. Series Title: X-23: No Way Back
. Story & Chapter Title: eX-Friends – Chapter Two: Answers We Seek
. Author: Alex Gregg (aka: ChickRockGuitar)
. Date Written: October 2009 - (words written: 2984)
. Fiction Group: X-Men Comics
. Story Rating: T (some mild language)
. Summary Of Story: Part Two of "eX-Friends". Laura asks Logan questions regarding the horrors of her past, but the answers he gives her, may not be what she wanted to hear. And Josh Makes a Decision.
. Auther's Notes:
This is the second chapter to the third story arc of a fanfictional serial of stories written by chickrockguitar. These stories are set in a slightly alternate Marvel universe - set with a new spin on the character of X-23.
. Disclaimer: Marvel/X-Men characters, established concepts and previous storylines full credit goes to Marvel, Stan Lee, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Co. Original storylines credit goes to me.
. More Info: The Official Website: www (dot) x23 (dot) flyingmutt (dot) com

Please take a look at the website to understand the stories better.

Chapter Two: Answers We Seek

Logan slouched on the Balcony pitch swing. He drank deeply from his bottle of beer. The best thing about beer, he thought, was, if you drank enough of the stuff, for a few short hours, it made all the pain go away. The past wasn't a pleasant place for Logan, but the taste of beer helped with the constant ache of the horrors he'd suffered. He didn't like to think of the past. What he'd gone through, and as a result, some of the things he'd done because of it, still rocked him to the core. But sometimes it couldn't be helped. Sometimes, no matter how much he'd try to block out those memories, the horrors would still take over his mind. That's when a spare beer came in handy.

Laura stood in the glass door's threshold, watching her brother. "So, yer gonna come and sit down, or stand there all night?" Logan asked her, not taking his eyes off the view of the city. Laura took that as a welcome invitation and sat down next to him. "I did not know if you wanted to be alone" she replied. Once again, still staring out into the night, Logan said, "Kid, I could be surrounded by a thousand people, and I'd still be alone". Laura looked at him curiously, trying to understand what he meant. How could one be alone when surrounded by that many people? she wondered. Logan glanced at her, he noticed her expression, and shock his head slightly, "Nevermind" he muttered.

He he took another slip from his beer, then changed the subject, "So, what're yer doin' out here? Bed not comfy?". Laura didn't answer right away, but after a few moments she said, "I could not sleep. I saw you sitting out here". Logan nodded, showing he understood. And he did, he knew what 'could not sleep' translated to. He used that phrase himself over the years. She'd be though near enough the same horrors as he had, thanks to the charming people running the Weapon X project. Except, he knew, she'd had it a whole lot worse. He often wondered how she coped with it all, now that she was free. Yes, they'd both been part of the Weapon X project. He'd been the original Weapon X, years ago - she'd been created out of stolen samples of his DNA years after he'd escaped. He knew their experiences of the project weren't quite the same. He'd be kidnapped and unwillingly forced into becoming their guinea pig, whereas she'd been created from in their labs and used as their tool from birth. It sickened him to think what they'd put her though.

There was a part of him that could not shake the feeling of responsibility and guilt. He knew that there was no way he could have known what a handful of future scientists would do with his stolen DNA, and until he'd met her, he didn't even know those samples existed, but that still didn't change anything. All he could do now was help her deal with it and introduce her to a life of freedom.

The two of them sat in silence for a while, looking out at the city lights. Laura glanced a few times at her brother and shifted a little, but said nothing. Logan noticed this. "What do yer wanna ask me, kid?" he said. The tone he used was more of a statement, than a question. Laura turned sharply towards him. How did he know? Their eyes met for a few seconds before she turned back to look out at the city. "How do you do it? How do you forget?" she asked, quietly. Logan knew immediately what she was referring too. The Nightmares. The violent horrors they'd both seen and done.

After a moment, he sighed, "I don't forget, kid. Yer can't… No matter how hard yer try, yer can never forget what they did to yer". She turned back to face him. The look in her eyes told him that this was not what she wanted to hear. He carried on, "Yer can't forget, Laura, 'cause it's a part of who yer are. Yer just have to… try to move on. Everythin' yer see at night, after a while, it starts to fade a little..." he paused for a few moments before continuing, "Yer just have to remember how far yer've come - and realise how far yer still have to go". Laura swallowed. Logan could see his words had upset her, but he wasn't about to sugar-coat it. She needed to know the truth, and he'd given it. For a few moments, she looked at him sadly, then turned away.

Two Weeks Ago:

"What do you want me to say?!" shouted Josh, bolting up from his seat, almost knocking the chair to the ground. For the last twenty five minutes, he'd gone over and over what had happened on the day that he had lost his powers. He relayed to Scott and Emma how he'd been injured whist in a Danger Room session, and had neglected to tell anyone that his healing powers had not been working for the last week. It was only when he'd been asked to heal a badly injured Sam Guthrie and Hisako Ichiki, two young X-Men, that he'd been forced to reveal that he was now powerless.

"I don't know how it happened!" said Josh. Emma and Scott glanced at each other then turned back to their student. "I told you!" Josh continued, in a frustrated tone, "We were in the danger room last week. And--" but Emma cut him off, "Yes, yes, you have explained this already. But what we need to know is--" this time it was Scott's turn to interrupt. "Emma, please" he said in a quiet tone, warning is partner to not be as harsh with the boy. He turned to the teen, "Josh, please sit down" he said gently. Josh did as he was asked. "You've hidden the loss of your powers from us, that's serious. And wrong. But understand, we are not angry with you. Emma, myself, and the school are here to protect you". Scott let his words sink in for a few moments, before continuing, "However, we are concerned. Why is it, you felt that you needed to hide this?". Josh hung his head and stared at his trainers. He didn't answer. Scott prodded him, "Josh?". The teen sighed. He looked up from his shoes and glanced from Emma to Scott. "I... I don't know" he told them, truthfully, "I just... did".

Scott lent back in his chair. He tried to read the boy. He couldn't make out if he was being a hundred percent truthful or not. He'd ask Emma later. He knew she was using her telepathy to read him. After a few moments of thought, he came to a decision. "Okay," he told the teen, "Here's what we'll do: When Hank has Sam and Hisako fully stabilised, we'll have a chat with him. Maybe he can runs some tests and determine what's going on". He gave Josh a smile, "We'll figure this out, Josh".

"No" said Josh, shaking his head. He stood up again, this time more calmly. Shocked, both Scott and Emma did a double-take. "Whatever do you mean by 'no'?" asked Emma. "I'm not taking to Dr McCoy, I'm not taking any tests" Josh told them. The room went quiet. Emma studied her student for a few moments. Both Scott and Josh knew what she was doing. She was using her powers to read him. "There's no need to be scared, Joshua" Emma told him. "I'm not!" snapped Josh, louder then he'd meant to. He didn't know why he'd said that, he knew his teacher knew that it was a lie. The truth was, he was scared. Scared what the loss of his powers meant for not only himself, but for those he'd no longer be able to help. Like Sam and Hisako. Once again, the room went quiet.

After a few moments, it was Scott who spoke next, "Josh, Hank may be able help you. Will you at least think abou--". "I told you, no!" interrupted Josh, almost shouting, "You can't force me!" he continued, now getting defensive. "No, we can't" Scott confirmed, shooting a warning glance to Emma as he spoke. Scott was well aware that they could force him, well Emma could. Mind control, was one of her powers. Scott didn't approve of her using it, and because of how he felt, Emma rarely did nowadays. Josh glanced at Emma, he was also aware of her powers. "It's you're choice" carried on Scott, "Just know, the option is there" he finished, kindly. Josh nodded. "So, can I go?" he asked the Headmaster. Scott nodded slightly. And without another word Josh left the room.

Emma rounded on her partner, "You can not be serious!" she snapped. Scott sighed. "We need to know what's happening, Scott. Now!" she continued, stunned by his calmness of the situation. "Emma, he's scared" Scott told her. "Well, I know that! That emotion is coming off him in waves. What I can't work out, is what the boy has against determining what is wrong. If it were me--". "But it's not you, Emma" said Scott, a little frustrated at the headmistress ability to not understand Josh's reasoning. "Like I said, he's sacred. He'd a kid. And probably, in his mind, not knowing, is better than knowing, right now". Emma sighed, "He's in denial. He thinks his powers will come back of their own accord" she stated. Scott nodded, he lent on the edge of his desk, "There's that too".

"And you don't believe they will?" Emma asked him. She moved around to the other side of the desk and sat in the chair facing Scott. Scott sighed and shock his head slightly, "I don't know, that's Hank's department. This isn't like Bobby, Emma. He lost his powers, like thousands of others on M-Day, and yes, they came back, but, Josh's mutation isn't completely gone. His Skin--" "remains the same" finished Emma. "So, his mutant gene, in some form, is still there. I'll talk to Hank" continued Scott, "You're right, we do need to know what's happening". "And so, we come back to: what do we do with the boy" Emma paused for a moment, "I know you don't like it, Scott, but, if he will not cooperate--". Scott cut her off, he knew what she was getting at, "No, Emma. No way". The headmistress was now starting to to get frustrated at her partner, and he knew it. "Scott, This doesn't just affect Joshua himself. If he has lost his powers, it effects all of us!". "Yes" agreed Scott, "It does effect all of us. And its for exactly that reason why I don't want to push him on this".

Josh sat on his bed, staring blankly at the wall in front of him. His thoughts travelled back to Sam and Hisako in the Medical lab, he wondered if they were okay. His thoughts then turned back to the convocation he'd had with Scott and Emma. He wondered how long it would be before Hank was knocking at his door, wanting to talk to him, and run his tests. Scott had said that he wouldn't be forced into anything, but Josh wasn't convinced. His powers were an asset to the X-Men, he knew that. And he knew, all good intentions aside, they wouldn't just drop this. He'd seen it on Emma's face. They intended to find out what was going on, one way or another. And that scared him.

Although, he had to admit, he was angry at himself. A part of him knew he should be down in the Medical Lab talking to Hank. He should being trying to help find out just what was wrong with his powers. But the other part of him didn't want to find out. He didn't want to know a hundred percent for sure if he would regain his powers or not. Because knowing for sure, was something he wasn't ready to deal with. Without his powers he felt vulnerable and helpless. If he had lost his powers for good, well, he had no idea how he would deal with that. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of fear washed over him. He swallowed, trying to push it aside. That's when he made the decision. He stood up, and grabbed his backpack from under his bed. Sooner or later, he'd have to meet with Hank, and right now he just couldn't face it. At a quick pace, he moved around his room, grabbing clothes from his closet, as well as a few small personal objects, such as his cell phone. Once he'd thrown a pile of things into his bed, he began to quickly shove them into his backpack.

Then, suddenly, there was a knock at the door, Josh froze. The last thing that he wanted was to be caught fleeing from the school. He knew he'd have to answer it, he just hoped it wasn't a teacher. He moved across the room, and opened the door just enough for him to stick his head out. If he'd have opened it any further, the person on the other side would have a full view of his half packed bag on his bed. It was Cessily. "Hey" she said kindly, her metallic skin shining as it always did. "Hey," replied Josh, "What's up?". Cessily just looked at him for a long moment. "Is it true? Everybody's talking..." she asked. Josh sighed then nodded. The loss of his powers had seemed to spread through the school like wildfire. "God... Josh... I.. I don't know what to say..." she lightly shook her head as she spoke, her bright ginger ponytail bobbing slightly, "You look... you're skin.. its--" she was stumbling over her words, Josh cut her off, "It's okay. It's not permanent. I mean, it can't be. Like you said," he gave her a smile, "My skin - it hasn't changed. Dr McCoy will figure it out". In that moment, Josh wasn't sure who he was trying to convince more, Cessily or himself.

There was a short silence between them, then Cessily spoke. "Are you okay?". Josh paused for a brief moment, then said, "Yeah. I'm good". That was a lie, he wasn't okay, but he hoped he sounded convincing enough. "Look, Cess, I'm kind of busy right now. Studying. Was that it?". Cessily didn't answer, her expression seemed to be filled with sadness for him. Josh noticed. "Cess, I am okay. Okay? Dr McCoy will fix this". Finally she seemed to accept his words. "Okay. If you're sure" she replied, "But, if you want to talk, or anything...". Josh nodded and gave her a smile.

She turned to go, but turned back at the last moment, "Oh. I almost forgot. I know you've got stuff going on, but, I was wondering if you could talk to Nori?". Josh sighed. "Josh, she's not dealing with David's death. At all. If anything, she's getting worse". "She's grieving, Cess. Just let her" said Josh, "Besides, I don't see what I can say that'll make a difference". "Come on, you've been there. You know what it's like to... to loose someone like that" pushed Cessily. "Oh yeah, because I handled Laurie's death so well" replied Josh, sarcastically, "What do you want us to do, compare notes?!" he snapped. He was angry at her for bring up the subject of Laurie's death. It was still all too raw and painful for him to talk about. Registering his tone, Cessily realized this, "No, of course not" she told him quietly. She sounded a hurt by his words, but right then, Josh was too angry to care. "I'm sorry..." she told him softly, "I didn't mean to... I just-- I think you could help her. I really do...".

Josh calmed down a little, he sighed, "Okay, okay. I'll talk to her". A smile spread across Cessily's face. "Really? You will?" she asked. Josh nodded, then asked, "Now can I go study?". She paused for a moment, "Sure. But, if you want to talk about... things..." she trailed off, not wanting to upset him again. Josh nodded, showing her he understood what she meant, "Thanks..." he said quietly. Cessily gave him another smile, then walked away, headed down the hall and out of sight.

Josh closed his door and lent up against it. He sighed. He eyed his half packed bag. After a moment he went over to his bed and continued to pack. As he did so, his thoughts travelled back to Cessily. He hated himself for lying to his friend. He'd told her he would talk to Nori, whereas really, he had no intention of doing so. He felt extremely guilty. He knew what Nori must be going though, he'd been there himself only a few months ago. But if he was going to leave the school, he had to do it quickly, before he was caught. Besides, he told himself, there were plenty of people here who could talk to her. And, if he was truly honest with himself, even if he hadn't been about to leave the school, he wasn't a hundred percent sure he could go though with it. Death, of any kind right now, was too painful for him to talk about. He was just about dealing himself, could he really help someone else? Once he finished packing, he took one last look around him room. Then he slung his backpack over his shoulder and opened his door. Making sure there was as nobody in the hall, he set off. Hoping that he could make it to the main doors and out of the school without being seen.

I am currently working on the third Chapter to this arc, please stay tuned.