Hank dragged his glasses down his nose to exaggerate his look of incredulity. "For having extraordinary healing abilities, you sure end up here with me more than the others."

The sterile room was dimly lit by one single lamp. It was late at night and Hank was the only one still around the infirmary. Logan was sitting atop the examination table with a conceited smirk. "You are one lucky furrball then."

Hank chuckled briefly. "Your visits are like little winning lottery tickets."

"Yeah well, I don't need medical attention as usual. These kids think just because I get knocked unconscious by a car door hitting me in the head that I need to come and see your big blue ass." With a shrug of his muscular shoulders, he adds, "I don't know why they always carry me here."

Hank looked surprised. "A car door?"

"At least it wasn't a car this time." Logan's eyes closed as he remembered the specific incident he was speaking. "That wasn't fun."

Setting down the clipboard that he had been holding, Hank moved closer towards his patient. He peered down at Logan's forehead. "There's still a dent." Logan felt self-conscious about the examination. He squinted an eye at the doctor. "Oh wait, that's just how your head is shaped."

"Are you sure you want to cross the whole ugly-looking line? Cause personally I think that could go badly for you." His eyes flashed a challenge at Hank. It was late and he wanted to head to bed, but talking with the beast had become one of his more fun activities. It had taken them a long time to warm up to each other, but the more time they spent together, the more Logan appreciated his style.

Hank sighed. "Need any Band-Aids while you're down here? Perhaps a cat scan so that we can see if there is any damage to your brain – if said brain truly exists?"

"Cute," said Logan hopping off the table.

"Compliments on my looks now? Thank you Wolverine, I wish I could reciprocate, but it'd just be a lie. Oh hey," he called before Logan left. "Try not to get hit in the head by anymore car doors. Just some medical advice."

Logan flipped him a thumbs up before heading out for the night.

Happiness lit Hank up for a little bit as he went about his menial tasks. The bliss was completely gone by the time he crawled in between his large empty bed in his desolate room.


"Oh god! You spilled some on my sleeve!" shrieked Rogue.

Bobby was hovering over her with a bowl and ladle. "Sorry sweetie. At least the color doesn't clash with your eyes."

Most of the school's students were around the huge dining table. Saturday dinners were prepared as a group activity. It wasn't mandatory, but such a looked-forward to event that each week the turnout was excellent. Staff didn't have to help out either, but usually they did. Not Logan of course, but he enjoyed the fruits of everyone's labor.

"Can't you chew with your mouth closed?" Kitty yelled at him.

He deliberately chewed sloppier receiving a glare from her and an admonishment from Ororo. "Please refrain from being a negative influence Logan."

"Wouldn't he have to be dead for that?" asked Hank.

"Being dead isn't a bad influence?" asked Logan tersely. The only time his fellow mutants felt safe to insult him was when Beast was around. Which meant that for short periods of time he didn't get any respect. Still, their time spent together had been increasing lately. Not very many of the others were as sharp-tongued and easy-going.

A child ran into the dining room. His eyes were big and round like CDs. "Come and see what Peter's carrying!" He then ran out of the room. With that kind of build-up, who wouldn't get up to look?

A crowd formed around Peter who was setting down a pool table into the study. It hadn't fit easily through the doorway, but now he was lifting it gently from spot to spot trying to get it just right. Once he had it in the right position, he smiled at the swarm of students and teachers around him. "Gift from Professor X."

There were happy shouts. Wolverine's eyes were smiling at Beast, but his lips were still passive. "The sticks are still out in my truck. Anyone want to help me carry those in?" There were several kids that volunteered, even Bobby who would always be about ten in his heart.

"I see my little surprise got here in one piece. Thank you very much Piotr." The professor rolled in and nodded his head to Colossus. Piotr shrugged his massive shoulders. It hadn't been a big effort for him to carry the thing inside. He ushered out the children to bring in the pool table's accessories. "Obviously, the children will need supervision with it. I didn't think you would mind."

Ororo quickly assured him that it would be no trouble providing the children with supervision. "And I think it is wonderful that they will have more recreation than that television."

"Jamie's still gonna watch TV," said Warren. "He never leaves that damn machine."

"I might stop for a bit to play a game of pool," Jamie said defensively. He was just returning from Piotr's truck with a stick in his hand. Behind him followed two more of himself also bearing cues. "But Smallville is on tonight, so I can't waste all my time here."

"I think the grownups should test it out," Logan suggested. Immediately there were objections from the youngins.

"But we go to bed earlier!"

"We want to play too!"

"Let us test it!"

Logan winced. Little kids yelling was one of his least favorite things. He probably lived in a bad place for that. Ororo chided him. "Logan, it is their pool table too. Besides, they can only use it when a grownup is around. You can use it anytime you want, except now."

"I get first game after the pipsqueaks lose consciousness." He left the room, not wanting to watch other people get to play. There were things that he needed to do anyway. There were pants that needed the button sewn back on them. With his needle skills, that would take him most of the night. Then there was his room that needed desperate attention. It was reaching the point where he couldn't find the floor. What a domestic night he had ahead of him. He frowned on the way up the stairs to his room.


"Next victim!" Logan was carrying the pool stick over his shoulder. They had successfully wiped out every opponent so far. Logan never in one million years have guessed that Hank would be good at pool. If he hadn't been so self-absorbed when it had arrived, he would have noticed Hank's enthusiasm that matched his own. Now that they were playing, it was obvious that he was every bit as much of a pool aficionado as himself.

Hank laughed. "I believe Ororo is eager to beat us. Too bad she won't be able to."

Ororo snatched a pool cue from Scott's hand. "Oh, I think I can give it a shot. Kurt, are you brave enough to take these two on?"

Kurt Wagner had yet to play, but he seemed like the type that could shoot a ball any direction he wanted. "I have the bravery, but I fear I lack the skill."

Ororo rolled her eyes. "Kurt! Some bravado would be appropriate here."

"Ah. In that case, I shall truly dazzle you with my superior abilities." He winked at her and whispered, "My ability to miss every shot."

Hank coughed in impatience. Logan grinned over at him. "They're stalling, but it ain't gonna save them is it Hairball?"

"This one is mine," Hank said evilly. He was eager to show Ororo just how good at pool he was. He had been holding back until now, but there was something in him that wanted to impress his ex-girlfriend.

Ororo pushed past Logan. "I will break."

"Nice manners Stormy." She then showed him how mannered he could be by producing an obscene finger gesture. Hank and Logan exchanged surprised looks and then laughed heartily.

The break was clean, but no balls were sunk. It was too bad for Ororo, since that was her last time to touch the cue that game. Hank proceeded to sink every single ball after that. He snickered and teased at her while he made his shots. Logan enjoyed his competitive and aggressive side, usually something unseen except in their verbal bouts.

"I'm sorry Ororo, did you actually want to play?" Hank taunted just before calling the eight-ball. At this point, Ororo knew she wasn't a rival and she was just enjoying seeing this mischievous side of her beast.

It was very late at night when Hank sunk the eight against Ororo. All the children except Jamie were in bed. Most of the adults were in their rooms, some of them doing adult things. In the library there were five of them: Logan, Hank, Ororo, Kurt, and Piotr. And Piotr was starting to drift off, his head resting on a fist.

"No one can beat you!" exclaimed Kurt.

"Nice of you to notice," said Hank with twinkling eyes.

"You two wiped out every competitor tonight, but I still want to see the ultimate match," challenged Ororo.

Hank and Logan exchanged panicked looks. Both had seen the other play that night and knew what they were up against. "Yeah, you guys should do that while I go to bed," said Piotr.

"Ooh! A Xavier school match to the death!" said Kurt, excited.

Logan grinned. "Eh, he doesn't have what it takes to beat me."

Hank let himself bite onto the bait that his friend was throwing out. "Care to make a bet on that?"

"What are we betting fluffhead?"

After a few moments of thought, an idea entered into Hank's head. There were a lot of other thoughts that followed after. But it was late at night and he didn't want to hesitate. "The loser has to be the winner's slave for 24 hours."

Ororo took a quick glance over at Kurt to see if he had noticed anything dirty about that challenge. But as usual, Kurt was utterly naïve. Then she looked at Piotr who was thinking the same thing she was. She knew this by the new, alert way he was looking at her and then by the thumbs up sign he flashed her. Over the past few weeks, Hank and Logan's flirting had begun to attract attention.

"I should have known you'd want something perverted," Logan observed.

Hank's mouth dropped open. "You are such an ego-maniac. I wasn't talking about a sex slave."

"Why not? You could probably use it," laughed Logan as he began to ready the table for the next game. To do so, he had to brush past Hank. As he did he whispered, "After all, your last sex slave switched fuzzy blue men."

Hank grimaced at the insult. He looked to Ororo who was at that moment whispering something into Kurt's ear. They had been broken up for a while before she started dating Kurt, but there was still a part of him that felt burned by it. "Low blow Logan."

Logan frowned. "Sorry," was all he said. He hadn't meant to hurt Hank, just to get him back for the "ego-maniac" comment. "I accept your challenge."

"Of course you do, with your mind on sex slaves and all."

"Fuzzy, if I wanted you, you'd already be in my bed curly-toed with a cigarette in your mouth."

The room gaped at Logan, all of them. Kurt got a creepy shiver up his spine. Now he was starting to notice.

"You wanna flip the coin?" Logan asked calmly. Hank was still getting over the visual that he had just presented.

"You go ahead. Best two of three right?"

Piotr groaned. "Three more games? But I want to see who wins!"

"Well we ain't video taping them bub," replied Logan.

"Don't worry Piotr, this won't take long."

With that dare, the two finally began their match to the death (of freedom). Hank won the coin toss. So, he proceeded to sink every ball on the table. Logan watched looking totally confident. He just needed an opening and he would win.

The second game, Piotr began to snore loudly from one of the library's cushy chairs. Kurt was sitting on the back of the loveseat with Storm leaning back into him. She had opened the French doors and they could hear the sound of crickets when the clacking of billiard balls wasn't sounding. Logan had won the coin toss and he followed Hank's lead by cleaning the table. Hank yawned. "Hey Ororo, what time is it?"

She looked to the outside night sky. "Still a few hours before daylight. I believe it is around 3."

"Didn't realize you were a clock Stormy." Logan took another excellent shot, nearing the eight-ball but not actually knocking it in prematurely.

She stuck her tongue out at him. "I'm rooting for Hank."

"Big surprise there, everyone roots for the underdog. Eight in corner pocket." The move went just as he had called it making the two tied.

"Just leave me alone!" came a shout from outside. It was Rogue's voice and instantly Logan was at the opened doorway. He saw her and Remy standing just outside the front door of the mansion. "You always treat me like this. I can't even stand to look at ya."

Their bodies shuffled about a bit as Remy tried to grab her arm to keep her from going inside. Wolverine felt the pain as his claws came out on his right hand. He hadn't willed them to do that, but seeing anyone bothering Rogue caused something to click in his head, like a homicidal light switch.

She pushed him away from her. "I'm serious this time. We are through. Ya hear me? I hope you die, you bastard." It ruined her entrance a little to unlock the door, but she wasn't Shadowcat. When she was inside, she slammed the door on his face and re-bolted the lock. Wolverine walked back to the pool table.

"I'll be right back."

Hank nodded. "Take your time."

After he left the room, Kurt asked, "Is he going after Rogue…or Remy?"