are several mutants housed here."

Jean leaned forward anxiously. "A prison?"

Xavier nodded. "Yes."

"No." Wolverine said.

All eyes turned towards him.

"No?"

"No. It's a training facility."

Storm gave him a questioning look and under the table he gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "One of many created by Weapon X."

"Weapon X?" Ororo asked.

"Weapon X is a program designed for the explicit purpose of using mutants for war, raids, assassinations, and any number of other high risk missions." Cyclops answered her. "Wolverine was once a member."

Ororo nodded. "So, you don't think this is a containment unit?" she asked Wolverine.

"Yes and no. Almost none of the mutants used for the program are there voluntarily. They are usually kidnapped and forced to fight. The bases are usually set up with cells in a center building, training facilities in the back and guarded areas in the front."

Xavier pushed a button and a new image came into view. Three large underground holding cells. "And these?"

Pain. Needles. Nightmares. Blood. Pain. Pain. Pain.

Wolverine shook his head, trying to clear it. "Don't know."

"Hm. Well, we are going to find out. I'm sending a strategically strike force to infiltrate the base and recover those captured people." Xavier shut off the hologram projector. "I will of course take volunteers first."

"I'm in." Ororo said.

"No." Wolverine gave her a hard look.

She slowly turned her head towards him. "Excuse me?"

His dark eyes glittered. "A small unit would be best. Me, with Slim and Beast as backups."

With controlled calm Storm said, "I am going. There are people that need help, Wolverine." She turned back to Xavier.

Xavier sighed. "Storm I know you want to go, but I have to agree with Wolverine. Cyclops, Beast and Wolverine will go in. You leave in thirty minutes. Cyclops will have point."

Ororo nodded, standing. "Wolverine, a word please."

He grumbled something under his breath but followed her out of the room.

"What the hell was that?" She demanded once out of earshot of the others, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Look, 'Ro-"

"Storm."

"Ok." he glowered. "Storm. Look, this is going ta need ta be surgical precise, and quiet. Let's face it, yer powers ain't the most subtle on the planet."

"That's not it, don't lie to me."

Wolverine shifted weight from one foot to the other. "I don't like the idea of you in danger."

"Wolverine, I'm an X-Man. There will always be danger. It's part of the job. There are innocent people to be helped and I plan on doing everything I can to help them. What good is being an X-Man if all I ever do is sit around in my leather uniform and watch from the sidelines."

"Ya've taken at least three assignments a month for the past six months, Storm. Ya ain't sitting on the sidelines by far. Just let this one go. It won't make ya any less of an X-Man."

Ororo gave him an incredulous look. "You're being ridiculous. Not only am I an X-Man, but I'm your team leader, and I didn't appreciate you pulling that little stunt in there. You don't get to make my decisions for me."

Wolverine gave her a hard stare.

"We clear?" she asked when he didn't respond.

"No. I'll never be okay with you throwing yerself headlong inta every assignment that comes our way. What is it yer tryin' ta prove?"

"Me? What about you, mister solo? What are you trying to prove?"

"Storm-"

"If you two are done your marital bickering, we should probably go over a plan of attack," Cyclops said opening the door.

Storm gave Wolverine's impassive features a long look. He didn't even blink, just continued to stare at her angrily. "We're done." Ororo moved past him.

He watched her walk into the room, her back a straight line, her chin slightly tilted. He'd hurt her feelings, he knew, but he wanted her safe. Far away from anything that had to do with Weapon X. Unbidden a deep voice came into his mind:

She's a pretty little thing. I can only imagine the plans Wraith has for her.

Smith. The fat fuck that had tortured him. Just thinking about that day made his knuckles ache, his claws screaming for release. That bastard had not only flayed him wide open, he had injected him with rage, making him go after the other X-Men, damn near killing Storm. Fuck. He wanted her as far away as possible from this shit and she wanted to run straight into it. With a growl he followed her back into the War Room.

"Let's get started, people." Cyclops moved to the head of the table.

"A Blackbird approach is our best bet. We move in hard and fast, take out the front guard units and move into the cells."

"What about the underground buildings?" Beast asked.

"Wolverine?"

"It's doubtful anyone's alive down there."

"We can't just assume that," Ororo said. "We should make sure."

"I'm sure." he snarled.

"Okay, never, ever, attempt t' correct Wolverine 'bout anyt'ing." Gambit said. "If'n he bitin' Stormy's 'ead off, der no telling' what 'e gonna do t' da rest of us."

Wolverine growled, his eyes drifting to Storm. She was looking at him strangely, like she was trying to peel back his layers and see inside. He looked away.

Cyclops ignored the banter, used to it by now. "This is the main 'housing' area. It's the best image we have." It was a long narrow building, divided into many small square rooms.

"How big are those cells?" Storm asked.

"Best guess, five by six. Small."

The green wire image rotated and on the back wall there were several objects shown white. Metal. Hooks and flails, spikes and rods.

"Cozy." Beast muttered, he had arrived shortly after the meeting began, unwilling to leave his post until he'd heard each child's request.

"Yeah. Cozy, if you're Hannibal Lecter," Ali said. "Torture devices?"

"Looks that way." Cyclops confirmed. "We enter here." He pointed directly in the middle of the building.

"Der isn' a door."

A flash of ruby quartz. "I'll make one. What's the security like at these places, Wolverine?"

"Minimal. They're hidden and overconfident, not expecting mutant liberators ta come chargin' in if ya know what I mean."

Cyclops nodded. "We leave in fifteen. Get your gear, be ready."

"A raid, how jolly." Beast murmured.

Wolverine was silent, walking from the room, leaving Storm to stare after him. She rubbed her gold band comfortingly, knowing he just needed some space, that it wasn't her, but it still hurt.

"Ya alright, padnat?"

"Fine, Remy." She gave him a quick smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "Let's set up watch." She busied herself logging on to the comm link frequencies, pulling up the internal Blackbird cameras as well as the external. All shots came onto the large flat screen TV on the wall.

"Ali, can you get Kitty. I'll want her here on the computer."

"Sure thing." Ali was out the door.

"Ready for da show?" Gambit leaned back in his chair.

The door suddenly opened and Wolverine strode in, a fierce look on his face. He yanked Storm from her seat, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her fervently, meshing his lips to hers, stroking her tongue with his, making her knees weak. When he pulled back she looked dazed. "Fer luck." He turned and was gone again.

Ororo touched her lips with the tips of her fingers, smiling.

Unspecified Location

The three X-Men infiltrated the unnamed military holding silently, moving as a stealth unit, blending with the shadows cast by the setting sun. Cyclops motioned for Wolverine to move forward, and he did, moving cautiously and covertly through the front area. Two guards passed alarmingly close to Wolverine who was hidden in the shadows. Within a fraction of a second her had both men on the ground unconscious, lifting two fingers and signaling Cyclops and Beast around.

A small checkpoint sat midway between the entrance and the containment cells, the checkpoint occupied by one guard, who was currently more engaged in looking at a pair of double D's in a smut mag than managing his post. "Evn'in, Bub."

The man swung around, brown eyes wide. Wolverine's fist planted in the guard's face and he felt something break in the vicinity of the guys nose and the guard crumpled.

"Is that really necessary?" Cyclops asked.

"What would you have him do, oh fearless leader? Ask the man if he would like some girl scout cookies?" Beast replied in Wolverine's stead.

Wolverine chuckled. Hank was chock full of surprises.

Cyclops didn't reply, just held up his wrist, checking their coordinates. "Let's roll." He started towards the center of the building, where he would 'make' a door.

A young soldier stepped out of what could possibly have been barracks, flicking a lighter, head bent, trying to light his cigarette. He glanced up catching sight of a blue size 42 furry foot, before he was sent into the stone wall with a dull thud. Beast grabbed the soldier's legs and drug him behind a set of bushes.

Wolverine gave him a curt nod, before following Cyclops in a low crouch. Beast was to stand lookout well he and Cyclops went into the containment building.

"You ready?" Wolverine asked in a low growl stepping beside Cyclops.

"Don't worry about me. You just worry about yourself."

There was a low hum preceding the powerful optic blast that erupted from the visor on Scott's face, punching a truck sized hole in the side of the building. Immediately alarms began blaring, lights flashing.

"Go! Go! Go!" Soldiers were filing out of the barracks, fifteen of them at most, even less than Wolverine had expected. Wolverine glanced over his shoulder, checking on Beast, who was more than holding his own, bouncing off soldier's heads and flinging them through the air.

Cyclops's startled voice caught his attention. "Holy shit."

Wolverine stepped through the still smoldering, gaping hole to see what had caught Cyclops's attention. In several containment cells the occupant had been chained to the wall and shot in the head. Executed.

Cyclops's tone was harsh. "I thought you said this was a training facility."

"It is. These are the ones that didn't cut it."

"Sick."

Wolverine grunted. His knuckles itched and he tried to push back the memories threatening to surface. Blood and screams. Blood and screams. The pain. The pleasure. He felt himself shaking, the rage escalating.

"Where are the others?" Cyclops asked interrupting the resurgence, looking around at the empty holding cells.

"Moved." Wolverine sniffed the air. "Not long ago. Maybe an hour, two tops."

Cyclops moved along the rows, still looking. "Where to?"

Wolverine sniffed some more, catching faint traces of blood and urine and death. They were familiar scents. "No live scents ta follow," he said flatly.

"Let's check the other building." Cyclops moved back through the hole he had created, kicking the rubble in frustration as he went. He was discouraged and was feeling helpless. It was not a feeling he enjoyed.

Both men traveled silently across the gravel, entering the second containment facility exactly how they entered the first. Wolverine smelled death long before they were inside, however what lay within sent chills through both seasoned X-Men.

Laying motionless on long, narrow, sterile steel tables were several obviously tortured mutants. Some of their eyes remained open in terror, though glazed in death, it was apparent the last moments of their lives were filled with excruciating panic and pain. On a larger metal table in the center of the room a young man lay, arms outstretched, needles and tubes inserted in all directions, his chest cavity wide open, flies swarming the wound.

Cyclops turned his head away, covering his nose to block the stench. "Jesus."

Wolverine walked along the rows, counting the bodies. Twelve. He grit his teeth against the anger surging through him. Twelve kids, some barely in their teens, used and abused by Weapon X. The lone youth in the center of the room had shaggy brown hair and jagged fangs. Wolverine stepped beside him and reached down with his leather covered hand, closing the boy's eyes.

"What in hell were they doing in here?" Cyclops was completely taken aback by the atrocities surrounding him.

"Experiments." He was once one of the tortured, the used, the abused. He struggled to repress the emotions the room was conjuring up in him. Anger. Pain. Fear. Pain. Hate. Pleasure. Rage. Pain. Needles. Pain. Needles. Pleasure. Blood. Pain. Snap out of it! "Ain't no survivors here, Cyke."

With a quick nod Cyclops agreed. They moved outside once again, making their way up towards Beast and the 'Bird, keeping their eyes and ears open for any sign of life. No survivors. Not one.

Cyclops raised his comm. "Cyclops to Xavier. Intel proved accurate. Military facility for containment. No survivors."

"I see."

"Orders?"

"Obliterate the base."

"Affirmative." Cyclops reached into the pack he was carrying at his waist, pulling out several small black discs. He handed several to Wolverine. Without a word exchanged both men began placing the mines along the base of the buildings.

Beast greeted them as they approached, a small pile of unconscious soldiers behind him. "Where do we put these gentlemen."

"I say we leave 'em. Let their last memories be the smell of their own burning' flesh." Wolverine growled, walking past without a backward glance.

"The X-Men don't willingly kill, Wolverine," Cyclops called after him to which Wolverine shrugged pulling a cigar from his front pocket.

"Maybe ya outta rethink that policy." He was on board the Blackbird a moment later. Once Cyclops and Beast secured the soldiers in one of the smaller buildings, clear of the blast zone they were in the air, heading home and all Wolverine could think was how much he could use a beer. A beer and 'Ro. She was the only thing that could soothe the monster within him that this place had stirred to life.

Xavier Institute

War Room

Ororo leaned forward resting her chin on the knuckles of her fist. The monitors had been shut off awhile ago, the others leaving at her request. She sat alone in the room, expanding shadows enveloping her as the sun finally rested behind the horizon. She heaved a heavy sigh, thinking of the look on Wolverine's face as he had entered the Blackbird. Whatever they had seen at the base hadn't been pretty and it had bothered him. To anyone else Wolverine would have seemed unfazed, completely removed from emotion, but not to her. She knew him too well, knew his soul and he was being eaten alive from the inside.

She wanted to help him, help to ease his suffering, but more and more lately he was pushing her away, closing himself off to her and that was killing her. She was at a loss, not knowing what to do or to say to help him. There was so much about his past that remained clouded in false memories or hidden by no memories at all.

She rose, agitated. His shutting her out was infuriating her as much as it was frustrating her. They were married. Husband and wife. A team. He'd better come to accept the fact that they were in everything together now. Everything. And that meant he wasn't going to be able to keep her at arms length and allow her in when it suited him. The sooner he got that through his thick, adamantium skull, the better.

Ororo looked up at the clock and grimaced. It would be hours before she would see him again, between the time it would take them to get back, and the debriefing it would be late. She shoved the high backed chair against the table, deciding that she'd rather wait for him at home, where she and he were free of the restraints imposed as X-Men and allowed to just be Logan and Ororo.

Later

Logan made his way over the sloping hill that led to his and Ororo's home, his pace quickening as he approached. He could see the faint glow of the bedside lamp in the upstairs window and knew Ororo was waiting up for him. That thought warmed him. She was so good to him, so loving, so generous. He would never be worthy of her, his hands too stained with countless sins, not deserving to touch such innocence. Even knowing this he would never let her go, and he would kill anyone that tried to take her away from him now that she was his.

"'Ro?" He opened the door. No answer. "Babe?" He stood silent for a moment, listening. He could hear her moving around upstairs and smiled. He hung his coat and unstrapped his uniform boots, leaving them on the mat beside the door, padding up the stairs quietly.

Ororo was in the center of their room, her eyes closed, arms over her head, dancing and jumping to the blaring music coming from the headphones on her ears. Logan leaned against the door jamb watching her, a half smile on his face. The mere sight of her dispersed the darkness he had been wallowing in since the mission. She was damn adorable bouncing around in an oversized tee shirt and bunny slippers (a gift from Ali), her wild hair swinging around as she spun, shaking her ass. She was on her way back up from a sexy little shimmy when she opened her eyes and noticed him in the door way.

"Logan!" Ororo jumped, her hand flying to her chest. She pulled the headphones off, stopping the cd. "Goddess, you startled me!"

He chuckled. "Don't let me stop ya, darlin'. I was enjoyin' the show."

Ororo tossed the walkman onto the nightstand. She gave him a searching look and though he was smiling, his eyes still held a haunted look that was becoming all too familiar. "Come here." She opened her arms.

Logan uncrossed his ankles, moving towards her with purpose. She welcomed him home with open arms every time they were apart and he secretly feared the day when she would not. He enveloped her ardently, burying his face in her snowy, silken strands, breathing in her unique scent, nuzzling the spot just below her ear that sent little shivers along her spine.

Ororo clung to him, her fingers curling into the black latex and spandex fabric of his uniform top. She pressed her lips to his neck, kissing softly, nibbling teasingly.

Logan groaned, walking her backward towards the bed. She laughed softly as he tossed her down, literally leaping at her, growling playfully. This was her Logan, the one that smiled, the one that laughed and teased and played. She squirmed away from him in mock distress. "Oh, heavens no, don't ravish me. Please, please, don't have your wicked way with me." She laughed throatily as he lifted her shirt, pressing his lips to her belly and blowing against her, making loud raspberry sounds. She squealed, trying to twist away from him, laughing until she hiccupped.

"Oh (hic) now look what (hic) you've done (hic)."

Logan chuckled, unapologetic. He returned his mouth to her flat stomach, but instead of blowing he licked her, trailing hot kisses to her navel, where his tongue dipped, teasing her belly button ring. Ororo gasped, her fingers twitching in their new blue comforter and Logan grinned. She was so responsive, always eagerly accepting him and he loved her for it. He moved lower, grabbing the lace edge of her panties between his teeth, grinning wickedly as he dragged them off of her.

For a minute he just stared at her, enthralled by her. There she was, laying on their bed, tee shirt shoved just below her breasts, bare from the waist down, until her feet, still clad in fuzzy bunnies. She should have looked ridiculous, but she didn't. She looked young and desirable and he ached for her. "'Ro," he groaned. He grabbed the bottom of his shirt, cross armed, yanking it over his head. She sat up on the bed, doing the same to her shirt, kicking of her slippers.

Once she was wonderfully naked she reached for him, grabbing the buckle of his pants and yanking him towards her. She made quick work of his belt, flinging it across the room, uncaring where it landed. She was working the button when they heard a knock on the door.

"Ignore it," he growled, tilting her face to his, kissing her deeply.

Ororo sighed, wrapping her arms around his neck, pressing her bare skin to his, making his growl deepen.

Knock. Knock. "Storm? Are you awake?"

Jean. What the hell?

Ororo reluctantly pulled away from him. "I'd better go see what she wants."

"Whatever it is it can wait," he grumbled, licking her ear.

Shivering with desire Ororo had a hard time placing her hand on his chest, pushing slightly. "Logan. She sounds upset."

He released her with a dissatisfied huff. "Yer too damn good." he muttered. He ran one hand through his hair, giving a nasal sigh. "Go talk to Jean. I'll be taking a cold shower."

Ororo grinned at his back as he marched down the stairs. She pulled on her long baby blue fuzzy robe (a gift from Gambit, matching the slippers) and followed him downstairs. Logan was already in the kitchen, grabbing a beer, heading towards the bathroom when she opened the door for a miserable looking Jean Grey. "Hello, Jean. What can I do for you?"

"Hi. I'm really sorry to come over so late, but I…Well, I needed someone to talk to." Jean looked positively mortified by the admission.

Ororo took a step back, opening the door wider. "Come in."

Jean looked a bit startled, as if she had expected Ororo to slam the door in her face. In the months that had passed since Storm's arrival to the X-Men she and Jean had shared a strained relationship, and although they were now civil with one another, they weren't considered friends by any standard.

"Um, thanks." Jean stepped through the door. "You have a lovely home," she said softly, honestly. It was the first time she had ever been inside.

The boathouse had signs of both Logan and Ororo's touch. The colors were earthy and natural, dark browns, some rustic reds and beige to accent. The kitchen was small, but quaint, with a hanging fruit basket over the red and green marble topped bar Logan had installed last summer. Plants and several exotic flowers lined the large windows. The soft overhead light illuminated the newly stripped and polished hardwood floors, giving the interior a warm feeling. The living room area housed a long couch and two recliners, set in a semi circle, atop a large oriental rug, very Loganesque. A dark coffee table sat between the furniture, a small Bonsai tree in the center and two tall freestanding lamps were beside either dark recliner. The furniture was all facing the small, gate guarded fireplace on the brick wall. Above the mantel sat an ornately decorated Japanese blade, curved with a black handle and a scarlet tassel.

Logan had worked hard all summer, making things just so for Ororo, even though she had told him she would be content in a cardboard box so long as she was with him. He had even installed a large skylight in the middle of winter as a Christmas present for her. It had been the most touching thing anyone had ever done for her and she had made certain he knew how much it meant to her.

"Can I get you a drink?" Ororo asked closing the door.

"That would be nice."

"Have a seat." She indicated that Jean should sit in the living room before going to the kitchen and putting the kettle on the stove, removing two mugs for some chamomile tea.

Jean slowly sat in on of the two recliners, her eyes traveling the walls, where several pictures hung. There was one of Kitty under an oak tree, half phazed through it, smiling and waving. Another of Alison and Gambit, they were facing each other, one of his gloved hands cradling Alison's face, with the sun setting behind them. It was really a lovely picture, Jean mused. There was also a picture of a man and a woman holding a tiny baby, and the woman's beauty told who she was instantly.

"My mother," Ororo said, coming around the couch with two steaming mugs. "And my father." She handed Jean a cup before seating on the edge of the couch, diagonal from Jean. "The day I was born."

"They look happy," Jean murmured.

"They were." Ororo smiled faintly. "But I don't think you're here to talk about my parents." It was still a touchy place for Ororo, especially where Jean was concerned.

Jean shook her head. "No. I came because of Scott."

"What's pretty boy done?" Ororo sipped her tea.

"Nothing." Jean's lower lip trembled. "I just picked up the most disturbing thoughts from him, Storm. He's thinking horrible nasty thoughts, full of anger and pain. I've never sensed things like that from him before. It was, is…frightening."

Ororo nodded. "Although Wolverine hasn't said anything, I think today's mission was an exceptionally difficult one. I get the feeling Cyclops is the type of guy to take failure, or even perceived failure, very personal."

She shook her head sadly. "He is, but Scott has never shut me out before." Jean gave Ororo an imploring look. "It was so intense. How do you deal with that?"

For a moment Ororo was silent. She took a long drink of her tea before answering. "You just have to be there. You have to understand that sometimes a person just needs a little space, and sometimes they need a lot of space." She glanced over her shoulder towards the hall. "You just have to remind yourself that its not you that he's angry at."

Jean sighed. "So what do you think I should do?"

"Take him some tea."

"Huh?"

"Take him some tea, or make him so cocoa or give him a six pack. Leave a note, let him know you'll be there when he's ready. Don't let the anger scare you away, because it shouldn't. Everyone gets angry, everybody gets tired, and like it or not, everyone lashes out, especially against those we love the most. My advice, Jean, is if you love him, really love him, then just be there when he needs you to help him find his way. I don't know you or Cyclops well enough to tell you how you should handle your relationship, nor should I have to. However, if I were you, I would hold fast to the feelings you share and see him through whatever it is he's going through now."

Jean smiled slightly. "He's a very lucky man."

"Scott?"

"No. Wolverine." Jean stood. "Thank you, Storm. I know I've done some terrible things to you in the past, and I am truly sorry for all the pain I caused you."

Ororo shrugged. "It's done. We'll be fine just so long as you don't go all bunny-boiler on me."

Jean raised one arched brow. "Bunny-boiler?"

"Forget it." Ororo walked Jean to the door.

"Thanks for talking to me."

"No problem. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

Ororo watched until Jean was over the hill before turning out the front light. When she turned Logan was directly behind her, his gaze intense. "Log--" She was pulled tight against his wet chest, his mouth silencing hers in a forceful kiss, his tongue demanding entry. Ororo made a small sound that only seemed to inflame Logan further and pressed her against the door, wrenching her robe open.

Logan growled into her mouth, his body a raging inferno of passion. He had heard every word she said to Jean and he knew she was speaking from the heart, from her experiences with him.

"Logan, mmmm." She lifted her legs, holding him about the waist, clutching his shoulders.

"I love ya, 'Ro." He said softly, tenderly, even as his body dominated hers.

Ororo smiled at him so sweetly he froze. Staring into the deep swirling depths of her eyes he saw how much she loved him and he was arrested.

"Logan?"

"Ya can't know what it does ta me ta see ya look at me like that," he rasped.

Ororo gave him a confused look. "Like what?"

"Like I'm the only thing that matters," he said gruffly.

"You are, Logan. The only thing that matters to me. Now and forever, love."

He buried his face in her neck, moaning her name.