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AUTHOR'S DISCLAIMER

This is a Marvel based story that features Logan/Wolverine and a young girl named Kitku. Appearances by XMen: Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler. Villain's appearing [so far] are Omega Red, Sabretooth, and Viper. Wolverine is copywritten by Marvel Comics and is borrowed for purposes of this story. I am making NO MONEY from this story, so please do NOT sue me. Kitku and Viper are creations of Havock and used with his permission. Metallica is a creation of Lady Lark and is used with her permission.

BACKGROUND

A bit of information for the reader: This story does not take place in the present Marvel Universe. It is an alternate universe created by the writer. Wolverine does have his adamantium skeleton. Currently at the X-Men Mansion are Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler.


Partners
       by Patch

Chapter One

Traffic jam. The pollution was thick today and it was cold. The tiny Chinese girl with the cherub face looked into the window of the pastry shop. She stood on her tiptoes, pressing her face against the cold glass. She licked her lips and sighed, turning from the window. She pulled her thin Yankees jacket closer around her tiny body, tightened the rag on her head that substituted for a hat, and double checked that her baseball glove was still with her. Out on the streets, if you had any prized possessions, you kept them with you. These were hers. She looked around briefly, making sure no one was watching. Coast was clear. The skateboard materialized under her feet and she pushed off weaving in and out of the crowd.

Traffic jam. His hand tightened on the steering wheel. He inhaled on the cigarette and flicked it out the jeep's window. His eyes watched the streets, why was he so on edge? It was cold out, but at least the heater in the jeep worked. He turned the setting down a bit and unzipped his sheepskin jacket. A bit too well. He eased the jeep forward and stopped again, played with the radio, and lit another cigarette. He scanned the streets again. Something was up, something was making his instincts on edge. He could smell it. He tilted his cowboy hat back and inhaled deeply on the cigarette, and exhaled the smoke out of his nostrils. But why and what?

Since traffic wasn't moving, no sense in waiting for the light. She looked first to her left and then to her right and skated her board out into the traffic jam. She cruised across the first lane and then the second. The jeep stopped. She stopped. Their eyes met. She waited for him to start screaming and yelling. He gave a small smile and waved her across. She paused for a moment, stunned. Recovering herself, she nodded and gave a smile back to him. She skated past the jeep and froze.

Christ, kid, he thought to himself as he hit the brakes. He looked at her. She was as surprised as he was. She had the deepest green eyes, Chinese decent and rich black hair. Tiny little thing, frail, small for her age, probably no more than ten. She was grubby, obviously homeless and in need of a good meal. He looked in his mirrors, seeing if he could pull over and feed the kid or at least give her some money. After waving her across, he smelled it. The scent. Not here. Not now. He looked over his shoulder and there he was. Omega Red.

"Shit," she looked up into the face of the meanest, biggest looking person she had ever seen. Not even the biggest brute in the Tong came close to this guy. He was blonde, dressed in blood red colors and had steel tentacle's coming out of his body. She swallowed hard, trying to get rid of the lump in her throat. Without even thinking, an aluminum bat appeared in her hands and her skin changed to aluminum. She hoped and prayed that her armor would hold. It did against bullets. Why couldn't she move? She opened her mouth to scream as the big guy in the red jammies turned his attention to her.

"Shit." He jumped out of the jeep and dove on the kid, knocking her clear of the tentacles. He covered her body with his as Omega Red's missed and shattered the back window of a taxicab. He turned the kid over and checked her out. Not a scratch. Obviously mutant. Some sort of body protection. She was scared stiff. He covered her again, tucking her small frame underneath his broad chest. Without his encouragement, she curled into the fetal position making herself even smaller.

She felt herself hit the ground, hard. It didn't hurt, but still it shocked her out of her fear. A guy was covering her body with his. The guy from the jeep. He was short but broadly built and muscular. He held her tight against him, she took the cue and curled her body into a tightball against him. Small target, grasshopper, she thought to herself. She opened her eyes when she felt the pressure of his body let up a bit on hers. She looked up into the face of her rescuer. He was a rugged looking man, black hair, blue eyes and a certain wildness about him that she couldn't place.

He turned his head and looked at her. She was a tiny, little thing covered with an aluminum coating. Her innocent eyes met his and seemed to ask 'What now? Am I gonna die?' He smiled down at her, trying to reassure her but how do you assure someone with Omega Red trying to kill you? He pulled her close to him and turned her head into his chest, stood up and make a break for the alleyway.

"Wolverine!!!"

Too late. Damn. He set her on her feet and pushed her behind him. "Get outa here, kid."

"But..." she started to protest. He couldn't possibly take this guy by himself.

"Go on!" he snarled at her.

She shrank back from him and clutched her baseball bat to her chest. She looked up and down the street. People were running for cover. Panicking, knocking each other over and shoving their way to any safe haven. She stepped back into the alleyway and waited.

"So, Wolverine," Omega Red said in a thick Russian accent as he made his way towards Wolverine, "again we meet and this time you will not be so lucky as to escape me. I will enjoy this moment, this moment of your death."

"Yeah, take your best shot, bub." Two sharp snickt were heard as metal claws popped from the top of his hands. "Let's do it!"

Wolverine leaped forward and Omega Red rushed to meet him. Wolverine with incredible speed twisted in the air, slashing Omega Red's back. Omega's forward attack missing Wolverine by mere inches. Wolverine landed and immediately tried to dodge the onslaught of Omega Red's tentacles. He leapt and tumbled, missed twice, hit once. The blow sent him hurling into a cadillac. Wolverine shook his head trying to clear his head. He caught a glimpse of light reflecting off something metallic.

Crazy kid, he thought and leapt to his feet. The kid had skateboarded behind Omega Red and as she passed she pulled back her bat and slammed Omega Red to the back of the knees. Omega Red buckled slightly but regained his balance quickly. He turned on the girl and snatched her up in one of his tentacles.

"So, little one, you want to play with the big boys, eh?" He laughed bringing her closer to him.

"Yeah, I'm gonna be the first girl playing for the Yankees. You're just in the minors, chump," she snapped back trying to sound less terrified than she was and failing miserably. She tried to squirm out of his hold but to no avail.

"Minor league, little one, I think..." She would never know what he thought, he screamed in pain instead as the one called Wolverine jumped on his back and slashed him deep. Blood splattered her and she turned her eyes from the scene. Omega Red dropped her and she skated back to the alleyway.

Omega Red shook Wolverine off his back and pinned him to the ground with his tentacles. "It ends now, little man."

"Like I ain't never heard that 'fore." Wolverine slashed at the tentacles and twisted his body managing to get out from Omega Red's grasp. He felt his body weaken, he knew what happened. Omega Red had done, the death field. He felt himself slipping. Only one chance.

She watched from the alleyway. Her bat at the ready. The one called Wolverine was pinned and hurting badly. He managed to get free and crawl away. She tried not to look but she couldn't help herself. She watched as his face twisted into a rage and a scream escape his throat. It was a horrible scream of a wounded animal. He stood and turned to face his opponent. He leapt and slashed and torn at his his opponent, rather victim. She turned her head from the scene unable to watch any longer. It was a brutal fight. She could hear the tearing of flesh and the growling. The big guy in red was yelling in Russian and crying out in agony and anger. Then nothing. She looked up just in time to see Wolverine standing over her. There was no recognition of humanity in his features. He scooped her up under one arm and ran down the alleyway with her. She wanted to cry out and make him stop but she figured it would do no good. She let him run until he could go no further, he fell to his knees, still cradling her in his arms. She slid out his hold with ease, stepped back from him and held her bat up in a defensive posture. He made no move towards her, just knelt in front of her. He finally raised his head a bit and growled softly and coughed, blood sputtered from his mouth.

"Hey, mister." She lowered her bat and knelt down in front of him. She supposed she should be afraid but wasn't. She reached out and brushed his matted, bloodied hair from his face. "Ick. Nasty head wound and your bleedin' inside. I gotta get you to a doctor."

Wolverine snarled and shook his head.

"No? Then what? Let you bleed to death?" She stated matter of factly.

He just shook his head again.

"Okay, okay, not like I can make you go where you don't wanna." She sat down and eyed the bleeding man. "So, Wolverine is it?"

He looked at her blankly. He tried to remember, but he was in a state. He knew he was a man but he couldn't get in touch with that side of himself. They'd be coming for him soon. They'd follow and they'd hunt him until he had no where else to run. Gotta keep her safe, he thought, gotta keep her from them. Protect.

"I'm Kitku." She sat for a minute trying to think of what to do. "Come on. I gotta place where we can hang out for a bit."

Kitku stood up and held out her hand. "Come on, before the big guy in the jammies shows up again."

He took her hand and let her lead him down the alley. The pain was excruciating. He couldn't hold out for much longer. He stumbled drunkenly along side her. She held him up as best as she could.

"God, you weigh a ton." They walked for awhile longer until they came to a small hole in the wall of an abandoned apartment building. She helped him through the hole and lit a candle. "Welcome to my house." It was a closed off room, except for the hole from outside. A mattress that someone threw out in the corner of the tiny area with old, tattered blankets. A crate with an old lace curtain with a candle on it served as her table. An old chair with a cement block replaced the leg that was missing was next a battery operated radio on another crate. She balled up some newspaper and set it into an old metal canister, put some small pieces of wood it in and lit it with a match.

"Come on." She led him over to the bed and stripped off his jacket and shirt. "Ick. I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere."

Before he could protest, she was out the hole and on her skateboard.


Kitku made her way down the alley and out onto the street. She needed to get him some stuff for his wounds. She skated down to the local Mom and Pops store. She kicked her board up and caught it and went inside. The old lady looked up from behind the counter and smiled. Kitku smiled back and greeted her in Chinese.

"Good evening, Kitku," she replied in broken English. That was their little deal. Kitku learned Chinese from her and she taught her English.

"Good evening, Mrs. Chang." She walked over to the counter and leaned on it. "I'm sorry I've got to speak English. It's very important."

She paused for a moment. Now what? Oh, excuse me, Mrs. Chang, a friend of mine is hurt. He got beat up by this big guy with tentacles and is totally out of it and won't go to a doctor, got anything to help him? Sounds real good, Kitku, real smooth.

"Um, I found this dog, and he's hurt and I need some bandages and stuff."

"Oh, I see." Mrs. Chang smiled at her as she moved from behind the counter. She went down one of the isles an got some peroxide, bandages, iodine and tape. "This help clean wounds. This keep infection out."

"Thank you, Mrs. Chang." Kitku dug deep into her pockets. Well, there goes her dinner money. She pulled out the two dollar bills and a bunch of change. "Is that enough?"

Mrs. Chang looked at the money and took one of the dollars and two quarters. "That enough." Kitku smiled. Maybe they would get to eat tonight. She waited until Mrs. Chang put the stuff in a bag for her. "Thank you, Mrs. Chang, you're a life saver."

Mrs. Chang waved a hand at her and tilted her head down. "Oh, you stop. Don't forget this." She reached under the counter and handed Kitku a thermos. "Maybe friend need some soup, yes?"

"Yes. Thank you, Mrs. Chang." She smiled and waved as she left the store.

Next stop food. Something fast, something easy. Something cheap. She skated past the local McDonald's. Cheeseburgers just forty-nine cents. Cool. She waited her turn in line and stepped up to the counter. She breathed a sigh of relief. A familiar face. He was tall with red hair and freckled face. "Hey, Kitku."

"Hi, Josh. I need," she paused digging into her pockets and pulling out her money once again, "as many cheeseburgers as this will get me."

Josh counted out the money, glanced at her, shoved half the money back. "This will get you around fifteen burgers."

"Cool, I'll take it. Thanks, Josh."

"Not a problem, Kitku." He slid the money into the draw and called in the order. When Kitku's back was to him, he slipped the rest of the cost from his own pocket into the drawer. Her order came up and Josh handed her the bag. "Take care, kiddo."

"Will do, Josh," she smiled and waved. "You, too."


Kitku made her way back to her home, paused briefly outside the door to make sure she wasn't followed. She climbed in, reached back out and pulled the garbage can in front of the hole, blocking the opening from the night breeze. She stepped back and tripped, falling flat on her back.

"Son of a..." She sat up to look accusingly at whatever got in her way. The man, Wolverine, was lying face down on the floor in a pool of blood. "Shit."

She scooted back from the sight. She tried to gather herself together to go over to him. Finally, taking a deep breathe and holding it, she inched her way to him and poked him with her finger. He groaned and tried to move.

"Christ, you scared me to death. I suppose you think this is funny? It's not. I'm never gonna make it to the big leagues with you pulling this kinda crap on me," she scolded him. She folded her arms across her chest intending to continue with her verbal assault, but he coughed up some more blood and looked at her with his one good eye. Kitku immediately went to his side. "Sorry. I'm sorry. You...Just don't do it again, okay?"

He closed his eye and grunted.

"Well, at least you ain't dead," she scoffed at him. She stood and tried to drag him back to the bed. He lifted himself onto his hands and knees and leaned on her for support and together they got him in bed. She opened her packages and took out the peroxide, grabbed a jug of water from the corner of the room and began cleaning his wounds. He looked bad. His face was bashed to hell and back. Purple and black. His gut was cut open and his scalp was torn down to the bone? Metal?

She gasped and sat down hard on her backside. "Metal? I saw the claws but your head too? No wonder your so stubborn."

He looked at her and snarled weakly.

"Sorry." She finished cleaning him as best she could and tried her best not to gag. She put on the iodine and his reaction almost sent her running for the hills. He growled and snarled but didn't stop her from continuing. "I know it hurts."

She put more on and he snarled louder. "I'm sorry."

Kitku poured it on his head wound and he twisted from her, growling ferociously at her. She jumped back from him, scared and then slowly, became angry.

"Hey!" she yelled.

He stopped. The loudness of her voice startled both of them.

"I know it hurts," she said trying to sound calmer, "but it's for the best. The sooner I get done, the sooner we can eat, 'kay?"

He tilted his head and stared at her for a moment then nodded. He laid back down, grabbed hold of the side of the mattress and closed his eyes. Tentatively Kitku reached forward and finished cleaning his wounds. He snarled quietly as his face twisted in pain. She bandaged the wounds as best she could, urging him to sit up so she could finish wrapping his stomach. He swayed from the loss of blood.

"Easy there, big guy." Kitku wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and put some blankets behind him to give him some support. She touched his face and then hopped off the bed and began digging through the rest of her bundles. "I hope you like cheeseburgers."


Wolverine watched her, shaking his head. He knew he should be healing faster, but his body was over taxed. He tried to communicate but the pain wouldn't subside long enough for him to speak. He looked at his surrounding. Abandoned building, kid by herself, and little to nothing to live on. He reached into his back pocket taking out his wallet. His hands were shaking, he tossed the wallet at her feet.

Kitku looked at the wallet and looked back up at him. "What's this?"

He tilted his head, he had the words. He had to push past the wounded animal to the man inside. He reached for the control but it was nowhere near him. He tried to tell her to take the money but a whimper was all that escaped his lips.

She slowly reached for the wallet and picked it up. "You want me to hold this for you?" He nodded his head and growled.

"Okay." She put the wallet in her coat pocket and turned her attention back to the food. "Here."

Wolverine took the wrapped burger and sniffed it. Meat. He looked at the wrapping.

"Oh, here." Kitku climbed up next to him and opened the wrapping. "Eat."

He didn't have to be told twice. Wolverine stuffed the food into his mouth and chewed quickly. He wolfed down the next burger as quickly. The little girl just kept handing him food until he noticed she had not eaten. He handed her the burger back.

"Done?" She took the burger back after he nodded and took a bite. "Damn."

Kitku hopped off the bed and went back to her bundles. She returned with a thermos. "Here, drink this. It fixes everything."

Wolverine sniffed the contents of the thermos. Chicken. Chicken soup? He looked back at her. She stood in front of him, arms across her chest and tapping her foot. He looked back a the thermos and then once more at her.

"Drink it," she demanded.

Wolverine did as ordered. It was lukewarm but warmed up his insides. He drank over half and handed her the thermos in an insistent manner. Kitku smiled at him. God, she was so innocent looking. Angelic. Untainted by the cruelty of the streets. She climbed up next to him, leaning against his less bruised left arm and drank the soup. When she finished she closed the container and put it back on the little crate that served as her table. She climbed back up on the bed next to him.

"Oh," she looked around her room, the wrappers from the burgers were tossed across the floor and then waved a dismissive hand, "I'll clean up in the morning. Let's get you situated here, 'kay?"

She helped him lean forward, fixed the blankets and pillows, and gently helped him lay back and covered him with the blankets. After she put the fire out in the can and blew her candle out, she crawled into bed, curling up next to him.

"Don't you worry 'bout nothin', 'kay? I'll keep an eye out for us tonight. You get your rest. I should probably wake you up every couple of hours, so you don't die in your sleep. That would be gross." She snuggled down next to him. "I saw that on TV. Guess it must be true." Wolverine chuckled. She had made sure that his back was to the wall and that she faced the opening. She was going to be his guardian angel. He closed his eyes. He couldn't keep them open any longer. Sleep overtook him quickly.


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