Revised Header in Part 2.
* * *
�Hey, Marie!� Logan called to the girl after dinner. She looked up at him and smiled and waved that she heard him. She finished what she was saying, then stood, putting one gloved hand on Bobby�s shoulder as she said her goodbyes. Logan�s eyebrow went up and stayed up until she came over to him. She saw his expression, and there was a twinkle in her brown eyes.
�Getting a little friendly with the Ice Cube?� Logan remarked, letting a little brotherly concern bleed through. He like the Ice Cube well enough for a kid, but he just didn�t see Drake as a match for Marie.
Getting no response except for an amused look, he let it go for now and changed the subject. �Ya got any plans for Saturday?�
�We were going to the movies Saturday night. What�d you have in mind?�
�We?� Logan asked. He couldn�t help it.
�Bobby and John and Anna, Jubilee, Kitty, and me.� She ticked the crew off on her silky fingers as she rolled her eyes at his protectiveness.
�Oh,� Logan grunted, satisfied. It wasn�t a date. �I was wondering if you�d go shopping with me.�
Marie�s mouth dropped open. �Shoppin�? Me? You?!� she squealed in delight.
�Shh, shh, shh!� he tried to quiet her down. He was thankful Scott had already left. �Keep it under your hat, and I�ll make it worth your while.�
Marie looked at him hard. �Who, may I ask, are we shopping for?�
�Me,� Logan almost whispered, just a little embarrassed. Even so, he still had to work not to grin when Marie�s face registered her surprise. But the surprise quickly faded to a speculative look. Logan knew he colored a bit, and was thankful when she didn�t press the issue.
Marie laughed softly. �Hell, I�d change my date with Bobby for that!� she exclaimed cheerily as she spun on her heel, scarf flying.
�Mall opens at ten, be ready to go at 9:30,� she called over her shoulder as she left, leaving the older man speechless.
* * *
�What the fuck is this?� Logan sputtered, barging into Xavier�s office.
Charles Xavier looked up calmly from the stack of papers he was working on. His new assistant, Matt Roberts, looked up in surprise at the sudden entrance. Logan has been introduced to him a few days before he left last fall, and he seemed like a good joe. It made him even more irritated when he watched the man blanch slightly with his arrival. Definitely not a mutant suited for combat.
�Ah, Logan, what can I do for you?� Xavier asked with a hint of amusement, as he pushed back slightly from his desk.
Logan knew the man had expected him from his studied calm and the merry twinkle in his eyes. This wasn�t funny.
�This is my bank statement,� Logan snapped, waving the crumpled sheet clutched in his hand. Chuck just looked at him, as if he was waiting for him to continue. Like he didn�t know.
Logan opened his mouth to explain just how wrong this statement was, but now that he was here, he realized he wasn�t sure how to put it. He started again, and then stopped, discarding that approach.
�Was there a problem with your payroll deposit?� Xavier asked innocently, as he rolled around the desk toward the foundering man.
�Well� yes,� Logan stuttered, stopping again. This was much harder than he thought, and all of the reasons he had a few minutes ago were seeming more and more� unreasonable in the face of the serene man in front of him. Everything he wanted to say made him sound stupid or offensive. Charles just looked up at him expectantly, a smile tugging at his lips. Logan looked away.
�It�s too much,� he managed to mumble. �I don�t��
�On the contrary,� Xavier interrupted him, �you provide us a valuable service. I, for one, sleep better at night knowing that you are here on security, and I know that I am not alone. Beyond that, there is your off-site work. Do you know how rare it is to find someone with your talents?�
Logan stood, the last of his anger draining away. He suddenly felt a bit foolish.
�Actually, I wish I could pay you more, but the budget is constrained with the Academy start up costs,� he continued, the smile bordering on a grin. �And Logan, I�m glad you�re here. I forgot to give you something.
Xavier glanced to his assistant. �Matthew, could you get Logan�s packet for me?� Xavier�s assistant nodded and quickly slipped out of the room.
�But I haven�t�� Logan started to explain, still not comfortable.
�How is the security system coming?� Xavier deliberately interrupted.
The interruption threw him off track again. He was certainly losing this battle. �Well, fine. The plans are done and the new equipment is being built. We�ll install it as it comes in. It will be mostly ready in six months or so, but the new stuff we came up with will take a little longer because they have to make most of the parts from scratch.�
�Excellent. You�ve been busy.�
Logan knew the old man was working him, but he wasn�t making anything up. He didn�t have to. He gave one last try. �But in a month or so��
Xavier interrupted him again, gently this time. �We all have to have some flexibility in our schedules due to the nature of out work here. You don�t have a finite job description. We all know that you�ll do the best you can in whatever you do, and that you�ll eventually find out what your role is in our family.�
�But�� Logan weakly objected. He was definitely feeling foolish, and he hated that. He still didn�t feel like he was pulling his weight.
�Your skill are a rare and precious gift,� Xavier told him firmly holding his eyes, allowing him a glimpse of the steel behind his words.
Logan wasn�t sure what to say. He felt a lot of things, but he knew he felt humbled by his generosity, and accepted as part of his family. Before he could dwell on the feelings Xavier changed the subject.
�So where are you going with Marie on Saturday?�
Logan completely failed to hide his surprise, and he glanced questioningly at the other man. Marie was supposed to keep the trip under her hat.
�Marie scheduled an eight hour block of time with you on Saturday. I assume that you are going out?�
Both men looked up as the door opened and Matt returned with an envelope marked �Logan�. He handed it to Xavier, who nodded with the slight tilt of the head that the Canadian noticed that telepaths tended to do when talking with their minds. Matt smiled, nodded to Logan, then left. Xavier handed the envelope to Wolverine, and then motioned him to open it.
Inside the envelope Logan found three plastic cards � two credit cards and a red, top level security pass. Logan was stunned.
Xavier spun around and rolled back toward his desk. �The card with the fall-colored trees is your debit card to your personal account. The card with the main building on it is your Academy credit card for official purchases or if you need to buy thing when you are away on missions. The red card gives you complete security access to all areas of the school, and to the facilities below when combined with your voiceprint. Fortunately, Mystique doesn�t replicate voices very well,� Charles chuckled ruefully.
Logan looked at the cards in amazement. He just couldn�t quite believe that Chuck would do all of this for him. He just stood there for a minute.
Charles settled back behind his desk. �Now, if that was all you needed, I have to get back to these quarterly reports.
Still dumbfounded, Logan barely nodded, and then moved to leave.
�And Logan,� Xavier called out. Logan glanced back to a fiercely grinning bald man. �I was thinking that security should have an official dedicated vehicle. Maybe you could select something smaller and more maneuverable than one of the sport utility vehicles.�
Xavier�s bright blue eyes danced as he continued, seeing the gist of the request sink in. �I understand that Harley Davidson makes a good product. When you have the time, could you look into that for me?�
* * *
Logan leaned back against the door of his room, shutting it, and he slowly sank down against the surface to the floor. It was 5 PM on Saturday, and he was exhausted. He even considered skipping dinner, but he didn�t dare risk a visit from either Hank or Jeannie afterward.
Logan just stared at the pile of boxes and bags he�d come back with. He hadn�t even known that you could buy some of the stuff Marie made him get. If you couldn�t get it a Sears, Canadian Tire, or the Harley store, he hadn�t seen it. He grinned as he remembered that her pile wasn�t much smaller.
They had done considerable damage to his bank account today, but it really didn�t matter. He was a man of few requirements � good beer, good cigars, a quality motorcycle. He had many times the money that�s he ever had before thanks to Xavier�s generosity.
Well, at least he did.
Though he hated shopping in general, going with Rogue was a good idea � she already knew what he would and wouldn�t wear, though she did manage to talk him into a few things.
�Oh, no,� Marie said, waving him back to the dressing room.
It seemed like he had tried on four hundred pairs of pants, and now they were working their way through a small mountain of shirts. He shrugged out of the latest offensive garment, then sighed as he looked at the rest of the pile.
�It�d be a whole lot easier if I could just go naked,� he grumbled to himself.
�I heard that,� Marie called from outside the dressing room.
Logan rolled his eyes, then picked up the next shirt. �Marie, this one ain�t gonna fit. Too small.�
�The green one?� she asked.
Logan struggled to get the thin material over his bulk. It fit like a second skin, and he wasn�t sure he wanted to go outside in it.
�Come on, we haven�t got all day,� Marie pressed mercilessly.
�All right, all right,� Logan grumbled, stepping out of the dressing room.
�Oh, my,� Marie whispered in a way that caught the sale girl�s attention. Arms full of clothes, she stopped to stare with a hungry look that he was used to giving, not receiving.
Out of his environment, he was a little self-conscious, and the leering women didn�t help. The miasma of the sounds and smells of the mall was hard enough to deal with. �OK, that�s it. I�ve had enough. we�re outta here,� Logan growled at them both before stomping back to the dressing room.
�But Logan, we�ve got two whole hours before we have to go back.,� Marie whined suddenly every bit the sixteen year old girl. Logan didn�t see the disappointment in her much too wise eyes, or the sad, wistful look that followed, or the resigned expression that finally took over.
Logan ignored her. He hated whining.
Marie must have remembered that that tactic never worked with him, because she called out to him, voice suddenly sly. �I�ll make a deal with you, sugah. You be cooperative for one more hour, and we can stop at the Harley shop on the way home.�
Logan groaned, knowing he�d take the bargain whether he wanted to or not. It was hard to deny Marie, and it was even harder to deny shopping for a new motorcycle. In the dressing room, Logan slammed down onto the seat, resting his face in his hands.
�Can I just get to the motorcycles?� he thought to himself, knowing it was a long hour away.
Still sitting on the floor he rifled through the bags. He had to admit that he did like his new boots. And the high cuffed jeans. And the leather pants. Well, and the couple of flannel shirts that she let him get. And he liked most of the stuff that he�d bought for Marie. She was pretty in everything.
They�d had a good day � he had to remember to do it again in a couple of years when he needed some new clothes again. He thought that she had a good time with him � she�d said so, anyway. But there were a couple of times he�d caught a sad look in her eyes. Maybe she knows. After all, this wasn�t the first time that he wanted a guy. Maybe she remembers.
He didn�t think the fact that he wanted a man in his bed and as his mate would bother her. He knew she loved him like he loved her, like a big brother and little sister. Plus, she really likes Chuck, and she had to know about his relationship with Magneto from when she was forced to drain the memories of that sick dude. Their passion for one another was so obvious.
He sighed and looked again at all the boxes and bags, then got up to start putting the stuff away. He�d have to wear it all soon � it smelled funny.
He just finished in time for dinner, and then changed into one of his new shirts. The tight, deep green, skin tight one that caused the best reaction. It was binding just a bit at the bicep, but he had to admit that it looked good on him. He ran his fingers through his wild hair to tame it the best he could, skipping the stinky new hair stuff she made him get.
�God, I hope this was worth it,� he muttered to himself, and then headed down to dinner.
* * *
Logan walked into the dining room and quickly crossed to the buffet to assemble a tray of food. He didn�t want to see the reactions.
Spotting a seat next to Jean open at the faculty table, he quietly slid through the crowd to take the seat. He had already heard the first titters. His traitorous eyes sought out Scott, and he literally felt their eyes connect for an instant before he looked away.
Jean was talking to Hank. �So, you tried cross-indexing the SNiPs library with the results from the new sample?� she asked him and received a nod from the big, blue man. She glanced up to see him sliding into the seat, and he almost winced at her double take. He caught here eye to return her acknowledgement, and saw her eyes widen as they scanned across his chest. She quickly looked away, taking a sip of her drink.
Seeing the exchange, Aurora, who was sitting directly across from him next to Hank, piped up, �Logan, is that a new shirt?�
Unbelievably uncomfortable, Logan cleared his throat, then replied, �Marie picked it out.�
Seeing his discomfort, Aurora smiled gently at him. �It really suits you. And it�s such a beautiful color. Green is my favorite, you know.�
Hank chuckled. �I thought white was your favorite color?� he teased her.
Jean was quiet for another moment, as if she had to decide something, then she turned slightly toward him and reached over to touch the fabric over his bicep in a friendly way. She glanced back to Aurora, and with an only slightly forced grin, she said, �And it feels nice, too.�
She turned back to him and almost whispered, �Marie has good taste. It brings out the gold in your eyes.�
He could see the flicker of pain in her eyes, but it quickly disappeared.
Jean must have though he was uncomfortable, because she patted his arm to let him know it was all right before turning back to their companions. He could tell she was unsettled, but her mouth had a determined tilt. Jeannie caught Hank's quizzical look � he was always too observant. As a smart lady, Jean returned to the previous subject to distract him. �So did you find any statistical correlation in the distribution pattern?�
Inwardly, Logan sighed in relief. It hadn�t been as bad as he thought. He could hear some of the girls whispering among themselves, but the vocal reaction seemed to be high and positive, rather than low and dark. He gave a quick glance around, still avoiding looking at the other faculty table.
He caught a few glances and got a few small smiles.
Marie was eating with her usual friends, and she winked at him when he caught her eye. Everyone seemed to like the new look, except for the Ice Cube, who just kept staring at him with an odd expression he couldn�t figure out. He was too far was to scent his reaction.
Logan could feel Scott�s eyes on him as he finished eating, but he didn�t want to risk looking up. This was supposed to be subtle, and he wasn�t very good at subtle. He really didn�t hear the rest of the dinner conversation.
Logan was almost finished eating when he heard Scott tell Chuck, �Now, if you�ll excuse me.�
He waited for a second then risked a glance at the younger man. Ram-rod straight, Scott passed by Logan on his way to the exit. He looked stiff and kept his back to Logan the entire time.
�Damn!� Logan thought to himself, a cold lump in his chest. He gathered up his tray and stood to leave.
Charles was almost at his side when he noticed him.
�So, Logan, did you have a chance to order that vehicle for me?�
Distracted and a little upset, it took a few seconds for Logan to respond. �Yeah, I ordered it this afternoon when I was out,� he replied softly. He looked down to find Xavier staring at him intently. His bright blue eyes were wise.
�Good,� Charles said, holding his eyes.
Logan watched as his gaze slowly and deliberately shifted to the quickly departing Cyclops, then back to him. His eyes crinkled kindly.
Xavier spoke quietly and approvingly, his voice deep with implication. �By the way, nice shirt.�
* * *
On the flight back, Logan heard Scott mention to Jeannie that that he�d be up all night grading. It gave him an idea. They'd been gone all weekend following a potential Sabertooth sighting and since Scott�s Advanced English had midterm papers due Friday, he was really behind.
�A shower and a quick change, and maybe a little special delivery is in order,� Logan thought. He smiled to himself. One way to a man�s heart is through his stomach.
A little later and a tray of sandwiches and coffee later, Logan made his way to the darkened halls toward the only bright light burning in that part of the building. It was late, and the halls were virtually silent, and Logan's movement made no ripple in his passing.
Glancing in through the partially open door, he saw Scott sitting at his desk, the room illuminated by only a single desk lamp. With his glasses in his left hand, he was rubbing his closed eyes with his right. He looked exhausted � more tired that he should be. Logan frowned.
Softly, he cleared his throat and watched a startled Scott quickly replace his visor. He shouldered the door open as Scott swiveled his head, the glow reappearing behind the red lenses. "Brought you some grub," he rumbled, heading for the desk and ignoring the look of surprise tinged with annoyance.
Scott stared at the Logan for a second, then looked at the try, and after a moment's hesitation, cleared a place on the desk next to him. Logan set the tray down.
"Just sandwiches � roast beef, and some coffee." Logan knew that Scott liked roast beef just like he did, so it was an easy choice.
Scott stared at his desk for a few seconds, and Logan doubted he was looking at the papers, and haltingly looked at the tray. His gaze lingered on there for a few seconds before his gaze finally shifted over and up, again tracing the midline of Logan's body up to his face. "Why?"
Logan shrugged slightly. "Ya didn�t eat." Their gazes locked; Logan felt the connection when their eyes truly met through the visor. The Canadian could suddenly smell the smoke in Scott's scent.
Scott looked away, the barest hint of a smile touching his lips for a moment. Then his eyes fell on the papers in front of him, and his mouth hardened again. "Thanks," he said without a hint of warmth.
Logan didn�t understand the abrupt reversal, and just gaped.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish these papers."
No warmth, no smoke. Logan suddenly hurt and angry, snapped his mouth shut. "No problem," he ground out, not hiding the edge of anger in his tone.
"Why the hell is he doing this? " Logan wondered bewildered and frustrated. He watched as Scott picked up his red pen and went back to it, leaving the food untouched, and suddenly he had to be out in the cool air,
Without a word, the Wolverine slipped silently out of the room to lick his wounds.
It was four A.M. and Logan was still roaming the grounds, still angry and restless. The fall leaves crunched beneath his feet and the sound echoed the way he felt � cold and dry and lonely in the wind.
Above him, the light was still on in Scott's office, and Logan frowned. That light was on much too often these days, and he wondered and he worried.
Wordlessly, he ghosted out and away, loping through the trees.
* * *
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