Welcome back everyone. Though it is slightly belated, I hope you all had a very nice Christmas and a great new year.
One of the reasons why this update took me so long is that my beloved Beta-reader is really busy right now and couldn't help me with this chapter. And probably won't be able to help me with future chapters. Which is why I'm in desperate need for a new Beta.
As previously stated I'm from Germany and find myself from time to time having a little difficulty with English. I have as well never been strong in matters of punctuation.
So if anyone is interested and willing to help me with my fanfic, please contact me through a review or email at: jimblairslash
As you may already guess, this chapter might have some mistakes due to not being beta'ed. Please don't mind those too much.
Now have fun reading.
Logan burst through the doors of the medical room, having outrun the others in his mad dash, to find Willow laying on one of the cots in the middle of the room. Her eyes were closed, her breathing erratic, sweat was building on her pale face, the machines around her beeping loudly, indicating her deteriorating vitals, while Jean was frantically trying to help her.
He approached the cot, his voice not disguising his worry in the slightest.
"Whats going on?"
Just as Jean answered him, Scott, Ororo and the Professor arrived in the room also.
"I don't know! I had just taken a blood sample from her when she started to feel a little dizzy. I made her lie down and to be save hooked her up on the vital scanner. That was roughly 15 minutes ago and her whole organism has been deteriorating since then. Fast."
Ororo quickly took her place on the other side from Jean, studying the latest display about Willow's condition.
"Her pulse is dangerously low, but her breathing is too hectic to put on the right medication, her heart could stop."
Scott looked at his fiance.
"Do you have any idea what could have caused this?"
The redhead shook her head, frustrated.
"No. It could be the fact that she has been living alone in a forest for most of her life and the change in location threw off her system. It could as well have something to do with her mutation or an allergy that is acting up. It could be hundreds of reasons, but we don't have time to try and find out what it is, because if we don't find a way to help her soon, she could die."
Logan did not like the sound of that.
"Well then do something!"
Jean looked over to him, her expression torn between frustration and desperation.
"I can't! As long as I don't know what caused her to shut down like that, anything I do could actually worsen her state! I tried connecting with her mind to see if I could find an answer to this, but her deteriorating condition makes it impossible to grasp a clear thought."
The professor quickly moved his chair forward right next to Willows head on the cot.
"Let me try."
He placed his hands on both sides of Willows forehead and closed his eyes. Tuning out the sounds of the machines all around him and the anxious and scared thoughts of the others in the room, he delved into the young redheads mind.
It didn't take long for him to open his eyes again, the look on his face sinking Jean's hopes.
"There is no explanation for this in her mind. This has never happened to her before. She has never been sick, even when she was still a human."
One of the machine's Willow was hooked up to chose that moment to let out a very disturbing sound. Ororo, who stood next to it, quickly checked the reading and drew in a shocked gasp.
"Her pulse is too low, her organs will start failing soon. If her lungs collapse now-" Her panicked summary was suddenly interrupted by Logan's exclamation.
"Whats wrong with her tattoo?"
He didn't even know why he brought it up. It seemed so insignificant right now. He had been staring at her deathly pale face, worried of what would happen if they didn't find a way to help her in the next few moments, when his eyes had somehow wandered down to her shoulder and saw the mutational marking he had first noticed in her home.
Only, it had changed. The others followed his gaze and looked on with shocked, wide opened eyes, as the five little flowers that had been there before wilted away rapidly and the ivy like vines 'retreated' slowly down their path on her arm.
Seeing the mutant trait vanish bit by bit, the puzzle pieces quickly came together in the professors mind.
"Jean, Ororo, unhook her from the machines." The two shot their mentor an uncertain look.
"Quick, we don't have time."
As they rushed to do as they were told, the professor turned to Logan.
"You need to bring her outside, as fast and close to the nearby forest as you can. Lay her in the grass, or against a tree. She needs to be in contact with nature."
Logan wasn't sure he understood the old man's reasons, but he wasn't about to waste precious time when his Nymph's life was at stake. As soon as the last needle had exited Willows skin, he scooped her up in his arms and ran out of the room, the others close behind him.
Taking the stairs three steps at a time and sprinting down two hallways that made it look like the hounds of hell were after him, it took him less than 30 seconds to reach the outside and find a place not ten feet away from the first line of trees that made up the surrounding forest.
He knew he had been as fast as he possibly could, but having to strain his senses just to hear her heartbeat, feel her pulse and smell her scent that had so enticed him, made it seem like the longest journey of his life.
As he swiftly, but carefully, laid Willow down in the middle of two rather large bushes, he spared a quick thought to the fact that she hadn't yet changed out of the long shirt she had been wearing when they met. Which was very fortunate as he recalled the professors words: 'She needs to be in contact with nature.'
With the grass directly touching her bare legs and her left arm right against the stem of one of the bushes, he hoped it would be enough.
He didn't look up as Scott, Ororo and Jean came to a breathless halt beside him. Instead he focused all his senses on detecting even the slightest improvement on Willow.
The change was so soon that it threw him off slightly. Her heartbeat and pulse strengthened almost immediately, the sickly pallor left her porcelain skin in seconds and her scent came back full force.
He shot a quick look to her right arm and watched as the ivy ranks, that had looked a decaying green and retreated to right under her elbow, got back their vibrant colour and grew back up around her arm to sprout the same little flowers he had seen on her neck before.
And just as the last of those flowers fully came back to life, Willows eyes fluttered open.
She looked owlishly at the people gathered around her.
Jean quickly knelt down beside her, taking the younger woman's wrist in her hand to check her pulse.
"Are you okay Willow? Do you feel sick at all? Dizzy? Is it hard to breathe? Do you remember what happened in the medical room?"
Willow nodded slowly, while Jean continued with her examination, testing her pupils responses to movement with her finger.
"I was sick... I think. Which is very weird because I have never been sick before, even when there was this flu epidemic at home when I was 5 and nearly everyone had it, especially the kids, but I never got infected. But I always thought being sick lasted longer, so maybe I wasn't sick after all, just ... something. But then again I don't really know anything about being sick, because as I said, no first hand experience so far and... what happened?"
At the end of her mini babble, Willow looked up to the others, a little embarrassed. Logan couldn't help the small smile that escaped his lips. She was really cute like this.
Jean was about to answer Willow, when the professor's voice made everyone look back at him.
"I believe I can answer that."
Willow sat up after Jean had nodded, relieved to herself that everything was as it should be health wise.
She looked questioningly at the professor.
"It seems that the nature of your mutation has grown dependent on the surroundings you have lived in most of your life. You have spent the last 16 years, beginning from the first day your mutation came out, in the forest. There you were surrounded by nature the entire time. Something that your powers connect with greatly. Considering that connection it is only natural that the constant presence of your 'power source' - if we want to call it that - has also affected your body as a whole. When you came here you had been in an airplane for about 30 minutes, that landed in an underground hangar. Then you were in the school building for about an hour until Jean took you the the medical room. This sudden and complete cut off from everything your body has gotten used to over the years finally took a toll on your system and caused it to shut down like this."
Willow looked at him, slightly confused.
"I'm not sure I understand. I was fine during the flight and while talking to you earlier. And then everything just happened so fast."
The professor nodded understandingly, knowing that this wasn't a concept so easy to grasp.
"Imagine it like this. The human body needs oxygen to survive, but depending on the individual, that same oxygen can be cut off for a certain amount of time, without harming the person or compromising their health. When that time is exceeded, however, the body will start to react. This is what happened here. Something essential to your well being was suddenly cut off and when your body couldn't cope with its loss any longer, it reacted."
The professor watched as understanding replaced the previous looks of fear and anxiety in the faces of the people around him. Willow though began wringing her hands nervously again, before she spoke in a very quiet voice.
"Does that mean I have to go back to the forest again?"
The wheelchair bound man understood her concern and quickly smiled in reassurance.
"No, I don't think that's necessary. As I said, the shock your body went through was mostly due to the suddenness of the change of environment. Though you will probably always need a certain exposure to nature, I believe we can slowly ease you back into civilization without any withdrawal side effects. For example by starting to replace all the artificial plants in the building with real ones."
Jean caught on to the idea quickly and chimed in.
"That's right. When Beast moved out of the mansion we weren't able to uphold his care of the various potted plants and just switched to fake ones. But with Willow around the chances of everything rotting away should be close to non existent."
Scott nodded his head. "We hired a gardener for the work around the house, but since non of us could claim to have a hand with flowers, the artificial ones were just easier."
Ororo also smiled, encouragingly rubbing Willows shoulder.
"We will outfit your room with as much greenery as we can get our hands on. If we start now, we should be finished in a few hours and well before evening."
The professor moved his chair back a bit as Ororo and Logan helped Willow stand.
"Quite right. Scott and Jean can make a short trip into the city and get enough for your room from the local florist. I'll call our gardener and order some bigger plants for our hallways and the classrooms. Logan and Ororo meanwhile can show you around. Just make sure not to stay inside too long before the new plants arrive."
Willow was about to protest, this was far too much. She couldn't make these people go through so much trouble for her. But then a new voice cut through their conversation.
"Hey, everything okay?"
The group turned around slightly to see Marie, Bobby and Kitty standing there with questioning looks on their faces. Marie quickly went on.
"We were over by the fountain when Bobby saw Logan running out of the house, carrying someone. Is anyone hurt?"
The professor smiled. Perfect timing.
"Not to worry children, everything is fine. But seeing as you are here now, I would like to introduce someone to you."
It was then that the three teenagers first spotted the unfamiliar young woman standing between Storm and Wolverine.
"This is Willow. She will be living with us form now on. Willow, these are three of our students. The one on the right is Marie, the young man's name is Bobby and the other girl is Kitty."
As they were being introduced to one another, Willow suddenly remembered a piece of social etiquette she had read about in many books and last seen all those many years ago when she was still a child.
When meeting someone new, you were supposed to shake their hands. And since Willow wanted to make as good a first impression as possible, she hurried over to the three teens and awkwardly stretched out her hand to the closest girl. Which happened to be Marie.
"H-hello. I'm Willow. Ehm… Pleased to make your acquaintance!"
Though a little surprised at the redheads abruptness, Marie was about to return the greeting, until she caught sight of the bare skin of her hand and quickly retracted her arm before she made contact.
Willow, of course, misunderstood the reason behind the young girls action, and looked down crestfallen, starting to wring her hands again.
/Oh no, I did it wrong! I must have been too forward. Maybe people don't shake hands anymore! I knew it, I'm such a freak! They will never like me now! Oh god, what do I do?/
Thankfully the professor knew exactly what was going on.
"It's not your fault Willow. Marie's mutation allows her to absorb the energy, or power, of others when her skin makes contact with theirs. She didn't want to accidentally hurt you."
After a quick look to the extremely uncertain Willow, Marie caught on to the professors intent and quickly nodded her head.
"That's right! I usually wear long gloves, but they got wet when we were goofing off by the fountain and I laid them out to dry in the sun. I must have forgotten them when we saw Logan running here. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude."
Willow perked up immediately.
"Oh, no, that's ok! You don't need to apologize for trying not to hurt me. That's a good thing! The 'trying not to hurt me' thing, I mean. So, thank you! Ehm… we can just, you know, do it without shaking hands? The introducing part, I mean…"
Willow cursed herself mentally. She was so botching this all up! Why couldn't she just stop talking before everyone noticed what a complete loser she was?
Apparently the people around her didn't think the same way, however, as they smiled and some laughed softly at the cute little babble and Marie stepped forward a little.
"Sure. So, as professor Xavier said, my name is Marie, but you can also call me Rogue if you want to. Welcome to the school. I hope we can be friends!"
Hearing the sincerity in the girls voice, Willow felt a comfortable, warm feeling spread through her. She smiled.
"I hope so, too."
She still didn't understand why everyone had so many names though.