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Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 3:59 am
by SheCat
Aw, Sabes and Sage! Yay! I love your portrayal of them, wild but human. They're both like wildcats, yet very, very well-characterized.

Identity Crisis One More Time!

Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 4:13 pm
by Wolvertique
When Charles had finished, she was unsettled and sick. Her mouth tasted dry and bitter. She retched, but thankfully did not bring anything up. Scott and Logan were watching her, as was Charles. He silently offered her a glass of water.

She felt dirty. He had been inside her mind, sharing her feelings, her thoughts. She swirled the water inside her mouth to cleanse it.

Silence grated on her. She swallowed and tried for some of her usual calm. "So, any more brilliant ideas, Professor?"

Hm. Apparently, calm was not something she could attain at the moment. She adjusted her goal to "sarcastic hostility" instead.

He looked five inches above her right shoulder and spoke to that point. "I am sorry, but you understand it was a possible security risk."

"Im tired of understanding." She rose and began pacing restlessly. "Im tired of waiting and holding back. I dont want what most of you do. I tried, Charles. I really did. But with Victor, I have finally found someone who, instead of recoiling from what I am, embraces it and makes me even more like me."

Logan moved abruptly. Scott leaned against the wall, watching her with the same neutral expression he used for most things. Charles blushed and avoided looking at anyone. "Are you certain we cannot be what you want?"

She laughed, a long, buoyant laugh, and waved a hand toward the group. "Just look at yourself, Charles. You cant look me in the eye. Logan probably is having a hard time restraining himself from just eliminating me. Poster boy for straight and narrow, Scott, couldnt relate to what I said any more than you can. Hes truly your son more than anyone elses, isnt he?"

"I resent that," the man said quietly. The corners of his mouth turned down a fraction. "I was planning to wait until we were alone to ask, but I would ask you to stay."

She jerked to a halt and stalked over to him. "Why?"

Charles kept a concerned eye on Scott as the woman confronted him. Scott crossed his arms over his chest and responded, "Because a lot of the kids here think that being different means well reject them, too. Id rather have the X-men be known for who we include, not for the people we exclude."

Logan raised an eyebrow. "Ya might have just earned yourself a Christmas present there."

Scott relaxed and let his arms fall to his sides. "Well, you know I live for your approval."

"Who doesnt?" He adjusted his hat and smirked. "So many fans, so little time."

Professor Xavier raised his head and looked at Tessa, really looked at her. He let out a short blast of air. "You know we cannot accept Sabretooth here."

She nodded, looking down at her hands, restlessly moving together before her eyes. She hadnt expected any kind of acceptance, particularly from Scott, and was amazed by Charles turnaround.

"Perhaps, instead, we can propose a compromise. You drop down to adjunct status. I can always find you if there is need for your particular talents. You could set up a schedule with Scott of … training for our youth who need your capabilities. Your personal life can become … more of a focus, should you choose." Logan snorted and she smiled roguishly as Charles searched for a word to describe her personal affairs.

"My vacation is still coming up." Charles nodded, his skin changing back to its normal hue. "And of course, we will let you know about the wedding. Now, where is Victor?"

Scotts quiet snickers cut off, and he gestured for her to follow him.

The room was silent for a moment, then a guffaw split the silence, followed by a shout of laughter. Howls and sputters filled the empty space as the idea of Sabretooth and a wedding spurred more chortles and gasps for breath.

New X-Origins.

Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 8:29 pm
by Wolvertique
X-Men Origins: The First Recruits

As I watch my five students, my X-men, happily work on their routines in the Danger Room, I think over our time together. They are so different now than they were when we first met. How would things have been different had I chosen other mutants to work with me, to build my dream of peace between mutants and the rest of humanity?

When I decided to form a group of mutants to oppose those of us who would abuse our powers, I had to go with whoever was available at the time. I preferred, of course, young people. Their minds were more malleable, more willing to accept new ideas and the new world we were living in.

The first trip I made was to pick up someone who was scared and in danger in Germany.

He was scared and alone, now. Always alone. Since hed left his familys gypsy tribe, he had wandered many places, searching for somewhere he belonged.

This, obviously, would not be one of those places. He cursed himself for coming here to begin with, to this small village where the men and women whispered of evil demons when good men or women with certain … gifts came to their town. Now he would die, here among the gadje marks and fools.

He had managed to hold them off so far, using every trick he knew, but there were too many villagers, and he was tiring. He had not eaten well in weeks. He felt his strength fading as the mob before him dragged his lean, graceful body to the ground. He heard a pitiful whimper and was ashamed to realize it had come from his throat. A Romani man should not die like an animal, dragged down in the streets.

Unfortunately, even in these times, far too many did. He closed his eyes to gather his courage, then stared hatefully up at his murderers.

The men above him froze in place as a cry rang through the crowd. "STOP!"

At first, he thought it merely a scream from his mind, as he desperately wanted to live. He laid on the ground, panting, unable to believe when the men still made no further move to drive the stake through his ribs. "What … happened to them?" he asked in wonder, not expecting an answer.

"I happened to them." A bald man in a wheelchair rolled forward into his sight as the men in the crowd moved away, making a space for him to come forward. His dark eyes flashed as he saw the beaten and abused man and the woman lying beside him, unconscious. "I am Charles Xavier, and I am creating a place where this sort of thing will not happen to you again. Or to your sister."

He held her in his arms, rising to his feet with the speed of lightning. "Why should I believe you?"

Charles sighed. "Because, Pietro, I helped both you and Wanda when I did not have to. Because at heart, I believe you want what I want … a world where telepathic mutants like myself and mutants with amazing speed like yours may live in peace. Will you help me work for this dream?"

Pietro sighed. The man was gadje. He also was rich, from the formally tailored clothing on his body to the fancy chair he rode in. He did not want to work with him, though he did deliberate over trying to take him for all he had.

However, the man had saved him and Wanda. How many gadje would do that for a dirty Gypsy?

He smiled down at his sister, who was stirring in her sleep. "All right."

X-Origins 2

Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 8:31 pm
by Wolvertique

Orphan of the Storm

He watched, high in a tree, as his tormentors ran by. Then he let go and cried. He held himself tightly with his long arms, leaning against the trunk, wishing it was his mother. His father. Anyone.

His strong legs wrapped around the branch as he sobbed, not caring who saw. No one ever looked for him in the gardens. He hadnt wanted to use his secret place today, but the boys had started throwing rocks, and no amount of pleading or agreeing to do what they said seemed to help. The Head was off to lunch with some rich American, so he couldnt seek refuge by offering to serve him.

If only a strong person would come to save him. The boy started wiping away his tears, imagining who it would be. Perhaps a Sheik from the East, dark and strange, with exotic animals and rich jeweled robes. Maybe a tall, elegant woman with dark eyes and hair like his own would come. He smiled, unconsciously, as he fleshed out his fantasy.

"Mortimer?" Her eyes searched his form and she smiled. Her arms stretched out toward him. "My son." He threw himself toward her, letting all the pain out into her soft sweater, as she held him close and whispered to him. "Your father decided to get rid of you, but I kept looking. All these years … I finally found my son."

He enjoyed the warmth, curling into his mothers body, as she told him how his father had kept her from doing too much, but had died three years ago. Then his mother started a full-on search, hiring detectives and getting reporters involved in finding him.

"Ill never have to come back here, will I?"

She wiped his face, gentle, loving. "Of course not. Youll stay with me and the rest of your family."

He was imagining the house, the gray stone walls rising out of the forest of green on the hill, when he heard the voices of the Head and his helpers calling out his name, and fairly close by. He froze. He could not get out of his tree now without giving up his best hiding place, and he didnt want to do it.

The Head called out again, nearly underneath him, and he clung to the bark desperately. "Toynbee! Where is that boy? I apologize, Charles. He has a nasty, sneaky habit of hiding at times rather than facing up to … challenges."

He looked down. The lanky form of the Head, tall and dour, dressed in his best black suit, was addressing a bald man in a wheeled chair. The bald man nodded quietly. "I am certain he will come if we withdraw and allow him to come to us." Wont you, Mortimer?

What? He heard a voice in his head. Oh, no … maybe the other kids were right. Maybe he really was a crazy freak.

I can get him away from here, and I will, if you agree to come along once we go. To the Heads office.

This man felt strong. Ill do anything you want, sir. Ill come now if you like.

No, no. Just come along when weve left.

He waited, then leaped down from the tree in the horrible hope that he could serve the bald man, even if he was only a Toad.


Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 9:58 pm
by Wolvertique
I reluctantly looked through the phone numbers we had for the X-men, then chose one and called it. It rang twice, then was answered. “Dr. Henry McCoy…how may I assist you?”

“This is Mystique.” I waited.

“Ah. To what do I owe the honor of this call?” His voice was calm, with only a trace of polite curiosity.

“I was wondering if you would have some time to help me with a biological question this afternoon.”

“I see.” He paused. “Congratulations may be in order?”

I relaxed a little. “Maybe. I think so, but I would like confirmation before I say anything.”

“You know Kurt handles most such non-emergency testing.”

I nodded, then remembered I was on the phone. “Yes.”

“So you must want him to remain unaware at this time. Hm. I suppose Jean and I could set up the laboratory for you around three o’clock.”

I swallowed. “Must she be there?” Jean and I were on … polite, but rather frigid terms.

“Yes, both for test evaluation and in case the test does not pick up on your condition yet. How far along are you, would you say?”

“I believe I am at four and a half weeks now.” I remembered that night, when Logan returned from his last mission. He had been away for nearly a month, and I eagerly welcomed him home…and I felt the change when I woke up that morning. I am a shapeshifter, after all, and I have been pregnant before. I know how it feels.

“Then we must seek alternative means to confirm or disconfirm your pregnancy. I have some ideas. Meet us at the laboratory.”

“I shall. Thank you.” Hank was one of the few X-men who had accepted my partnership with Logan when we returned from South America.

“You are most welcome, Mystique. Goodbye.”

I hung up the phone and sat down. What would a pregnancy do to my relationships? To our relationships?

Oh, I was not worried about Logan’s reaction. We had already discussed the idea, and he welcomed having a child as long as it was by choice. In fact, I had told him I was pregnant the morning I found out.

He nodded, smiled, and said, “It doesn’t get you out of makin’ breakfast, though.” I threw a pillow at him.

I was concerned about the X-men though … about Kurt, who was still getting used to his friend spending nights with his mother; Rogue, who was worried about me in general…all of them, really, with a very few exceptions.

“See, that wasn’t so hard.” His strong hand reached up to my shoulder and began massaging me gently. I tried to relax, but still felt some tension.

“Maybe not for you.” I turned to him and stretched my neck nearly down to my right shoulder, then to the left.

“I’ll be goin’ that way after jiu-jitsu class.” He smiled.

I shook my head. “The kids will never know what hit them.”

“Oh, they’ll know.” He stretched his arms out, showing off. “I always leave a mark.”

I rolled my eyes. “Not the same thing, I hope.”

“It’s always unique, darlin’, just like me.” He left, with a kiss, and I was alone with my worries.

Time passed slowly, but it did pass, and I left for the mansion, arriving several minutes early. Dr. Hank McCoy was at the gates to let me in. Good. A few times in the past, the person I was coming to see had not been there, and I was not permitted inside.

“Are you well?” he asked.

“Well enough,” I replied. “My appetite is a little decreased, and I have occasional mild nausea. Otherwise, I feel fine.”

As I entered, as usual, I saw Scott on unofficial Mystique watch. He followed us discreetly as Dr. McCoy and I proceeded to the lab. Jean McCoy opened the door for us. Seeing her with glossy red fur always startled me, though Logan told me of the change. I had too many memories of her before this happened.

Someone must be taking care of their baby today for both of them to be free this afternoon, I thought.

“Hello, Jean. How is Charlie?” I asked, removing my jacket.

“Hello, Mystique. He’s all right. He’s sleeping, for once.” Jean moved and fidgeted with some lab equipment while Hank took me to a seat and prepared for a blood test.

Logan came in about thirty minutes after we began testing, and we waited together for the results while the doctors consulted with each other. Finally, Hank entered the waiting area and sat down with us, a pile of papers in his hand. “How much do you desire to know?”

“Everything.” Brief, direct, succinct…that was Logan. I inclined my head once. Better to know everything right away.

“Very well. You are pregnant. The child is female. She has an active mutant genetic profile. She is currently pre-conscious, so Jean could get no fix on her mind. She seems to be at four to six weeks of development. You need more iron in your diet. Otherwise, all seems normal. You should check back with me or Kurt in two months. I have the necessary supplements for you, including vitamins and extra iron. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and shifting, unless it is vital.” He handed two small bottles containing the supplements to me. “To use the vernacular, congratulations. It’s a girl.”

We thanked both doctors for their time and then left the lab. Walking down the hall, with Tessa shadowing us in her usual jeans and flannel shirt, Logan said suddenly, “So, when do ya want to tell everyone?”

I looked around. Bobby was rounding the corner ahead of us, and Tessa was fairly close behind us. “Not right now,” I said, as Bobby passed us, nodding to Logan. I was fairly certain it was Logan, anyway.

“Why not?” He stopped me, and Tessa barely kept from running me down. She walked a few steps past us and stopped, whistling a little Garth Brooks and pulling out a well-worn paperback, Texas Canyon Song.

“Not here,” I whispered. He shook his head.

“Why not?” he repeated.

“Because of the difficulties it will bring up,” I hissed. “They are already tense around me as it is. This will just make matters worse!”

“Maybe. Maybe it’ll make some things better. Give them time to adjust.” He leaned against the wall comfortably. I looked down at him warily. Tessa turned a page, switching to Jim Croce as she did so. We both stopped and stared at her.

She took a few steps back, then walked about thirty more feet away and began reading again…silently, this time.

I frowned and turned back to Logan. “You seem to have thought about this quite a lot. What were you thinking of doing?”

He took my hand. “Just going down to dinner tonight and telling everyone. They’ll all be there if you’re there, anyway, and then we can answer questions right away.”

We began walking again, and Tessa shadowed us at a further distance than before. “Besides,” he said, “it’ll give me a chance to show up Summers again. He and Rogue still don’t have a kid, after plenty of tryin’. But I do.” My eyes widened, and he gave an evil grin.

“You had better not,” I replied, stifling a laugh. “You two are terrible.”

We walked to the professor’s office to warn him, laughing and joking, to the whistled strains of Billy Ray Cyrus as Tessa got going again.

Odd Jobs

Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 10:55 pm
by Wolvertique
John smiled, lifting the phone and placing the call to Otto Octavius Pizzeria. Their motto, "Ten seconds, or its free!" appealed to him.

"Hello? This is OOP." A friendly female voice answered.

He smiled. "Hi, Id like…"

There was a knock at his door. He called, "Hold on one sec. Someones at the door." He walked over, holding the phone, to see a tall, slender, white-haired man holding a pizza box.

"Hi sorry I took so long heres your pizza total $15.95 tips appreciated you can hang up now."

John hung up, flabbergasted. "What the …?"

The man thrust the pizza at him. "Just the way you like it according to Jean our operator its what you order every time you were thinking of ordering a couple of two-liters but then you remembered you have some beer still from that party oh and you decided against the beer nuggets because you think theyd make you fat and they would and then youd never be able to impress that girl in the fifth row."

John tried to absorb all of this as it came whirling out at breakneck speed. "Uh … uh …"

"$15.95 tips appreciated I really need to get going."

Dumbly, John offered him a twenty dollar bill. Almost before it disappeared, he found the box deposited in his hands, and then in a blur of motion the delivery boy was gone.

"Damn! I didnt check to see if that was ten seconds or not!" Ruefully, John took the pizza over to the couch and plopped down, checking to see if the WWE was running their Marathon of Pain yet. Absently, he wondered if it was worth it to get up and retrieve those beers from the fridge, the ones hed forgotten about till the delivery boy reminded him he had them. He set the box aside, pushing himself up, realizing yeah, it probably was worth it and hed probably drink all of them before the night was over. He needed them.

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Wed May 05, 2004 2:09 am
by SheCat
I love the Origins storyline! Great stuff, I'd like to see Pyro, Avalanche and Blob, but that's just me. At first I thought Pietro was Kurt. :D

And Sabes and Tessa finally ended up together! Huzzah! Yay!

I'm still confused about the last two. :D

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Wed May 05, 2004 3:25 pm
by Lauren
that was so confusing and funny at the same time! does this mean that kurt and them are the BRotherhood now?

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Wed May 05, 2004 3:32 pm
by Wolvertique
No Brotherhood. Just a few separate stories I decided to post here for fun. Don't you love the idea of Pietro the Pizza Delivery Boy? :D

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Wed May 05, 2004 9:38 pm
by RavEnigma
I love Pietro. Period. Him as a pizza delivery boy, well, if he were, I'd go broke from ordering pizza every night! More Pietro, please?

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 12:22 am
by SheCat
I finally got the delivery boy story (boy am I slow) :D! It's great! I'd love to have him as my delivery boy! And Jean as the operator...:D

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 12:50 am
by RavEnigma
Back off, SheCat. PIETRO'S MINE!!!!! *tackles SheCat* You can have anyone but him. And sorry for the tackle. I'm kinda territorial when it comes to guys *thinks back to the "Legolas incident" and shudders* Yeah. Wanna join my Pietro Fan Club?

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 1:03 am
by SheCat
Yes, of course, my heart's already sold to the Le Diable Blanc anyway. :D You can have Pietro. :) :smirk

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 1:11 am
by RavEnigma
*hugs SheCat* Remy is hot, too. He's #2 on my list of the hottest X-Guys. If you like Remy fics, I have a fic called 'Le Diable Blanc et Le Daimon Rouge' if you'd care to read it. It's evo-verse *gasp* But it's good, and it's got Rogue/Remy galore in it, plus it has an attack rabbit. I can email you the part I have written if you want.

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 1:59 am
by SheCat
Oh, please do! I'd love to read it! I'm a sucker for any Remy fics...:D I write 'em too *shameless!*

New X-Origins 3: The Application

Posted: Fri May 07, 2004 2:23 pm
by Wolvertique

It was her father. Hurriedly, she put away the three other books shed been reading while doing her homework and writing down her next weeks schedule in her day planner.

Hubert James found his daughter doing her homework in her bedroom. Her dark head was bent over her work, but she looked up with a smile for him, her wide blue eyes lighting up. "Daddy!" She rose from her white desk and held him close. Her chin rested on his shoulder.

"My dear, I have a fantastic opportunity for you." He sat on her bed, wrinkling the white coverlet. She turned the desk chair around to listen, crossing her slim legs at the ankle. "The government is funding a program to gather together humans with genetic mutations. I think you should apply to it."

"What would I do there?" She put her finger against her cheek and watched him.

He sighed. "Learn how to better use your … gifts." He fidgeted a little. Her father loved her, but had found her telepathic abilities unsettling from the moment shed revealed them at her fourteenth birthday party. His face brightened. "And my acquaintances tell me the man heading up this project, Charles Xavier, is a good person who is interested in helping … people like you. Youd be staying at his mansion in New York."

She made her decision in five seconds. "Very well. I shall type up my resume and you can send it along to him. I am certain it would be an interesting experience."

"Good. Excellent. Well, carry on."

She sat for a moment after her father left. She knew her parents loved her, but her telepathy was beyond them. If they knew everything else, they would be unable to cope. Being able to reveal the full extent of her powers, living with others who shared her experiences … a small smile crossed her face as she loaded the typewriter with resume stock and carbon paper for copies.

Name: Tessa Harriet James
Age: 17
Address: 458 N. Willow St.
Turtle Point, Maryland
Phone: 555-5555
Objectives: To further develop my abilities I have acquired as a result of my genetic mutation
Education: Turtle Point Preparatory High School, emphasis on gifted and AP courses
Extracurriculars: Soccer, Math Club, forensics
Abilities: Telepathy, vast ability to memorize and do numerous activities at once
Experiences: I have been expanding my ability to use telepathic communication since I developed it three years ago. I frequently choose to do numerous things at once and have found that I can read at least five books while I do my homework and clean my room. I would relish the challenge of working with you on your project.
Other Skills: Much general knowledge, quick to learn
References: Janet Harvey, chemistry professor, 555-5556
Rafael Ywen, family friend, 555-5557
Pamela Myers-Smith, forensics coach, 555-5558

Free to Be...

Posted: Tue May 11, 2004 7:22 pm
by Wolvertique
I was locked in a room in the basement. It was stripped of practically everything.

I tested the wall, just to be sure.

Punching, slashing, kicking, nothing damaged it.

I hate being caged.

I prowled around the room. Smells of engine oil, metal, gas. Old smells.

It was once used for storage.

The cuffs are strong. Very strong.

I tried to calm down and focus on breaking the lock. I thought of her standing next to me, telling me to do it, that she'll be here with me. Gotta get a claw over to the lock. I might need to dislocate a finger for a while to get the job done.

I wanted to hear her tell me she loved me before. My dream-Tessa laughed at me. Idiot. You should have told me, if that was what you wanted.

Tessa? I was amazed. I had nearly gotten my left index finger over, but I saw I would need to dislocate it. I did, wincing. Wish that healing factor of ours also was a pain dampening factor.

I heard you from two floors up. You're in pain. What did they do to you?

Heh. Someone getting angry for me because I was hurting. I put my finger back in place, feeling it heal with a groan of protest. Nothing.

Nothing? She sounded outraged.

Same kinda nothing you felt before, sweetheart.

Oh. She paused, but wouldn't tell me what had hurt her. We're coming to get you out. We're leaving.

The door opened out. I held back, watching as Tessa came in first. Smart move. She held the cuff keys in her right hand. Summers was outside, sweating like crazy.

His scent was on her arms. He had touched her. I started a low rumble in my throat.

He touched my Tessa.

She noticed and paused, holding my hand. "What?"

"He touched you."

She nodded, slow. "It didn't hurt. It was okay."

Faint scent of blood. "Turn around."

She tensed. "I am all right. Don't worry. We're going to get out of here and everything will be fine."

The rumble revved up to a full roar. "Turn AROUND!"

Rigid, posed like a doll, she turned for me. I saw the small holes in her costume, the drop of blood falling from one of the six points he'd pushed into her skin.

Logan had touched her.

That made Summers fade away.

Logan had hurt my Tessa.

No! Victor, you can't. You won't. I won't let you.

Try and stop me. He had drawn her blood.

I wasn't moving. I wanted to. She stood there, hard as iron, turned back around, hand out at her side, stopping Summers from coming any further while she took control of my muscles from me.

Victor, listen. It didn't bother me. He didn't really hurt me. He wasn't challenging you.

She had a knack for getting to the heart of a matter. How do you know?

Will you stay and listen if I let you go?

I didn't want to promise, but she wasn't letting me loose without it. Fine. But it better be good.

Summers stood in the doorway, talking into a communicator. Geek. Probably joined partly because he'd get one. And the uniform.

"Victor. I provoked him. I was angry." Her clear blue eyes looked into mine. I felt the heat rising from her skin. "You could feel how bitter I was. I used you as a threat. He reacts to you the way you do to him."

I wanted to rip the runt's throat out. Regenerate that, boy. But her face was pleading with me. She didn't want me to.

Damn all women.

I closed my eyes and let the fire within die down a little. The fire outside, though, rising from her skin, was inviting. I had to choose one or the other. Go after the runt, or wrestle with her.

Guess which one I chose.

I grabbed her arm and pulled her up to my face by it. Her pupils grew wide and that sexy little smile I loved curved her sweet lips. "Gotta make sure everyone knows who you belong to, then." Her other arm wrapped around my shoulder and I felt her nails prick me as I savaged her mouth, drawing blood as I nipped at her. Her mind purred through mine. You know they're coming.

Yeah. The X-freak isn't talking to himself on that thing. Is he?

She began giggling into my mouth. I got the funniest image, Scott trying to communicate with himself. "Hello? Hello? Am I there? Is this thing on?"

They all ran in, of course, fired up and ready to go, Logan among them. I deliberately held her closer and ran my large hand over her tasty posterior. Stop laughing. We need to be serious now.

Probably was a good thing I was, though. I think Scott would have fired and the others attacked if I hadn't laughed. Her breath caught as I wrapped her around me, tight as my skin. She bit my tongue again.

I love this woman.

She pulled far enough away to whisper, "I belong to you, Victor, and you'd damned well better remember you belong to me."

Possessive. I like that.

The others make odd noises, gasps and groans. Someone begins clapping. What the hell, I put her down, gently, and take a half-bow, keeping her body pressed to my left side.

Summers? Summers was clapping?

Some redhead was looking daggers at him. I let out a whoop of laughter. He was so gonna be in trouble.

So I left with my Tessa at my side. She'd be going back sometimes. Fine with me. I knew now she'd be coming back.

Especially after our trip North. But that's a tale for another day.

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 3:31 am
by SheCat
Oh, I'd love to see more of this! I'm loving them both, and your portrayal of Vic is very convincing.

What You Make of It

Posted: Mon May 31, 2004 3:02 pm
by Wolvertique
Author's Note: Yes, this is another Victor/Tessa piece. No, I won't post all of it here as it will be very NC-17 for sex and violence. In fact, this is probably all I can post here. Hope you like it anyway.

One of Jason Maier's most attractive qualities was his lack of inquisitiveness. If you could contact him and ask him to do something for you, he'd do it. So he simply nodded and made the time available when Tessa called him, asking to be flowed in to a clearing in the Canadian wilderness the next day.

Tessa sighed and hung up the phone, relieved. It's all set.

Good. He let his excitement throb along their private telepathic link. See you tomorrow, after I hunt you down.

Mmmm. She pulled him deeper into her head, filling herself to the brim with him. Maybe it won't be so easy, big guy.

I hope not. He pulled out of her mind with a rough caress that made her tingle. Remember to wear the special uniform and the black silk.

I will. Sighing, she severed the link and blocked her mind from his, wincing as the familiar presence crouched in the back of her mind disappeared.

She woke up early to prepare. She carefully showered, noticing with disappointment that all of the bites and nip marks from their previous encounters had healed without a trace. She consoled herself with the knowledge that she'd have more than her share by the end of the day.

If he was good enough to catch her.

She pulled out the cheap perfume she'd bought two days ago at a convenience store once she was dry and stepped back into the tub. Her eyes shone with mischief as she opened the huge bottle and poured it onto a washcloth. She then liberally applied it all over her body, paying special attention to areas that gave off the most scent.

After a few minutes, it had dried. She smelled like alcohol with fruity, heady overtones. Then she pulled on her black silk thong and her matching front hook black silk bra, with the old uniform Logan had put six small holes in going over all.

Grinning, she looked at the results in the mirror and coughed. The stink was getting to her, and she didn't have the heightened senses of her lover. He would eventually pick up her trail, but the stench would buy her some time to get away.

She secreted a small wax stoppered vial, half-full of clear liquid, in her right pocket and left the apartment. Whistling, oblivious to the stunned reactions as she passed by, she got into her car and drove straight to the X-mansion. She had another surprise for Victor in mind.

Dr. Henry McCoy was relaxing on the low stone wall surrounding the Xavier mansion, his blue fur mostly covered by the old jeans and oddly formal white buttoned down shirt he wore. His blue fur shone, sleek in the rays of sun shining down through the trees. His hands were clasped behind his head, his blue eyes fixed on the Harry Potter book he grasped in his right foot (he was re-reading Prisoner of Azkaban). He glanced over at her as she stopped her car, then choked. His nostrils flared before he brought a huge hand up to protect them. "Please get up-wind of me immediately."

Guiltily, yet pleased that her ploy had succeeded on its first test, she walked past his head, stopping a few feet away, turning to feel the wind in her face. "Better?"

He closed the book and sat up, removing his hand from his face and giving a cautious sniff. "Infinitely." He stood and groped in his jeans pockets, pulling out a sandwich, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and an orange golf ball before coming up with a small test tube half-full of green, viscous liquid. He tossed it to her and she caught it handily.

"How fast does it work?" She removed the black wax seal and tossed the stuff down, shuddering as the spicy fluid burned down her throat.

He lifted his head from the sandwich, half-eaten, and visibly swallowed. "It should take full effect in three hours. He is, of course, aware of your decision?"

The same wicked smile spread across her face as she thought about Victor's reaction. "He will be. At the appropriate time."

He had told her that he would give her an hour's head start. He made sure not to say he wouldn't be there, waiting for her to arrive, and keeping his eyes on her as she started off. So as Tessa leaped from the plane and waved goodbye to the pilot, she didn't even consider looking for the golden eyes of her lover, which shone from the forest beyond.

I watched as she set down in the clearing we'd agreed on as our starting point. She looked wonderful, but stank like a cheap whore. I grinned and concentrated on the stench while I watched her graceful body head into the woods, opening a glass bottle and pouring it out as she went.

A new scent hit my nose as she went away, taking that foul odor with her. I'd know this smell anywhere. My Tessa's arousal was different from any other woman's. It was different, though, because it was cold.

I grinned. I knew what had been in that bottle now.

I bit the insides of my cheeks as the wind changed, blowing her fragrance toward me. The taste of my blood, hot and coppery, distracted me from simply running her down and throwing myself into her.

I said I'd give her an hour. I was going to. Somehow.

She came back to the clearing with thirty minutes left to go. That alien stink came with her, dousing the smell of desire. I stopped tearing my cheeks to shreds and felt them knit together.

Her eyes narrowed and she closed her eyes. I crouched down and bit my tongue as hard as I could, losing myself in the desire to feed, the rich hot sensation of blood, the feeling of my teeth crunching into my prey, as her mind swept the forest around her.

She dismissed me as just another predator.

Her mistake.

I waited as she chose a new trail, not twenty yards from where I laid, concealed by brush and the hole I crouched in.

This was going to be easy.

I kept my mind toned down and relaxed as she passed me by. Now all I had to do was bury my nose in my arm to block the strong odors of cheap alcohol and perfume, and wait for thirty minutes to pass.

Alcohol and perfume still tickled my mind, even though I had my nose stopped up.

Maybe this wasn't going to be so easy.

She ran steadily, easily, at a fraction of her normal pace. He would be arriving soon in the clearing and would probably be delayed for a while, following the trail she'd laid of her own juices. She smiled at the baffled fury as he reached the end and realized she wasn't there.

Unconsciously, her pace slowed. Without the knowledge that he was chasing her, her desire to run waned. She checked her watch again. He should probably have arrived at the clearing by now. She waited to hear something, anything, as he caught her scent.

The silence bothered her. He must have come by now.

Maybe he wasn't coming?

She cast about for him again telepathically. She had agreed not to use her powers during the chase, but she wasn't even sure there was a chase, so of course she wasn't breaking any rules by searching for him.

On the false trail she'd set, there was nothing human. She dismissed the few barely sentient animal minds.

Her pace slowed again.

She swept the clearing, a quick and dirty search.


In disbelief, she thrust her mind through the forest behind her, finding a familiar presence not ten minutes away.

You! She sped up, trotting through the underbrush as fast as she could.

He growled into her head. Penalty for spying, Tessa. When I catch up with you, we'll work it out. Now, RUN!

She felt the familiar excitement rising as he pointedly withdrew from her head. She fairly flew through the trees, quickly analyzing the best paths to take to make the best time.

He must have cheated, too.

She struggled to keep her laughter inside, knowing he'd home in on it if she let go, but a few snorts and gasps came out regardless.

Maybe she would have to demand a penalty or two herself.

Old Friends

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:29 am
by Wolvertique
I parked the bike in my usual spot, right behind Summers' car. Even in the dark it shone. Pretty boy must have spent hours on it.

Damn, it's good to be home.

I sniffed the air once. Dirt, hair, sweat. Oil. Gas. Wax.

I realized I was standing in one place, trying to delay the inevitable. Then I kicked myself and walked in the kitchen door.

Hank'd done some upgrades to the old place. Hell, it took me thirty seconds to bypass the new security. The man knew his stuff, that's for sure.

I wanted to see him again, that wide white grin splitting his furry face in two.

He wasn't the only one I was looking forward to seeing. It'd be good to get a gander at the Goddess, the kid, old Wheels himself ...

He almost surprised me. I caught a faint whiff of his scent before he started screaming. Beau was home and ready to go to bed. His gray body stretched out, the white patches on his spread wings moved as he flapped them, and his yellow face shone as he sang to me.

Never expected any animal that wasn't a dog would care that much about anyone. I stuck out one of my fingers to him and he wolf-whistled at it.

I expected that the elf would laugh hearing that, and sure enough, he did. "Well, at least someone thinks you're sexy, mein freund!"

I let a smile cross my face while I kept my eyes on the bird warbling away in front of me. "Too bad he's probably already got a date for Friday night, huh?"

Kurt walked past me with a towel to cover Beau's cage. The bird screeched in protest and began singing even louder, almost too much for me. I sat at the table and lit a cigar. Jean had been here.

That brought another old friend I thought had gone for good, the clenching pain in my chest. I concentrated on the foul stench of my smoke rising in the air.

Kurt leaped into a chair and grinned at me. "Kitty has missed you a lot. Bobby tried writing to you once."

I shrugged. "I moved around a lot."

His expressive blue eyebrows rose sharply and his yellow eyes glowed. "I wish you had at least told someone goodbye."

I watched the smoke rise into the air, savoring the ache, then jerked a thumb at the covered birdcage, where Beau was finally settling down. "He didn't tell you?"

Kurt stood, snatched my hand violently, and squeezed it tight, towering over me. I let him. I'd only rarely seen the elf get close to a meltdown, but this was one of those times. "You need to let us know! People here care about you! Beau has been moping. Some of the children have refused to eat. You cannot scare us like that. It is not acceptable! Do you not comprehend how friends behave?"

I watched him, my old pal, looking more like a demon now than any other time, waver and crumple back into his seat. I sighed and tried to explain. "Look, it just hurt too much to be here. Seeing Jean, seeing all of you being so happy for her and that windbag ... I had to bust out."

He still had a grip on my hand, almost tight enough to be painful. He then released it suddenly, his own hand dropping to the table, right over the scar Bobby had made showing off his slicing skills with the turkey one year. He stared at it, blue against faded brown, murmuring, "It was too much to hope for."

As he pushed back from the table, I reached out and pulled him back down. "Fine, Mom," I kidded, "any time I want to pull out of here for some air I'll check in with you. Okay?"

His wounded eyes stared blankly at me for a minute, then he blinked and pulled his mask back into place. "Very well. And no hanging out on corners with loose women!"

I grinned. "Don't want me beating you out, do you?"

As we headed out, back to my room, I had an uneasy feeling that things had changed, and not for the better.

Wolvertique's Wondrous Works Part Deux!

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:23 pm
by RavEnigma
:love the Victor/Tessa piece was superb! Absolutely superb! And I have a challenge for you, O Wondrous Wolvertique: to write a romance fic. But not just any romance fic, a Pietro/Callisto romance fic. ^_^ Let's see if you can do it. :smirk

But Once a Year

Posted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:54 pm
by Wolvertique
Author's Note: This is a tie-in to another of my stories, Christmas at the Mansion, and answers a question Kurt never gets a straight answer to in that story.


Even though it was Christmas Eve, Jack's Pub was bustling. It was the last bar before the highway, two blocks from the bus stop and the police station. The waitresses had their smiles pasted on, as they'd been working without a break since four, when the pub opened, and it was now 11:30. Even the bartender didn't have his usual grin, grimly pushing orders across the bar and nearly snarling as the occasional customer said "Merry Christmas."

The short man in the corner had come in about an hour ago, covered in snow. He'd been an "easy" order, just asked for a beer and settled back, fading into obscurity as the customers poured in.

The four men sitting two tables down from him certainly didn't pay him any attention. They were too busy grumbling. "I tell ya, the plan was perfect!" Ralph said again, pounding his meaty fist angrily. "How is it that these low down mutant lovers always seem to be ready for us?"

"Well, maybe they read your mind, Mr. Know It All," Fred drawled, leaning back in his chair and finishing his beer. "Couldn't be that you decided to break cover and run toward the church, screaming, while we were still trying to finish the … art we were making, could it?"

Ralph's big red face grew even more crimson as his eyebrows drew down. "They're unbelievers. I wanted to teach one of them the true meaning of Christmas, up close and personal."

Jack growled. "Because you did that, that damned security guard of theirs probably broke my arm." The others muttered in agreement.

Ralph glowered. "I woulda had him, if you hadn't all decided to run when he hit you a little. What are you, anyway? Men, or girls?"

Mike bit his lip, glaring at the man. "I remember somebody screaming, 'We gotta go! He's too much for us!' and leaving his buddies behind. Who was that? I wonder."

Ralph stood, swaying, like a punch-drunk boxer, sweeping the room in general with a hateful, wounded expression. "If you don't like what I do for you, you can just call someone else the next time you want those damned Unitarials taught a lesson!" His arm shot out, index finger extended, pointing at half the room as he staggered. "I'm going home."

The other men rose, too, hurriedly placing money on the table and heading for the door. They nodded and smiled at the other people in the bar, who had diverted some attention to them as Ralph's last yell penetrated the thick, smoky air.

The short man in the corner gave a grim smile of satisfaction. Good. Kurt's church was going unmolested this Christmas Eve again. He quietly put a twenty down on the table, anchored it with his mug, and tugged his hat further over his eyes. It was about time to go pick up the elf, anyway.

Where I Belong: Painting the Town

Posted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:55 pm
by Wolvertique
'Her lips trembled. His green eyes followed every move. What was she going to say? "Lord D'Alain," she began, eyes downcast, hands twisting in her lap.'

Dom looked up from the book as St. John burst back into their room, slamming the door open and burning with energy. "Dom! Get up. We're going out drinking."

He put the book down, sighing. At this rate, he'd never get through this sappy story. "Okay. Why?"

The man bounced onto his bed, punching his arm lightly. His hand trembled a little and behind St. John's manic blue eyes and wide grin, he saw a desperate plea for help. "Oh, Misty said we should get to know each other informally. What's more informal than drinking?"

"St. John? What's wrong?" He got up and the blond man leaped off the bed to paw through a drawer.

"Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Ah!" He held up a wallet in triumph. "I'll gather the troops. You find a vehicle suitable for our night out. After all, you're designated driver."

"Hey!" The blond man turned at his cry. He was willing to help Py out, sure, but this was going above and beyond.

"Don't worry. I'm D.D. next time." St. John kept pushing the wallet at his side, looking confused. "Pockets. Pockets. Ah!" He slid the wallet into a waist pouch and waved energetically. "Good luck, Dom. See you at the motor pool."

Great. He was stuck being the responsible one again, waiting for his friend to get sloshed enough to talk about what was bothering him. He shook his head and gave himself a once-over in the mirror. At least he was good at it, he thought, running a comb through his wayward hair. "You should have known better," he told his sober reflection's brown eyes. He straightened his turtleneck and shook his head. "You should never have gotten involved."

His reflection did not answer, but his expression lightened as he turned away. St. John didn't have a bad idea, at that, even though it left him high and dry. He picked up his keys and walked out of the room to find Charles Xavier.

St. John sped down the hallway of the men's dormitory wing, then stopped. Why go ask the girls first when he was already here? Smiling, he turned and knocked on the first door.

The tousled brown head of Scott Summers peered out, then the door opened fully. "St. John? Do you need something?"

"No, no, no, no, no. YOU need something. You need a good stiff drink. Come with me and I'll see you get it." He walked away but stopped when he noticed that the other man had not budged from the doorway.

"Sorry. I have plans tonight." Scott sighed, scratching his head. "Thanks, though. Why don't you ask Kurt? He's the one who really needs time out."

"Kurt?" Kurt. Oh, yes. Misty's son. Perfect! He went to the man's room, not listening as Scott's door quietly closed and his and Dom's opened.

He knocked three times in rapid succession. No one answered, but he heard a shuffling noise.

"Are you all right in there?" He waited, fingers nervously tapping on the doorframe. There was a soft popping sound from behind his back and he whirled to see clouds of brimstone surrounding his quarry.

"Hello. Ready to …"

The blue man raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing outside my room?"

He backed up a step or two, smiling. "Asking you to come out drinking with us? Come on, mate, don't be sore. It'll be fun."

The blue man fingered his black and red uniform but relaxed. "Drinking. With you." He laughed shortly. "Who else are you asking?"

Pyro grinned. "Everybody. Well, other than a few fellas, I guess. By the way, which is Northstar's room?"

Kurt blinked, perplexed. "Over there. But why …" Pyro was already heading toward Northstar's door, calling back, "See you at the motor pool!"

He happily knocked on Northstar's door, then waited. No one answered. He knocked again, harder. No one answered again. He knocked harder and louder.

The door flew open with a bang and he had to leap backward to avoid knocking ON the man himself, whose blue eyes snapped with nearly palpable anger. Jean-Paul towered over him, looking far from the delicate, elfin figure in his skiing pictures. "Do you know what you have done?" he said in a barely controlled tone.

"Yeah. Asked you to come out drinking tonight." He backed up a few more steps. "Fellow author and all, thought you'd like it."

Confusion replaced anger. "Fellow author?" The tall, slender, elegant man crossed his arms across his chest, neatly avoiding creasing his soft navy blue sweater as his eyes focussed on the shorter man.

"Oh, yes!" Pyro grinned. "Just got back from my ninth book tour."

Jean-Paul relaxed against the door frame. "How awful was it?"

"About as awful as it could be. The fans, the places, the constant travel, the missed flights…Come on. Let's talk about it over a tall frosty beer or two."

It ended up being six of them together going out to a local bar. Pyro had convinced Kitty and Rogue to come along, as well as Northstar and Kurt.

Dom stared morosely over the crowd. It had all gone far too well up to this point. Xavier hadn't given him any trouble at all when he said he and Py wanted a night out, just waved a hand and told him to have fun. Now Py was drinking heavily, showing off for the girls and Jean-Paul on the dance floor, as Kurt in his image-induced form talked seriously with a young woman along the wall. He was just waiting for it all to come crashing down, though. Py always did after a couple hours.

He sighed. He put the remains of his orange juice down on a small, round table and slowly moved toward the happy, laughing, bright face of St. John. A voice murmured in his ear, "Your friend is very unhappy, no?"

He nearly jumped at the sudden sound, but pulled himself together and turned to face Jean-Paul Beaubier. He seemed larger in person, and his face was kind. He shrugged. "What makes you say that?" he asked, unwilling to betray his friend's secrets.

Jean-Paul spread his hands wide. "Look at him." He pointed to the dance floor, where Pyro was dancing furiously, the same manic smile he'd had since he left still firmly in place. "He is trying too hard."

Dom nodded. "Yeah."

"You are going to help him now, though." His eyes bored into Dom's, his face full of intense concentration.

"If he's drunk enough to let me. Sure." He paused. "Could you … ?" he asked, gesturing for Jean-Paul to get out of his way.

The man bowed and gracefully moved. "I could not let a fellow author destroy himself for no reason."

Dom snorted before he could help it at the idea of St. John being an "author," then coughed to hide it. "Yeah. Well, thanks."

He'd timed it pretty well. St. John was nearly falling over himself, his eyes brightening with unshed tears, by the time he reached the man. Rogue was trying to persuade him to sit down as he protested that he was perfectly all right. He caught her gaze and shook his head. "Hey, Py. Let's get a pitcher and sit down together, okay?"

"Av!" He started to fall just as Rogue moved away, so Dom steadied his friend. "Finally joining the party?" His hysterical, desperate feelings were breaking through his humorous mask, in the clutching hands that held him close and the relieved look at the mention of going and sitting down.

"Yeah. Let's go over here." He led St. John back toward a darker corner of the bar and sat him down firmly. "And now that we're here, let's talk about why you threw this party to begin with."

"Oh, you know. No reason." His thin hands trembled on the table, nervously tapping as he looked around the bar.

"Py. What's wrong?" He tipped his old friend's face up so that his light blue eyes had to fix on his brown ones. "I know something's wrong. Tell me. Was it something about Misty?"

Pyro's face crumpled. His lips trembled, his eyes closed, and suddenly he burst out crying. Dom let go of his face, pulling his hands back, but Py caught them before he could bring them back to his sides.

Wow. He really didn't know what to do. He let the man keep his hands as he sobbed, bent over the table, head nearly touching a drink stain. He cleared his throat. "It … it's okay, St. John. It's okay."

The man's head moved and he muttered something, wetly, into the table as he clutched at Dom's hands. He repeated it again, looking around to see if anyone had noticed that the life of the party had collapsed. "It's okay." Kurt had rejoined the group, Kitty was looking up at him, and Jean-Paul was near them, but was looking over at him and St. John.


He looked over at Py as the man squeezed his hands, then let them go. "No, what?"

"It's not okay."

He returned his attention fully to Pyro, who was sniffling into his sleeve and staring at him defiantly. He nodded. "All right. What's not okay?"

Pyro twitched a little. "Her. Him. Oh, God, Av … she's with him."

Dom was getting an uneasy feeling about this. "This is about Misty, right?"

Py blinked back some tears, then hit the table with his open right palm. "I … I'm sorry. I just hoped … I always hoped."

"What are you talking about?"

"It's her, mate. It's always been her." A tear started a path down from the corner of his left eye as he talked, a quiver in his voice. "Misty's just beautiful, you know? I had to leave because I thought we couldn't … and now she's with that stranger … I can't take it!"

Dom's eyes wandered aimlessly as he considered this. "So you're in love with Misty and now she's with someone else … this Logan guy?"

Py didn't answer, staring off into space, tears glistening down his cheeks, murmuring, "I'd always hoped … oh, what have I done?"

Dom sighed. He held his friend's hand as Jean-Paul casually made his way over to their table, Rogue did the same, and the others got the car ready. He nearly carried Pyro out and got him back to their room safely, but he still didn't know what to do for his pain. Thankfully, Py passed out on the ride home.

He grinned. Maybe he should try to find a nice girl for Py. It'd serve him right for trying to set him up all these years.

Try to Remember

Posted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:26 am
by Wolvertique
Panting panting panting trying to hide where to hide go left slide duck under safest under there…

Angie nearly sobbed as she curled herself into the dark below the secretary's desk. She'd managed to avoid them so far by a combination of luck and her mutant ability, sensing probabilities. Now the girl huddled under the table, hoping that somehow, she would remain beneath notice.

Black low heeled shoes entered the room. Her panic increased. She didn't know Miss Rothwell's position on mutants, but given the administration's efforts to capture her, she was sure it must be bad.

"Miss Rothwell." The speaker on the desk blared suddenly, and Angie nearly knocked herself out, jerking with fright at the sudden loud noise.

The woman's long, slim calves appeared before Angie, and Miss Rothwell spoke. "Yes, Mr. Turner."

She shivered, trying to calm down, nerves honed to a desperate edge.

"The mutant has not yet been found."

Pause. The secretary lifted her right leg and flexed a little. "So I need to dispatch the cavalry?"

"No. Get the cage ready. She's only a girl. Everyone's looking for her, and we already contacted the parents. She has nowhere to go."

Angie let out a small whimper before she could control it. Miss Rothwell's shoe came down hard. "Very well."

Miss Rothwell opened a desk drawer, took out a key ring, and walked to the door of her office. She held the door open, then spoke back into the room. "No one's at the front door, and the police haven't arrived yet." Then she closed the door and walked away.

Angie bolted out of the office, a tear running down her face, wild with fear and crazy hope.

She was trying to remember that day at the school now that they had captured her. The elderly man before her nodded regally and asked, "Any last words before you become what you despise?"

Blonde. Her hair had been blonde. She swallowed. "I'm … I never have been your enemy. Really. I've always tried to keep an open mind…"

He laughed. "Touching. Most touching." He bent closer to her stunned face. "Now you will have no choice. If you survive, you must join our cause; if you die, it's a good day for the dogs."

He gave the order, and hot, throbbing pain began spreading through her arm where she had been injected. She tried to remember the day she decided to let the poor, frightened mutant under her desk go. "They aren't all evil."

She tried to believe it as Magneto's serum scorched away at her body, but she felt her belief wavering as the unending pain spread.

Where We Belong

Posted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 2:14 pm
by Wolvertique
**Mystique's recovering, but Pyro's heartbroken and Rogue's pregnant. What else could go wrong? :D **

I stood by the sink in the kitchen, fighting the urge to just pound on that counter as hard as I could. My lips trembled and I felt like crying my heart out.

I knew pregnancy wasn't going to be easy. I did. But I was gettin' fat already, after just a couple months, and was getting uglier than Storm or Jean or Sage or … any of the other women at the mansion. I had to wear my uniform all the time because my pants were gettin' too tight. To tell the truth, I was worried to death. At this rate, I'd be a walrus by the time I gave birth.

I couldn't believe it started this early, even though Hank assured me that it was normal. I'd have to go shopping for new clothes every day with my gut growing like this.

How could I be getting so fat? I wasn't gaining weight. My scale showed I'd lost a couple pounds, in fact, because of my near-constant nausea. Wasn't I supposed to gain weight in pregnancy?

Something must be wrong with me. I had to have Hank check me over again!

"Ya know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen, right?"

I raised my eyes to the sky, imploring. I had decided to take a walk with Logan to discuss the new team. Clearly, he disliked my choice of time. The sun beat down on us as we carefully navigated the path leading to the brook at the estate's northwest edge. "They both have claws?"

Logan's lips twitched, but he did not laugh. "No. They're the only ones loony enough to go out in the sun at noon." He adjusted his hat, completely hiding his eyes from me.

I restrained the nervous impulse to ask him which one he was, mad dog or Englishman, and instead stated, "I am not confident that the new team will work well."

He took in a big, deep breath of air as we entered the shady grove halfway to our goal. "Tell me why."

I frowned. "St. John appears to be avoiding me. When I wish to speak with him, he says he has other plans, but does nothing. Dominic is not avoiding me. He is using his time to glower and act as sulky as my son. Rogue is almost constantly in consultation with Dr. McCoy, and Jeremy spends much of his time with her."

"And the elf's still actin' strange about us." Ah, Logan, the ever-helpful and tactful. I scowled at him. I had intended to continue, but I paused, my attention drawn by an unusual sight. A blue-winged butterfly had alighted on a bush nearby. The colors on its wings were iridescent in the sun, as clear as a summer sky. It had small splotches of black dotting its wings, which fanned open and closed slowly.


I turned my attention away from the insect. "Yes?"

"What're you gonna do?"

I closed my eyes for a brief moment, then nodded and opened them. "I am going to go back to the mansion for a while, then call a team meeting. They have all agreed to be part of this group. I shall hold them to their promises."

He stayed as I took my first few steps, cocking his shaggy head at the animal before it took to the air again. "We could stay here for a while. Air's clean, it's quiet, and we don't gotta worry about somethin' crazy happening."

I lowered myself to the ground and nodded, wincing a little. My joints were feeling the strain of our walk by this time and I welcomed the soft support of the grass under my legs.

"They come back every summer," he said suddenly, tipping his hat back and staring at the plant where I had seen the blue butterfly. "It's called a Summer Azure."

"How did you know?" I leaned against the white birch tree behind me for support, hoping he missed the grimace as I settled myself beneath it.

He snorted. "Kitty. She researches stuff like that all the time. Tells everyone, too, whether ya like it or not."

"Perhaps that should be our first task." I stretched my wasted arms. They were still far too thin, but were more muscled than they had been even a week ago. I still could not wear my wretched uniform, however. "Get them all to research data about the capabilities here and what we can do together."

"Suits me fine if it suits you." He closed his eyes and dropped to the ground. "Give me about fifteen minutes, then we'll head back."

"Why fifteen minutes?"

" 'Cause by then you'll be able to make the journey." He placed his hat over his face and sighed.

I watched and listened as his breath slowly evened into sleep. The soft, cool wind played with my hair as I watched the shadows play on the ground between us, and then I too closed my eyes.