You’re shitting in the man’s house, Logan.
Max watched as the redhead trailed behind the body of the guy with the strange headgear as it floated up a silver ramp up into the belly of a strange looking aircraft above them. The woman who introduced herself Ororo then walked down the ramp with a pair of grey sweats in her hand, quietly passing them down to Logan before disappearing back into the depths of the odd airplane.
Logan looked over at Max and said, “Maybe I’m being paranoid, but..”
“No, it makes sense. I’ll check you over, then you can change and we can climb up into this flying machine.”
He nodded and handed her the sweats. She had never been flying before. She wondered if she’d like it.
Logan looked back at her, frowning. “This your first time on a plane?”
Max let out a nervous laugh and said, “Yeah. That easy to read, is it?”
“There’s nothin’ to it.” he explained as he pulled his shirt off and tossed it away from him onto the grass.
Max let out a laugh and said, “Last time you were on one it didn’t go so well, if I remember correctly.”
“Now don’t go usin’ that as an excuse.” he chided.
Logan quickly stripped down as Max handed him the sweats, then shifted into dire form. After a cursory check that revealed nothing remotely electric, she shifted into wolf form and chuffed. Logan grinned, then pulled the pants on. Max cocked her head and let out a wistful whine as he covered up and he laughed.
“Later,” he growled as he pulled the grey sweatshirt over his head.
They then made their way up the ramp and into the back of the cabin. Several odd looking chairs sat in a slanted line aiming to the center console, which was covered in metallic buttons, computer readouts and dials. Two odd looking steering wheels stuck out of what Max could only assume was a dashboard of sorts.
Ororo swiveled in the pilot’s seat to look back at them and said, “We do not have a place in which we can safely strap her.”
Max peered up at Logan and he said, “You got a set of these for her as well?”
Jean tapped his shoulder and he flinched, unsettled that she’d been able to sneak up on him. She quietly handed him a set of sweats and Max shifted and pulled them on, plucking at them. They were somewhat comfortable, but not really physically appealing.
Logan chuckled at her and she moved to swat him. He deftly evaded and murmured, “C’mon. Let’s get you strapped in.”
When they turned back to the seats, Max couldn’t help noticing that Jean was staring at them with a strange expression. The woman’s gaze kept moving from Logan to her, as if there was something about them that she didn’t quite get.
Then Max recognized it. The scent of jittery pheromones tickled her nose and she looked over at Logan, who now looked surprised as well. The woman was attracted to him – or at least her body was. Logan could probably smell it on her as well, Max thought. She chuckled and gave him a halfhearted elbow in the ribs before moving to strap herself firmly into one of the seats.
Logan looked back at her with a confused expression, then he looked alarmed.
Max laughed and shook her head, smiling. He cocked his head and walked over to her, peering at her strangely before moving to strap himself in as well.
Once in the air, the feeling of flying was entirely too disorienting. Max hated it. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to shrink back in her seat in an attempt to stop the nausea that was threatening, but she was losing the battle. Only when she felt a hand brush her knee did she open her eyes. The seats themselves didn’t allow for much movement, but Logan had reached back to touch her. To reassure her.
He could probably smell her fear. It was an acrid tang that made her own nose twitch a little.
She moved to grab his hand with an iron grip and he squeezed back. They’d stayed like that for the duration of the flight.
Once on the ground, Max let out a breath that sounded more like a whimper. Logan was immediately at her side, helping her out of the chair and picking her up.
“Is she going to be alright?” Max heard Ororo’s voice behind them as Logan hefted her into his arms and started walking to the back of the plane.
“Yep. First plane ride.”
Max leaned her head against his shoulder, shaking slightly. She knew she would feel a whole lot better once they were back on solid ground. She felt the thrum of his chest as he chuckled and breathed, “Okay, no more planes. I got it.”
He walked down the ramp and stepped out into a respectably sized hangar. Shop tools and parts adorned one entire wall. It was meticulously kept.
Logan spotted a doorway off to the left and asked, “What’s the quickest way to the outside?”
Ororo looked up and Logan followed her lead, startled to see that they had landed in a hangar that seemed to be subterranean. What civilian could afford such a thing? Who the hell were these kids, and who was funding them? Since they didn’t seem to be in imminent danger, he waved the questions away, wanting to get Max outside.
“There a ladder somewhere?”
Ororo shook her head.
“I can fly you up.” she suggested, and Logan took a quick step back.
“No thanks. There another way?”
She nodded and replied, “Follow me.”
Max pressed her nose into the grass, feeling Logan’s hand on her back.
“Never getting on one of those things again.” she muttered.
Logan lay beside her, grinning. “Better?”
Actually, yeah. She was feeling much better now. How was it that he had known the exact thing that she would need to bring her back from the edge of hysteria? She turned to look at him, then gasped at the size of the mansion behind him. They were lying about twenty feet away from it in a patch of thick, cool grass. At least she wasn’t wincing from the overwhelming scents of hydraulics and engine oil anymore. This place smelled clean and good.
She rolled to her side, catching his hand with hers.
“How do you do that?”
His brow furrowed slightly as he asked, “Do what?”
She pulled his hand to rest it over her heart, her tone soft as she said, “How did you know just what to do?”
He smiled and pulled her closer.
“Told you. I got my own wolf of sorts.”
Max laughed, feeling the rest of the remaining tension drain from her body.
She watched Logan retreat into his thoughts, then looked up into the night sky. The air was clean here, which surprised her. She sat up and briefly surveyed her surroundings. The mansion was enormous, and only a couple internal lights were on. Max briefly wondered what time it was. The grounds of this place were very well kept and she could see a large pool off to the right that hadn’t yet been covered up for the coming fall. There was a slight chill in the air and the thought of being naked around strangers again made her discount the pool as an immediate option.
She looked over to find Logan watching her with a thoughtful expression. She grinned at him and lay back beside him as he wrapped an arm around her waist.
“I’m sorry you had to leave your stuff behind.” she murmured.
“It can be replaced.” he replied, resting his forehead against her shoulder.
He then laughed softly. “Hell of a ride, eh?”
Max laughed, resting her cheek on his head.
“Hell of a ride. I have to admit that although I don’t like getting shot all that much, it’s been worth it so far. Choosing to come with you.”
He moved to look up at her and she traced the line of his jaw with a finger. She moved in to kiss him, but was interrupted by the sound of somebody politely clearing their throat.
“The Professor would like to meet you, when you’re ready.”
The woman had the ghost of a smile tugging at the edges of her lips as she spoke.
Max gently patted Logan on his shoulder. “You should go. Figure your head out.”
“Actually, he wishes to meet with both of you.”
Max frowned, wondering what the man could possibly have to say to her.
Logan was surprised at how relieved he was that Max was okay. She’d been too tightly wound at the end of the flight, and he had done the only thing he could think of that would put her back on an even keel. He was glad that it had worked. It had scared him a little and he hadn’t been quite sure what to do about it. It had been a long time since anything had come close to putting any sort of fear in him, but the thought of her hurting surely did it. It was a sign of something he was fairly positive he didn’t want to think about.
Now that she was alright, his thoughts began to wander back to the reason they’d come here.
This Professor guy, whoever he was – could the man really help him make sense out of the trainwreck of disjointed memories in his head? And if so, how far was he himself willing to go to chase down the past? Logan wondered if there would be revelations that would steady him, or simply pull him further apart. It wasn’t a reassuring feeling.
Logan looked over at Ororo, then stood up, turning to help Max get her to her feet and placing his arm around her waist as they made their way back to the mansion.
Logan walked beside the wolf girl, not quite certain where his strong sense of possessiveness about her was coming from. Before, skirts had always been a pleasant distraction; something to break up the last year into less painful chunks. He could sense her confusion with it as well, which made him wonder what was really going on. Even stranger was the fact that the mocha skinned woman with the white hair wasn’t even hitting his radar. She was utterly gorgeous, by any standards, and..nothing.
No reaction. It wasn’t like him.
Logan watched her ass sway gently as she walked ahead of them, waiting for it to hit; baffled that it completely wasn’t.
He frowned and looked over at Max who was looking around at all the dark woodwork in the foyer as they entered the mansion. He stopped for a moment and she looked over at him with a curious expression – and it hit him like a sledgehammer right between the eyes.
Immediate. He shivered.
Oh shit, he thought to himself, instinctively knowing what this was now, but not at all sure how to deal with it.
Max saw discomfort flicker through Logan’s expression and she gently pulled away from him. He looked back at her and blinked as she moved to take his hand, threading her fingers through his and gently pulling him along with a smile. There was no urgency to it, no desperation – and that made the knot that had suddenly formed in his gut loosen a little. They kept pace with each other as Ororo led them through an enormous living room with a large stone fireplace on the far wall. They followed her over to a corridor rich with the same dark wood Max had seen in the foyer. She had never been in such lush surroundings before.
The house itself was a study in dark wood and classical furnishings. Max saw a doorway up ahead and as they passed it, she spotted two kids eating ice cream together in an enormous, well appointed kitchen. The pair looked back at her with cautious eyes. One of them was covered in a strange, slick substance that made him look as if he was dripping wet, but the liquid didn’t seem to be dripping or pooling on the counter around his elbows, or the floor by his feet. The other looked like a normal boy with platinum blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
As Max looked at him, something in his eyes flashed and she blinked.
Max stopped in her tracks, suddenly transfixed by the boy. Fascinated. She took a step into the kitchen. What was it about him? There was something captivating about the way he looked, the way he moved. Everything in her wanted to simply be near him as she took another step forward.
Logan caught her arm as Ororo popped her head in and chided, “John – what did we say about egregious use of your abilities?”
The boy immediately flushed, looking abashed. Suddenly he didn’t look so appealing anymore, and Max shook her head to clear it.
“What was that all about?” Logan asked as they walked back out into the hallway.
Ororo explained, “This is a school where our kind can learn to live without fear of reprisals from those who would injure them out of fear of what they are.”
Max wondered where she hailed from. Max found Logan’s hand back around her waist now as the woman continued, “Each of them has special abilities that we do our best to nurture. John has the ability to fascinate people – to the point of utter distraction from everything else.”
Max asked, “Is it something he can turn on and off?”
The woman nodded and smiled. “It is now. John has been with us for a year now. He has come a very long way. When he first arrived, we had to keep him isolated in order to actually get anything done.”
Max was immensely curious.
“How many others like you are there?”
As they turned another corner and Ororo replied, “It is difficult to tell. We are only just now learning of the vast numbers of mutants out there.”
Ororo walked them up to a set of very heavy looking double doors, taking a step forward to gently slide them apart, revealing a conservatively dressed bald man sitting behind a dark wood desk in an elaborate library and sitting room.
The man smiled gently and said, “I am Professor Charles Xavier. My apologies for the initial disturbance and distress you endured. Please rest assured that it was not intended.”
Max and Logan stepped inside the room and Ororo took a step back, closing the doors behind them.
They looked at each other briefly before the Professor quietly said, “I am sure that you have many questions and I will be more than happy to answer them all.”
“How’d you find me?” Logan asked, his expression stony. “And how’d you know my name?”
Xavier leaned back and explained, “Like Miss Grey, whom you met earlier, I am a telepath. We were able to track you with the help of a prototype device that locates mutants such as yourself so that we can track them down and help them. To offer them a place to learn about their gifts and adapt to them without fear of derision or violence.”
Logan set his jaw, his voice low as he snapped, “So, you just figured you’d dig around in my head, eh?”
Max could smell the anger on him. It radiated around him in jittering waves. Her own response was laced with fear. The idea of her thoughts no longer being her own frightened her in a way that she was not at all comfortable with. She took a step away from the desk and frowned as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“I am very much aware that this idea discomfits you both greatly. Please, allow me to put you at ease – it is not my wish to intrude in minds in which I’m unwelcome.” he began, but Logan immediately cut him off.
“And I’m just supposed to believe you? ’cause you say so? ‘fraid it don’t work like that, Chuck.” He grated, taking a step forward.
Xavier let out a deep sigh, placing his hands on the desk before him.
“There are only so many assurances that anyone such as myself can offer to reassure others; to assuage their fears. You will have to trust me – much in the same way that I will have to trust that you will not harm anybody on the school grounds. Trust has to begin somewhere, Logan.”
Logan paused for a moment, his brow furrowing. The man had a very good point. If he had seen even a fraction of the stuff in Logan’s head, he would have to be near insane to choose to bring him to a place like this. Besides, if he were to hold good to his deal about helping Logan recall the past, he’d have to let the man in sometime. It was going to take a little while to adjust to the idea though.
Didn’t mean he had to like it.
Max moved to sit in one of the chairs in front of the desk, curling her legs beneath her. Xavier’s attention shifted to her and Logan looked back and forth between the two of them.
“Max, is it?” he asked, and she nodded.
He smiled and said, “Although this is a school exclusively for the tutoring of mutants, I would like to extend the opportunity to you to stay, if you wish. You are the first of your kind that I have run across and I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about you, if you are willing.”
“I would like time to think about it before giving you an answer.” she replied quietly.
Xavier nodded, his tone soft, “I understand. Of course.”
He looked back over at Logan and said, “When you are ready to trust me, I will do what I can to help you piece your memory together, Logan. Until then, you’re both welcome to stay and familiarize yourself with the school. A room has been prepared for you.”
Logan couldn’t figure out if the man was stupid or crazy. One of his kids had just gotten shot while trying to bring the two of them back here and he still wanted them to stay? With children in the house? It didn’t seem the wisest of moves.
“You really wanna bring this down on yourself? On the kids I saw in the kitchen? You sure you want the kinda trouble that follows me?”
Xavier’s expression darkened as he replied, “We are well defended, Logan. Otherwise I would not have extended the offer.”
“What – by those teenagers you sent after me? Aren’t they a little green for this kinda work?”
Max shifted in the chair. Logan could tell that she wasn’t comfortable with this confrontation.
Xavier’s expression closed down, his tone even as he replied, “Perhaps you should leave the evaluation of my people to someone who actually knows them. It’s late. We’ll discuss this further in the morning.”
“What? Who the fuck..” Logan began and Max quickly stood up, touching his shoulder.
“You’re shitting in the man’s house, Logan,” she murmured softly.
Logan, looked back at her as if really seeing her for the first time since they’d walked in. He took a deep breath, then let it out, his eyes locked on hers as she continued, “He’s right. It’s late. Too late after everything that’s happened tonight to be rational. Sleep can only help at this point.”
He felt the anger slowly recede as he looked back at her. Why did she have this affect on him? He was beginning to think that she could pluck him out of a red rage if she put her mind to it. He cast a quick glance back at the man behind the desk, letting him know with a look that this challenge wasn’t over.
Xavier nodded to him, acknowledging it before Logan turned to leave.
Max moved to follow and Xavier quietly said, “Max – if there is anything that either of you needs, please let me know.”
She looked back and tried to give him a reassuring smile, but it felt tight and forced.
“Thank you, Professor.”
Logan was out the door and down the hall before she could catch up with him. Frustration poured off him in waves as he walked down the corridor.
At least he’s not pissed enough to hit something now, she thought to herself as she called out, “Logan.”
He whirled to face her, his expression tight. Something flickered behind his eyes as she heard Ororo’s voice behind her.
“The Professor wishes for me to show you to your rooms.” she explained, and Max frowned.
“Rooms? As in plural?” Max asked, thinking it very unwise to leave Logan alone in this strange house. Especially with his tendency for the vicious nightmares she had seen him endure. She also wasn’t entirely comfortable about having to spend the night alone in this place.
“Yeah – that ain’t gonna work.” Logan growled, irritated.
Max turned to her and said, “I agree. That’s not really a good idea.”
Ororo’s brow furrowed briefly as she explained, “This is essentially a dormitory with separate wings for both males and females. We have children that..”
“One room. Period. Or I’m fuckin’ outta here.”
Logan was beginning to get angry again and Max understood why. Strong Alphas always responded badly to direct challenges.
“Ororo – in this instance, I believe we can bend the rules.”
Xavier was coming up behind her. In a wheelchair. Why hadn’t she noticed that he was in a wheelchair back in his office? The thought quickly left her head and Max blinked.
Ororo paused, her expression becoming briefly unreadable before she gave a graceful nod and said, “Yes, Professor.”
“One of the rooms at the far end of the east wing should suffice for now,” he said as he turned to make his way back down the corridor.
Ororo walked past them and they turned to follow as she led them towards a large staircase in the foyer.
Max’s heart leapt as she felt Logan take her hand, his fingers twining with hers. It was like being a teenager again, crushing on her first pup. She relaxed as he gave her hand a squeeze.
“Thanks.” he grumbled as she smiled.
“For what?” she whispered.
“For not letting me get outta control back there. This is a different place, with different rules. I’m not used to them.” he explained, keeping his voice low.
Max laughed softly. “The only reason I am is because I forced it on myself for so many years. Pink and Pack interaction is in the same in some cases, but things get a lot more aggressive with us, more quickly than with them.”
“I don’t like this, Max. If they track me here, things’ll get real ugly, real quick.” he murmured, tightening his grip on her hand.
They followed their guide up the stairs as Max replied, “That woman Jean handled herself just fine, even though her mate had just gotten clipped. Whatever she did to stop those guys, she kept her head until everybody was no longer a threat. Only three of us got shot – and the bullets only found you once this time.”
“I don’t want other people getting hurt ’cause ‘a me.” His voice lowered to a whisper as he added, “I don’t want you gettin’ hurt.”
Max smiled and squeezed his hand, gently bumping his shoulder with hers.
“I know – but I’m a lot stronger and more durable than I look, remember?”
Logan stopped and looked over at her, his expression pinched.
She rolled her eyes and snapped, “Don’t you go pissin’ all over me now. I can easily fight by your side, Logan, and you know it.”
He let out a choked laugh and Ororo turned to look back at them, her eyebrow raised in silent query.
“We’re coming..” Max called out, pulling Logan along behind her.
MARVEL owns the copyright on their own characters, but I’ve fussed with and taken liberties with canon, and Max is my own creation.
Chapter 1 :: Chapter 2 :: Chapter 3 :: Chapter 4 :: Chapter 5 :: Chapter 6 :: Chapter 7 :: Chapter 8 :: Chapter 9 :: Chapter 10 :: Chapter 11 :: Chapter 12 :: Chapter 13 :: Chapter 14 :: Chapter 15 :: Chapter 16 :: Chapter 17 :: Chapter 18 :: Chapter 19 :: Chapter 20 :: Chapter 21 :: Chapter 22 :: Chapter 23 :: Chapter 24 :: Chapter 25