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The Cougar

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Summary: Follow Xander as he goes from Sunnydale to Canada where he meets a certain runaway. Can Rogue help him keep his humanity or will he share his father's fate? In a world filled with people who hate and fear him, Xander must decide what he will become.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-CenteredTheLaughingMan + 1 otherFR18545,4741914535,63514 May 0930 Nov 10No

Chapter One

AN: Watch X-men Origins, I loved it. It's right up there with the first X-Men movie for me.

Disclaimer: I don't own BTVS, X-Men, or Marvel Comics. They belong to their proper owner, not me. I am not making any money off of this, just amusement.

***Xander's P.O.V.***

It started not long after the Hyena Incident. Giles had warned me afterward that the ritual to get rid of the Hyena may have some side effects as it used ones own potential to force the spirit out, but I hadn't expected anything like what happened. The first thing that I noticed was the smells, the scents of the cheap paint on the walls in my room and the alcohol from downstairs. I started to smell everything. I could smell a dog when the canine was miles away if I stayed downwind, the completely primal smell of sex and violence that marked Buffy as the Slayer, the cinnamon and rosy scent of Willow, the overpowering scent of musky books and violence that surrounded Giles, everything.

That was just the beginning for me. My eyesight improved to where I could see a flea on a cats back from twenty meters away. Colors had never seemed so vibrant and the world had never been so clear to me in my entire life. I didn't tell anyone about this. I hoped that these abilities were just leftovers from the Hyena and nothing to worry about, but that was just what I told myself. The truth was that I was a teenaged boy who was terrified about what was happening to me. I was scared to tell anyone about what was going on because I had always taken pride in the fact that I was a normal human who fought next to the Slayer, not that I was a freak.

I didn't want to be different in someways, yet I longed to be special, to be strong, to be untouchable by those around me. I think everybody is like that deep down, but my desire was more pronounced due in part to how I was raised. Tony wasn't normally a violent man, he would hit me sometimes but it was very rarely, maybe once every few months and even then it was only one punch, never a beating. Tony had a deep hatred of abnormal things, freaks as he called them, people known as mutants. He had his reasons, but for the longest time I just believed that he was a bigoted bastard, which he kind of was. I knew that I was becoming a mutant, it wasn't as sudden as the ones they showed on the news, but I knew it, despite my hopes that it was just Hellmouth related and would pass in time.

I fought a lot on patrols with Willow, Giles, and Buffy which is how I noticed that I had acquired another ability. Bruises from punches didn't show up, claw marks disappeared, and after every beating I took at the hands of the monster of the week I could get right back up and charge in to fight once more. No matter how strong the demon or how old the vampire, I was never truly injured. I did some research and realized what it was. A healing factor or regeneration as some would say, but it wasn't the last surprise I was to receive, though I have found it to be the most useful even more so than my sense of smell.

The claws came next. Long, retractable, and razor sharp finger nails not unlike a cat's that appeared when I saw Buffy laying face down in the Master's cave. They disappeared when I performed CPR on Buffy, but I now knew that they were there. Indisputable fact of my inhumanity, proof that I wasn't human anymore. The fangs came next, long and sharp canines that I filed away when I saw them and continued to do so when they grew back. I can't tell you how much it hurt, nor how often I had to do this but it happened more and more as my body began to build up a faster regeneration per injury. In fact, I believe that if I stabbed myself enough times then stab wounds would heal instantly.

I started to notice that I didn't get tired very easily. So, in attempt to get in shape and help out my friends more, I started working out. At first, I could only lift so much, but as I did it more often I lifted more and within a few short weeks I had reached to peak of human performance, then I surpassed that. It would be months before I stopped gaining in strength, measuring out finally at lifting two tons. I began working on my endurance, speed, so on and so forth. With my claws I could scale nearly any surface, I could leap nearly fifteen feet high and thirty five feet long at my peak, my speed was equal to an older, but not quite a master level vampire, and I suspect that I could run for days if I had to.

These were only the physical changes, the mental ones were what frightened me most of all. The instincts that screamed at me to beat Oz nearly to death and claim Willow right in front of him, to show him that she was mine was nearly irresistible. To kill Angel and take Buffy for my own, so similar to the Hyena's own instincts that it terrified me. I wanted to rip Giles heart out and prove that I was the leader here. To rip Larry's throat out just for making a snide comment and to rape Cordelia to show that I was no weakling and that she should obey me. It was maddening for a guy who despised rape to entertain these thoughts and to find that he was hating rape less and less.

I knew that I had to get away before the animal inside of me finally won the internal struggle and I did something unforgivable. Buffy may stand a chance, but poor sweet Willow wouldn't, neither would Oz or Giles for that matter. I felt so angry all the time, rage was always bubbling beneath the surface, the animal inside of me howled for blood and mates constantly. The sick amusement that I found in ripping vampires and demons apart with my claws and fangs tided me over, the animal in me fighting to claim Sunnydale as my territory. I took my frustration and instincts out on the demonic population, raping the female vampires and attractive humanoid demons before killing them. I figured that if they were already going to die due to one instinct then they may as well satisfy another. It was sick, I knew that, but if it kept my girls safe for the moment then that was enough for me.

I was ready to leave when I heard the news that Angel had lost his soul, so I stayed to protect my girls from an animal worse than my own. For months I stayed outside of the girl's houses after the Judge was taken care of via rocket launcher, thank you soldier boy. I didn't agree with Buffy's mercy toward Angel, but I wanted to leave on good terms and I didn't really care if dozens of nobodies died at Angelus' hands as long as my girls were safe from him. Despite my best efforts Angelus still managed to mess with Buffy's head and hurt Willow emotionally. Then, the trap happened, just not as we expected it. Kendra died, Willow was in a coma, and Giles was probably being tortured by a master. I was heading toward the Mansion with only blood on my mind when I overheard an interesting conversation.

Buffy had made a deal with Spike that Drusilla could leave with him if he helped bring Angel down. Buffy kept her promises, the ones that really mattered anyway, but I couldn't allow this. I couldn't let Drusilla live, not after she hurt my Willow or after what I can imagine was happening to Giles. I waited outside the mansion, hidden from sight in the limbs of a tree, knowing that Buffy could take care of the situation. My plan was simple: kill Drusilla, rescue Giles, then leave Sunnydale forever. So, I watched as the minions patrolled in groups of two, studying their habits until I could dispatch them quietly which I did. As Buffy showed up and charged into the mansion, dusting fledges as she did so, I crept inside and looked for Drusilla.

I found her being carried by Spike, unconscious, and started to prepare myself to battle with Spike. I didn't know if I could win, Spike is a very powerful and skilled master vampire while I had little to no real knowledge about fighting, only instinct and a healing factor. As I was about to attack I caught the scent of blood, Giles' blood. So, I decided to abandon my attack and rescue Giles instead. The scent was strong so it was ridiculously easy to find him and after a short conversation on the validity of my existence, I carried him outside. As he put on his glasses, I saw Giles' horrified expression as he took in my fangs and claws. It was the same look I had been dreading for months and it struck me right threw my heart.

"Dear God, Xander what has happened to you?" I still remember Giles' whisper, quiet as it was. I turned from him, hiding my watery eyes, and ran back into the mansion . It was my turn to feel horrified. Acathla's portal was open and standing in front of it was Buffy and Angel. It wasn't Angelus, but really Angel, I could smell the guilt and confusion mixing in the air with the salty smell of Buffy's tears. As my personal hero told her lover to close his eyes, I came to the realization of what she was going to do and the sudden knowledge of what I had to do. Between her hating me or her hating herself which would lead to her death, I knew which one I had to choose.

Letting out a bestial roar filled with the emotional pain that I felt, I leaped toward Buffy, bounding on all fours to make it in time, I slammed into Buffy's side, knocking her to the cold stone floor and grabbing the blessed sword. Before anyone could react, I slammed the blade into Angel's chest and pushed him into the portal, closing it and sealing my fate at the same time. Buffy attacked me, screaming accusations that were sometimes true, she beat me with all of the pain that she had been carrying these long months and I let her. My healing factor would take care of the damage and I couldn't fight her, she was one of my girls, then she broke into sobs and I hugged her.

"Why?" Buffy had asked, the pain and confusion in her hazel eyes made me wish that I was dead. She had let loose another heart breaking sob that wounded me more than any weapon ever could. Buffy hadn't asked about my claws or fangs, she hadn't even noticed. I was just her Xander shaped friend to her. "It was my job, my responsibility, why couldn't you just let me do this?"

"Because it would have killed you. I know that you hate me right now and you have the right to, but I knew long ago that if I could spare you any pain then I would." I told her, pulling her away and showing her my fangs and claws. Her eyes widened but I didn't see any hate in them, only shock. "I'm a freak Buffy, an animal. I can't stay here. Everyday it get's worse, the urges are always on my mind. I can't even look at you guys without feeling them anymore. Look out for Wills and Giles for me, maybe one day I'll drop by again, but I can't stay. Goodbye, Buffy."

With that said, I ran from the room and kept on running until I reached my house. I needed answers before I left, answers that only my parents could answer. My father tried to hit me when I walked into the house, but he failed and passed out. My mother was terrified of me, of my appearance, and the reason was tied into my mutation. The reason why my dad was an alcoholic, why my mother never loved me, was that eighteen years ago she was raped by a mutant with claws and fangs similar to my own. She became pregnant and Tony began to drink, depressed and humiliated that he hadn't been able to protect his wife the way a husband should.

That was the reason, the secret kept from me all of my life, told to me by a cowering mother afraid of her own son. All she had left from her attacker was a long black coat, a coat she thrust into my arms when she told me to leave and never come back. I should hate my real father, I should despise him with every fiber of my being, but I knew better than anyone how strong the instincts are, how easy it is to just give in and take what you want. Could I hate my own father for faults and sins that I too possessed? Was I any better? Would I eventually become him?

These questions filled my mind as I ran toward across the rooftops, my father's long black coat whipping out behind me as I headed toward the nearest highway. I leaped onto the the trailer of an eighteen wheeler, using my claws to stay on top. It was still dark, so I had a few hours until anyone would see me. The sounds of the diesel engine and Merle Haggard brought no comfort or distraction for my troubled mind as I tried to come to terms with the terrible truth and to figure out where I was heading to. I finally decided to head north. I've never seen snow or wilderness having lived in southern California all of my life and I wondered what the smell of deeps woods was like, the peace and solitude with the amazing views had settled it for me. I was heading north. How far I didn't know, but that was where I was going.

I hitchhiked unsuccessfully for the first month, finally getting a ride from a mutant trucker, nice guy really, who was kind enough to take me to Seattle, Washington. From there I got some new, warmer clothes from a knocked and most likely pissed off guy at the local Petro. I headed north to Vancouver, then east to Kamloops, then even further east to Calgary and it was there that I met someone that would change my life forever, again. By the time I got to Calgary, nearly four months had past and the Canadian autumn was the worst winter that I had ever seen without it actually having to be winter, but back to the life changing meeting.

I saw her about twenty five miles north of Calgary on a deserted road where she, like me, was hitchhiking north. I smelled her long before I ever saw her, not in a bad way, it was just her scent was so different than the smell of pine and earth of the wilderness. She smelled like wildflowers in the springtime, of warm nights and cypress trees with a cinnamon undertone that caught my attention immediately. I have never smelled something so alluring in my entire life, not even Willow or Buffy had evoked this reaction. You could say that I knew she was special before I ever met her, like I knew things would get better if I followed her to wherever she went.

"You know it's not safe for pretty girls like you to hitchhike alone, don't you?" I remember grinning when she jumped in fright at the sudden and unexpected sound of my voice. I had watched her for nearly an hour from the trees before I decided to introduce myself. "There are a lot of guys and some women who would do very bad things to you, being that you are out here all alone and defenseless."

"I can take care of myself." She had told me, watching me like a cornered deer. Her southern accent had shocked me, yet it fit her so well and added to her mystery that I couldn't help but love it. A fire lit in the eyes of this meek, yet pretty girl that made me want to smile with my fangs bared. "It's everybody else that should be worried, not me."

"It's the same with me, but one thing I've learned is to never get overconfident. We should travel together, it's safer." I had told her, watching as she looked at me suspiciously. Her green eyes scrutinized me for the longest time and I knew that I had to do something to get her to agree. I was lonely and desperate for company. "Look, I promise that I'll keep my hands off of you. If I'm right then your like me, a freak, no friends or family that gives a shit about you. We freaks have to look out for one another, we're the only ones who will. My name's Cougar, what's yours?"


It's funny, really, the way we met and agreed to travel together. I guess we were both so lonely that any company was welcome. As we hitchhiked, I learned about her, but the more I learned the more confused I got. Rogue was an oddity to me, one minute she was meek and the next she was cold as ice then she'd change into a spitfire. It was very odd, I just couldn't predict her. Buffy and Willow had been predictable to an extent, but Rogue just kept me guessing. She was innocent and jaded, meek and angry. I never saw anything other than her face and hair as she was always covered from head to toe, it left a lot to the imagination and that wasn't a good thing with me.

The cold and snow got worse in the following weeks, sometimes I would have to find a cave big enough for the both of us just to survive the night. I wasn't that bothered by the cold due to my healing factor, but Rogue was as fragile as a human and was hurt by it. Travel was slow on our way to Laughton City, though eventually we were able to get a ride about fifty miles out. Well, Rogue was able to get a ride, *I* had to get between the truck and the trailer. I don't think that guy liked my teeth much, it's fair I guess. I didn't like his face much either. Hopefully, I could find a vampire or a demon to kill in the city because if not, then heads will literally roll.

We stopped about ten miles outside of the city at this shady looking bar and grill. When Rogue questioned the guy about Laughton City, he said that this was it. I could feel my claws extending as the asshole said that, it wasn't very nice to leave us here like this. If there wasn't a vamp in this joint then I knew which guy was going to die first. Rogue shot me a warning look when she saw my claws then she gestured for me to go inside with her. The bar looked like the kind of place that I frequented for clothes before I met Rogue, which meant that I didn't like the idea of her going inside.

Despite the fact that we had been traveling together for a while, I still didn't know what her mutation was, she just said that if someone touched her skin then they got hurt. Personally, I think she is lying about that to make sure that neither I nor anybody else touches her, but I never tried to test it out. She knew about my powers, even if she has never seen what I can do if properly motivated. She was really a wonder to me and my beast, which screamed at me constantly to take her and make her ours, but I settled for just brushing by her enough to leave my scent on her as we walked into the bar.

Over the usual smells of beer, piss, and vomit there was a scent that seemed very familiar, almost It was similar to my own, but different. My eyes narrowed as I tried to find the man, the smell was masculine, who smelled like family, who maybe my real father. If that was the case and he still had his old appetites then I had to get Rogue out of here right now. The girl was beautiful and she just screamed prey. If dear old dad was here then she would be in for a world of trouble as I doubt that I could protect her against an older and far more experienced animal than myself.

I followed Rogue who was walking toward the area where the scent was much stronger, making sure give a fanged smirk to those who looked at her with lust, which was pretty much every man in the bar. There was some kind of cage fight going on and judging from the sound of it somebody was loosing badly. I saw a man get thrown into the side of the cage with brutal force, making Rogue jump in fright and me smirk, before the announcer stepped into the cage to speak into a microphone. We were closer to the cage now, so I could see the winner of the previous fight and the man who might be my dad.

I could only see the heavily muscled back and the very broad shoulders, the same very broad shoulders that I possess. His hair was the same dark brown as mine, maybe a few shades off due to the lighting of the bar. I couldn't see anything else about my maybe dad, but so far we seemed to have far too much in common to be coincidence. Somebody bumped into me and I growled at them, making the guy in question turn white and scramble backwards, trying to get away from. I let a smirk grace my face again, it was good to be me sometimes.

"Weeelllll, in all my years I ain't never seen a beating like that!" The announcer spoke in taunting way. I knew immediately what was about to happen. As I looked at Rogue I could see that she was oblivious to the announcer's greasy plan. "Are you going to let this man walk away with your money!"

"I'll fight him!" A guy who looked as though he had sacrificed brains for brawn yelled out suddenly, making the crowd cheer loudly. They really didn't care if this guy won or lost, they just wanted to see some bloodshed. The bald headed guy made his way to the cage, jumping around a bit to heat up his muscles. He looked as though he had been in quite a few bar fights and could hold his own, never the less this guy lost the fight the moment he announced it.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, our savior!" The guy with a microphone announced, putting his hand over the microphone to say something quietly to the fighter. Most wouldn't be able to hear it over the roar of the crowd, but with my hearing it was like they were only a few feet in front of me. "Whatever you do, don't hit him in the balls."

"But you said anything goes." The bald headed fighter protested quietly, a look of dumb confusion on his face. The announcer nodded at him and leaned in again, a look on his face is like that of someone giving wise advice.

"It is, but he'll take it personal." The announcer spoke, looking the dumb fighter in the eyes. The fighter nodded in head quickly in acceptance and started jumping around once more. When the bell rang, he didn't waste any time and kicked my maybe father in the back, continuing to punch him when he was down. I heard a low growl come from my possible dad as the idiot fighting him reached way back for a punch that would no doubt give brain damage to a normal person. My maybe dad threw a punch at the same time and as their fists collided, I heard a metallic tink as the bones in the other guy's hand folded like Styrofoam.

My possible dad wasn't finished as he punched the idiot with a mean right hook that sent the man into the cage wall and bouncing him back toward my maybe dad to receive the headbutt finisher that knocked the fighter out cold. My possible dad sneered down at his opponent and gave him a good kick in the side before returning to his corner. Nobody else picked up on the faint sound of connecting metal in all three attacks, except for me. I narrowed my eyes in contemplation thinking about the mysterious sound when a delicious scent entered my nose. I sniffed around for a moment until it lead me to Rogue, then I realized what the smell was and growled loudly at my debatable dad.

He must have heard me because he glanced around, but luckily he didn't see me. I just stood there snarling at the thought that Rogue was aroused by what she had just seen and by my possible sperm donor. The announcer walked up into the center of the cage and turned his microphone on. "Tonight's winner and still king of the cage: The Wolverine!"

Wolverine, so that's what he goes by. It's good to have a name now, no matter if it is fake or not. Another scent struck my nose just then, one far more familiar to me. The only way to describe it is a combination of earth and demonic. I can't really tell you what demons smell like, there's nothing that really comes close to it, it's really unique, but what I was smelling was a vampire, the earthy smell gives them away, a female one if my nose was to be trusted. Lucky me, I finally get to release some stress and tension.

My eyes roved over the possible candidates, dismissing them nearly as soon as I spotted them. Vampires moved a certain way, they held themselves differently than humans, stiller. Finally I spotted a fairly attractive bleached blond about thirty near the jukebox, no doubt waiting for someone to put a few coins in for her and ask her to dance. I made my way toward her making sure that she spotted my coming, which she did if the smirk on her face was any clue. I stopped near the jukebox, pretending to look over the selection while eying her. "You must like music, personally I prefer the quiet."

"Plenty quiet outside." She spoke with a smoky voice, no doubt thinking of me as dinner. Her eyes appraised me, something I'm not unused to since I hit the gym a year ago, yet despite my great strength I only look like an extremely fit young man, not very bulky. She licked her lips sensually, baiting the trap for me. "I was just going out there myself, care to join me? It's pretty dark out there and I don't like going out there alone. It's pretty creepy."

"Just consider me your personal white knight for the evening." I said gallantly, bowing mockingly. She snickered at me, looking at me in amusement. I bet right now that she's thinking here's an easy one, if only she knew. Well, if she actually knew then she would be running for her life right now. I held my arm out to her. "Shall we?"

"We shall." She grinned, leading me outside into the cool night air and into a back alley. Suddenly she brought her vampiric visage to the fore and I grinned sadistically much to her bewilderment. My claws lengthened and I grabbed her throat, slamming her against the wall. With my other hand I slashed at her face, ruining her usual good looks. I won't tell you what happened next because I've already told you what I do to those like her. Suffice to say that she had acceptable body and an exceptional scream, I enjoyed myself for well over an hour.

As I made my way from my now dusty entertainment, I heard Rogue scream loudly. I raced into the bar, not even bothering to open the door I just broke through them and came across an odd scene. Wolverine had three long metal blades coming out of his fist which were up against the idiot who fought him earlier's throat. The old bartender had a shotgun pointed at Wolverine, yet he was looking at me with fear too. Readying myself for a fight, my claws elongated and I bared my fangs in a feral snarl while glaring at anything that moved. Rogue, I noticed, was sitting farther down the bar looking at the scene with a mixture of fear, shock, and some awe was in there too. I would like to take credit for the awe, but she was looking at Wolverine's claws, not mine.

"Get out of my bar you freaks!" The old man said, raising the shotgun from Wolverine's chest to his head, glancing at me ever so often. I growled threateningly at the assembled group of normals, flashing my teeth in what I knew was a disturbing grin. Wolverine glared at me in hatred for a moment before confusion replaced it, he didn't pause to think about whatever came over him and he glanced at the old normal. With an animalistic snarl, his left hand shot out quick as lightning and a flash of glinting metal as three metal claws emerged from between his left knuckles and cut cleanly through the shotgun.

I didn't know what kind of metal he had coated his claws in, but I wanted it for mine too. Remembering back to the cage fight, I realized that he had this metal in his head too if the sound his head made when he headbutted that guy was anything to go by. He growled at the gathered people for a moment before rescinding his claws and walking out the doorway, I say doorway because if you recall I destroyed the doors with my dramatic entrance. I didn't move and I glared at everybody as I waited for Rogue to decide what she was going to do. Wherever she went, I went. It was as simple as that.

Rogue grabbed her bag and ran for the doorway, grabbing me by the arm as went. I heard a door slam shut and saw her look in the direction of a pickup truck with a camper on the bed and a trailer. She grinned for a moment and climbed inside of the tarp covered trailer. I stared at her in a way that told her what I thought of this idea, but she just grinned mischievously and patted the free area next to her. I rolled my eyes and wondered why Wolverine wasn't driving already as I climbed into the spot next to her and pulled the tarp over our heads. The good thing about this situation is the close proximity of my and Rogues bodies, particularly in the way her butt was pushed up against my hip.

The truck started rolling and I settled down for a quick, no jokes please, catnap with Rogue doing the same next to me. We had learned in our travels how to sleep on demand as you never know when you'll be able to sleep later. The trailer wasn't that comfortable but compared to the places we've had to sleep in it might as well be the Hilton. The bumps did suck, though. Every single time we hit a bump it would jar me awake just long enough for me to make sure that we weren't in trouble and that we were still moving. I was really missing smooth pavement.

I woke up a few hours later to find that we had stopped. I started to sit up, but I froze when I heard the sound of snow crunching under boots and smelled somebody smoking a cheap cigar. I didn't dare move enough to try and wake Rogue, I barely even breathed. Seconds ticked by and I could hear him stepping closer. I closed my eyes and hoped that he wasn't my father, I don't know what I would do if he hurt Rogue like he had my mother all those years ago. Something tapped the tarp right on Rogue's shoulder and I knew we were busted, my claws extended as I readied myself for the fight of my life.

The tarp was ripped backward and an unamused Wolverine stared down at me and a waking Rogue. I looked into his eyes and didn't see the sadistic or lustful glint that I saw all to often in the mirror, instead I saw a tortured look and anger which was considerably better but still not of the good. Rogue blinked up at him with that adorable doe eyed expression of hers, made even more cute by the fact that she had just woken up. I felt jealousy stir in my gut that he got that look and not me, but I restrained myself from growling.

"What the hell do you think your doing?" The Wolverine snapped around his cigar. Rogue looked him abashed, while I just glared at him as per usual. Well, at least he wasn't going to rape Rogue and kill me. I don't know whether or not I can be killed but if it was possible then another mutant with a healing factor, like Wolverine, would know how to do so.

"I'm sorry, but we needed a ride and I thought that maybe you could help us." Rogue defended, sitting up slightly. I spent my time glaring at Wolverine, I was quickly turning it into an Olympic sport. The Wolverine glared at Rogue first, which she looked down from, before turning to match my glare with one of his own that was just a tad bit more frightening than my own. He glanced back at my Rogue.

"Get out!" He ordered us, grabbing Rogue's bag and tossing it out of his trailer. She climbed out first and I followed more slowly, back to matching glares with the Wolverine. It was a silent challenge of Alphas and I was losing badly.

"Where are we supposed to go?" Rogue asked, sounding for all the world like a lost little lamb. I would say that she was trying to guilt trip him into giving us a ride, but she isn't that subtle. Not that I'm the master of subtlety or anything.

"I don't know." Wolverine shrugged, noncommittally. I saw fire appear in Rogue's green eyes and grinned to myself. Wolverine picked up on the grin and glared at me until I stopped grinning, though I like to think that I am still triumphant because I'm grinning on the inside.

"You don't know or you don't care?" Rogue asked sharply, her whip like tongue coming out to play. Her eyes glared accusingly at Wolverine, who's facial expression didn't soften in the least. Geez, didn't this guy have a heart? Not even I can escape one of her retorts without feeling guilty.

"Pick one." The Wolverine told her irritably, glancing at the trailer to make sure we didn't mess with his bike. Not that I would want anything off that piece of crap anyway. He turned and walked back toward his truck and I could see a panicked expression appear on Rogue's face as he did so.

"I saved your life!" She yelled at him in a last ditch effort, raising her arms a bit to try and get his attention. It wasn't going to work, I could already tell. The Wolverine was just too hard hearted.

"No, you didn't!" The Wolverine retorted coldly, as he climbed into the nice and warm cab of his truck while leaving us innocent children to freeze to death in the snow. Well, one innocent girl and one feral killing machine who has a thing for said innocent girl anyways. I watched as he started to drive and wondered if I could reach the truck, pull him out, somehow disable him, get Rogue in the truck, and drive off before he could kill me twenty times over. Probably not.

I looked at Rogue and saw the heartrending expression of sadness on her pretty face. Let me tell you, I was having some homicidal or patricidal fantasies that would put the holocaust to shame at that moment, then a miracle happened: the truck pulled to a stop. Rogue grinned like she just hit the lottery, grabbed her bag, and ran toward the truck with me chasing after her. I went inside first and crawled into the messy camper from hell that nearly rivaled my old room, while Rogue sat in the front seat comfortably. I knew that she would get him to give us a ride the whole time, well alright, I may have doubted her for a second there.

"You don't have anything to eat, do you?" Rogue asked as we got started back on the road. Wolverine had apparently given up trying to deny her anything as he reached into the glove compartment and withdrew a packet of beef jerky for her. Rogue grabbed the pack and tore it open, devouring it's contents ravenously. The Wolverine watched with a slack jawed expression while I was suddenly reminded of my own demanding stomach. I let Rogue eat it all though, she needed it more than me right now, but I was really wishing that I had gone deer hunting instead of nooky hunting at that bar.

"I'm Rogue and he's Cougar." Rogue introduced us. Wolverine and I shared a quick nod of greeting. I noticed Rogue staring at a pair of dog tags that I hadn't noticed before for some odd reason. I could just barely make out the word 'Wolverine' followed by numbers. "Were you in the army? Doesn't, doesn't that mean that you were in the army?"

Wolverine glanced at her for a moment and tucked the dog tags under his shirt. Please Rogue, don't continue this line of conversation. Rogue glanced at me as though reading my thoughts and her eyes widened as she saw the state that the camper was in. She actually stared at it for a full minute before her mouth opened in shock. "Wow."

"What?" Wolverine asked defensively as he noticed Rogue looking into his camper. Rogue returned to looking at the road quickly, eating the jerky in her hand with an innocent expression. Wolverine glanced at me in confusion and I stared back shrugging in bewilderment.

"It's just that..." Rogue started and I closed my eyes, praying that she didn't say something that would get us thrown out of this nice, warm, and homey den of masculinity at it's finest. I actually liked it, but it must be an animal thing because I don't think Rogue agrees with me...or maybe it's just a guy thing. "Suddenly my life doesn't look that bad."

"Well, if you prefer the road.." Wolverine started and I was tempted to bang my head against a brick wall. Where was a brick wall when you needed one?

"No!" Rogue said suddenly, her eyes widening as she struggled to come up with something nice to say about the camper. "It looks great! It looks.....cozy."

I saw Rogue take of her gloves and rub her hands together trying to get some warmth back into them. Damn it! I had forgotten how susceptible to cold Rogue was as compared to myself. Wolverine also noticed her discomfort and turned on the heater. "Put your hands on the heater."

As he reached for her hands, I saw Rogue's eyes widen in panic and she jerked her hands away from him. I reached out and grabbed Wolverine's hands, keeping them away from her. If Rogue didn't want his hands near her, then I'm only too happy to help her. Wolverine looked at me sharply and I shook my head at him, telling him silently no. "I'm not going to hurt ya kid."

"It's nothing personal." Rogue said, still looking at his hand's warily like they were going to bite her or something. I wondered if she was rape victim as my mother had reacted the same way when I tried to hug her goodbye for the last time. "It's just that, when people touch my skin something happens."

"What?" Wolverine asked curiously, clearly not expecting or believing her explanation. I don't blame him. I've been with Rogue for a while now and I still believe her 'skin thing' is a lie. Some kind of defense or something she made up due to sexual trauma. It's the only explanation that I can come up with anyway.

"I don't know...they just get hurt." Rogue answered after a few moments of silence. Wolverine looked at me as if to ask 'is this bullshit or true', I just shrugged. Now you may notice that I haven't been talking a lot, the truth is that after Sunnydale there wasn't much I needed or wanted to say to anybody. I guess that I'm reinventing myself or something. Besides, I hear more now that I'm quiet than when I spoke a lot.

"Fair enough." Wolverine shrugged, dismissing whatever suspicions he had, much to my and Rogue's collective relief. There's a kind of awkward silence thing going on now, nobody really knows what to say. It was surprisingly Wolverine who broke the silence. "So, what kind of names are Rogue and Cougar?"

"I don't know. What kind of a name is Wolverine?" Rogue shot back at the Wolverine. It's really amazing how she can use that sharp tongue, while still keeping that sweet voice and expression on her face. Queen C would be envious of her if they ever meet. Wolverine rolled his eyes at her before sighing.

"My name's Logan." Oh ho, so he does have a real name. I guess that I don't have to call him 'maybe dad' or 'Wolverine' in my thoughts anymore. Pity, I kinda liked doing that. I noticed Rogue give a small smile at him and felt the green eyed monster stir again. Not a real green eyed monster thank God, just jealousy. I wish she would give me that smile.

"Marie." My jaw dropped and the green eyed monster evolved in raging green eyed devil right at that moment. She told Logan her real name when she had never even told *me* that. Now, that is messed up. How can she trust him more than me? It's not right! It's not fair! Suddenly, I became aware that everyone was looking at me and that I was growling loudly.

"Cougar." I snarled, glaring at them both. How could Rogue do that to me? I've saved her life more times than she knows, I found shelter for us when the blizzards hit, I was the one who hunted down and cooked food for her in the dead of night, not Logan. I've never wanted to kill her before, but right now I did. She trusted a stranger more than she did me and it hurt. It really hurt. My claws extended subconsciously as I envisioned Rogue begging for forgiveness, saying that I was the only one that she trusted, only to be denied as I slashed my claws across her delicate throat.

"Hey, kid." Logan said, looking at me with an oddly concerned glance. I growled lowly to myself, which only the Wolverine could hear and it made him look at me with even more concern. I didn't need his concern or his pity, but I could tell by the look in his eyes that he understood what had upset me. I tried to calm myself, pushing the animal deep within me to wait until I needed it's rage to make me strong. "You okay?"

I was about to answer when suddenly I was flung forward through the windshield alongside Logan, feeling the icy cold air stab at me right before I hit the snow and felt several bones break. I roared in pain as I tried to roll over and look at the damage. It was my left thigh bone, I don't what it's proper name is, I grabbed the bone that was sticking out and jammed it back into my leg, pulling the rest of my injured limb down so that the bone could be reset, and my healing went to work. I could feel the beast within me howl in amplified rage from the pain of the injury.

"You kids alright?" I heard Logan call out and glanced up just in time to see a wound in his head heal up, a glint of metal showed before pink flesh covered it proving my theory about his skull having the same metal as his claws. I grunted in acknowledgment, causing him turn and stare at me, his eyes widening at my nearly healed leg. A few more moments and it would good as new. Logan turned back to the totaled truck to check on Rogue when she didn't reply. "Hey kid, you alright?"

"I'm stuck!" I heard her shout back, though I couldn't see her due to the massive tree three feet in front of me. Something was odd about the tree, it was green and didn't break the way it should have. I paused my movements, trying to connect the dots. Well, when in doubt always trust your nose and that's exactly what I did. As I sniffed, the wind changed directions allowing a new oddly familiar scent waft into my nostrils, it was like Logan's but wilder, muskier, and far too much like my own to be coincidence. I knew who it was, who it had to be. My father.

I heard a 'snikt' sound and saw that Logan had unsheathed his claws and was looking around with narrowed eyes. I knew that my father was watching us, preparing to attack for whatever reason suited him. My claws extended again as I tried to will my leg to heal faster, I would need everything I had to survive if dad tried to kill me. He was older, smarter, and in all likelihood much stronger than me. I smelled smoke and saw smoke coming from the truck. Rogue was still trapped, she needed me now. My father could wait, I had to save her. I started to crawl slowly, lifting my injured leg as I did so being careful not put much weight onto it lest it brake again.

I turned my head toward Logan when I heard a feral growl and the sound of something large leaping from the trees. A massive behemoth of a man that I knew had to be my dear old dad grabbed Logan and threw him nearly forty feet, grabbing a large tree limb and moving quickly toward Logan. I placed my weight on my previously injured leg, relieved and thankful to discover that it was fully healed. A sound not unlike a whop reached my ears as I headed toward the truck and my father, knowing that Logan could his own while Rogue couldn't. That was my plan until Logan landed on top of the truck's hood knocked out and his claws sheathing themselves out of reflex.

I saw my dad heading toward the truck and my Rogue. Knowing better than anyone, save his victims, what he did to women and what he do to my Rogue, I lunged at his back with my claws fully extended. I landed on his back, digging my claws deep into his flesh and growling loudly in satisfaction as I heard him roar in pain. A clawed hand nearly identical to my own grabbed my right hand, the sharp weapons burying themselves into my hand with agonizing pain. I was yanked off his back with enough force to dislocate my shoulder and he held me in front of him, holding me up by my injured arm. His black eyes burned into mine with a deep rage, before he sniffed interestedly and grinned with his sharp fangs.

"Not bad, cub." He growled at me, the fetid smell of rotting bear meat hitting my nose. I slashed at him with my good arm, but missed when he leaned back just enough to let my claws pass harmlessly in front of his grinning face. He grabbed my left forearm and grinned viciously as he snapped the two bones causing me to roar in pain, not unlike him a few short seconds ago. "But not good enough!"

I was tossed like a rag doll, flying through the air as I tried to find my bearings and land properly, or improperly due to my badly injured and very painful arms. I slammed in to the snow, sliding over a dozen feet while I tried unsuccessfully to slow myself down by sticking out my legs, only succeeding in doing a very painful split. Thank God that I worked on my flexibility all those months ago because that would have hurt a helluva lot more if I hadn't. I make out through blurry eyes that my dad was marching back toward the truck which was about fifty feet to my right as I was laying crosswise in the road in a warped parody of roadkill.

The wind suddenly changed, blowing snow all around me in a white out while I desperately started rolling sideways toward the truck. The pain in my shoulder and forearm was suppressed in my urgency to protect my friend from my father. A flash of red light startled me enough to make me stop for a moment and try to figure out what was happening past the white wall of snow. I could make out another flash of red near the truck and I struggled forward, well sideways, toward my goal. The truck exploded in a ball of flames loud enough to nearly deafen me. I roared in pain and rage as I saw what I thought was the death of my beloved Rogue.

"Cougar!" I heard the object of my pain's call and closed my eyes, believing that her death had finally driven what little sanity I had left out of my mind. A familiar green coat came into my vision and Rogue's sweet scent filled my nose as her terrified face came into sight. Big, concerned green eyes were all I could focus on, before my now healed left arm shot out and wrapped around her shoulders, pulling her flush across my chest with her brown hair spilling out from beneath her hood. Her face was against my injured shoulder hurting me, but I didn't care. My Rogue was alive, terrified, but alive! "Oh my God, we have got to get you some help! Hey, you two get over here!"

"I'll be alright." I told her, turning my head away from her so that she couldn't see my tears of happiness. I didn't like showing weakness, I hated it in fact. Maybe Rogue wouldn't mind, but I still wasn't going to let anyone see my tears. I never was the sensitive type. "The important question is if you're alright? I'll be okay in a few minutes, healing factor and all, but you don't have one."

"I'm alright, Cougar." I heard her sweet voice say, muffled a bit as her face was still stuffed into my shoulder. I realized that I might be suffocating her a bit and let go of her. Rogue pulled back and returned to kneeling by my side, while I tried to sit up as the blaring pain my shoulder suddenly came to the forefront of my mind with a vengeance. Rogue grabbed my arm, helping me to a standing position as two people suddenly came into my view, startling me and my craws extended in response to the sudden tension filling me. Whoever they were, they weren't normal. I could tell that by the simple fact that I didn't hear them coming, though the black leather BDSM uniforms were a hint.

"Who the hell are you guys?" I demanded, moving in front of Rogue protectively just in case these two weren't friendly. I noticed that the guy with the weird sunglasses was dragging Wolverine behind him with some difficulty. Sunglasses Guy froze at the sight of my extended claws and fangs, before reaching up to touch his shades slowly. I growled loudly at him, but he kept his hand there and didn't move otherwise. "The Men In Black or something?"

"I'm Storm and he is Cyclops, we are here to help." The woman said soothingly, holding up her hands in a gesture of nonviolence. She was very beautiful with mocha colored skin, model-like features, long white hair, and a very interesting African accent. I gazed into her eyes and looked for any sign of deception, but all I found was patience and a deep compassion. I felt Rogue's hand touch my good shoulder gently, bringing my attention back to my sweet southern bell.

"It's alright, they saved my life." Rogue told me in that soft tone of her's that never failed to make me give in. It is really amazing how much power she has over me, it's damn near ridiculous. I nodded at her in acceptance, before I grabbed my shoulder as the pain throbbed strongly as if to remind me that I was still hurt. I walked over to a nearby tree and leaned against it, breathing hard as I tried to gather my courage for what I knew was going to hurt like hell. I noticed Storm approach me and I snarled at her threateningly.

"I have some medical knowledge, I can help you." Storm said, slowly walking toward me. Didn't she see that I didn't want her help? I wasn't some weakling who needed her help, not her's or anybody else's. Well, maybe Rogue's help would be appreciated if she knew what she was doing, but not this chick. "It *is* a dislocated shoulder, isn't it?"

"Stay away, I don't need your help." I told her, trying to keep my voice as calm as I could. A flare of pain washed through me again and I gritted my teeth. When I noticed that Storm was still walking toward me despite my insistence, my normally short temper exploded. "I SAID STAY AWAY FROM ME!"

Storm nodded slowly, a bit of fear in her eyes as she complied with my request and backed away. Ignoring her, I slammed my injured shoulder into the tree, roaring in pain as I felt my shoulder slide back into it's proper place. I stood there, eyes closed, my chest heaving as the remaining bruises and such on my shoulder were healed while I got my pain back under control. When I opened my eyes I noticed a few of my bangs had fallen in front into my face, so I finger combed my hair backwards to get it out of my face frustratedly. I really needed a haircut, but I couldn't complain as it did help keep me warm.

"So, why are you two here?" I asked them calmly, walking up to Rogue and taking my usual place in front of her. They seemed to be good intentioned, but better safe than sorry. "I somehow doubt that you were just passing through and decided to be Good Samaritans by saving Rogue and Logan's lives."

"We are here for two reasons. The first is that we are teachers at Xavier's School For The Gifted, a school for mutants and we would like you join if it's at all possible." Storm said, pausing to take a deep breathe before continuing on. "The second reason is that a mutant named Magneto is after one of you three, most probably Logan, and we can protect you from him at the school."

"Who's Magneto?" I asked, watching as Rogue's face lit up at the mention of a school for people like us. It did sound tempting, almost too good to be true, but then again this was a school and schools always sucked, sometimes literally.

"Somebody you don't want after you." Cyclops spoke up finally, and here I was beginning to think that he was mute. "You'll be safe at the school. We house the best security around, not to mention some of our more powerful students. Nobody in their right mind would attack you there, not even Magneto. That guy who just nearly killed you? He's one of Magneto's group and he is nothing compared to his boss."

I frowned as I thought over the possibilities. I didn't like the idea of going to, let alone staying at a school. Not only was it annoying, but it would also interrupt my more unsavory habits. However, while I can protect myself, Rogue couldn't and there was a strong chance that this Magneto guy was after her. Rogue's safety meant more to me than just about anything and she would be safest at this school, but it looks like they are taking Logan there too. Which meant that she would have more contact with him, not something that I liked. "I'll go wherever Rogue goes."

"I'll, we'll go to the school." Rogue decided, making Cyclops and Storm smile at her and me grunt. As we headed to wherever the leather clad duo was taking us, I hoped that this wouldn't be a mistake.


AN: Good lord, now that was a real chapter! If you like it then review, if not then review anyway and tell me what you don't like. No flames please.
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