In His Skin

Chapter 12

When she awoke in the morning, the space next to her in the bed was empty. She ran a hand across the rumpled sheets—still warm, so he couldn't have gone far.

The window was still open and as gust of cold air blew through and tickled her skin she bit back a sudden hot flash of the way his lips had done the same.

She threw the sheets off—noticing they were ripped- and after standing and stretching, got her first assessment of her bed.

The mattress- or what was left of it—was split—ten long gashes at the top half revealed the stuffing on the inside. She'd have to buy a new one today and have this one thrown out.

But she couldn't bring herself to regret such an inconsequential loss. It had been worth it.

His shirt was still on the floor, along with his belt, and it gave her comfort in the fact that he was still somewhere in the mansion. He hadn't left. At the thought, she felt a sharp pang in her chest. Yet.

Trudging over to the bathroom, she opened the door, turned on the light, and got her first look at herself from the effects of the night before.

Damn.

Staring back at her was a familiar face, with swollen lips, puffy eyes, and—

She winced as she turned her head, the skin tight on the back of her neck. Pulling her hair up, she pulled out a drawer, grabbed a mirror, turned around and held it up- and gasped.

A love-bite didn't even BEGIN to describe it.

All she could do was curse in her head, because it wouldn't do a bit of good to say the words aloud.

And as she held the mirror up- she got a good look at the skin on her wrists.

Red bruises starting to turn colors…

She could only imagine what Logan would think. They had tactical training first thing this morning. Going to her drawers she moved to find a black turtleneck shirt, and maybe some gloss for her lips. Hopefully, he wouldn't notice, or pay that much attention.

She ignored the sinking feeling in her stomach.

.

He was outside before the sun split the sky, waiting, and watching. Days ago he'd found a tree on the back end of the property worth climbing. Now, he was up top, balanced comfortably on one of the large branches. It gave him a good view of the mansion—with its manicured gardens and spacious backyards. The sun hadn't come up yet, but he'd awoke a few hours after falling into sleep, with his mate curled up and naked in his arms. That's how he wanted to remember her. No clothes, just as natural as the day she'd come into the world.

He'd left her sleeping, and, grabbing only his pants (he'd collect the rest of his things later) he'd made his way outside before anyone else in the house was up, and toward this tree.

Now, he could watch as windows began to glow dimly as the people inside began to rise for the day. He waited until her window began to glow, and focused his sight into her room. He'd climbed down from the same window they'd opened the night before, and he was pleased to see she hadn't closed it.

He could see her clearly this way, watched her as she rose from her bed, still nude, breasts full and heavy. He even chuckled a bit at how a brush of cold wind made her nipples hard. Even though cold air didn't bother her, it could still have an impact.

She went back and forth in the room, and his eyes followed eagerly, until ultimately she disappeared into the bathroom.

When she dipped out again, she was dressed in a black turtle neck and loose pants, her white hair hanging down her back with the top half in a pony tail.

He felt a tinge of disappointment at seeing her with clothing. He'd marked her for a reason—and it wasn't so that she'd cover herself up.

The devil in him smiled at the thought. He knew she'd see Logan today. A white fang peeked out from his lips, parted in a smirk.

He could only imagine the fit his brother would throw. It gave him a surge of power, and pride.

He'd claimed his mate last night. She was his, and fuck what anyone had to say about it.

Still, as if sensing him watching her, she walked toward the window, and seemingly knowing his location, her eyes slipped closed as she inhaled the freshness of morning, a smile spreading over her lips before she left.

The window was still open. He knew it was for him.

.

.

The students ran and jumped, ducked and blocked as the walls trembled and some barely missed falling debris. The scene was a war zone—loud explosions echoed overhead as the sky flashed red and white. There were flames, the heat and smoke was oppressive, and above all the yelling and the crashes were voices.

"Bobby! Keep moving! Look to your left! LEFT! No! The OTHER left! Rogue, DUCK!

Kitty! Dammit girl, block! Block!"

Warning sirens began going off and just as it looked as if there was no way out and the trio was completely surrounded by large imposing robotic sentinels with glowing red eyes…the lights flickered on. The smoke and fire began to dissipate, the room stopped shaking, and everything went still and silent.

"That's it. You three, to the briefing room," Logan's husky voice barked out the command from over the intercom system and the three teens, at once wincing at the lecture they were no doubt about to get, exited the gray simulation room through the door that had appeared at the far end of the wall.

From her view above, at ceiling level, Ororo watched them leave, heads down and walking slowly. She shook her head. Logan could be so brusque sometimes. She slowly drifted down from the ceiling, watching as Logan materialized over a downed pillar, and went toward him, her feet skimming on air until she touched down next to him.

"You don't have to be so hard on them, you know. They're still just kids."

He snorted as she fell in step beside him.

"Yeah. Kids who were about to become dust back there. They gotta learn to defend themselves-"

He stopped talking midsentence and looked at her strangely.

She stopped walking, looking at him quizzically. "What is it?"

"What's that on yer neck?"

Her hair had fallen away from her face and the side of her turtleneck was turned down, revealing the very tip of what she was trying to hide. She tossed her hair.

"It's nothing. Let's go to the kids."

She turned to leave but he grabbed her wrist—hurting the [newly] sensitive flesh - and she couldn't help but wince.

"Logan…"

"If that's nothing, then WHAT. IS. THIS?"

His eyes narrowed as he pulled the fabric up, revealing the bruises that had started forming. Deep, and purple…

She snatched her arm away and began walking off. "It's none of your concern. I hurt myself earlier."

"Doing what?"

"Mind your business, Logan." She snapped at him, her eyes sparkling with warning. He ignored it.

"This IS my business." He pressed on, growing angrier all the while. "I knew it. I knew this shit was gonna happen. You smell like him. HE did this didn't he?"

"No, I did it. Now stop it." She was angry, her body flushed with heat as she glared at him tried to turn away.

But it didn't work. Suddenly, his face changed, grew darker as his pupils dilated and his nostrils flared, scenting…

The warning bells began to go off…

"Logan!" Quickly she moved toward him to block his path but he was too fast for her. Growling low in his throat, he crouched down then took off at a run out of the room, heading toward her chamber.

The sense of foreboding she'd felt all morning ballooned into full-blown panic as she took off right behind him, running—but she didn't have the superhuman speed and stamina Logan did. She just hoped she could stop what would be a nasty confrontation.

.

.

Logan had respected her wishes, up until this point. For the last month he'd stayed out of their way, but always kept an eye open for anything foul. He put nothing past Victor! And now, here was Ororo, covered in fucking bruises, trying to deny it. And all he could think about was his dead Kayla—covered in bruises and blood, limp in his arms. When he saw Ro, he saw Kayla—Victor had taken too much. He couldn't allow him to do it again.

And something in him just snapped.

As soon as the smell in the air changed, he took off. There was one thing on his mind.

Logan burst through the door as Victor was putting the last of his belongings into a black duffle bag.

Seeing the look of pure rage on his brother's face, and knowing exactly what such a look meant, Victor quickly jumped back and protracted his claws, curling his body down into a fighting stance.

"Still a fuckin' animal," Logan said, three long blades extending from his hands as he stared down Victor, timing his attack.

"What's this about, Jimmy? Still can't let shit go can 'ya?" Victor drawled, eyeing his brother, waiting for the pounce.

Logan responded with a snarl, jumping, barreling toward Victor, claws extended toward his throat. Victor dodged, catching a claw through the shoulder as both men fell to the floor and began slashing and growling.

Hearing crashes and shouting coming from her room while she was still a ways down the hall, Ororo's heart dropped.

She wasn't the only one to hear the calamitous noise. Little faces peeked out of their rooms and soon Scott, Xavier, Remy and Jean appeared in the hallway, hot on her heels, heading quickly in the same direction.

"Back to your rooms—don't come out until we tell you to!" Scott shouted behind him. Doors slammed in quick succession.

In front of Ororo's room, they had to jump quickly out of the way as Logan's body barreled through the air and into a wall.

He hit with a thud— leaving a gaping hole as testament to the impact, before jumping back up and charging Victor—who was stumbling to his feet, his chest heaving, his black shirt gleaming with blood.

It happened so fast, she couldn't really determine who was doing what.

Before either Victor or Logan could throw another claw or fist at the other, they were physically separated.

Scott and Remy and Jean held Logan while she and the Professor went for Victor. His pupils, once a vivid bright blue, were dark and dilated, his fangs elongated, claws fully extended. He was snarling—angry.

She got right up in his face, forcing him to look at her and away from Logan, who was cussing at Remy and Scott, trying to break free of their grip while Jean worked to calm him.

"Victor, look at me. Please."

Finally she caught his attention and he gripped her hard on the arm while the gash in his side began to knit itself back together under his torn shirt.

"Will someone explain what is going on here?" The Professor's calm but commanding tone silenced the din of voices in the room.

"Why don't you ask him-" Logan spat, shooting a hate-filled glance at Victor, who had Ororo tucked under his arm.

"I don't know what the fuck you're talkin' about." Vic growled, his voice cutting off abruptly into a slight wince as yet another of the many gashes on his chest started pulling itself back together.

"Oh yeah? Then explain the bruises on 'Ro's wrist. Why the fuck are her lips swollen? Why'd you bite her so hard on the back of her neck? And you don't know why…"

It came out as a sneer and all of a sudden Ororo found all eyes in the room on her.

Jean came up to her side and pulled up her sleeve.

Ro snatched her arm back as if her friend's touch had burned.

Before Victor could speak, she did.

"He didn't hit me, if that's what you all are thinking. And Logan, you don't have to defend my honor! You were so focused on punishing Victor that you didn't even listen to what I was trying to tell you before you ran off and started a fight. I cannot believe you right now! You jumped to the wrong conclusion—so dedicated to believing the worst when you can't even see past your own hatred.

All of you. GET. OUT. NOW."

She was fuming. Never had she been madder. It was an anger mixed with frustration and embarrassment, though she knew she had nothing to apologize for or to be ashamed of.

Enlightenment began dawning on the faces around her, with Logan looking away from her and Scott and Remy averting their eyes. Jean's face began to flush as they started backing out of the room, leaving her, Victor and the Professor alone.

She ignored Charles, and went to Victor, who was sitting on the end of the bed, eyes closed and still. She reached out a hand to touch his face, when he opened his eyes and reached out to gather her in by the waist, pulling her into his lap and into a kiss.

When he finally let her up for air, he stood up and rolled his body into a long stretch. It reminded Ororo of how the lions looked after waking.

"I've overstayed my welcome," he said, turning away from her to reach for the duffle bag that lay abandoned in a corner.

"Victor -"

"Gotta go, 'Ro. You know damn well I can't stay. I got things 'ta tend to." He put the long strap around his chest so the duffle was on his back.

The Professor's voice broke their interlude.

"Victor, we can help you find your answers."

"No thanks, Doc. If you didn't notice, your attempt at help -" He cast a quick glance around Ororo's now-destroyed bedroom"-didn't turn out so well."

He turned, and before either one of them could stop him, jumped out of the window and landed on the ground five floors below. Ro watched Victor take off, running into the woods on all fours, watching until he disappeared among the trees.

"Ororo…"

The trees began to blur, forming hazy shapes and blending with the blue of the sky. The world resembled a watercolor at the moment as she stood, stoic and silent, staring out at the swirl of colors in the distance.

"What is meant to be, will be. It cannot come through force or the power of your will … no matter how badly it is desired. You know that. He has to find his own way. And perhaps, one day, that way will lead back to you."

Xavier's words gave her no comfort. She remained silent, refusing to acknowledge them. Instead, she stood still as a statue, refusing to turn away from the still-open window to look around her.

The Professor closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh of resignation before leaving her, maneuvering his wheelchair around the splintered wood of ruined chairs, the exploding insides of what used to be a couch, and the blood-stained, splinters of broken glass. He was at the door when he first heard it, and for the first time, he was at a loss for what to do.

To Xavier's ears, Ororo's dry, bitter chuckle was far, far worse than the tears she refused to let fall.

.

.

He'd been moving constantly for two weeks, getting as far away from the mansion and from the memories as he could.

After taking off into the woods, he'd stayed among the trees, continually heading North until he'd come to the interstate, where he'd taken a stop at a rest area to get his bearings, about 200 miles South of the Canadian border.

His path suited him fine. Start back from square one then work it out from there.

There was plenty of cover in the trees, and he was able to navigate best when it was just him and nature. No people. The woods gave him a sense of comfort he seldom had, the damp smell in the morning, the decay of the leaves, the air so fresh. It allowed his over-stimulated senses to rest in comfort. Victor continued his pace, stopping only for a quick meal of something he'd caught—often times fish or rabbit or other small game.

It was dark now, the moon only beginning to show itself over the canopy, its light spilling into the leaf-strewn floor below.

He'd set up camp by a river for the night, enjoying the sounds of solitude and the occasional shout from a predator that had just found its prey. The night sounds. He was just beginning to doze when something tweaked at his sensitive ears. Silence. An unnatural quiet. The hair on the back of his neck began to rise and he rose, crouching low on all fours as he sniffed the air, having caught a whiff of something not native to the area…

Even the crickets had stopped their incessant chirping, and as his pupils dilated to take in what little light there was, his claws began to unsheathe themselves, growing longer, and more deadly as they dug into the earth under his hands, and he snarled into the night, the moon glinting off sharpened fangs.

There was something here, his instincts told him, though his eyes and hearing revealed nothing. He waited. Something would give itself away…he was patient.

A snapping sound to his left was his cue to pounce and he went for it folding his body down then launching himself toward the sound.

It was a mistake.

He collided with something cold and metallic and instantly the world around him lit up in an artificial glow, the lights so bright they blinded him.

Instantly his body was on fire from the inside, and he was paralyzed as a beam of light shot down from the sky. It felt like a million needles trying to push their way out of his skin and all he could do was howl.

"Welcome back, Sabertooth."

Part of the light he was surrounded in began to pulse and darken until he could barely make out the shape of a human figure—but not human. He was grinding his teeth together in an effort to silence himself when another burst of pain shot through him, causing yet another scream.

The voice, floating from somewhere above him began to laugh, the sound echoing all around as more and more voices joined it.

"We've found you, again. And this time, you shall stay with us."

It was only a matter of time until his healing betrayed him, and the flesh began to rip from the bone. He screamed into the night, as the laughter continued. And he screamed until the world faded to black.

-[END PART I]-


*Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has taken the time out to read and review. This is the ending of the first part of this story, but it isn't over yet. I am looking to have the first chapter of Book 2 posted somewhere in the first week of May. If you are interested in reading further, please bookmark or make a note so that you'll be informed when the story is updated again. Please feel free to comment and critique- is something o/c? Let me know. This is an A/U story, but I am working it around the movie- versions of the characters.