Disclaimer: I don't own the X-men. This is my first fan fiction. Please be kind.

First writer's block. Thank you to those who kept the faith.

Chapter 9: The Wolverine Meets Cousin Travis

Cousin Travis' shop wasn't too hard to find. It was a little ways off the beaten path. Near an old warehouse and an empty field. Logan appreciated the remoteness immensely, but he tried not to show it. He had all sorts of dark thoughts going on in his head and didn't want Jean picking up on them, in case she tried to persuade him against all the things he so badly wanted to do to Amber's cousin.

They waited until closing hours. Then Jean pulled up just as Travis was closing, playing up her red hair and good looks, so Travis agreed to look at her car. Once she had pulled the car inside, Scott popped up out of nowhere and introduced himself as Jean's husband. Travis had looked surprised and disappointed, but he hadn't looked uncomfortable until they were in the shop and Scott had him backed up against a wall. Then he got an inkling. Jean closed the garage doors and joined Scott as he began asking questions.

Amber and Logan waited a little ways away by the warehouse. Jean and Scott hadn't wanted to risk Logan losing his temper. Travis might have information the X-men could use, so they asked Logan to wait and let them do the interrogation.

Logan snorted as he remembered the conversation. "Interrogation." They may be good at getting information, especially with Red's telepathy, but they don't have any idea what an "interrogation" really is. It's one part intimidation and two parts terror. I've seen One-eye work himself up to intimidating, but terror? He shook his head, then smiled to himself.

Terror's where I come in.

He was having a cigar. He could see Amber was tense, but trying to calm herself with reading a book. Every once in a while she would stretch. At one point she held her hand out to him for his cigar. He handed it over, wondering if she'd ever smoked one before, and if she was going to choke. But she just held it up to her nose and inhaled slowly, then handed it back. He told her it'd be okay if she smoked some, but she just smiled and shook her head. So he knew she was only trying to relax herself some more.

Eventually, Amber raised her head and closed her book. "Jean was talking in my head." She told Logan. "It's time. Time to meet cousin Travis." She smiled sadly, and Logan put a hand on her shoulder as they headed over to the shop. He wasn't a hand holding kind of guy.

Jean and Scott were waiting in the shop's tiny office. Travis sat in a chair. He was a handsome man, broad shouldered, with tan skin and deep dark eyes. You could see the army influence in the way his hair was cut and the muscles beneath his shirt from doing push-ups every day.

When Travis first saw her, he looked confused. Then he recognized her, and a flood of emotions showed on his face: nervousness, fear, then hope. As if he thought she might forgive him.

Amber just stood and stared at her cousin.

He smiled nervously, "Hey cousin."

She didn't respond.

Travis coughed a few times, then tried again. "I hope you know, I had no idea that… it was all a mistake…I thought you were…"

Amber took a step closer to him and tilted her head like a bird. Looking at him, but still not speaking, her expression as though she were trying to figure something out.

He swallowed. "You're looking good…I knew they wouldn't treat you bad…they-"

"They beat me." Amber interrupted, her tone neutral. "They hurt me, used me, held me down and…" Her voice broke and she swallowed before continuing. "They would have killed me, but I was too important for their experiments. They starved and tortured me."

She straightened up. "You're not the Travis I knew. I don't know who you are, except the guy who sold me."

Turning to Jean, she asked if they got everything they needed.

Jean nodded, then Amber turned back to Travis and told him, "I'm leaving you to the Wolverine."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hammer toes. Wolverine thought with a mild grunt. Of course, he'd used a tire iron instead of a hammer on the man's toes. That was after throwing him around a bit, slamming him against the walls and the concrete floor. He shook his head. Never can find a hammer when you need one. Oh well.

Travis was whimpering on the floor. He'd started out fighting, but wasn't expecting the Wolverine's adamantium skeleton. He'd cut his own knuckles open on Wolverine's jaw. Then Wolverine had smiled at him, before kicking him in the stomach hard enough for Travis to bend over puking. He'd played a sort of game, throwing the other man one way, or knocking him down, then pulling him in another direction when Travis stood up, before doing it all again. Travis' courage had finally faltered enough for him to try and run away, then Wolverine had grabbed the tire iron.

Sick of the whimpering, he used one hand to hold Travis' leg out by the ankle, then slammed his other hand down on Travis' knee, causing it to bend in the wrong direction.

Travis howled.

"That's probably going to be a serious ACL reconstruction." Wolverine told him. "I've heard they're a bitch. Never had to have one myself."

He watched the other man try to fight back tears of pain.

"Don't worry, I'll make you forget all about your poor knee in a minute."

I won't ask. He thinks, approaching Travis.

Snap!

"There goes the collar bone. Betcha forgot all about your knee now, huh bub?"

Travis cried out, then tried to curl away from the Wolverine, exposing his ribs.

"Gotta be careful with these, if the rib punctures your lung, well, you'll die painfully, which I wouldn't mind, but I made a promise."

He was very careful, almost exact, as he broke the other man's ribs. Travis was now crying, the tears escaping his eyes.

Wolverine was thinking how, before leaving the shop with Jean and Scott, Amber had turned away from Travis and looked into his eyes with her own dark ones. There was no fear, no hesitation, just a firmness in her voice.

"Remember your promise." She'd said. "For Irene. For me."

He'd nodded, but she hadn't looked away until she was sure of him.

I won't ask, it'll just make me angry.

Travis had quieted down, just taking cautious, ragged breaths.

"Did you know there are twenty-seven bones in the human hand? Some of them are real little. I may not be able to break them all…but it's at least worth a try, don't ya think?"

He squatted down next to the man. "First there's the phalanges, we'll start with your pinky."

Despite knowing it was useless, Travis tried to pull his hand away. He was begging between sobs by the time Wolverine was finished with both hands.

"Well that's it for the phalanges. Now what's next?"

Wolverine stood up, paused in thought.

I won't ask.

He turned to Travis and smiled in an almost friendly way. Travis cringed.

"I gotta admit bub, I don't really know much about anatomy, but right now I'm wishin' I did. Maybe I'll sit in on a few classes."

He pulled the other man up by his bloody shirt and gave him a head-butt. Travis dropped to the floor with his nose broken.

"Got any beer around here?"

Wolverine strolled casually around the shop until he found a mini fridge. There were a few beers inside, not his brand, but it didn't really matter. He smiled as he noticed a hammer by the fridge. He grabbed it and a chair, which he set down in front of Travis. Putting the hammer aside, he sat down and opened himself a cool one.

He took a long pull, then eyed Travis. He was lying there on the concrete floor. Whimpering, with his mangled hands held next to his chest, trying to keep his own weight off his ribs, his leg. Trying not to move, not to jostle his broken bones. He couldn't though, just breathing had him gasping and choking through the blood from his nose.

The Wolverine felt some of his anger receding. He could almost feel sorry for him, as pathetic as he looked. Almost.

He remembered his promise to Amber.

I won't kill him, but I'll ask him.

"How much?"

Travis didn't respond.

Leaning towards the man's face, Wolverine repeated himself. "How much?"

Travis blinked at him and quietly asked, "What?"

Wolverine made himself sit back and asked as calmly as he could, "How much did you sell her for?"

Stuttering, Travis had to think about it, and then he debated whether or not to tell the truth. Looking at the Wolverine, he decided he may as well tell the truth.

"T-two…grand."

The Wolverine put down his beer and picked up the hammer.

It took all he had to keep his promise.