Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men. If I did, well... I'd have no idea what to do with all them characters.
Halfway Across the Gap
Yukio had heard a lot about Xavier's Institute, particularly from the notes that she was given on her assignment. Still, it was one thing to read about the school and another to stand in front of its doors. Suddenly, the mansion appeared to be much more formidable than she'd originally believed. She pushed her dyed hair over her shoulder, tugged her coat around her further, and rang the buzzer.
She expected there to be some sort of intercom, and was therefore surprised when the door opened to reveal a brown haired girl blinking at her.
"Um... hi," the girl said.
"Greetings," replied Yukio, bowing her head. "I am looking for a man by the name of James Howlett. I was told that he might be here."
The girl's brow furrowed. "I can't say I know anyone by that name. Do you have a picture, or…?"
"I believe he is also known as 'the Wolverine'."
To her surprise, a reluctant look appeared on the girl's face. She suddenly appeared very tired, as though Yukio's question had drained all of the life from her. The silence stretched out between them, and she was beginning to regret coming to the Institute at all when the girl at last spoke.
"He's not here."
"Kuso," Yukio mumbled to herself. Yet another dead end. "My apologies for intruding. Thank you for your help."
She turned away, preparing to head back to the car. The Wolverine was proving to be very elusive. Everyone could eventually be found, no matter how hard they tried to hide, but she was so sure she would find him here. Nearly all of the photographs of him in modern times showed him standing among the X-Men, fighting beside them. She hadn't looked at Xavier's before because she hadn't known that it was even a school for mutants. All official records painted it as a simple prep school.
The girl's voice made her pause. She looked back at her; the girl was biting her lip, indecision on her face. "You might as well come in. He's not here, but if you're not planning on hurting him… Professor Munroe might be able to help you."
Cautiously, Yukio stepped over the threshold. She'd spent enough time in America to get used to the architecture, but this kind of opulence differed greatly from what she was used to. Dark, hardwood floors, paneled walls, expensive rugs and other furniture… certainly, she had grown up in one of Japan's richest families, but even theirs was a simple lifestyle.
This is a school?
"It's a Saturday," the girl explained, "so most of the kids are in town ice skating. Well, those that are experienced enough to control their powers. I'm on watch, so that means I'm the doorman as well— or doorwoman, if you prefer."
She held out a hand. "Kitty Pryde. You're from Asia, right?"
"Hai," answered Yukio, still distracted by the interior of the mansion. "I mean— yes, I am. Japan, specifically. It's very nice to meet you, Miss Pryde. My name is Yukio."
"Just Kitty's fine," said Kitty, smiling a bit. "Miss Pryde makes me feel like a schoolteacher or something. Although, that's probably because I am a schoolteacher… anyway, Professor Munroe's office is just up here."
Yukio looked at the girl in surprise. She couldn't have been more than twenty— maybe even eighteen. "You teach here?"
"Yeah. Surprising, isn't it?" Kitty laughed. "We… lost a large part of the staff recently, so some of us had to step it up. Professor Munroe wouldn't have let us, but we insisted, and by 'insisted' I mean we cornered her and argued why she should let us help teach until she gave in. She works way too hard."
They approached a door in the middle of the long hallway, which Kitty then knocked on. "Professor?" she called.
"We have a visitor." Kitty bit her lip, looking nervous, before adding, "She asked about Logan."
There was a long pause, similar to the one before, that made Yukio want to squirm again. It made her wonder what the Wolverine had done here that made these people go quiet whenever he was mentioned. Shingen had always praised him for his bravery and kindheartedness, but judging by the way that the staff of the Institute acted, he was anything but. Yukio began to wonder if he was really worthy of the sword that she wore on her back.
"Have her come in."
Yukio placed her hand on the doorknob, but before she entered she bowed her head to Kitty again.
"No problem," said Kitty. "Good luck."
Yukio went inside. She hadn't been a child for years— not since she first saw the death of her parents— but she felt like one as she entered the office. The woman who sat behind a large desk was regarding her with an intense gaze. It was as though she already knew everything about Yukio's mission, even though Yukio knew that it wasn't possible. Or maybe it was; maybe the woman was a telepath. Her unique look did nothing to dispel Yukio's sudden bout of nerves. How many African women had white hair?
"Hello," Professor Munroe said. "No need to look so nervous, we don't bite. I'm Ororo Munroe. I'm the headmistress of the Institute."
Yukio made sure to give her a proper bow. "It's an honor, Munroe-sama."
Professor Munroe actually looked embarrassed. To Yukio's relief, the tension seemed to seep out of the room. "Oh, there's no need to bow. Really." She smiled, the same look of exhaustion overcoming her features. "I'm sorry, I didn't sleep well last night. You're looking for Logan, correct?"
"Is that his name? I was told he was called James."
Ororo looked thoughtful. "That might have been his name, once. But he lost his memories years ago and has gone by Logan or Wolverine since then. If he ever remembered that name, then he didn't tell us about it. May I ask why you're looking for him?"
Inwardly, Yukio shrugged; it wasn't as though she was planning on murdering him or something. "My employer wishes to thank him for saving his life during Nagasaki."
"Nagasaki, really?" Ororo raised an eyebrow. "Why am I not surprised? A warning for you, Yukio: disaster tends to follow Logan around like a loyal dog. Or maybe he's the one who sniffs it out. I can't tell the difference anymore. If you want to know where to find him, I'd recommend looking around in Canada rather than America. He prefers it there."
Canada? The thought hadn't even occurred to Yukio. There was no mention that he'd ever lived there in her notes. That was going to be a long search— one that she wasn't all that eager to get started on. She regarded Professor Munroe with more curiosity now. She recognized her from one of the photographs, which had showed the professor standing side-by-side with the Wolverine.
"This is a place for mutants?" she asked.
"Yes, it is," said Ororo. "Why? Are you…?"
"It's nothing I cannot hide," Yukio muttered. "Or control."
That wasn't a complete lie. It was easy to hide her mutation, just as long as she didn't say anything about it to anyone. However, that didn't mean that she could just stop the visions. Even now, looking at the professor, she was struggling to ignore the images that flashed before her eyes. This was a good woman— she didn't want to know how she died. There were times when the future changed, and she hoped that this was one of them.
"You're welcome to stay with us a few days, in any case," offered Ororo. "No charge. We harbor any mutant that needs it."
"Oh— no, I could not," replied Yukio. What she didn't say was, 'You seem like you have far too much to deal with already.' The Ororo Munroe sitting before her and the one in the photograph almost seemed like different people. "I must continue my search; my employer will not tolerate me resting for too long."
"If you must," said Ororo. "Not even for one night?"
Yukio couldn't say yes. This was a safe place for mutants. Not even at her home in Japan had she had that kind of guarantee, no matter how much Yashida-sama tried to reassure her. If she decided to stay, one night would turn into two, which would turn into a week, which would lead to her being very tempted to simply stay there and ignore her orders entirely. Her sister was the one with the reputation for not making friends, but Yukio was just as bad. To think that there were people like her at the Institute…
It was somewhere she could belong, but she had to stay loyal. She was no Ronin.
There was a knowing look in Ororo Munroe's eye, as though she knew exactly what Yukio was thinking. Unable to help herself, Yukio looked away, suddenly no longer nervous but outright afraid of the woman behind the desk. Ororo was more than just the headmistress of the school; her eyes spoke volumes of what she had witnessed.
"Thank you, but no," Yukio said, more firmly this time. "I have a duty, Munroe-sama. I think you understand that."
Just before she left the office, she thought she heard Ororo murmur, "Do I ever."
A/N: This is just a little side-project of mine; my way of taking a quick break from Ponds Don't Run. It's in three parts; the other two have already been written, and are just waiting to be posted.
One thing that bothered me about the Wolverine was the two year gap between the end of the movie and the post-credits scene. What was he up to in that time? This is me, filling in that gap. Sort of. Next chapter we'll have him returning to the mansion.
I've only seen the movies and some of the cartoons; I've never read the comics, so my knowledge is mostly movie-based.
I'll admit to being RoLo biased, so there is some of that in here. Apart from that, that's the only non-canon part of this fic. Enjoy!