Sessions with the Wolverine (Sequel to: Everything Old is New Again)

Authors listed in alphabetical order:

2280, Khaki, Loki


"Logan! Come watch me dive!"

"Coming!" Logan called, extinguishing his cigar and walking out of the shadow of the mansion towards the pool party. Xavier was throwing a graduation/summer break party for all the kids. Logan'd figured it'd be safest if he just stayed out of the way. Teenagers and water didn't mix well. Still, Marie had called him, so here he came.

"Ok, darlin', I'm here." he said, as he reached the edge of the olympic-sized swimming pool.

Marie smiled and climbed up the ladder to the low diving board. She executed a perfect swan dive, hardly making a splash as she entered the water. When she came to the surface, Logan called, "That was great, darlin'."

She swam over to him and he helped pull her out of the pool, her body-covering swimsuit protecting him from her deadly skin.

"Jubes taught me that one. Hey, lemme show ya another one."

"Ok."

He watched as she hurried back to the diving board. She turned and smiled at him, but then her expression changed to one of alarm. Time slowed down. He could hear Cyke yelling, "No running around the pool." He could hear the slapping sound of bare feet hitting wet concrete and then a slipping sound. A young man screamed, "Look out!" as a body slid into him, knocking him off balance and into the water in front of him.

Then, all sound was muted by the water pressing in all around him. He fell to the bottom of the pool. Looking up, he saw them through the water, the scientists in their bio-protection suits.

'No!' Logan thought, squeezing his eyes shut. 'I'm in the pool. I'm not there anymore.'

He had to get out of the water. He pushed off and swam, straining with all his might, but he couldn't reach the surface. He didn't have enough buoyancy.

He opened his eyes again to see the man with the square-rimmed eyeglasses, the one they called "Professor," leaning over him with a scalpel. Then pain blossomed throughout his body.

Logan screamed, the bubbles floating past his face up to the surface of the water. Then, when he took a breath to scream again, his lungs filled with liquid and not the metallic-tasting air he'd been expecting.

-----

Marie was so happy she'd finally been able to lure Logan over to the party. He was far too quiet these days, preferring his own company to anyone else's, except for her and Jubes, that is. Ever since his flashback at the party almost eight months ago, he avoided every social event, preferring to remain at the mansion. In fact, the only times he left were to go drinking or go on a mission.

Now that she had him here, she was eager to show off what Jubes had been teaching her. Jubilee had been a gymnast before the whole blow-half-your-house-up, powers-discovery thing. Jubes knew a thing or two about diving, too, and Marie was loving every minute of the lessons.

She had just aced her first dive and was going to show Logan one of her twisting dives, when she heard the commotion. John and Bobby were chasing each other around, Bobby throwing snowballs and John melting them. Mr. Summers was yelling at them, but they didn't pay any attention, and then John crashed into Logan, knocking him into the pool.

Marie's heart filled with dread as she saw Logan fall into the water. Some half-hidden memory told her that Logan and water just didn't mix. She left the diving board and ran around to the side where everyone had gathered. At first, the kids had laughed at the sight of Logan falling in, fully clothed in his jeans and T-shirt. However, when he didn't come back up right away, the laughter died down. When the bubbles came floating to the surface, the mood turned downright grim.

Marie dived in after him. He was struggling in the water, clawing at unseen attackers, then he went limp, his claws jumping back into his arms. Marie grabbed him and tried to swim to the surface, but the metal surrounding his bones was just too heavy. Forcing herself to release him, she broke the surface yelling for Ororo.

"Help him, 'Ro. I can't get him out. He's too heavy."

The water started to move of its own accord as 'Ro's eyes turned milky white. A wave shoved Marie aside as Logan's body rose out of the water and washed onto the pool deck.

Jean immediately went into action. Turning him onto his back. She was just leaning down to give him mouth-to-mouth when Logan started coughing up water in her face.

As he coughed, he rolled over onto his side, curling his legs up to his chest and grasping his head in his hands. Marie climbed out of the water and went to Logan's side. By now, his body was shaking slightly, as his hitched breathing filled the silence that had fallen on the party.

Jean closed her eyes for a moment, and then announced. "Ok, everyone. Logan's fine. Let's go back to the party; give him some breathing room."

Marie didn't leave. She sat by his side, stroking his wet hair and whispering calming noises as he shook.

-----

'*@^&#$! Have to get control of myself,' Logan mentally reprimanded. Once he was out of the water and could smell Jean and Marie there, he knew he was safe. He was still afraid to open his eyes, though. Irrationally, he knew that if he opened his eyes, he see the Professor's square-rimmed glasses looking back at him.

'*@&#@$, stop shaking. Not in front of Marie!' Logan thought as he tried to control his movements. After what seemed like a few hours, but was probably less than a minute, he forced his eyes open. The only face he saw was Marie's, looking down at him in worry.

"Logan?" she asked.

He didn't answer. Instead, he rolled onto his knees and forced himself up to a standing position. Slowly and shakily, he walked back to his room.

-----

Jubilee had been in the kitchen when the pool incident happened, but she hurried out to the patio as soon as she heard. Everyone was talking in low whispers and Rogue was sitting by the pool, looking back at the mansion.

"Heard what happened, Rogue? Is he ok?"

"I don't know. He's acting weird, almost like he's scared."

"I'll go talk to him."

"Thanks, Jubes."

-----

Jubilee knocked on the door for the fifth time in a minute. "If you don't let me in, I'm just gonna paff the lock."

The door unlocked with a click, but it didn't open. Jubes opened the door herself to see Logan, in a fresh set of clothes, packing all of his belongings.

"Going somewhere?"

"Yep."

"Why?"

"Time to move on."

"This have anything to do with your swim?"

He froze.

"It happened again, didn't it?"

"Nothing happened!" Logan yelled, dropping the shirts he'd been folding. "It's just... I've never been in a place for more'n two weeks at a time before. I have to go for a while."

"Yeah, just keep telling yourself that... Running doesn't help, ya know. Sooner or later, you're gonna have to face what they did to you."

"I did. I didn't run last time. I faced it, and it's still happening."

"You didn't face it. You closed in on yourself. You ran without actually going anywhere."

"I ain't no coward."

"I'm not saying you are, but you know you need help."

Logan sat down on the bed, head in his hands. "No one can help me."

"Not true. You know that until you deal with this, you're still their prisoner. You're still back in that laboratory like you never escaped. They still control your life. I know this gal; she's a real good listener. She helped me. You wanna meet her."

Logan nodded sadly and Jubilee grabbed his arm. "C'mon."

"What? Now?"

"No time like the present."

-----

Logan sat in the waiting room next to a still wet-haired Jubilee. She'd only taken a second to throw some clothes on over her swimsuit and they were gone. He still couldn't believe he'd let her talk him into this. Still, if there was any hope for a better life, he was ready to try. *[email protected]#$, if he could just stay asleep for an entire night, he'd be happy.

"Logan?" a brown-haired woman asked from the office door. She was short, only about 5 foot, and a little pudgy, but she had an honest, open face. "I'm Dr. Claire Richards. Jubilee tells me you'd like to talk."

Jubes gave him a nudge and he got up, walking into the office.

Khaki

**********

Logan followed Dr. Richards into her office. Jubes stayed in the waiting room, wondering how long the shrink would survive.

On Dr. Richards' invitation, Logan sat in a comfortable chair before the huge, wooden desk. Claire sat by her desk, notepad and pen in hand.

Logan decided to test the good shrink, and pulled out a cigar from his jacket, proceeding to light it. He watched as she stared at his action, but stayed silent. Relaxed a bit by the tobacco effect, he felt more at ease. He had marked his territory, and she didn't argue. Good. That meant she wasn't a hostile.

Claire stared at Logan for a second, then scribbled something on her pad.

"So, Logan.... I can call you Logan, right?" she asked.

"Call me Love, and I'll jump ye right here on yer desk," smirked Logan. He had to impress her.

"So Logan it is. Are you comfortable?"

"What d'you care?" he retorted.

"I am here to help you. You came here for me to help you," she bluntly stated. She was used to all sort of characters in her profession.

"I came here cuz a teenager tricked me into it," he pointed out.

"I see." She noted something again on her pad before she continued. "Could you tell me what made your friend bring you here today?"

"Dunno," he shrugged.

"Don't know, or don't care?" she asked.

"Pick one."

Dr. Richards noted something on her pad once again.

"Tell me about you, Logan," she invited.

Logan leaned over the desk, staring at the good doctor. "Look, miss. I don't need medical attention," he stated.

"Of course, and I'm not exactly a doctor. Still, something happened to make you come here today. I mean, besides your friend *tricking* you to. What happened, Logan? You can confide in me; I'm here to help you," she calmly said, leaning back in her leather chair.

Logan shrugged. "Almost drowned in the pool," he gave as the only explanation.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why? Cuz some brats pushed me in!"

"Why did they push you?"

"Cuz they're dicks."

"Why do you think of them as dicks?"

"Cuz they are!!!" he shouted.

"Why are you so aggressive, Logan?"

"I AM NOT AGGRESSIVE!!!!!!!!!!"

SNIKT!!!!!

Dr. Richards, familiar with mutants having treated some of the students and teachers at Xavier's School, didn't react. She had already experienced many mutant's powers. Once she got almost toasted alive by that young Scott when she asked him about his sexual preferences. Another time, she had flown out the window, experiencing the young Ororo's temper when she asked her if she really believed herself to be a goddess. And having Jean Grey telepatically guessing her thoughts all the time had been the worst. So some nine-inch-long metal claws didn't scare her a bit, even in six-pack.

"Where did you get them?" she asked, pointing at Logan's claws.

"Dunno," he simply answered, sheathing his claws and sitting down again.

"Why don't you know?" she pushed, taking some more notes.

"Cuz... they wiped my memory," he explained.

"I see," she said automatically, still again taking some notes. "Who did that to you?"

"Dunno."

"I see." More notes. "What did you experience when you fell into the pool?" she asked more to the point.

"Flashback."

"Describe them for me, Logan," she invited.

Why would he tell her, dammit? Shrinks, they are just like doctors, aren't they? Only they don't mess with your body, but your mind.

"You really want to know?" he asked, deciding to scare her.

"Of course, Logan. I am here to help you."

So he told her all about the champagne, the military brass standing around cheering while he was tortured with this freaking medical procedure. He told her in grotesque detail about the huge needles, the laughing doctors, and the water tank.

She took more notes now that he had really, finally, gotten to the point.

Jumping from his seat, he grabbed the notepad and shoved it in his jeans' pocket. "You take one more note, and I'll shishkebob you," he warned.

"Why would you do that, Logan?" she asked, not impressed at all. Being thrown out the window by Ororo had been way more scary.

"Ask *why* one more time, I'll slice n' dice ye," he snarled.

Dr. Richards leaned back on her chair. Time for therapy. This guy was so nuts, letting him walk around was a danger to every living being. 'I wonder where Xavier recruits his staff. Should have their license removed and fast,' she thought.

"Logan. Here is what I suggest. You have to desensitize yourself to what causes these flashbacks. To do so, you must expose yourself to all the things that trigger them. For instance, you will first work on champagne," she prescribed.

"What?"

"I suggest you have as many people as possible drink champagne around you, within secure surroundings, of course. While they are drinking, you will tell yourself that this is real and not the past."

"So I have to get people to drink champagne and stay cool, right?"

"Exactly. You will ask a person to stay with you, reminding you of the reality. As long as necessary, the others will drink champagne and then you will feel more in control."

That was for the first task for Logan. Get *desensitized* to champagne.

Loki

**********

"Now, if I can have my notebook back..."

Dr. Richards reached out her hand, and Logan grudgingly returned the notebook.

"You're free to go," the doctor finished. "I'd like to see you twice a week. Make an appointment with my secretary for Monday and next Friday."

"That's it?"

"A session is usually an hour long, but I squeezed you in. Next time, we'll talk more."

"What if there isn't a next time?"

"Try the desensitization treatment. It might help you. If nothing else, you'll get to watch your friends get drunk."

Logan couldn't stop a chuckle at the thought of Scooter staggering around. "Yeah, maybe I'll try it."

Logan exited the office to see a bored Jubilee drop the months old magazine she'd been reading and jump out of her seat.

"So?"

"We're going, kid."

-----

Once they were on the road, Jubilee turned to Logan in the jeep.

"What did she say?"

"I have to get people to drink champagne around me."

"What?"

"It's an exercise. I have to watch people drink champagne and try not to blow up."

"Wow, that's a lot more fun that what I had to do. So, how're you gonna do it?"

That made Logan pause. How could he get Scooter and company to drink champagne around him without giving away why he wanted them to do it?

"I don't know."

"Hey, maybe you could just, like, get some delivered to the mansion. Kinda like an anonymous gift, a 'congratulations on your graduating class' thing, and then you could hang out while they drank some of it."

"Yeah, but Cyke ain't a drinker. How do I get them to drink it once it's arrived?"

"I don't know. A drinking contest?"

"With champagne?"

"Yeah, right. Umm, how about one of those drinking games?"

"Like what?"

"Well, you know Mr. Summers likes Star Trek. Maybe one of those drinking games where you watch the show and have to drink when certain things happen."

"With champagne?" Logan asked doubtfully.

"Hey, it could work."

"Nah. Besides, I just got an idea."

-----

The champagne arrived two days later, on Saturday night. Jubilee had declined to go out and party with her friends, so it was only she, the younger kids, and the adults left in the mansion.

"Mr. Summers!" she yelled while the deliveryman waited.

"Jubilee, we have an intercom," Scott chastised as he walked into the foyer. "What's this?"

"Delivery," the man replied, holding out a clipboard.

"We didn't order anything. Who's it from?" Scott looked over the address information on the shipping document, then smiled to himself. "Oh, ok." Signing the document, he accepted the package and closed the door.

"What? Who's it from? What's it say?" Jubilee asked, knowing full well who had actually sent the package.

"It's from the professor. He must have arranged this before he left to lobby Congress. It says, 'Congratulations on making it through another year.' It's to me, Jean, Ororo, and Logan."

"Well, open it."

"Maybe we should get the others..."

"I'm on it," Jubilee said, running off to collect her teachers. This was gonna be good.

-----

"Champagne?" Ororo wondered aloud.

"What was so special about this school year?" Jean asked, curious herself.

"Well, we finally graduated Jubilee, and we lived through having Logan as a teacher. I think that deserves champagne," Scott answered, smiling at Logan's grunt and Jubilee's indignant protest.

"Let's drink some." Logan proposed, offering his bottle.

"I don't know, the kids..." Scott started before he was interrupted by Jubilee.

"The kids are going to bed now. It's only gonna be us."

"And you're still a kid."

"I'm eighteen!" Jubilee protested.

"Not old enough to drink."

"I'll just hang out. Not a drop, I swear. Come on..."

"I think it's all right, Scott," Jean added. "I'll get the glasses."

"Do we still have those strawberries in the refrigerator?" Ororo asked, opening it to look.

The plan was going well, Logan thought. He had to hand it to Jean, she really knew how to talk Scooter into things. When he saw her pulling out the tumbler glasses, though, he stepped in.

"No, Jean. You can't drink champagne in tumblers. Doesn't the professor have champagne glasses?"

"Since when are you Mr. Etiquette?" Scott asked, but Jean just answered. "I think the glasses are up there," pointing to a cabinet.

Logan strode over and opened the cabinet. His breath caught in his throat as he looked at the champagne glasses neatly arranged on the shelf. He stood there frozen, trying to force himself to lift his arm and grab the glasses, but he couldn't move. He could feel his right hand shaking at his side as the left hand gripped the cabinet handle until his knuckles turned white.

Jubilee came up behind him, speaking so low, he doubted anyone could hear her but him, with his enhanced hearing.

"It's ok. It's gonna be ok. I'll take them."

She grabbed four glasses, placing them on the counter, and then pushed the cabinet door closed, forcing him to release his grip. Logan closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing, praying that no one had noticed his deep, panting breaths.

Turning around, he heard the pop as Scooter released the cork on the bottle. Their laughter at the fizzing bubbles mingled with the smell of champagne and the sight of full glasses. As he watched, their images changed. They were wearing uniforms, laughing and congratulating each other. Then, just as quickly, they were themselves again.

He gripped the countertop behind him so tightly, his hands turned white and began to tremble with the effort. Jubilee was suddenly standing beside him. He flinched as her hand grabbed his arm.

'It's Jubes. It's Jubilee. I'm in the kitchen. It's not happening again,' he silently repeated to himself.

"It's ok. They're not going to hurt you. You're not there anymore. You're with friends." Jubilee whispered in a quiet, calming voice, reinforcing his thoughts.

Scott's and Ororo's backs were turned to Logan, but Jean looked up and her expression flashed with worry before she covered it up again, trying to keep their attention on her. He hated that she could tell what he was thinking and feeling. He hated looking helpless in front of anyone. Still, her distraction and Jubilee's words helped him regain some semblance of control.

Khaki

**********

Jubilee tried not to openly drag Logan as she guided him into the dining room where the others were gathered and celebrating with the *professor's* champagne. He sat by the door, the closest to it he could manage. Jubilee, taking seriously her guardian angel role, stood next to him.

Soon enough, an impromptu buffet had been set on the table: Ororo found the strawberries, Jean opted for olives, and cake was chosen to end the late snack.

The remaining glass of champagne on the table was obviously for Logan, but he just couldn't take it, so he kept staring at it... and staring at it.

Ororo picked it up and walked to Logan. Jubilee noticed how he grabbed the arms of the chair as Storm approached him, a huge smile on her face. The teenager almost jumped Ororo as she forcibly took the glass from her, emptying half of it on the carpet in the process.

"Jubilation!"

"Sorry, 'Ro. I'll get Logan his glass, if you don't mind," explained Jubes.

Jubilee handed the glass to Logan, watching his reactions. She kept her back turned to the others, facing him, and keeping a calm expression. Now he couldn't see the others around, just her, which helped him to focus on reality. "You don't have to drink it, y'know. Just pretend," she whispered.

He didn't say anything nor did he move to take the glass, so she put it on the coffee table next to him. "Just relax. And remember where you are. Here and now," she added.

Half an hour later, Logan hadn't touched his glass. Jubilee couldn't refrain making a move for some cake and joined the others by the dining table. By now, Ororo and Jean were visibly under influence. The first bottle of champagne had been drunk already, the second one was almost empty, and Scott was trying his best to open the third one, but the fact that he wasn't used to alcohol that he had drunk only succeeded in making the task of opening the bottle just too hard for him. It didn't deprive his brain of creative ideas, though. He turned to Logan.

"Hey, Wolverine. I saw on TV a guy opening a bottle of champagne with a sword. What did they call it, Jean?"

"I think they called it *sabre le champagne*," explained Jean, picking another olive from the plate.

"Yeah, that's it."

"Yer point, One-Eye?" asked Logan.

"Well, I bet you can do that with your claws," explained Scott, walking towards Logan, bottle of champagne in hand.

"Bet what ye want, bub. I ain't doing it," growled Wolverine.

"Leave him alone!" shouted Jubes from the dining table. Everyone turned to stare at her, including Logan.

"Jubilee, what's a matter with you?" asked Jean. "We're just having fun here."

"Indeed. I would really like to see the sabre champagne," added a spirited Ororo.

They all moved closer to Logan, who stared at them menacingly.

"It's an ancient military tradition, you know," explained Scott.

Ororo drank some of her champagne. Jean still had another olive on a toothpick, and Scott held the champagne bottle to Logan's nose.

In Logan's mind, the picture was slightly different: an officer drinking champagne, a doctor holding a huge syringe, and a third person moving a mask to his face.

SNIKT

Jubilee jumped in front of the X-Men, between them and Logan, who was now standing with his claws unsheathed.

An inebriated Scott waved the bottle before Logan. "Hey, one will do. Go for it, saber da champagne!" he shouted happily.

Logan slashed the bottleneck in one swift movement. In his mind, he had just destroyed the mask the man tried to put on his face. The scene before him turned back to reality.

The X-Men cheered at the graceful motion that cut the neck of the bottle. They proceeded to get fresh refills in their glasses, leaving Jubilee worrying about Logan.

"Hey, you ok?" asked a concerned Jubilee.

"Yeah kid."

Loki

**********

After refilling everyone else's drinks, Cyclops came back over to Logan, filling back up his untouched glass of champagne.

"Now, Wolvie," he began, using Jubilee's nickname for Logan and causing the tipsy women behind him to snicker, "you're not having any fun. Come on, have a drink." Scott leaned over, pushing the glass up to Logan's face.

The smell of champagne, the man with glasses before him, and the laughter of the women in the corner was adding up, pushing in on Logan. He tried to force it back, tried to keep himself grounded in reality, but it was becoming too much.

A low, threatening growl started to rise from Logan's chest. Cyke, in his inebriated state, took no notice, but Jubilee did. She reached out and plucked the glass from Scott's fingers.

"Hey, you're too young," Scott whined, reaching to retrieve the champagne.

"How old were you when you had your first drink, Mr. Summers?" Jubilee asked, walking away from Logan and drawing Scott along with her.

"Twenty-one."

Jean and Ororo started laughing over their cake. "No you weren't," Jean said.

"Ok, I was twenty-four, it was beer, and I hated it. Happy, Jeanie-beanie?"

"Yes," Jean replied, smiling at him.

"I do like this champagne, though."

"Tickles my nose," Ororo agreed.

Now that they were distracted again, Jubilee returned to Logan. She set his champagne glass back on the coffee table and returned to his side.

"Ya still with me?" she asked, looking at him as he gazed fixedly at the drink.

"Barely."

"Hang in there. It shouldn't be much longer."

Logan was furious with himself. It was just a glass of champagne. He could take on men twice his weight in the cage and beat them easily, he could stab himself through the chest without a second thought, but he couldn't take a sip of a certain alcoholic beverage. It was stupid.

He wasn't going to let them beat him. He wasn't there anymore. He survived them, he'd escaped. He could pick up that glass.

Reaching out, he leaned forward and focused on stopping his hand from shaking. Tensing it until it was steady, he grasped the glass. Pulling it towards his mouth, the champagne smell filled his nostrils as the laughter filled his ears.

'No. I'm safe. I'm in the dining room.'

A brown-haired, mousy woman leaned over and looked down at him with pity and guilt on her face.

He could hear a man's voice talking over the beeping of medical monitors.

"Pain is a principal of life, Dr. Cornelius, not that I subscribe entirely to the dictum."

Another man, younger, higher pitched voice, "Yeah, sure... Four Pheno-B staff, and keep him from shaking, willya? Reading, Hines?"

The woman in front of him turned her head away to answer the question. "Sensory cortex is overloaded, sir. There are no readings."

The woman turned back to him, reaching to touch his face. Logan jerked away, crushing the champagne glass in his grip. Jubilee was leaning in front of him.

"Wolvie, you ok? You zoned out there for a bit."

Ororo, Jean, and Scott's attention was drawn back to Logan by the sound of breaking glass. Logan's right hand was clutched in a fist, blood running down through his fingers.

"Hey, my fiancee's a doctor, she could look at that for you, 'cause she's a doctor, my fiancee that is. Jean?" Scott said.

"Yep, he's bleeding all right," Jean said from across the room. "That's my ed... ucated medical opinion."

Just then, the new graduates of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters entered the dining room to find their teachers completely drunk.

"Cool," Bobby said, reaching for the last champagne bottle.

"No, too young, you all are." Scott said, trying to sound authoritative and failing badly.

"Logan?" Marie said, crouching down beside Jubilee. "You ok, sugar?"

Logan turned his attention from Jubilee to Marie, and then to his hand.

"Yeah, fine, little accident," Logan mumbled as he got up and went to his room.

-----

"Where did you get your medical degree, out of a Cracker Jack box? I coulda killed everyone there and not even known it!" Logan yelled, pacing back and forth in the doctor's office.

"I agree that perhaps we should have started more slowly," Dr. Richards conceeded, "but you did have an astonishing breakthrough. Usually your dreams are vague, general sensations right?"

"Yeah."

"But in this experience you heard a distinct conversation and was able to remember two names?"

"Dr. Cornelius and Hines. Not gonna help me much in tracking them down."

"Still, it's progress. It means that your memories aren't as supressed as you originally thought," she said, restraining herself from reaching for her notebook. Since his adverse reaction to her writing on the first day, she had decided to record their sessions.

"It's not worth my memories. I coulda killed Jubes. I thought she was this Hines gal. Plus, my nightmares are worse, more detailed."

"That's a common reaction. It almost always gets worse before it gets better, but it will get better."

Logan looked at her with doubt in his eyes.

"We will scale back the exercises. Every day until Friday, I want you to open a champagne bottle, drink champagne, or smell something with the scent of champagne on it."

"That won't be too hard. Jubes spilled some on the carpet in the dining room. I smell it every time I go in there."

"And how has it been affecting you?"

"At first, it made me nervous, on-edge, but it's going away."

"Excellent. Continue with that. If you feel comfortable, you might work up to taking a sip of champagne."

-----

When Logan returned for his next appointment that Friday, Dr. Richards asked him how the champagne-treatment was going.

"Gettin' kinda used to it now, but still haven't drunk any."

"Wonderful, that's still progress. Does your ensuite bathroom come with a bathtub?"

Logan looked up, surprised by the sudden jump in the conversation. "Yeah, a shower/tub combo."

"Good, we're going to work on water next. I want you to fill your bathtub and leave it. Whenever you go in there, I want you to look at the water. If you feel comfortable enough, you could get in the water, but I don't want to push you."

Khaki

**********

Jubilee collected some bottles of champagne from the Professor's secret stash for Logan, just in case he wanted to test his ability at dealing with it again. She didn't store them in his room; no need to stop the guy from sleeping, really. Instead, she hid them under her bed and guarded them as long as she could, making sure to leave the room last so her roomates woulnd't find them. She couldn't be sure he would want to use them, but she wanted to give him that option.

He hadn't come out of his room after returning from the shrink's office. From the few things he had told her on their way back home, the next step was facing the water problem, so Jubes kept a vigilant eye on the swimming pool. As she thought about it a bit harder, though, she realized that Logan would probably not try the swimming pool and risk drowning again. What would he do, then?

She decided that asking him could be more efficient than torturing her brain, so she walked to his room, made sure that there was no one around, and knocked on his door.

He came to the door and open it just a bit. "What d'you want?" he asked, annoyed.

"To see how you're doin'? You know, if you want to try the champagne thing again... I got a secret stash for you," she announced.

He shook his head. "Naw..." But then, he got an idea. "Wait. How many bottles d'you have?"

"Five. Why?"

"Bring them here," he ordered.

"Gee, you're gonna try an intensive session? I'm not sure it's such a good idea, y'know?"

"Kid," he growled menacingly.

"Ok! Ok! But you have to promise to stay in your room and let me an eye on you," she bargained.

"Get them."

-----

Five minutes later, Jubes had brought the five bottles to Logan's room and found herself pushed out of the room only to hear the door lock behind her. 'Great, Jubes. Now what?' she thought.

She decided that staying in her own room, pretending to be sick if need be, and trying to monitor Logan through the wall was the best plan for now.

She heard the characteristic sound of a champagne bottle cork popping out, then silence. Ten minutes later, she heard running water in the tub. After the water was turned off, silence again. Then, another bottle being opened.

An hour passed in silence. then, another bottle opened.

-----

Jubilee was awakened well after dark by the sound coming from Logan's room. It sounded like a body hitting the floor. She jumped out of bed.

"Men!" she sighed, then rushed to Logan's door.

Knocking on it, she received no answer. It was getting weird, and she had to get in there. She had to paff the doorknob a few times before it gave up.

Upon entering Logan's room, closing the door behind her, she scanned the bedroom. There was no sign of Wolverine, but for two empty bottles of champagne on the floor.

"Great. He really did it. Got used to champagne, all right!" she said outloud to herself.

She cautiously walked by the bathroom's door and pushed it slowly.

"No. No. No...."

"Hey. Huh... you ok in there?" asked Jubilee.

No answer.

Jubilee came in, prepared for the worst.

-----

Sitting on the floor, his back to the wall, was Logan. A bottle of champagne was perched between his legs and there were two untouched ones by his side. Holding his hands in his hair, he was chanting no-no-no while bashing his head against the wall behind him.

Jubilee walked in and stopped by the door, staring at him. "Wolverine?" she tried.

SNIKT

"Not... not... a beast... not... Logan.... am.. LO-GAN!!!!!!" he shouted at her, staring at her with bloody eyes.

"Ok, Logan. Just relax, kay? You're drunk, that's all."

"No... drugged... drugged me... they... why... WHY?!?!?"

Jubilee's brain raced. It would probably be better to get some of the X-Men to come now and deal with him. She wasn't sure she wouldn't make a bad situation worse by overestimating her own wisdom.

"Why did you drink all that champagne, Logan?" she tried.

"... water... "

"Well, if you drank water, the city'd better fire the guys in charge," she tried to joke.

"... can't... "

"Can't what?"

"..."

"Look, I can't help if you don't talk to me. Besides, you should sleep now," suggested Jubilee.

Logan sent the bottle of champagne flying across the bathroom into the bedroom where it hopefully hit the bed and didn't shatter.

"I CAN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he shouted, trying to get up on his legs.

"Whooooaaaa. Cool it, kay? What can't you do? Sleep?"

"Can't.... the water..."

It was just then that Jubilee noticed the tub filled with water. 'Never though I could be so dense,' thought Jubes. He couldn't get himself in the tub and had tried to get tipsy to make it easier. Without her help, he would fail.

Loki

**********

"Ok big guy. You want to get in the tub?"

Logan only growled.

"Ok, ok, we should get you out of here then. You made progress and all, ya know? You don't have an aversion to champagne anymore." She walked next to the tub to block his vision and put her hands under his arms to urge him up.

"Although you might in the morning." she muttered.

He slowly stood up eyeing her suspiciously. He knew that it was only the kid, but he was still having trouble distinguishing dreams from reality.

Why was she helping him anyway? The first time she met him he had almost killed her, and he wasn't much safer to be around now, but she kept coming back. He didn't have much time to think it over as his vision blurred and he felt himself start to fall.

Jubilee braced herself as she felt his knees give out and gave a strangled yelp as they both fell backwards into the tub. Her head slammed into the bottom, and she saw stars.

She realized she was completely submerged in the water with a 299 lb. unconscious man on top of her.

'What the hell kind of tub is this anyway?' She thought. 'Mine is like a wading pool and he gets a swimming pool? If I live through this me and the Professor are going to have to have a talk.'

She beat on his back, and snaked a hand around to his front so she could slap him. It felt as if her lungs were going to burst. Things definitely did not look promising.

2280

**********

Jubilee was truly frightened, but she pushed that down, struggling to turn their bodies so that she was on top and Logan was on the bottom. The slick porceline of the full-sized bathtub helped, and soon she was up and gasping for air.

She quickly climbed out of the tub, but when she looked back down at Logan, she was shocked. He must've fallen badly. As she leaned over, she could see that his neck was at a distinctly odd angle.

Even as she watched, it started to pull itself back into position. Then Logan's eyes snapped open, filled with terror, and he began to scream. He didn't move, didn't even attempt to get out of the water, he just screamed, bubbles rising from his mouth. It was almost like he couldn't move.

Jubilee pulled the plug on the drain and ran for Jean.

She pounded on the thick, wooden door with all her strength, screaming for help. When they didn't answer quickly enough, she paffed at the lock, her aggravated powers melting the entire doorknob away.

Jean was at the door by then.

"Something's really wrong with Logan," Jubilee began, and then Logan's screaming reached their ears.

The water line must've fallen far enough that he could get a breath because now he was screaming at the top of his lungs, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

-----

Logan could finally move again. Unsheathing his claws, he crawled out of the surgical tube. They were back. Hines, Dr. Cornelius, even the professor with his weird eyeglasses. They would pay for what they'd done.

"Logan..." Hines started.

"I am Logan."

"Yes, that's right."

"Not an animal."

"Logan, you need help. Let us help you."

"You will pay." Logan said, lunging forward to strike and falling into blackness.

-----

Jubilee backed into Jean and Scott. She'd been inches away from losing her leg to those lethal claws when Logan had just dropped to the ground As it was, she could feel the sting of the scratch along her calf.

Jean closed her eyes, and then nodded. "The professor stopped him. He's unconscious for now."

"Jubilee, what's going on?" Scott asked, taking in the sight of full and empty champagne bottles strewn around.

"He wouldn't want me to tell you."

"Logan needs help, Jubilee," Jean said, looking up from her patient.

"He'll get it. I just have to make a phone call."

-----

~You are safe. You are at the mansion. You are calm.~

~Get outta my head, Chuck.~

"He's waking up now." That was Jean's voice. Who was she talking to?

Khaki

**********

Logan opened his eyes to see the shrink, Jean, and a very wet Jubilee staring at him.

He directed his gaze to Jubilee. "What happened, kid?"

She looked at Jean, and then at Logan, "We'll, like, talk about it later ok?"

She stood up, grabbing Jean・s arm, propelling her towards the door as she limped behind.

He looked at them suspiciously, and saw a line of blood seeping through Jubilee's torn pant leg, but he didn't have the energy to go after them yet.

-----

Jean turned towards Jubilee outside the door. "What was that all about?"

"Logan's business is Logan's business. He'll tell us what he wants us to know. Besides, I need you to stitch this up before he is finished." She pointed to her leg.

Jubilee was acting more mature than usual so Jean wasn't going to do anything to jinx it. Instead she knelt in front of her leg.

"What happened?"

"Logan sorta, like, accidentally cut me when he fell."

Jean frowned. "Well, let's get it stitched up."

2280

**********

Now alone in the room, Dr. Claire Richards and Logan started an unplanned session. His healing factor had easily overcome the excess alcohol in Logan・s metabolism. He was now sober.

"All right, Logan. Now will you explain to me what you were trying to accomplish here today?" asked Claire Richards, although she knew exactly what had happened.

"Did just what you told me to do," he grumbled.

"Let・s get it straight here and now, Logan. I never told you to get drunk and push yourself to do things you know you can・t. I never told you to risk Jubilee・s life or risk having a seizure. I only advised you to get SLOWLY used to water."

His only answer was to stare at the ceiling, an almost obvious reaction to guilt. How could he tell her that he was so sick of these nightmares and hallucinations that he was almost desperate to do anything to get rid of them as soon as possible, no matter what?

"Now, tell me why you decided to act like that?"

Silence.

Claire sighed and stood, barely looking at him. "All right, Logan. I cannot help you if you don・t want to help yourself. It・s okay with me, you know. It・s your right if you prefer to go on suffering for the rest of your life." She looked at him straight in the eyes. "Because that・s what you are doing, Logan. Like it or not, you ARE suffering. Don・t admit it if you want. Deny it. I wish you luck. But let me tell you something, Logan. Suffer all you want, but at least, try and make sure you don・t hurt others, like Jubilee, when they try to help you. There are people here that care for you, even if YOU don・t care for them."

"Get the hell out of here," he snarled. She was hiting a bit to close to home here.

"As you wish. But think about it, Logan. No one, not even YOU, can fix a 15 years of suffering in a week. Like it or not, it takes time and help to make it"

She turned and walked to the door. "You know where to find me if you need my help. I hope you will. You just need to stop being afraid to be scared."

On that, she left the room and closed the door behind her, leaving Logan to his thoughts.

Loki

**********

"Thank you for coming so quickly, Claire."

"No problem, Charles. You know I'm always there for my patients, even after midnight."

"I was not aware that Logan was seeing you."

"I'm not surprised. He's a very private person."

"I have noticed some 'difficulties' he's been having. That incident last winter, the pool mishap, and now tonight."

"What incident last winter?"

"He was having a post-traumatic flashback. Ran off with one of the students as a hostage. I consulted with you on this, remember?"

"I remember. I just wasn't aware that was Logan. Which student did he... no, wait, it was Jubilee wasn't it?"

"Yes, she was a great help to us in bringing him back to reality... What can you tell me about Logan's problems?"

"Not much, doctor/patient privilege, you know."

"Should I be worried to have him at the school?"

Claire paused to consider that. "I wouldn't be nearly as worried if he wasn't so aggressively trying to fix himself. He's pushing himself way beyond where he's ready to go right now, and that worries me."

"I have no wish to force Logan to leave us. I can feel he's a good man, but I have children to worry about."

"Hmm, a little of your psychic students' abilities finally rubbing off on you, Charles?" Clarie teased, then becoming more serious. "I agree that deep down, Logan is a good person, but he's very disturbed."

"How often are you seeing him."

"Twice a week."

"Perhaps if you met with him more often?"

"Sorry, Charles, I'm completely booked. In order to see him more, I'd have to live here."

The professor's face lit up, and Claire felt apprehension flow through her. What was she getting herself into?

-----

Logan lay awake after the doctor had left. He dreaded sleep, feeling like he'd already faced enough nightmares already.

He could remember some of what had happened when Jubilee came to him in the bathroom, but not much through that champagne-induced haze.

'What was I thinking?' he berated himself. The champagne had just made the water worse, adding onto his fears. His neck was still sore where he'd twisted it in his fall. Jubilee had been soaking when he'd seen her last. She must've fallen with him. He could've killed her easily, either in the fall or later when he thought she was someone else.

He wanted to leave, sneak out that night, but he knew Marie and Jubilee wouldn't forgive him. He'd promised Jubes he'd stay and work this out, but every day was getting harder, not better.

He thought back on what the doctor had told him. He had to stop being afraid of being afraid. Is that what he was doing? If so, how was he supposed to stop?

A thought struck him then, and he groaned in self-pity. Dr. Richards had been here, at his bedside, when he woke. They would all know soon that he had been seeing a shrink, that the Wolverine was nuttier than a Snicker・s bar. He could just see Cyke's face when he found out, the jibes and ribbing that he would have to face in the morning.

Then, a new thought came to him. What if they didn・t tease him about it? What if instead of teasing, he was met with pity? 'Poor Wolvie,' Cyke would say. 'He used to be a good fighter, but now he's scared of his own shadow.'

Khaki

**********

About 15 minutes after Jean had begun the stitches, they were done, and Jubilee had returned, standing next to the offending tub, picking up the empty champagne bottles.

"It's definitely deeper than mine," she grumbled, wincing as the stitches in her leg pulled a little when she knelt down.

Suddenly she heard someone walk up behind her,

"What ya doin darlin?"

2280

**********

"You shouldn't be sneakin' in my room at night, y'know," he admonished her.

"Yeah right. Nor at any other time," she replied.

"What d'you think you're doin' here anyway?" he asked

"Taking the two remaining bottles away from you. You don't need them, and I sure don't need another show tonight," she snapped. He stared at the floor, unsure of what to say.

"At least, we know you got desenzitiz... desinsitize..." she continued in a lighter tone

"Desensitized," he provided.

"Yeah, whatever... to champagne. You don't need them anymore, so I'll put them back." She bent to grab the bottles, wincing as her leg reminded her of the stitches.

He took the bottles. "I'll carry 'em. Now get to bed," he didn't wait for her reply, walking out of his room and straight to her door. She followed him and took the bottles from him as he slowly opened the door.

"Night, Logan," she said as she entered her room.

"Uh... Jubes?"

"What?"

He pointed at her leg. "Sorry about that."

"Oh, right. You just, like forget it, 'kay? Besides, now I know how sharp they are," she answered, waving to his arms.

"I wouldn't have them if I had a choice," he stated, staring at his fists.

"C'mon, I'm sure they saved your life more than once."

"Yeah, kid. That they did. That's why I wish I never had 'em." He turned and walked away. "Night, kid."

-----

That night, no scream came from Logan's room and all the occupants of the surrounding rooms enjoyed a well deserved peaceful night's sleep. Little did they know that the only reason that Logan wasn't screaming in his sleep was because he didn't sleep at all.

He pondered all night long how he should deal with the situation. There were always two choices in Wolverine's life: fight or flight. Amazingly, going away now echoed running away, being afraid, giving up.

Logan wasn't totally ready for that. Deep down, he really wanted to move on from the past. Running away from it for years didn't really help. Nothing and no one had helped. But now, there seemed be a few people who really wanted to help him. Maybe he could try once again.

That shrink had told him to go slowly with the steps; Jubilee had told him that drinking wasn't the brightest of idea. Not listening to them, always on his own Wolverine mind, he had just been that close to losing it all again. What if it had been Marie, and not Jubilee, in the bathroom? He couldn't forgive himself if he had hurt Marie again. But there was nothing to really prevented it from happenning one day to her or anyone around him.

Facing people now was hard enough, but he had to do it. Since he had decided to not go away, he couldn't hide in his room forever.

-----

Only when he entered the cafeteria did he remember that this was Saturday and thus, a no-class day. Everyone seemed to be still there, the students at the surrounding tables and the staff around the larger table they usually shared.

He nodded towards Jubilee and smiled, although very briefly, to Marie. It seemed to made the girls relax instantly. They smiled back, and then he walked to the staff's table.

"I am glad you are staying with us for the weekend, Dr. Richards," commented Ororo Munroe.

Logan stopped short.

Loki

**********

"So what happened last night?" Marie whispered to Jubilee, casting a look at Logan.

"I don't know. He had a rough night, but he's getting better, I guess. He's desensitized to champagne and all, so we won't have to worry about charity events." She poked at her food. She hadn't told Marie about how she had gotten hurt last night; it just would have upset her. Instead she had just wrapped it up, and hoped the stitches didn't pop in training today.

She glanced at Logan out of the corner of her eye, he had frozen in place for a few seconds, but then he continued moving to sit at the table. She guessed everything was all right. It was weird, she had known the guy for, like, eight to nine months? And yet she felt responsible for him, like she needed to protect him. She knew more about him than anyone in the world but Marie, who of course had the advantage since he was still in her head.

She studied him as he ate. He had nice features; he scowled too much, but he had a nice mouth. She might consider pursuing him if it weren't for the whole raving I'm-gonna-snap-at-any-second psycho act. Well that, and he was totally hung up on Marie. With a sigh she stood up. She had a solo training session in the danger room, and after last night it was gonna take a lot out of her.

2280

**********

Logan grabbed his breakfast and sat down at the table at the only seat available, the one across from Dr. Richards. He glanced at her once, and then kept his head down, avoiding everyone's gaze.

He braced himself, waiting for Scooter to start in on him, but nothing happened. The people around the table discussed training schedules with the new graduates, travel details for those kids whose families wanted them home over the summer break, and activities for the kids left at the mansion between school years. His performance last night wasn't mentioned once.

He sneaked glances when he thought it was safe, but no one was looking at him. No one was cringing away from him. It was like last night had been any other night.

As he got up to leave after finishing breakfast, he noted Dr. Richards get up as well, following him out. Once they made it through the cafeteria doors, he turned to her.

"What did you tell them?"

She backed away, surprised by the question. "I am your doctor, Logan. I didn't tell them anything."

"Then why were they acting like nothing happened? Why didn't they say anything to me about your bein' here?"

"Logan," the doctor said with a wry smile, "do you think you're the only person on Xavier's faculty that I've treated?"

At his dawning realization, she laughed and nodded. "If you feel like talking, I'll be around."

Khaki

**********

Logan didn't feel like talking right now. What was she thinking, anyway? That he would follow her and hide out in a room, so every one in the whole mansion would know he was gettin' therapy? He sure wanted to get rid of the flashbacks, he didn't want to replace torturous memories with humiliating ones!

Naw, for now. Logan opted for a walk around ouside with the sole company of a cigar.

-----

Jubilee went to the danger room. This special room, designated for *special* training, was kept secret from the younger students. It had been one of the best days of her life when Scott Summers, leader of the X-Men, had introduced her to it.

It meant she wasn't a kid anymore. Well, she had thought that at the moment, at least. The school staff still acted as if she was a kid most of the time, but being allowed to use the special facilities, the Danger Room, was a priviledge she always cherished.

A few stiches on a leg would not stop her from exercising that priviledge.

She came in and checked the possible scenarios available for her training. Robots, aliens, anti-mutant mobs... Quite boring in fact. Jubilee pushed a few buttons, not really caring about the adversarial selections, but made sure to set the training session to the lowest level. That meant she would face a small number of non-lethal forces.

Tired of waiting for Scott to get to the observation room (besides, it was a level 1 session so nothing bad could happen), she went in and got prepared to meet her imaginary adversaries.

The room's features changed into a war zone. Debris everywhere, strewn around the ground, would make her moving around a bit hazardous given her already overtaxed leg.

She sighed. 'Next time, 'member to pay attention when you choose the scenario, Jubes,' she admonished herself.

She made her way to the side of the room, already exhausted by trying to spare her leg. That's when the enemies appeared: a mutant-hating mob wearing battlesuits.

Jubilee shook her head in disgust. 'Hope Wolverine doesn't see this program,' she thought. 'Naw. He wouldn't use the lowest settin'. Too dangerous for... his macho reputation!'

The enemies slowly spread out, circling her hiding place. She knew she had to fight them, but all of them, even if there were only 3 of them, were to much for her now. She opted on trying to take them one by one, instead. She had that before and knew she could.

She slowly retreated backwards, keeping her eyes on the guys all the time. Oops, they spotted her. Time to run!

She ran to hide behind a half-collapsed wall and catch her breath. Gee, she should not have come here while wounded, even slightly. She couldn't run as fast as usual.

Usually, the bad guys' weapons weren't a threat and everyone could avoid them easily if you could run. Which, for now, she was almost incapable of doing.

So when the rocket flew towards the wall, she couldn't run fast enough. She barely had time to notice it, screaming and jumping away, but not fast enough.

-----

He heard the scream.

They heard it as well.

Logan ran into Scott on his way to the Danger Room. Scott got the wind knocked out of him. Wolverine, not giving a s***, entered the Danger Room while the staggering Summers made his way up to the control room.

All that Logan had to do was to turn off the simulation. Simple enough. He could smell Jubilee somewhere at the far end of the room, but then some men caught his attention. Logan fidgeted.

Flashback

Soldiers. Weapons. SNIKT.

They turned to him and aimed.

GROWL They were going to pay for what they'd done to him.

As he prepared to jump and make carnage out of these bastards, he heard a whimper. They probably held someone else, besides him. Probably had tortured that person as well.

-----

"He isn't helping Jubilee. Ororo, get in there and get her out," ordered Scott. "I'll turn this thing off."

"No," cut in Claire, who had followed the X-Men.

"What is she doing in here?" yelled Scott, now worried that an outsider had witnessed some of the most secret installations of the mansion.

"Scott, we'll clarify that later. For now, no one intervene in that... that room," ordered Dr. Richards.

"You better have a good reason. Jubilee's in trouble down there. And that... that nutso won't even look at her!" yelled Scott as he pointed at Logan.

"All I ask you is to give him 2 minutes," said Claire, watching the events unfolding in the danger room.

"That's not a reason. I'm shutting it down now," cut in Scott.

~Scott. Do as Dr. Richards asks you.~ came Xavier's mind-voice.

-----

They were after him. He had just escaped, and they were chasing him like an animal. He had no weapon. He was naked. But he wasn't defeated yet. He would make them pay for all he had endured.

"Logan?"

He thrashed his head around for a split second to locate the voice. The soldiers still walked towards him.

"I think my leg's broken," continued Jubilee.

He didn't move, watching the soldiers closing on him. Oh, they were going to suffer!

"I'm bleedin'... I... Logan, help me?"

That voice. He'd heard it before. It reminded him of someone, someone who didn't hurt him, actually.

Slowly moving backwards to the now completly collapsed wall, not turning his back to the soldiers, he reached the place where the voice was coming from.

"Ok, Logan. It's me, Jubilee. I got... I know, should've waited for Cyclops... anyway... care to give me hand?"

He turned slightly, ever aware of the soldiers almost circling him now, and looked down at the girl struggling among the debris. He knew her, but who was she? Jubilee she said...

"Jubilee?" he asked, unsure.

"First prize, mister.... Huh... how about you get me out of here?"

-----

Up in the control room, many people watched as Logan carried Jubilee in his arms out of the room, not caring about the simulated anti-mutants.

Dr. Claire Richards smiled. It was a little victory to be sure, for everyone.

But now, it was way past time for a talk.

Loki

**********

When Logan exited the danger room, he was surrounded by people. Clutching the girl to his chest, he slowly backed away from them, growling low.

"Logan," the red-haired woman stepped forward, hands out and open, voice slow and calming. "It's ok. Let us help Jubilee."

Her voice was familiar, too. Studying her face, realization dawned on him and the hallucination melted away. He wasn't naked, outside the laboratory anymore. There weren't any soldiers trying to recapture him. He was in the basement of the mansion and they were his friends. Looking down at the person is his arms, he recognized Jubilee.

"Jubes?"

"Hey, Wolvie. Welcome back." Her voice was filled with pain, and he could smell the blood on her. She was injured. Please, God, don't let it be because of him.

"Did... did I... who hurt you, Jubes?"

Seeing the worry and guilt on his face, she quickly answered, "It's my own fault. I should've waited for Mr. Summers before I started in the danger room. You didn't do anything but help me out... Ya know, I think I'd really like to go to the Med Lab now."

"Oh... yeah." Logan said, turning to carry her to the med lab with Jean close behind.

Once he got Jubilee settled, he left again. He had to sort out what was happening to him, so he rode the elevator to the first floor and walked out towards the woods.

-----

Dr. Claire Richards was fascinated to finally witness one of her patient's flashbacks. He was really trapped in his past, unaware of the true identities of the people around him. It was an extremely dangerous situation for a man who could kill in seconds to not be able to identify friend or foe. Still, when encouraged and given time to think, he could snap himself back to reality.

"Dr. Richards, how did you get down here?" an annoyed and worried Scott Summers asked her as they stood in the hallway outside that amazing room. The "danger room" if she remembered correctly what Jubilee had called it.

"I followed Logan. He was running through the mansion like a freight train, and I figured it would be wise to see what he was up to."

"You shouldn't be down here."

Claire saw Logan exit the room down the hall, Jubilee-less now. He turned to the elevator and left.

"Could we talk about this later, Scott?"

"No, we・ll talk about this now. This is a serious breach of the school's security and..."

"Scott, Charles asked me to stay here to help Logan, and I'm going to do my job. We'll discuss this later,・ she said in an authoritative tone and left Scott standing in the hallway.

-----

She caught sight of Logan through the windows when she made it to the first floor. He was heading out to the woods. Good, he might be more willing to talk in a less restraining environment. She followed.

Soon, she was deep in the thick of the woods, not knowing when Logan had gone, and not that sure she'd be able to find her way back either. Turning around, to try and get her bearings, she heard a voice above her.

"The mansion is back that way."

Logan was perched in the branches of a tree above her. Craning her head to look at him, she asked, "Are you ready to talk about what happened today and last night?"

"Nope."

"Too bad. I am," she replied.

Khaki

**********

Claire Richards looked around and found a patch of grass she could comfortably sit on. Logan seemed happy with his position in the tree, so maybe he would stay there. That was fine with her, as long as he was staying around, she had a chance to make him talk.

He didn't say another word, probably studying her from his higher position. Claire let him take time to relax and, hopefully, feel confident with her. It wasn't hard for her to understand that this environment was way more suitable for her patient than her own, professional office.

It wasn't hard for her to realize that this guy was stubborn and wouldn't open up willingly, either. Yes, he was stubborn, and so were she. Twenty minutes had passed in silence. That was enough.

"That is a very... interesting gym Charles has down there," she stated nonchalantly, looking at the forest around her, but not at him.

Silence.

"I know you're a mutant."

"How d'you know?" came the low voice. Logan never liked being recognized as a mutant. Not that he was ashamed about it, but being unnoticeable had often proved quite useful.

"Well, you flashed your claws in our first session. I thought they were a mutation, but they could've been knives or another kind of weapon. Today, I was in that room above the gym, and saw you again." she explained.

Silence again.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" she asked.

"Try me."

"Were you born with these... uh..."

"Claws. No."

Silence. This time, she didn't reply. She had given him a few things to think about. Now, all she had to do was wait and listen. Something, she was sure, would come out of him.

But fifteen minutes later, the sun set and he hadn't spoken another word. Claire wondered if there was a word to describe a person being this ultra stubborn. She tighted her jacket around her, almost defeated. She hated that. She could make a photograph talk; she could make a rock cry. No patient had ever resisted her. They all finally opened up to her, sooner or later, but none had ever lasted this long.

She looked up at the sky, in the opposite direction from Logan, and watched the stars. She had no more choices now. She had to take the bull by the horns and live with the aftershocks.

"They grafted them into you. Having people abusing you.... That must have been horrible," she tried.

Logan had been patient... really patient. He felt quite proud of himself for not running away from that shrink, something he could have done easily. But now, she was invading territory he usually kept to himself, and she would not go further in. He had told her all the gory details in their first session, trying to scare her away, but he had never revealed the feelings that went along with the experience: the pain, the fear, the helplessness, and the hate.

In a split second, he was on her. Literally. Claws unsheathed slowly, although not menacingly. He, instead, held them up, making her see them quite closely. She wanted to know? Damnit, she would!

"Horrible?! Who d'you think you are to talk about it? No one knows!" he shouted to her face.

"So, tell me, Logan," she invited. She tried to stay calm, but she also knew that at any moment, he could experience one of these flashbacks. Which meant she wasn't quite safe right now. She tried her best to stay calm, even as he kept staring at her with those fierce eyes.

"No one knows how it was... how it is to..." Amazingly, he couldn't say the words. To him, they were emotions so strong, he never bothered to put a name to them. He just hated feeling them.

"To what, Logan? To feel helpless, hopeless, abused..." she added "violated?" in a quiet voice.

"You shrinks!" he pushed her against the ground, covering her so she couldn't move. "Ye're all the same. Ye think you understand everythin', but you don't! Ye're playin' with my head," he snarled.

"I understand what you're feeling, Logan," she whispered.

"How could you?!! You've never..." he started yelling at her face.

"Yes, Logan. I do. I know what being violated is like," she cut him off.

He stared at her, as realization dawned on him.

Loki

**********

"What? When?"

"This isn't a contest, Logan. I'm not going to share my problems with you so we can decide who's suffered more. This is about you. Until you face what they did to you, allow yourself to feel something other than hate and anger, you'll never recover. You have to allow yourself to mourn.

"They took control of your life. You think you escaped them when you ran away, but you didn't. Until you allow yourself to face what happened to you, to finally feel everything you've bottled up inside, you're still their prisoner. They stole your past, but unless you take action, they will steal your future as well."

Silence. Logan just stared at her, absorbing what she'd told him. Leaning back and retracting his claws, he sat down in front of her, staring at the tree roots before him.

They stayed there, Claire looking at Logan, Logan looking at the ground, for quite some time before he spoke.

"I don't know how."

"How to what, Logan?"

"How to stop feeling like I do. Do you think I like the nightmares, the rages, the fear I'll hurt someone I care about?"

"It's the way you've been coping with what happened to you for as long as you can remember. It will be difficult to change, but you have friends willing to help you."

"They think I'm nuts."

"No they don't, Logan. Everyone has problems, mutants more so. I think Xavier's school alone has financed my house, my car, my trip to the Bahamas, well, you get the point. They understand."

Logan nodded.

"Are you ready try?"

Logan nodded again.

They didn't return to the mansion until well into the next morning.

-----

One year later...

-----

"Cannonball!"

Marie and Jubilee were splashed by a massive wave as they sunbathed next to the pool.

"Logan!" "Wolvie!" they screamed in unison.

Logan climbed out of the pool with a cheeky grin, and leaned over the two girls, shaking his head like a dog to spray the water from his hair onto them.

"Jubilee, you should've never taught him how to swim."

"Hey, it's all Hank's fault. He invented those arm floaters that help him stay above water."

Logan just smiled and jumped back into the pool splashing them again before he started his laps.

-----

"I don't know how to thank you for what you've done for Logan, Claire."

"I did my job, Charles, like I do for all of my patients."

"You must admit that he was a more difficult case than you usually see."

"Everyone is unique, Charles, and I can't take credit for Logan's recovery. He did the work."

"Still, with all the help you've given us over the years, I can't help but think that our school needs a full-time psychiatrist. And since you already know all our secrets..."

"I'll think about it Charles, thank you." Claire said, and then turned to see Logan enjoying himself with his friends. Unshackled from his demons, his future was bright and limitless.

Khaki

 

The End