Stumbling down the stairs of an old and almost abandoned building, his senses brought him to the basement. Reinforced steel doors were no match for his adamantium claws and he soon tore down the door anyway. He took in the sight before him. Good lord, they employed a whole department of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be put in charge of the new Sentinels.
"Fury, stop this madness this instance! Ya goin' ta kill us all!"
"I'm sorry Logan, but that's a negative request," Fury spoke firmly.
X-23 by Wolverine's side scowled menacingly. Wolverine put a hand on her shoulder. "We'll negotiate this, kid." She nodded, and stepped back, unsheathing her claws and folded her arms.
"I was under strict orders by the government to capture, dead or alive, the mutant terrorizing Washington D.C."
"We take care of our own kind Fury, now disengage that programme!" Wolverine raised his voice and stepped closer.
"Ya goin' ta kill her!"
Fury turned his back toward Wolverine and walked away.
"Don't turn ya back on me Fury."
"Leave, before I'll have orders to dispose of you and your partner, Wolverine."
"No one turns their back on the Wolverine." With that, he lunged forward and grabbed Fury, who countered and threw him off his back. Wolverine somersaulted in the air and landed deftly on his feet, immediately assuming a crouched position.
"Get them!" Fury barked an order, causing his men to scramble into position and arming themselves with whatever weapons they could land their hands on.
Without missing a beat, X-23 unsheathed her claws and leapt into the air. She had been trained for such activities all her life, and now she was putting it to good use. Rampantly barging her way through, her adamantium claws sliced through the guns like a knife would paper. Gun parts and bullets clattered to the ground as she delivered vicious fists to their heads as Wolverine and Fury brawled in a far corner. While the men were preoccupied with regaining their senses, X-23 hurried over to the main CPU and hacked into the computer system, fingers flying furiously over the keyboard.
"What's she doing?!" Fury demanded irately, managing to kick Wolverine off him, before he came back with a flying tackle.
An officer approached X-23. "System override, sir." He promptly received a kick to his head that knocked him out. X-23 returned to carry out her final override procedures.
"Don't just stand there, get her!"
But at that instance, she hit the 'return' key, broadcasting a frequency which would cause serious circuitry damage to every Sentinel out there.
Bright light was peering through the rumble when Cyclops came to. His first instinct was to survey his surroundings. No, he was not dead yet; he was half buried in debris, an unconscious Jean was sprawled on top of him. The Sentinel which had attacked them earlier crumbled to the ground, with the faint frizzle of its damaged electronic circuitry.
"Jean?" With his free hand, he pushed her tangled mass of red hair from her face and caressed it. Her breathing was shallow and infrequent. "Jean! Somebody help!"
Don't panic, think, think, he tried to calm himself while he felt around in his mind for that faint familiar buzz that resonated previously. It was a futile grope in pitch blackness; their link was dead, not even a mere static buzz. There was no reception. "Jean? Jean?" He was sure his expression was one that was about to break down in tears, when he heard footsteps.
"Scott? Like what happened here?" Kitty approached, slightly out of breath.
But Piotr went straight to work, hurling huge chunks of debris away.
"Phase Jean out first Kitty, she's hurt!"
"But if she's hurt I'm afraid I could..."
"Just do it Kitty!"
"Alright, alright," Kitty gestured for Colossus to stop temporarily (fearing any sudden displacement of concrete blocks could injure Jean further) while she phased her hands through the rumble.
"And be careful."
Kitty felt for Jean's arms and slid hers under Jean's before pulling her out of the debris. Half-dragging and half-carrying Jean's limp body, Kitty settled her against a partially crumbled brick wall. By that time, Colossus had removed enough debris that Scott could wriggle loose from his trapped position. Colossus helped him to his feet. He had sustained minor cuts and bruises, but Jean was not a pretty sight to see. Her exposed arms were scarred and her left leg twisted in such a way which meant it was most probably broken.
"Jean? Jean wake up," Scott walked over and sat down beside her, drawing her broken frame close to him. Cradling her, he began rocking slightly back and forth. "Kitty, where's Doctor McCoy?"
"I...I think he's like tending to Magneto and the Professor in the X-Jet."
With that, Scott scooped Jean in his arms and stood up, quivering slightly. "We have to get her back to the jet," he stumbled slightly walking out. Piotr steadied him. Scott refused his offer to help; he could carry Jean himself.
"Hank!" Scott came running (and stumbling) up the X-Jet. Beast was tending to the professor, and a seemingly unconscious Magneto. Both X-Men and the Brotherhood turned their attention to him as he pushed past the small crowd and lay Jean down in one empty corner.
"My stars and garters! What happened to her?"
"The Sentinel tried to fry us...I...she got...hurt real bad," Scott stammered, and the tears threatened.
"Come on Scott, you need to sit down. Let Hank deal with her." Ororo helped Scott to a nearby chair. He was clearly exhausted. They all were.
"No, Jean, she needs me."
"Calm down Scott, Jean's going to be fine. You need rest."
"Fury! What are ya doing here?" Wolverine growled at their uninvited guest.
"I have been given orders to apprehend Jean Grey."
"The kid ain't done nothing wrong."
"She killed Roberts and God knows how many more people, terrorized the whole of D.C., how much more proof do you want?"
"She's a good kid, and now she's hurt pretty bad."
"Jean's pulse and vital signs are weak; we have to get her back to the mansion pronto!" Hank called from the back of the jet.
"No one is going anywhere until you surrender the girl!" Fury ordered forcefully.
"And what if we don't?" Wolverine extended his claws threateningly.
"Then I'll arrest all of you!"
"You can't handle us all Fury. And what if you take Jean away? You think your men can handle her?"
"We have facilities Logan."
"And we take care of our own kind Fury."
"Colonel please," Charles Xavier interjected, "Jean would fair better under our charge."
"I need to get Jean back to the medlab now!" Hank raised his voice once more.
"I have been given orders." Fury gestured for his men to raise their weapons.
This time, Wanda stepped forward and out of the jet, flanked by the Brotherhood. Her hands were charged with a bluish glow, and she immediately proceeded to hex all of Fury's men, including him. "Hurry! Leave now!"
Responding immediately, Scott jumped from his seat and prepped the jet. Firing up the engines, the jet took off into the sky.
"Dammit!" Fury watched helplessly as the X-Men slipped from his grasp.
"So," Toad voiced, "you guys are from S.H.I.E.L.D.? Cool."
Cyclops landed the jet with practiced ease into the hanger. Nightcrawler teleported out of the jet and appeared seconds later with an emergency gurney outside. Hank held Jean in his huge arms while Rogue held the IV drip steady as Hank lowered Jean onto the gurney and wheeled her into the medbay.
Storm had come over and laid a reassuring hand on Scott's shoulder, partially to stop him from running out of the jet. Hank did not need a distraction while he was at work.
"Scott." A weary professor wheeled over to the cockpit as Colossus and Kitty helped an unconscious Magneto to the medbay.
"It should have been me in that thing! I...It's all my fault...all this..."
"It's not your fault Scott. Many unforeseeable events occurred, and with her expended powers...it's just unfortunate." Charles Xavier steepled his fingers.
"I was the cause of her rage! If I hadn't done so much, than maybe none of this would have happened..." Taking off his visor, he let the tears come. He could not hold up this façade anymore. He felt so much pain, so much guilt.
"Scott, listen to me. There wasn't anything you could have done to prevent the sudden growth in her powers. All of us couldn't have done anything as well."
"So it's just her luck that she's lying in the medbay, near death?!"
"Scott," Ororo spoke this time, "calm down. You're tired, you need rest."
"I don't need rest! I need to be with Jean!"
"Scott control yourself! You aren't doing Jean anything good acting like this," the professor sat upright in his chair and voiced firmly. "Take Storm's advice and get some rest. I'll debrief the rest of the team on your behalf."
Returning to his room, he doffed his uniform and opted for a hot shower. Maybe it will help ease his mind a little. He winced as the water hit his wounds, and one too many a times, he rammed an angry fist into the tiled wall. Finally, he collapsed and broke down, crying in a squatted position in the shower. The shower poured from the nozzle, its deafening sound drowned that of his sobs and the water diluted his tears. Scott did not know how long he held that position, but his skin was starting to wrinkle like a prune, and he could barely feel his legs. And his eyes were dry and sore. Shivering as he got out of the shower and dried himself, Scott stumbled blindly into his bedroom, groped around for his dresser, threw on some warm clothing and crawled into bed. Ororo was right; he was so very tired. He tried not to think about anything; he barely slept the night before and his physical body was protesting. A few minutes later, Scott finally gave into exhaustion.
"Help me! Please! Somebody! Anybody! Help..."
It was a burning house. He had seen that house before. He saw through the walls; a little girl dressed in white was crying.
"Don't let them take me away...please..."
"Jean?" Scott shot upright in bed, and instinctively felt for his sleep goggles (which were firmly in place). He rubbed his face under his goggles, and then ran his fingers through his hair. Without a second thought, he threw the covers off him and got out of bed. Slipping into his slippers, he padded quietly downstairs and to the medbay.
Hank had moved her into one of the observation rooms. Her broken leg was in a cast, and her wounds cleaned and bandaged. She was also hooked up to an IV drip and other assorted medical electronic equipment. An eerie steady 'beep' filled the quiet room as Hank paced about, busily taking notes. Magneto was in the neighbouring observation room, attached to similar equipment. Scott passed his room on his way down in search of Jean. He entered Jean's room silently, startling Hank when he turned around and found Scott had suddenly appeared in the room.
"Scott?" Hank almost dropped his chart. "What are you doing down here?"
"I...I need to see her." She was calling for me...
"Scott, you can visit tomorrow. Jean's condition just stabilized; she needs some room." Hank's voice was laced with sadness.
"How's Jean?" Scott looked into Hank's eyes. "Really."
"I...she's fine, physically. Her pulse has stabilized."
"But..." Hank sighed. "Come Scott, take a look at this." He gestured towards a small screen. "Jean's body is functioning normally, but there isn't any brain activity registering."
"You mean she's like...brain dead?" Scott almost fell backwards in shock and horror.
"I'm not certain if that's the case."
"Will she ever wake up?"
"I don't know Scott. I'm sorry."
Scott sat himself down unceremoniously on the chair beside Jean's bed. He clasped her limp hand in his and brought it to his lips.
"Scott?" Hank came over and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I'll be fine." He paused then added. "What's wrong with Mag...Erik?" Scott tilted his head in the direction of the room next door.
"He took a nasty blow to his head. He may well have developed amnesia, possibly permanently if that part of his nervous system has been damaged irreparably."
Scott nodded gravely.
"Get some rest Hank, you've been working too hard."
"I'm fine. I've had some rest. You aren't looking any better yourself. I'd like to stay with Jean for awhile."
Seeing that no harm would be imminent, Hank surrendered and retired to his quarters. Kitty and Piotr had offered to take turns mending the medbay and would alert him if anything went wrong.
"Jean...I'm so sorry..." brushing errant stands of her hair from her forehead, he broke out into a hoarse sob once again.
"Why didn't you let me save you? I was the idiot; I deserve to be in this state, not you...why?" He laid his head on the side of her bed against her side, he had his eyes closed and his tears were soaking into the sheets. His hair brushed against her fingertips and he grabbed fistfuls of her sheets. The monotonous 'beep' of the machines and the low hum of the air conditioning soon lulled him to sleep.
To mark the end of an eventful day, Logan decided a cigar was in order. The night air was still as he exited through the back door of the kitchen. Too much had happened recently, and he needed breathing space to clear his thoughts. And leaving the mansion for the night was a strict no-no. In many aspects, it was too dangerous a risk. Stepping out into the porch, he had a clear view of the half moon and some stars. And a peculiar silhouette in the shadows.
"Hey kid. I'd thought ya would've taken off long ago."
X-23 turned, her face half illuminated by the faint moonlight, and half in shadow. "If you want me to, I can leave."
"No no, I...if ya want ta stick around fer awhile, it's fine."
”It's dangerous out there, and you X-Men could use some help."
Logan nodded as he sat down on the steps of the porch. He motioned for her to join him on the steps. Reluctantly she inched her way forward and took her spot, but warily kept her distance. Rings of smoke dissipated into the air.
"So, where ya going ta go after this?" Logan inhaled deeply.
"I don't know. It's not as if I have anywhere left to go. Hydra's main base has shut down, well at least temporarily. It would be some time before they pick up operations again. And it was none of my business poking around S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway." There was a pause as a light breeze stirred the surroundings, rustling the leaves. "I...I need to find a purpose in life. Hydra designed me to be the perfect weapon...I..."
"I understand ya kid. I was too. Project: Weapon X. I went on living half a life I don't remember. I don't remember what happened before, but at least I remember what happened after. Charles accepted me and gave me a place in the Institute. He gave me a purpose. I'd lay my hands on anyone who dares harm any of these kids." He clenched his fists, thinking about what all those bastards had done to Jean.
"Do you think...there's a place for me?"
"There's a place fer everyone of ya kid. Yer welcome to stay with us anytime."
"Thanks." She smiled back.
"Ya should smile more often."
"And you should smoke less. That is just disgusting."
Logan chuckled at that remark. "Like I've been tellin' everyone 'ere. Mind yer own business kid."
She did what Logan thought was unthinkable. She joined him with a light-hearted laughter.
"You're all so close, like family. I've always wanted one. I never had one." She unfolded her hands from her lap and stretched her hands out. "All because of this."
"Yer always welcome 'ere. I don't remember my mother or father, but I 'ure as hell got lotsa kids!"
She then proceeded to hug him, which admittedly startled Logan. "Thank you."
"Yer welcome kid. Besides, we're related after all." He took a last puff of his cigar before extinguishing it. "Now, we need ta get ya a name."
"How 'bout you pick one?"
"Hmm...I've never named anythin' before." Well, unless Half-pint, Shades and Porcupine counted as proper names, he mused. He pondered for moment. "Rina."
"Ya don't like it kid?"
"No, anything's fine. I don't know anything about names."
"Neither do I. So, Rina it is?"
"Yeah, I guess so..."
"Well then, Rina, welcome to the X-Men."
The Institute's subbasement was constructed entirely out of steel and other assorted metal material. The corridors were fixed with florescent lighting. It was impossible to tell night from day having stayed in the subbasement for some period of time.
That morning, Hank McCoy came down early to resume his post as medic, accompanied by Charles Xavier, and to relieve an exhausted Kitty and Piotr.
Charles Xavier took notice of Scott snoozing by Jean's bedside.
"He's been down here all night," Hank informed the professor in a hushed voice. "I think we should leave them for awhile."
"Alright. Let's go see Erik first." Charles Xavier wheeled into Erik's observation room. "How is he Hank?"
"He'll be fine. But I'm afraid the injury he sustained by the blow dealt by Jean could have rendered him amnesic."
The professor steepled his fingers.
"But his condition is stable. He should regain consciousness in a couple of days. Jean, I'm afraid..."
"What's wrong with Jean?" Xavier's worried tone laced his words.
"I...I don't know how to explain it." Hank quietly exited Erik's room and held the door open for the professor. They went next door to Jean's room.
Scott was still sprawled on the side of her bed, sleeping silently.
"The poor boy's exhausted."
"He refused to return to his room after sneaking down in the night. I had no choice but leave him down here, unless I pried him away from Jean's bedside."
"Now, about Jean?"
Hank gestured to the heart monitor. "Her pulse and body are in stable condition. Pulse rate is slightly high, but nonetheless normal. Body temperature, blood pressure, all normal. But..." he pointed to another screen. "I'm not registering any brain activity."
"Jean's...brain dead?" Xavier stuttered on his words.
"Presumably in theory, but Jean's body is functioning as per normal without the aid of any crucial life support systems. Even this is baffling me."
Xavier wheeled closer to Jean's bedside and ran his hand gently over her forehead. At this time, Scott started to stir.
"I...Jean...what's wrong with her?"
Charles Xavier shook his head gravely. "I don't know Scott. Henry and I are trying to find an answer to that."
Scott returned his gaze to Jean and held her hand. It was so cold, and so frail.
"Scott, I know you're angry and upset. I am too, but you need to be strong. Why don't you go take a breather and get something to eat? Hank and I will take care of her."
"No thanks, I'd just like to remain with Jean, sir."
"I just want to be with Jean when she wakes up. It's all my fault she's in this state..."
"Scott, you can't stay down here forever." Hank tried to reason.
"I don't care. She needs me."
"Jean wouldn't want to see you in this state of mental distress Scott. She'd want you to continue living life the way it was..."
"How can I with Jean in this state? She was...is my life...I..."
"Scott, she...sacrificed her life for you..."
"Don't talk about her as if she's dead! Jean's not dead...she's just...she's...she's just gone...for awhile..." Scott's voice trailed off.
"The other students look to you for support Scott. We need you."
"I don't care! What about what I need right now?"
"What you need right now is a reality check. What if Jean never wakes up? Are you going to live down here forever?"
"I..." The tears were uncontrollable, and Scott crumbled yet again.
Charles Xavier wheeled over and put his hand on his shoulder. "She wants you to live Scott. Live for her."
Footnotes: In a Marvel AU (alternate universe), Logan and Elektra had a daughter named Rina.