I’d also have a large supply of raw meat ready for him for afterwards…
“She did what?!?” Jean gaped in disgust.
“Was the only way to get it out.” Logan grunted, irritated.
Max looked over at Professor Xavier who was now watching the interaction between Jean and Logan with a great deal of interest. The redhead seemed particularly temperamental. She was very beautiful and her anger only enhanced her appearance, which irritated Max. In her opinion, angry people should look unpleasant if not downright ugly – not more appealing.
The professor explained, “Be that as it may, Logan, the problem still remains. The only logical explanation for those men being able to locate you so quickly is that there must still be another tracking device somewhere on your person.”
Max frowned. If that was the case, why hadn’t she tasted it on him? Surely it would have given off some sort of electrical resonance through his body like the first one had. Wouldn’t it? Jean was still reeling from the shock at the revelation that Max had cut him open to extract the first one. Wasn’t she a doctor of sorts? Henry had mentioned something about it during their conversation earlier. Surely the woman couldn’t be that squeamish.
Granted, Max had to admit that it had been pretty nerve racking at the time, and she had passed out shortly afterward. Max winced as Logan looked over at her, looking beleaguered.
“Look,” she said, trying to make herself heard over the arguing that had now broken out between Jean and Logan. “Doctor McCoy mentioned something about being a scientist. Isn’t this something he can figure out?”
What were they, children? They were snapping at each other like siblings.
Professor Xavier seemed to see her for the first time, his expression relaxing. “You are indeed correct, Max. I’m somewhat concerned that I didn’t think of that sooner.”
Ororo was making her way from the kitchen when Hank walked in. The two of them looked at each other for a moment, then walked past each other. Max wasn’t sure if anybody else in the room had noticed their secretive smiles to each other.
What an intriguing pairing, Max thought to herself, looking back over at Logan and seeing an exasperated look on his face. The redhead was really getting to him.
Max felt her lips curl into a small smile as Henry said, “Unfortunately, I’m afraid that none of our equipment is quite diminutive enough to transport easily up from the lab. We’ll need to transport him down there in order to conduct a thorough physiological inquiry.”
Max watched Logan look over at Doctor McCoy and her smile grew bigger as she watched him set his jaw. She shook her head gently as he turned back to face her, frowning.
“I don’t care where it is. I’m not cutting it out of you this time. You’re on your own with that, darlin’.”
His bland expression almost made her laugh out loud. ”I’ll go with you, though.”
“Henry, report back to me with the findings as soon as they’re available.” The professor turned to the redhead and said, “And I believe that you currently have a patient to tend to, Jean. I’m sure Doctor McCoy will notify you when he needs you.”
The woman gave Logan an acidic look before turning and walking out of the room with a haughty stride.
“What’s her problem?” Logan grumbled.
Max walked over to him and explained, “She’s attracted to you, and she doesn’t like it. Girls get stupid when it comes to stuff like that.”
The three men in the room went silent. Doctor McCoy recovered first, clearing his throat.
“The lab is this way. If you’ll please follow me.” He walked out into the foyer.
As Henry walked past her, Logan let out a laugh. “And you say I need to adapt better socially?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Max asked, frowning as they moved to follow the blue furred doctor.
“I may not know much about this sorta thing, pup, but I do know that you don’t usually go blurting stuff like that out in a group of people.” he explained, chuckling now.
Max blinked and looked over at him, confused. “Really? Why not?”
“I believe the common notion is that it is considered conversationally rude.” Henry explained as he slowed down. “On the whole, most people aren’t entirely comfortable with anything that direct.”
“That’s stupid.” Max said airily. “How does anybody effectively communicate if they’re not straightforward?”
Logan turned to look at her now, asking, “Max – how long you been livin’ among the ‘pinks’, as you call ‘em?”
“About six years now. Why?”
It was his turn to look baffled.
“All that time among ‘em and you didn’t pick up on this?”
Max pursed her lips for a moment, thinking back. Suddenly, a whole lot of the weirdness that she had been on the receiving end of from the people around her throughout the years made total sense. She had just figured that it was the way the pinks were with one another. No wonder everybody always seemed a little off.
“Holy shit.” she breathed, and Logan let out a howl of laughter like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
Max narrowed her eyes at him, irritated. “What?”
“All that, and you’re lecturing me on ‘social graces’ in the kitchen?” He smirked.
Max rolled her eyes and elbowed him.
“Sorry I was shitty earlier.” He murmured, sobering.
Doctor McCoy walked up to a wall of paneling in the foyer that opened up to reveal an elegant elevator car.
Max blinked, then looked over at him and said, “Yeah, me too.”
“You were right. It bugged me.”
Max smiled. “I’ll try to cut down on that in the future.”
Logan gave her a low growl as they walked inside.
Logan stared back at doctor McCoy, dumbfounded.
“How many again?” he asked, stunned.
“Well, it appears that there are an elaborate series of backups that snake through each device. They seem to be fused to your spinal cord in several key places. My best guess is that this was a failsafe of sorts in case you happened to damage any of them.”
Jean nodded, trailing a finger along the illuminated X-Ray, tapping along several spots on the spine. “C1, T1 and L5, to be exact. Max, can you show me where you..” she shivered for a moment before recovering her clinical professional tone. “..extracted the first one?”
Max turned to Logan who still seemed to be in shock. She gently touched his shoulder, then ran her fingers along his skin until she found the right place.
“There.” She felt Logan shiver and she moved to grip his hand. Good god, what else had been done to him?
Jean frowned for a moment, then looked up at Henry and said, “That’s L1 taken care of then. We’ll have to operate quickly. We need to get them out of him and get the transmitters far away from here.”
Henry nodded, his expression stern. “Agreed. Would you like me to assist?”
Jean took a breath and nodded again. Max noticed that she looked a little shaken.
Max moved to stand in front of Logan, who was now sitting on an operating table in the medical bay, his legs dangling over the side. She captured his gaze which had grown empty and distant. He was deep in his head somewhere. Max got the strong feeling that wherever his thoughts had gone, they weren’t at all pleasant. She placed a hand on his knee and he flinched, blinking and looking back at her.
“They’re wanting to operate as soon as they can. I’ll stay with you the entire time, okay? I’m not leaving your side.” she murmured. “Do you want to be awake for it?” she asked, knowing that he would appreciate the respect intended in the question.
Jean gasped, blurting out, “Are you kidding? Of course we have to knock him out. Otherwise, he’ll feel everything. If he moves during the operation, it could cripple him.” She shuddered.
Logan’s eyes locked with Max’s.
Nobody was knocking him out again anytime soon. It was highly unlikely they could afford the amount of tranquilizers it would take to put him down and keep him down in the first place, anyway. The pain would be excruciating and the severity of it might just do the job for them anyway, but he didn’t want any sedatives.
Max quickly explained, “He’s like me. Sedatives and painkillers don’t really work on us all that well.”
“But..” Jean began and Max frowned, her voice a low warning.
Henry let out a slow breath, then said, “I believe that it is in our best interest to provide the man what he has requested in this particular instance, Jean.”
He turned and stepped out of the room to wash up in the scrub sinks out in the hallway.
Jean moved to follow and Max added, “I’d also have a large supply of raw meat ready for him for afterward.”
The woman looked back at her and frowned, asking, “In god’s name, why?”
“Just trust me on this.” she replied, turning to look back at Logan.
Jean shook her head as she left the room and Max murmured, “You sure about this, studly?”
He blinked, then gave her a slight smile. “Studly?”
Max shrugged and grinned, giving his hand a gentle shake. Logan sobered and rested his head on her shoulder.
“I can’t go under. The claws could pop. Reflex.”
She wrapped her arms around him, nuzzling his cheek.
“Too much bad shit in my head chasin’ me down when I’m out.” he whispered as she kissed his shoulder.
Max nodded and he pulled her close.
“You sure you wanna stay? You didn’t react too good the last time.” Logan let out a chuckle.
She wasn’t at all comfortable with the idea of watching him endure the amount of pain he was going to put himself through for this, but she couldn’t let him go through it alone, either. If he could endure it, the least she could do would be to witness it. To be there for him.
A cold tightness coiled in his gut. He knew how much pain was coming, and he couldn’t avoid it with any degree of comfort. He wouldn’t be able to let himself retreat into berzerker mode in order to bleed the pain away. If he lost it..
He didn’t want to think about the aftermath of that particular scenario.
Max looked back at him and replied, “Positive.”
Logan nodded grimly, taking a deep, slow breath, trying to prepare himself the best way he could. Henry and Jean walked back in, now in full sterile operation gear.
“You’ll want to clean up as well, Max. We don’t want to take any chances with infection.” Jean explained.
Logan laughed at that and turned to face them.
“Are you kiddin’? You’ll be lucky if you can keep me open long enough to pull the fucking things out. Trust me – infection ain’t an issue.”
Jean blinked behind her plastic visor and blanched.
“Please tell me you’re joking.” She whispered.
Logan shrugged and she took a step back.
Jean cleared her throat, finding her professional voice.
“There’s going to be a substantial amount of blood loss. We’ll need to type him first.”
Henry nodded and began collecting the equipment before Logan muttered, “O, but yer not gonna need any blood.”
Jean frowned and asked, “Any other medical history that we should be aware of?”
Logan grunted and shook his head. Max watched his jaw set as he moved to lay face down on the operating table. His fingers gripped the edges of the table, his breath coming slow and deep now.
“Let’s go for L5 first.” Jean pulled a metal tray over to the table and Henry gently placed an array of surgical tools down on a thin sheet of paper covering the tray beside the table.
Jean swabbed Logan’s lower back with a slick yellow substance, then paused for a moment, looking up to see her patient white knuckling the edges of the table.
“Shit.” She quietly murmured before leaning down and making the first cut.
After the final extraction, Logan convulsed on the table. Max had been able to talk him down from going utterly feral several times, but if he didn’t eat soon, he was likely going to snap. The intense pain and his reaction to it had hit a level that scared him. He could hear a snarling, growling sound echoing throughout the room. It almost sounded like an enormous rabid dog. It took a moment to realize that the sound was coming from his own throat.
He could hear something else through the growling, something soft. A puff of breath by his ear.
Suddenly, the smell of blood was overpowering. Stale blood, but it’d do. Any port in a storm, as it were.
Jean’s eyes widened at the sight of Logan wolfing down large chunks of raw, bloody red meat with a ravenous gusto. She looked more than a little unnerved. The operation, while initially proving to be an exercise in frustration, had also been a success – they’d gotten the remaining tracers out.
Max kept a close eye on Logan, making sure he stayed focused on eating. With the utter rage he’d been swimming in earlier, she wanted to make sure he didn’t get drawn further into it. If his feral side took over now, they would have to get the hell away from him as quickly as possible and just let the rage burn its way out. He would likely destroy a great deal of the lab, not to mention the mansion, in the process. He’d also likely butcher anything in his path. Everything would become prey.
Max had seen an Alpha male in a fine red rage before, and the only thing you could do was just get out of their way until it passed. There was no way to make them see reason – they were completely beyond it. It was rare, but it happened.
Thank god the meat was holding his attention. It was definitely helping.
“How do you…?” Jean’s voice trailed off and she shuddered.
Max cocked her head back at the woman and asked, “How do I what?”
“Stay with him?” She murmured quietly.
Max smiled, showing teeth. “I’m a great deal more like him than I am like you. The things that bug you about him seem normal to me. Reassuring.”
Jean frowned, then nodded when she remembered the nature of the creature she was talking to. Her tone was soft as she replied, “Yes. I imagine they would.”
She paused for a moment, then asked, “You aren’t the least bit affected by the way the surgery went, are you?”
Max smiled and shook her head gently. “I didn’t have to cut him open this time. Makes a sizable difference.”
Jean paled, then closed her eyes for a moment. Max felt for her. The woman might be a doctor, but Logan was a rather unusual – if not downright distressing patient. Max had been surprised at how efficiently Jean had conducted herself, only letting her discomfort show now that it was over.
Max was fascinated with how quickly Logan’s body had repaired itself once the tracers had been taken out of the various points along his spine. As he ate, the shininess of the new skin growing over the wounds quickly faded. After a few moments, there was no indication that physical trauma of any kind had taken place.
Thirty pounds of meat later, Logan felt a good deal better. He’d still have to sleep for awhile to let his body recuperate, but now the worst of it was over. He looked over at Max, exhausted.
“Are you okay to walk?” she murmured, gently wrapping her fingers around his wrist.
“Think so.” He muttered, trying to haul himself up and failing.
His eyes narrowed and he let out a growl of frustration. He hated getting this weak, much less being around other people when he was in this state.
The body fatigue was hitting him much harder this time – probably due to the fact that he hadn’t had the strong dose of adrenaline pumping through his veins that usually kept him upright and relatively pain free during a fight.
Max hefted him up, cradling him in her arms. It was a weird feeling, but there wasn’t much he could do about it, so he went with it.
Henry raised an eyebrow, his tone hushed as he said, “He easily outweighs you by at least sixty pounds.”
Max smiled and said, “Actually, he feels a lot heavier, but then I’m a lot stronger than I look.”
Carrying Logan presented a light strain on her muscles, which let her know that he weighed a considerable amount – very likely at least double what Henry had pegged him at.
She turned to the door and said, “I’ll get him upstairs. He’ll need to sleep for awhile after this.”
Logan’s head fell back on her shoulder and she gently kissed the top of his head.
“Bed soon.” she murmured. She saw the ghost of a smile at the edges of his lips.
They made quite the sight as Max walked through the mansion carrying him. Ororo’s eyes widened when she passed them in the hallway – her only emotional indicator that Max had done something that had actually surprised her. The woman was surprisingly contained; almost stiff at times. Max wondered if she ever really let go and let it all hang out.
Once back in the bedroom, Max gently placed Logan on the bed, sliding the covers over him before sitting beside him and gently running her fingers through his hair. He let out a shaky sigh, then dropped off to sleep. The last time one of her brothers had been injured almost as badly, it had taken at least twenty four hours to recover from it. Max figured it a safe bet that Logan would be out for the next day.
While she wasn’t quite tired yet, she was still awfully curious about this place and the people here. She wanted to do a little more poking around. She leaned forward and kissed his temple, then let quietly let herself out.
Jean and Hank were in the kitchen, and Max was able to pick up what they were saying before she made it down the stairs.
“Do you think he knows?” Jean asked.
There was a pause, then someone sighed. Henry answered, “I would imagine not. The Professor was saying that he is incapable of retrieving past information about himself. He believes that this is due to a stress factor on Logan’s psyche that was so great that it shut most of the man’s memory receptors down in order to preserve itself.”
“The pain he must’ve endured..”
This from Jean.
“I can’t even begin to imagine..”
Max rounded the corner, walking into the kitchen, her tone casual as she asked, “Do you think he knows what?”
Both of them remained silent for several beats before Jean replied, “His entire skeleton is covered with a strange metallic substance. Its almost as if its been fused directly onto his bones.”
She frowned for a moment, then continued, “Even with all the scraping throughout the removal process, I didn’t even come close to scratching the surface of the metal itself. If whoever implanted those things in him had fused them to his spine with the same metallic alloy I don’t think we would’ve been able to get them out of him.”
Max pondered this for a moment before pulling up a chair and sitting beside them.
“He knows about it, but I don’t think he knows what it is. The metal, I mean. Couldn’t it be part of that mutation he’s mentioned?”
Jean shook her head slowly, her voice low. “This looks manufactured. It definitely didn’t occur naturally; through a mutation.”
Henry gave a grave nod and quietly said, “I concur.”
Jean leaned forward, her expression earnest. “The thing that baffles me is that the process they used to do this to him should’ve destroyed his bones completely. Bone marrow manufactures the body’s blood cells. This includes the veritable army of white blood cells that his body surely utilizes for his vastly accelerated healing. Without this critical process, Logan would die outright. A metal covering would close off the veins and capillaries that run through them, as well as the delicate fissures throughout. Since he bleeds, as we’ve seen – where does the blood come from?”
Max had never gotten that in-depth into biology when she was younger and the question of the origin of his blood didn’t really interest her. She pulled away from them, her expression growing cold as she asked, “So – what you’re telling me is that somebody did this to him?”
She heard herself growl towards the end and knew that if she ever ran across the people that had put him through this, she would gladly vivisect them with her bare claws.
“I believe so.” Jean answered, watching Max with a wary eye now.
Max’s hands slowly fisted, her voice trembling as she asked, “Is there any way to find out who did it?” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this angry.
Henry leaned forward and replied, “This entire scenario tastes more like a privately funded research outing, more than anything else – although I am honestly unable to imagine why someone would do such a thing.”
Jean let out a small gasp, placing her hand on the table as something clicked in her thoughts. A previous piece of Logan’s mental puzzle that she’d gleaned suddenly made sense.
“Shit. Why didn’t I see it before?”
“Jean..?” Henry frowned.
“They’re not after him because he has Weapon X. They’re after him because he is Weapon X.”
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