Disclaimer: If it isn't someone you recognize from the movie or the comics, then it's mine.

Note:I've decided to be magnanimous and update a day early...yes, there's a reason for it...:) I'm posting it as a reward to RhiannonUK for FINALLY updating her excellent story, "Full Metal Anarchy"...it's the sequel to her excellent story "A Force of Nature"...go read them now if you haven't already...:)


Interlude: Logan

The lab coats strip Wolverine down and proceed to insert IV's in both arms, as well as cardiac and brainwave monitors on his chest and head. They insert a small wire into the base of his skull and his limbs suddenly go limp, as though he's been paralyzed. Panic rises in his eyes as he realizes they're not going to use drugs to keep him still and his healing factor won't try to compensate for something that seems like natural impulses to his nervous system. The lab coats just laugh at the irony and move him to a stretcher.

After a few minutes, they wheel him out of this small room and down a long hallway. During the trip, he hears the sounds of fighting above and suppresses the urge to smile. His girl is here and she brought backup. They're too far away for him to smell, but he's pretty sure he knows who's up there. They finally come to a room that looks all too familiar. From his perspective, all Wolverine can see is the tile, but he can smell that awful chemical soup that has haunted his nightmares for fifteen years. This only fuels his rage. They wheel him next to the source of that smell: the tank.

"Are you ready for some conditioning, Wolverine?" Franklin says as he leans over him, leering.

"Fuck you. My name is Logan!" He replies, almost growling.

"Oh yes, we know. We know more about you than you do. But after tonight, you'll only know what you need to know."

"All I need to know is that you'll be dead before you can do shit to me, asshole."

"We'll see about that." Franklin gestures and the restraints are suddenly opened. Wolverine tries to move, but his limbs will not cooperate. His panic goes up another notch; it's one thing to dream of drowing in the tank, it's another to have it happen all over again. Of course, we're in the chamber of a modern-day Mengele, he'll want Wolverine awake. The panic increases the rage and he can feel the animal struggling to be let free. Using an elaborate harness, they lift him from the gurney and lower him into the tank.

The chemicals immediately flood his mouth and nose, choking him, drowning him. His healing factor kicks in immediately to repair the damage. He can't see much through this mess, but he does see that everyone has suddenly snapped their heads up and they are looking at something in confusion. With great effort, he turns his head to peer out the side of the tank. The image is murky and the chemicals burn his eyes, but he smiles.

Hellcat is here and she looks pissed.

Chapter 20.


"YOU!" I spat as soon as I spied General Franklin. He was one of the people who were in charge of the "program" that made Logan and me. "Do what you want to the rest of them, leave this one to me!" I barked to Kitty and Rogue and charged across the floor. I leapt up on the tank, one foot on either edge and lashed at his face with my claws. He managed to dodge, but I still caught a piece of his ear as he backpedaled. I took the opportunity to pull Logan up in the tank. "Hello lover." I said. "What'd they do to you?

"Don't know." He replied and I realized he felt like dead weight in my hands. "Stuck somethin' in the back of my head."

I pulled him forward and saw the wire sticking out near the base of his skull. I ripped it out and he gave a small grunt of pain. I tossed it aside and took a moment to give him a quick kiss. "Join us when you're ready."

"With pleasure." He growled and I knew that I was talking to Wolverine; Logan wasn't home right now. I smiled and leapt off the tank in pursuit of Franklin.

He pulled a gun and cocked it. "Don't fight it, Hellcat. We wanted you both but we couldn't find you. Some of us thought you were dead. We didn't know you were at the mansion until it was too late to abort our original plan."

I kept walking. I didn't care if he had a gun. I'd always come back. "Fuck you, Franklin. You lost us both a long time ago. Now it's time for a little payback."

He smiled unpleasantly. "Not if you're dead." He pulled the trigger.

Now, I can't dodge bullets. Some people are impervious to them in one way or another, but I don't know anyone who can dodge them. But I can dodge where the gun is pointing, which is usually about where the bullet will go. I heard the sound of his skin shift when he squeezed the trigger and made a dive for the floor. The bullet passed close enough that I could feel the heat on my cheek, but it missed. I rolled as I hit the floor and came up with an uppercut to Franklin's smarmy face. I followed up with a slash to his right wrist, severing tendons and causing him to lose his gun. His eyes widened and he started to back away, cradling his damaged hand to his chest. I shot my foot out and kicked him full in the balls, claws out and felt a fairly satisfying "pop". He immediately fell over, vomiting.

I backed off and crossed my arms, waiting for him to recover. He rolled onto his back and started trying to scuttle away, but every time he moved his arm, he'd cry out in pain. I pounced on him, my knee in his chest. "You remember that op in China? The one where I took my time? I'm gonna recreate it just for you." He paled and gasped in pain. "Oh, what's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" My hand shot forward so fast it was a blur and sure enough, the 'Cat did have his tongue. I casually tossed it aside. "Hmm, maybe I should have waited. I kinda miss the begging for your life portion of the game. Oh well, I guess we'll have to see if I can interpret your whimpering." I once again brought my hand down and opened his left cheek. I then trailed my claws gently, almost sensuously down the other side of his face before opening that one too. I was about to continue peeling his face apart when a distinctive "snikt" sound came from just behind me. I smiled. "Oh look, company." I turned around and grinned ferally at Wolverine.

I was glad to see he'd acquired a pair of pants. I didn't know how much Kitty and Rogue got to see before he did, but since he had blood on his chest and arms and the pants were clean, I assumed quite a bit. Oh well, most of the girls at the school had a crush on him anyway. He's mine and nothing will change that. He squatted next to me. "I knew you'd come." He said, kissing my cheek.

"I had to. I couldn't leave you here. I would have walked if I had to." I replied.

"Did ya know this asshole thought you'd only bring Storm with you?"

"They never were the sharpest knives in the drawer."

"No, they gave those to me." He smiled and we both looked down at the general. "So, do you need a hand here or are you ok?"

I stood up. "Be my guest."

I looked behind me and saw that we were alone. "Rogue, Kitty, where are you?" I spoke into the earpiece.

"In the hall. Logan kicked us out cuz he was naked." Kitty said bitterly.

I couldn't help but smile. I knew that wasn't the only reason. He didn't want them to see what he was about to do. "Ok. Just stay there and keep watch. We'll be out in a minute."

I turned back to Wolverine and the general just in time to see him shove both sets of claws as far into that bastard's gut as they would go. With a growl, he pulled them in opposite directions and gutted him, blood spraying everywhere. Wolverine stumbled back a few steps, turned his back on the corpse and fell to his knees. I rushed to his side. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." He said. "Took a couple bullets earlier and one of 'em nicked a lung. Hurts like a bitch to heal somethin' like that." He looked up and grabbed me, burying his face in my hair. "I was afraid they'd get you too, get all of you. I don't know what they wanted to do with me. I was scared shitless."

"You? It wouldn't have lasted. You would have ended up pissed off and you would've killed a bunch of people."

He squeezed me tighter. "Look at you, bustin' me outta this place again. Maybe you're really an angel."

I chuckled. "No, not me. Just a selfish bitch that doesn't like it when someone makes off with something that belongs to me."

"Mmm, I like the sound of that."

I leaned forward and kissed him, then stood up and helped him to his feet. "C'mon, let's get outta here. I'm sure we'll have to fight our way out."

His eyes lit up. "Really? You're not just sayin' that?"

I laughed and put my arm around his waist. "Would I bullshit you?"

"Not about killin'." He stood there just looking at me for the longest time before turning away, the coldness once again flooding his eyes. "C'mon. Let's do this thing."

We left the lab and met up with Kitty and Rogue outside. Part of me wanted to just leave this place, but I knew I had to see if I could find any files that might be helpful in shutting this thing down once and for all. I sent Logan with Kitty down one hall while Rogue and I went in the opposite direction. The first few rooms we opened were either completely empty or had examination tables and instruments in them. The first office we found had nothing useful, but the second one gave us the mother lode.

There was a state of the art computer on the desk with a cursor waiting in the upper left corner. Rather than trying to hack it myself, I turned the thing off and worked the case open with my claws. A few moments later, I had the hard drive in hand. Rogue was going through the drawers and found several dozen cd-roms that looked promising. Finally, I pried open the file cabinet in the corner and started rifling through the contents. In the third drawer, I found a file that was simply marked "Wolverine". It was pretty thick, but I wasn't about to leave it behind. Further searching turned up one with my name on it, so I took that one too. Now that I had so much to carry, I needed something to carry it all in. We returned to the hall outside lab four and I grabbed the lab coat off the guy Rogue had decked earlier, tying it into a makeshift pack and slinging it over my shoulder. A few moments later, Kitty and Logan returned with a similar pack.

"We ready?" I said, asking everyone on the com.

"First floor is secure. We're holding til you get back." Storm said. She sounded a little winded.

"Roger that. We'll be there straight away." I looked at the rest of my team, nodded and we moved out. Logan took point while I took rearguard. We were just getting to the turn where the stairs were when I heard a shot from behind me and a searing pain tore through my right lung. I dropped like a ton of bricks.

"Oh fuck." I said, gasping for air. Logan was immediately at my side. "Hit…a lung." I handed my pack to Kitty. "Get…to Storm. Go to…the jet. Don't wait…more…than ten minutes. Move!"

I had to give them credit, they certainly did know how to take orders, even though it was obvious they didn't like them. Logan handed his pack to Rogue and they took off. I propped myself against the wall. "Logan…get…the hell…out."

"No. I'm not leavin' you. You know the rules." He said. He leaned over to pick me up and another shot rang out, hitting him in the leg. I don't know who it was doing it, but they were really monumentally stupid. You don't shoot Wolverine, it just makes him angry. He growled low in his throat and popped his claws, tearing around the corner. I heard several more shots, followed by a very wet sound and a thump. I'm pretty sure he decapitated someone. Good. He returned to where I was sitting and lifted me gently. "Where's the jet?"

"Southern tip…through woods." I gasped, resisting the urge to scream. A lung shot is fifty/fifty for me. This one was bad, but I wasn't sure how bad. Breathing was a bitch and I wished I could just croak and be done with it. The slow healing hurts in its own way; at least dead, it heals without me having to be a part of it. "Not…much time…to get there."

"Don't worry, darlin'. I'll get us there." He dashed up the steps, trying to spare me as much pain as he could, but that wasn't much. He looked around at the carnage on the first level and smiled. "Looks like they can dish it out after all." He said with a smirk.

"If…they have…to."

"Just hold on, baby, I'll get us outta here." He exited through the back and using that amazing nose of his scented the path to the jet. Storm was just finishing the pre-flight check when we broke out of the trees to the water's edge. Piotr and Kitty both let out whoops of joy when they saw us and Storm extended the ramp so we could cross. Once inside, Logan secured me in a seat in the back, taking the one right next to me. As soon as everyone was settled, the jet shot off into the night.

Logan leaned over and peeled my tank top up to get a good look at the wound. The bastard who shot me got lucky; it's a better than even chance that you'll hit adamantium when you shoot me, but this one passed right between my ribs and I could still feel the slug in my right lung. He cursed when he saw it and looked up to see Rogue standing there with the first aid kit in her hand. He opened it up, fished some stuff out and went to work.

The first thing he did was splash rubbing alcohol over the wound to clean the area. I screamed and resisted the urge to rip his balls off (I'd want those later). After getting it as clear as he could, he packed the bullet hole with gauze and taped it in place. He then took out a syringe and made like he was going to inject me. I slapped it out of his hands. "No…drugs. Don't…like…them."

"Hon, it's for the pain. I hate to see you like this."

"Don't…care. No drugs." I took his hand. "Just…hold." He nodded in understanding and let me maul the shit out of his hand on the trip back to the school.

"I missed someone." He said unexpectedly. I looked at him, bewildered. "When I got the guy who shot you. There was someone else in the hall, a Japanese guy. I took the shooter's head off and turned to him. He ran and I wanted to go after him but I had to get back to you." I just smiled at him to let him know it was ok. We'd find them all, sooner or later.

Storm radioed ahead to Xavier and he had someone waiting in the hangar with a stretcher for me. Logan rushed down the ramp and carefully put me on it, then ran down the hall all the way to the med lab with us. Once inside, she tried to shoo him away but he just growled and stood his ground. She examined me, commented that my dressing was "pretty good for an amateur job" and dropped the bomb.

"I'm sorry. I have to operate to get it out."

I closed my eyes, shuddering. "If you…say so." I said. "Logan…stays."

She shook her head. "No, I can't allow that. It's not…"

I cut her off. "He…stays. It's the…rules."

She looked at Logan for an explanation. "No one gets left behind. We don't leave the other until we're both ok." He said. "And I wouldn't let you kick me out anyway. Just scrub me up and I'll hold her hand."

The doctor shook her head but complied with our wishes. A few minutes later, they both returned in scrubs and surgical masks. She put an oxygen mask over my face and inserted a couple of IV's. Finally, she gave me some kind of injection and I started to feel very light. Logan looked at me and said something, but I was already out by the time I thought about it.

I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke up I felt much better, I could breathe without my lung hurting but the pain of the gunshot was still there, though significantly lessened. I looked around in the dim light and noticed that Logan was sleeping in a chair with his head on the edge of my bed. I raised my hand and ran my fingers through his hair, causing him to wake up with a smile.

"Hey tiger." He said. "How you feelin'?"

"Like running a marathon." He smiled. "How long was I out?"

"Two days. I think the doctor did it on purpose to keep you from runnin' around like a madwoman."

"Remind me to stiff her for the bill."

"Chuck pays our expenses, remember?"

"Oh yeah." I smiled and he kissed my fingertips before I drifted off again. The next time I woke, he was gone but the doctor and Xavier were both there. She introduced herself as a Dr. Endicott, then busied herself examining me. I turned and smiled at the Professor. "At least I was the worst off, huh?"

"I would have preferred it not happen to anyone." He said. "But I understand that you got there just in time?"

I nodded gently. "Had him in the tank, wide awake but paralyzed. But we took care of it."

He pressed his lips into a thin line. "Yes, the others told me. I can't say that I agree with the amount of sheer violence you employed, but under the circumstances, I can understand it."

"It's a bad world full of bad people. I'm just badder than they are."

"Well, that aside, I just wanted to say congratulations for a job well done." He paused as if searching for words. "Even Scott reluctantly agreed that the use of force was necessary."

My eyebrows shot up into my hairline. "The hell you say? Mr. Tightass agreeing with extreme violence? What next, tequila shots?"

Xavier laughed. "I don't know if we can go that far, but like you said, it's a bad world full of bad people. And sometimes good people have to do bad things to defeat them. You are one of those people and if you would like to stay on as a permanent part of the team, I would consider myself supremely lucky."

I was unexpectedly touched. "I'll let you know when I'm back on my feet. Which should be soon if I don't miss my guess."

Now it was Dr. Endicott's turn to smile. "Quite right. I wish I knew how this healing thing you and Logan have works. It would be fascinating if it could be replicated."

"Oh, you don't mean that. We'd make you obsolete."

"Perhaps. But I also wouldn't have old friends waking me in the middle of the night to dig bullets of his people anymore." She said with a sly glance to the Professor. She checked the monitors behind me, then shut them off and busied herself removing the IV's. "It seems you're back to normal functions, so I can't justify keeping you here. Just come back in a week for another checkup, ok?"

I nodded and sat up. I was a little lightheaded from the quick change of position but recovered fast enough. I stood gingerly, not wanting a repeat of the dizzy spell, but lucked out that time. After a few parting words to the doctor and Charles, I made my way to my room. Logan was sleeping, sprawled out in the middle of the bed wearing only boxers. I smiled and gently eased myself next to him, my head on his chest over his heart. He stirred and wrapped his arms around me.

"Mmm, you're a sight for sore eyes." He mumbled.

"The doc said I could go. And I missed you." I kissed his chest and he made a pleasurable sound, so I kept kissing.

"Did she clear you for activity?"

"She didn't say 'take it easy', if that's what you're asking."

"Good." He pulled me on top of him, his hand buried in my hair and kissed me soundly. I responded, raking my claws down his chest just gently enough to not break the skin. We made love like we hadn't seen each other in years, not a couple of days, an intensity to it that neither one of us had ever experienced, even with each other. It was fierce and tender at the same time, a completely unexpected combination. My two day coma gave me massive reserves of energy and he must have had one hell of a nap. I'll say again, I'm very glad that I'm bendy.

Afterwards, we lay there quietly, just looking in each other's eyes. After a long moment, he lowered his head to my shoulder and started shaking. It took me a moment to realize he was crying. I wrapped my arms around him and stroked his hair making soothing sounds. "Logan, lover, what's wrong?"

"I can't stand to see you hurt. It seems like whenever we're together, you get hurt." He started. I stopped him.

"Look, we're both dangerous people. We were partially born that way, partially made that way. I can't deny that my life in Detroit was safer, which sounds so wrong, but I don't want that life back."

He looked back into my eyes, a tear rolling down his cheek. "How can you say that? You could walk away from all of this, go make a new life for yourself. You shouldn't have to be in this fight."

"What kind of person would I be if I knew that I had exactly the right combination of talents to help people and I didn't? I can't just walk away, not anymore." I shifted out from under him and sat up. "Logan, there's a war out there and it's obviously getting worse. I have tried for a long time to kill the Hellcat in me, but I can't. She's always there, waiting. And I realize now that I am just what I need to be, in the right place at the right time. Just like you."

He snorted in dissent. "Yeah, I'm here just in time to kick ass and take names." He shifted so he was in front of me, looking at me. "When I looked over and saw you takin' than general apart a piece at a time, I was thrilled. But it wasn't enough, I wanted to make sure I got the killin' blow, not you. And it felt so good to do it." He looked down in shame.

"Logan, look at me." He didn't, so I put my hand under his chin and lifted his eyes to mine. "I said look at me, damn it! I know, I took out that bitch Anissa. I wish I'd had more time with her so I could have made her suffer. Maybe we're both into the overkill because it's so deeply ingrained into us by those bastards that we don't know any other way. So fine, they wanted us to be killers; let's kill them all and let their devil sort them out."

He heaved a sigh then gathered me in his arms again. "I guess I just hate feelin' like I'm still doin' what they want me to do after all this time. You'd think I'd be able to control it."

"Hey, it's not about control. It's about focus. I have all the same rage you do, ya know. So we'll focus that rage onto the people who deserve it. Once they're gone, we'll leave all this and go back to that little cabin in Alberta and just stay there til the world evolves a better human."

He chuckled. "That could take a while, you know."

I shrugged. "It's not like we don't have all the time in the world."

"Very true." He kissed me again, then laid his head on my lap. I stroked his hair until he fell asleep, but his words rested heavy in my heart. We'd both been around long enough to see our worlds torn asunder by the very worst that people could dish out. It hurt me that most of the people we knew in this house would probably be gone long before we were, I thought I'd grown used to that. But the truth is a bitter pill to swallow and I knew it would be a very long time before the world evolved better people. But at least neither one of us would have to wait for that alone, not anymore.

The End.

(For now)


AN: Well, that's it...:) I want to thank all of you for coming with me on this ride...I've never had a scarier moment in my life than I did when I was trying to convince myself to click the button to post the first chapter...Special thanks to my beta readers, Zac and Turiel Tincdaniel for helping me with this project...your patience and understanding mean the world to me! Extra Special thanks to DBK(tm) for his continuing support, even though he keeps accusing me of being a pusher and my stories are his crack...:) Super Special thanks to those who have reviewed, you're the only proof i have that anyone read this and it means more than i can say that you took the time to share your thoughts...And Super Swanky thanks to everyone who read (whether you reviewed or not)...without you, there wouldn't be a sequel...:)

I had intended to hold off on the sequel until after X:3 came out, but my muse can be very insistent, so the sequel blatantly ignores that movie...this will make some people happy, others not so much...either way, i hope you're all ready for more in the continuing saga of Hellcat and Wolverine!