I didn't really notice her until around two weeks after Logan returned. I only caught a glimpse of her, but it's obvious she's a mutant. Who else would be wearing a big parka coat and a long red scarf in the middle of June?
I couldn't believe no one told me there was a new student. We usually get abandoned kids or runaways, and they always need a doctor. Some of them are so malnourished and sickly that they have to stay in the Med Lab for a few days on a nutrient I.V. Even when kids arrive who aren't sick, I still meet them to evaluate their mutation. When did she get here? Why didn't Scott tell me?
Charles would've let me know immediately, but he's in D.C. with his lobbying group while Congress is in session. I've flown in to make the odd presentation, but I can't stay away from the school that long. So many teenage mutants with control issues in such a small area means there's always a need for a doctor.
Scott's no Charles, but he's been doing a wonderful job keeping everything going. That is until I saw the girl.
I'd been walking down the hallway when I heard Logan and Rogue yelling in the foyer, and I had to see what was going on. He's been so good with her. When he finally came back, no one worried about their relationship. He obviously cared for her as if she was his own daughter, and her crush seemed to ease in the nine months he was away. One sleepless night, she'd confided in me that as his personality settled into her, she came to realize how deeply and purely he loved her. But now they're yelling.
When I rounded the corner into the foyer, I heard Rogue scream something about wanting to see blood, and then I saw them. They were sitting on the couch and screaming at the TV, or more specifically at the hockey players skating around on the TV.
"Hey, Jeanie," Logan drawled, popping a new beer. "Wanna watch the game?"
"No, I think I'll just go upstairs. It's getting late."
"Yeah, no tellin' what Scooter's doin' up there without ya."
I just rolled my eyes. "Goodnight, Logan. Enjoy the game, Rogue."
When I turned around, I saw her standing against the wall, watching us. I was so surprised I actually jumped. I hadn't felt her approach, and even as I looked at her, I couldn't really feel her presence. Her eyes were piercing, so full of sadness.
"Hello," I said gently. "I don't think we've met."
"Who you talking to, Jean?" Rogue asked as she turned around on the couch.
I glanced back at her and when I turned back to the girl, she was gone.
"Where'd she go?"
"The girl. She was standing right here."
Logan turned around, too.
"There's no one there, Jeanie. You been sniffing those chemicals down in the Med Lab?"
"No, she was right here."
"Jeanie, I woulda smelled it if anyone was there."
Under normal circumstances, he would certainly would have, but this is Mutant High and nothing's normal here. There's any number of possible mutations that could circumvent his abilities. She could have the ability to mask her scent or maybe she's a strong telepath and she's just controlling our perceptions of her. That could explain why she disappeared. She could also be able to become invisible, or maybe she can transport herself short distances. I needed to find out more.
I asked Scott about her that night, but he told me that there weren't any new students at the school. We had an intruder.
We spent the next two days beefing up security. We didn't know who this girl was. She might be looking for help or she might be a spy working against us. I described the girl to all of the students and told them to watch carefully for her. Piotr offered to sketch her face if I gave him the memory. A sketch would be good, but a real picture would be better.
I went to Scott and we spent hours scanning the security tapes, trying to find a picture. There wasn't one. That night in the foyer, we could see Logan and Rogue on the couch and me standing behind them. We even saw me turn around and start talking, but there was no one there. I was talking to the wall.
"You said you only saw her for a few seconds," Scott said. "Maybe it was just a trick of the light."
How can a trick of light show you a girl so pale she's almost white, looking out at you with dark, mournful eyes through a curtain of long black hair?
"I saw her, Scott."
"I don't doubt you Jean. I believe you really do think you saw her. Look, summer school's starting in a few weeks. Why don't you take a little vacation? Go to that spa you like so much. Maybe you just need a break. I'd go with you, but with the professor gone..."
"I'm not crazy, Scott. She's real, and I'm going to prove it to you."
I went to the foyer. That's where I'd seen her. Maybe there was something about the room that made it possible to see her.
Sitting down on the couch nonchalantly, I reached for the remote control and turned on the TV, then I spun quickly around, looking for the girl. She wasn't there.
I got up and walked over to the windows, looking out at the gardens before I whipped my head around and scanned the room again. Still no one.
I tried all sorts of variations for hours. TV on. TV off. Window curtains open. Window curtains shut. Lights on. Lights off. Sitting on the couch, standing behind it, standing against the wall, standing by the windows. Nothing worked. I didn't see her again. She must be somewhere else in the mansion.
Becoming more and more frustrated, I decided to go down to the gym and work off some of my aggravation. I didn't expect to find anyone there, but Logan was sitting at the weight bench right alongside the mirrored wall.
I don't know why Charles thought it necessary to line an entire wall in the gym with mirrors. I have no desire to watch myself working out. My hair gets all stringy, my face gets red, and my workout clothes get disgusting little sweat patches on them. I always end up looking like a red, wet rat.
"Hey, Jeanie," Logan said through grunts as he worked on bicep curls.
What is it about that man and shirts? You'd think he had an allergy to them what with all the times I've seen him bare-chested around the mansion. Right now, he's in Xavier school sweat shorts and nothing else, and I must say that sweat looks a lot better on him than it does on me.
Don't get me wrong. I love Scott with all my heart, but admiring a fine male specimen won't hurt as long as all I do is look.
I walked over to the treadmills and set one up for a brisk walk. It'd get me warmed up and then I'd move on to the other equipment. The machine faced the mirrored wall, like everything in this gym, so I was walking along with my head down, only peeking up occasionally to see what Logan was doing.
Logan grunted again in his workout, and I peeked up again when I saw her in the mirror. She was standing against the far wall watching us.
I froze in surprise, but the treadmill didn't and I was thrown back onto the ground.
"Jeanie? You ok?" Logan asked, getting up and hurrying towards me.
Turning around, I instead looked towards where she'd been standing, but she was gone.
"She was there, Scott, in the gym. I saw her."
Scott sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "You just watched the tape, too, Jean. There was no one in there but you and Logan."
"She was watching us. I swear, Scott. You have to believe me."
"Ok, Jean. Why do you see her when no one else, not even the security cameras, do?"
"I don't know. Maybe... maybe it's my mutation. Maybe I'm somehow picking up on her presence. I gave Piotr my memory of her. He's drawing a picture right now. We've got to keep everyone on alert."
"Jean, you're the only one that can see her. Don't you think that it's possible she might not be real?"
"She's real. It's my mutation that's making me see her. I'm sure of it. If Charles were here, he'd tell you the same thing."
"That's a good idea, Jean. Why don't we call the professor and ask him about this."
"No. You don't believe me. I'll call him myself."
"Jean? What's wrong. Is it the school? Should I..."
"No, Charles, nothing like that. It's just, everyone pretty much thinks I'm crazy."
"Why, Jean? What's happened?"
"It's just like before I met you, when I heard voices and everyone thought I was going insane."
"What is? Tell me, Jean."
"I've been seeing a girl around the mansion. No one else can see her, and I can only see her for a few seconds, but she's there. I know she's there."
"Hmm... That's right. You told me Logan came back."
"What does Logan have to do with..."
"The girl's about sixteen with long black hair. She's wearing a white parka and a red scarf, right?"
"How... how did you know?"
"I've seen her before, Jean. Several times. She's Logan's."
"Jean, there's more to being psychic than reading people's minds."
"What?" I asked, disbelieving. "You mean like the television psychics who tell the future?"
"The future is part of it, but so is the past. The girl you've seen... she's dead, Jean. She's following Logan."
"What? H... how do you know?"
"Experience. I've seen ghosts before."
"Charles, you're telling me you see dead people?"
"No, I'm saying that we see dead people."
"Why is she following Logan?"
"I don't know. I've tried to communicate with her several times, but she won't answer me. She just stands and watches him. I think she might be a relative of his, a sister, maybe a child."
"What should we do about her?"
"Nothing. She's not a harmful spirit. She only watches."
"But, don't you think Logan should know about it?"
"Logan's not ready to believe something like this. Let it be for now. If he stays at the mansion long enough, perhaps she'll start communicating with us."
So, I dropped the issue. I told Scott that there was nothing wrong, and I stopped searching for her. Everything would have been all right had I not forgotten about the sketch I asked Piotr to make.
I was in the kitchen the next day when a psychic shockwave of pain and grief flooded through me, and I fell to my knees.
"Jean!" Scott yelled, jumping up from the kitchen table and running to my side in front of the refrigerator. "What wrong?"
"S...something happened to Logan," I mumbled, pulling myself up from the floor with Scott's help, fighting against the aftershocks of utter agony. "Get me to him."
With Scott supporting me, I stumbled through the halls to the rec room. There, I found a group of students surrounding something on the floor. When they saw us, they moved aside, and I found Logan.
He lay awkwardly on the floor, his head pulled into Rogue's lap, his eyes open and unseeing. Rogue was crying and pleading with him to wake up, stroking his hair gently with gloved hands.
"What happened?" Scott demanded as I kneeled down next to Logan and started assessing his medical condition.
Piotr came forward, "I show Rogue my picture, and the Wolverine start odd breathing."
"What?" I asked.
"Logan just stared at that picture," Rogue added, "and he just... he couldn't catch his breath. Then... he just collapsed. What's wrong with him, Jean?"
I saw a piece of paper crumpled in Logan's right hand and when I pulled it free and flattened it out, I found the picture I'd asked Piotr to sketch. It was a perfect drawing of the girl I'd seen. Logan did know her, and seeing this picture put him in some sort of psychic shock.
I reached out and put my hands on either side of his head, reaching into his mind to find him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl again. She was standing right next to me, reaching for me. When we touched, the rec room disappeared, and I was suddenly ensconced in blackness.
Everything was black except for a white door only a few feet away from me. I could see Logan braced against the door pushing hard against it to keep it closed. His eyes were wild with fear. Whatever was behind there, he did not want it escaping.
As I stood there, the girl who'd touched me and followed me into Logan's mind, stepped closer to him. Her coat seemed brilliant white in the darkness of the room. When she drew her black hair out of her face, I could see that her cheeks were wet with tears. She reached a gloved hand towards Logan, and when he looked at her with haunted, terrified eyes, she pleaded to him in a soft voice, "Remember me."
When she said those words, the white door burst open, and I was suddenly standing in a world of winter. There was a small country store to my right, and as I looked at it, I saw Logan emerge from the entrance. He was dressed in winter layers, but otherwise looked exactly the same.
"Logan?" I asked, walking towards him, but he didn't seem to hear me.
He turned and called over his shoulder, "Hurry up, kid."
"Coming," I heard a young woman's voice reply, and then I saw her.
From the white parka to the red scarf, the black hair to the warm boots, it was the girl I'd seen at the school. Even though she was the same in many respects, she was also very different. Her skin was a light brown, no longer deathly pale, and her cheeks were ruddy from the cold. Most striking, though, was her smile. It was warm and full of light. Happiness practically leaked off of her.
She was carrying two bags of groceries, handing one to Logan when she reached him, then they both started walking towards me. Neither of them seemed to notice that I was standing there. In fact, they got within inches of walking right through me when I jumped out of the way.
This can't be real. It must be some sort of memory from Logan, before she died.
I followed them to their truck. It had a camper on the back, but when I tried to open the door and get in there, my hand passed right through the surface. The engine started and I knew they were going to pull away any second, so I just stepped right through the door and into the back of the truck.
Walking up behind their seats, I settled myself down on the floor, waiting to see what happened next.
"Seatbelt," the girl ordered as she put hers on.
Logan just turned to her with a smirk and cocked an eyebrow.
"Dad," she whined.
"Mary Ann," he whined back in a good imitation of her.
"Ok," she said, throwing off her seatbelt. "If you don't have to wear one, I don't either."
"You don't have my healing abilities," Logan argued.
"And you don't have my memory abilities," she argued right back. "You wanna go against me? Mutation to mutation? Ok, last accident, we hit an ice patch going 52 miles per hour. January 6, 2002. 3:43 p.m. You rolled the Jeep three times, your body flew out of it on the second turn. You were unconscious for 2 hours 41 minutes and 38 seconds, leaving us stranded in the middle of nowhere. The temperature fluctuated between 15 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit during that time. The damage to the Jeep cost $3,291.48. Do you want an itemized list of the repairs?"
"Do you wanna hear about the accident before that?"
"No darlin', you win. I'll wear the damn seatbelt."
The girl, Mary Ann apparently, put back on her seatbelt with a satisfied grin.
Logan put the truck into gear and we started moving. It took several minutes of driving in silence before Logan said, "I'm sorry about that, kid."
"The accident... It must've been real bad for you being trapped in the Jeep 'til I woke up."
"Yeah, well, I would've liked you to stay in the Jeep with me, but I didn't really get hurt, Dad. No worries."
"With that memory o' yours, you probably remember every second you were alone."
"Dad, I remember every second of every day. It goes with the mutation. Those were some bad seconds, but there's been a lot more good ones." Mary Ann's face turned up into that magic smile. "Hey, wanna quiz me?"
"Sure," Logan said, allowing her to change the subject. "Let's see... What did I say two days ago, at 10... mmm 10:03 in the morning."
Mary Ann closed her eyes for a second, and then said, "Dammit this stupid truck. What the hell was I thinking..."
"Whoa, wrong time," Logan interrupted her. "I was thinking of when we got that ice cream and I was tellin' ya memories of your mom."
"Dad," Mary Ann said, drawing out the name into three syllables in the way only exasperated teenagers can. "That started at 10:47 in the morning."
"So sue me. I don't have your memory, darlin'. Anyway, what were..."
There was a loud pop as a tire blew and the truck spun out of control.
"Dad!" Mary Ann cried out in alarm, bracing herself against the door.
"I'm... I've got it, darlin'," Logan said as he brought the truck to a sliding stop.
He opened his door and got out of the truck, starting to swear at the faulty back tire when he froze, cocking his head to the side like he could hear something. If I concentrated I could hear it, too. Old snow crunching as people walked over it and the rustle of material rubbing against itself. It was coming from all directions and it was getting closer.
"Dad?" Mary Ann asked from inside the truck, and Logan turned back towards where she sat with barely disguised panic in his eyes.
He jumped back into the truck and was about to restart it when a tranquilizer dart struck him in the neck. It must have been made specifically for him because, despite his healing factor, he collapsed immediately.
The world around me turned gray and blurry, fading into darkness as Logan lost conscious to the sounds of Mary Ann's frantic screams.
The world came back into sharp focus a few seconds later, but now we were in a large lab and Logan lay naked on a white table. His eyes were open and he wasn't restrained, but he wasn't even trying to get up. There was an I.V. running into his arm so I could only conclude that he was being medically paralyzed.
A mousy woman in a white coat came into the room and turned on a large X-ray panel. She pulled out X-rays and started slapping them into place. Having studied that skeleton for months, I recognized it immediately. It was Logan's, without the metal, and I had the terrible feeling that this was where he'd acquired his unique hardware.
The woman pulled out a black, felt-tip pen and, after checking the X-ray carefully, started drawing a line down Logan's arm. Even though he couldn't move, Logan let out a deep growl at her, his eyes dark with anger.
She ignored him and continued drawing lines, manipulating his body like he was less than human, a specimen to be used and studied. It took over an hour before she'd diagramed his entire skeletal structure. When she was done, she walked over to the wall and activated an intercom.
"Professor? The subject is prepared for grafting."
"Very well," an older man's voice came through the speaker with a tired sigh.
The woman turned and left, and for a few minutes, Logan was alone, still exposed and helpless on the hard table. Then, a team of men and women entered the room, covered from head to toe in biohazard gear.
They were immediately intimidating, but that's not what caused Logan to start growling and mumbling through his frozen lips at the top of his lungs. When the door opened, faint crying could be heard from far down the hall interspersed with shrieks and whimpers. I don't know how, but I knew it was Mary Ann.
When the doors closed again, the cries were cut off, but that didn't stop Logan. His eyes were wild, and I could tell he was struggling with every fiber of his being to get up and help his daughter. No matter how strong his will was, though, he couldn't move.
The spacesuited people rolled a stretcher next to his white table. It had a metal frame on top of it, and after they'd lifted Logan off the table and onto the frame, they strapped him tightly to it.
For a moment, I wondered why they were bothering with the restraints, but then I saw one of them remove the I.V. That's right. It'd probably get in the way of the metal grafting process. Without it, though, the paralytic drug will wear off and unrestrained, Logan would be able to move.
They'd rolled the stretcher next to a tank filled with some sort of green liquid, when the door opened again. This time the whimpering was much louder as two men entered, their labcoats spattered with blood. Between them, they dragged a bruised and battered Mary Ann. Her clothes were ripped and torn, and the strategically located blood stains could only lead me to one conclusion. She'd been attacked and viciously abused.
Lifting up her head, she saw Logan strapped to the table and surrounded by doctors, and her whimpering changed to crying, "Daddy."
Logan growled and, finally regaining some movement, started pulling at his restraints.
One of the doctors, a older man with square-rimmed glasses, yelled at the men, "What are you thinking, bringing her in here?"
"Everyone's done with her. What do you want us to do?"
"Her mutation's useless to us," the doctor proclaimed. "Dispose of her."
"NO!!!" Logan screamed, regaining more of his strength every second. He thrashed against the straps holding him down as Mary Ann was pulled out the door, squealing, "Daddy!" with every breath.
Logan yelled and swore at them, frantically trying to escape as they transferred the metal frame to the tank. His shouts cut off abruptly as he was immersed in the green liquid, but from the bubbles rising in the water, I could tell that he was still screaming.
Then the doctor that had ordered Mary Ann's murder lifted a scalpel and started cutting into Logan's thigh along the marked lines.
The room shattered around me in millions of pieces, and I was suddenly back in the black room again. Logan was dressed and curled up into himself on the floor weeping openly.
Amidst the tears, I could make out a few of his whimpers. "My baby... my precious child... my Mary... my darlin' Mary Ann."
"Logan," I said, placing a hand against his shoulder, but he flinched away.
"Daddy?" a quiet voice whispered.
The girl, Mary Ann, was standing a few feet away from us. She was dressed and clean again, her white coat pristine in the darkness of the room.
Logan let out and unintelligible whimper and half-crawled, half-ran towards her, pulling her into a tight hug.
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry," he whispered over and over.
"It wasn't your fault," she answered, tears flooding her cheeks. "You tried."
"I failed. I couldn't protect you."
For endless moments they didn't say anything, just allowed themselves to grieve clutching each other tightly. Then, Mary Ann pulled away and cupped Logan's face in her hands, wiping his tears away.
"I love you, Daddy. Remember me."
Logan reached up and held her hands to his cheeks. "I love you, too, baby. So much."
Even as I watched, Mary Ann's coat became less white, her face less solid. She was fading away.
"Mary Ann," Logan said, fear entering his voice. "Darlin', don't leave me."
"Remember me," she whispered and then disappeared.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself back in the rec room, staring down at Logan who still lay on the floor, his head cradled in Rogue's lap. I could feel wetness on my cheeks, and I could see tears on Logan's face as well.
"Logan?" Rogue asked, her voice a mix of nervous tension and hope.
"Mar..." Logan blinked up at her like he was trying to clear his vision. "Marie."
"Logan are you ok?" she asked. Then, looking at me, she asked again, "Is he ok?"
Logan sat up, pulling away from her without answering her question. Then, he stood and walked shakily out of the room without a word to anyone.
"Jean?" Rogue asked, and I answered her question.
"He'll be ok, Rogue. Just give him time."
Logan spent days alone in his room. When he finally emerged, he went directly to Piotr. I noticed him approach the group of teens in the foyer watching the TV. Rogue was there, but Logan only gave her a tight smile and walked off with Piotr, not sparing her a word.
It was obvious that she was deeply hurt by his actions, but I understood his need to be alone. I only hoped that he would explain it to her and soon.
The next day, I was wandering around the garden maze, hoping for a little quiet contemplation, when I heard them.
"That Piotr kid drew that."
"It's the same girl as in the other picture, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Logan answered.
Either I'm downwind or he's just too preoccupied to notice that I'm here. It's the only explanation why they haven't left yet.
"She looks different in this sketch, so happy."
"Her name was Mary Ann Logan. She was my life. Her mother died in childbirth, and we were all the family we had."
"You remember? You know who you are? Your past?"
"Uh huh. All of it."
They were both quiet for a moment and then Rogue asked, "What happened to her?"
"She..." Logan paused, probably trying to collect his emotions. "She died."
"Oh, Logan. I'm so sorry."
"I couldn't protect her, but you don't have to worry about that. I won't let it happen again. I swear, I'll protect you, Marie."
"I"m not worried, Logan," Rogue answered, and I could hear the tears in her voice. "Tell me about her. I want to know everything."
"She was born on May 14, 1986. That day was the most amazing of my life. Her mother was..."
Logan's voice drifted away as I walked towards the exit to the maze, giving them their privacy.
I knew he would be ok now. He was doing what she asked, remembering her.