Author's note: Temperantia is Latin for "Self-Control." In my twisted little universe it is the year 2000, a few months after Oz left Sunnydale for the second time. The mutant phenomenon is just beginning to catch public attention. This story (and hopefully those to follow) will explore the relationship between the demon and mutant worlds. Are they really two separate things, or are mutants simply some sort of demon-hybrid (or vice versa). I think that covers everything ... except the fact that I claim no ownership of any of these characters.
CHAPTER 1: WOLVES IN THE WOOD
"Hey," one of the newer students elbowed a friend. "Isn't that dude made of metal or something? So ... if he goes out like that, would my tongue stick to him when he came back in?"
The older boy sighed. "His skin isn't made of metal, doofus. And if you tried to lick him, I think you'd probably lose your tongue. Have you seen those things that pop out of his hands?"
Logan had to admit that his habit of running in sweat pants (and only sweat pants) no matter what the temperature was somewhat odd. Still, "If you're gonna put on all that crap, you might as well run laps inside."
Scott overheard Logan's purposefully loud remark and looked up. His eyes were hidden behind ruby glasses ... and his mouth behind a heavy scarf ... but Logan could read his indignant expression loud and clear. Without a word the younger man strode out the door and into the snow, the thick material of his warm-up suit swishing loudly with every step.
Jean just shook her head. "Honestly Logan," she said, looking him up and down. "Shouldn't you at least be wearing shoes?"
"Nice to know you care," he smiled slyly. "But you shoulda seen my running outfit in Canada. Wasn't a soul for miles around up there." Logan closed his eyes and projected a mental image of himself. Jean's mind reading abilities were not her most reliable talent, so there was no way to be sure she received his telepathic pornography. To her credit Jean just smiled and walked away, leaving him to wonder.
Silver threads hung from overhanging branches, crying icy tears. An occasional drop struck the top of Logan's head, mixing with sweat before trickling down his rugged features. The moon was full, the air crisp, and the forest floor had a new carpet of freshly fallen snow. He had just under an hour until the sun peaked its head over the horizon. Mornings like this were what he lived for.
Well, mornings like this and the occasional chance to go into combat. Not just fights mind you, brawls. All out fists and claws, no holds barred, winner takes all mayhem. The Professor had taught him control, but you just couldn't take all the beast out of the man. Still, Logan had learned to appreciate the simpler, more serene gifts that life had to offer. Storm had infected him with her love of Mother Nature, and lately Logan just couldn't get enough of her wonderful world.
Something startled Logan from his daydream. There was a scent on the air, something he had never encountered before. Heavy, musky, he would have sworn it was an animal if not for a hint of ... deodorant? But there was something else intermingled with that; something dark and unnatural. He paused and closed his eyes in concentration.
That's when it hit him; a freight train plowing into his right side. Growling, Logan was back on his feet in an instant, adamantium claws unsheathed. His foe was huge, a six foot wall of muscle and matted fur standing on two legs. Threads of saliva hung from three inch canines, and the muzzle that held those powerful teeth was covered in blood.
"Well bub, looks like you already got a taste of something out here," Logan said as he circled his opponent. "But you ain't gonna get a bite of me." With that he lunged forward, hoping to drive the creature to the ground. The wolf-creature dodged quickly to the left, leaving Logan moving forward and off balance. It dug its claws into Logan's shoulder and leg, and using his forward momentum to toss the man into a nearby tree trunk; a move that would have broken Logan's back if not for his metal laced spine.
Shaking his head to clear it, Logan regained his footing. "That's twice you've gotten me on my ass. Won't happen again." The wounds he received were already beginning to close as he moved in again, more cautious this time.
Logan faked to the left and then darted by the creature's left side, just barely raking its arm with the tips of his claws. Razor fine slits appeared, oozing blood in fine rivulets. Bellowing in rage and pain, the wolf-thing wheeled about just in time to see Logan slip by on his opposite side, this time gouging a much deeper wound in its back.
The battle continued in this manner for some time. The beast was large and strong, but just not quick enough to keep up with Logan. In a manner of minutes it the trampled snow was fouled by its deep red blood, and no part of its body was unscathed. Weakened by loss of blood, the creature fell to the ground.
Logan was on top of him in an instant. "Told ya it would end this way." The blood-lust was strong in his veins, and he had his arm raised to deliver an artery-severing blow to the neck when the strangest thing happened.
All the joints in the monster's body began to pop.
Startled, Logan jumped back. He watched in horror as its limbs contorted in all sorts of unnatural positions, as if the poor bastard was nothing but a marionette on strings. Hair receded, teeth and nails resumed normal proportions, and suddenly Logan found himself standing over the body of a man.
"Just a kid," he said softly, eyes widening. "It's just a kid." He knelt to examine the damage.
What seemed like small cuts on the large beast were large gashes on the boy's 5 foot frame. Long red hair was coated in blood, and the rise and fall of his chest as he struggled to breathe was barely perceptible. He was hanging on to life by a thread.
"Hold on kid," Logan muttered as he lifted the boy into his arms. "I'm gonna get you some help.""Professor!"
He screamed mentally, legs pumping faster than he thought possible as he headed back toward the school. "Emergency!"
"Ah, the prodigal hobbit returns." A deep voice chuckled in greeting as Logan crossed the threshold of the mansion.
"Hank," Logan was out of breath. "Not now. Get Jean. Quick."
Henry McCoy looked up from his book, noticing his friend's bleeding burden for the first time. "Good heavens!" He scrambled to his feet and took the unconscious boy from Logan's arms. Exhausted, Logan slumped to the floor. "Are you sure you are alright, my friend?" Hank asked with concern.
Logan lifted his head. "I'll catch up in a minute. Get him to the infirmary." Nodding gravely, Hank gently cradled the boy in his large blue arms and lumbered off.