Loving Memories

Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Phantom.

"When a loved one becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure." -anonymous

Mystique shut her eyes in a desperate attempt to fall asleep in the middle of her comfortable bed. Believing that she would finally escape reality and enter her dreams, her eyes fluttered open once more and a small growl passed her lips. Her own thoughts were keeping her awake and very exhausted. Mystique turned on her back and gaped at the blank ceiling above her. Her mind lingered on that one specific night and how passionate it had rapidly become.

She infiltrated his tent in the guise of the beautiful Dr. Jean Grey. She knew his feelings for this woman and had witnessed his rejection. The female saw him tucking his metal tag into the collar of his shirt. At first he seemed confused by her entering his tent after that event, but, feeling her warm body collide with his and her tender, luscious lips touching him, he gave in. The two closed their eyes as their mouths became locked in a ferocious battle. She remembered every movement made in that tent and savored every moment of it. The feeling of his fingers shimming up her abdomen sent fantastic shivers up her spine.

His fingers slid across something very familiar, and he immediately broke their kiss. On her abdomen were three scars, the ones he had given to her in their last meeting on Liberty Island. She smirked, noting his sudden change in expression, and decided to reveal her true mutant form. "No one's ever left a scar quite like you," she whispered to him. In response, he asked her if she desired an apology. "You know what I want." She brought her head over to his ear, licked it, and quickly withdrew. Gazing into his hazel eyes, she asked him a question everyone is familiar with: "But what do you want?"

He honestly didn't know the answer. His mind was too busy racing to care, although his heart searched for one. Did he actually want Jean, or did he yearn for something else? Either way, he could not stop his rapid pulse as the shape-shifting mutant above him morphed into all of his female teammates before his eyes. Disgust was now added to the list of emotions he felt. He did the only thing he thought would work and shoved her off. She landed on her butt and gazed at him with those piercing yellow eyes of hers. Much to his surprise, she stood and reclaimed her original seat.

"Get off," he muttered under his breath, growling. The female only smirked. God, he hated that smirk and yet, the animal inside him worshipped it. Her breath brushed against his skin. "You know that I make my own decisions," she hissed seductively into his ear. "Yeah? Well, maybe it's time you stopped." He struggled to pull himself free from under her, but his muscles wouldn't budge. It wasn't her weight that paralyzed his body; it was the feel of her skin touching his, the feel of her breath in his ear. Much to his dismay, he enjoyed this, though he wouldn't admit it anytime soon.

She pressed her delicious lips against his and led him into a deep, passionate, and everlasting kiss. The female felt his tense body relax underneath hers and felt him give into her influence. Her fingers traced the outline of his buckle and she began to unlock it.

The sound of the bedroom door opening soon interrupted these thoughts. With a jolt, Mystique immediately sat up and looked toward her visitor. A purple mutant, no older than 6, climbed into her bed. She possessed Mystique's bright red hair, glittering yellow eyes, and rough scales. Their powers differed from each other, Mystique being able to morph and the other being able to gain new powers just by changing color. She also had heightened senses. Mystique caressed this child's cheek and smiled.

"Temper, what did I tell you about entering my room at night?" Mystique asked in a stern yet concerned voice. Temper's eyes grew wide as she sat beside the shape-shifter. The child scooted closer towards Mystique. "I'm sorry, Mommy," the youngster mumbled in despair, trying to cuddle with her mother, "I was having scary nightmares." Mystique smirked and embraced the frightened child, hoping that would give her a little comfort. She gazed into Temper's eyes and asked, "What was it about?"

Young Temper looked up at her mother, tears streaming down her purple cheeks. Mystique wiped them off with her thumb. " There was a man, a mean-looking man, with very long knives. He said he wanted to get me!" Temper placed her head on Mystique's shoulder and began to bawl. Mystique looked at her child with a mother's concern, though in her mind she growled at the mention of a strict man with knives. "Please…don't…let…him…get…me!" she cried in between gasps. Mystique held the child closer to her and whispered, "Don't worry. I won't let him."

Logan placed another empty bottle of liquor in front of him and rubbed his temple in thought. He sighed, not having been relieved of the thoughts that plagued him, and pushed in his chair. He walked out of the kitchen and began climbing the winding staircase, telling himself that he might as well hop in bed again. Logan pushed open his door and fell onto his divan, his cranium resting on his hands. It was 2 a.m. and he couldn't get himself to fall asleep. He once again stared at the bare ceiling.

Wolverine allowed his mind to wander about, lingering on the good times as well as the bad. The vanishing memory back at the tent disrupted his thoughts and he closed his eyes in concentration. Logan remembered her scent, her beauty, and most certainly her lust. She was definitely a vicious one, nearly destroying anyone who goes against her. But, for some odd reason, he was attracted to her. How he yearned to taste those delectable lips of hers and feel her radiant skin again. His mind was disgusted by the strange desire, even though his heart disagreed.

He fell asleep peacefully, dreaming of that sensational night.

After the crying spell was finished, Temper groggily rested her head on her mother's shoulder. Mystique laid back against her pillow and sighed. "Mommy?" Temper suddenly began, piercing the beautiful silence. Mystique's attention was directed to her daughter. "Yes?" she responded. Temper hesitated for a short moment before continuing.

"Who's Daddy?"

Mystique grew anxious and hesitant. She knew this query would arrive someday, but didn't know when and therefore was not prepared to give an answer. She repeatedly opened and closed her mouth, frantically trying to find one. Temper grew impatient with the delay. "Well?" she spoke in a grim tone, glaring at her mother while turning a light shade of red. Mystique looked at her child tenderly and replied, "I'd rather not discuss the subject, honey."

"But Mommy!"

"Some other time."

"Why not now?"

Mystique slapped her forehead and sighed. She was beginning to see a part of him in her daughter. "Because," she began, "You're just not old enough to know about him. Now rest." Temper returned to purple, decided to give up, and directly went to sleep on her mother's shoulder. Mystique checked on her daughter to see if she was truly sleeping, then smiled and kissed her goodnight. She closed her yellow eyes and fell into darkness.

The blue female opened her eyes after a night's rest and glanced over at her shoulder. She gently tapped her daughter awake and, after Temper ran off to change, made breakfast. She set two seats at the table, summoned her child, and patiently waited for her arrival. Temper eagerly flew into the kitchen wearing shorts and a light blue shirt. "Waffles! Yummy!" she chimed, occupying the chair right next to her mother, "Mommy makes the best waffles!" Temper grabbed her fork and ravenously ate the sliced pieces. After watching her daughter with interest, Mystique followed.

Mystique washed the dishes after breakfast was over. Temper offered to help, but she denied it and told her daughter to grab her shoes and her Image-Inducer. "Are we going to the park?" the young girl asked, her yellow eyes gleaming. Mystique smirked at her child and responded, "After a week's worth of annoying me with that question, I have decided to take you." Temper beamed up at her mother and retrieved the objects she was ordered to fetch. Mystique began to morph into her human form.

The morning was a gorgeous time to be in Central Park. The air was fresh, the birds were chirping their little tunes, and the flowers were in bloom. The sun cast its radiant beams over the entire park; the healthy green grass was sparkling with the morning dew. Temper gazed in awe at the view while her mother absorbed the silence.

They halted at a nearby bench. Mystique clasped her daughter's tiny hands in hers and told her to stay put while she went home to retrieve something. "Promise me that you will not talk to strangers." Mystique demanded. Her daughter sat on the bench and agreed. "I'll be back shortly," the blue female said as she left.

Logan strolled around the city with his hands in his coat pockets and one Broadway ticket in his jeans. He stopped by an alley to light a cigar, had difficulty lighting the match, put the flame out, and continued onward. He wasn't searching for Broadway's location, but rather enjoyed walking through the city. The air helped him think clearly. And, after last night, he definitely needed to straighten out his thoughts.

Mystique. Why had the animal inside him longed for her? They were very much alike in their work, they were monsters when it came to sparring with their foes, and it still chose her. That night in the tent wasn't the first time he felt affection for the blue female. The way the fire had cast its light upon her face when the X-Men were having a conversation with Magneto was really the first time he had noticed her beauty. In his mind, he wanted Jean, but the creature inside wanted different. It wanted her.

He relieved himself of those inquiries as he advanced toward Central Park. Logan wasn't exhausted, but merely wanted to take a little break. He thought it might help him straighten out. He approached a forlorn wooden bench and noticed a little girl occupying it. He recognized her beautiful black hair and gorgeous hazel eyes. The girl appeared to be part Austrian, at least to him she did. She wasn't playing with the others, which he thought was bizarre, and looked lonely, so he considered being generous and joined her.

"Hey, kid," he said, stretching out his hand to grab hers, "Name's Logan. What's yours?" Temper sat still, looking down at his hand and then up at him. "Mommy says I'm not supposed to talk to strangers," she replied, staring at the grass below her swinging feet. "Do I look like a stranger to you?" Logan asked, tipping his hat with one index finger. Temper nodded silently.

"You can trust me, darlin'."

Logan reached out for the girl in an attempt to prove her wrong. Her eyes became filled with fear but, mustering her courage, managed to kick him hard in the shin. Logan cringed in pain and unintentionally extracted his 6-inch indestructible adamantium claws. Temper gazed at these magnificent weapons and, recalling her nightmare, turned gray and teleported. She stumbled inside a bush, nearly hurting herself, but managed to remain quiet.

Logan became even more confused by the fact that the kid just disappeared. Luckily, he had enough time to catch her scent. It smelled a tad familiar to him, and he couldn't pinpoint the reason why. He stuck his nose in the air and followed the aroma to a bush. Logan bent over, pushed some twigs and leaves out of his way, and peeked through. There she was, cuddling herself in fear. He reached out a hand and said in a caring tone, "'S okay, kid. I won't hurt ya."

Not wanting to remain inside an insect infested bush for eternity, Temper hesitantly took his hand. He hauled her out and checked for any sprains, cuts, or bruises that she might have received. "My name's Temper, Mr. Logan," the youngster suddenly said, clinging to his hand. "Temper?" he replied, smirking, "That yer real name?"

"Yep."

"Well, Temper," Logan spoke, the smirk still residing on his face, " I think we better go find your mother. She around here?" Temper pointed towards a bench. His sharp eyes trailed her finger. "She told me to wait for her over there!" She dragged Logan to the wooden seat and the two sat down, waiting for Mystique's arrival.

"I noticed that you've got special powers," Logan began, still clasping the girl's miniscule hand in his. Temper nodded her head solemnly with a frown. "I'm a mutant," she responded, her voice a little downcast, "I wasn't born one. It came later. This is what I really looked like when I was born." Logan took a double take and looked at the 6 year-old again. Something about her eyes seemed strange to him…

To his surprise, Temper tore away from his grip and sprinted towards someone else. It was a woman, appearing no older than thirty and looking very healthy for her age. He rose from his seat, suspicious, as his nose traced a familiar scent, and walked near the two. "Just keepin' yer kid company, Miss-" He tried to remain polite, but the scent became all too familiar to him now. His mind clicked and he growled, though the beast within desired to be near the person that haunted his thoughts and dreams. "What the hell are you doin' here, Mystique?" he spat, casting her a vicious glare. Mystique smirked and, without a trace of anyone around, shifted back into her natural form.

"You always know where to find me," she began, giving him that seductive look he received 6 years ago, "Why is that, Logan?" Temper looked from one mutant to the other, confused. Clearly she was missing some back-story. Mystique patted her daughter on the back and asked if they could be alone for a moment. Temper reluctantly obeyed and concealed herself behind a nearby tree. She adored her heightened senses; she could use them for almost anything. She listened intently to the conversation taking place.

"Yer goddam scent plagues this city," he answered simply, his hands clenched tightly. He knew his claws wouldn't threaten her. She noticed the delay and cast a short glance at his fists, inched closer to him, then smiled. She knew exactly what to say next.

"You dare not reveal your claws, Wolverine. You'll scare our daughter," she chuckled as he threw her a puzzled expression. Just what she had intended. He instantly gritted his teeth; a claw slowly peeked out from underneath his flesh. "Our daughter? There something yer keeping from me?"

Mystique quickly sauntered over to the confused Logan and placed both of her hands on his broad shoulders. His body grew tense at her touch and he shivered. Logan attempted to push her away, but the changeling came closer to him. Their faces were an inch apart.

"6 years," She hissed into his ear, "and 9 months ago, you impregnated me in that tent. Or don't you remember…" Mystique pressed her body against his, her finger tracing his jaw, "…that insatiable night?" Logan's quickening pulse rang incessantly in his ears. He glared and shoved her away, all six of his claws aimed at her. "You lying bitch!" He spat, approaching the fallen Mystique. Logan bent down and positioned his claws at her neck. "Go ahead," Mystique teased, a little smirk tugging at the corner of her lips, "Try." Logan hesitated for a few seconds, then withdrew himself. He sighed, retracting his metal claws, and stood up. Mystique pitched him a smile. If that hadn't calmed him, he would've dissected her.

"Touch me again, and I swear I won't hesitate to murder ya," He threatened as the blue female scrambled to her feet. Temper giggled at the conversation. She had no idea what was going on, but somehow it seemed hilarious to her. She stifled a giggle at Logan's threat. The little girl knew he didn't mean what he said. There was a cracking sound, but Temper was completely absorbed in eavesdropping on this conversation that she didn't hear it. There came another crack, and she instantaneously became aware that her Image-Inducer died. Worried that someone would see her, she ran over to her mother for protection. Logan took a step back when he glimpsed her true form. He turned his attention to Mystique, who was consoling her daughter, and snarled.

"This is all yer fault, Mystique! If ya hadn't invaded my tent, this wouldn't have happened!"

He didn't mean to say such vile sentences and inside, the beast clawed at him out of anger. Logan gazed into the little girl's sorrowful, frightened, golden eyes and admitted to something that he could not believe: that he actually had a daughter. She may have looked like a miniature version of her mother, but there was no hiding the fact that she had his ears, his nose, his broad shoulders, and his senses. Mystique pitched a brutal glare in his direction and strolled ferociously over to him. "How dare you say our daughter shouldn't exist, Logan!" She dug the tip of her index finger into his chest.

"Don't take it like that! I-"

He plummeted to the grass and clutched his cheek in agony while Mystique withdrew her fist. She carried Temper in her arms and departed, leaving Logan to contemplate the confrontation. He got to his feet and gazed at the beautiful woman he secretly craved. It was 6 years since their last meeting, and she still managed to knock him off his feet. Figures, he thought, and sauntered over to Broadway, thinking about the consequences of his actions.

The Phantom of the Opera was one of his favorite Broadway musicals. He related to the masked character a great deal, and at times he even considered auditioning for the role. Now, with the loss of Mystique, he could relate to the character even more. Sitting in his seat, Logan stared blankly at the stage in deep thought. How could he have been so stupid? There were signs to take into consideration, like her leaving the Brotherhood and disappearing for 6 years without a trace of any committed crime.

Logan watched as the hungry Phantom violently positioned a noose around Raoul's sleek neck. His chin sank into the palm of his hand and he grunted in discomfort. He wanted so much to do the same in order to remedy the emotional pain torturing his soul. He never meant to explode the way he did back at the park; he couldn't take control of himself. Six years without knowing he had an offspring and she chose today to have the decency to tell him? Why wasn't he informed earlier?

Wolverine wallowed through his own guilt as he witnessed Christine and Raoul escape the murky depths of the Phantom's lair. He shut his eyes, allowing to the graceful tune to linger in his ears, and began to mouth the words to this famous song. The music touched his soul, resurrecting the affection he possessed for Mystique. The beast couldn't stop thinking about her, and that only extended his sorrow. This day started out very well, but progressed horribly as it went on. He rose from his seat, forgetting to applaud when the show ended, and somberly left the building.

A gust of wind slapped his face when he opened the door and stepped into the city. Normally, the zephyr would have irritated him, but he had a lot on his mind to care. He ambled the crowded streets of New York, heading straight for the liquor store. Another beer might drown his sorrow. The trick had always worked for him, despite the fact that he became drunk every time and was forbidden to do anything over at the Institute.

Something immediately caught his eye and he gaped at the nice little floral/collectibles shop before him. Logan stood there for a moment, an idea forming in his mind, and entered. The shop was enveloped in different, sweet aromas and millions of antiques. Sitting on top of a dusty shelf was a miniature music box. The piece contained a rose and a mask, property of the San Francisco Music Box Company. Logan gave the key a twist, and the collectible hummed the enchanting tune of The Music of the Night. He revealed a slight smile and held the item cautiously in the palm of his left hand, continuing his journey around the store.

Wolverine crossed the threshold leading to the floral décor and the various flowers. He skimmed through the petunias, the golden poppies, and the lilacs, knowing deep in his mind that she would loathe them. The scent of fresh red roses lured him into their aisle. Inspecting each of the crimson flowers, he secretly imagined the perfect one. The one that said "I'm Sorry", for he truly was, even though he hid it under a mask. He was tough, and showing emotion just didn't suit him.

He wandered over to another section of roses, smelling each of their scents. Holding one rose and examining its physical traits, Logan looked at the price. $1.50 for 1- $7.50 for 5. Those prices suited him well. He took the one he was holding and arrived at the counter. The total came to $10.50 for both of the objects. Wolverine fished out his wallet and handed the cashier the money. The cashier placed the items in a plastic bag. Logan violently tore the bag away from the employee's hands and walked out.

Logan thrust the doors of the Institute open and strutted inside, carrying the bought items close to him. The living room was silent and peaceful, which differed from how noisy it usually was. He searched the place, checking for any sign of movement before he relaxed and continued towards the vast corridor. As Wolverine approached the hallway, a little vampire appeared and blocked the entrance. The vampire was a 10 year-old mutant known as Starfire and had relations to the famous Charles Xavier. She contained two dazzling gray eyes, dark brown hair, and very pale skin, which camouflaged her in the winter. The youngster had all the physical traits and abilities of a vampire, but was as kind as Jesus himself and hyperactive to match. Her parents were extremely wealthy, being the King and Queen of the vampires. Starfire wore a gorgeous red dress with white, angelic wings that gave her a lovable appearance.

She fluttered her little wings at the sight of Logan's return and began to jump around. "Mr. Wolvie's back!" she squealed with delight while running to hug him. Logan backed away, but could not escape the girl's touch. She squeezed him as hard as she could, disregarding the fact that Logan was prepared to summon his claws. Starfire released him after what had felt like 3 hours and smiled.

"I missed you, Mr. Wolvie!"

Logan muttered a curse and shoved the young one aside. He entered the corridor without concern. She immediately rose, the blow having no affect on her person, and followed. Starfire spotted the bag swinging in his hand and, without warning, gasped, "What'd ya get?" Wolverine sighed, his teeth clenched, and grumbled, "Nothing you'd find interestin'." "Oh," the little mutant whispered to herself, confused, "Does that mean it's not for me?"

Wolverine grunted in annoyance and looked at the vampire with vicious eyes. "You're on my last nerve, kid," he growled, a ferocious tone in his voice, "I suggest ya get yer nose outta my business." Tears abruptly developed in Starfire's curious eyes.

"But my brother-"

" I don't give a damn what Charles says! This stuff ain't for ya, and therefore it's none of yer business!"

His outburst caused the little vampire to sprint through the corridor, her face buried in her hands, sobbing. Logan shrugged and apathetically resumed onward, opening his bedroom door and shutting it behind him.

He vigilantly wrapped the small musical parcel with some beige tissue paper from his desk and slowly placed it back in the plastic bag. Logan, as cautious as ever, retrieved the rose, a treasured item he was sure would win her over. He gently set it on top of his desk and unfastened one of his wooden drawers. He scanned through his junk until he found what he needed: a piece of black ribbon. Wolverine attached it to the rose and etched on the ribbon with his claws, then tucked it safely away in the bag. There came a knock on his door, and the one and only Charles Xavier came in with Starfire controlling his wheelchair. She rolled him over to Wolverine.

"I must ask you to apologize to my sister," Xavier demanded, his piercing eyes gazing at Wolverine, "No one should come out at a child like that." Wolverine turned, his hand again rubbing his temple.

"Did you come here to feed my guilt, or is it something else?"

"I'm afraid it's a little of both," Xavier replied, his hands on his lap, "You see, Cerebro has recently picked up another mutant, though my instincts say that she has been one for quite a few years." "And ya want me to recruit her," Logan mumbled in a mocking tone. Xavier gave him a small smile.

"Come."

Starfire grabbed the two handles and escorted her brother back to Cerebro. Logan crossed his arms and halfheartedly followed the others, thinking this was a waste of his time. They entered a semi-dark area with only one platform connecting the entire school to a simple machine. The Professor wore the machine like a headset, and the others remained still while he concentrated. Cerebro skipped from mutant to mutant, until it found the one Xavier was searching for. A purple mutant appeared onscreen. Logan instantly recognized who it was and grimaced. "This is the mutant surfaced, a little girl whose power gives her unlimited abilities. If in the wrong hands, she could create a mass destruction beyond your wildest dreams. That is why it is imperative that we reach her," the mastermind explains, removing Cerebro from his cranium and placing it before him, "Another detail I almost forgot, Mystique is the child's mother. No answers as to how that happened or who the father is, but this only adds on to why we must persuade this child to our side."

Logan's expression didn't change. "Couldn't ya get someone else to recruit the kid?" he asked, not wanting to be a part of this. "I could," Xavier answered, leaning back in his wheelchair, " But I know that you're heading out into the city." "Listen Professor," Wolverine sighed, glancing at Starfire, " I'm just not good at handling kids." Xavier looked into Logan's eyes.

"Alright. But take Starfire with you. She needs some fresh air."

Before they left, Xavier summoned his vampire sibling. "I want you to be careful around Mystique. She will kill you if given the chance." "Don't worry, big brother," she whispered, " I will." Logan waited impatiently by the door. "Are ya comin' or not?" He inquired, tapping his foot. Starfire smiled and skipped out of the place, humming a random tune. Xavier gave his two friends a smile. "I hope you have fun."

Logan entered his room to retrieve the items he bought. The little vampire princess gaped in awe at the sight before her, and touched nearly every object within her reach. Logan growled, warning the hyperactive child, and headed off into the corridor. Starfire pranced at his heels.

Scott Summers sat on the couch, his mind occupied with the television, until he heard the two mutants come in. He spotted the bag in Logan's hand and walked over to them to get a peek inside. Wolverine punched him, and Scott chuckled. The Cyclops heaved himself up. "Didn't know you had a girlfriend," he teased, finally getting a look at the items. Wolverine pitched him an ugly glare. "You're a dick," he spat, and departed the Institute.

Temper laid comfortably on her twin bed, drawing an inspiration she received moments ago. Her pencil raced around the entire paper, and when she finished, she reached into her crayon box. This illustration was a display of her deepest desire, one that only Mystique knew and understood. She never discussed the topic with anyone but her mother, and inside, it tore her apart. The young mutant's intuitive instincts could tell that her mother felt the same way. She never showed it, but it was there.

Her ears picked up the faintest trace of footsteps, and the girl immediately cleaned her mess. She ran through the hall, her nose following an intense scent that began to plague her. Temper knew who the aroma belonged to, and drew near a living room window. She peered out, her sharp eyes darting around the neighborhood. The youngster could see, smell, and hear every insect outside, but not the person she had hoped. Still, the footsteps came.

She sat patiently by the window, glancing outward every time some one passed. Her hopes began to disintegrate when a knock at the door came. The little girl raced to answer it, her hopes replenished, and pulled the door open. She beamed at her visitor.

"Daddy!"

Logan bent down to embrace his child, leaving Starfire to look at them curiously. "Hey darlin'" he said, releasing his daughter and reaching into the plastic bag, "I got somethin' for ya." Logan handed over the beige parcel to his daughter. She grabbed it with interest and rapidly tore the tissue paper off. In her hands was a small music box. Temper twisted the key and gasped at the tune played. She embraced her father and thanked him for the gift.

Starfire appeared behind Temper and began poking her with curiosity. Temper shuddered at the touch and instinctively ran behind Logan for protection once she saw Starfire's appearance. She gazed at the vampire with frightened eyes while her body turned a shade of gray. "Are you Mystique?" the vampire asked adorably, inching closer towards the frightened girl. Temper slowly backed away from the hyperactive female. "No," she replied almost unintelligibly, clinging onto her dad. Logan turned to his child. "Don't worry," he spoke reassuringly, "Starfire won't do anythin' to ya 'cept give ya a headache. She's a little psycho." Starfire's wings fluttered as Temper solemnly sauntered from behind her father, her body converting to purple. She advanced towards Starfire.

The two studied one another without saying a word. "I'm Temper," the color-shifting mutant muttered under her breath, gaping at Starfire's fangs. "HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Temper!" the vampire princess shouted, poking her acquaintance in the arm. Temper flinched, growing a smidge irritable.

"Why are you so purple and scaly?"

Temper did not give an answer, but merely became red and gave the young vampire a burn. Starfire gasped in pain, clutching her finger to her mouth. Another set of footsteps was heard and Mystique stood in front of the three. She spotted Logan and seductively smiled at him. "Well, well, well, look at what the cat dragged in," the changeling started, leaning to one side. Temper eagerly dashed to her mother, her gift wrapped gently in both hands. "Mommy! Mommy! Look what Daddy gave me!" she chimed, revealing the music box to Mystique. She glanced down at the object clutched in Temper's hands and gave her child a slight smirk. Her hand caressed her daughter's red hair, and the child oddly backed away. "Cute," she uttered to Temper, who was attempting to hide behind the changeling as Starfire approached her. Mystique glowered down at the young vampire. "Who the hell are you?" she spat in a frightening tone. Starfire halted, trembling under the shape-shifter's vicious gaze.

Logan drew near Mystique, his heart pounding rapidly in his chest. "This miniature one is Starfire, capable of giving everyone a serious migraine," he stated, halting a few inches from the changeling. She gazed at him with her seductive expression and rested her hands on his waist. "Really…" Mystique whispered into his ear. He felt her breath brush against his skin, and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. Temper cautiously placed her treasured item on a coffee table and instantly went on all fours. She crept silently around the wooden table, her nose hard at work. Starfire stared in confusion at the two adults, then turned her attention over to Temper, whose mind seemed to be occupied. She approached the wary young mutant, her eyes trying to follow her friend's golden ones.

Temper moved swiftly across the room, leaving no area untouched by her gaze. Her ears perked, hearing a miniscule squeak, and she violently twisted her head in Starfire's direction. The young princess jumped in fear and, seeing the bloodthirsty expression on the other child's face, took a step back. Temper prepared herself for a lunge while Starfire prepared herself for a fright. She stood still, shielding herself with her arms, but nothing happened. The vampire unfastened her gray eyes in relief and, hearing something from behind, quickly whirled around. Temper was locked in a ferocious battle with a colossal rat.

The rat sprinted into the kitchen with Temper following fast at the rodent's heels. Drool was dripping from the corners of her tiny mouth, contaminating the clean tile. Starfire peeped from the kitchen entrance, a spectator of this battle. Temper lunged again, this time in front of the rat, and dug her sharp nails into its flesh. The rat squealed, and Starfire tried to look away. The sight was too terrible to view, yet her interest sprouted.

"What are you really here for?" Mystique questioned Logan, releasing him and strolling towards the kitchen to stop the commotion. Wolverine retrieved the brilliant crimson rose from the bag, and the rustle intrigued the changeling before she left. Seeing the rose in his palm, she turned around and ambled to it. "Here," he said, handing her the flower, "Take it." Mystique caressed the rose and, gazing at it with interest, held it gently in her hand. Her glittering golden eyes slithered to the black ribbon attached and carefully read the message: My Angel of Music.

She smiled, placing the rose inside a nearby vase, and leisurely approached the man standing a few feet away from her. The changeling once more placed her hands around his waist and the two gazed deeply into each other eyes, sending shivers through their spine. Her lips met his, and they were locked in their own brutal battle.

Temper gasped in agony as the rat penetrated her flesh with it's jagged teeth. She didn't liberate the rodent from her grasp, but instead focused all her energy into summoning her powers. The youngster's body responded, raising her body temperature and turning her red. A small heat wave filled the entire room, and Starfire stepped out to cool herself. Seconds later, the temperature dropped. Starfire turned her attention back into the kitchen, which now smelled like burnt hair. A horror crept through her as the once red Temper had become no more than a black demon. "It'ssssssss over," Temper hissed, unveiling her snake-like fangs. The rat desperately tried to pry itself free from her grip, but she was enjoying herself too much to allow it to escape. The vampire raced to stop the madness, but witnessed a bright orange snake tongue bind its victim with pleasure. The muscle wrung the life out of the rodent in its vice-grip, and slowly brought the corpse into Temper's mouth. She licked the blood from her lips and calmly converted to purple. Starfire gazed in horror as Temper entered the hall to retrieve her illustration. The vampire couldn't help but pursue her bizarre comrade. "My brother told me to stay away from your Mommy," Starfire confessed, crossing the threshold of Temper's room, "He said she would kill me." Temper looked at her in confusion.

"Why would my Mommy do that? She's nice."

"She is kinda scary," the vampire replied, following Temper out of the room.

Logan broke their passionate kiss and took Mystique by the shoulder. A question had crossed his mind and he needed an answer.

"Why did ya keep our daughter a secret from me?"

Mystique sighed and basically responded, " If you think I'm going to allow the X-Men to recruit her, you're mistaken." Before Wolverine could reply to that statement, Temper and Starfire came bursting in, Temper carrying a piece of paper in her hand. " I made this for you, Daddy," she began, "It's a picture of you, me, and Mommy." Logan grasped the drawing and glimpsed at it with care. It was a beautiful picture, and he knew that she wanted a family to rely on. But he couldn't stay; he was needed back at the Institute. He looked his child thoughtfully in the eyes. "Thanks, darlin'," he stated, resting his hands on her shoulders, "but I can't stay. I'm needed elsewhere." Temper's shimmering golden eyes were now overflowing with tears. "I don't want you to go, Daddy," she wept into his chest, "I want us to be a family."

Logan patted his child on the back. "Snap out of it!" he barked, and Temper liberated herself from his grip, "Cryin' doesn't get you anywhere!" The little girl sniveled, stepping away from him as he heaved himself up. He grabbed her music box from the coffee table and handed it to her. "Listen," he pointed at the parcel, "Whenever this is playin', I'll be beside you, singin' you the damn song." His daughter gave him a small smile and embraced him goodbye.

"I love you, Daddy."

Mystique approached Logan and fed him another hungry kiss. "Promise you'll return," she hissed into his ear, her body brushing against his. "Whenever I can," he whispered back, smirking. Starfire squeezed Temper farewell and invited her over to her castle for a sleepover sometime. The purple mutant grinned at the offering and waved goodbye as the two visitors departed.

Logan cast a glance over at the house, watching the females looking back at him. His gaze fell upon Mystique, and a haunting yet peaceful tune established itself in his head. It was her voice singing to him.

Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime

Say the word and I will follow you

Share each day with me, each night, each morning…

His voice abruptly took over as he watched the changeling disappear out of sight.

You alone can make my song take flight! It's over now, the music of the night!

The End