This chapter is going to have a lot of memory/flashback stuff. Just a helpful reminder all flashbacks are in this kind of text so to better distinguish parts in the story.

Also, in the parts with the 'Yakuza' or Harada and Mariko talking, for now, I am having them 'speaking' in English when they are really 'speaking' in Japanese. But in 'Code of Conduct', in the next chapter, you'll know when their talking in their native tongue or in English. I did this so you do not have to read through a bunch of (boxed) translations on their parts.

Chapter Twelve

The Way We Were

Emily couldn't escape.

The little girl whimpered, tossing in her bed, little face burrowing into her pillow. A roll of thunder boomed along the outside of her windows; rain pelting against the glass. The wind whistled through the trees as all type of creature hid from Mother Nature's wrath. The third week of October had brought with it tales of gloom of a nasty thunderstorm around Thursday; by Wednesday night, the weather had come with a vengeance.

Emily's voice bleated in fear, shut eyes squinting tighter, turning yet again in her sleep; lightening illuminating her dark room. If the storm was not bad enough; it had come well after the little girl had been taken to bed and had fallen asleep in blissful ignorance of its early arrival. Now it raged the mansion acres, shaking the branches of the trees as a beast might rattle its cage, roaring out its arrival and whispering terror into the small child. It spun a web of horror, filling the little girl's nightmare with visions of monsters and madmen, demons and wild animals; finally twisting and warping an aged memory she would soon just forget. The little girl moaned out in grief, whimpering longingly "Wait…don't leave…"

Another batch of thunder and bright lightening streaked across the sky as the tree branches scratching its spindly fingers across the glass; Emily's plea drowned out by another louder cry in fear. The little girl flopped on the bed till her back rested along the cool sheets; small hands grabbing up the covers into tight fists as another whimper escaped her mouth.

xxx xxxx xxx

"What the hell, Forge." Logan growled to himself; flipping over another schematic. The feral laid the programming outline of the Master Mold to the side of his chair, sighing as he did so. Forge actually thought he could make sense of it all. Logan might be a stage four feral mutant with uncanny abilities…but technology expert he was not. It had taken Kitty and Rogue over a week to teach him how to send a proper text message. And Forge expects that same person to help decipher an advance sentient like machine's inner workings? Logan knew he had more chance at teaching a dog how to talk.

Emma Frost smirked while she continued her work on the other side of the living room; one leg elegantly crossed over the other as she sat upright in the spare lounge chair. The grandfather clock chimed faintly in the background eleven times, the rolling thunder outside, drowning out the melody. The White Queen absent-mindedly twirled a red pen in her left fingers, never looking up, asking dryly "Would you rather grade your daughter's homework?"

Logan gazed in her direction; a smirk playing on his lips. He rattled back "Ya offerin ta trade, Frost?"

Emma's gray eyes glanced up at the feral; trying to hide the playful shine to them. She flipped to the last paper, stating "If we traded, then Emily would end up with an easy A…"

Emma went down the answer sheet, comparing it to her students. She glanced at the small stack of schematics, adding more sarcastically "And I with a headache."

The blonde telepath could see Logan form a humored grin while trying to act in his usual gruff demeanor. Emma's smirk deepened as she turned her eyes back to the papers in her lap. Suddenly, the wind blew ferociously against the glass, whining low as it dipped through the trees. Logan glanced up at the weather, then back at Emma.

"Why don't we get Scott ta take this and Storm ta take those…" He suddenly spoke dryly; nodding to each paper object. Emma looked up from her finished grading to hear Logan snort. He grabbed up the schematics to gaze at them again, adding dryly "Then we can go ta bed."

Emma's mouth parted in a wicked smile; grey eyes sparking mischievously. She watched the feral continue on with his tiresome deciphering; having no clue he had unintentional left the proverbial door wide open. She shifted in the chair, brushing her angelic blonde hair out of the way, hiking her crossed leg up slightly while placing the finished graded papers onto the coffee table. Emma placed her fist along her face to prop it up as she leaned back, her wicked smile turning deadly. She asked slyly "Are you trying to seduce me, Mr. Howlett?"

Logan's head jerked up from the blueprints he was holding; ice blue eyes widening slightly. Emma flicked off something from her leg, gray eyes locking into Logan's, wicked smile turning seductive. She teased "Because I don't jump under the sheets and go ta bed with every man I see."

The feral's short huff and cough mixture let on to the White Queen he had caught on to what he had implied. Logan had no time to offer a retort, before Emma leaned in the chair towards him, finishing "But I do take the offer as a compliment."

"I…I…ugh…" Logan tried to reply, coughing low; for once finding nothing to say back to the White Queen. He silently cursed his feral mutation that began to size up the sumptuous woman teasing him at the other side of the room; knowing full well Emma knew much about mutations such as his. Logan's frown and glare was not very effective by the way his hands gripped the side of the lounge chair armrests. Emma conveyed a look of pure innocence, placing her hand over her chest, asking "Did I catch you tongue, Mr. Howlett?"

Emma's wicked smile intensified as Logan glowered darkly at the other end of the room. She unleashed her seductive tease on the feral; uncrossing her leg and sitting back up to a more lady like position. Emma gracefully stood up from the chair, glancing at the scowled and tense Logan beside her at the exit, having enough gumption to place a hand on his broad shoulder, saying "Goodnight, Logan."

A dark and brooding growl was tossed her way; Emma merely laughing as she made her way out. It seemed the White Queen had found a way to bring herself back into the lead. Emma had to admit; this game was getting awfully fun.

Logan shuffled in the chair; a hard scowl hardwired into this face. He'd give Frost one thing; she could be pretty damn convincing. For a second there, Logan had honesty thought she was giving an invitation; which was why he was so caught off guard. He had not had a woman be so forward in…we'll…ever. Logan's canines flashed in the darkening light; so the game was going that way. We'll, he could adapt; hell, maybe have a little fun along the way.

Logan's devilish smile had replaced his darker expression while he put away Forge's schematics for the night; rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck. He silently made his way into the foyer, stepping up into the first stairwell, when his ears perked up at the sound of a frightened whimper. Logan's muscles tightened, sharp eyes scanning upward as his nose sniffed in. He quickly identified the faint and staunchly scent of fear intermixed with sweet honeysuckle and rugged oak pine. The feral immediately was on edge, tightening his hands into the wooden bar, hair rising on the back of his neck, as his pupils dilated outward a fraction. Logan only relinquishing his anger, when his senses assured him that is was not a tangible thing scaring his child.

However, Logan still moved faster up the stairwell, ears honing in towards a room two doors down from his, heart clenching as a softer bleat of fear came from its direction. His largely built body was gracefully silent as the feral made his way towards his daughter's room. Logan's fingers had just brushed along the open door handle, ice blues scanning the room to see there was nothing there, when Emily's soft voice gave out a frightened cry in the dark.

xxx xxxx xxx

Emily bolted up in her bed, eyes shooting open, as the child cried out; awakening to the sound of thunder shaking her window sill. The little girl breathed out jaggedly; her little fists holding onto the covers in a death grip. At first, her nightmare had such a hold over her mind; Emily could not believe that she truly was awake. Her soft blue eyes traveled around the dark room; fighting off the cruel imaginations that tried to make living beings out of the darkness. After a few seconds, the lingering terror fled, allowing the child to think like a rational being.

Although the night terror was over and could plague her no more; Emily's body continued to tremble. She noticed how her fingers were interloped into the queen size comforter and quickly uncurled them away from the fabric. Emily then placed those same trembling fingers to her forehead and gave herself the goal of trying to breathe normal again.

A muscled presence slipped silently into her room; his huge shadow draping along the moonlit walls. Emily had not noticed Logan had come in until his large hand was laid gently across her back. She jumped at the touch, turning her head to face up, only to see a pair of ice blue eyes gaze into her with concern. The little girl immediately felt the tint of pink rising in her cheeks; turning her gaze to the comforter and fingers fiddling with the cloth.

Emily was surprised when Logan's hand slipped away from her back...only to have the massive feral jostle the bed as he sat gently beside her. The mutant gently reached out, both large and hairy arms pulling the child in for a warm embrace. Logan softly laid the child's head near his chest, while using his right hand to rub her upper arm reassuringly. Emily refused to look up but secretly relished in the comforting act of affection; her nightmare still stalking in the back of her frightened thoughts. She hoped maybe her willingness to not push away was enough for Logan not to say anything. Emily was quickly disappointed as Logan's graveled voice spoke out gently in the dark "Ya okay, darlin?"

"Yeah." Emily replied softly; eyes drifting to the monstrous weather outside. She felt Logan's body shake with a chuckle and the feral leaned his head down to rest his cheek along the top of her forehead. Logan smirked, glancing down at the small child, rattling dryly "Ya stink at lyin, Half-pint."

The little girl normal would have grinned, maybe even smiled, at Logan's remark. Yet catching her in this state made Emily feel mortified, vulnerable and exposing her fear to the light for everyone to see. So the little girl's alternative was to, gently but firmly, push out of Logan's embrace and turn from him; not once looking up. Emily laid back on her side, covering herself to her shoulder, muttering back "I don't want to talk about it."

Emily could feel the frown and narrowed ice blues directed to her backside. Yet, she refused to turn, watching the rain pattering against her window and listened to the eerie whistle of the wind going on outside. The little girl patiently waited for Logan to leave and to be left alone with the lump forming in her throat. Instead, the feral could be heard readjusting till his right leg was stretched along the queen size bed and broad shoulders leaned up against her headboard. Emily was not surprised this time when a familiar left hand gently petted her face; traveling up to rub her shoulder reassuringly.

Logan's voice carried out tenderly in the dark, saying "Everythin's alright now, darlin…"

The lump in her throat thickened and tears threatened to prickle at the ten year olds eyes. Emily managed to suppress the whirling tornado of emotions that put the outside storm to shame; burrowing her cheek deeper into her pillow. She could not understand how one part of her just wanted Logan to leave…while the other silently begged for the feral mutant to stay there all night long and chase whatever bad things came from the dark.

Logan said nothing else for a while; merely petting her hair and sitting next to Emily on the queen size bed. He readjusted his broad shoulders more comfortably on the headboard and watched the little girls turned backside. His ears were still picking up the flutter of her heartbeat and his poor nose was almost overwhelmed with the fear that still lingered in the room. Logan could understand her reaction on some level; he was no stranger to nightmares. Apparently they had much more in common than Logan had first thought. Though having nightmares wasn't exactly what he had in mind for 'common interests'. So even though he was biting the bullet, taking Hank's advice, that still didn't mean he couldn't stay till his child was at peace once more.

While the feral settled in for his long stay, Logan glanced down as the child cautiously…carefully…snuggled her back an inch closer towards his leg. Emily did not turn or even acknowledge what she had done; only closing her eyes as the storm continued to rage. The muscled mutant grinned tenderly, whispering gently "It'll be over soon, Half-pint…"

Emily parted her eyes lids; giving the sitting muscled feral her undivided attention. She could feel his higher body temperature from his leg through the comforter; Logan's body heat keeping the chilly rainy air at bay. Emily listened as Logan gave her shoulder another reassuring squeeze, his gruff voice saying lovingly "Just sleep now, darlin."

Logan's grin rose higher when seeing Emily immediately begin to relax at his reassuring voice; shoulders slouching limp as body eased more into her sheets. The little girl did as he asked; eyes softly fluttering shut, both listening to the calming pitter patter of rain on the window pane. It was not long before Emily drifted off into dreamland, only stirring once when thunder made its last final trumpet along the clouded sky.

Logan waited an extra hour or so to make sure the child was dead asleep; his eyes catching on another batch of terrible lightning and thunder. The small little girl rustled for only a moment before sighing and traveling back into the world of dreams. The feral eyed the storm thoughtfully, glancing at his child and then back up. Logan watched the rain splatter against the wooden sill, the trees dancing in the harsh winds, watching his little girl sleep peacefully beside him.

xxx xxxx xxx

When Emily awoke the next morning, her eyes opened to very different scene then they had shut from. The bright 7am sunlight, pouring calmly out of her windows, replaced the dark clouds that had shut out the moon. A chilly, yet peaceful, autumn breeze gently rustled the leaves on the oak; a stark contrast to the bended and spindly creatures from the night before. All evidence of the storm had passed and the little girl sighed contently.

Emily stretched lazily in her bed and pulled the covers to the side; wringing her fingers over each eyelid to brush away the last reminisces of sleep. Briefly, she thought of simply lying in her soft bed for the rest of the day, the idea was very inviting. She even went as far as cuddling back up with her favorite pillow. Yet, Emily caught sight of the clock and frowned; she could not leave Emma waiting. So with a defeated grunt, the little girl uncurled from her soft cloud and went on with her morning routine.

Emily was dressed, hair tied to a ponytail for the day, and alert by the time her feet touched the last stair of the foyer; walking quietly into the kitchen. She paused however, holding the swinging door ajar, when seeing the backside of a muscled, broad shouldered, and largely built feral mutant. He obviously had caught on to her presence long before she had come in, for he turned slightly at making the coffee when the door opened, stating with a gently grin "Mornin, darlin."

"Morning." Emily replied back; not helping the odd look passed to Logan as he turned back to making coffee. She let go of the swinging doorway, walking to the kitchen table, noticing a bowl and spoon were already set out along with the cereal she liked to have in the morning. Emily's lips rose upward softly; no matter how many times he did it, she still grinned.

The little girl poured her breakfast into the bowl, turning to walk to the fridge for the milk, teasing "So, I guess that means no Poptarts."

Logan snorted gruffly as he pulled the glass carafe from the coffee maker, replying "Popsicle gives ya enough of that junk food."

Emily cracked a smile and reached in to grasp the gallon of milk. Her fingers looped around the cold plastic container, pulling it out of the white chilly fridge, smarting back "But, ya know, they're made with real fruit."

Logan's graveled voice let out a small, non-threatening, growl and the child's laughter softly filled the quiet kitchen. The feral grinned, pouring the black coffee liquid into two mugs, glancing to see Emily preparing her morning breakfast, then placed the milk back in the fridge where it belonged. Logan finished preparing both their drinks, his coffee straight black while Emily's had the normal fixings, carrying both by the tops of the mugs in each hand. He set his mug down a seat next to Emily, easing into the wooden chair beside the small child, leaning over to rattle back "Don't believe everythin ya read, Half-pint."

"Or what Blondie tells me." Emily responded back; blowing on her coffee before taking a sip. Logan chuckled quietly as he reached for the morning paper. Emily smiled at his reaction while her spoon dug into her cereal bowl. The feral grinned tenderly behind the newspaper and turned his attention back to the line of print he had been reading.

Although, Logan only made it past the first few sentences before his ears noticed that the faint crunching of the little girls eating had ceased. The feral lowered his paper to see a soft pair of ice blue eyes staring in his direction and an innocent face scrunched up tightly. Emily watched him, forehead creasing more when Logan asked "What, Half-pint?"

"Aren't ya going to ask about last night?" Emily countered. Logan relaxed, eyes drifting back to his paper, answering "Ya said ya don't want ta talk about it."

"So?" Emily replied, casting a confused gaze at the muscled mutant beside her. Logan merely shrugged, flipping to the next page in his newspaper. The ten year old shook her head, returning to her breakfast, muttering "You're weird."

The feral simply chuckled again; taking a sip of his hot coffee and stealing a grin towards the small child. Emily glanced at Logan when he turned back to his paper, gazing at his large presence beside her. She was curious at this change in routine; normal Logan always sat adherent to her at the kitchen table. This was the first time Logan had, himself, made the effort to sit beside her. Emily had to admit…it was a nice change in pace.

Emily continued to study him as her spoon lifted more cereal into her mouth; she also had honestly thought Logan would want to talk about last night. Every grownup who had ever found out about her 'secret' always wanted to sit down and 'talk' about it. They'd always smile, hold her hand and sugarcoat how they understood, patronize her, embarrassing her, until the little girl snapped at them to leave her alone. Yet, Emily knew the only person who ever really understood was Austin. The little girl twirled her spoon around the softened cereal while her mind traveled back in time….

"It's okay Emily!" Austin whispered harshly over Emily's crying form.

The seven year old shook Emily's shoulder gently to wake her; dodging with a yelp, as the five year old came out swinging. Though he managed to avoid getting hit, Austin did land to the hard wooden floor, his butt colliding on the cold oak as he grunted from the impact. He immediately froze, listening for the marching steps of a perturbed nun, sighing in relief as the halls were silent.

In the meantime, Emily was panting while her small arms propped her on the cot; using her left hand to wipe away the sweat that had gathered on the top of her forehead. The seven year old boy crawled off the floor and climbed halfway onto the bed, blowing his chocolate brown hair away from his face. His hazel eyes sized up the tiny five year old, smarting "Geez, even when your asleep your Wild!"

"What's goin on?" Emily asked timidly, her head turning from side to side. Austin pulled himself off the floor and sat on the bed, answering gently "You were havin a bad dream again."

"Oh." Emily answered back; pink rising to her cheeks. Austin twirled his thumbs around, his bright hazel eyes gazing back up at the five year old, asking "You wanna talk about i…"

"No." Emily replied bluntly, casting a cold glare his way. The seven year old cocked his head, questioning softly "Why?"

The five year old's glare intensified, her little arms crossing over another, as she snapped "Cause I don't know why I have em and I'm sick of peoples askin me!"

Emily huffed out for good measure; uncrossing her arms to throw the covers off her legs. She climbed out of the cot, turning her back from the larger seven year old, marching to the arching window sill. Emily planted her butt hard on the thick white washed sill, pulling her legs up and staring at the cold rain billowing down outside. Austin watched her do this, sitting up from the bed. His hazel brown eyes stared at the back of Emily's soft raven hair; the lanky seven year old studying the little girl who watched through the window so intently. Austin scratched at the curly strands of his unruly chocolate brown hair, asking quietly "Could they be about your mama?"

Emily glanced at him, soft ice blue eyes widening slightly. She gazed at the boy who shuffled a little under her stare, looking down at the floor, muttering "Cause, I get bad dreams about my mama."

"Why? Your mommy died when you were born." Emily stated back; a hint of curiosity lacing her accusation. Austin looked right back up, frowning at the small five year old as he took a step closer to the window sill, answering "No, Derek's mama died when he was born! Mine…"

Austin looked back down into the cold oak floor, pointing at the small five year old a little, finishing "Mine left like yours."

Emily stared at the lanky seven year old with widening eyes. She uncurled from the window sill to turn towards Austin, whispering pointedly "Ya saw that day."

Austin nodded, unruly hair dancing up and down, Emily avoiding his glance upward. She had not known any of the boys had seen what had happened; but it shouldn't come as a surprise. The scene had turned….bad….very quickly. Emily could shamefully admit some of that may have been on her part.

The five year old watched as Austin gripped his little hands into fists, hissing "Let me guess…"

Austin jerked his head up, hazel eyes darkening, as his body tensed up. Emily was weary of this new side of the fun loving Cowboy, the seven year old snapping bitterly "She said you were staying here from now on…"

Austin turned roughly to the other side of the window sill, sitting hard onto the white washed counter and hicked a foot up so his arm could rest on his knee. The seven year old stared out into the bad weather, studying the rain sliding down the glass panes, adding resentfully "And it was 'for the best' and you'd forget all about her real soon."

Emily gazed hard into the boy; the five year old slowly leaning back on the chilly glass. She continued to look at the frowning boy who glared out the window, easing into a more comfortable position on the window sill. Emily's face morphed into one of common understanding, asking "So ya not gonna be mutant too?"

"No…I am."Austin replied back, clenching his teeth under his closed lips. His darkened hazel eyes bored into the tiny five year old, he explaining "My mama took me to a doctor too."

Emily's expression jolted to shock, she whispering quietly "Ya got that enxymey stuff."

Austin nodded in reply; turning his head to stare out the window. Emily mimicked the seven year old boy, head softly thudding against the cold glass, watching as stray papers toppled around on the property below. The rain persisted in its mission of making everything soggy and damp, showering heavily into the mudding playground. The two children watched the storm for a while and simply enjoyed each other's company. After a while, Austin looked to Emily, stating "I won't say nothing about your secret…If you won't say nothing about mine."

"I promise…" Emily responded with a nod. She bit her lip, hesitating for only a moment, before adding "If only ya stay till I fall asleep first."

Austin smirked, a devilish tint in his hazel browns, bartering "And you start watching the news with me."

Emily grinned and nodded to the added part of the deal. Austin's playful expression turned quickly serious, as he put up his hand with a pink held up, questioning "Pinky swear?"

Emily lopped her tiny end finger around the seven year old's, replying "Pinky swear."

Austin and Emily's hands shook once in the pinky tied embrace, little fingers looped into an unbinding contract, according to the rules of childhood. The kids smiled, giggling at each other as the fingers let go, Emily for once not noticing the lightening flashing across the clouds….

Emily stared down into her nearly empty cereal bowl. She glanced up at the sound of Logan's rustling papers, passing a grin as he did to her. Emily presumed her quiet morning with the massive feral, delving into thought while finishing her breakfast. She gently grinned into her coffee mug. Austin had kept his promise and had always seemed to know when a nightmare would happen; sneaking to the girl's side that whole month before Molly and Stacy came to stay. It was funny really, Emily had thought after leaving the nursery, she would be all alone. She would have to face the frightening dark night without anyone to turn to or any form of comfort. Turns out, she couldn't have been more farther from the truth….

A tall seven year old girl, known to her friends as Molly, let out a long sigh in the dark room. Her emerald eyes fell upon the five year old's cot a few feet away; Emily cocking her head curiously at her. Molly rustled in her bed, turning to face Emily, whispering "Can't sleep?"

Emily's raven locks bounded up and down in confirmation. She quirked an eyebrow at her new friend, whispering back "Can you?"

Molly's fiery hair fell from left to right in a firm shake of no; she could not sleep. She bit her under lip softly, propping up, gazing around the blackened orphanage walls. Molly faced Emily again, whispering "I got a flashlight and some cards! Wanna play Crazy Eights?"

"Sure!" Emily responded back quietly; ice blues eyes lighting up. Molly smiled in return and bolted out of her bed; tip toeing to her drawer as Emily got out from under her covers. The red head was careful in pulling on her creaky wooden drawers, reaching in to grab the items and quickly ran over to Emily's bed. The five and seven year old could hardly contain their giggles as they made the bed so to have a flatter playing field.

"Can you be any louder, Austin?" An adolescent boy's voice whispered sarcastically from the hall; making both little girls look up. A perturbed Austin responded back "I ain't the one who tripped on his own shoes getting outta bed!"

The little girls heard a pause; knowing full well the six year old Derek was most likely smirking in the dark. It was not long before his young voice responded dryly "They were your big shoes, Cowboy."

Emily and Molly bit their tongues, smirking at each other, at the young boys comment and knowing what was to come afterwards. They held in their laughter as a soft punch of the shoulders from Austin to Derek came quietly from the hall. The younger boy only giggled while Emily knew Austin was probably glaring at him. She was correct when both seven and six year old snuck in; the older's hazel eyes boring into the six year old with a half-hearted scowl. Molly shook her head, asking "What are you two doing here?"

"All the nuns are downstairs…" Derek started, but Austin turned his head from the boy, finishing with his big smile, "So we'd thought we come see you gals."

"I had the same idea." A chirpy voice suddenly whispered from behind; making both boys jump a little. A sandy blonde haired six year old walked out of the shadows, hands on her hips, as she chided "But I'm a lot quieter than you buffaloes!"

The boys merely smiled innocently at Stacy; Emily giggling as the skinny blonde's dark blue eyes narrowed at the duo. Molly rolled her eyes, chiding with waving her hands down "Shush, we got to be real quiet!"

Austin jerked his eyes to Molly, pointing at the blonde, whispering indignantly "Sassy's the one being so loud!"

The skinny six year old girl huffed, marching over to land a hard punch on the older boys arm. Derek giggled as Austin let out a quiet 'ouch' in pain, rubbing his shoulder to pout at the little girl. Stacy crossed her arms and held her head up high at the taller child. Emily giggled again, placing a hand over her mouth as Molly glanced in her direction. Derek smiled upon hearing the five year olds voice, walking around the two 'lovebirds', to ask "What you two doin?"

"Playin Crazy Eights." Emily answered back in a quiet whisper. Molly nodded, pointing to the bed, asking "Wanna play?"

Derek's smile grew as his head bobbled up and down. Austin and Stacy resolved to end their bickering; giving both a unified nod also. Molly put a finger to her lips, motioning the others to help push the two twin beds together so everyone could have a spot. After the two cots had been joined with minimum effort and noise; the five little children climbed up as Molly began passing around the cards. Though, the red head paused in placing the first card in front the chocolate brown haired boy; sending a commanding look to the confused Austin. She whispered "No hollarin, Cowboy, if you win!"

Austin rolled his eyes; the others placing hands over their mouths to muffle their laughter. The hazel eyed seven year old grabbed up his card, responding "Duh!"

The others giggled openly at the remark; Molly not even helping the small grin traveling up her face. Soon the cards were passed around, Emily glancing at Derek on her left, Molly on her right, with Austin and Stacy in front of her. The five year old felt a genuine smile rise up her lips for the first time in ages. Derek and the others glanced up at her, smiling at the youngest in their gang in return.

Quickly the game was afoot, the others once in a while having to shush Austin as he slipped and hollered out in the dark. Then giggling as Stacy playful shoved him to shut him up. For who knew how long, the five friends laughed and played together….argued only once when Austin tried to pull a move that wasn't in the rules….

"I think ya need to get goin, Half-pint." Logan's gruff voice stated gently beside her. Emily snapped out of her memories to jerk her head at the clock. Her soft blue eyes grew to the size of quarters, realizing the time, gasping "Oh!"

The little ten year old bolted out from the chair; rushing over to the sink to dump her bowl as the feral mutant chuckled deeply at the kitchen table. Emily paused in her flee to get to Emma, taking a moment to smile at Logan for a goodbye, before fast walking towards the library. Logan shook his head, watching his little girl go, taking a long sip from his coffee mug. As he turned back to his paper, the feral wondered what his child had been daydreaming so deeply about.

xxx xxxx xxx

"Kenuichio Harada." An aged and withered voice droned out; the man connected to this voice staring down at a mountainous layer of papers. Two men in their late forties, early fifties, sat beside him on his left and right. Behind this group stood several young men; stiffly erect with long bladed katanas resting on their belted hips. They sized everyone in the room, black masks hiding their emotionless faces, but yet dared any to oppose the council.

A solitary man in his early thirties, clean shaved, stepped up as the name was pronounced. A porcelain skinned and petite woman named Mariko, who had stood beside him, backed away with a soft and hopeful grin. Harada gave his wife a curt nod in recognition, before facing the council of elders. His dark brown eyes snaked across the line of older men with a smidge of haughty arrogance; Harada stopping a foot from the elongated table. He took one breath in before gracefully bowing to the group. The middle elder flipped the paper, continuing to drone "You wish to become leader of the Yakaza clan…."

The middle elder found difficulty in reading a particular piece; Harada fighting the disgruntled huff in annoyance at the aging man. The elder on the left aided the middle one, pointing to a spot on the paper, to which the middle elder finished "Clan Yashida."

"Yes, Master." Harada replied; swallowing down his contempt. He really saw no need for this charade; everyone knew the Silver Samurai was well qualified to lead a clan. The elder on the right jerked up his head upon hearing the name of the clan given, seemingly staring at the new candidate for the first time. He stated "You do know this clan is the oldest in our organization and perhaps the most regarded around the world."

The elder on the right continued to stare at the younger man, quirking an eyebrow critically, continuing "It is asking much to become leader…"

Harada squared his shoulders under the elder's judgmental gaze, who finished "And as such, we require much from that leader."

Harada nodded in respect for the older man; secretly wanting to tell the man to mind his own business. A few heated glares were passed from the elder to the younger. Harada had no patience for men who stood in his way and only smirked as a few of the guards let their fingers graze along their katana handles at his show of disrespect. The middle elder pointed to a lower position on the papers, oblivious to the tension rising in the room, saying "I see here you are married to the daughter of the lineage of this Clan. The only child to be born, correct?"

Harada jerked his head away from the right elder, taking a moment to comprehend the question, before nodding. His eyes drifted back to Mariko, she passing a pleading look to him. The younger man frowned at his wife in disapproval at her silent message from him to cease. Harada turned from her with a hard glare; Mariko placing a tired hand onto her face. The middle elder waited till this interaction had ended, himself giving a gentle grin in respect to the young woman, who kindly mimicked one of her own. The elder glanced back at the paper, saying thoughtfully "Mariko's birthright, along with your nobility, certainly gives you claim to the leadership…."

"Yet, for whether you are emperor or peasant, our strict code of honor still remains." The elder on the left finished. The middle elder casted a confused look at his successor which was followed by Mariko and Harada. The elder on the right merely smirked. Harada's jaw tightened, his dark brown eyes snapping, as he responded tightly "I..do not understand, Master."

The elder on the right lifted both eyebrows up, asking condescendingly, "You do not understand our code of honor?"

"Of course I know the code!" Harada snapped, making eye contact with the older man. The guards slowly gripped into their swords handles; fists tightening around the wooden staffs. Harada glared a challenge towards them, while saying stiffly to the elders "But does it really apply here?"

"Explain, Harada." The middle elder responded; waving his hands at the guards. The black clothed men relented but most kept a hand secured around their blades handle. Harada turned his dark brown eyes to the middle elder, stating "I am husband to the only child left of the Yashida line, a man born from nobility that has survived several hundred generations, a skilled samurai who has severed under you and this clan, devoting my loyalty and my very life from the moment I became a man…"

Harada's squared shoulders heightened as he rose to his towering 6'1 height; a sneer rising on his face. His dark eyes darted from each council member, as he added boldly "But above all….I have never been beaten in battle…."

"No, Harada." The elder on the right interrupted coolly. Harada tossed all tradition to the wind as he slipped a seething look at the older man. The elder on the left continued, saying "That is where…"

The elder on the right slipped out a passel of pictures from underneath the table and smirked up at the glowering Harada. He flipped the stack onto the elongated table; the slick material sliding down along the smoothed mahogany counter. He finished tactfully "You are wrong."

Mariko's soft brown eyes gazed down at the numerous snap shots of a broad shoulder man with piercing blue eyes. His raven hair was cut back, with long muttonchops, which appeared to give the gruff man a wild appearance. His haunting gaze stared into Mariko as if he were in the very room with her. The woman's eyes widen as a hand flew to her mouth; she knew that face from anywhere. Harada also had seemed to recall his past life, for he began flipping through the numerous photographs while a red tint enveloped his neckline. He muttered, voice rising "Logan-san? The Gaijin?!"

Harada threw down the photographs in disgust, pointing at the hardened face in the picture, nearly shouting "This animal is what keeps me from what is mine?!"

The elder on the right slammed his hands down on the table and stood up from his chair. He had enough of this young male's blatant disrespect and arrogance. The elder snapped "Whether he a Gaijin or animal, this man still beat you in battle! Disgraced you in front of the clan!"

Harada sent another seething look towards his, what he considered now, an opponent. The guards drew out their katanas and stepped out from the darkened shadows; circling around the younger male. Mariko paid no heed but instead continue to stare down at the photograph. Harada turned around in a full circle, glaring at the challenge set before him by the young clan members, but managed to stifle his anger. He turned back to the middle elder, saying reasonably "Master, I.."

"For you to be leader of a Yakuza clan, you must have honor…." The elder on the left cut him off; waving his hand. Harada's seething glare returned, shoulders stiffing, as the man continued curtly "And to have true honor, Harada, your past must be wiped clean of all failure."

The elder on the right straightened his clothes, cold eyes staring at Harada with contempt. He seconded his college's words, saying pointedly "Until that is done…you are not qualified to lead the Yashida clan."

Harada's face turned a shade red while his hands clenched into fists. The elders ignored this immature show of anger, motioning to the encircled guards, ordering "Dismissed."

The guards lifted up their blades away from the disrespectful man and followed after the leaving council of elders. Harada stood in place, watching them go with an enraged expression. As soon as they disappeared out the back, Harada stormed towards the exit. Mariko tried to intercept him, reaching out a comforting hand to his shoulder but Harada shoved his shoulder upward as he stormed past. The woman shied away, watching him leave, shaking her head slowly. Mariko went to follow after her husband, pausing to glance at the photographs left on the table; piercing ice blues surfacing many well fought off memories.

xxx xxxx xxx

Emily sat obediently at the set table and waited for everyone to join together for dinner; seemingly falling into the background as Ororo finished up the last of the meals preparation. The little girl flipped over a page in one of her older sketchbooks she had brought out, being careful to be gentle with the aged paper. She smirked at the younger versions of her and her friends; tracing a finger slowly along the faces of the five some. If Emily had any idea what melancholy meant, she could have known, that was what she was feeling right then. After this morning's dive into the past, the little girl had been falling into pleasant memories of her past all day.

Emily flipped over another page and stared down at the little children on the white padded notebook. The girl's eyes brightened as a small smile feel onto her face; she loved this picture. This particular sketch was one of the rare and beautiful snap shots of life at Sisters of Charity; a memory that Emily could still remember vividly. A time when everyone had been together on a particular sunny day in June, their young voices lifting up laughter to the heavens, and faces beaming with unbridled smiles…..

A proudly standing nine year old Austin paraded around the top of a jungle gym set. The boy blew away his chocolate brown hair from his face as his dark hazel eyes sparkled. Emily remembered fondly how much he loved to play as one of the gods in this game. They had begun reenacting stories from an Old Norse Mythology book after Stacy had come to the orphanage with the children's title. In this particular game Austin was the mighty 'Thor' and eight year old Stacy, who stood alongside him, was the brave "Lady Sif'.

Austin pointed his 'hammer' towards the 'battlefield' to the west of the jungle gym. Stacy reared up her sword and sat on her left knee upon the hot metal surface and stared with 'cold' eyes upon the enemies of the north. Which Emily had to admit, in all honesty, Austin's 'hammer' was a thick stick with a small cardboard box taped to the top of the handle. Stacy's 'sword' was really just a large stick and the 'battlefield' was actually an opened field with a bunch of other kids who had chosen to be the villains in this game. Yet to her young eyes it was as glorious as the images on the children's book. This was not Sisters of Charity at the moment; it was Asgard and the immortal gods needed her help.

Austin's ever show boating voice boomed "Who shall help us concur thee might fields of Asgard?!"

An seven year old Emily Anne Howlett, tiny even back then for her age, stepped out 'dramatically' towards the jungle gym. Following the rules for the heroes of this game she placed a knee to the ground and bowing her head to the gods. Emily's soft voice cried out "I thy Wild Emily Anne!"

A tall nine year old Molly came alongside her; kneeling to the left of her best friend. She shoved her 'sword', into the ground, exclaiming "With thee Fiery Molly Hope!"

The ruggedly built eight year old Derek came last. He knelt next to Emily on the right, secretly glancing a shy grin near the little girl's way. Derek turned his attention back the game, proclaiming outward "And I, thy Daredevil Derek!"

The trio of best friends pulled out their 'weapons' from the ground. They lifted them high above their heads, looking upward, shouting in unison "Will help thee concur this realm together!"

"Mere Midgardians?!" Stacy cried out, pulling herself up to a stand, sandy blonde hair falling from her shoulders. Everyone held in their giggles as Stacy put on a serious face. She jumped down from the jungle gym and paced around the chosen heroes of Asgard. Stacy pointed her 'sword' at them, shouting "What makes thee worthy enough to face the dark elves!"

"Far sooth!" Derek joked out, jumping to his feet. A round of giggles replied his cry. He smiled before getting serious again. He matched Stacy's sword to his, both children glaring a challenge towards each other. The young boy smirked, stating "We are not mere mortals as thee claim!"

Molly stood to her feet, defending bravely "Thy great Daredevil Derek is correct fair Lady Sif!"

Emily rose slowly, as were the rules for the person last to rise to the gods. She took a step forward and shoved away Stacy's sword. Standing bravely up to the eight year old girl who was a head taller than her, Emily proclaimed "We are the mighty X-men! Chosen from birth to have great power well beyond thy wildest dreams!"

Of course the mutant team was not part of the Mythology; the children had added that in on their own. All a part of their games that used to stretch their imaginations to the farthest of realms. The X-men at the center of their many romps of innocent play and siege. Stacy eyed the young child, she and Emily slipping from their acting to smile at each other as Austin leaped dramatically off the jungle gym. He successfully landed next to the two girls and smiled wide. Austin slapped a hand onto Emily's shoulder, booming "Then prove thee worth X-man of Midgard!"

He removed his hand from Emily's shoulder and pointed towards the enemies upon the 'battlefield' who stood at the ready with stick drawn 'swords'. Austin raised his 'hammer' to the heavens, shouting "Help us defeat our sworn enemy from the dark realm!"

Emily, Molly and Derek each laughed at Austin's contagious excitement. They lifted their weapons higher to the sky, exclaiming "We shall!"

With a resounded warriors cry the five children raced towards the enemy of Asgard. Emily felt a hand wrap around hers and looked up to see Derek smiling. She felt a hot rush of pink rise to her face as he held on tighter. Emily smiled widely back at him. They laughed together as a word began to form Derek's lips….

"Half-pint?" Logan asked, walking over to the small child. Emily sat unresponsive, her soft eyes staring intently into a sketchbook. The feral frowned, saying louder "Half-pint."

Emily again did not respond to the feral's call. Ororo glanced up at her spot at the stove to also look at the child and then back to Logan. She grinned as the feral quirked an eyebrow down at the little girl. Logan coughed, finally stating loudly "Emily!"

The ten year old jerked in surprise at the feral's booming voice, turning up to ask bewildered "Huh?!"

Logan chuckled deeply while Ororo smiled. The feral pointed to the numerous bowls of food Ororo had set on the table and ruffled the small child's hair gently. He chuckled "It's time to eat, darlin."

Emily looked at the table and grinned sheepishly when seeing the basket of rolls being set in the center. Logan gently eased over to pick up the sketchbook out of her lap, saying "We need to put this…"

The feral grabbed the white padded paper, lifting it up to place it on the nearby counter, when his eyes caught onto to the aged drawing giving life to the paper. Logan paused in his steps, finishing softly "Away."

Emily had not paid attention to Logan after he had taken the sketchbook; her time wrapped up in helping Ororo get drinks for everyone that was joining the table. The feral's ice blue eyes studied the singular drawing, his large finger delicately flipping up a page to see a glimpse of another aged sketch underneath. Logan glanced at the small child who giggled at something Bobby said, then back at the aged sketchbook in his hands. After seeing everyone was sitting down, he forced himself to set the pad on the counter and turned back to sit down to eat dinner. However, Logan could not help but now and then glance at the peculiar item his daughter had held in her hands.

xxx xxxx xxx

Mariko followed in step behind her tall husband into their elegant living room, reaching a hand outward, soothing gently "Harad…"

"I do not wish to speak right now, Mariko." Harada interrupted curtly, not bothering to turn towards her. He marched heatedly to his spare room, where many of his loyal men stood at the doorway, all ready to plan a course of action. Mariko flinched at her husband's harsh words; sighing at how he was managing his bruised ego. Harada glanced over his shoulder at her, snapping lowly "I have more important business to attend too."

Mariko shook her head, placing a hand delicately to her porcelain face. She looked up at the receding wounded man, stating tiredly "This is foolish."

Harada stopped in his tracks, back straightening him up to his full height as his shoulder muscles stiffened. He slowly turned around and Mariko could see his brown eyes growing a shade darker in repressed anger. Harada replied in a low tone "You dare speak against your husband?"

"Only when you refuse to listen to reason." Mariko responded coolly back, walking towards him with an unreadable face. Her petite frame stood in front of his imposing body with no fear; a soft and comforting expression passing over her face. Mariko placed a hand on his cheek, soothing "Harada, I have stood by your side as your wife for many years…."

"But your eyes have always been on that Gaijin!" Harada snapped angrily, shoving her hand down from his face. Mariko's eyes widen, she watching in shock as her husband turned from her. Harada smirked darkly, glancing at her while walking towards his silent men, stating "But after next week, he won't be a problem anymore."

Mariko regained her composer at her husband's bitter and resentful outburst; eyes narrowing as her lips formed into a thin line. She shook her head at the receding figure, saying darkly "So that is what it's really about."

"It's about regaining my honor…" Harada countered, not hiding his condescending tone, while nodding at his men to enter the adjoining room. They followed his command, not hearing Mariko snap heatedly "It's about revenge!"

Harada jerked towards her, staring at the petite woman who stood her ground with a high nosed look. His nostrils flaring out as a tint of red rose up on Harada's neckline. He turned quickly back to the opened door, dark brown eyes darting towards his men who waited patiently inside. Harada quietly held up a finger to his men, who nodded in understanding, then shut the door gently. Mariko continued to glare at him, even when he marched back up and towered over her. Harada pointed a finger at her, snapping "I could have won that night if you had not interfered!"

"So that is all that I am to you?! A prize to be won?" Mariko countered, looking at him with anger filled eyes. Harada snorted, waving her off as he backed away, replying arrogantly "You put words into my mouth, Mariko."

"No, Harada…" Mariko stated tiredly, shaking her head. She gazed into his eyes, a hard expression falling on her soft face, stating coldly "I only see what your mouth doesn't speak."

Harada's normal arrogant expression slipped off his features as he stared at his small wife in shock. However, his anger quickly got the better of him and Harada's eyes narrowed. For in his frustration and humiliated state…the husband wanted to hurt the wife with his words. Harada smirked hatefully at Mariko, stating "Then let my mouth speak this…."

Harada looked her up and down, waving towards Mariko's petite body, closing in to say cruelly "You are nothing but a toy doll that I display and play with at my leisure…"

Mariko's face quickly melted into a wounded one; a hand falling towards her mouth. Harada smirked upon seeing he was achieving his goal, whispering in her ear, the final blow "I took you so Logan-san could not."

Two solitary tears cascaded down the porcelain skin of Mariko's face; the outward showing of what she tried to deny herself on the inside. A hot rage boiled at the pit of her chest when she saw Harada smirk wider at her wounded condition. Mariko glared a seething look into his quickly frowning face, leaning in his ear to whisper hatefully "And the only reason you have me as your toy doll, is because the Yakuza awaited my decision with drawn swords."

Harada's dark brown eyes widened as Mariko snapped "I only chose you….so he and I could live!"

Harada's seething glare should have been warning for the young bride to cease. Yet Mariko's anger was at the point of no return as she wanted to hurt her husband as well. She leaned in up close to his face, exclaiming "But I should have known that dying by the swing of a blade, would have been better than spending a lifetime with you!"

Slap!

Harada left hand swung hard and low; palm swatting across Mariko's cheek! The force of the blow was so severe, the petite woman was sent tumbling back and barely managed to catch herself onto the couch. Mariko grabbed her pulsating cheek, breathing heavily as Harada staggered back a step when he realized what he had done. Both husband and wife stared at each other in mute silence; equally shocked at how things had unraveled. Their fights had never gotten this far or had any of the other stuck in anger.

Harada went towards Mariko but stopped…an almost helpless look on his face. The door to the spare room opened as two of Harada's low men stepped into the room; hands gripping onto their weapons at their belts. Harada regained enough sense to wave them off while yet continuing to stare at Mariko who cupped her cheek delicately. She gazed up at him, eyes averting to the ground in bitterness, the wife refusing to look at the husband. Harada motioned his men to return to the spare room, taking a second to stare at Mariko, before going after them himself. Just as he reached the doorway, a soft voice said quietly "You are lucky Logan-san is not here…"

Harada turned to her, gazing into Mariko who let her anger flare back up, as she snapped "For you would not have had a hand left to speak of, had he witnessed how you just treated me!"

"I am not scared of that Gaijin." Harada responded back in a neutral voice; turning away when Mariko chose to look at him. His wife's eyes narrowed at him, she replying darkly "You should be."

Harada turned to her again, seeing Mariko holding onto one of the pictures his men had taken from the council meeting for study. Apparently the animal had a long lost child in his line of travels which was not surprising to Harada. However, what did surprise him, was that the Gaijin had reunited with the girl shortly after the council had snapped some pictures to show evidence he was still alive, after rumors of his death not so long ago. Harada quickly saw it as nothing but apparently his wife saw something more.

Mariko managed a gentle grin at the picture despite the red mark enveloping on her cheek. Her soft expression only entailed for the picture though, and had quickly turned to a bitter expression by the time her eyes traveled up to Harada. She stated ominously "For I don't know many who threaten the ones that the Kuzuri loves…."

Mariko flipped the picture over so Harada could see; the snapshot of Logan riding with a helmeted Emily securely to his body. She finished darkly "And live to see the next day."

Harada gazed at the picture; frowning at the implication. He glanced at his wife, whose soft eyes bore into him with contempt, forcing Harada to look away. He did not appreciate the sick feeling rising in his stomach upon his wife's warning and chose to briskly walk into the spare room; shutting the door behind him with a loud slam. Mariko glared at the wooden oak then her eyes slowly traveled to the picture in her hand. Her gentle grin returned with a mixture of sadness; the young wife gazing at the one thing Logan could have….should have given her…that her husband never did.

Meanwhile, Harada ignored the questionable looks tossed his way by his respectfully silent men, choosing to stare into the roaring fireplace held in the room as he marched all the way in. He motioned to the remaining pictures he had gathered on his desk, stating tactfully "We will attack on the eve of Friday. Proceed with the plans I gave you."

The black clothed men turned their heads at each other, watching their master straighten his collar while he began looking through the pictures on the desk, a brave soul choosing to step forward. He bowed gracefully to Harada, then asked hesitantly "And if Logan-san is there?"

Harada's fingers stopped on a photograph he was holding; his shoulders tightening. He gritted his teeth, forming his hand into a slowly fist, the picture crumbling in his hands. Harada cleared his throat, saying low "As I told my wife, gentlemen…."

Harada jerked his hand up and thrusted the crumbed photograph into the roaring flames. The piece of inked paper grew ablaze upon the hot coals, the dancing orange and yellow eating away at the frozen moment in time. Harada stared into the flickering flames, dark brown eyes reflecting the inferno, finishing darkly "I am not scared of that animal."

xxx xxxx xxx

"So you have never seen The Godfather?" Bobby asked astonished, placing down his fork. Emily shook her head, picking up the empty basket of bread and turned from the table. Kitty rolled her eyes at the shocked eighteen year old, replying "Its rated R Bobby, of course she hasn't."

"She ain't seeing that movie, Popsicle." Logan interjected gruffly; looking up from the first page of Emily's old sketchbook. He saw the little girl notice he was looking at it, smile, then say nothing more as she continued to help Ororo put the food away. The feral grinned softly at her permission, turning over to gaze at another drawing that had the same theme as the last one, with four other little children posing beside his daughter in what appeared to be numerous stages of childhood. Logan again wondered who the kids in the pictures were.

Forge continued on with the conversation, he too surprised Emily had not seen the movie the group was arguing over. He suddenly leaned back in the chair, fingering his stubby beard, saying in a fake Italian accent to Logan "But we'll make you an offer you can't refuse…"

Logan's piercing ice blue eyes locked into the mutant genius; eyes narrowing as a hard frown fell on his lips. Forge gulped slightly, countering in a higher voice "Or not."

Emily fought to roll her eyes as she grabbed another dish Ororo pointed to from the sink. Kurt, who was of the remaining group that had stuck around for the conversation after dinner was through, shook his head in disapproval at the movie choice. He responded "I vill have to go vith Logan on zis one…."

"Yes, that particular American movie is not appropriate for a ten year old." Emma interjected, wiping down a free counter space, helping in the after kitchen clean up. Bobby turned to her, guffawing "American movie?"

Kitty smiled, slinging an arm over her chair to look at Emma, chiming in "Yeah, like British have made so much more kid friendly classics!"

Emma frowned at the smiling duo as Ororo and Kurt tried to hide their amused grins. Logan had already delved back into flipping through the aged sketchbook in his hands, so he had not paid attention to the rest of the conversation. Emily looked at each person in the room, shaking her head and sighed annoyed. She reached for a larger bowl on the table beside Kurt, muttering "I'm still here, ya know."

Kurt overheard her comment and his grin immediately turned into a smile. He playfully zipped up his tail to swish it in front of her nose, twirling it around her ear and back. Emily blew out through her nostrils at the tingling sensation, swatting the blue tail away as it buzzed around her face. She tried to glare at Kurt but warbled a grin, clicking her tongue in annoyance at her older brother. Emily turned to take the bowl away and managed one more swat as Kurt tried another attack with his furry tail. Kurt laughed slightly at his younger sister's irritation and smiled innocently as she shot him a glare over her shoulder. Ororo shook her head in a half way reprimand at the twenty-one year old, as Bobby continued on "All I'm saying is, how is she gonna be able to play the game with us, if she has never seen the movie?"

"Who says I'm gonna let Half-pint play that kind of game?" Logan responded gruffly, his cold eyes traveling up from the sketchbook paper. The feral's blue eyes narrowed at the wearily smirking teen; he placing a massive forearm onto the table. Logan leaned towards Bobby, asking in a warning growl "And what exactly have ya been lettin her play, Popsicle?"

"Just the stuff you told me she could!" Bobby replied quickly, waving his hands outward. Forge's head quickly bobbed up and down; a weary strike of a smile passing up his face. Emily crinkled up her nose as the hardened feral mutant continued to gaze at the duo suspiciously. She glanced up at Ororo, handing her the half empty food bowl, stating "This families weird."

Ororo's light laughter filled the kitchen as the others continued to make a case against Logan's forbidance of higher rated media viewing of the small ten year old child. Emily looked over her shoulder at the bickering group, shaking her head as her little nose crinkled up more. Ororo patted her shoulder, teasing "And yu just figuring dat out now, chield?"

Emily frowned up at Ororo but started to giggle as the woman arched an eyebrow up. Ororo handed her the bowl back and the little girl took it, stretching over the sink to turn on the faucet. The group continued on in the background, with Emma chipping in "And why can't you and Emily play a nice card game, besides staring at that screen so much…"

"Why don't I just shout 'I got a tattoo on my butt' and maybe ya all stop talkin about me." Emily muttered sarcastically, washing out the dish. She glanced up to see Ororo giving her a commanding look and shaking her head. The little girl grinned slightly, which Ororo clicked her tongue, waving a spoon playfully at the girl. Emily giggled again, turning to place the bowl into the washer, rolling her eyes as the group chose sides in the ever growing argument. She could have told Bobby and Forge it was a losing battle; when Logan said no….he meant it. Emily had learned that very early on in her almost four month stay at the mansion. She knew parents like Logan were like Sister Rachel, once they set their foot down, there was no going back. And fighting was futile.

Emily shook her head as Bobby tried to make a point of how the movie was a classic that every person should see while Kurt countered that movies had age limits for a reason. Emma was clearly not buying Bobby's argument for she quickly sided with Kurt that children Emily's age weren't ready to watch something that violent. Logan merely grunted out again that 'his Half-pint' was not seeing the movie; period. Emily grinned watching Kitty clearly enjoying herself seeing the others toss arguments back and forth; the nineteen year old casting a wink the little girl's way. Emily giggled, leaning over the sink to turn off the faucet. She frowned however when feeling an odd sensation on her left wrist; a kind of pulling when something was coming undone.

Emily's head turned just in time to see Molly's golden heart bracelet unclasp from her wrist and slid off. Her soft blue eyes widened as the piece of jewelry began free-falling in midair….circling around the sink and sliding right into the drain. Before Emily could blink an eye, her beloved gift from her closest friend had disappeared out of sight. The little girl stood frozen in place as time came to a screeching halt. It was gone. Molly's bracelet was gone! Emily breathed in jaggedly and let out a panicked cry.

The group stopped mid speech upon hearing the little girls shout; Logan sitting up from his chair in concern. They all watched, slightly stunned when Emily began crawling over the sink, reaching her little hand out to shove it down the sink drain. The feral quickly intercepted the action before anyone else could make a move, Logan gently grabbing into Emily's wrist with his large hand. The feral reprimanded softly "Half-pint, don't do that…"

"But my bracelet!" Emily retorted in a higher voice. Her wide eyes stared down into the piping, hoping desperately to catch a glimpse of her sacred item. Logan gently eased her away, stepping in front, replying "Let me take a look, darlin."

"It went all de weigh down, Logan." Ororo commented, looking over the feral's massive shoulder as he hunkered over the sink. Emily gave the grownups some space, stepping aside as Forge came up to help. She looked on with desperate eyes, peeking on her tippy toes, trying to see over the group of adults huddled around the sink. Logan looked at Kitty, who was hunkered on the floor, asking "Can ya phase it out, Kat?"

"I'm not feeling it, Logan." Kitty answered back, her hand halfway through the pipe as she scrunched up her face in concentration. Bobby snorted at the dinner table, smarting "That means it's probably all the way to the coastline by now."

Emily jerked her panicked eyes to Bobby, the teenager's sarcastic expression melting off his face to gaze at her concerned. Kurt frowned at the boy, and then looked to the ten year old, reaching a hand out to pat her shoulder, soothing "Ve can just get ju anozer one, Emily."

"I think we might have to." Forge replied sadly before Emily could retort anything back. The little girl swallowed down the lump forming in her throat at his words. She fought off the pickle of tears, blue eyes darting to Kitty for her last hope. The nineteen year old gazed up at Logan, shaking her head sadly as her hand pulled out from the pipe. The feral sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose and that's when Emily knew. It was gone…really, truly, gone. Molly's bracelet, one of the few things she had left of her friends, was lost forever. The little girl no longer fought the tears prickling her eyes, a few drops sliding down her cheeks.

Logan rubbed the back off his neck with his hand, turning to face Emily, when his nose alerted him to the faint scent of tears. The feral jerked his head up to see his little girl with the salty residue falling slowly down her face. The sight crushed Logan's heart into dust. The muscled mutant took a step towards Emily, reaching his huge arms out for her, saying tenderly "Ah, darlin…"

Emily darted out of the kitchen, embarrassed that everyone had seen her crying, racing out of the room with a heavy shove to the swinging door before Logan could take another step. The feral immediately went up to chase after the fleeing child, when Bobby's voice carried out snarky "We'll that's just great."

Logan turned his gaze at him heatedly until he realized what the eighteen year old had been commenting on. Bobby reached out to the sketchbook lying at Logan's spot at the table, tossing it gently to Kurt and where everyone could see, stating "Don't think another bracelet's going to solve it, guys."

The others, who had not made a sound or movement since the child had begun to cry, circled around the white paper pad. They immediately identified the bracelet the child always wore….but on the red headed little girl, not Emily. Instantly the group swore out several obscenities, Logan the loudest with a growling "Shit."

The group immediately huddled back over the sink, each looking to another as they fought over for counter space. Forge peered over the sink, sizing up the kitchen accessory critically, asking "Think we can get it out?"

"Do you think it's even in there?" Bobby countered skeptically, gazing at Forge with an eyebrow raised. Logan's ice blues glared at the eighteen year old, the feral growing gruffly "Don't say that, Popsicle."

Bobby grinned wearily, backing off as Kitty stepped in front, saying "I can try phasing again…"

She stuck her hand down the sink, hand disappearing out of sight, while the group watched her every move. Kitty pushed further down, sticking her tongue out as her eyes narrowed in concentration. Suddenly the brunette whispered "Wait…."

Kitty leaned farther down, phased arm sinking further into the pipeline. The group surrounding her, holding their breaths. The nineteen year old dug around, face scrunched up, until apparently she felt something; for her face erupted into a triumphant look. Kitty pulled out her hand, exclaiming "Got it!"

Kitty phased the entire length of her arm outward, hand rising above the sink, revealing a slightly smudged but still wearable golden heart bracelet. The group let out a collective sigh in relief; Logan immediately swiping the bracelet softly from Kitty's outstretched hand. The feral stepped aside from the surprised Kitty, scooping up the rag towel lying on the counter beside him. Logan made sure to use extra care in wiping down the small bracelet, inspecting the jewelry closely for any damage. Of course the clasp was loose, that was what had started this whole fiasco in the first place, but everything else was as the same as it had been before.

Logan unraveled the dish towel from the bracelet, thumb grazing along the golden heart pendant. The feral gripped the small piece of jewelry, weighting in his hands, the image of Emily in tears coming back fresh to his mind. Logan's hand close protectively around the item; the muscled feral not bothering to look back at the group as he walked out towards Emily's upstairs bedroom.

xxx xxxx xxx

Emily didn't know what was now more embarrassing, the fact she had actually began to cry in front of the others or that she had run from the room when they caught her spilling tears like a baby. Either way, the tears continued to fall down her face as Emily gripped a pillow around her stomach and stared out the window. The little girl sniffled in, trying desperately to stop the salty drops cascading down her cheeks. It was silly to cry over what had happened; Molly's bracelet was gone. Yet though no matter how hard she tried telling herself to stop crying like a baby over something that couldn't be changed…..her age won out the battle over maturity and tears kept rolling down her cheeks.

Logan could hear Emily's sniffling and the faint dew like smell of tears became stronger the more he neared the little girls doorway. If the feral mutant's heart had been crushed to dust before…it was certainly now being trampled over until there was nothing left. Logan walked until he got her doorway; stopping in his tracks as his muscled girth stood in front of the shut door. He looked down at the bracelet he held delicately in his huge left hand and then back up at the obstacle before him. As an afterthought, Logan gently shoved the jewelry into his jeans pocket while he used his index finger to knock on the door. Emily's sniffling immediately ceased, the feral guessing the child was looking towards the doorway.

Logan took no other invitation, choosing to pry open the door while his freed hand began rubbing his white shirted neckline. The feral coughed, beginning to say "Half-pint…I..uh…"

However, his nose inhaled the stronger dew scent intermixed with his mutation picking up the child was obvious still upset. Logan looked up to see Emily trying to hid her red and teary face by staring into her pillow she clung to while sitting upright on the bed. In that moment, any reminisce of Logan's 'kick-ass, rough and gruff' demeanor went tumbling down around him.

Logan walked right up to the girl, bending down on one knee, his huge hand brushing at her face. His cold ice blue eyes gazed at her gently, palm cupping her little cheek, while his gruff voice nearly pleaded "Ah…don't cry Lil' Half-pint."

Sadly he didn't really get the affect he wanted…just the opposite. When Emily heard Logan's graveled voice become so gently, looking up to see him hovering over her with pleading eyes, fresh tears prickled anew on her little face. The ten year old fought, without any success, as the salty drops fell freely down from her eyes. Logan seemed at first completely at a loss for what to do and choose to do the only thing that came to mind at the moment.

The muscled feral reached out, gently picking up the child from the bed and placed her on his left leg, enveloping both huge arms around the small girl. Logan fleeting was amazed, yet quickly felt his heart again squeeze in agony, as Emily was so upset that she blindingly turned into his embrace and cuddled up against the massive feral. Emily's tears continued to softly fall down her face, as the child fought off the sniffles and took in a warbled breath in. Logan petted her gently, whispering "Please don't cry."

Logan continued petting the child lovingly, waiting in silence and giving her comfort as Emily's tears stopped falling down her face. The child only continued to sniffle for a few moments, blinking a few times to brush away that last remaining tears, reaching her hands up to fiddle with Logan's dog tag. When the feral caught on that there was no more new salty drops being produced, he gently hoisted up the child from his lap to his eye level; securing her little body comfortably in front of him with one huge forearm. Logan softly lifted Emily's chin with his finger, gazing lovingly at the red face peeking up at him, and used his large thumb to gently wipe away the stray tears that had dried onto her small cheeks. Emily managed a weak glare through her tears, as she muttered "Why don't ya ever leave me alone?"

Logan's earthy laughter quietly filled the spacious bedroom; the feral dipping his forehead next to Emily's. He smirked at her, saying "Get used ta it, Half-pint."

A ghost of a grin parted up Emily's small lips as the little girl remembered a certain White Queen's warnings towards a similar statement she had said not so long ago. Logan lifted his head up with the smirk still planted on his face. However, the humor left the child's lips as Emily stated suddenly in a quiet whisper "I don't want another bracelet."

The feral's large hand laid tenderly across the child's face, Logan replying soothingly "Ya don't have ta, darlin."

Emily looked up at the muscled feral truly perplexed, until the mutant carefully pulled a familiar golden heart bracelet out of his jean pocket. The little girls mouth parted open as eyebrows shot up, she saying bewildered "How'd ya get it back?"

The muscled feral let out an indignant snort; is smirk rising proudly, Logan smarting "I'm the Wolverine."

Emily's surprised face melted into one of her "Looks" towards the smirking feral whose chest shook with a deep chuckle at her expression. Logan eased her back down until Emily was upright in front of him and the bed; gently helping the little girl put the bracelet back on. While he did that, the feral looked down at her, saying "We might have ta get Forge ta fix the clasp so it ain't gonna fall off again."

Emily nodded in agreement, commenting "I didn't think it would, cause I don't take it off."

Logan quirked an eyebrow, looking down at the child, asking "Why's that darlin?"

"I promised Molly." Emily replied simply and with a quiet voice. The muscled feral said nothing back for a moment; he simply finishing up clasping the bracelet on the child's small wrist, with a thoughtful expression on his face. After the golden chain had been securely placed onto the little girls wrist, Logan softly petted her head, stating "She's the one that gave ya this."

"I gave her a sketchbook and she gave me this when she went away." Emily explained with a nod, holding onto the heart pendant dangling from the golden chain. Her little finger brush across the intricate engravings that were pressed along the heart shaded medallion, adding "I gave all my friends sketchbooks before I came home."

Logan formed a gentle expression on his face; his thoughts circulating on Emily's last word. It was nice to know the little girl no longer saw this place as a 'temporary' living arrangement. Logan had been battling that invisible bruise since the little girl got here. Finding out he had won out that battle was encouraging to the mutant father. However, Logan felt a string of compassion for his little girl, saying gently "Ya miss them, don't ya, darlin."

Emily fiddled with her heart pendant, not saying anything. Her slightly redden face looked up at the muscled mutant sitting on the bed in front of her; soft blue eyes studying him. Emily's hand slipped away from the pendant and she gently held onto Logan's opened hand resting on this jeans. She gave his hand a tender squeeze, yet eyes slightly indignant, as Emily responded firmly "But I like being her too, ya know."

Logan cracked a smile and opened up his hand completely while looking down at the small child. Emily placed her hand over Logan's large one, stretching out her palm till her whole hand was pressed against the feral's. She continued the curious game until her hand was lapped over Logan's and fingers were stretched to the limit. Emily smirked when realizing, not matter how hard she tried to make her hand bigger, Logan's hand swallowed up her own. Her little fingers just barely stretched over his palm! Emily continued to curiously inspect Logan's hand, muttering in a quiet and sarcastic manner "Guess I can't have them AND ya too."

Logan's crack of a smile fell down to a saddened thin line and his free hand cupped Emily's face while large thumb wiped away at the last residue of tears. He was about to agree; when his gears started churning with an idea. Logan's mind quickly snagged up the sparse little mental note and tucked it away for later thought. Emily had no clue of this second long brain storm, but snorted out in humor, smarting "But ya woulda hated Austin, cause he's just like Bobby!"

Logan snorted back in return, replying deadpanned "I don't hate Popsicle."

Emily looked up at him with a smirk on her face and a quirk of an eyebrow. Logan grinned devilishly back, leaning his forehead to rattle gruffly "I just make em think I do, so he'll walk the line."

Logan's devilish grin morphed into a smile and he got off the bed to kneel next to the little girl; reaching out the pinch her playfully. Emily's soft giggle filled the room, the feral winking at her, adding "Got ta scare them boys a little, darlin, or they don't behave."

Emily's giggle lightened as she shook her head with a smidge of a smile at the muscled feral. Logan flashed all his canines as his ice blue eyes lit up with an ornery tint; continuing to playfully pick at the little girl who swatted at him giggling. Sure Emily was laughing now…but that advice was good for any and all boys; especially ones who would eventually come sniffing around the Wolverine's Lil' Half-pint. Emily might think it was a funny saying at ten….but it wouldn't be soon before she would find anything BUT humor from that little saying.

A soft knock on the open door alerted both human child and mutant father to look up at their unexpected guest. Kurt stood with one hand in his pocket, tail hanging still, while a weary grin was planted on his face. His gentle yellow eyes glanced from Logan to Emily, the fur mutant asking hesitantly "She okay?"

Logan nodded in affirmation and Emily grinned shyly at the furry blue elf. She really didn't know how to act around people who had seen her cry and immediately felt her first instinct to close up inside herself. However, the feeling was short lived as a blonde haired and lanky eighteen year old came in next, trying to act normal. He only faltered once when catching sight of the little girl, Bobby giving her a warm smile, before jetting his thumb behind him, saying "Hey, they got a new free demo on Xbox live. Want to play?"

The strike at normalcy from the teen was appreciated by the ten year old, who grinned at his arrival. Kurt and Logan's faces, however, quickly dissolved into ones of narrowed eyes and frowns. Bobby's eyes widened at the stern looks, waving his hands, exclaiming "It's not Godfather!"

Emily laughed softly, her mouth opening into a smile and her raven locks twirled as she shook her head. Bobby grinned at her reaction as did the other two; the eighteen year old giving a quick nod before retreating back towards downstairs to start the age appropriate gaming title. Kurt followed, giving one last assurance that Emily was okay, smirking gently at the small child before turning to leave. The feral mutant and human child watched the duo go in silence while Emily started towards the doorway. However, Logan's left hand gently engulfed Emily's upper arm, as the massive feral stopped the girl, saying "Hey, wait darlin."

Emily turned to him with a curious expression; Logan grinning gently at her. His free hand brushed away the raven strands from her face and behind her ear, as his graveled voice asked softly "Ya okay?"

The little girl cracked a smile at the muscled feral kneeling beside her and nodded. Logan's broad shoulders relaxed and he gently pulled the little girl in for a hug. Emily accepted the embrace and, though cautiously, wrapped her arms around the feral's thick neck in return. Logan's huge forearms pulled her in closer as the feral gently laid his head next to Emily's raven hair. Then, just as Logan had unwrapped his arms off the little girl….the feral felt a faint brush of lips peck him delicately on the cheek. Emily then pulled in close to his ear, whispering "Thank you, daddy."

Before Logan could respond, Emily parted from him and ran out of the room. The feral rested on his haunches, watching his daughter go….with a loving smile engraved onto on his face.

xxx xxxx xxx

"Ya kidding!" Emily stated disbelieved, looking up from her textbook. Emma laughed lightly from her spot across from her, answering "No, Emily, I'm not…"

The little girl crinkled up her nose at the blonde telepath, eyeing her slightly suspicious. Emma couldn't help but smile at the small child's expression, explaining "Some time, long ago, many believed that feral mutants, Lupines particularly, evolved from wolves and not from humans."

"That's silly." Emily commented in matter of fact tone, looking away and flipping a page in her textbook. Emma's smile delved into a smirk, as she teased with a wink "It could help to explain why Logan doesn't 'leave you alone'."

Emily grinned at the comment, while continuing to finish up her last reading assignment for the day. She had only a few minutes before Thursday lessons came to a close and had decided to ask a question about mutations; feral mutations specifically. The answer she got from Emma was not what she had expected. Emily shook her head; we'll the grownups theory, if proved right someday, could explain a lot. The little girl leaned back in her chair, messing with her pencil, smarting to Emma "So I have a part wolf like mutant for a dad who has heightened senses that can go for miles, claws that can cut through metal like butter, with agility and strength that would put any athlete to shame…"

Emily got an annoyed frown on her face, which Emma began to smile again, when the little girl grunted smartly "And is so 'territorial' and protective of me….that I can't play outside alone without him stalking me in the woods!"

Emma's laughter picked up in volume as it filled the spaces of the once quiet walls of the Xavier Library. She countered "Logan can't help it, Emily! It's in his very nature to act that way."

Emily frowned deeper in annoyance, leaning back up in her chair to finish her studies. She cocked an eyebrow at Emma who smiled wider at her irritation. The White Queen shook her head, explaining "Think of it as a very deep rooted instinct of his mutation….a way for a feral to say…."

Emma's expression became quiet gentle, not normal of the telepath to do so, when she stated softly "He loves you."

Emily's eyes stopped reading mid-word. Her head jerked up to stare alarmed at the White Queen; delicate skin turning a shade paler. Emily's thoughts froze on those last words; replaying them in her mind in a vicious loop. Emma frowned and looked at the child in concern, until a powerful dose of memories hit her telepathic abilities full force, causing her to place a hand on her forehead out of habit. As soon as her fingers brushed along the tips of her skin….Emma began to see flashes of Emily's most locked away secret…..

A tall standing man with an oddly shaped helmet on his head, which reminded the toddler of a crown, seemed to tower over the nice lady called 'Sister Rachel'. He was quite intimidating, his dark green eyes gazing at the human adult in contempt. Helmet man firmly took a step in front of Emily's mother, interceding for the blue skinned woman who stared at the floor, stating coldly "Blink already set the child in the other room."

Helmet man looked up, catching Emily peeking curiously with soft blue eyes around the corner of the doorway. He sneered in slight disgust at the three year old little girl, but managed a curious nod to the thin lipped nun, stating "I expect you will need to tend to her very soon."

FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!

"Mommy, wer' we goin?" Emily asked innocently to her mother; toddling up with a finger halfway in her mouth. Her infant like stature gaze Raven pause; a sad grin falling on her face. However, the woman Emily had remembered from long ago disappeared and the new woman….Mystique she called herself….began to stare emotionlessly at the small toddler. She took a step away from the little girl, turning while saying coldly "You're not coming with me, Emily."

FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!

"No! Wait!" Emily begged in a shout, racing out towards her mother's receding from. She had barely escaped out of the gentle but firm grip of Sister Rachel; racing as fast as her tiny legs could carry her towards the opened doorway. Emily fled out the massive entryway and her hair immediately was drenched through in the pouring rain, as Sister Rachel came on her heels. The little girl's voice rose above the roaring thunder, as she screamed "Mommy!"

Raven ignored her cries, never looking back or acknowledging the three year olds existence. She stared straight ahead, walking towards the opened back vehicle door with umbrella in hand, the sleek and black luxury car casting a ghostly vision along the sheets of rain. Helmet man held open the door in one hand, with an umbrella in the other, a revolted expression on his face when seeing the crying toddler. Emily did not see his hate filled eyes, nor his encouraging flicker of a look to Raven who faltered again when hearing the toddler plead in a sob "Mommy, pease don't leave!"

Raven glanced back at Sister Rachel, a seething gaze boring into the nun, demanding her silently to do something. The kind aging woman stared right back, her look saying it all. I am helping the best way I can…but you are the one who made this choice…so you are the one who must face its consequences. Emily reached out for Raven, with Sister Rachel gently grabbing a hold of her. The tiny three year old watched in growing horror and panic that 'mommy' was leaving without her and with the intention of never coming back. Emily breathed heavily, struggling only once against the kind aging woman, before finally shouting boldly "I love you, mommy!"

Emma jerked in her chair as the memories abruptly ending; apparently the final scene of that tragic memory to upsetting for the ten year old to even think about. The blonde telepath blinked back the tears that threatened to form her eyes and give away to what she had seen on accident. Emily still sat in a daze, her features still pale and lips set in a thin line. When Emma cleared her throat to right away the catch in it that threatened to give away her snooping, it was enough to shake the little girl out of her trance. Emily quickly turned her head down and focused entirely on her textbook in front of her; intently reading each line in the paragraphs. Emma by then had regained her composure, a soft and concerned expression enveloping her usually sarcastic smirk of the lip. She asked quietly "Emily?"

"Uh, yeah, yeah…" Emily responded quickly with jerky nods, turning the last page in her textbook. She glanced up to Emma, forcing herself to ignore the silent invitation to talk, and stared back down at her line of text. Emily nodded more slowly, replying softly "I get it."

Brownie points for whoever can figure out whom 'Helmet man' is. Lol, I know "Flash!" has come to be sort of a clique….but I thought it helped capture the rapid motion of memories that Emma received at once.

Also, for anyone who is interested, on my page I have a section called "Updates" now that shows what I am currently doing in ways of Fanfiction…such as my new pen-name or any new stories I am planning on posting sometime in the future. If any of you like or dislike my new pen-name, simply send me a PM message or you can comment on it in the reviews. I read both and also, if I don't respond to PM's right away, I apologize…internet has been acting funky for past week. Couldn't even get online some days. : (

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and have an awesome day! XD