Author's note: I apologize to people in other fandoms for starting yet another new fic, but on the bright side, it means my fanfic bug is back and that means I'm much more likely to finish my other stories. I actually have the next couple of chapters of my X-Men Evolution fic just about ready.
General disclaimers: I own none of these characters. I also need to rewatch 1-3, but I was bitten by the bug and decided to go with it before my muse left me. Reviews are greatly appreciated.
The story takes places after X3. There are obviously spoilers in it, though I imagine if you haven't seen it by now, you're not going to. It's how I would like to see things move forward.
Thanks for reading, enjoy.
O o o o o o o O
He had come back again.
After he killed Jean, he took off. No one really expected him to stay after that. Jean was gone, the Professor was gone, Wolverine took off. That's how it worked.
But he came back. Without ceremony, he pulled up to the school on Scott's bike, a duffle slung over his shoulder. He looked the same, he never looked different. It was always the same swagger that he always had, the same 'fuck it' attitude.
"Welcome back, Logan." Wolverine startled; he had been told the Professor was in a new body and alive again, but hearing the familiar voice was eerie. Briefly he wondered if it were possible that Jean had done the same thing. Maybe she was out there somewhere…No. He stopped himself from going down that path. Down that path led madness, and he'd already been there before. Charles, if he were still listening, was polite enough to not say anything further.
Wolverine dropped his duffle off just inside the doorway, looking for familiar faces. As much as he was a loner and struggled with interpersonal relationships, a part of him still wanted them, still wanted some sort of belonging. Granted, it was a small part, but he was indulging that instinct now as he meandered through the building.
It had been two years since Jean died. It was both a lifetime and the blink of an eye. He could remember like it was yesterday the horror and despair of destroying her with his claws, and just how long it had been since he had heard her voice as anything but a memory. He shook his head to clear it and resumed his search through the mansion, heading towards the classrooms and offices.
"Alright now, we're talking about Shakespeare. What's the difference between his comedies and tragedies?" A female was clearly lecturing in an English class.
He couldn't see the teacher, but he heard a male voice quip, "The body count at the end?" The classroom laughed.
The unseen teacher laughed along with them, "Well, bluntly put, that's exactly right. I had a teacher once tell me I could tell the difference if I took the characters alive at the end versus the characters alive at the beginning and the number was greater than 3." The students laughed again. "But, besides that, what are other diff - " The voice cut off suddenly as she came into view, an auburn haired woman with a framing of pure white hair around her face. "Excuse me for a moment," she said to her students and rushed out the door.
Logan, for his part, felt it was only right that she was the first one he saw. It all started with her, this era of his life. He smiled at her as she opened the door and threw herself into his arms. "You came back!"
"I always do, darlin'." He hugged her tightly in return, noting that she still did not wear gloves and the complete abandon with which she touched him. Before, when she would hug him, it was careful, making sure that nothing touched, but she was free from her restrictions and had become fully accustomed to it.
He broke the embrace finally and held her at arm's length so he could see her. "How are you doing? Let me take a look at you." She had gotten older of course, everyone gets older except for him. He noted a scar on her collarbone and another on her right arm; he would have to ask about those later. Otherwise, she looked healthy and happy. That made him happier than he'd felt in a while.
"So do I pass inspection?" she said in a teasing tone. Though her tone was light-hearted, her eyes were serious and did not leave his face.
He feigned seriousness and nodded. "Yeah, you seem to have grown up ok."
"Thanks," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her tone, then she hugged him tightly again, whispering, "I didn't think I'd ever see you again." Before he could comment, she pulled away, realizing that her entire class was standing at the door to the classroom, watching her reunion with Wolverine. Just the faintest hint of color came to her cheeks, and she said, "I need to get back to my class, will you still be here when I get done?"
Logan frowned slightly, both comments by her striking a sense of guilt into him. He hadn't meant for her to think he was never coming back or would never see her again. But now was definitely not the time, and so he nodded. "Yeah, I'll be here."
She gave him another smile, and then returned to her class.
O o o o o o o O
Logan continued through the halls, heading rather purposefully to Charles' office. The door opened for him as he was raising his hand to knock on it, causing him to mutter to himself, "Damn psychics."
It was strange. When he entered, the 'new' Xavier stood up. A younger man in his forties, with a full head of brown hair now stood before him. "Yes, it is difficult to determine which is more odd, my walking or having a full head of hair." The voice was different when it was coming out of the new body's mouth, but the expression of amusement and friendship that was on the face of the stranger was so familiar, there was no doubt as to who resided in that body.
"We've missed you, Logan." Xavier smiled and motioned for the other man to have a seat.
Wolverine always did have a knack for verbal expression, so he said, "Hunh," and went to sit down across from the desk of his friend. "So what's new, Chuck? Besides the hair and legs and all."
The warm smile stayed on Xavier's face, "We have more students than ever. As I think you've seen, several former students have elected to stay at the school and teach. We're making some small progress with the Mutant Registration Act." He sat back and folded his hands. "We're recovering and forging on."
Wolverine flinched at the word 'recovering', it serving to remind him of Jean and his horrible last moments with the team. "Good to hear." He took out a cigar, but kept it in his hands when he caught the sharp glance from the Professor, remembering a threat about being made to think he was a little girl.
"How are you?" His voice was gentle, and Logan respected the fact he asked out loud, instead of just searching his mind for the answers.
Logan shrugged, "I'm ok. I came back, didn't I?" His eyes cut to the picture of Scott and Jean on the wall, his jaw tightening but otherwise steady, to show he had dealt with his grief.
"That you did." Charles smiled again. "And we are happy to have you back…" Wolverine sensed a 'but' coming. "You should know, we found Scott."
That caused Wolverine to startle, "Scott or his body?" Like everyone else, Wolverine assumed that Summers had been killed by Jean.
"Scott. He's alive. Jean managed to push him away before Phoenix could kill him. He was seriously injured though." Charles' voice was grave.
"He required extensive skin grafting." Logan didn't need to hear any more. He knew what Jean was capable of doing.
"He ok now?" Asshole or not, Summers was still an ally and part of the X-Men.
Xavier sighed, "Recovery is a long process, as I'm sure you know." He gave Wolverine a pointed look, warning him to not antagonize the former leader. "Are you planning on staying for a while?"
Logan paused. He hadn't really decided before he came here, but now that he had, the answer was easier to come up with. "Yeah, I think so. If ya got room, that is."
"You are an X-Man, Logan. There is always room for you." Charles stood up again and clapped Logan on the shoulder.
O o o o o o o o o O
The Wolverine threw his duffle into a corner of his new room. Well, new old room. They hadn't moved anyone else into it, like they always knew he would come back. "At least Chuck knew that." It bothered him that Marie had been so surprised to see him back. He knew she had her own demons though and she definitely had some abandonment issues. He supposed he didn't help with those much.
He walked out of his room, scenting the air and just barely finding Summers'. It was mixed with another, which is why he didn't notice it at first. He walked towards the highest concentration, figuring he might as well get this over with.
He banged on the door twice. The voice that answered him shocked him. It was a harsh and rough voice that said, "Come in." Logan opened the door and the shock of the voice was nothing compared to the shock of seeing the former pretty-boy as he sat at a desk, his ruby glasses firmly on his face as always.
The Professor was not exaggerating when he said Scott had needed extensive skin grafts. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt, showing the uneven coloration and texture of skin that didn't quite fit right. His face was slightly better; the left side of his face being almost completely spared. The right side was heavily scarred and marked from grafts. His right ear had been reconstructed and he was bald.
Scott sat back in his chair while the other man gaped at him. "Funny, isn't it? Now I'm the bald one and the Professor has a full head of hair." There was no attempt to hide the underlying bitterness at his appearance.
"Funny wasn't the word that I was thinking of." It was the closest he could come to saying he was sorry for what Scott had gone through. He knew all too well what it was like to be close to the Phoenix when she was out of control and that his mutation was the only reason he was still alive.
Cyclops nodded. He and Logan shared a bond, however twisted it was, thanks to Jean and the Phoenix. "You sticking around?"
"Yeah, I guess so." He unceremoniously sat down in an armchair near Summers, still staring openly. "Does it hurt?"
"Every day." Scott clearly was referring to more than his face.
And suddenly, Logan flashed back to a conversation he had with Rogue.
"When they come out, does it hurt?" She looked up at him earnestly.
Forcing himself back into the present, he simply replied, "Yeah." He understood Scott, maybe more than anyone else anymore.
"Does Marie know you're back?" Scott abruptly changed the subject, clearly trying to avoid the unpleasant thoughts.
An eyebrow arched slightly at Scott calling his Marie by her name. He supposed she wasn't going by Rogue anymore, now that she wasn't a mutant, but it still seemed wrong for other people to call her Marie. It was too personal, it was something that belonged to him. He grunted and nodded in affirmation. "Should probably go find her now that school's out." Logan stood, and then smirked, "Your bike is in the garage. Needs gas."
Scott automatically shot his hand up to catch the keys being tossed and couldn't help but grin. The teasing and mocking made things seem more normal and ok between him and Logan. Logan, for his part noted that Scott definitely moved more slowly, more carefully, his skin not fitting exactly right over his joints and bones, causing him pain. Scott looked at him before he left, defying him to mention it, but the larger man said nothing and just walked out the door.