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Chapter 16

see disclaimer chapter 1


The soft light of sunrise was just peeping through the window as Sonja tossed and turned restlessly in the bed, her feet peddling and her face twitching anxiously.

All of a sudden, with lightening speed, Sonja bolted upright, her face soaked with sweat and her body shaking all over.  She felt an additional jolt of panic at the unfamiliar surroundings, though recognition came much quicker and she had hardly moved out of the bed before she realized where she was.  But her heart was still hammering away and she could hear the pulsing of her own blood in her ears.

She slowly, almost painfully, untangled her legs from the covers and swung her feet over the side.  She had tossed and turned all night, the sheets were mashed at the end of the bed and her hair was in complete disarray.  No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get Hays' face out of her mind because all night she had been plagued with a nightmare of the accident.

It started just as she got to Parker's field, but this time, there was no one but the dying man lying on the ground all by himself, and her.  She rushes up to him and sees the horrific wound and again decides to use her powers to heal him.  She feels all the pain, everything she felt and saw, just like it was really happening again.  She could even feel the rise and fall of his back under her hands and the sticky blood on her body.  She opens her eyes to see that she has been able to heal him, but something was different.  He isn't wearing the denim shirt anymore, but a slickly cut black three-piece suit.  He stands in front of her, smiling and offering to help her up.  She smiles back at his handsome face and accepts his hand, standing in front of him and gazing into his beautiful eyes.  She felt a childish sort of adulation, like a rush of puppy love well up in her chest and she could feel her face blush as the gorgeous man smiled at her adoringly.

But then she hears something behind her and she turns around.  Instantaneously, there appears out of nowhere a mob of angry and threatening people.  The mob is so big that it covers the whole field and all she can see or hear is their furious movements and shouts.  They all reach for her and as she turns back to Hays, his smile has turned cruel.  Instead of holding her hand gently, he jerks it and twists it behind her back, wrapping his arm around her throat.  Sonja gasps for air and tries to scream as the entire crowd closes in on her, grabbing her arms and forcing her hands open.  That's when she woke up in a dead sweat.

Sonja sat on the edge of the bed for a few more minutes, letting her heart rate return to normal before deciding that a cold shower would probably be the only way to really bring her back to reality and out of the nightmare world.  Sonja got up and walked to the bathroom, already pulling the tank top up over her head.  She moved into the bathroom and closed the door, quickly turning on the water. She then pulled off her shorts and turned around to hang her clothes on the peg on the back of the door.  As she reached up she caught her reflection in the mirror and stopped.

Her face was slightly pale and drawn, her eyes bloodshot from the restless night. She could again feel the residual pain in her back and twisted her body to try and get a better look.  The long scar had puffed up again and looked agitated.  She knew that no matter how hard she tried she would never be able to get rid of it, and that every nightmare would bring a returned sense of pain to it.

She turned and fully faced the mirror again.  There were so many scars, so many stories and reminders of her past.  How was she supposed to move on and forget when her body carried constant reminders of how she had ruined her own life? She tilted her head to look at the thin scar on the left side of her face, then looked farther down.  She ran her fingers lightly across a jagged scar that ran horizontally across her flat stomach and again felt tears stinging the back of her eyes.  She was normally never this emotional, but all the changes that were being thrown at her lately made her feel vulnerable and unstable.  She had to pull herself together.

She turned around hastily, the images in the mirror doing nothing for her state of mind.  She jumped in the shower and reveled in the shocking sensation the cold water made over her entire body.

Ten minutes later she emerged feeling refreshed and a little more stable.  She knew that some time during the day she would be going down to the lab for tests, so there was really no point in putting on clean jeans and a shirt.  She opened a cabinet in the bathroom and was only a little surprised to see an entire stack of clothes, mostly gray sweat suits and some white t-shirts, all with the X insignia of the school embossed on them.  She slid her feet into a pair of tennis shoes the school had provided and headed out the door, her stomach already growling.

It took her just a second to get to the dining hall and when she stepped into the doorway only a few of the children looked up at her.  Jean and Scott were at the same table the group had eaten at yesterday and both of the adults gave Sonja a small wave.  She waved back and then found her way to the back of the serving line, waiting her turn to get some of the delicious smelling food.  A few moments later she heard a familiar giggle and turned to see Kitty and Marie sauntering into the dinning room.

"Hey girls," Sonja said, giving them a little wave.

"Hey!  Good to see ya' alive!" Kitty said, coming to stand right next to the woman. Marie elbowed her roughly and Kitty shot the other girl an astonished glare, rubbing at the place she had been jabbed.  Sonja looked at the two with her eyebrow raised.

"What do you mean by that?" Sonja asked with a hint of a smile on her lips, daring the girls to give her an answer even though she had a pretty good idea of what the answer was going to be.

"Nothing," Marie said, glaring at Kitty.

"Oh really?" Sonja said, sarcasm ringing in her voice.  Kitty took a step away from Marie and spoke in a hurried voice.

"Logan seemed so mad that we thought he might have been mean to you for letting us stay," she said really fast as she moved around Sonja, using the woman as a shield from Marie's menacing glare.

"Come on," Sonja said, laughing at the girls antics.  "He's harmless."

Well, maybe not completely, she thought.  Marie's face lightened and she smiled at Sonja.

"I'll believe that the day he stops making those nasty faces at us," Kitty said, once more ducking behind Sonja, who was laughing at the girl's words.  Marie gave Kitty one last glare then turned to grab a plate off the stack at the end of the table.  Sonja and Kitty did the same and in a few moments they had picked up everything they wanted and moved back into the dining room.

"Come sit with us!  Everyone wants to meet you, you're a total celebrity!" Kitty said happily, already starting for a table where Bobby had saved them some seats.  Sonja looked down at the girls and shook her head regretfully.  It would have been fun to meet some more of the children, but she didn't know if she could handle all the stares and questions.

"I think I need to go eat with Jean and Scott, we have a few things to talk about," Sonja said.  The girls faces fell and she was quick to put them at ease.  "But I'll be sure to see you guys around later.

Again the girls faces brightened and they waved goodbye, quickly making their way to the table where Bobby was waiting for them.  He waved at Sonja and she nodded back.  She made her way back to the table where Jean and Scott were and put her plate down in the same place she had before.

"Morning, Sonja," Jean said brightly.  Scott looked up at her and smiled around a mouthful of eggs.

"Good morning Jean, Scott," she said as she reached for the salt and pepper.

"How are you feeling this morning?" Scott said once he had swallowed.

"Fine, and you?" Sonja answered, trying to convince herself that she was.

"I'm great, it's going to be a beautiful day," he said, casting a sideways glance at Jean, who blushed deeply.

They've obviously had a good night, Sonja thought as she lifted the first bit of food to her lips.  Jean looked up at her, trying to avoid Scott's giddy grin.

"So I see you've already met a few of the children," Jean said, nodding to the table where Bobby, Kitty, and Marie sat.  Sonja grinned secretively.

"Yeah, I sort of ran into them yesterday.  They seem like pretty happy kids," she said, doing her best to contain the humorous images of Bobby and Kitty mocking their teachers.  Jean looked at Sonja like she knew the woman wasn't divulging the entire story, but Sonja just continued on eating.

"The Professor told me that youd be willing to do a few tests today," she said practically.  Sonja swallowed her food and promptly answered.

"I'm ready whenever you are," Sonja said a little too quickly in an attempt to hide the nervousness she felt.  "What kinds of tests will we be doing?" she asked with as much casualness she could.  Sonja hoped that they wouldn't make her exhibit her powers again.  Last night in front of the kids was one thing, but to have Jean examining what she could do in a laboratory was completely different.

"Oh, nothing out of the ordinary," Jean said casually.  "Blood test, an MRI, probably a CT scan, maybe have you show us a few things you can do.  I'm sure you've done this type of thing on other people, so I won't waste your time explaining all of it.  But we do have a few unique instruments for gauging certain biological activities in mutants.  I'd be happy to show you how they work."

"Sounds just fine," Sonja said.  She just couldn't shake the uneasy feeling of having people know so much about the mutations she had been hiding her whole life.

"Over here Hank!" Scott said abruptly, waving someone over to the table.  Sonja sat with her back to the majority of the dining room and couldn't see whom Scott was waving at but she recognized the name.  Hank was the man Jean and the Professor had said also worked in the lab.  She smiled as the Professor moved to the end of the table and Storm squeezed in-between the wall and the end of the table that was just to the left of Sonja.

Sonja was completely unprepared for what she saw move around the end of the table and take a seat next to Scott.  The man was twice the size of any she had ever met before and his bulk took up the rest of the bench on Scott's side.  He had a huge frame supporting gigantic muscles and long, powerful limbs.  He seemed to be bulging out of the white smock that was stretched tight across his shoulders.

But what caused Sonja to drop her fork in surprise was the fact that the man was completely covered in a thick coat of bright blue hair!  He wore no shirt under the open smock and she could barely see the muscular definition of his chest through the fur.  He had a shaggy mop of longer blue hair on his head that was brushed back, resembling pointy ears on a wild animal.  Sonja was so taken aback that she didn't even notice her fork clatter against her plate.  The loud noise made the man look over at her and he smiled.  The white of his eyes and teeth stood out brightly amid the sea of blue.  He gazed at her a second, and slowly his smile faded and it was replaced with a look of confusion.

"Sonja, this is Hank McCoy," the Professor said plainly, obviously used to seeing people react to the man in such a manner as Sonja had.  "Hank, meet Sonja Cadlyst, the new woman I was telling you about."

Sonja was just barely coming to her senses and realized she had been staring at the man.  She had thought, just for a second, that the hairy man looked vaguely familiar.  She quickly diverted her gaze and realized that she must have insulted him by gawking, why else would he have such a perplexed look on his face?  He was probably astonished that Sonja could be so rude.  She looked at the Professor, who had a curiously happy grin on his face.

"Pleasure to meet you," Sonja said, barely audible.  What had the Professor said the man's name was, Hank Mc what?  What was it about him that was familiar, had she seen him in the papers or something?  Surely not, she would remember a big blue hairy man had she ever seen or met him before.

"The pleasure is mine," the man said in a deep, sonorous voice.  He was not unfamiliar with the shocked look the new woman had on her face, he often got that reaction, but there was something wrong.  His mind whirled as he tried to find a name and place where he had seen her before because he was absolutely sure she was familiar.

Sonja didn't know what to make of the big man.  She couldn't help but peek a look at him every now and then and each time she caught him staring at her, making her feel like she was being studied by the large, unusual man . All he wore was the white smock and a pair of khaki pants, and there was something familiar in his shape, the way he had moved, but Sonja knew she wouldnt forget a man like that.

The others were carrying on a lively conversation about a new class that the Professor was planning on installing; some sort of first aid seminar and Jean asked Sonja's advice.

"What do you think?  Should it be a six or twelve week class?  It would last about an hour once a week, and I think it should be an entire semester," Jean said.

Sonja had almost been too distracted by the other man to hear what Jean was saying, but she answered anyhow.  "A solid base in first aid takes a bit of time, especially teaching kids who have other classes to attend to.  I'd say make it an entire semester, just so that the kids don't get bogged down with too much in each session."

Jean nodded enthusiastically.  The Professor smiled broadly at her.  "That's a very good point, Sonja. Jean, I think... "  Xavier was cut off when Hank burst out of his chair and roared with laughter, startling everyone at the table and a few of the students.

He had finally figured it out!  Hearing Sonja speak had made everything fall into place and recollection of her came flooding back to him.

Sonja jumped back when the huge man had stood so suddenly and let loose with the loud roar.  He moved incredibly fast as he sprinted by the Professor and around the side of the table, heading right for Sonja like he was going to attack her.

Sonja panicked.  She tried to get away from him, backing her chair all the way against the wall, and then jumping onto the seat to give herself a bit of leverage. She had no where to go, her back was literally up against the wall as the man ran towards her.  Suddenly, just as he got to her, he stopped.  Even standing on the chair, Sonja's eyes were just level with his.  She couldn't even hear the others giggling at Hank's commonplace excitement.

Sonja saw that Hank's mouth was split in a huge grin, his eyes laughing with delight and his arms were spread wide in a whole-hearted gesture of good will.  He had left his jacket on the chair and all Sonja could see was a mass of blur fur. She gasped for breath a few times, not able to speak.

"Sammy, it's me!  Hank!  Don't you remember?" he said loudly in that bass voice. He patted his chest a few times and then opened his arms again, entreating her to remember him.

Sonja finally took in a deep breath and forced herself to look into the man's eyes. No one had called her Sammy in years, not since she was a teenager, not since she had been forced to change her name, and even then only her close friends had called her that.  How could this man possibly know her by that name?  She remembered most of her friends from back then pretty clearly and none of them had had blue fur.  Sonja just shook her head slowly.  She tipped her head to the side to give the Professor a pleading look, but she couldn't see past the big man.

"I'm sorry, but I dont think-"

"Oh, come on Sammy!" he said enthusiastically.  "The Screamin Eagles?!  We were best friends for years!"  The big man was fairly hopping up and down he was so excited.

Something in the back of Sonja's mind started clicking.  The Eagles had been the mascot of her high school, how could he have possibly made that up?  Yes, she did remember her best friend from then and that boy had been huge and moved in the same way that this man did.  Hank Mcoy, that's right!  That's why this man's name was so familiar!  That had been her friend's name too.  Sonja's eyes opened wide.

"It can't possibly be the same Hank," she said, her voice fading because she was still not able to see how her best friend from school was the same as the man standing before her.  Yes, her friend had been almost as big as this man, but he had been a normal human.  Was it really possible they were one in the same?

The man nodded his head rapidly.  There was only one way to know if it really was Hank and Sonja hesitantly reached her hand out to touch his face.  He moved a little closer and when he did Sonja jerked her hand back, still not convinced of his identity and frankly quite intimidated by his stature and abruptness.

"It's ok, go ahead," Hank said.  Again Sonja reached out slowly and, with mixed emotions still running across her face, she gently pushed the hair back from his forehead.

Her junior year of high school Hank and Sonja had been at a party when some jerk had started slobbering all over her.  Hank had instantly come to Sonja's defense, telling the guy to buzz off.  With no warning at all, the man had broken a bottle on the edge of the table and swung at Hank, giving Sonja's friend one good gash on the head before Hank knocked the offender out with one punch and literally kicked him to the curb.

It took her a second to find it, but there, beneath the long blue hair, was a jagged little scar exactly where Hank had been cut all those years ago.  She stared at it a second before pulling her hand back to cover her mouth in astonishment.  All of a sudden it clicked in her brain and she felt tears welling up behind her eyes.

Chapter 17

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