"What?" Jean asked, turning away from her work to see what had caused such a strong reaction from Hank.
As she looked at Logan's exposed skull she could see the superficial temporal artery knitting itself back together. It was coming together slowly, millimeter by millimeter, but the fact that it was actually healing was too incredible for words. An arterial graft was no longer necessary. It seemed that if they cleared out the dead tissue, Logan's body would take care of the rest.
"What about his chest?" Jean asked, thinking of the area they'd already treated.
Hank pulled away the surgical drape to reveal the stapled and sutured torso. The bruised skin was already changing colors from deep blues and purples to light yellows as it healed. The incision itself had already healed into a deep, red scar and given a few more hours, Jean was sure that there would be nothing but unmarked skin remaining.
"My heavens, the skin is already almost healed!" Jean exclaimed. "We should pull out the staples now."
"I concur," Hank agreed. "It should take longer for the underlying tissues to regenerate, but given this response, I believe the patient will completely recover within the next few days."
"What about mentally?" Jean asked, her relief giving way to concern.
"Given the admantium sheath on his skull, we cannot gain access to the cerebral scarring. We'll just have to hope that the damage wasn't too extensive and that after the rest of his body heals, his mutation can repair and clean any dead tissue remaining."
Jean nodded. At least he was healing physically, and quickly too. It was more than she could have possibly hoped for after these past few days of constant worry. They would deal with any mental defects once the surgery was over and Logan'd had a chance to heal. For now, she returned to her work with renewed vigor. Despite the fact the operation had already taken eight hours and would probably take several more, she felt a resurgence of energy that only hope could provide.
Progressing down his thighs, to his calfs and finally to his feet, Jean and Hank worked as a team to cut, cauterize, and suction away the infected tissue. Logan's feet were so badly damaged, they had to be cleaned until they were almost shells, only skin and a little muscle remaining. Jean and Hank watched in awe as the tendons and muscles slowly grew and reconnected. It was like watching a nature film on high speed as arteries and veins spread out and blood flow returned.
Finally, after thirteen hours of non-stop work, they were done. They wheeled Logan back out into the main med lab to return him to his recovery bed, exhausted but excited about the medical miracle they had been a part of.
"Jean?" a weary voice called from Rogue's bedside.
"Scott!" Jean answered, running to him and giving him a strong bear hug in her exuberance. "It worked! It was amazing! You should've seen it. Muscles, tendons, arteries, veins, capillaries, skin, all regenerating right before our eyes. It was incredible, wasn't it Hank?"
"It was indeed a deeply edifying experience."
"Jean," Scott said through a yawn, "it's almost two in the morning. Aren't you tired?"
"Completely, but I'm too worked up for sleep now. C'mon, Scott, let's celebrate." Then Jean paused, turning back to Hank positioning Logan's body on the recuperation bed. "Oh, Hank. I'm sorry. You probably need to rest. I'll stay down here. You go up to your room."
"I am as energized as you by our unique undertaking and would be incapable of slumber at this time. You have been caring for these patients indefatigably for days. Please, allow me to remain while you take a well-deserved respite."
Jean's face broke into a smile again. "Thanks so much, Hank." Pulling Scott to the door, she turned a final time to ask, "You'll call me if there are any problems, right?"
"Without fail," Hank reassured her, then once she vanished, he checked on both his patients' conditions before settling into a hardbacked chair.
Rogue settled into her physical therapy routine after the first few days. Hank always said he was amazed at her progress. After the first week, she could sit up all by herself and could stand as long as someone pulled her up and let her lean on them. Her hands were still a little sore from the contact burns she'd received when she'd touched Logan, but Jean had explained that her gloves had protected them from anything worse than a first-degree burn and that she'd been lucky.
She didn't feel lucky. She'd been introduced to her friends at the school, and they tried to be supportive, especially Jubilee and Kitty. Every day after their training session, they came down and just hung out with her, talking about things she used to say and stuff she used to like. They were really sweet gals and she could tell they cared about her. She only wished she could remember them.
Hank and Logan were the only two people at the school that she really felt comfortable with. Hank hadn't known her before, so he didn't try to tell her who she used to be or what she was supposed to act like. He accepted her for who she was now. It was so nice to be able to relax around him and not worry about being judged.
She felt even closer to Logan. It wasn't because she remembered his name. Despite that fact, she didn't really know anything else about him. No, the reason she became friends with Logan was that he was going through the same thing that she was. She could feel comfortable being uncoordinated and clumsy around him, because he was just as bad, if not worse. Jean and Hank thought that he also had memory problems. They couldn't tell for sure, though, because he never spoke. Sometimes he would whine when the therapy hurt or growl in frustration when his body wouldn't do what he wanted, but not one word passed his lips.
Late at night, when she couldn't sleep and Jean or Hank were away in the office, she would talk to Logan. She'd tell him her worries about not being able to walk again without help, about not ever remembering who she was or even what her real name was, about having to rely on other people for the rest of her life. For his part, Logan lay in the bed next to hers, calmly listening as she bore her soul. There was never judgement in his eyes, only caring, understanding, and something else. She sometimes saw it during the day, too. He would stare at her with that expression, like she was a puzzle he couldn't quite solve.
They called him Logan.
It was one of the few things that felt right and familiar in this confusing metal world. He had been wounded, badly, and now his limbs wouldn't respond to his wishes. He told his hand to pick up the ball the blue-furred man held out to him, but it wouldn't cooperate. It hung by his side defiantly, like it belonged to someone else's body.
In frustration and anger, he growled at the disobedient appendage, but it wouldn't respond. Finally, at the edge of rage, the arm responded, clumsily flopping up onto the table and battering the ball aside instead of picking it up.
"Good, that's good," the blue giant praised in a gentle voice. Hank, his name was Hank. "Your paralysis is healing remarkably quickly. Now let's try the left arm."
Hank retrieved the errant ball and Logan brought his left arm up to grab it. This arm worked better than it's brother, but the fingers didn't want to extend from the claw they'd frozen into. He could settle his hand onto the round, red surface, but he couldn't extend the fingers wide enough to surround the globe.
"Try what we talked about," Hank encouraged. "Start the ball at your wrist and roll it back into your grasp."
Logan tried the technique, pressing against the surface of the table and using the elasticity of the ball to force it into his ever-present grip. It worked.
"Great job, Logan!" the white-streaked woman cheered from across the room.
She was working through her stretching exercises with Jean before she practiced standing, but she was obviously still keeping an eye on him. Everyone called her Rogue, but Logan knew that wasn't right. Sometimes, he felt if he stared at her long enough, he could figure out what it was that confused him about her, but no answers ever came.
"I think that's it for arms today. Are you ready for the ankle weights?"
Logan nodded and shifted positions in his chair, allowing Hank to strap on the one-pound weights for his leg exercises. He looked across the room at Rogue, standing next to Jean and trying to find her balance.
"You're doing great, Rogue!" Jean encouraged. "I'd say you're about ready to try walking. Are you willing?"
Rogue nodded, apparently too focused on keeping herself upright to add to the conversation.
"Ok, let's sit you down and we'll wheel you over to the parallel bars."
Rogue shook her head. "Lemme walk."
Jean looked skeptical. "No, Rogue. I think it'd be better if we practice on the equipment first."
Logan saw the determination settle on the younger woman's features, and he knew what she was going to do. As he watched helplessly, she pulled away from Jean's grasp and took a few hesitant steps before she tripped over her own legs and started to fall.
Logan jumped out of his chair to go to her, but his legs collapsed instantly under his weight. As he fell, mirroring the young woman across the room, the thing about her that had been bothering him finally became clear, and he called out to her. "MARIE!"