Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Sinister Soldiers

To Learn and Grow

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2007/01/27 - Updated: 2007/01/27 - 10142 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 60: To Learn and Grow


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With a new place amongst the X-men, the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell continued to settle into their new lives at the Xavier Institute. Despite a rocky start, they were really beginning to see the mansion as a true home. While they never openly admitted it, they were finding some real happiness at this mysterious place.

As the weeks passed, the five mutant soldiers continued their work as the institute's newest instructors. With many years of experience and know-how, they worked hard to teach and train the X-men in the art of CQC. While they were a little slow to pick up on the rigorous training on some levels, eventually they did manage to adjust, at least to some extent, and for the most part, they were making some progress. But it would take quite a while for them to gain the kind of proficiency that Shadow Cell had mastered.

In addition to being instructors, Professor Xavier had scheduled them to get their GED so they would at least have a High School level graduation status. Whether or not they would go onto college was still up in the air, but for the most part, they were getting rather accustomed to their lives at the institute. And with the vast wealth of their inheritance at their disposal, they seemed to finally be developing stable lives for once.

Since their arrival, relationships amongst Shadow Cell had grown increasingly serious. Scott and Jean continued to move forward with their long time relationship, eventually convincing Xavier to let them move into their own room together so they wouldn't have to sneak into one another's room anymore. While this was somewhat controversial at first, Scott and Jean had shown that they truly did love each other deeply and they wanted to be serious about this and move forward with their love. And after everything they had been through, Xavier felt as though they truly deserved some true happiness for once.

In addition to Scott and Jean, Vincent and Wanda's relationship also continued to evolve, and rather quickly at that. After keeping their feelings pent up for so many years, having them out in the open like this brought many new developments. They began going out together, they began sharing a lot of private moments with one another, and they were even starting to make love on a regular basis. Things moved fast for them...After all, they had lost so much time because of their innate stubbornness and they sure as hell were going to make up for it in whatever way they could.

As for X23, or Laura as she was now called, her life also faced some major changes as she grew increasingly close to Logan. While he was now technically and legally her 'father,' she was still somewhat reluctant to call him that...Although it did slip a few times much to her embarrassment. But it wasn't like Logan minded. Being around one another was nothing short of therapeutic for the both of them. They both shared the same complications in life and at long last, they had found something within one another and gained some sense of understanding of what they had been through. Whether it was through tearing up the danger room or going on long bike rides, Logan and Laura had plenty to offer one another. And for anybody who saw them, they were hard pressed to find a time when they weren't smiling around one another.

In regards to Mystique, she too began to slowly gain some sense of acceptance throughout the institute as she continued working with Shadow Cell in their training while also making up for lost time with her kids. It was slow at first, but eventually she stopped getting death glares at ever turn and some were even beginning to enjoy her wry sense of humor. She still remained close to Shadow Cell and often spent time with them when she wasn't catching up with her kids and for the most part, they developed a pretty strong friendship. She even began coming around with Jean, but not after some heavy coaxing on her part of course.

As for the rest of the X-men, the idea of Shadow Cell and Mystique as being a part of the team was finally beginning to gain acceptance. With each passing day, things grew increasingly stable with them and some of them even found friends in their once bitter enemies. And through this new stability, an overall sense of optimism was finally starting to return for the team. While there were still plenty of issues in their increasingly complicated lives, for the most part, this period reflected a time of great change and growth. And there truly was no telling just where it may take them next.

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

"Come on Rogue, get up! You can do it!" urged Mystique as she watched her daughter fall to the floor for the fourth time as she sparred with Wanda Maximoff.

"Ugh...Not at this rate Ah can't," she groaned as she picked herself up off the mat of the sparing room adjacent to the weight room on the lower levels.

"Hey come on, no negativity," said Wanda with a grin as she helped her up, "You're not going to beat me unless you start believing that you can."

"Ah know...Ah know," she muttered, rubbing her shoulder a bit from the lingering soreness of several failed spars against the ever skill Scarlet Witch, "This kinda thing is just a lot harder than the other stuff Ah've learned."

"That's just an unfortunate fact of CQC," said Wanda, casting her an encouraging look, "It's not so much a style as it is a stream of thought. You can't really do the moves unless you have the mindset."

"That part Ah get, Wanda...It's just that me and the others ain't been makin' a lot of progress with this thing despite all the sessions y'all give us."

"Well you're still making some kind of progress," she shrugged, not sounding too dissuaded by this, "Keep in mind, it took me and the others almost five years to gain the kind of proficiency we've got now. Stuff like this can't be rushed, no matter how hard you train. It's more so having the will and desire to master this skill and not the overall physical aptitude."

"Well Ah wanna get this right," said Rogue in a determined tone, "Bein' captured by some gun totin' nutcase kind of has that effect on ya."

"Well don't worry, Rogue. At your current rate, you'll be a certified CQC style fighter in no time. You just have to keep at it."

"Thanks, but Ah think Ah've had enough for today. If Ah keep doin' this, Ah'll be a walkin' bruise for the rest of the week."

"Yeah, good idea," said Mystique as she made her way over to her daughter and handed her the gym bag she kept her gear in, "Besides, it's almost lunch time."

"Lunch sounds good," said Rogue, taking out her towel and wiping some of the sweat off of her brow, "Are ya still on to take meh an' Kurt to the Gut Bomb?"

"Yes, although I wish that Kurt would agree to go somewhere else," she said, rolling her eyes somewhat, "All those grease ball burgers can't be good for him."

"Well he eats at least half a dozen a week, so I guess he can manage," shrugged Rogue.

"But still...I wish he would eat healthier," muttered Raven.

"Oh believe me Mama, a lot of people have been tryin' to help him with that...But everybody's failed," said Rogue with a laugh.

"Just say the word and I'll 'coax' him, Raven!" said Wanda with a humored tone, "It's how my old drill sergeants got us to eat bugs, snakes, and plants back in survival training."

"I'll...Keep that in mind, Wanda," replied Mystique.

They were all about to make their leave, when suddenly a new presence appeared in the main doorway. And while it didn't really seem to impact Wanda and Mystique too much...Rogue, on the other hand, couldn't help but flinch when she saw who it was.

"Hey dere, cherè...Workin' up a sweat already?" grinned Remy Lebeau as he took in the somewhat alluring sight of Rogue wearing her tight fitting workout clothes.

"Remy, uh..." she stammered, not expecting him to drop by and once again finding herself caught off guard.

Upon hearing this, Mystique rolled her eyes, for despite how tough Rogue was both physically and mentally, it seemed as though she always had a way of stumbling about whenever she was around Remy. It was no secret to her that she had a thing for him and even though she had been coaxed by the others not to get involved, that didn't mean it sat well with her.

But then again, Remy had been instrumental in saving her from Shadow Cell, so a part of her was willing to give him a chance. It was just a matter of getting past all those maternal instincts that had been so hyper ever since her arrival.

"I...Think we should get going, Raven," said Wanda with a half grin as she began to drag her out towards the locker room, "I promised Vincent that I'd help him and Ororo cook lunch and I'm pretty sure Kurt is already waiting for you."

Knowing exactly what Wanda was trying to do, the shape shifter didn't really fight it as she followed her out, but not without casting Remy one last 'you better watch yourself' glance.

"Yeah...Good idea, Wanda," she said as she followed her out, "I'll see you upstairs Rogue."

"Yeah, see ya, Mama," she said, now once again finding herself alone with the man who had such a knack for catching her off guard.

Once they were gone, Remy couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief. Ever since Mystique's return, she had been spending a lot of time with her and Kurt to catch up on lost family time. While he didn't blame her for wanting to and it was definitely proving to have some positive affects on her, it didn't leave much alone time for them.

But that's what he hoped to change with this. After having nearly lost Rogue at the hands of Mr. Sinister, Remy had been given a lot to think about in regards to his feelings for Rogue. Ever since they had met, there had been this unspoken attraction between them...One that led to a game-like structure of interaction and flirtation. While they were fun, there was still so much more between them that that had once been so afraid to talk about.

"Ya really seem to be takin' these sessions to heart, cherè," he said as he approached her tired, sweaty form.

"Yeah, well...Ah kind of want to get this stuff down," she said, trying keep her cool, "Ya know me. When it comes to trainin', Ah don't give up so easily."

"Can't say I blame ya, Roguey," he shrugged, maintaining his confident poise, "Ya always have been a tough femme when it comes to de world of combat."

"Guess that's part of my mama rubbin' off on meh."

"Is dat necessarily a bad t'ing?"

"Well...It would have been a few months ago, that's for sure," she conceded.

Remy simply grinned at that, for it showed just how much things had changed since then. It was still quite surreal to her in many ways because not only was she actually building up family bonds again, she had also finally gained control over her powers. It had opened up so many new possibilities for her and it was partially through that spirit that Remy sought to make his move.

"So are ya gonna tell me why yer down here swamp rat? Or am Ah gonna have to use some of the skills Ah just learned to beat them out of ya?" she asked, quickly cutting to the chase.

"As much as Remy knows you'd enjoy beatin' de pulp outta him, I t'ink I'll pass. I came down to talk to ya about somethin' and...Well, dis is something I t'ink de both of us need to talk about."

Rogue found herself shifting somewhat uncomfortably at the serious tone in Remy's voice, for as obnoxious as he could be at times, he did have a serious side to him. And when he chose to show it, he usually had very good reason for doing so.

"Okay then...What do ya wanna talk about?" she asked, although she had a pretty good idea of what he was hinting at.

"I t'ink ya already know, cherè," he said, gently cupping her chin with his hand, causing her to look him in the eye, "I t'ink we both know. So when are we gonna talk about it?"

Rogue tried to respond, but she just couldn't get the right words out. She had never really been in a situation like this before. The only thing that could possibly compare was her old flame for Warren. But this was different...Very different. Whenever she was around this man, she felt so...Strange. It was wonderful and scary at the same time. But up until a while ago, they were never able to cross a certain line because of her inability to touch. But that was no longer in the way anymore. She knew it, Remy knew it, and from the looks of it, Remy was tired of wasting time.

"Rogue, I don't know if you've been payin' attention to how we've been actin' around each other since Remy came here, but I t'ink it's pretty clear dat there's somethin' between us."

"Yeah, Ah think everybody's noticed that," she conceded, feeling herself grow weak in the knees under this man's gaze.

"But we haven't..." said Remy, keeping this serious, "I know it's because we always used de same ol' excuses dat nothin' could ever happen since ya couldn't touch. But t'ings have changed, cherè. You CAN touch. You CAN control your powers. You can finally be close to someone without being afraid o' hurtin' dem."

A heavy lump was forming in Rogue's throat as she took in his words. A wave of anxiety soon washed over her as she felt so uncertain about where this was leading. But Remy remained steadfast in finally getting this out in the open once and for all.

"Remy...What are ya askin' me?" she managed to get out, trying to stay strong even in the face of such nervousness.

Remy simply cast her a reassuring smile...The kind he knew she loved. It had a calming effect on her...One that nearly made her smile as well. And with the poise and confidence that so often defined Remy Lebeau, he cut right to the chase.

"Go on a date wit' Remy..." he said to her, clearly and bluntly, "Tonight, dinner and a movie...Just de two of us."

"A...A date?" she found herself repeating, "Ya mean a real date?"

"Yes, cherè...A real date," he said with a smile, "Why do we keep kiddin' ourselves? Why do we keep playin' around? I know dat there's somethin' between us. Remy feels it and from what I can see, you feel it too, Rogue. Just ask yourself cherè...Is dat somethin' we really wanna ignore?"

By putting it in those terms, it did make Rogue think a bit more seriously about this. Having once thought to be doomed to a world of isolation, she never imagined herself having an opportunity like this. But now that she had the chance, could this really work? If it had been any other man, she probably would have been able to debate that. But as she looked back at those alluring red on black eyes of Remy Lebeau, something within her stopped her from holding back.

"No...No, I ain't gonna ignore this," she said in a strong tone, "But Remy Ah...Ya know Ah really care for ya, but..."

She was still clearly conflicted, but Remy had expected this from her. After all, it was happening quite fast. But thankfully, he had prepared a little something to help make it easier.

"Hey, Remy cares for you too, cherè. And dat's why he don't wanna rush dis," he told her in a tender tone, "An' if you ain't ready, den dat's okay. But it's just dat...I almost lost ya Rogue. And Remy don't want to waste any more time."

Such words got Rogue to smile. Such an expression caused Remy's heart to skip a beat, but that only served to make him all the more certain that this was right. This was meant to be.

"Ah...Ah still don't know," she said, still weary about the whole thing, "Ah mean...Can we really do somethin' like this Remy? Can we really make it work after everythin' we've been through?"

Remy simply smiled in response as he pulled out a deck of cards and gave them a quick shuffle. Knowing words might not be enough to prove his point, he hoped to convey the message he wanted through another means...One that may speak volumes more than he ever could.

"Tell ya what, cherè...If you're still uncertain, den we'll let fate decide," he said as he held out his deck in his hand, "Here...Pick a card. If de one you pick is higher den de one Remy picks, den we'll go out on a date. But if de one Remy picks is higher den de one you pick...I promise ya, I'll leave ya alone and we can pretend dat dis conversation never happened. Deal?"

Unable to keep herself from smiling at Remy's choice of actions, Rogue responded with a nod. It was a rather unorthodox manner of handling their problems. But then again, they were an unorthodox pair, so why not?

"Deal," she said as she reached forth to take the top card.

The two southern born mutants held their breath as Rogue picked up the top card. But the moment she saw it and revealed it to Remy, their hearts skipped a beat. For it definitely felt like a good sign.

"Ace o' hearts..." said Remy with a big smile, "Damn, can't beat dat."

"Guess that means we're goin' out, swamp rat," she said with a sexy grin.

"Yeah...Guess so."

Maybe this was a sign...One written in a game of chance that this was right. This was something that could have some real significance in their lives. Who knows? Maybe this was just the way it was meant to be. It wasn't clear where this would lead them, but they would certainly find out together.

"Well in dat case, I suppose Remy should get ready," he said, putting his deck away, flashing Rogue one last winning grin.

"Yeah...Good idea. Ah'll be there, swamp rat."

"An' so will I," he said with a warm smile, glad to finally get this off his chest.

Remy was about to make his leave, feeling like he just won the lottery of a lifetime. He and Rogue were going out on a date...A real date. Who knows, maybe this could lead to something truly profound. The possibilities were endless. Everything seemed opened to a profound new development. It was just a matter of moving forward from here.

"Oh...And Remy?" said Rogue, stopping him just before he was out the door.

"Yes cherè?"

What happened next nearly caused Remy to lose his balance. In one quick show of affection, the southern beauty placed a soft kiss on his lips, giving him a warm smile that made his heart soar.

"For the record...Ah would have gone out with ya even if Ah lost."

Remy couldn't help but smile at those words. There was so much hope now...So many possibilities. And with the most beautiful southern belle by his side, Remy was all the more certain that this would all work out for the best. For too long now, they were unable to express that which they had held in for so long. But now, they finally had a chance to change that. And with this first crucial step in the development of their relationship, they both seemed eager to see where this would lead them.

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

Upstairs in the dormitories, Kitty, Tabitha, and Jean were hanging out in Kitty and Rogue's room. For the past hour, they had been trying to teach Jean the joys of doing nails. But for the most part, she wasn't getting into it. The soldier within her just didn't see the logic in such practices no matter how much the two younger girls raved about it. And while she did try it to some extant, for the most part she just used this time for casual chit chat.

"Honestly you two, I don't see what the big deal is about nails," said Jean, having given up on trying to understand this strange female ritual, "Back in the trenches, long nails didn't necessarily work to your advantage."

"Hey, I'll take your word for it on that," shrugged Tabitha, "But you're not in the trenches anymore, so why not let lose, run wild, and let those nails of yours show their true beauty!"

"As nice as that sounds, Tabitha...I think I'll pass," she muttered with an exasperated sigh, "Besides, my friends and I have been kind of adamant about keeping our nails short after torture endurance training where they ripped them out with pliers."

"Yeesh, Jean!" said Kitty with a shutter, "Was there anything at that place that WASN'T painful?"

"I'd...Have to give that some thought," said Jean with a slight chuckle, "But believe it or not, one of our many tenants back at the base was pain is joy."

"Yikes...Very S&M if you ask me," muttered Tabitha.

"What's S&M?"

"Uh...Nothing, forget I said it," said the blonde mutant quickly, not wanting to be the one to explain THAT sort of thing.

Jean just rolled her eyes as she wiped her nails clean off some of the coloring that the two other girls had given her. She may not have been all that clear on social or civilian ritual, but there were just some that she could never see herself doing...This being one of them.

"So Jean..." said Kitty, breaking the silence that had briefly fallen over them, "I heard that you and Scott moved in together."

"Yeah, we did. It took a little coaxing, but the Professor eventually came around."

"I'll bet!" grinned Tabitha, "I'm sure the thought of two students sharing a room had it's difficulties...Especially since we all know what happens when a man and a woman share a room."

"What? You mean sex?" said Jean, not sounding as though it was a big deal, "Why would that be such an issue? It was more to do with the logistics and the notion that we were too young."

"Yeah, I'm sure," said Tabitha skeptically.

"Hey, it's true," said Jean seriously, "And besides, Scott and I have been having sex for almost a year now. It's nothing new."

Both Kitty and Tabitha's eyes widened somewhat at that. While they knew Scott and Jean were quite close, they had no idea they had been that serious. After all, it was only recently that Vincent and Wanda came clean and so they logically assumed that Scott and Jean were in the same boat.

"A year? Wow...Like, how did you manage something like that in a place like Shadow Cell?" asked an astonished Kitty.

"As carefully as possible," answered Jean, managing somewhat of a smile, "Granted, we didn't get a whole lot of opportunities given our rigorous schedule, but we managed to make the best of the time we did find for one another. And that meant running the risk of having our asses blown away by GURSO. But that didn't stop us from sneaking into each others' room to share some alone time and make love."

"Ooh...How romantic!" exclaimed Tabitha, "Not to mention dangerous! Must have added some kind of 'thrill' to it if you know what I mean."

"It wasn't so much about thrills, Tabby," explained the young soldier, remaining very serious on this matter, "Scott and I really do love each other. Ever since we were recruited, we've had this very strong bond."

"Bond? What kind of bond?" asked Kitty curiously.

"The kind that really goes beyond description," she said distantly, "It's like...Even when we're far away from each other, I can still feel him within my mind. It's a warm, comforting presence...One that's really gotten us through some rough times. We share one another's pain, sorrow, and joy. And it's really brought us together. I honestly can't imagine my life without him."

Kitty and Tabby took a moment to digest that. It definitely didn't sound like puppy love, that's for sure. Jean Grey, the mutant soldier also known as Phoenix, was not one to exaggerate. They had come to know as such about her and her comrades ever since they arrived. But to learn about a bond such as this was definitely a bit strange to say the least.

"Wow...Sounds like you two really love each other," said Kitty, her voice growing a bit distant as well.

"We do. But it's more than just love, Kitty. Scott and I have fought, trained, and grown together. We've learned to trust one another with our lives and our souls. Going through the kind of things we went through...It only helped to bring us closer together. And from that, we've shared our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. And just because Shadow Cell is gone, it doesn't mean that our bond is any less strong."

"And why should it?" shrugged Tabitha, "It's SO hard to find love now a days no matter where you are. It's even harder to find a guy worth getting intimate with."

"You've got a dirty mind, you know that Tabby?" said Kitty, her voice remaining a bit sullen.

"And what part of that is supposed to shock you?" she grinned mischievously, "And why so down? Don't tell me you're still all up in arms about the 'L' word. Haven't you kept Lance in your system long enough?"

"What?! No! Lance is, like, totally yesterday's news!" said a mortified Kitty, but that only seemed to egg Tabitha on.

"Oh really? Then answer me this Kitten...If he's so out of sight and out of mind, then why are you still so antsy every time somebody mentions something even remotely related to love and relationships? I thought you were into that kind of stuff."

"I never said I wasn't!" argued Kitty, trying not to give herself away, "It's just...Love isn't really all that fun to talk about when you don't have anybody special in your life."

"Kitty...You do realize that you're in the presence of one of the most powerful psychics on the face of the planet, do you?" said Jean, casting the younger girl a skeptical look, "And need I remind you that I am a soldier trained to sniff out every little detail no matter how minute or insignificant? You also just happen to be projecting quite loudly with your thoughts, so do you really want to argue that point or save yourself the trouble?"

Kitty's face blushed bright red as she tried to look away from her two friends.

"Wow...Slam dunk, Red!" said an overly upbeat Tabitha as she gave her friend a playful swat.

"Uh...Thanks," said Jean, not expecting such a reaction, but keeping her attention focused on Kitty, "So are you going to tell us Kitty? Or are you just going to sit there and sulk?"

The young valley girl let out a deep sigh, glad to see that at least one of them was taking this seriously and not teasing her about it. Tabitha was a good friend to hang out with, but personal issues was a definite no-no around her since she had a problem with keeping her big mouth shut. And after hearing about what Jean had experienced in the realm of love, maybe she would be able to help her through this.

"Come on, Kit. Is it that friend of yours? Kurt?" asked Jean, casting her a worried glance.

"Yeah, I had a feeling you'd notice that," she replied a bit sheepishly.

"Oh please, Kitty! Even I noticed it!" laughed Tabitha, "It's not like you and Blue do a good job of hiding it. The only ones who do a worse job than you are probably Rogue and Remy."

That comment got her to lighten up a bit. As annoying as Tabitha could be at times with her over-the-top attitude, she still had a nice way of easing the tension by making people laugh.

"Well at least we're not the reigning champs," she muttered.

"Not by a long shot, Kitty...Believe me," said Jean, remembering back to some of the things she and her comrades had seen during their reconnaissance mission, "But competition aside, are you ever going to talk about it?"

"Well I..." she stammered, trying to get the right words out, "I want to...Believe me, I want to. But I guess I've been really flaky about relationships and love ever since I broke up with Lance."

"Yeah, there's an understatement if I ever heard one," muttered Tabitha, "You were sulking around like the world was going to end for what? Two weeks?"

"Three..." she admitted in a morose tone, "And it's just that...I really do like Kurt. I like him a lot. He was really there for me after my breakup and he's such a great guy to be around that..."

She couldn't even finish her train of thought, for this was the point where she always got cut off. No matter how much she tried, she could never truly get how she felt about Kurt out in the open. Normally, she wouldn't have been this reluctant around boys, but Kurt was more than just some other boy to her, he was her friend. And it's part of that title that made her so weary about pursuing anything outside that comfort zone.

"But you want more, don't you?" said Jean, finishing up her thoughts fairly simply since she had been down that road before as well.

"Yeah...I guess I do," replied Kitty, her voice becoming solemn once again, "But Kurt and I are friends. We have been since I got here."

"And let me guess...You don't want to ruin that," concluded Jean logically, "Is that accurate?"

"A bulls-eye," she muttered.

Jean found herself gently consoling her young friend. While she wasn't much of a drama queen by any stretch of the imagination, she did know a thing or two about love. And after having seen how Kitty interacted with Kurt, she knew first hand just how close they were and in her mind, that was all they needed.

"Well then I think you know what you have to do, Kitty," said Jean, placing a comforting hand on the young girl's shoulder.

"What's that, Jean?" she said, turning towards the older, wiser redhead.

"Talk to him and tell him," she said bluntly, "Don't waste time. Don't hesitate. Just tell him...Plain and simple."

"Ugh..." she groaned, "I was afraid you were going to say that."

"Oh come on, Kitty! What's so hard about going up to a guy you like and letting him know that you're interested?" asked Tabitha.

"Hey, I don't see you doing that with Sam!" she shot in response.

Tabitha was quickly silenced by that one, and rightfully so, for she found herself in a similar position. Only for her, she had a much easier time concealing it because of her outward nature. It was a sullen reminder for the both of them...One that Jean seemed to pick up on as she took the initiative.

"Enough of this you two!" she said in a strong tone, "You can argue, piss, and moan all you want, but it's NOT going to change your situation here. Look, if you want to stay silent then by all means, you're free to do so. But let me warn you...Do so at your own risk. Take it from me, things can change very quickly and before you know it, you'll lose your chance. I didn't want that to happen with Scott, so we didn't waste time. And it's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my clusterfuck of a life. So take it from someone who's been there before...DON'T WASTE TIME!"

Kitty found herself lifted somewhat by that. Maybe it was because it was coming in the form of advice from one of the deadliest soldiers ever to walk the planet or maybe it was because she was a psychic. But it made sense to her. Things can change...That much they had learned with the sentinel incident and the Shadow Cell fiasco. And if Jean could do it, why couldn't she? And besides, she had been keeping this in long enough. And since Kurt was so happy now thanks to the blossoming relationship he had with his mother, what better time to do this than now?

"You're right Jean," sighed Kitty as she found herself putting her nail kit away, "I can't keep doing this. It's, like, seriously stressing me out to no end and I just can't take it anymore."

"Then that's all you need. That's all the both of you need," reasoned Jean.

"Yeah thanks," she said as she suddenly got up to make her leave, "Now if you'll excuse me, there's something I need to take care of."

And with that, Kitty Pryde left in search of her friend. All the turmoil that they had faced since the sentinel incident had shown to all of them just how fickle life could be. They were only given so many chances and there was no telling when those chances would run out. And with that thought in mind, Kitty was determined to lay this matter to rest once and for all.

"So Jean..." said Tabitha, now that she and the redhead were alone, "Tell me a little about this enhanced body sex you have with Scooter?"

"Tabitha..." said Jean as she got up to make her leave as well, "You'd have to torture me more than the Taliban, the CIA, the KGB, and Saddam Hussein's Fediyine put together for me to even consider talking to you about that."

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

Kitty eventually found Kurt just as he returned from his little lunch outing with Mystique and Rogue. For some reason, he had more of a smile on his face than usual and Kitty had noticed that Rogue was blushing profusely...Probably over something concerning Remy. Even after they got back, Mystique was talking to Rogue about this and that, and from what she could sense, it was really quite embarrassing. It was something about 'the pill' or something, but that's all she really wanted to hear from that. Kurt was her focus.

Once he was in the foyer, Kitty waited until they had a chance for some privacy. Luckily, he retreated to the den where nobody was in for the moment. And it was here she sought to make her move...If she could get her legs to stop shaking, that is.

"Uh...Hey Kurt," she found herself saying, thinking it was probably the lamest opener ever.

"Oh, hey Kitty," said Kurt with a smile, his good mood showing.

"Don't you look happy," she commented, hoping to break the ice a bit, "Lunch with you family good?"

"Oh yes...Very good," he said, trying hard to keep himself from laughing, "Aside from zhe great food, apparently my mother spent zhe better part of the outing talking to Rogue about Remy."

"Oh...I can't imagine THAT being very pleasant," said Kitty, actually smiling somewhat at that notion.

"Vell, for her at least. Apparently, Remy just asked her out on a date..."

"No way! Are you serious?!" exclaimed Kitty, all of the sudden growing excited.

"I kid you not, Kitten..." he affirmed, "And surprisingly, Mystique didn't give her a hard time about it...Unless you count an hour long talk about relationships, sex, and vhat not."

"Oh boy...I can only imagine what the look on Rogue's face must have been like," said Kitty, thinking that she was probably going to her plenty about this from her later tonight.

"Oh you should have seen it! It vas SO priceless!" exclaimed Kurt, once again laughing at the image he knew was probably going to remember forever, "I swear, I vould have died laughing from her reaction to condoms alone!"

"Can't say I blame her," grinned Kitty, "But hopefully, Rogue and Remy won't rush things THAT much."

"Oh I don't know about that Kitty..." said Kurt in a sneaky tone, "Vhen you think about it, those two have been involved a lot longer zhen this. Zhey've always had something...It's just official now. And I get zhe feeling zhat those two may try to make up for all the lost time zhey've been vasting over the years."

"Yeah...I can see that," said Kitty, her tone taking an abrupt shift.

The mention of not wasting time was sort of a reminder as to why she was here and once again, her anxiety consumed her. Kurt, given that he knew Kitty better than probably anybody else at the mansion, was quick to pick up on it and his jovial demeanor suddenly shift to one of concern.

"Kitty? Fraulein, are you okay?" he asked her, taking a step closer to her, getting a good clear view of the conflicted look on her face.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Kurt. Really, I just..."

Again, she found herself trailing off and again she kicked herself for not being able to do this. Why was it so hard anyhow? Why was she so damn nervous? Was it really so hard to just let this boy know how she felt?

"But vhat Kitty?" he asked her, growing increasingly concerned.

"I was...I wanted to talk to you about something," said Kitty, managing to make her words sound a bit more serious.

"Talk? Sure, you know zhe fuzzy dude's always here for you. Vhat do you vant to talk about?"

This was where it got tricky in Kitty's eyes. Because once she crossed this line, there was no going back. She hoped that she wasn't going to regret this later...But right now, she tried to set such thoughts aside for the sake of getting through this.

"I...I wanted to talk about us," she said, looking back into his yellow shaded eyes.

"Oh...Um, vhat about us?" ask Kurt, now sharing her anxiety all of the sudden.

Kitty felt her legs turn to jello. It was a challenge to actually hold herself up at this point. She hoped that she didn't collapse on him...That would only serve to make things worse. It was hard getting this out, but with Jean's words about not wasting time still fresh in her mind...She continued to persevere.

"Kurt, I think you already know what I'm referring to," said Kitty, trying to keep her heart rate down, "If it isn't obvious to you now, then I think you should seriously get your eyes checked."

Kurt managed to laugh somewhat at that, even if it did make him feel a bit funny inside. It was blunt and straightforward...Probably as a result of some advice she got somewhere. He had been trying to pull together the confidence to do this as well...But his family issues kept getting in the way. At least, that's what he kept telling himself.

"Kurt...I like you okay?" said Kitty, just wanting to get this out of her system, "I REALLY like you. As in...Like you more than a friend. You've been so sweet to me every since I arrived even after how I treated you at first. And I just...After the whole Lance thing, the Sentinels, and pretty much everything else that's happened this year, I was wondering if...I was thinking that..."

Kitty was trying so hard to say what she wanted to say, but it just wasn't coming out. It was as if the words were there, but she couldn't say them. An awkward silence fell over them and she kept trying to speak, but the words just wouldn't come out. Kurt didn't know how to react, so he just remained silent...Waiting for her to tell him what she wanted to tell him. But soon, it became too much for her and she couldn't take it any longer.

"I...Forget it," she said, abruptly turning away, not believing that she had been so stupid, "I'm sorry Kurt, I just...Forget I said anything."

"Vhat? Kitty, vait!"

Kitty was already trying to leave the room, looking as though she wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. But Kurt wouldn't let her...Not when it involved something like this. He was quick to grab her shoulder and turn her back around so that she was facing him. She tried to look away...But she couldn't. They weren't done yet...Not by a long shot. And if she couldn't finish it, then Kurt would.

"Kitty...I don't vant to ignore zhis. I don't think ve can..." he told her, his voice now serious, "You say you like me more zhen a friend...Vell guess vhat? I like you too. I REALLY like you. You've been more zhen just a friend to me since I got here. And I can never zhank you enough for vhat you've done for me. And if...If I like you...And you like me...Zhen honestly, Kitty...Vhat more do ve need? Vhy aren't ve doing anything about it?"

Kitty's heart skipped a beat when she heard him say that. He really liked her...He liked her more than just a friend. And it was true...Did they really need so much to take it to another level? Did they not have enough already?

"Kurt..." she found herself saying, her hand gently reaching up and grasping his soft, fuzzy face, "I just...Can we really do something like this? Can we have a real, honest relationship after all this?"

Kurt didn't have a definitive answer...But he did have faith. And when he looked back into those beautiful blue eyes of Kitty Pryde, his heart swelled. He never thought he'd ever get a chance to have a relationship of any kind because of his appearance, yet here he was. They both already had so much to work off of...They already had so much to go on. Would it really be that much of a stretch to have it grow into something more?

"Not if you don't mind having a boyfriend whose blue and fuzzy..." he finally answered, a slow smile spreading across his face.

"Hey, trust me Kurt...I don't mind," she said, placing a soft kiss on his cheek, causing his face to blush a funny purple color, "After all, blue is my favorite color."

That actually got Kitty to smile in a way she hadn't in some time. They both couldn't help but laugh...For it really did seem so much less complicated than they made it out to be. And anxiety aside...It was nice to finally get this out in the open. And for Kitty Pryde, she was now more certain than ever that this was right.

"Zhen I guess zhis mean I'll be taking you out on our first date zhis veekend?" he said, his voice returning to the sly, playful Kurt that she knew and loved.

"Mmm...Sounds like fun," she replied, pulling him into an embrace, "I can't wait."

And with one final kiss on the cheek, Kurt and Kitty parted, both with huge grins on their faces. They had finally taken that first step...They had finally come clean. It was a feeling like no other...Like a heavy weight had finally been lifted. And while it was unclear where such a relationship would go from here...The future was definitely looking bright for the both of them.

"Cute Kurt...Real cute," came a familiar voice that nearly gave Kurt a heart attack.

"Mother?!" he gasped as he turned to see her casually leaning against a walkway with a mischievous grin on her face, "How...How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough..." she answered, "I guess this means that you and Kitty are together now, right?"

"Uh..." stammered Kurt, rubbing the back of his neck in an awkward gesture, "Yeah, I guess so."

"Then you know what that means..." she said with a grin as she stepped into the room and sat down on the couch before him, "You're going to get the same little talk I gave Rogue."

Kurt's mood immediately sank, now thinking that all the embarrassment he saw on Rogue's face earlier wasn't all that funny anymore. Mystique had a feeling that something like this would happen and as much as awkward as it was for her...The looks on their faces sure helped make up for it.

"Come on, Kurt...Let's get this over with," said Mystique patting the seat next to her.

"Mien Gott...Vhat I vouln't give for a mass sentinel attack right about now."

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

Down in the danger room, the sound of twisted metal and mini-explosions echoed through the vast, metallic walls. Such sounds were not at all unfamiliar to those who set foot in this lethal, high tech training ground, and for some, it was sweet music to their ears.

Logan and Laura were once again going at it on a high difficulty setting laced with a few 'extras' that they decided to throw in at the last moment. In addition to a few super sized mace traps and some new flamethrowers that they had coerced Beast into adding, Laura also showed off some of her computer skills by programming a few holograms of GURSO soldiers. After having lived under their scrutiny for so long, she had little love for the infamous unit and tearing them apart was nothing short of therapeutic for her. Logan could clearly see it as she tore into wave after wave of them, letting out the same animalistic grunts that were so familiar to him...Showing just how much like him she truly was at heart.

"Errrrahhhhhh!" growled former weapon X23 as she sliced through several GURSO guards at once.

"I got yer back, Laura!" grunted Logan as he followed suit, ripping into anything that dared to raise a gun at them.

"Thanks...But I think it's time to finish this. I'm getting hungry," she growled as she whipped out her guns and performed several well executed spin moves, firing off a wave of rounds in the process and taking care of the last few obstacles.

By the time the smoke had cleared, all the sentries were down, Logan had torn up the last of the obstacles, and the scenario was complete. It was another session...Another victory. And for Logan and his new 'daughter,' such a feeling was always welcome.

"Not bad...New record," said Logan, flashing Laura a wolfish grin as he took a moment to catch his breath.

"Yeah...We make a good team," she said, smiling back in response.

"That we do..." said Logan in agreement, "Nice job on the programming by the way."

"Meh...Spend eight years in a super secret government organization and you learn a thing or two about computers," shrugged Laura as she checked he guns, did a few quick tricks for show, and put them back in her holsters.

"And I noticed ya really seemed to enjoy rippin' apart GURSO goons."

"Yeah, I know..." she sighed in response, "Just to get some things out of my system I guess. Even though they're all gone now...The memories of how they treated me and my comrades still makes me feel so..."

Laura couldn't even find the right words to describe how it felt...Always having a gun to her head and living under the thumb of a platoon of heavily armed soldiers that hated her guts. That along with Hydra didn't make for many pleasant memories to say the least, but she had always had her comrades for that. Now that she had more than that, however, she was beginning to make new memories...Better ones. And Logan was at the center of many of them.

"Hey, I know how ya feel darlin'," said Logan, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, "But that's why we have stuff like this...To get all the anger and frustration out of our system. Believe me, holdin' it in doesn't work...I've tried it. And as long as I'm here, I'm gonna make sure you don't have to make the same mistakes I did."

His words brought a smile to the young soldier's face. She had gone up against entire armies, mowed down wave upon wave of enemy soldiers, and endured the horrors of Hydra...Yet every time she felt this man's gentle touch, it made her feel so strange inside. But unlike the other feelings of confusion and rage that she was used to...This one was...Nice. It felt good.

Since her arrival, she had come to see Logan as family more and more with each passing day. She could tell that he was making a clear effort to be there for her. In addition, her comrades had also encouraged her to give him a chance...After all, neither of them had a family and they didn't want her to squander this chance. And so far, she was getting more out of it than she ever could have imagined.

"Thank you...Father," she said, forcing herself to use that word even though it was still very strange to her.

"Hey, we're family...That's what family does," he said, his heart skipping a beat when he called her that, "You are my daughter after all."

"Yeah...I know," she said, managing another smile, "And after all this time...I'm glad."

Logan may not have been too keen on emotions, but hearing that from this girl who shared his blood just made him feel so strange inside...So warm and content. While he wasn't much of a softie by any stretch of the imagination, he couldn't deny that this girl was having an effect on her...And a strong one at that.

As he pulled her into a fatherly embrace, they both began to make their leave, having torn up the danger room enough for one day.

"Come on kid...Let's go raid the fridge," he said with a grin.

"Are you ever going to stop calling me that?" she said, half scolding and half amused.

"Not as long as it's still fun..." grinned Logan, causing Laura to roll her eyes somewhat.

They were about to head off into the main corridor that led over towards the elevator, but just before they left through the heavy steel door...Logan caught a glimpse of a familiar figure up in the observation deck. And upon seeing who it was, he couldn't help but smile.

Ororo Munroe, the former weather goddess, had seen the whole thing. And knowing her, she'd probably comment on it later on. Logan could already hear her saying things like, 'you're becoming quite the softie.' And as much as he disliked such labels...It wasn't like he could really argue as such. Laura was just having that kind of an effect on him. And after all the help she had given him over the years, she was probably the only one he was comfortable opening up to. Well, that and she just happened to be drop dead gorgeous...But she was way out of his league. There's no way anything more could develop between them...Was there?

"You know, if you keep looking at her like that, you're eyes are going to fall out," commented Laura with a humored grin as she saw how Logan quickly became fixated on Ororo.

"What? Me?" said Logan, suddenly coming out of his daze, "Meh, they'd grow back anyhow. Besides, it's just Ororo...She's a friend."

"Yeah, sure..." said Laura, flashing him a skeptical grin.

Thing once again fell silent as Logan tried to regain his composure. Laura still didn't look too convinced, but he didn't want to comment on it. There were a lot of things he was willing to open up on with Laura, but Ororo was just something else altogether. And she had come to realize this the more she saw them interact. And after having been around Scott and Jean or Vince and Wanda for so many years, she was fairly certain she knew why that was.

"You really like her, don't you?" she said, abruptly breaking the silence.

"Who? Ororo?" said Logan, once again caught off guard, "What are ya talkin' about?"

"Come on, dad...Need I remind you that I have your heighten senses?" she reminded with a wolfish grin, "I see the way you look at her. I sense how your heart rate jumps a little, your eyes dilate, and your mood shifts."

"That's just..." he began, trying to think of a way to debate this, "Laura, she's a friend. She's always been a friend. That's all there is too it."

"That's bullshit and you know it..." she laughed in response, "Trust me, I've seen it flourish with Scott and Jean, I've seen it grow with Vincent and Wanda, and I'm beginning to get a taste of the kind of drama that goes on around here at the mansion. Now granted, I'm not too keen on emotions, but I know the signs...And I can tell, you two are strongly attracted to one another."

Logan found himself in a very awkward position now. It was one thing to get into this debate with one of the students or a colleague like Hank or the Professor...But to have one with his daughter was something else altogether. There was only so much that the others could speculate...But Laura and her comrades weren't the speculating type. No, they were soldiers...They knew all about perception and observation. And that was a lot harder to discredit...If not impossible.

"Look, Laura it's..." he began, but Laura was quick to cut him off.

"Complicated, yes I know," she sighed, having had this conversation before, "Jean and Wanda told me the same thing when I tried to talk to them about it. Scott and Vincent weren't much different. I get that it's a complicated phenomenon...This whole love and relationship bit. But I honestly don't see why it's so hard. I mean, if one person is so attracted to the other and the other feels the same...Why don't they just come clean? Is that not the logical thing to do?"

It was a rather blunt assessment. It showed just how little Laura understood about the nature of human interaction. Having grown up in a military setting her whole life, she hadn't had a whole lot of experience with it outside the context of war. There was definitely more to it than that...Logan knew it all too well. But in some ways, such words seemed to put things into perspective for him. If he was attracted to Ororo and she was attracted to him...What more did they need? Was that not enough?

He could have pondered questions like that all day long, but for now, he chose to set such issues aside. For right now, he just wanted some quality time with his daughter.

"Laura..." he began, hoping that he could put this into the right words, "Human interaction ain't easy. And unfortunately, it ain't all that logical either. Sometimes when ya feel something inside you, it's really hard to make sense of it. It's so hard that ya can't even get the right words out...Understand?"

"A little...Yeah," replied Laura.

"Well when it comes to things like relationships, it's even harder. Even for folks who don't go through the same hardships we do, it's not easy trying to make sense of what you feel for someone. Even if she means a lot to you...Even if she...She makes ya feel things that ya never felt before. It ain't easy getting that out in the open. It takes time and effort. It's one of those things we experience, but can't explain. Ya get what I'm talkin' about here?"

She could clearly sense the conflict in his tone. Whatever it was that Ororo made him feel, it truly did have quite an impact on him. It was not at all unlike the impact it had on her comrades. And as much as she sought to understand such things, she was beginning to accept that there were just some things she couldn't ascertain.

But still...The thought of Logan and Ororo did have some appeal to it in her mind. Maybe it was because Ororo had been a strong guiding force for her and her comrades ever since their arrival. She was almost like a mother to them and pretty much everybody else at the mansion for that matter. And as much as she didn't want to admit it...She wanted a family...She was sick of being so alone in this world. Sure, Logan was becoming more and more like a father to her and her comrades were always going to be family in many ways...But it just didn't feel...Complete.

"Yeah...I understand," said Laura, letting out a disheartened sigh, "I'm sorry I brought it up."

"Hey, don't be sorry Laura," he assured her with a gesture of parental comfort, "I'm still gettin' used to bein' a dad as you are being a civilian. There's a lot of stuff I know ya don't understand...And hell, I don't understand it either. But regardless, we're gonna get through it together...I promise you."

That got Laura to smile once more, feeling lucky in a sense that she could call this man 'father.' It was something she was probably never going to get used to, but in the end she didn't have to. Logan was her family...That much she had come to accept. It was just a matter of learning and growing together and getting through these omnipresent complications together.

"Good enough for me, Wolverine," she said as they both arrived at the elevator, "But honestly...I really do hope that you work things out with Ororo at some point. I...I really like her. She's been really nice to me and my friends since we arrived."

"Yeah, I know. That's Ororo for ya," he smiled, knowing that only she could have that kind of an effect on people, "And to honest with ya, I hope things work out as well. Just...Give it time, darlin'. Also...Don't drop too many hints to others. They'll give me hell for it."

"Oh believe me father...My lips are sealed."

And with that final affirmation, Logan and Laura entered the elevator and made their way up to the ground level. The Ororo issue was sure to remain an issue for a while now...But now that it was out in the open in some ways, Logan began to feel as though there was actually potential with them...Potential that he probably wouldn't have realized if he hadn't talked to Laura about this. Was it really possible? Could he and a former goddess really share something? It may not have been clear to him now, but hopefully time would tell and they'd get their answers soon enough.

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

AN: Ah relationships...Quite a beast, aren't they? I hope all the Romy, Kurtty, and Loro fans enjoyed this one! It seems as though luck for the X-men and Shadow Cell is really changing for the better! Now that couples are coming together and things are beginning to stabilize, the end is actually in sight for this story! Over 60 chapters and at long last, it's getting close to the big finish! I hope you all enjoy it! And as always, I encourage each and every one of you to REVIEW! Send them to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish each and every one of you the best!

THE END IS NEAR! REVIEW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
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