That's for Remembrance
Cynthia Lee

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us . . .know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." -Albert Einstein

A few years after the conclusion of the movie. . . .

She is seated across from the professor. She has insisted on privacy for this meeting. No mind reading. Charles has done a cursory scan of her general attitude towards things to ensure that she meant no harm to anyone, and after having been satisfied with what he saw, he decided to let her come to him when she felt ready. And she had.

"It's a long story, Charles. I hate to do this to you. Most of it is pretty boring. Are you sure that you want to hear it all?"

"Of course." She sighs.

"Let me start this story with a disclaimer. I'm unsure of the time period for any of it. I have only recently developed any grasp of time, and it is tenuous at best apparently. It tends to slip away from me and to take me with it. I've heard people comment many times that time had slipped away from them, or they lost track of time, things like that. When I was young I thought they would understand my difficulty with it. It didn't turn out to be the same malady however. Time is a strange thing, isn't it? There is so much of it and so little. Or at least that is what I'm told.

And I've been that way for as long as I can remember. I do have memories. Many memories. But I have to constantly remind myself that they are not happening now, that they happened many years ago. And I can't draw on my memories the way that other people can, the way you can, they come to me unbidden. If you can imagine a movie playing inside your head, only you are the star of the film, and you don't know the endingwell, that is what it's like. Something has to trigger these memories, as far as I can tell. That, at least, is relatively normal. I have to let the past and the future come to me. If I go looking for timeit will take me with it. I would be lost in it. I've been lost in it before and it is like every atom in your body being pulled into a black hole. And you never know where you will land. It's like Dorothy and the tornado that sent her into Oz. Only without the yellow brick road. People tell me that I must have lived a very long time. And I suppose I have. Do I know why? No, I don't know. I've never known. I've seen the plague years, the years of the Black Death. I saw it sweep through Europe like a black fire. It took my whole family. I can remember how a corset feels when you wear it. As if someone had put a vice on your insides. I've seen dead on the battlefields of WWII. I watched some of them die. I nursed some of them back to health. I can remember the faces of the survivors of the camps. Who could forget that?

I have seen so many things.

So I'm still discovering what people call the past. My own past is still somewhere, waiting for me. A book that I haven't read yet. A book where you can only read a few pages at a time from a story with no beginning and no end. Where even the main characters are strangers. But, I digress, let me start at what I believe is the beginning. . . .

A few weeks before. . . .

Cyclops, Storm, and Jean Grey are standing in front of the sober face of the local state mental hospital. Grey stone, and bars on the windows are all they can see through the obscurity of the tempest that Storm has conjured about the massive building. The power throughout the hospital has gone out due to the lightning storm. Cyclops blasts through the locks on the door and they enter the enormous waiting room. Jean leads the way now and they head for the first floor. The telepathic link she is keeping with the Professor guides her. They are looking for Room 116.

They pause as they realize that they will have to pass the night nurse's desk. Well, there is no way around it. They will just have to pass right by it.

"Hey, you can't come in here." An orderly calls from behind the night desk.

Jean lifts him in the air and pins him gently to the wall. He is too startled to speak. Cyclops blasts the lock from this door also and the door swings open. The three X-men enter the room and look around. It is a windowless room, black as pitch. Cyclops fumbles for a minute and unearths the pocket flashlight that he had almost forgotten. There is only a hospital bed in the room in the corner. There is a woman bound to the bed by restraints. They can see no face, only a mass of dark hair. Cyclops zaps the restraints and lifts the woman from the bed. He glances at his teammates and they turn towards the door when they hear the orderlies approaching from the other side of the hall. One of their flashlight beams just grazes the open door. Knowing that they will never make it out the way they came in without injuring someone, Cyclops turns to the wall and in seconds an enormous piece of the wall is jettisoned into the storm outside. The three X-men duck through the opening, and then they are swallowed up by the storm.

* * * * *

Jean Grey is ministering to the woman that they had rescued from the state hospital. She shakes her head as she reads the results of the blood tests she'd taken a day or so before. This woman had been heavily medicated for quite some time. Possibly years. Jean knows that for many people it is hospital policy to administer powerful doses of Thorazine to patients and then leave them there to drool on themselves and to develop bedsores.

"Why didn't they just pour concrete on her brain?" she says.

She looks at the face before her. She is too thin for a woman her size. Although she is small, it appears that she is well put together. Her face is very pale. Jean wonders idly how long it has been since she'd been in the sunlight. She didn't know precisely what was affecting the woman. She appeared to have lapsed into catatonia. Or perhaps she was still under the influence of the Thorazine.

Jean places both her hands over the face of the young woman and closes her eyes so that she can better see what might be in this woman's mind.

The prostrate woman's eyes fly open. She inhales sharply. Her eyes roll wildly in her head.

A startled Jean watches as the woman leaps from the examination table. She is panting, clearly terrified. As she slides to the floor her legs collapse beneath her and she jerks at the electrodes that are wired to her body. But her legs will not hold her. She is too weak and groggy from her long inactivity. She emits a long, sustained howl that echoes in the large chamber. It is a cry of an animal in pain and it pierces Jean.

And then the woman's form begins to dissolve, become transparent. Jean can see the metallic sheen of the examination table clearly through the woman's chest. The woman raises her hand and looks at it, cries out pitifully as her own image flickers, becomes substantial fleetingly and then dissolves again. She braces herself one hand against the floor, the other against the wall. And then her head rears back, her back arches, and she bangs her head into the wall with a sickening thud. Her physical form materializes again, flickers a moment. She slams the wall again with her head. Jean watches as her image solidifies again into the complete woman that had only moments before been lying on the table. There is blood on the wall and a trickle of blood slides down the woman's face. She slumps again, her eyes roll back slightly, and she collapses onto the floor in a heap.

Jean, a little shaken, approaches the woman slowly. She sees that she is unconscious again and lifts her from the floor back onto the exam table. Stunned by what she has seen, and concerned for this woman's safety, she wonders what she should do. Her attempt to enter the woman's mind had clearly terrified her and set off the episode she'd just seen. She felt a wave of sympathy for the woman before her. Her fear and her pain had been palpable. She decided to talk to the Professor, clearly, before doing anymore damage.

Jean brushes the hair from the woman's face, smoothes it back. Then she gently wipes the blood from her face. She gives the woman an injection of a mild tranquilizer and leaves the room to find the Professor.

"I don't know what to think Professor," she tells him later. "I've never seen anything like that. She didn't hurt me and I don't think she meant to. You should have heard the sound she made when she was in pain. Itit was like the sound of a hunted animal."

"You feel for this woman, Jean?"

"How could I not?"

He nods and looks out the window for a moment. He is troubled by something that he doesn't want to tell Jean, not yet. He sensed an enormous amount of power in this woman. It was not that she was any more powerful than any of the other X-men; it was that her power was raw, undisciplined. And that made her dangerous. He wondered if he'd done the right thing in bringing her here. Better here, at the mansion, than at the state hospital, or someplace worse. Well, it would obviously be awhile before he would learn what had befallen this strange woman. He wouldn't risk another scene like the one Jean had witnessed.


"Yes, Jean, I'm sorry. I was just thinking."

"I'd like to stay with her, if you don't mind. Watch her to make sure she doesn't wake up again and hurt herself."

The professor is watching Jean.

"You find her disturbing do you, Jean?"

"Yes, I do. I could feel the energy when she was awake. I could feel it in the air. Like it was electric or something. Is my hair standing on end because it sure feels like it?"

"Go and stay with her. Watch her. I will send someone to relieve you when you get tired."

* * * * *

About 2:00 in the morning Logan returns to the X-mansion from one of his mysterious trips. He is tired. Not tired in body but tired in his mind, in his soul. He doesn't want to see anyone just yet. Doesn't want to talk to anyone. Although he's loathe to admit it, he's glad to be back in Westchester. He tries to be quiet as he pads down the hall to his room. He walks past Storm's room, Rogue's room, and he can smell that everyone is where they are supposed to be. But when he passes Jean and Scott's room there is an unfamiliar scent on Jean's body. It's faint but unmistakable. It's the smell of a woman. He pauses a moment outside their door to wonder about this and then shrugs and opens the door to his room.

"I wonder what they're up to," he muses idly.

Logan seldom dreams; but when he does he seldom forgets them. He dreams so little that he is inevitably able to recall the slightest detail. Dreams have always completely and utterly perplexed Logan. They seemed like nightly trangressions into insanity to him. A literal sort of person, he is not yet given to introspection and his dreams' cryptic imagery puzzles him. Once, after a particularly impenetrable dream, he'd sought out a copy of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams but quickly grew disgusted with it and threw it out that same day. Since then, he'd often sworn that Freud was as crazy as he was.

But, this night, he will not forget his dream.

He is lying on a table naked and cold. Lying beside him is a woman. He can smell her but it is so dark that he can barely see her. He turns his head to look at her and she turns her head at the same time. Their eyes meet. He sees a white face, large eyes shrouded in dark hair. She looks like she is in great pain. Her eyes fill as she looks at him. In the darkness, she reaches her hand out to him and he reaches for her in turn.

And then he is dancing with the sun in his eyes. He is holding a woman in his arms and he can hear her laughter. But he cannot see her face because he is blinded by sunlight. So for a moment he has the impression that he is dancing with a woman who has a glare where her head should be, but then they turn and the light is behind him and he sees a small face, large eyes, dark hair falls around her shoulders. She smiles at him. They turn again in their dance, and he sees that the smile on her face has disappeared. She is afraid. They both look down at her hands and see that she is beginning to disappear. Her image flickers. It warps and ripples in front of him like a mirage, and then she is gone. He is standing alone. He lifts his head to the sky and there is a full moon visible through the trees. His breathing is labored. It is visible in the cold night air. He takes a step and it crunches into the snow at his feet. He looks around; everything is still, silent and covered in an immaculate blanket of snow. From somewhere he can hear the howling of a wolf. Its cry is the sound of loneliness made audible and it pierces him. He brushes from his face the tears that have frozen there.

Logan wakes up with a start. He shakes his head and rubs his eyes.

"What the hell?" he asks himself groggily.

Down the hall, Jean Grey wakes up and dresses. The woman they had rescued the night before weighs on her thoughts and she is thinking of her as she steps out of the room and closes the door behind her. She sees Logan as he emerges from his room down the hall.

"When did you get back?" she whispers.

"Last night."

"I see. Listen, come with me now. I want to show you something."

"I take it Scott is still asleep? Are you sure he would want us to be alone together?"

"Logan, stop it. I'm serious."

"So am I."

She ignores this last comment and leads him down to the underground chamber, to the room where the woman is still unconscious.

"Were you with this woman most of the night?" Logan asks

"Yes, why?"

"I smelled her on you when I came in last night"

"Oh. She woke up briefly yesterday when I tried to read her mind. You should have been here. I felt an enormous presence in the room. I don't mean like an actual tangible presence but I could feel her power and her fear as if it were standing right next to me."

He looks at the woman. She looks terribly pale and thin. She looks as if she could be anywhere from 25 to 35.

"Where did you find this kid? She looks like she's been underground for years."

"At the state hospital. I don't know how long she'd been there."

"Jeez. Poor kid."

"I know. Sometimes I wonder how many mutants get committed to those places."

Jean crosses the other side of the room and comes back w/ a syringe in her hand. She lifts the gown they had dressed the woman in and gives her the injection.

"What are you giving her?"

"Sodium pentothal."

"What will that do to her?'

"It's often called "truth serum." What it really does is break down the walls of inhibition. A person under the influence will say anything that pops into their minds, for the most part. It makes you feel very goofy. I hate to give it to her but I don't know what she'll do when she wakes up."

"Okay. Don't ever give that stuff to me all right."

"I wouldn't dream of it. I don't know how we would survive it."

The woman's eyes open and she looked at Jean and Logan standing there. Her eyes were at half-mast and she appeared to have trouble focusing.

"Where am I?" she said in a barely audible whisper.

"You're somewhere safe." Jean says.

"I feel funny."

"I bet you do." Logan replies.

"I've given you a sedative. You woke up earlier and you hurt yourself. I think you better take it easy for awhile."

"I'm not in the hospital am I?"

"No, you're not there anymore. Do you know how long they kept you there?" Jean says.

"I'm not sure. I'll have to think about it." She looks over at Logan. "You're a hairy guy aren't you?" She looks around the room. The light is low and she can focus a little better.

"Where am I? This looks like a very sterile environment. Not exactly cozy. How did I get out of the hospital?" She has begun to look worried.

"Just relax and sleep." Jean says. "All your questions will be answered in time."

"I've slept enough," she says. "And I have trouble with time." She tries to sit up and barely succeeds. The sleeveless tunic-like gown she is wearing is ill-fitting and not exactly modest and Logan looks away, embarrassed.

"Can I walk? I might need some help. Why don't you two help me?"

They both lunge for her to try and stop her from trying to stand but she is off the table and standing shakily on her feet already.

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Jean asks.

She doesn't respond. Jean and Logan offer their arms and she takes them both.

"Is it you that was in my head the other day?" she says to Jean.

"Welluhyes, actually."

"I thought so. Sorry I behaved so badly. I'm always sensitive about things like that."

Jean and Logan glance at each other.

"No problem." Jean replies.

"Look. I don't know who any of you are. I assume there are others around here. Other mutants, I mean. But I'm hardly in a position to fight anyone, am I? So I am completely at your mercy for the time being. I do however, have one request to make."

"What is that, honey?" Logan responds

"I'd really like to take a shower."

Jean smiles at this. "Of course you can."

She looks at him now and seems to focus on him for the first time. Her gaze is level and without fear of any kind. He looks away. She turns and looks at Jean with what appears to be real concern.

"I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, no. I'm fine. What is your name?"

There is a pause. "I've had several names. I knew a man once who called me Mina. I always liked that name."

"Mina? M-I-N-A? Short for Wilhemina? That's some name." Logan says.

"That's right" she says weakly. He is looking at her.

"Listen, I'm going to get you a room here in the house, Mina." Jean says. "There's no reason for you to stay down here. You'll be much more comfortable upstairs with us."

"That's very kind of you. Thank you." She is about to say something to Logan but she loses her train of thought and the next moment she starts to slump to the floor.

"Oh hell. She's fainted." Logan says and he picks her up in his arms. He is surprised at how light she is. He carries her upstairs with Jean behind him. They reach the dorm room that Jean has prepared for her and Logan gently slides her onto the bed. He slips the comforter over her and looks at Jean.

"Well, I guess she's here to stay. At least for a while." She turns to the door and as she leaves the room she silently decides not to tell Logan about the things she had seen the night before.

Logan turns to leave also but stops for a moment and brushes a stray lock of hair from the sleeping woman's face. In the brighter light of this room he can see her face more clearly. There is a long gruesome looking scar across her hairline. It has the look of a scar that was not allowed to heal properly. Logan is startled at the sight of it. He bends down to get a closer look at it. Could it be a scar from a lobotomy? It looked like sloppy work. Mina snuffles and turns over in her sleep. Logan, realizing that he's leaning over a vulnerable, unconscious woman and that this pose could easily be mistaken for something it wasn't, straightens up and leaves the room. Before he's through the door he turns back to glance at her one more time.

* * * * *

It's November in Westchester and it's bitterly cold. To nearly everyone's surprise, Logan is still staying at the mansion. He has been unapproachable for days and everyone is reluctant to comment on his unexpected stay for fear of getting their heads snapped off. His habit has always been to appear unannounced and then disappear without explanation and to ignore Christmas in general.

This last trip had been another attempt to come to grips with the past that he couldn't remember. If he'd discovered anything in the Canadian wilderness while he'd been away, he didn't want to talk about it. Several times the Professor and once Jean Grey had tried to ask him about it but he'd been short with both of them and said succinctly that he didn't want to talk about it. They might have entered his mind but both of them were loathe to invade anyone's privacy. And Logan would have considered their efforts a kind of mental rape. So aside from Jean's long, concerned looks in his direction, and the Professor's awkward attempts at drawing him out, the subject was left alone.

The truth was that Logan's efforts to discover his past were futile. The trail was cold; the people that might have revealed something were openly hostile to him, couldn't remember anything of the past themselves, or they were dead. Since his return he'd been given to taking long walks by himself on the grounds of the mansion, or taking rides on his motorcycle for hours, despite the cold. Several times, Storm had noticed him up late at night, sitting by himself in a chair beside the living room window, smoking his cigar and staring into the distance.

As for Mina, she had proved to be rather likeable, if a bit aloof . She was very quiet, but not shy. Professor X decided to let her recover fully from her stay at the hospital before putting her through what would undoubtedly be a painful questioning. It took a few days for her to regain any real lucidity. She was so quiet and lethargic at first that nearly everyone at the mansion began to think that she was suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress. If spoken to she was vague, a bit unfocused. Her eyes stayed hooded and her voice was tiny and hollow. So everyone was surprised when the third week of her stay saw her more vocal and more animated.

She rapidly became a comfortable person to have around. She was polite, helpful, tactful and given to long periods of sitting still in what appeared to be a state of perfect repose. There was no a trace of hostility in her, surprisingly enough. She seemed to sense that she was among friendly people almost immediately and never displayed a moment's anxiety after her initial vagueness wore off. She was suddenly living in intimacy with total strangers but this didn't seem to give her a moment's pause.

Early on, she displayed a rare propensity for listening. And because this was a school for young mutants, there were many students that felt the need to express themselves and their fears to anyone who offered a willing ear. She would even listen to some of the younger ones whose chatter could be tiresome. She would listen for hours to the complaints or concerns of anyone who caught her attention. She never grew impatient, or irritable.

She also seemed to have a grasp on interpersonal relations within the group, and an insightful notion of how each X-man related to the other. She sensed somehow the tension between Logan and Scott. Once, when Logan had barked at Scott because Scott had appropriated Logan's favorite footrest in the TV room, she asked them both in a perfectly serious and level tone if she would have to separate them both. They were both so surprised by her teasing that they grew embarrassed and didn't say anything further. Another time Storm happened to glance out the living room window while she was reading a magazine and noticed Mina walking with young Bobby Drake. About two hours later, she wandered back into the living room and Mina and the boy were still seated in the garden, talking.

She was given to solitude as well. At first, Jean and the Professor attributed her silence to her struggle to return to health after what they believed to be a very long stay in the state hospital. And she took to walking great distances herself also, although not with Logan. She was so quiet and cooperative that Jean found it difficult to believe that this was the same woman who had behaved like a trapped animal not but a few weeks before in the exam room. Jean had felt motherly towards her then, but when she began to suspect that Mina was possibly older than she was, she felt mildly intimidated by her. She looked like someone in her twenties but her eyes and her carriage were that of someone much older. It wasn't anything Jean could finger, and if pressed she wouldn't have been able to explain it. But, it was like she had more gravity about her than anyone else. Logan was older than any of them but, well, he was just Logan. Behind that lovely face pulsed a quick, sharp intelligence. She reminded Jean of those Renaissance paintings of the Madonna. She had the same look of immortality, like she was crystalline, a woman frozen in a moment.

And after a few weeks' exercise had returned the color to her face, Mina had turned out to be a particularly beautiful woman. She was sparingly built, but her face was rescued from plainness by the size and shape of her eyes and the richness of her dark hair. Her eyes were large, rimmed with long lashes, and their habitual expression was steady, clear and kind. There was a quiet authority about her that reminded Jean a bit of the professor.

Storm had noticed her once making suggestions to Cyclops about a particularly attractive way of stringing the Christmas lights over the French doors that led to the courtyard. Scott was so surprised at the suggestion that it took him a moment to reply. But when he followed her suggestion he realized that she was right.

Another time she offered to coach some of the older students in a rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and her direction on staging as well as her near-photographic recall of the entire play turned out to be invaluable. And Logan, who had expected to be bored stiff by the performance, had laughed louder and harder than anyone else and subsequently developed an interest in Shakespeare, particularly the tragedies. Professor X asked her to teach a class in Shakespeare and she eagerly agreed. Her class turned out to be a popular one, one of the most popular courses taught at the school.

As it turned out, she was a woman with surprising talents. One night while putting up decorations in preparation for the Christmas party that was only a week away, Jean mentioned that she thought there should be dancing at the party.

"A party isn't a party without some dancing. What else are we gonna do? We don't have news to share with each other. We see each other everyday."

No one responded because although the X-men were nothing if not the most formidable collection of individuals on the planet, their training schedules, and mission plans left little time for leisurely pursuits. They looked at each other, slightly discomfited with the idea. "What would you like to dance, Jean? A waltz? That would probably be the easiest. I would be more than happy to show anyone the steps." Mina said, overhearing Jean's remark.

"Uh that would be great. You could show Scott the steps first and I'll watch." Jean said, amused.

Scott looked terrified. Cyclops is a man who could blast through a mountain just by looking at it but he can not dance. Mina approached him, grabbed his hand and placed it around her waist.

"What do you say, my new friend, care to dance?"

Scott was dumbfounded. He was about to sputter something noncommital in reply but he couldn't turn down such an innocent request. He hadn't exchanged more than three words with this woman since her arrival and now he was dancing with her. So direct and unassuming was her offer that he found himself unable to refuse it. Scott's footwork was so awkward that Mina looked as if she were dancing with a buffalo. She, on the other hand, looked as if her feet barely touched the ground. A few times it seemed to Jean that Scott would surely break every toe in Mina's body but she managed to make the dance look fluid and polished. They whirled once, then again, with Mina keeping time to the music that only she heard.

Jean was touched by the serious, earnest look on Scott's face and wished that she could record the moment without Scott knowing. Being an X-person was often such a serious business that it was easy to forget just this very thing. It was easy to forget that the best things in life were often moments like these. And seeing Scott dance with Mina made her eyes fill for a moment. She got up to break in to the dance when she noticed Logan standing by the door.

The look on his face stopped her dead. He was watching Scott and Mina so intently that he'd dropped his cigar on the carpet. It was not so much the intensity of his expression that struck Jean but its naked emotion. She realized that he was watching Mina. She was enjoying herself so much that even Scott was charmed by her. And when she and Scott whirled around again, she laughed. The sound of her laugh struck a chord in him. He took a step forward but seemed to reconsider and ducked back into the shadows. After a moment he turned and left the room.

Jean was stunned. She had no idea what to think. And, admittedly, she was a little jealous. She had long been accustomed to being the primary object of Logan's attention. And although the mutual attraction between Logan and herself had cooled considerably in the past few years, she sometimes indulged in the notion that Logan had really only loved her throughout his long life. As far as she knew, Logan and Mina had never had a conversation. She couldn't even recall seeing them in the same room together. Logan was hardly the sort of person who went out of his way to endear himself to strangers. And Mina, although undeniably attractive, did not seem like the sort of person that Logan would pursue. She was far too demure, and although Jean liked her, she seemed too mild to be of much interest to someone like Logan. Maybe, though, his reaction was just the normal male response to a beautiful woman and nothing more. But Logan was around beautiful women often and remained unmoved by most of them. She shakes her head. She had stopped being surprised by Logan's unpredictability. The dance over, Scott took Mina's hand and kissed it with a flourish. She teasingly lowered her chin and looked at him from underneath her eyelashes in a mock come-hither look that made Scott fluster. He walked over to Jean and gallantly asked her to dance. Jean giggled like a schoolgirl sort of way and tried to keep up with Scott, who now fancies himself an accomplished dancer. Soon Rogue was dancing with Bobby, and Mina with Storm. Several of the younger students pair off and they, too, can be heard chanting "1,2,3,1,2,3."

Professor X wheels himself into the room and is startled by the sight of his X-men sweeping across the floor looking as if they'd just stepped out of Gone with the Wind. He watches Mina for a moment. She has locked hands with Ororo and is spinning around playfully both of them squealing like children at a playground. He is pleased to see them enjoying themselves like children. Their childhoods were far too short, he thinks. Much too short.

Outside, Logan is standing in the garden. Only the glowing ember of his cigar is visible in the darkness. The snow drifts and whirls in the air like the dancers he is watching. He is looking at Mina. He can't hear them but he can tell that she is laughing again. Then Jeannie sweeps by, smiling into Scott's face. He shivers slightly with the cold, drawing his shoulders up. The others are warmed by their dance, smiling and a little breathless.

"1,2,3," he says softly to himself. "1,2,3,1,2. . . "

* * * * *

Professor X calls everyone to his office one afternoon. Logan, Jean, Scott, and Ororo are seated in front of him. They are certain that they have been summoned to talk about Mina.

"All right everyone, I have just finished a lengthy session with Mina and I've learned a great deal. I've not heard a story quite like hers. So pay attention, please.

Logan leans forward in his chair.

"The first unusual thing is that Mina's mutation manifested not in puberty but apparently when she was still a toddler. She has fragmentary memories of someone that she assumes was her mother. When Mina was maybe three or four she began to anticipate her mother's orders before her mother had vocalized them. And she seemed to be able to predict the weather, what her mother was planning on making for lunch, or when another bout of the plague would seize the city where she lived. Although, Mina is not at all sure what year this was, or how old she is, or what year it is now, for that matter, I think that must have been in the Dark Ages. The mother began to suspect that her daughter was not a normal child and one day she bundled up the child, walked into the forest and left her there. Mina remembers only fragments of this time. She remembers her mother's beatings, and then she remembers being alone in the woods in mid-winter. However our best guess is that infanticide was the mother's intention. Not too terribly surprising considering the times.

"Jesus" Logan mutters.

"I did some research here just a moment ago. In 1800 a local farmer discovered a young boy scrabbling for potatoes in one of his fields. He was naked, dirty, and couldn't speak. He would occasionally walk on all fours like an animal. He must have lived for many years like this, eating acorns, small animals, and whatever he could scavenge from the local fields. This boy, later called the Wild Boy of Aveyron, is said to have had no imagination, no memory, and no reason. He never learned to speak. He cared nothing for human companionship. His was a life of complete innocence, but also complete ignorance.

In the 1920's in India two female toddlers were discovered in a wolf den. They had been adopted by a pair of female wolves and raised as one of their own. These two girls, neither of whom lived beyond their teenage years, only learned to speak a few words, had no ability to reason, and no memory.

This is what life must have been like for our Mina. Her only companions were the wolves she befriended. For what length of time she lived like this we can only guess. But eventually she was found. Probably by some villagers. She remembers being terrified at the sight of them. So terrified that she apparently lost consciousness. Or perhaps this part of her memory is lost to her. She doesn't know.

She must have been a young woman then. It is likely that a legend grew around her. A beautiful wild woman of the forest would certainly be a figure of interest to anyone. For many years after her capture she lived with a nobleman in his ancestral castle. He had apparently fallen in love with her and took it upon himself to educate her. Under his tutelage she must have made phenomenal progress because the woman that we know today can recite passages of Shakespeare from memory. But the kind nobleman who loved her must have wondered why his ward did not seem to age. He grew older, lost his reason, and began to believe that she was a witch. He began to persecute her mercilessly. Eventually, she left him.

All these years are hazy for her. She had lived for her whole life entirely in the moment of the present. There was no past, no present, and no future. She lived like an animal. And animals do not conceive of time the way that we do. Hours can be spent locked in a room and an animal will have no concept of how much time they've spent in that room only that their desire to leave it grows stronger.

She has only fleeting, cryptic memories of the rest of her life. Much of it is lost to her. She thinks that she must have been an actress at one time. Another time she worked as a seamstress. Only she forgets these abilities as soon as she leaves the environment that necessitated her using them. She will only remember them if something triggers that memory and that knowledge at a later date. But because of her confusion with time, she sometimes confuses the memory with the present. And this is dangerous for her.

"Do you mean that she has something like Alzheimer's?" Scott asks, slightly confused.

"No, not at all. I believe that the nature of her trouble with time and memory stems from her mutation and from psychic trauma associated with her abandonment. Mina is a seer. She can glimpse the future but because she was punished so brutally for something she had no control over, she has suppressed that ability. And continues to do so. Living in the wild like an animal consigned her to a life lived entirely in the present moment. And that ensured that her latent powers remained dormant. She refuses to use her power because it cost her a family and it cost her the promise of love. By staying forever in the present, she can forget about time and her power over it. In Mina's mind, it is safer to live outside of time than within it.

"But she does have some memories, right? There are some things she can remember." Logan says.

"Yes. There have been many moments when some stimuli will trigger a memory in her. But they are like encoded messages. There is no context for them. And if the memory is a particularly powerful or painful one, she will sometimes believe that the memory is happening in the present and not that it is a reflection of the past.

Over the years, as more memories drift her way she has been able to put the clues together to create connections between them. Like a grid, of sorts. An incomplete but fixed frame of reference. Because she has memories of being an actress, she assumes that is the time when she discovered Shakespeare.

"That explains it." Jean says "One day I asked her to help me string some lights outside on one of the trees and I said meet me out front at 2:00 and she went out there right after she woke up and sat there until 2:00. Ororo saw her sitting out there for hours. We didn't know what to think. She wouldn't have known what 2:00 meant in terms of time so she sat out there so she wouldn't run the chance of keeping me waiting."

"There is something else," the professor continues. "Without something familiar around her to orient herself she cannot maintain what precious little balance she has managed until now. Her every waking hour is a constant effort to anchor herself in a context for her surroundings. If she was to leave here tomorrow, she would eventually forget that she was ever here. The problem is, if she were to lose that balance to a great degree for whatever reason, she could lose herself in time quite literally.

"What do you mean?" Logan asks.

"I mean she would disappear from this time. Because she has never been able to control her own power, or even been able to use it, it overwhelms her. She could be swept into the future, the past, or even somewhere in the present. Her power is immature. She has never learned to harness it. Attempting to use her power would frighten her so much that she could lose herself and disappear from this time."

"Good Goddess." Ororo says, shaking her head.

"Do you mean that when she's frightened she can't control it at all?" Jean says. "Well, surely she's been frightened before? How did she manage to stay put?"

"I'm not entirely sure, Jean, I think that's why she went catatonic, to secure herself in the present. We may never know why she was committed. She doesn't remember anything about her time there. She has forgotten it entirely during the short time she has been here. She could, however, remember part of it someday.

"Apparently, anything from the world of the senses will keep her from losing herself. Intense pain or intense pleasure will insure that her body and mind are firmly locked into the present. She's hurt herself before on a number of occasions to avoid her own dissolution from the present. Her reaction to fear is a classic fight or flight instinctual response. Because she is reluctant to fightshe flees instead. This instinct stems from her youth, when she lived like an animal.

Everyone is quiet for a moment.

"What is going to happen to her?" Logan asks in a quiet tone.

"I've asked her to stay here. I could help her take control of her own power, and solve her problem with time. I believe she could get all her memories back. But she doesn't want anyone inside her head."

"She doesn't trust us?" Jean asks.

"I don't know, Jean. I believe she is very comfortable here. She told me as much. I think that sometime in her long life she must have had a bad experience with a telepath. My guess isthere are some things she is not ready to remember."

"What use would she be to the team?" Scott says, not unkindly. "Even if she does gain control over her powers? I like Mina well enough. But, professor, I have reservations about this."

"Mina is a seer, Scott. And as far as I can tell she is a powerful one. She can see every possible future under any given circumstance for anything or anyone. This is a formidable ability to say the least. For her it is a bit of a curse I'm afraid. But one she could learn to handle more productively, where she will no longer be a threat to herself or anyone else."

"She's such a nice woman." Jean says. "It's hard to believe that she has managed to be so accepting of a world that has been so cruel to her."

Jean glances over at Logan. Mina's story reminds her of the kind of torment that Logan has lived with for so long. He doesn't return her gaze. He is looking out the window. She wonders what he's thinking.

"I'm telling you, Ororo. He has a thing for her. He's even attended her class a couple of times. Can you imagine?" Jean says.

"She is very attractive and appealing. And she couldn't be more different from him. Perhaps that is the reason." Ororo replies.

"I think it's more serious than that. It's likeit's like he's a little afraid of her, I swear. I've noticed that whenever she walks into the room, he gets up and leaves."

Ororo laughs.

"And another thing" Jean says. "He's still here. Logan doesn't do Christmas. He hates Christmas. Don't get me wrongI'm glad he's here. I just think it's weird. I don't think it's healthy for him."

"It sounds as if you are a little jealous."

"Oh, a little, I guess. I like Mina a lot. But Logan has been here all this time and he has barely talked to me. He used to confide in me and now he slouches around here and broods and barely speaks to anyone."

"I don't envy Mina that one." Ororo replies. "Goddess help any woman who returns Logan's affection. You know that yourself, Jean."

Jean nods.

"He certainly didn't act that way around me" she mutters.

* * * * *

Logan is walking one afternoon on the mansion grounds. The snow is falling lightly. It is late afternoon and he is feeling hungry. He decides to turn back when he picks up Mina's scent. She is not far away. He can hear her feet crunching into the crisp, new snow. He takes a deep breath, pulls a cigar from his pocket and lights it. After a moment, Mina emerges from between some trees. She smiles when she sees him.

"Logan. I didn't know you were out walking. Aren't you cold? You're hardly wearing anything."

"Nah, I'm not cold."

"You must be hot-blooded."

"You could say that."

She is standing in front of him now, looking into his face.

"Well, Logan, I believe you're the one person staying here that I haven't had a chance to talk to. I'm pleased to have this opportunity."

Logan takes a puff from his cigar. He blows the smoke into the space between them.

"Do you always talk like that?"

"Like what? How do I talk?"

"Like a schoolteacher."

She laughs.

"I suppose I do. Although I hadn't thought of it that way."

"You're doing it again."

"Oh, am I? So sorry."

They begin to walk together towards the mansion.

"How long have you been here, Logan? With the professor and the others, I mean" she asks.

"Off and on. A year or two."

"How long have I been here?'

He smiles a little.

"A few months, something like that."

She takes a deep breath.

"I like it here."

"Yeah. It's okay."

"I've noticed you in class a few times. Do you like Shakespeare?"

"Yeah. He's pretty cool."

"Which one is your favorite?"

"Hamlet, I think."

"That one is my favorite too. Although I do think he whines a bit too much."

"He should have just killed him."


"Hamlet. He should've killed that guy Claudius right away. End of problem."

"That would have made it a very short play."

Logan blows a puff of smoke into the air.

"Good point."

"You're a man of few words, aren't you? I've noticed that about you."

"Have you?"

"You have a solitary air about you. Rather like a lone wolf."

"You'd know more about that than I would."

She laughs.

"You're right about that."

He looks over at her again. She is looking at him with that direct, level gaze of hers. He smiles grudgingly.

"You're a weird woman, you know that?"

"And you, Logan, are trying to annoy me. Well, it won't work. I'm not easily offended."

She slips her arm into his. He is startled and he stiffens underneath her touch. She doesn't seem to notice. The gesture was so natural and so innocent that he relaxes a little. They walk together for a moment in silence.

"I wonder how long I'll be able to stay here?" she says, finally, a different tone in her voice. "I think that this is the best place I've ever been."

"You didn't take to living in a castle like a princess, huh?"

"I lived like a servant in that castle," she says matter-of-factly, without bitterness.

"That must have pissed you off."

"Oh, maybe once. I've let go of all that anger. I don't feel it now. It didn't harm the people who had angered meit only hurt me."

She turns and looks at him again. Her expression is clean and open.

"I'm told I've lived for a very long time. I've learned to accept the things that I have no control over. Even those that make their lives and the lives of others very unpleasant."

"That's a trick I haven't learned yet," Logan says quietly.

"They are just people. Perhaps if I'd been born into their livesI would have turned out the same," she says.

"Doubt it"

"You do, do you? Well, I'm not so certain."

"The life you were born into wasn't much of a life."

"You're right about that. But I've been very fortunate.'

"Fortunate?" Logan says, stunned.

"Yes, I have been. You may not think so. I've had more opportunities than most to learn to forgive. Otherwise all that anger would have eaten me up long before this"

Logan stops and turns to face her.

"Forgive? I don't believe what I'm hearing. How can you forgive the things that those people have done to you? Your family, that guy with the castle, and those assholes, whoever they were, that put you into that hospital. I don't know about you, darlin', but I wouldn't be forgiving anyone for the hand you've been dealt. I bet you've never so much as swatted at a fly in all your life, and this is what you get for it. A sweet girl like yourself having to live in fear, not being able to remember most of the things that you've done, the places you've been, the people you might have met"

He stops. Embarrassed, he looks down at his feet. He fiddles with his cigar. He puts it between his lips.

A moment of silence stretches between them. Her eyes are fixed on his downcast head.

"So all I have to do to get you to string more than three words together in a sentence is discuss my personal philosophy?"

He doesn't answer. He's looking down at his feet.

"I wonder what I'd have to do to get you to laugh."

He doesn't look up.

"Logan," she begins softly "I think that you and I have a lot in common."

He looks up.

"We've both struggled to find out who we are, who we've been, and we both know that the struggle has barely begun. We might have vastly different ideas about how to fight that battle, but we are both unwilling to give up. I know about you. I know that you, too, have been robbed of your memories, good and bad. Life has been at least as hard to you as it has to me. I think I understand that better than most. I hope I get to know you better. I would be happy to have you as a friend."

She says this last with feeling and Logan hears it in her voice. He shuffles his feet a moment before answering.

"I haven't been very friendly to you, have I?"

"That is just your particular nature, I think."

"Does that bother you?"

"No, not at all."

"Forgive me?" he says slyly

"Of course"

He shakes his head and starts to walk again.

"You're something else, lady, you are something else."

* * * * *

Back at the mansion, Jean and Ororo are seated near the large living room window. Jean jumps up and pokes Ororo in the arm.

"Look, look" she says "Here they come."

Ororo looks out the window. Logan and Mina are walking arm in arm through the snow.

"He doesn't look very happy," Ororo says.

"He never looks happy."

"I do not know, Jean. He does not look like a man infatuated to me."

"Maybe not. I don't know. Who can tell what goes on in that head?"

"Well, Jean, you can tell, of course."

"You know what I mean."

They watch Logan and Mina until the two wander out of sight.

"She always looks so peaceful." Jean says.

"Perhaps she is at peace."

"I don't see how she could be, all things considered."

"She must know something we do not."

"She must."

The next day Logan is in the courtyard when Jean, noticing him from the window, walks through the front door to stare at him.


"For Mina?"



"I don't like her walking out here by herself."

"Oh, you don't fool me, Logan. I know that you like her."

"Everyone likes her."

"Not like you do. You've been mooning around here after her for weeks. I've seen you watching her come and go."

"I want her to be comfortable. She likes it here. She told me so."

"I'm glad to hear it."

He doesn't say anything else and is trying to give the impression that the subject is finished. When Jean doesn't take the hint, he glares at her.

"Why are you so interested in me and Mina?"

"Is there a you and Mina? I don't think she's noticed a thing. She doesn't know you like I do."

"I'm just curious about her like everyone else is. She's a sweet kid."

"She's hardly a kid, Logan, she's older than you even."


"I can't get used to this whole polite Boy Scout routine you've adopted. It's totally out of character. She walks into a room and suddenly you're Sir Galahad and she's the Holy Grail."

"Sounds like you're a little green." He looks at her and smiles a little.

"Humph" she snorts. "I don't envy her your attention. I'm just concerned about the both of you. We don't even know where she came from. How did she get into that hospital? Who put her there? I'd be careful if I were you, Logan. We really don't know her."

"Jeannie, Logan says. "You're starting to piss me off."

"Oh to hell with you. You're impossible. Do whatever you want. See if I care."

She walks off toward the house, panting a little. He turns around and watches her back, a little amused.


She turns around.

"She's unattached."

"As far as we know. But maybe not."

"I'm willing to take that chance."

"You took a chance on me and look what happened. We nearly wrecked everything."

"That won't happen again."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because she's not you," he says levelly.

"Is that right? Fine. Have it your way, as always. I hope you know what you're doing."

She trots into the house and slams the door behind her. Logan smiles at her back.

"What a woman" he says.

After a moment, Mina walks through the door.

"Logan. Good morning. Going for a walk or are you just enjoying a smoke?" She smiles at him.

"I could go for a little stroll. How bout you?"


"One of these days you're going to have to stop talking like something out of Charles Dickens."

"Oh really. I'll make a note of that. I don't feel like a Dickens heroine. They're a bit too pristine."

"And you're not?"

"No, I'm not. You amuse me Logan. You're quite a character."

"I'm a funny guy."

They walk for a moment, not speaking.

"I passed Jean on my way out. She didn't look very happy. Did you say something to provoke her?"

"Nah. She's always like that. She's a redhead."

"I see."

"You care for her a great deal, I've noticed. It seems that your relationship with Scott has suffered because of it."

"You women sure are nosy. Don't you ever mind your own business?"



"I don't think Jean cares for me too much. I hope I haven't done anything to offend her."

"You haven't. I can't see you ever offending anyone. She's just being Jeannie."

"Perhaps she would like to join us one morning for a walk?"

"I don't think that'll work. Better just let it be. She'll come around."

"All right then. I trust your judgment"

"You trust my judgment? That's funny."


"It just is."

A downed tree blocks the path. Logan extends an arm and helps Mina step over it. She steps over the tree and they continue on, arm in arm.

"Have you ever had your picture painted?" he says suddenly "By any of those noble guys you hung out with? You're picturesque."

She's a little surprised by this.

"Perhaps. I don't remember. Someone used to take me to court, I think. I'm not sure who it was."

"Take you to court?"

"Yes. I think it must have been the court of James I. At least, I saw a picture of him once and he looked familiar."

"Why did they do that?"

"I was a prize then. A woman running wild and naked in the forest. And then getting rescued, so to speak, by a nobleman rich as a prince. It's like a fairy tale isn't it? I was like a sideshow freak to them. I was much-discussed once, I believe."

"You're much talked about now."

"Am I? I hadn't noticed."

"For someone who notices a lot you sure don't notice much."

"Perhaps I should work on that."


They don't say anything else for a moment. Mina's hair falls down around her shoulders. It seems darker against the glare of the snow. Some stray snowflakes have landed in it and they stay there. Logan reaches out and lets a curl of her hair wrap around his finger.

"Do you mind if we sit here for a moment? I feel a little tired."

"Of course. Here," he says. brushing the snow from a stone bench. She sits down on it. He remains standing next to her. Neither one of them speaks but the silence between them is comfortable.

Logan is experiencing an unfamiliar emotion. One that he's felt before on their walks together for the past few weeks. He wonders what it is. He's not sure but he thinks it might be happiness. Only, it wasn't the kind of uncontrollable surge of joy that he normally associated with the word. He had the odd urge to turn to her and thank her. For what he wasn't sure. For her presence. Her gracefulness. Because she smelled good. He didn't know. He just felt grateful.

"You were naked out there in the woods? Weren't you cold?" he says.

"I don't have many memories of that time. But what I have managed to remember is enough. But, yes, I'm certain that I wasn't wearing a designer outfit. Does that shock you?"

Her eyes slide over to his face. She smiles again.

"It's just that you look like Snow-White right now. With your hair and your skin, and that cloak you're wearing."

She laughs.

"Oh, my friend, I'm no Snow-White. I can assure you."

"That's all right. I'm no Prince Charming." He grins at her, his cigar clenched between his teeth.

"I think I've finally succeeded in winning you over, Logan." She reaches over and slips a gloved hand into his naked one.

"Maybe you shouldn't think so much." She rises and they start to walk again.

"Logan, I want to ask you to do me a great service," she says after a moment. He looks over at her. Her expression is grave. She is holding her mouth tightly and her eyes meet his.

"If, for some reason, I should if I should lose myself hereDo you know what I mean by that?"

"I think so"

"If that should happen, I'll need you to help bring me back if it's not too late. Do you understand?"

"Explain it to me."

"If I begin to disappear and there'll be no mistaking what I mean, should you see itI'll need you to strike meif I can't do it myself. Strong pain, intense pain, will bring me back to this time."

"Is that the only way? Honey, I don't know if that's a good idea. I can hit pretty hard, you know."

"That's why I'm asking you and not someone else. You are my closest friend here. I trust you."

"You trust me? Mina, you barely know me. We just met."

"I'm a quick study. And I trust my instincts. You do too."

"Well yeah but I still don't know if-"

"The only other option is for you to strip naked really fast and to fuck me. Intense pleasure would work just as well."

Logan chokes on his cigar. It falls out of his mouth and he fumbles with it for a moment before dropping it in the snow. He looks over at her and starts laughing. He has a full, rich laugh.

"I finally got you to laugh."

"Yes, you did, darlin'. You certainly did. I wasn't expecting that one."

"You're blushing."

"I'm shocked at your foul language."

"Sure you are."

She punches him playfully in the arm. He punches her back.

"You made me drop my cigar. Thanks a lot."


* * * * *

Jean and Ororo are setting up a large table for the party that night. It's Christmas Eve. There is an enormous tree in the living room. They are planning on decorating it tonight, after dinner. Jean decides that she would rather use the red runner for the table and she walks into the kitchen to retrieve it.

Logan is seated at the kitchen table, several boxes are scattered around him and he's struggling with some gold wrapping paper. Jean stops when she sees him.

"What the hell are you doing?" she asks him.

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

"It looks like you're wrapping gifts."

He doesn't respond.

"Did you actually go shopping for those?"


"God help us. Is there one for me?"

"Maybe. You've been a real pain lately."

He sighs and points at an unwrapped box.

"That one's for you, that one's for Rogue, and this one if for Minnie."

"Minnie? Minnie? So we're calling her Minnie now, are we?"

"Go away Jeannie."

She goes to the closet and pulls out the red satin runner she'd come for.



"I bought something for you, too. Since you're actually here for a change."

He winks at her.

"Merry Christmas, darlin,' he says smiling.

"Merry Christmas to you, too."

That night everything is ready. Scott walks into the room and looks around. The warm is suffused in a warm, amber light. Candles sputter from every corner and in every window. A fire snaps in the enormous fireplace. Jean, straightening the buffet table, turns when she hears Scott.

"Hey beautiful. It looks terrific in here" he says.

"It does, doesn't it? All we need is for Storm to whip us up some snow, since Mother Nature isn't cooperating."

She is wearing a jewel-green dress.

"I love you in that color" he says. "I love you in any color."

She kisses him on the cheek.

"Merry Christmas," she says "It's going to be a wonderful Christmas." He puts his arm around her.

"So good that I'm almost happy to see Logan."

"Oh Scott. I almost forgot to tell you. He bought you a gift. How could I have forgotten?"

"Jesus Christ. Oh shit. I didn't even think he would be here. I didn't get him a damn thing. I gotta go find something quick."

He darts out of the room and takes the stairs two at a time up to his and Jean's room.

Young Bobby Drake and a few others walk in staggering under the weight of a huge ice sculpture. They walk carefully over to the table and manage to secure it, albeit precariously, atop the buffet table. Bobby stands back and admires it.

It's a sculpture of the Madonna with the baby Jesus in her arms.

"Bobby, you are a true artist" Jean says, noting with mild irritation that the Virgin Mary looks just like Mina. He'd captured her figure and expression so well that it was downright eerie. Bobby has had a huge crush on her for awhile.

"Do you think she'll like it?" Bobby says.

"It looks beautiful, honey. She'll love it."

Before long the others have arrived and are standing around the table, admiring the sculpture. Scott finally returns with a hastily wrapped gift. He'd decided to give Logan a wool scarf he'd purchased for himself the week before. Mina walks in wearing a loose silver dress that she'd borrowed from Ororo. When she sees the ice Madonna and child she gives Bobby a warm kiss.

"Where's Logan?" Scott says "He better show up after the way I---well, I'll be goddamned. Jean, come here, you've got to see this."

Logan is standing in the doorway. He walks in wearing a tailored black suit with a white shirt underneath, no tie.

"Where's the prom Logan?" Scott says, laughing.

Logan ignores him.

Jean is as amused as she's ever been. She looks over at Mina who doesn't seem to notice anything unusual. She is standing by the window, looking serene.

Logan places his gifts under the tree and walks over to where Mina is standing. She notices him and smiles. As he's crossing the room to her, he notices Bobby's artwork.

"It looks like I have some competition," he says, grinning. "Who would ever mistake you for the Virgin Mary?"

"Lots of people. Don't I look pure right now?"

"You look beautiful. Just stunning." He grabs her hands and spreads her arms wide to get a good look at her.

"You definitely don't look like Snow-White in that dress."

"I should hope not"

"Did you save a dance for me?"

"Logan. You dance?"

"I do tonight."

He puts his cigar in his mouth and grins at her. He looks over at Jean who is waiting for his cue, standing by the CD player. She hits a button and the sound of a Strauss waltz fills the room. He takes Mina's hand and leads her to middle of the room. The furniture had been cleared for dancing. He puts his arm around her and presses his hand into the small of her back.

"Now I've seen it all." Scott says, shaking his head. "I'll never be surprised again."

"He's a surprisingly good dancer," the professor remarks. "Who would've thought?"

"He does have a sort of feline grace." Jean says. "He's going to have to stop soon, though, to flick the ashes from that cigar. It's about to fall down the front of her dress."

"Well, I'm not gonna let him steal the show." Scott says, walking over to Jean. "Milady, would you care to dance?"

Around midnight they all decide it's time to open gifts. No one wants to wait until tomorrow. Logan has given Jean a framed print of Gustav Klimt for her and Scott's room, for Rogue a pair of red velvet gloves, for the Professor a year's subscription to National Geographic, and for Scott he'd purchased a self-help book entitled Men Who Try to Do Too Much.

It's late now and most everyone is slightly tipsy. Mina, feeling a little dizzy from the egg nog, has stepped outside to clear her head. Everyone who hasn't retired is clinging to the furniture. Logan gets up to join Mina. He has one gift left to give.

"Aren't you cold out here, darlin'"

"No, I'm never cold, remember."

"That's right"

He is standing next to her on the terrace. It has stopped snowing.

"Minnie, what is it? You've been crying."

"I'm just happy that's all. I don't have many memories of family life.

"Now, you've got some."

"But who knows how long I'll be able to keep them?"

"For as long as you're here, at least. This is for you."

He hands her his gift.

"Oh Logan. I wasn't able to buy you anything. I feel terrible."

"Don't worry about it. I don't need anything."

She tears the paper off and opens the small box. Inside is a silver pendant and chain. On one side of the pendant is an engraving of a sprig of rosemary. On the other is inscribed "There's rosemary. That's for remembrance."

Her eyes fill for a moment.

"It's from Hamlet. Ophelia's mad scene" she says quietly.

"Act four, scene five. You taught me that."

He takes the necklace from her hand and puts it over her head. He reaches behind her head and gently pulls her hair from under the chain. He holds both her hands.

"It's to help you remember. Wherever you are."

There are tears frozen in her lashes. He wonders how long she'd been standing out here.

"Logan. Logan. I" she chokes. "I don't know what to say. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."

She holds the gift in front of her.

"Thank you. Thank you so much. You are my one true friend."

"Won't Bobby be disappointed?" She laughs and wipes her face.

"This was a good night, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was."

"You are some dancer, Logan. You surprised me."

"I had a good teacher."

She turns to the moon-soaked snow that stretches in front of them both. The moon is shrouded in cloud drifts. A few hours ago, the trees looked festive, like partygoers dressed in white. Now, the moonlight is dim and gray. The trees no longer look festive. They just look heavy and defeated. Like abandoned brides still in their faded white dresses. Only the man beside her seems alive now. She can feel his heat. He's looking out over the scene before him, too, thinking his thoughts.

"What do we do now?" she says

"What do you mean?"

"I want to stay here. I want to stay here with you. I don't know the last time I felt like that. I don't have memories of wanting to stay in a place. I was either needed in a certain time or I was trapped there. I haven't known many men like you. Or, at least, not that I can remember. And in my short time hereyou've become very important to me. I wish I knew more people like you."

"Honey, there isn't anyone else like me."

"I know."

"Look, Minnie, there's something I ought to---Minnie?"

Something flutters through her eyes. They have a misty, unfocused look.

"It was a beautiful day today, wasn't it? The sun finally came out and it warmed up. I finally got you to dance with me, didn't I. On the terrace. It was so brightthe sun in your eyes. You complained but I got you to do it, finally."

"What? What are you talking about, honey?"

"There isn't enough time. As long as we both have lived---and there still isn't enough time. All those people. They need you to help them. To help free them from the camps. Trainloads of them are coming from all over. And you. You slashed right through the barbed wire and helped them out. They're barely alive. They look like human skeletons. You came to that hospital full of bullets from where those soldiers shot you. But you healed yourself in front of my eyes. I didn't tell anyone. I made a promise. It was our secret."

"Honey, you're not making sense. What's wrong?"

"There are so many. They stagger around here. They've lost everything. More coming everyday. So many. They need me. They need all the help they can get."

She has that vague look on her face. It's the same expression she wore when she first arrived at the mansion. She is looking right at him but she is not there for him. She doesn't see him. To his horror, her body grows dimmer. It's like he's looking at her reflection in a pane of glass and not the real woman. He can see right through her.

"He needs me. His healing can't keep up with the wounds. I have to go back there."

"Oh no. You're not going to do this."

He balls his fist and pulls it back.

"I can't do it. To hell with it" he says.

He grabs her around her tiny waist and pulls her to him. With pressure he arches her back and the other hand is beneath the heavy hair at her neck. He kisses her hard on her mouth. She is pliant beneath the pressure of his mouth. She shudders. A current of excitement shoots through her body. He can feel her contract with it. Beneath his mouth, he can feel her warmth returning.

"Mina? Minnie. Come back," he says, breaking from her.

He still holds her body to him tightly. Her eyes are closed. She is unsteady and she goes limp in his arms. He buries his face in her shoulder. His lips travel the arc of her neck. He shakes her gently.

"Minnie? Oh, Mina. No."

Her head falls against his chest. She is unconscious. He picks her up and carries her inside.

Jean is in the kitchen. It's been quiet and sad around the mansion for two days. She sits down wearily at the kitchen table. She is tired. Outside, the laughter of the other students is jarring. She takes a deep breath. She hasn't slept much in two days either.

Logan hasn't had a moment's rest in two days and two nights. She's heard him pacing the floor in his room for hours. He'd only emerged once. He asked her hoarsely if she would bring him the professor's copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. She'd dutifully produced the book and he'd thanked her and closed the door behind him. A minute later she heard him reading from it. His reading was awkward and he stumbled over the language. A few times she heard his voice catch in his throat.

In all her life, she'd never heard anything that made her feel so sad.

Last night she'd begged him to leave the room long enough to eat something but he'd refused. She'd left a tray with some sandwiches and a thermos of soup in front of his door but this morning she saw he'd left it there untouched. Even Scott was worried about him and had asked about Logan often.

She felt her eyes fill up and she let the tears fall. How much does one man have to go through in this life? The sight of her great friend, a man who was virtually indestructible, broken by a woman that none of them had really known was more than she thought she could bear.

Even poor Bobby was inconsolable. He'd asked her just that morning if she thought Mina would get better. She'd told him that she didn't know. His lip quivered and he asked her if Logan would let him into the room so that he could see her. She nodded her head and said she'd ask. But Logan wouldn't let anyone in that room and she knew it. She didn't know exactly what had happened to Mina but from what she'd witnessed that day in the lab she thought she knew. For whatever reason, Mina had lost herself in time and whatever had triggered her dissolution was so powerful that she couldn't find a way back. Jean figured that she had lapsed into catatonia once again in an effort to stay in the present and she was lying there now, silent and unresponsive.

Everyone was shocked by the intensity of Logan's reaction. Even Jean was surprised by it.

"That woman has turned this place upside down" she mutters to herself.

"What was that, Jean?" the professor says. He's in the doorway.

"Oh, I was just thinking about how Mina came and shook things up around here for a while. It was kinda weird."

"Does anyone know how she is?"

"It can't be good. He won't let anyone in there and he won't talk to anyone either. Who knows?"

"I fear that she is lost to us again," the professor says.

"Me too."

"Has Logan come out of there yet?"

"No. He's hardly said more than two words to me. I'm worried about him. I don't know what he'll do if she goes."

"I didn't think that things were so serious between them."

"Neither did I. No one did."

Logan is seated at the foot of the bed. He imagines that he can still feel her warmth. He has the taste of her in his mouth, still. Her scent hovers over the sheets and the pillowcase.

He'd stood over her for two days and two nights. He read to her. He talked to her. He told her all the things that he'd wanted to say to her when she was still here. He's stood over her. He had pulled her from this moment into a past that they both had shared but neither could remember.

There is a soft knock at the door and then Jean's voice.

"Logan? Logan, let me in please."

The door opens. It wasn't locked. She looks over at the bed. It's empty. Logan's back is to her. He holds his head in his hands.

She walks over to him and puts her hand on his shoulder.

"You've got to eat. Let me make you something."

"I'm not hungry."

"Please, Logan. I can't stand the thought of you in here like this."

"She just- she just faded away."

"It wasn't your fault. She did it to herself. The past, or the future or something pulled her away. We'll never know."

"It wasn't her. She didn't do it. I did. I pulled her back."

"You're talking craziness. You couldn't have stopped it. Those forces were working through her before she came here."

He looks at Jean. He is very pale. Circles ring his eyes.

"Some Prince Charming, huh? My kiss couldn't bring her back."

Jean wonders if Logan has lost his mind with grief.

"Maybe if I'd hit her. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't."

"Logan, come with me now. Please."

She holds out her hand. He turns and slips his hand into hers.

"Get me out of here, Jeannie. I can't stand this."

It's New Year's Eve. The other X-men are gone. He doesn't remember where. He doesn't care. He wants to be away from this house. From this large house so full of people and so full of her absence.

The students have gathered in the living room and they are lively tonight. Logan leaves the party. He decides to go for a walk. He walks to the kitchen. He looks at the kitchen table. There's where she sat when she was helping Ororo braid her hair. And over by the window, where she danced with Scott and he heard her laugh.

He walks through the door, into the snow. It is snowing again lightly. If she were here it would be caught in her dark hair. Here's the fallen tree where he took her arm to help her step over it. And the trees. She emerged from the trees on their first walk together, smiling. The bench where she sat and he'd felt like thanking her for he didn't know what.

Suddenly, an enormous shower of light breaks over his head. A burst of purple and gold. It's the firecrackers. Happy New Year.

The firecrackers have ignited too low. What looks like purple and gold fireflies rain down on the snow.

Something lifesize looms just to the right of him. The shower of light flickers over something. He catches it out of the corner of his eye. He runs towards it. His feet feel so heavy in the snow.

It's Bobby's ice woman and child. The one that looks just like Mina. Someone must have put it out here so it wouldn't melt.

Logan stands before the likeness of a woman that is now as remote from him as the Madonna herself.

"Find your way back, darlin'" he says. "I won't forget next time. You find your way back."

The firecrackers have stopped. It's quiet again.

He looks up at the moon. It's a full moon. He can see it through the trees. From somewhere he hears a dog howling. He's going to stand by her all night. He brushes from his face the tears that have frozen there.

All references to characters belonging to the X-Men Universe are (c) and TM the Marvel Comics Group, 20th Century Fox and all related entities. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication or distribution of these materials in any form is expressly prohibited. No money is being made from this archive. All images are also (c) and TM the Marvel Comics Group, 20th Century Fox and all related entities; they are not mine. This website, its operators and any content used on this site relating to the X-Men are not authorized by Marvel, Fox, etc. I am not, nor do I claim to be affiliated with any of these entities in any way.