A Warlords Folly

Crossover fic between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Men, the Movie

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters known from the TV Show and Movie, nor the world of the X-Men Movie in which the story takes place.

Authors notes: If you are anything like me, you will not read a fic, or stop reading it, if you think that it will have elements in it or an ending with which you do not agree. So for those of you that are as picky when it comes to fanfiction as I am, here are some pointers as to what you can expect from this fanfic.

(Those that don't want any kind of Spoilers, just skip this part)

Never in my life, have I written a fanfic that did not have a happy ending and I don't intend to start with it.

At no point in time, will Willow be 'evil', as so many like to paint her because of her loss of control over the dark magics and actions of revenge in the series.

The story WILL have Wolverine and Willow in a romantic pairing.

I do not believe in writing a fanfic for the sole purpose of torturing my favourite characters, so although there will be drama sprinkled over the fic, the good moments will more than balance that out.

Willow is my favourite character so the story WILL focus on her.

There are some characters that I'm not overly fond of, but I will probably not 'bash' them and instead simply not give them that much 'screen time'.

Lastly, if you don't like a slightly more animalistic Wolverine with possessive tendencies, don't read this.

Though feedback is very much welcome, I will never badger you to write comments, or threaten not to post any more chapters if I don't receive a certain amount of reviews.

I don't have anything against negative criticism, in fact, I would welcome anything that helps me improve the story, but if a review is designed to personally insult me or the story, (Like: Good god you must be stupid if you think anyone would want to read a shitty story like this!) it will be ignored.

I have enlisted the services of a wonderful authoress and friend of mine, to some of you known under her penname Becstasy, but it doesn't change the

fact that I'm not a native and English is not my first language. With Bec's help I will hopefully be able to produce a good fanfiction, but it isn't easy for me to write this in English and it may sometimes take a little time before I can update a new chapter.

Something everyone reading this should know:

This story plays solely in the X-Men universe.

No Witches, Slayers, Vampires or other Demons. In fact, it is unlikely (but still possible) that anyone from the Buffy-verse but Willow will even take part in the fanfic. And even though I love her magical powers, Willow is not a witch here. Her background here is drastically different than in the Buffy-verse, so consequently, her character will be slightly different too, but I believe not enough to issue an OOC warning.

If, over the course of the story, you think otherwise, please let me know.
I also only acknowledge the happenings of the first X-Men movie. Everything that took place in Movie 2 and 3 will possibly never happen in the fic. Though I may still use characters from those two movies, I will introduce them in a different way in the story.

Last but not least, I don't do short stories.

Now, enough of this, if you haven't been scared off yet, have fun reading!

Summary: While trying to hunt down Sabretooth in a forest on the outskirts of a small and reclusive town, the X-Men come upon and rescue a young female Mutant. Not only will Willow affect the lives of some of the students and teachers of Xavier's school, but also the heart and desires of Wolverine.

Chapter 1

Leaning back into the comfortable chair in his office, Magneto watched as first Toad, then Sabretooth and lastly Mystique, his second in command, walked into the room. Nearly six months had gone by since his plan of mutating the politicians on Ellis Island had been thwarted by the X-Men. Five of those months had been spent plotting and executing his escape from the imprisonment that had been the consequence for him and Sabretooth and, in Toad's case, the highly guarded intensive care unit he had been confined to after his fight with Storm.

After that had been taken care of and Toad was back on his feet, though with the addition of multiple burn scars all over his body, Magneto and his followers had made use of an abandoned factory and turned it into their new base of operations. Mystique's unique talents, as well as Toad's computer skills had come in handy with official ownership of the place and reconnecting the gas, water and electrical supply lines.

Magneto had used the time since their failure rigorously to not only evaluate and see the errors in his last scheme, but also to come up with a plan that would guarantee their success on a far greater scale. Noticing that Sabretooth was already losing what could only laughingly be called his patience, Magneto turned his attention to the three mutants under his command and began to share his vision.

"My friends, now that we have finally left the repercussions of the last missions failure behind us, it is time to reengage our plan for a better future."

Mystique took a graceful step forward. "The machine was destroyed, but we can rebuild it easily."

Her input was followed by Sabretooths grunts. "You want us to grab the girl again?"

Toad, who had become obsessed with picking the dead skin off his burned flesh, stopped doing that long enough to ask his own question.

"So who's gonna be the target?"

Magneto smiled, confident that his next words would highly confuse his followers.

"Although I welcome your enthusiasm, I do not believe it is wise to repeat the foolish actions that led to our defeat."

Mystique was quick to object. "But that was only because of-"

Magneto cut her off. "No. Even if Xavier and his merry band of heroes had not interfered in our plans, it would not have been a lasting victory."

And just as he had expected earlier, hiscohortswere regarding him with confused and curious looks. He decided not to keep them in suspense any longer.

"During these last six months, five of which I spent enjoying the State's hospitality, I have had ample time to think about my endeavour. And I have come to the conclusion that mutating the people on Ellis Island would not have brought us the results we hoped to achieve. After all, Delegates and Politicians can simply be replaced. No, what we need is something on a far greater scale. Something that people can't easily dismiss or change."

Again, Toad deemed it important enough to avert his attention from his skin and focus on the matter at hand. "So if we don't turn anyone into Mutants, what then?"

Magneto chuckled lightly. "Oh, I didn't say that now, did I? We will still make use of the mutation process, but instead of bestowing that honour on the undeserving pawns of the government, we will set our sights on the public."

Confused, the shape-shifting mutant of the group crossed her arms over her chest. "If turning politicians won't get us any ground for standing, why should it be different if we change a few common people?"

It was the kind of question Magneto had expected from her. She wasn't his second in command for nothing. "Not just a few, my Dear. Thousands."

The aging Mutant waited a little for the first wave of shock to disappear from the faces of his followers, before he stood up from his seat, the excitement about divulging the further particulars of his plan making him restless.

"If we can accomplish to mutate half of this countries populace, there would no longer be a possibility for people to ignore our existence. Everybody would be affected, if not personally, then by a family member, a close friend, or even simply an associate. No longer would we be a mere minority, but finally rise to be acknowledged as the superior race that we are. Debates such as mutant registration would be things of the past, as we lead our brothers and sisters into a new, glory era, free from the useless humans."

The longer he thought about it, the stronger the anticipation grew in him. What a glorious new world it would be. To no longer be repressed by the limitations normal humans forced them to abide to, but to live by their own rules. Finally he would be able to fulfil the promise he had made to himself when he was a mere child and the Nazi's had ripped him away from everything he had held dear. No one would ever be able to control him, or his future, again.

He saw as the realization of the merits of his plan came first to Toad's, then Sabretooth's mind, as they smiled sinisterly. Mystique though seemed less than pleased.

"We have the chance to lead our brothers and sisters into a better future, yet you seem unhappy my dear. Why is that?"

"Mutation is a gift selected only for those worthy of it, those that are superior. You were the one that would always say that. It was one thing to change a bunch of politicians, but half the state? What have those people done to deserve such a privilege?"

Magneto nodded gravely and took the few steps that separated him from her. After gently caressing her arms, he let his hands rest on her shoulders.

"I understand your concerns, believe me, I had them myself. In fact, it was this very thought that let me dismiss my plan for weeks. But during those countless days, I came to the conclusion that sometimes, in order to gain something great, you have to give up, or in our case, share something very precious. We may have to make a sacrifice now, but our reward will last for eternity."

Looking convincingly into her beautiful eyes, he saw her smiling back at him and proudly squeezed her shoulders.

"So, if you don't want to use the machine and the girl again, how are we going to create this new world?"

Eric smiled. He had known that as soon as Mystique embraced his idea, she would ask the important questions.

"When I was 25 years old, I made the acquaintance of a gifted young man. His name was Ivan Deggins and he was working on his dissertation about the origins of the mutation process at the time. He was the first and last human I ever encountered that I respected despite his inferior status. In fact it was his early work, that gave me the idea to use my magnetic powers to affect the human organism and force a mutation to develop. But as this method is too draining for me, regardless if I use the girl or not, as well as having proven to decimate the human life span, we cannot use it to achieve our objective. Fortunately I know for certain that during the years Ivan spent on studying everything that related to his thesis, he simply must have come across a way to replicate a mutation in a normal human. It was the sub-thesis to his work and if anyone could have figured out a way, it was him."

He stopped shortly, sighing in resignation.

"Unfortunately he met with an accident that cost his life a few years ago and his doctoral thesis has been lost when the university that awarded him his PhD burned down before the dissertation could be processed in the system and stored away like all the others."

Magneto saw that Sabertooth was, again, on the verge of losing his non-existent patience because of his encompassing explanation and before the large man could interrupt him to demand he 'got on with it', he continued with the story.

"Though the work he handed in to get his degree is lost, his notes must still be there. Ivan used to carry around a kind of diary. It was an unusually big notebook, that he would take with him everywhere he went. He wrote down everything of significance for his thesis in the book. He would certainly have included what I'm searching for in this very book."

Mystique nodded, beginning to understand. "So we need the book."

"Exactly my dear. But first we have to find it. There are three possible locations for this book. His last place of work, a university in London. Mystique, I think you would be best suited to take a look around there." She nodded, already planning the right cover for this mission.

"His private place of residence in Brighton. As I understand it, it has not been sold. Toad, your talents for entering premises and buildings that should be off limits would be needed there." Toad smirked at that, looking forward to make use of his burglary skills once again.

"Last, his family home in Saint Sebastian, a secluded little town near Bennington. I believe Sabretooth should be able to 'convince' the people there to part with any information they have about the books whereabouts." Said Mutant didn't wait any longer to receive more possible instructions. He had been itching for a good fight for weeks now, forbidden to seek out the damn Wolf to use to sharpen his claws on. Oh how he hoped the people in town would give him some trouble. He smirked as he left the room.

Toad and Mystique were about to follow their comrades direction, intending to complete their own missions, when Magneto called the shape-shifter back. "My dear, maybe you could take our young man along. It would give him some field experience."

Scott Summers, to many also known as Cyclops, concentrated hard on finding a place to land the X-Jet, while talking to Professor Charles Xavier via the video screen.

"I just don't get it Professor. Why would Sabretooth come to a little town in the middle of nowhere only two weeks after he escaped from the state prison with Mystique's help?"

A light touch on his arm made the young man look at his fiancee, sitting beside him in the cockpit. Jean Grey, just as curious to hear the Professors answer as her lover, had spotted a wide enough space near the town to land their aircraft.

"I'm afraid I am as confused about his need to visit Saint Sebastian as you are Scott. But according to Remy, that is the destination he overheard Sabertooth give the cab driver."

A rude snort from behind the cockpit nearly distracted Scott from making a soft landing on the ground.

"And why exactly do we believe Gambit's information? For all we know, the damn swamp rat could be sending us on a wild goose chase because he thinks it's entertaining."

The Professors disembodied voice spoke again, while the occupants of the Jet got ready to disembark.

"Though I believe I can understand your concerns Logan, I very much doubt that Remy would choose to lead us wrong just to satisfy his amusement. I know it is hard for you to trust him, but considering that he is now a part of our team and has already proven himself to be a honorable, if slightly misguided man, maybe it is time for you to reach out to him."

Another snort. "The only thing I'm gonna reach out to him are my claws."

Beside him Storm resignedly shook her head. Wolverine and Gambit had had a very unfavourable first meeting, before Remy had made the acquaintance of any of the other X-Men, approximately four months ago.
They had gotten a location on Mystique, the only one of Magneto's cronies that had been able to escape justice so far, due to her mutation powers. Logan had been on his way back from his journey to find out more about his past and, still in possession of Cyclops motorcycle, had intercepted the radio call to all X-Vehicles with the exact coordinates. Eager to put the Shapeshifter away for a long time, he had turned the motorcycle around to hunt her down. He hadn't been far from Vegas, where the Professor had, after weeks of failed attempts, located Mystique's energy with Cerebro.

Arriving in the city that never sleeps, it hadn't taken Wolverine long at all to find the blue skinned woman. Mystique must have felt safe so far away from the Xavier institute, to not hide herself beneath the cover of a normal human. According to Logan, the two had quickly broken out into a vicious fight, that Logan started to gain the upper hand of, when out of nowhere, Gambit appeared. The French gambler had used his explosive powers to attack Wolverine and given Mystique enough time to flee.

In all honesty Storm couldn't fault Remy for what he had done. Not knowing all the facts, it must have looked like Logan was the bad guy, attacking a weaker female mutant for whatever reason. And though Logan had been furious that the woman had escaped him once again, he probably would have been able to forgive Remy's wrong judgement in time, had the gamble happy mutant not tried to give him up to the police officers that had been hot on his tail, as the head of a big hustling organization that had blackmailed him to cheat the biggest Casino in the city out of a few millions.

When the other X-Men, meaning Cyclops, Jean and Storm, had finally arrived in Vegas, they had had to bail out one pissed off Logan, who had, ironically enough, not been imprisoned for blackmailing people to cheat the Casinos out of their money, but for first pounding Gambit, and then two of the officers on the scene, into the ground. After the misunderstanding had been cleared and Remy was able to walk without a limp again, the black and red eyed Mutant had offered his help in their search for the elusive shapeshifter and joined their team. Much to Logan's displeasure.

"Give him a chance, Logan. Remy isn't that bad. Who knows, you might even come to like him."

The look that Logan gave Storm for her input would have been comical, had it not been for the flexing of his fingers repeatedly. A clear sign that Wolverine was controlling his urge to let his adamantium claws out to play a little. And everyone knew, Wolverine wasn't very good at controlling his urges.

"You would sooner find me sitting in a field of pink flowers, cuddling up to Mr Universe here, than making friends with the fucking con-artist."

That drew a light giggle from the red haired telepath and a rather crooked smile from Scott.

"Gee Logan, I think I feel flattered."

"Don't get your hopes up sissy boy."

The Professor, not the least bit perturbed that he had apparently been forgotten by the four Mutants, quickly directed their attention back to himself, before Scott and Logan had the chance to engage in one of their regular arguments.

"Now, before you all go out and look for Sabretooth, I would like to remind you all that you should proceed with discretion. Although no matter how much I hate to acknowledge it, there are still many people that don't take kindly to others with mutant powers, especially those living in a closed society. Saint Sebastian seems to be just that, a very secluded little village with only a few hundred denizens. Although I really wish that I am wrong in my suspicions and the residents of this town are open minded enough to not fall prey to fear and prejudice, finding Sabretooth and discovering what Magneto's plans are takes priority over testing the mindset of the locals. So, if possible, try not to make your talents known while you acquire about Sabretooths whereabouts."

Logan wasn't really listening to the Professors words, as they were nothing new. They had had this same conversation before boarding the Jet back at the school. It was the reason the four of them were in their normal clothes, instead of their usual battle gear.
No, the Canadians thoughts were on quite a different matter.

"And why isn't the fucking Gambler here with us, if he was the one to 'overhear' Sabretooth?"

The Professor smiled patiently at Logan, while the other three occupants silently rolled their eyes. This was another conversation they had already had.

"Remy is still working on fully controlling his talents, as you well know, Logan. He has been getting steadily better over the last few weeks, but there is still a little work ahead of him."

Although Gambits abilities had aided him very well in his fight against Wolverine back in Las Vegas, he had later confessed to the rest of the team that this had been a case of pure luck. Apparently Remy had come 'online', as some of the teenagers in school liked to refer to it, at age 27, which was pretty rare. Most mutants came into their powers long before adulthood, with the age of 18 considered as late bloomers.
It seemed the older one was before their mutation awakened, the harder a time they had in controlling said mutation. And without any kind of guidance, it wasn't surprising that Remy still needed training to ensure his powers wouldn't endanger others as well as himself.
Storm grimaced slightly as she remembered all the things that had fallen victim to Remy's 'charged' fingers when he had touched them. Thank god his powers seemed to only affect things and not people.

Even though Logan knew all this, he still wanted to argue the point a little more, if only for the sake of arguing. But Scott anticipated that and quickly took charge before Logan could say any more.

"Okay then let's get going team. Professor, we will contact you as soon as we either have Sabretooth in custody, or have been able to uncover anything about Magnetos intentions."

"Very well Scott. Good luck and be careful."

With that they severed the connection and the foursome disembarked from the jet.

Outside Logan, still a little steamed that he hadn't been able to make his displeasure about the whole Gambit thing more vocal, took a short moment to look over the scenery of the small grass field some feet away from the village and took a deep breath. It was times like these when he missed his home in the Canadian mountains. The air out here was just so much cleaner than in the polluted and crowded city. Especially to someone with such a sensitive nose as him. He had been the first one out of the jet, his team mates just now walking up to him, so he used the opportunity to take another deep breath, trying to take in the fresh and musky scents of the large forest he could see near the village ahead of them. Though it was still a fair distance away, he could clearly smell the pine trees, the light scent of freshly fallen rain in the air and... something else.

What is that?

Logan closed his eyes, trying toconcentrate on this one strange scent that seemed out of place, but still belonged to the forest somehow. It was like nothing he had ever smelled before. It was light, but also deep in a way. Flowery, but not. Like something exotic that was at the same time also familiar. He got the sure feeling he should know this scent, that it somehow related to his very being, but he knew, even though a large part of his memory was still a mystery to him, that he had never in his life encountered this scent before.

He shook his head. This didn't make any sense at all. How could such a scent even exist and why did it feel like, on a subconscious level, without even forming a single thought, that it belonged to him? It was slightly disconcerting, he couldn't even describe it to himself, but with the same absolute certainty that every living creature knew that it needed to drink, eat and breathe to survive, Logan knew that whatever this strange, yet alluring scent was, it belonged to him.

He shook his head once more, maybe all the fresh air was playing with his mind.

He started a little when Storm came up to him.

"Did you smell any trace of Sabretooth?"

Right, the mission. Grateful for something to concentrate on beside the mystery of this unique scent, Logan turned to the white haired weather mutant, shaking his head.

"We're too far away for me to get a specific scent between everything else."

By this time Scott and Jean had also caught up to them.

"Then let's get going. The sooner we find and apprehend Sabretooth, the better."

Righting his leather jacket, more out of habit than necessity, Logan followed two steps behind Scott and Jean, heading to Saint Sebastian. Beside him Storm started a conversation about Marie's progress in class, as well how much more comfortable the troubled teen seemed to be at the school now compared to when she and Logan first arrived. Logan listened avidly to her words, glad that the girl he had kind of adopted as a little sister was doing so well. But all the way to the village, this strange, wonderful, elusive, enticing scent wouldn't leave his mind, nor his nostrils. In fact, it only got stronger the closer they got to the village.

Silently seething, Sabretooth made his way back from the Family home of the late Professor, heading for the nearby town. Not only was the house a good ten minute walk away from the rest of the town, but it had also been empty.

Sabretooth couldn't for sure say that the house had been abandoned, but although it was fully furnished and had some things like books, cooking utensils and other necessary items lying around, the cupboards had been empty of groceries, as well as the refrigerator. The absence of anyone that could be intimidated into answering his questions had angered the violence loving mutant, but to have to search through the house himself and still come up empty handed had positively enraged him.
And now there was no one for him to take his anger out on until he arrived in this miserable little village.

Oh, he really hoped the locals would give him some trouble when he called himself a taxi to take him back to Magneto's new hideout.
Not that he needed a reason to toss some humans around, but he had found they put up more of a fight if they had the nerve to get into his face beforehand.

How he wished the mutt was here. Fighting little Wolverine was always fun. At least he could take a punch and wasn't out for the count before the real action even begun. The thought of fighting the lone Wolf turned X-Man lifted Sabretooth's spirits immensely and he decided right then that, even if Magneto had a hissy fit about it, he would track down the damn mutt as soon as he was back and have himself a nice little sparring session.

In his enthusiasm about his oncoming match, he nearly didn't catch that sweet, arousing scent in the air. He stopped in his tracks, sniffing deeply. He may have wanted to get out of there to engage in some brutal and bloody fight with Wolverine as soon as possible, but now that he had caught a whiff of this scent, his plans changed drastically. He turned to his right and started walking to the great trees that made up the front row of the large forest that surrounded Saint Sebastian.

A girl.

He took another sniff as he walked.

No, a woman.

His claws were flexing, muscles tense, ready for the hunt.

Take her.

He started running after the scent trail he had picked up on.


Logan was distracted.
Though he tried to get a trail on Sabertooth, all he could think about was this delicious scent he had picked up when getting off the jet.

The group had since then arrived in the town of Saint Sebastian. It reminded him a little of those towns you saw in old TV shows. Nice little houses with nice little gardens and white picket fences. A church in the centre of the town and little convenience stores for those that didn't want to travel to the next city to buy their groceries. They had come across a small park as well, where some families had set up picnics and children were playing together. It was all so damn picture perfect it nearly seemed unreal to him.

And through it all, he was still able to detect this damn scent. Since arriving in the town, he had been able to conclude that the scent didn't originate from the town itself, but rather from the woods around the town. He felt drawn to the forest and hadn't it been for the mission and his companions, he would probably already be on his way to try and track down the origin of the scent. Something Logan was pretty sure he would do in the very near future, even at the risk of annoying his team mates with the delay of returning home. Just as soon as they knew where Sabretooth was and he had a chance to rearrange said mutants teeth a little.

But that meant they had to find the so far elusive Mutant first.
He turned to the rest of the group.

"I'm not getting any kind of scent trail on Sabretooth. I doubt he has come through here. So now what?"

Jean nodded slowly.

"There are no traces of fear surrounding any of the people here, nothing that indicates that Sabertooth has had any contact with the villagers at all."

Storm agreed.

"Nothing seems to be destroyed, or even damaged. And the presence of someone like Sabretooth would certainly unsettle anyone enough to not be outside and have a picnic."

Scott sighed in frustration.

"It would be easier if we knew his objective, at least then we would have a clue as to where to look for him. The people here don't seem to have seen a ravaging Mutant in their midst, so asking around is pretty much useless. If we want to follow the Professors request for discretion, we can't exactly arouse suspicion and fear in the locals. And if Logan can't pick up on his scent, we are pretty much walking blind here."

Jean looked questioningly at her fiancee.

"So, how are we going to find one rampaging Mutant who apparantly isn't rampaging at all?"

Scott had just been about to discuss a possible plan of action with the rest of his team, when a young boys voice cut into their conversation.

"You are looking for the Forest Nymph?"

Confused the four adults turned to the small, brown haired boy, Logan silently cursing himself for not having noticed someone close enough to eavesdrop on their conversation.

"What was that boy?"

The boy seemed slightly intimidated by the deep voice and overall statue of Logan, but then gathered his courage to answer the question.

"You said you are looking for a Mutant, right? So you must be looking for the one who lives in the forest. And because she lives in the forest, we call her the Forest Nymph."

The boy, he couldn't be much older than five or six, seemed mighty pleased with the information he had just given them, but he also kept looking about himself, as if trying not to get caught. Was that because he wasn't supposed to talk to strangers, or because he had said something he wasn't supposed to?
Storm was the first to pick up on the boys obvious indecision of whether being pleased with himself because he knew something that they didn't, or being scared of being caught. She knelt down to the boys level.

"Are you saying there is a woman living in this forest around the town?"

The boy nodded eagerly.

"Uh-huh. She has been living there for EVER and ever. For as long as I know. But she is not that old. I saw her once."

Then the little boy quickly clapped his hands over his mouth, eyes wide. So him seeing this 'Forest Nymph' apparently was the equivalent of being caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Ororo smiled softly, hoping to reassure the boy enough to tell them more about his encounter with this unknown Mutant.

"I'm Ororo. Would you tell me your name?"

This seemed to relax the little boy enough to take the hands away from his mouth again.

"I'm Toby. And I'm almost six!" He held up seven of his fingers, eliciting a smile from Storm.

"Almost six. I guess you are a big boy then. So Toby, would you tell me something more about this Forest Nymph?"

Preening with pride over being called a big boy, Toby didn't seem all that worried about sharing his wisdom anymore.

"She has been living in the forest for a looooong time. We call her the Forest Nymph, but she is really a Mutant. My parents said not to talk about her and to never go into the forest, because Mutants are dangerous. But a few days ago, when I was outside playing, I saw this really big bird. It was really really big, you know? It was sitting on our porch. But when I tried to get a little closer, it flew away. Our house is really close to the forest, you know? And the big bird flew right into the forest. I know I wasn't supposed to go into the forest, because of the Mutant, but I wanted to get a closer look of the bird, so I ran after it. I should have looked where I was running to, but I didn't because I was looking at where the bird was flying. And because I wasn't looking where I was going, I fell down a little slope. It hurt and I scraped my knee."

At this point of his story, he hitched up his right pant leg to show the surrounding adults the almost healed scratch on his kneecap, with the pride all children take in displaying various ouchies like they were war wounds.

"It was huge and it was bleeding a LOT, you know?"

Logan rolled his eyes at that, impatiently waiting for the exaggerating little brat to get to the point.

"I couldn't climb back up and I hadn't ever been in the forest before, so I didn't know where I was and I was a little scared that the Forest Nymph would find me because all the adults always say that Mutants are not nice things and eat little children."

The eyes of the four X-Men darkened a little, keeping tight control over their feelings of outrage over hearing what the townspeople obviously told their kids about the nature of Mutants.

"And, well, I was crying a little, but it's not like I'm a baby like my big brother always says to me, I was just a little scared, you know? And the Forest Nymph must have heard me because suddenly, she was there right before me.

At first I was really scared, because I thought she was going to eat me, and I tried to crawl away from her, but I couldn't because there was the wall of the slope I fell down from right behind me. So I screwed my eyes shut really tight and told her not to eat me, because I wouldn't taste good at all, because my parents made me eat all those brussell sprouts that are really yuck!

But she didn't try to eat me at all! And then, when I looked at her, she was smiling really nicely. She didn't even look like an evil Mutant that eats little children. She looked really pretty, like one of the fairies in the book we have in kindergarten. She had really long hair and it was red. And she wasn't very tall. Well, she was taller than me, but I don't think she was as tall as my mother. And I really liked her eyes, because green is my favourite colour.

But she was wearing really weird clothes and I think she might have been a little sick, because she was very pale, you know? And then she told me that I didn't need to be afraid, because she wouldn't eat me. I believed her because I don't think that children eating Mutants have such a nice voice, you know? Then she told me to close my eyes for a moment and I did and then there was this funny feeling on my knee that was hurting so much, but after the funny feeling was gone, my knee didn't really hurt anymore.

And then she gave me her hand and led me out of the forest. I asked her to meet my parents, so that they can see that the Mutant in the forest isn't evil and eats children all the time, but she shook her head and ran back into the forest.

I told my parents, but they didn't believe me and told me to never go into the forest again and not to talk about the dirty Mutant. I don't think it was very nice that they called her dirty, because they wouldn't be clean either if they lived in a forest, I think. And she wasn't all that dirty and didn't stink. In fact she smelled really nice.

Do you think my parents are right and she really is evil like all the other Mutants?"

The way children could talk so fast and without pause astounded Storm every time anew. But when she managed to order the load of information Toby had just given them, she smiled at him.

"No, I don't think she is evil at all. And I will tell you something really important now, so you have to listen very carefully, ok?"

Eyes wide, the boy nodded quickly, eager to learn of whatever was so important. It sounded very exciting.

"There are many, many Mutants that are really nice. Just like normal people. And I have never seen even one Mutant that ate little children."

The boys eyes widened even more.


Ororo nodded with a very serious look on her face.


"Wow. I don't think my Mum and Dad will believe me if I tell them though..."

The weather controlling Mutant sighed sadly, knowing the truth in the childs words.

"No, they probably won't. But maybe some of your friends will. And if not, it will be our secret, ok?"

She knew how much children loved secrets. They could rarely keep them, but they still loved trying.

The boy wanted to say something more, but a woman's voice a little ways away cut him off.

"Toby, stop bothering other people and come back here, or we will start eating without you!"

Toby cringed slightly, hastily looking at Storm and the others.

"That's my mom. Don't tell her I told you about the Forest Nymph, ok? Oh, and when you meet her, can you say thank you for me for helping me? I forgot to that time. Bye!"

And with that the boy was off, running toward his parents and brother who were sitting on a large blanket, many snacks and dishes spread around them.

With the boy gone, the four mutants finally felt free to give voice to their thoughts.

Jean went first. "So the Professor was right about being discreet. I can't believe those people!"

Scott nodded gravely. "And if 'all the adults' here go around telling their children stuff like 'mutants are evil and eat little children', we can pretty much guess how this woman came to live in the forest."

Ororo had come to the same conclusions. "If it even is a woman. Toby said she didn't look old, so we could as well be dealing with a teenager here. But you are right, it's very likely that she grew up in this village and was then shunned by her parents and the people here when her mutation emerged. Depending on how old she was at that time, she may not have known any better than to look for shelter in the forest around her hometown."

Logan was clenching and unclenching his fists repeatedly, growing angrier by the second. This reminded him too much of Marie, who hadn't been welcome in her home anymore when her powers manifested. But Marie had been 15 at the time, and living in a town much bigger and far less secluded than Saint Sebastian. Which meant she had had the knowledge and means to get away and find a place for herself. Although that hadn't been easy and Logan was once again glad that he had been there at the time to pick her up.

What must it have been like for this girl… woman? How old was she and how long had she been forced to live in this forest?

While he was pondering this, Scott had come to a decision.

"I think under these circumstances, we should put our search for Sabretooth on hold. We have no clue where to look for him anyway and after what we learned about the denizens mindsets here, I feel even more disinclined to ask any of them for information. This mutant though may need our help."

The two women nodded, with Jean adding, "Who knows how long she has been alone like this? Also think about the changing seasons and temperature, it's a wonder she hasn't frozen to death in winter."

Ororo shrugged slightly, though she looked equally as horrified as Jean.

"Maybe her mutation helps with that. We don't really know what kind of mutant she is, or anything about her at all really."

Logan didn't participate in the conversation. He was already heading in the direction of the forest not far from them. He couldn't help comparing this unknown female mutant to Marie and he wanted her out of that forest, safe back at the Xavier mansion and far away from fucking stupid, inhuman, bigots that would leave one of their own children to their own devices just because she turned out to be different.

The other three X-Men soon noticed Logan's absence and hurried to catch up with him. Though they didn't know it, their thoughts mirrored those of their Canadian friend.