Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

Helping Hand

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

Takes place 2 years after Apocalypse, 1 year after the Phoenix. The mutant problem has grown and a obscure general named William Stryker thinks he has a solution. Has Scott/Jean, Wanda/Kurt, Kitty/...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Cyclops - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006/04/11 - Updated: 2006/04/11 - 7002 words

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Extermination
Chapter 26: Helping Hand


*************************************************

Upon reentering the base, Logan gently set the unconscious X23 down on the couch. She was completely out of it physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not long after he and Mystique were sure that she was asleep, she started moaning and groaning incoherent words. The only things they were able to make out were words like 'no' and 'please stop' as both adults now stood at an impasse over what to do about her. The former living weapon seemed stuck in her own head as she continued to moan in her sleep most likely memories from the harsh reality that was her life.

"So what are we going to do with her now?" asked Mystique as Logan sat near the young girl on the couch and looked over her tired form.

"Exactly what I promised her I'd do...Help her," answered Logan.

"But how are you going to do that? Xavier isn't here, this base doesn't exactly have the greatest resources, and we have no idea how long she's been stuck in the wild."

Logan just let out a deep sigh upon hearing the shape shifter's words. It seemed that nothing ever got easier for him or the students at this point. Everything was just one long uninterrupted maze of complications. It had been hard enough for him dealing with the death of the children that he had sworn to protect and it had been equally hard dealing with the death of Ororo...But here he was now with another major problem to worry about, X23. She had come into his life so unexpectedly at first when she last attacked the mansion two years ago and they took out Hydra together a little while later. He had been told that this girl was created mostly from his blood and she had his senses, healing, and adamantium claws in both her hands and feet. And like him, she was meant to be a killer. He remembered how she first arrived hell bent on killing him and ended up crying in his arms upon hearing him say that he was the closest thing to family she had. And today, it had happened again. X23 was two years older and presumed dead by the rest of the world. But here she was again...Coming back into his life as if it were some strange sign from a higher power bringing them together.

"I'm still gonna help her...I owe that much," said Logan, breaking the silence, "She's...Been through a lot in her life. She's had to suffer things no child should ever have to suffer. I may not know how and I may not even be qualified...But she's my own flesh and blood...She's my responsibility. And it's up to me to help her in any way I can."

Mystique could tell that this young girl had a strange effect on Logan. No other kid could possibly have such a dramatic impact on a man who often lets his temper get the better of him. But then again, no other kid had his blood like X23 did. And no other kid had been through such harsh treatment as a living weapon as Logan had. It was hard to consider the ramifications of having such a child here...But Logan made it clear that he had no intention of leaving her alone to deal with such harsh realities.

*************************************************

Down in the third underground level, Scott Summers and Jean Grey continued to work using the bases long dormant computer array. Despite being over five years old, the systems were quite advanced. Considering that this was once a SHIELD operating base that was hardly a surprise. It had taken some doing on their part getting these machines working again, but once they did they were greeted with a mind boggling new set of resources. These computers had everything...Covert database access, root server passwords, encryption breakers, and complete web access using secure military lines. It was a treasure trove of potential information and Scott and Jean were quick to take advantage of it.

They were going on their 13th hour of data gathering at this point. Even after being informed by Logan of X23's arrival, they remained more or less glued to the computer stations. It had taken some time to become familiar with the interface of military computers, but once they got the hang of it, they began their exhaustive search that Logan had ordered on William Stryker. And what they were finding was getting more intriguing by the minute.

"Jean...Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Or are my glasses finally messing with my eyes?" said Scott as he looked at the computer screen in amazement at yet more stunning data concerning this man.

"I don't think anything's wrong with your eyes Scott," said Jean as she found this equally hard to believe, "But I don't blame you...This guy's life is something straight out of an Oliver Stone movie or something."

"Yeah, it almost makes me wish that Trask was behind this," said Scott with as more pictures and text came up, "If this is the guy we have to beat...We are in deep shit."

"No kidding...And look at this..." added Jean as she brought up another one of her startling discoveries that she had just managed to fish out over the limitless streams of data.

"Good God..." said Scott in shock as he looked at what Jean had found, "We had better find out more..."

Both teens continued their search, but the more they found...The more shocked they became. Never could they have possibly imagined such a tangled web of deceit centering around one man. But the proof was right before them...And it wasn't over yet.

*************************************************

As the next morning came, many of the other residents of the base awoke to find that they had a new guest in the living area with Logan and Mystique. While Kurt and Kitty jumped at the sight of X23 because of her previous attacks on the mansion, the others were more curious as to who she was and why she had shown up here of all places. This left Logan to tell the young girl's sad story on how she came to be and how he and Mystique had found her. Upon hearing more about her, their general suspicions were somewhat placated since Logan seemed to know her. But she remained asleep for the most part as others were careful around her, knowing that if she was anything like Logan she may have somewhat of a temper to say the least. However, being that she had nowhere to go, no name, no family, no friends...Nothing...They had all agreed to help this girl in any way they could. They just hoped that they didn't have to contend too much with the animalistic nature they knew she probably inherited from Logan.

X23 was stuck in an unending nightmarish realm for most of the time she was asleep. She had collapsed from weeks of exhaustion, mal nourishment, and emotional strain upon fighting Logan and breaking down in the end. She tossed and turned on the unfamiliar yet soft couch that had been unlike anything she had ever slept on. She was not used to such softness after sleeping on the hard, dirty ground for so long now. Yet she managed to let her tired body rest and recover from all the stress she had endured over such a long period of time. But nightmares didn't help her state of mind. Over and over again her life with Hydra played out like a mantra stuck in a brutal cycle, each time worst than the last. No amount of detachment from civilization or her human side could ever make that lessen. Eventually, the former living weapon grew too pained from her nightmares and started to stir.

The teenage girl whom had spent the better part of the last two years cut off from any and all scraps of civilization was slowly fighting her way out of her dream state. She was still tired, but didn't want to sleep anymore because of the nightmares. Slowly, X23 opened her eyes and began to move her stiffened arms. But as her blurred vision cleared before her...She noticed a lone figure looming over her. Instinctively, she shot up in defense, her instincts working as if this was an attacker.

"Whoa! Whoa there girl! It's okay...I mean you no harm," said a very surprised Alex Summers as he held a hot bowl in both his hands.

Upon seeing him, X23 quickly discerned that he wasn't an aggressor. The animal within her still wanted to lash out, but his non threatening appearance seemed to keep that side of her at bay. But still...She was apprehensive and dazed.

"Where am I? Who are you?!" she demanded.

Alex tried to stay calm remembering what Logan had said about this girl and what she had been through. But that didn't make the girl any less aggressive to him as he quickly tried to ease her suspicions.

"My name's Alex. And you're in an old base that my friends and I have been holding up in for the past few weeks. I'm here because we all thought you might be hungry so I whipped up some chicken noodle soup."

The former living weapon seemed to ease in her apprehensive nature as she heard his non-threatening voice. Then the smell of the soup in the bowl he still had in his hands caught her attention. Forcing herself to take deep breaths, she managed to calm down and sat upright on the couch rubbing her head from all the strain.

"Hey...You okay?" asked Alex as he set the bowl down on the table in front of her and sat next to her.

"I'm fine..." she said non-chantingly, trying to keep the inhuman part of her at bay since this boy seemed to pose no real threat.

"You sure? You look kinda tense. Did you have trouble sleeping or something?" asked Alex curiously.

X23 shuddered at the memory of her nightmares and quickly felt her emotions start to fester within her again, but she managed to keep a lid on them this time.

"I don't wish to talk about it," said X23 in a somewhat darker tone.

"Fair enough..." said Alex quickly, not wanting to make her any madder.

Alex then got up, but noticed that the expression on her face didn't change. From the looks of it, something was really troubling her...That much the young mutant knew. He was no stranger to such looks, especially after everything that had happened within the last few weeks. But if she didn't want to be bothered, then it would probably be best if he respected that.

"Well...I'll leave you be for now uh...X23," said Alex, somewhat stuttering at the name part, "By the way...Do you want us all to call you something else?"

"What's wrong with X23?" asked the teenage girl, not seeing his logic behind such a question.

"Well nothing but...It's just unusual that's all. I thought that maybe you might not want be referred to as a number now that you're here, that's all," Alex explained to her.

"X23 is fine for now," she replied, still not getting the boy's logic, "That's what I've always been called."

This information seemed to shock Alex somewhat as he looked at her in a slightly bewildered tone.

"You mean you were never given a real name?" he said with a stunned expression, "Man you've definitely been deprived. Well don't worry, we'll find you a name!"

X23 still didn't understand what it was about her given designation that seemed so shocking to this boy. What was the difference between Alex and X23 anyway? What made it so different for her? She couldn't help but wonder this as she turned her attention back to the hot bowl of soup sitting before her. The mere sight of it made her stomach growl since she hadn't eaten much of anything within the past several weeks. She would have to leave these inherent questions about her name for another time as Alex proceeded to get up and make his exit.

"Well, nice meeting you. If you need anything, just call us and we'll help. Stay cool!"

X23 didn't get that last part, but then again she hadn't had any kind of human contact for over two years. She didn't let that bother her though as she quickly took to the soup and began to appease her growling stomach.

*************************************************

As much of the others learned about X23, their intrigue over her only grew. Logan continued to check up on her regularly and she didn't really say much to him...But he knew that it would take some time to familiarize herself with such radical new surroundings. Logan and Mystique were the only other ones besides Alex that came into contact wither, their reasoning be they didn't want to overwhelm her with too many people too soon. After hearing about how she had been living these past few years, the resident survivors could hardly blame her.

As X23 helped herself to a third serving of hot soup, Kitty Pryde observed her from a distance in the kitchen. Like she had with Magneto, Kitty Pryde felt somewhat sorry for the poor girl after hearing what Logan had said about her. This girl wasn't raised by any parents, she wasn't given anywhere near a normal life, and she had been more or less degraded to the level of an animal or a tool by those who created her. Kitty contemplated going over there and talking to her, but at the same time remembered Logan's warnings about her state of mind. In thinking about it Kitty suppressed a laugh because it sounded so much like Logan in the first place and looking at her really was giving her a sense of double vision. But like it was when she first met Logan, Kitty felt that this X23 was somewhat the same...Only a teenage girl. Kitty was so lost in her thoughts, however, that she didn't notice Colossus come up from behind her.

"Katya...What are you doing?"

"Peter!" said a startled Kitty, "Please don't do that."

"My apologies," replied the Russian, "I just wanted to see what you were up to. Are you thinking about talking to the girl Logan brought in?"

"Well if you must know...Yes," answered Kitty, "She seems so lonely out there. And after the story about her that Mr. Logan told us, I think she may need some help adjusting."

"But Logan also said that she may need some time to be alone," reminded the Russian mutant, "Such a dramatic transition for such a traumatized girl must not be done too rashly."

Kitty let out a sigh as Peter more or less repeated what Logan had said about her earlier. While it did make sense to give her some space, to Kitty it didn't make sense to just leave her all alone and let her sort out things she's never even experienced before.

"I know, I know..." conceded the young valley girl, "But she just seems so lost and sad. After what she's been through, how can we not help her?"

Upon hearing this response, the Russian mutant just let out a laugh and shook his head. It seemed like the more he was around this girl, the more she surprised him. He couldn't get over her actions up to this point. They were just so hard to process for him how she could bring herself to go up to people who by all accounts want nothing to do with anybody and reach out to them.

"Katya...You never cease to amaze me," Piotr grinned, causing the young valley girl to blush profusely under his gaze, "If you wish to help her, then I will not stop you. I couldn't with Magneto, so I won't bother trying here."

"Uh..." Kitty stuttered awkwardly, "Thanks Petey. I appreciate it."

Not wanting to feel more embarrassed in from of this man, Kitty quickly made her way over to the distraught X23, who by this point was finishing her third bowl of soup. She hadn't said much at all since she got here and Logan had told everybody to give her some space. But if this girl was anything like Logan, which Kitty assumed she was since she was created from him, she knew that giving space didn't always help.

As she approached the mysterious young girl, X23 didn't even turn her head to greet her. She just looked at her empty bowl of soup non-chantingly and obviously still struggling to adjust to such new surroundings.

"Hi!" said Kitty casually, trying to sound friendly.

"Hello," replied X23 in a somewhat mechanical tone.

Kitty then walked over to the side of the couch where she was sitting. Normally, X23 would have gone into a state of defense, but this girl didn't look, smell, or sound like a threat so the former living weapon didn't stop her. However, she was somewhat annoyed that she was there when she just wanted to be left alone to make sense out of everything.

"What do you want?" asked X23 rather sternly, but not nearly sternly enough to make Kitty go away.

"I just want to sit, that's all," said Kitty, "Besides, now that you're here I might as well get to know you. That is...If you're going to be staying with us from now on."

X23 wasn't keen on this concept of 'getting to know you' that Kitty described. She just wanted to be left alone. She never needed anybody before, so why should it be any different now? But she neither had the will nor the energy to fight her off. She just hoped that she would take a hint, but apparently X23 had no idea the kind of person she was dealing with.

"I have no other places to go," she answered her with an ambivalent tone.

Kitty could tell that this was going to be harder than she had expected. This girl had been deprived of more than just a life. Here she was, unable to show emotion because she was never allowed to. A sad expression of sympathy showed on Kitty's face as she remained on the couch with the girl with no intention of leaving.

"I'm sorry to hear that..." replied Kitty, "Well if it makes you feel any better...Neither do we. We're all pretty much stuck here. That mansion you were at last time...It's gone now. It was destroyed...Along with many of the people in it."

This didn't provoke much of a reaction from X23, but it did provoke something within Kitty. As X23 watched her, she noticed the deep look of sadness on her face...The tortured emotion of saying these words. Emotions were still a mystery to her...But seeing them on someone else did put them into a new perspective.

"I'm sorry...I shouldn't have brought that up," said Kitty, not wanting to think of such horrible things at this point, "I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Kitty Pryde!"

Kitty then extended her hand cheerfully, but X23 just looked at it not knowing what she meant by this gesture. At first Kitty seemed confused, but then she remembered and mentally slapped herself for being ignorant.

"Oh, sorry again," said Kitty foolishly, "I forgot you probably don't know what that means."

X23 just rolled her eyes, still not fully comprehending the logic behind her actions, but at the same time being a bit curious by them.

"What does that mean anyway?" asked X23.

A renewed smile spread across Kitty's face as she finally felt she had broken the proverbial ice.

"Oh that? Well it's a gesture we use for greeting," she explained, "You see, first you hold out your hand and if the person is polite, they'll grip it and gently shake it. Here, you try!"

Kitty then held out her hand again. X23 hesitated a bit, but never-the-less did what Kitty described. Upon doing so, the young valley girl eagerly gripped her hand and shook with a feeling of accomplishment.

"That's it! You've got it!" exclaimed Kitty, sounding a bit overly excited.

X23 didn't get why she seemed so...Giddy. But then again, it was still something she did not yet fully understand. For two years now, all of her emotions had been there, but she didn't know exactly what they were or what they meant. Hydra had trained her not to have them...But it was clear now that they had failed.

"Um...Thank you," said X23, not knowing what else to say.

"You're welcome," replied Kitty with smile which did help make X23 feel a bit less apprehensive overall, "So you're Mr. Logan's clone...That's gotta be pretty cool."

"Cool?" asked X23, not knowing what that meant once again, "What's temperature got to do with it?"

Kitty once again mentally slapped herself. This was definitely going to be tricky.

"It's another expression...It means neat or interesting," Kitty tried to explain, "It actually means a lot of things...But I don't want to confuse you because even I don't fully understand it."

X23 just let out deep sigh, hinting that she was not exactly thrilled about Kitty's continued presence. However, Kitty was determined to rectify that. She felt that if she could do so with Magneto, then she could do so with this girl.

"Hey, sorry...I keep forgetting about...You know," said Kitty, trying not to sound too sheepish.

"What's to apologize for? Hydra made me...Trained me...Tortured me. That's it," said X23, once again feeling a mixture of emotions upon thinking about it.

"Well I...Just thought it was kind of a sore subject for you. I mean...I honestly don't know how I would feel about a bunch of people who robbed me of a childhood, but I can't say I would be too happy about it."

"You have NO idea," replied X23.

The former living weapon felt a sudden tightness in her chest. Kitty had just more or less described what Hydra had taken from her. Part of her wanted to lash out, for having such thoughts in her head hurt...But she knew that it was wrong to take it out on this young girl whom was trying to help her. She wasn't like the mental trainers she had faced growing up...She wasn't like the people that had led her to be this confused. Those people were gone...So why did she still feel this way?

"You're right...I don't," conceded Kitty, noticing the sudden shift in her demeanor, "But that's why you need help. There are plenty others here...Others who have also been robbed of a childhood. If you think you're alone, just talk to Scott, Raven, or Mr. Logan. They can relate. Just give them a chance."

X23 didn't respond, for she felt that nobody could understand. Her life, her pain, and everything she had been robbed of as a child...Who could possibly know how it feels? Since waking up here, she had already experienced new emotions and sensations that she had never felt before. The more she felt, the more dazed she became. That was one of the main reasons why she chose to stay in the wilderness for so long...Because out there, she wasn't likely to encounter such feelings and just had to deal with the ones she had. But here, she was learning and feeling many new things. It was so much to handle...Yet the former living weapon still couldn't make sense out of any of it.

"I shouldn't be here..." said X23 after a brief silence.

"What? Why do you say that?" asked Kitty, sounding somewhat shocked.

"I know nothing...I AM nothing. My creators are gone...My purpose is no more. I was made to do one thing and one thing only...Kill. There's no reason why I should exist anymore."

"Come on 23...Don't say that," coaxed Kitty as she saw the saddened expression in her eyes, "There's plenty of reasons for you to exist."

"No there isn't..." said X23 unbelievingly, "Everything must have a purpose...You, yourself, probably have a purpose. I failed to fulfill mine. I was supposed to be a weapon...But now I am not. I destroyed those who made my life so harsh and I wanted to die along with them...But I failed at that too. I'm still alive...But I shouldn't be."

Tears began to form in the young girls eyes as the familiar feeling of sadness...One of the few emotions she could identify...Took over. Why had she survived this long? If she cannot fulfill her designated purpose...Then shouldn't she not exist? Kitty saw the sense of loss and isolation in her mind. This girl had wanted revenge against her creators...But as soon as she had it, it only left her more confused than before. Kitty didn't know how to handle this...This was truly a one of a kind scenario. But she refused to give up, for it just wasn't her style.

"But you are alive...That's reason enough to assume you still have a purpose, just not the one you thought you did," said Kitty, hoping to lift her spirits.

"My purpose was to kill," repeated X23.

"No...That was the purpose Hydra gave you," said Kitty in disagreement, "And Hydra's gone now. Only you know what your purpose is...Nobody else can tell you otherwise."

Such words were completely contrary to what X23 had been taught her whole life. They seemed almost illogical for her to believe, yet there remained a subtle truth to it all.

"That's not possible..." she said adamantly even though she knew that there was something deeper that she didn't understand.

"But it is," said Kitty, "I know it is. Otherwise you wouldn't have fought back against them."

"I wanted revenge..." said X23, feeling her anger take a hold of her once again as she remembered how she took down Hydra.

"And vengeance is an emotional response," quipped Kitty, "That's all the proof you need right there."

X23 hadn't believed her...But there were some things she just couldn't deny in listening to this girl's words.

"You say you weren't supposed to have emotions," continued Kitty, "But it's clear to me that you do. I know I can't relate to what you've been through...Nobody can do that. But I can tell that there's still something within you that's worth helping. Otherwise you wouldn't be talking to me right now."

"I still have no purpose...There's no reason for me to be alive," said X23 adamantly.

"You're wrong...You have plenty of reasons to be alive."

"What reasons can you possibly mean?" said X23 skeptically.

"Mr. Logan...What about him? Isn't he reason enough?" asked Kitty, "Besides...Isn't he technically, like, family to you?"

That word again...Family. In essence, Logan was family...She had been created from his blood, that much she couldn't deny. She had once had the urge to kill him...Now every time she saw him, she felt weak inside...Unable to hold her emotions back. She had broken down and cried in his arms twice. Did such actions have another meaning behind them?

"And if Hydra wanted you to have no emotions...Wouldn't you want to prove them wrong?" asked Kitty, seeing the sudden change in X23's expression from anger to sadness.

X23 continued to feel tears forming in her eyes. She hated this feeling...This sadness. But in thinking about what Kitty had said...It made sense to her. Like Logan, the animal and the human were at constant odds within her mind...But they were not completely separate in some ways...For there remained a part of her that was neither...A part of her that knew the truth, but couldn't bring herself to acknowledge it.

"If you let us, we can help you," urged Kitty as she moved in closer to the distraught young girl, "We help you make sense of your emotions. Mr. Logan can show you how he took control. Everybody here can help you understand instead of being tortured endlessly by confusion...But only if you let us."

X23 lifted her tired head and looked the young valley girl in the eye. Kitty had grown up with everything X23 had been deprived of. But after losing it all, Kitty could actually relate to this girl in some ways. While she couldn't fully ascertain how she felt, in the end she didn't need to. X23 had always struggled to make sense out of things. She only knew three concepts...Pain, suffering, and struggle. More than anything...Even more than her utter contempt for Hydra...She wanted to have a life. Now more than ever, she wanted to get back what she had lost...But she couldn't do it alone.

"But how can you help me?" asked X23, not seeing how her impossible desires seemed attainable, "How can anybody help me?"

Kitty just looked back at her with assurance and smiled. She then proceeded to take her hand and rise to her feet from the couch. X23 was somewhat surprised by this...But didn't fight it out of pure curiosity as to where this would lead her.

"Come on...I'll show you!"

*************************************************

Activity within the Pentagon had grown a great deal since William Stryker's discovery of the location of the area where the surviving mutants to the initial attacks were believed to be. And like the general had suspected, his observations were later confirmed by old maps detailing a decommissioned SHIELD base built into the hills. Now there was little doubt in Stryker's mind that his targets were there. This continuing cat and mouse game was quickly coming to ahead and he knew it. He had kept his enemies on the run and powerless to stop the final step to his plan which was fast approaching.

"General Stryker sir," said one of his communication officers, "We've just got final confirmation from the Canadian government."

"Perfect...They're ahead of schedule, just like I like it," grinned the general as he looked at his gold Swiss-made precision watch, "What about the strike force?"

"The planes are being loaded up, the Apache's are being armed, and the troops are being briefed sir," answered one of his lieutenants, "We'll be ready to go on the allotted time you requested."

"Very good...Then the attack should commence around sunset," said Stryker approvingly as he casually overlooked the activity of his subordinates all around the control room, "Make it happen lieutenant."

"Sir, yes sir!"

The officers then returned to their duties, leaving Stryker with time he needed to check up on something of the utter most importance. Wasting no time, the general pulled out his cell phone and quickly dialed the desired number. Within two rings, somebody answered.

"William?" said the voice on the other end.

"It is me Trask. You know why I'm calling," said the general with a humored grin.

"Early as usual I see..." said Trask over the line with a light laugh, "As for the progress...I'm happy to say that all systems are a go for the allotted time. The final step should go into effect tonight."

"Perfect," answered Stryker, "I shall have weeded out the survivors by then. The operation should be home free."

"That's good to hear general," said Trask approvingly over the line, "And I promise...When those freaks get a taste of what we've created, they'll finally know the consequences of fucking with the human race."

*************************************************

For the most part, the rest of the day in the depths of the base was spent showing X23 around and introducing her to everybody there. It was a strange experience for the former living weapon. Everybody took the time to be nice to her and try to cheer her up after hearing from Logan how she had been living for the past two years. In addition, everybody couldn't help but take notice of how like Logan she truly was. Her animalistic instincts were more or less the same, her temper was just as bad if not worse, and she was by nature an introvert. However, for those that knew Wolverine like Scott, Jean, Kurt, and Kitty they were confident that the young girl just needed to make sense out of her life in the same way that Logan did when he first arrived at the institute all those years ago. But for X23, it was going to be somewhat difficult. Unlike Logan, she had spent her whole childhood in a laboratory and was never allowed to experience things as basic as emotion.

It was a strange thing teaching emotion to a young teenage girl whom had never been able to make sense out of them before. It was something that the others took for granted and never actually thought about until they were left to explain them. But as they did, X23 began to feel a bit less apprehensive towards everybody. Kitty and Alex were the main helpers in teaching her what she wanted to know while Logan stayed by her and offered her his support. Pietro and Kurt actually succeeded in the seemingly impossible task of making her laugh for the first time. Mystique was even a big help, much to the surprise of some of the residents. But condensing all of life's little quirks and mysteries into ten hours of teaching was a feat next to impossible at best. However, the more knowledge that the others helped her attain, the more control over her human/animal tendencies that X23 felt.

Around the late afternoon hours, Alex and Logan were with X23 in the living room. Most of the others had already come up and spoken to her and offered their help. By this time, the former living weapon seemed a lot more docile from her original level of apprehension even though it was still evident that they had a long way to go in helping her like Logan, but there was little else to do at the base at this point. As Logan and Alex sat talking to the young girl, Kitty looked on from a distance with a smile...For she felt that her words to the young girl earlier had really made a difference and the accomplishment was truly a wonderful sensation.

"Penny for your thoughts Katya?" asked Peter as he walked up behind her.

Kitty then turned towards her oversized Russian friend whom she had quickly come to connect with since his arrival.

"I'm just looking at 23...Thinking how much has changed for her within the last day. I mean, she came in so confused. Now she actually looks as though she's finally calmed down. I guess teacher her so many new things has finally helped her think past what she was told her whole life."

"Yes...And it all started with you Katya. Once again your compassionate words managed to change someone's outlook on life," added Piotr, "That's quite and accomplishment."

Kitty felt herself blush from the admiring face that Colossus gave her. It seemed lately that she couldn't have a conversation with him and not blush. The way he treated her...The way he had come to see her was just so strong compared to the way others usually saw her. He looked at her in a way nobody else did and every time she saw it, she couldn't help but feel embarrassed for reasons unknown.

"I don't honestly think I did much...I just talked to her," said Kitty, fighting her blush.

"Don't be so modest Katya. You've proven me wrong twice since I met you," said Colossus, "You went up to help Magneto...And in turn he found the drive to save the Professor. Had you not said anything, who knows what would have happened to him. You went up to X23 in a similar way and got her to look at things differently than before. And yet, each time I tried to dissuade you. Not that I look back on it...I'm glad you didn't listen to me."

"What can I say..." shrugged Kitty with a humored grin, "I'm a really stubborn American girl."

That just got the Russian to laugh and a smile once again at the young valley girl which caused her to go slightly weak in the knees.

"You really are something else Katya...But that's what I really like about you," said Piotr as his laughter died down.

"Um...Thanks Peter," said Kitty as she once again felt herself blush before him.

Over with Alex, Logan, and X23 they were discussing a very important issue concerning everything that the former living weapon had learned within this one fateful day. Since her arrival, everybody had called her X23 despite the awkwardness that came with calling somebody a number. But now, both Logan and Alex were trying to help her with this dilemma and choose a new name for her...A human name. However, this was proving to be much harder than they could have expected.

"How about Jenny? Or Angela? Or, I don't know, maybe Tina?" said Alex just throwing random names out there.

"I...I just don't know," said X23 as she heard these strange suggestions that just didn't feel like her, "Why can't I just go by X23?"

"Because kid...X23 is the name of a weapon...It's a number. It's not the name of a teenage girl," said Logan, thinking back on how he had once been referred to only as Weapon X for a time and now inhuman it made him feel.

"He's right. Besides, don't you want go by something else other than the designation those pricks at Hydra gave you?" added Alex.

X23 didn't know what it was about names and why they were making such a big deal out about this. It was a confusing decision because she had always gone by X23. Nobody had ever called her anything else except for when Logan called her kid. But they were right...She couldn't say her name without thinking about Hydra and what they did to her. Maybe finding a new name would help her forget...Or at least distance herself from something she hated being associated with.

"Now how about Diana? Or Samantha?" suggested Alex once again as he continued to throw out random names.

"I...What do you think my name should be?" asked X23, only growing more confused by the long list of suggestions Alex continued to list for her.

"Hey, this is your decision kid. It shouldn't matter what any of us think," said Logan.

"But...Don't parents usually name their kids Logan? So wouldn't that technically make the decision yours?" asked Alex.

Both Logan and X23 froze upon hearing Alex refer to them in such a way. Both former weapons looked back at each other and tried to process what Alex had just said. True they both shared the same blood...But did that make them father and daughter? Logan felt strange about thinking of himself as a father. He would have scoffed at the idea a mere couple of days ago...But now that he thought about it, was it possible? Sure he had raised kids like Scott and Jean since they were twelve, but he was hardly a father figure to them. The Professor usually filled that role. But to this young girl it was different. She was his blood...She was by definition his child. The thought alone sent many conflicting feelings through the Wolverine...Feelings that he couldn't even begin to make sense out of.

Alex was starting to feel awkward because of the silence he had invoked.

"Uh...Was it something I said?" asked the younger Summers brother, who knew he had serious troubles thinking before he acted.

"No...It was nothing," said Logan quickly, wanting to drop the subject, "How about Amiko? Jessica? Or Sarah?"

"Sarah..." considered X23, liking the sound of that name for some reason.

"Yeah...You look like a Sarah," agreed Alex with a grin that made X23 feel slightly funny inside.

The former living weapon thought about that name. In choosing it, she would undo part of what Hydra had done to her. It would be a step towards being human again...But could she be human? Was she too much animal at heart? She looked back at Logan, seeing the man who had faced problems not at all dissimilar to hers. If he had managed it...Then could she?

X23 was about to say something, when suddenly...Kitty came running into the room with an urgent look on her face.

"Guys! Scott and Jean just told us to come down to the computer room immediately! They said they finally found something on William Stryker..."

*************************************************

AN: Well, that's it for now my faithful readers! I know it's been a long time coming, but hopefully most of your questions about William Stryker and Magnum will be answered in the next chapter. It's going to be a vital part, so you won't want to miss it! Other than that, what do you all think? Now that X23 has joined the group along with Alex you can expect things to get more interesting. Oh, and by the way...I already know what name I'm going to give X23 so stay tuned to find that out! Now I know I've been saying this a lot but I'll say it again...REVIEW! Please send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! All comments would be greatly appreciated and I implore you all to tell me what you think! Thank you all for reading and I wish you all the best!

WAIT! DON'T LEAVE YET! REVIEW!!!
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