Jean keeps trying to track her down, concern emanating from her in waves. She wants to talk, talk it out, like that ever did any good, like it would change anything.

Kitty, Kurt, and Scott are clearly concerned, but have no idea what to say; she gets awkward glances, stilted smiles, lots of "Umm..." and "... nevermind."

The Professor wants to poke around in her head, try to fix what's broken, and although she appreciates having the other personalities eradicated and knows she needs to do something about it... she's weak. She's weak and she knows it, her head still hurts, and the last thing in the world she wants to do is go messing around with her fucked- up mind while her defenses are still down.

She doesn't quite know how to explain to the Professor- to Charles Xavier, a man who's dedicated his life and his fortune, his powers and his smarts and everything that he is to the Dream, a dream of peace and equality and understanding and rainbows, sunshine, kittens and puppies and all that other bullshit- how do you explain to that man that not everything can be fixed? That no matter how good he is and how hard he tries, how hard she tries, there are some things that will always be broken?

She avoids the telepaths like the plague, and everyone else avoids her.

She sees the fear in their eyes, the way the younger students are always watching her with sidelong glances, the way they flinch ever- so- slightly away from her. She hears the cut- off whispers, feels the wariness- what if it happens again?

It weighs down on her like deep- sea pressure, and she can't breathe.

Logan... Logan is there, unobtrusively in the background, and like the godsend he is he doesn't try to make her talk. He doesn't try to talk to her more than once- just once, to let her know that she really should go to the Professor, but that's it. He doesn't try to mother her the way Storm does, doesn't try to let her know she's forgiven even when she can't bring herself to apologize- doesn't try to get her to eat or keep an eye on her.

He's just there.

And that's enough to let her breathe for a while, enough to help her weather the awkwardness and worry.

A while. Not forever.

She's out of the infirmary less than two days when the X Men are taken down in their own mansion, Wolverine the only one left standing. Standing against a girl with claws in her hands, a lethal girl with feral green eyes.

It's disgraceful, how easily she's neutralized. And just like every other time, she's used against the others: the flimsy protection of her sleeves ripped off, a stumble into teammates and she's been made the fool again.

Cyclops and Berzerker beat the inside of her sore head- excited, afraid, keyed- up. Energy in her eyes, running through her body.

It's like deep sea pressure, and she can't breathe.

The clothes and makeup are a cage she hardly needs anymore. They won't touch her, they're afraid to get anywhere near her- except for Jean, who makes it something of a point to brush by her, who's too careful not to watch her, who doesn't make a concerted (if quiet) effort to avoid all contact. Even the kids at school have picked up on it.

She's a freak amongst freaks.

Wolverine feels obligated to try to track his DNA, and as soon as the Professor's guard drops she's gone.

Dedicated to aimless. Thank you!