Title: Fight or Flight
Author: Crisis Kris (kmatwood@...
Summary: Jean's death has consequences for everyone.
Disclaimer: The author has no copyright ownership of the characters
and no profit is being made from this story.
Notes: *emphasis*. Takes place after X2. Apologies in advance
regarding the line wrapping - I can't figure out how that happened,
or how to fix it. I hope it's not too distracting!
Thanks: To the Amazing Gaaak, whose beta skills are beyond reproach!
The aftermath of Jean's death at Alkali Lake nearly devastates
them. Scott locks himself away in their his bedroom and
come out. Storm is overcome with grief for her lost sister, and it
rains and rains. Charles could help, but he is still too physically
(or is that psychically?) unwell to be good to anyone; he needs time
to recover his strength and balance. He sits, hunched in his
wheelchair, staring out his office window like he expects Jean to
come walking up the drive. The students are a mess; lost and
confused. Some cry endlessly, while others withdraw into
themselves. Many of the boys and some of the girls fight viciously
with each other over anything, no holds barred.
The only one relatively untouched by all this grief is Kurt Wagner,
the incredible Nightcrawler. Although sympathetic by nature, he
did, after all, only know Jean Grey for a matter of days. He is,
however, at a bit of a loss. The only person he really knows or
feels comfortable with is Storm, so he spends much of his time
making sure she eats, holding her as she cries, and muttering
prayers in her ear when the winds start picking up again. He
doesn't know what else to do.
There is one other person left functioning in the mansion, though,
and he handles his grief the way he handles every other problem in
his life by attacking it. Logan shies away from the
analogy, but it's true that his responses are instinctual,
animalistic: fight or flight. So often before he met Rogue and the
X-Men, he's fled from emotional distress. This time he's
to fix things.
He tells himself it's because the whole damn place would fall
without him and that might be true. He tells himself it's
he made a promise to Rogue that he wouldn't abandon her, and
true as well. But the real reason he's still there, standing in
middle of the devastation when every fiber of his being is screaming
at him to get the hell out now
he owes her something. Jean gave
something the night that she turned him away. It sounds odd, even
to his own fragmented thinking. But she showed him what dignity and
compassion looked like when she made the right choice without
becoming angry, without shunning him. At the time, he was hurt.
Now, when she's gone and he'll never have a chance to tell
appreciates it. She treated him like he was human.
So he stays, and it takes less than a day for him to realize that
everyone else is pretty much useless, with the exception of the
teleporting freak with the tail. His first order of business,
therefore, is to unwrap the incredible Nightcrawler from the fiery
Storm, who he's sure can handle being sad all by herself for an
or two. He enters the room in his usually gruff way.
"Hey blue boy," he says, "Come `ere, I got a job for
Nightcrawler briefly considers refusing, but Storm touches his arm
gently, pushing him away. He gets up and follows Logan out.
"We need to get these kids in order," Logan states, stalking
the halls, breaking up fights left, right and center. "You take
that side, I'll take this." Kurt watches, a little unsure,
starts rounding the children up, sending them to one of the larger
classrooms. A piercing stare from the other man gets him moving,
and although his style is much softer than Logan's, he is
to see the children respond to him just as well.
When everyone is in there, Logan does a headcount, and then lays
down the law. "All right," he says. "You've had a
day to be
complete fuck ups. Fun's over now." The kids glare back at
does he really think this has been fun? Logan's face doesn't
soften. "I know you're hurting. Everyone's hurting. But
this is a
school, and there are rules." He proceeds to set out some basic
guidelines. Everyone will sleep in their assigned beds at night
no just hanging out in just anybody's room like last night.
will be a curfew. Everyone will do their assigned chores. There
will be consequences for breaking the rules and anyone caught
fighting from now on will deal with him directly. Only one
other person in the whole room doesn't shiver when Logan
that, and it isn't Kurt. Rogue looks up at him and smiles.
Kurt has a sudden inspiration. As Logan wraps up his speech, Kurt
steps forward. The other man is surprised, but moves
aside. "Classes will resume in one week," he announces,
confidence into his voice. "There will be at least two
Logan will teach Physical Education and Defense, and I will teach
Power Control. In addition, individual learning plans will be set
up for History and English." The students groan;
looks a little pleased.
A voice pipes up from the back; it's the young man who was with
Rogue in the jet. "What about Art?" he asks, and the whole
breaks up in laughter. It's only been a day, but it only takes a
day for the story of what happened at Bobby's parents' place,
where Bobby introduced Logan as the art teacher, to get around.
Kurt is the only one who hasn't heard it yet. He looks confused.
"I'll tell you later," Logan promises. Then he reminds
that both he and Kurt are available any time, day or night - Kurt
nods seriously when Logan's questioning eyes meet his if
needs to talk. And he tells them, passionately, how important it is
to talk. Rogue thinks it's rather ironic that the one man who never
talks about anything is encouraging them to share their feelings.
With that, Logan dismisses the students.
As the room clears, Kurt walks over to Logan. "That was a very
thing you did, my friend," he says, restraining himself from
touching the other man's arm. It would be an appropriate gesture
comfort for anyone else, he recognizes. For Logan, it would be too
much. The man isn't used to comfort. Logan nods, grunting.
"You think so?"
"Yes. They are still sad, but... Kids, they need
trying to think of the right word in English.
Logan supplies him with one. "Discipline," he replies
Kurt shakes his head, smiling. "Leadership," he corrects
Then he takes his leave, and Logan stands in the empty room alone,
head bowed. Kurt watches him from the doorway for a moment before
he slips away.
The next day, Storm appears at the breakfast table for the first
time. It is Kitty and Jubilee's turn to make breakfast, under
Kurt's watchful eyes, and everyone is eating blueberry pancakes.
The kids stifle their exclamations of surprise as Storm helps
herself to one pancake and a glass of juice. Peter, the large boy
with the body armour, stumbles over his feet as he stands to pull
her chair out. She says, "Thank you." It's the first
she's spoken since the jet landed two days before. It's
raining outside, but it's died down to a drizzle.
Logan doesn't come down for breakfast and Storm is a bit
disappointed. So she leaves Kurt to assign the chores for the day
and to supervise, and goes to find him. He's in the upstairs
hallway, surveying the damage to one of the windows where the
soldiers shot their way into the school. He nods at her
approach. "I can fix that," he says, "but I'll need
"We have a credit account at the hardware store in town,"
replies. "I can get you the authorization number." He nods
They turn and start towards Xavier's office. "I hear that
are starting in a few days."
Logan smiles a ghost of a smile. "Apparently. And apparently
I'm `Professor Logan'." His voice carries a hint of
about the whole thing.
Storm smiles at him. "You'll do great." She looks
distant for a
moment, and then sighs. "I suppose I better prepare some lesson
plans. I heard Bobby talking about individual lessons in History
and English, but if you don't mind me saying so, I doubt
much to say on the subject and Kurt, well
"Is German," Logan almost laughed. "I'd thought
about that." He
stops and looks Storm in the eye. "Are you up to this?" he
seriously. "Because I I don't remember much, but I can
know, well enough to prepare something
Storm shakes her head. "We all have work to do, Logan. I can do
mine. Besides, as far as American history goes aren't you
Canadian?" She turns with a smile and opens the door to
office. Charles is sitting at his desk, his head bowed. A plate
of barely eaten blueberry pancakes sits beside him.
"Hello Ororo, Logan," he says quietly as they enter. He
their gaze to the plate. "Jubilee brought those by half an hour
ago. I can't say I feel much up to eating, however." He
holds out a card. "Our authorization number at the hardware
store, Logan. And I think it's an excellent idea to bring young
Peter along with you." Logan looks annoyed.
"No offense, Professor, but I like it better when you don't
mind," he growls, taking the card.
Storm shakes her head. "I think it's wonderful," she
emphatically. Charles has his powers back, and that's all that
"Yes, well, thank you." Charles looks down at his hands for
moment. "I am quite aware that I am not in good health at the
moment. But I do realize that you are putting this school back
together, piece by piece. I hope to be a bigger part of that soon
but unlike our friend here," he indicates Logan with a smile,
require medical attention."
"Do you want me to take you into town with us?" Logan asks.
shakes his head.
"Actually, I was hoping you could pick up a friend of mine. Dr.
Henry McCoy. The school will need a new doctor now that
Charles chokes up, unable to finish the sentence. Storm feels tears
prick her eyes. Logan looks away,
"Right. I'll find him." He walks out without another
Charles' eyes follow the man's form, but he says nothing.
feels the tears leak out of her eyes. Charles reaches for her
After a moment, she wipes her eyes. "I should go help Kurt with
students," she says. "He's out there by himself."
"Perhaps I will accompany you, for a few minutes," he
wheeling out from behind his desk. Side by side, they head back
into the heart of the school.
Logan takes Peter with him to the hardware store. They return two
hours later, laden with supplies and a thin, gangly looking man with
thick glasses. "Dr. McCoy, how good to see you," Charles
warmly, moving up to them as they enter the mansion.
The doctor laughs. "Please, Charles. Call me Hank. Why
show me your medical facilities and then we can have a chat."
disappear down the hall.
small," Storm says doubtfully.
Peter smiles. "He turns into a big blue beast," he replies.
showed us in the car." Storm looks amused. She glances at
and there's that shadow of a smile again, but he doesn't
"Excuse us, Storm," he says. "We got an outer wall to
The two work on the wall all day, shoring it up, reframing, and
insulating it by nightfall. The glass will be fit in the morning.
As they build, Logan slowly builds Peter up as well. "You did an
amazing jobs takin' care of all those kids," he says casually
they hammer away. Peter nearly drops his hammer.
"You think so?" he asks. Ever since the soldiers had come,
Peter can think about is how he should have stayed with Logan
instead of running away like a frightened child.
Logan seems to know this. "I would have loved to have your help
with the fighting, but I knew someone needed to keep things in order
here. I don't think anyone could have done a better job."
nearly blushes at that.
"Thanks," he mutters. He goes back to hammering, but his
flushed with pride, and when he walks away to go to bed that night,
he walks a little taller. Later, Kurt walks by just as a fight
erupts inside one of the dorm rooms. He stops, turning to enter the
room, when he hears Peter's rumbling bass inside.
"Knock it off, guys, go to sleep." To Kurt's surprise,
the boys a
couple of the younger ones stop immediately.
"Sorry, Peter," one of them replies. Things quiet down.
"Don't tell Professor Logan," the other one whispers a
later. Kurt smiles.
Under Hank's meticulous care, Charles' health improves to the
where he is able to resume his administrative duties. His first
decision as head of the school is, of course, to hire Hank as the
school physician, and as the Chemistry and Biology teacher. Charles
himself feels ready to once again teach Physics and Math.
So, when school officially opens one week after Jean Grey's
it is with a full complement of courses and not just the throw-
together Kurt had imagined. The routine is important; getting back
to normalcy is good for the students.
It's good for the teachers too. With so many students needing
attention, Charles can't afford to spend so much time staring off
into space, as though if he concentrated hard enough Jean would
magically appear. Storm throws herself into her teaching; it gives
her purpose, and the rain begins to dry up outside. Hank, too,
seems to delight in his new role as educator, although his teaching
style prompted a quick staff meeting in which it was suggested that
he reconsider some of his more convoluted language.
Reflecting on the situation, even Kurt has to acknowledge that
found a measure of peace. Having experienced what it was like to be
out of control, he makes an excellent mentor for students learning
to handle their powers. He is gradually growing closer to Storm, a
relationship he looks forward to very much, and his gentle demeanor
has brought a surprising number of students to his door to talk.
They ask him questions about life as a mutant, tell them about their
problems with their peers, or their families, or recount stories
about Jean Grey and talk about how much they miss her. Kurt finds
it easy to listen and respond to them, and it isn't long before
is the unofficial school counselor.
Logan continues to attack the repairs until they are finished, often
enlisting the help of the older students. Kurt, who is swift, but
not particularly strong, sometimes watches as Logan directs the
impromptu `shop' class, quietly finding something to
each student's work and pretending not to notice the way they
with pleasure and pride at his words. He doesn't put anyone on
spot, doesn't call attention to them, but at the same time lets
one know that they've been noticed. Kurt thinks it's a
Logan turns out to be an intuitive teacher, although hardly a
patient one. Storm and Charles have been helping the new teachers
with lesson planning and the like, and during a staff meeting one
day they all agree that it's too soon after all the violence to
teach self-defense lessons. Instead, Logan comes up with an
obstacle course, challenging but still fun, that allows them develop
skills like coordination, quick reflexes, and decision making,
without putting them into the context of a battle. The plan works
perfectly, and a little healthy competition develops among the
students, helping them take their minds off other things.
Far fewer students approach Logan than any of the other staff, but
he soon has an entourage of followers six, to be exact. There
Rogue, and her roommates Kitty and Jubilee. There is Peter and
Bobby, and a young boy named William who never sleeps, and spends
his nights watching television. Some of these students carry heavy
burdens of remorse and guilt for what happened, but with Logan, they
seem to start to open up, to let go of the pain bit by bit, and Kurt
notices that they all smile a lot more than when he first met them.
As for Logan, well
Kurt doubts the man can let go of anything.
Storm and Charles both talk extensively about Jean and their grief,
but Logan says nothing about his. Still, Kurt is certain he is
grieving for such a passionate man, he rarely laughs, and his
smile is always shadowed by the sadness in his eyes. Kurt has seen
Logan seem to be on the verge of tears one or two times, but they
never fall. Late at night, though, he wakes to the noise of someone
slipping out the front door. The first few times, he thought it
might be a student, so he'd crept out to investigate. Both
Logan had given him a short wave, cigar in hand, without turning
around as he walked into the bush.
Concerned, Kurt mentions Logan's isolation to Charles. The
professor nods in understanding. "It's not good for
presses. "Perhaps someone should speak with him."
"Everyone handles grief in their own way," Charles
replies. "Logan's still busy fixing everything else. Only
he's assured that everyone else is safe will he turn his
attention to himself." What he thinks, but does not say, is that
when the time comes, he fully expects Logan to run again.
"But everyone is okay," Kurt says. "I mean, everyone is
Charles looks very sad at that. "No," he replies.
"There is still
one person who has yet to begin healing."
That person, of course, is Scott. After the first day, the students
take to leaving meals outside his door for him. For a while they
remain there, untouched, until the next student came by to clear the
dishes away. After Professor Xavier starts to get better, the
plates start disappearing inside, reappearing hours later with the
food half-eaten. At least he is eating, but that's all Charles
convince him to do. Scott refuses to come out of his room, and when
Charles presses, Scott slams his mental defenses into place, his
skills made strong from years of living with a telepath.
"He'll come around," Storm comforts Charles that evening,
words sound hollow to everyone. Privately, they worry that this
might have broken Scott forever.
Initially, Logan stays out of the whole thing, figuring he's
the worst person to try and be helping. Eventually, however, his
temper gets the best of him. One evening, after listening the
professor explain how he had been shut out from Scott's thoughts
again, Logan suddenly jumps up from his seat and stalks up to
Scott's room. Without even thinking to knock, he barges in,
tearing the door off its hinges.
Scott sits in the middle of his bed in his underwear, clutching a
picture of his dead fiancée. His cheeks are red and splotchy from
crying. "What the hell are you doing?" he demands, standing
Logan snorts, moving to the dresser. "Suicide watch," he
yanking drawers open and throwing sweat pants and a t-shirt at the
other man. "It's been two weeks, we weren't sure if you
in here." He turns. "Come on, it's time to rejoin the
Scott stands there, sputtering in the middle of the room. "I
take orders from you!" he finally yells.
"No, you give them. So get with it, fearless leader." Logan
his cigar, an act he knows that Scott will hate.
True enough, Scott scowls. "Put that out!"
The ensuing fight catches the attention of the entire school. By
the time the other teachers get up there, Logan has his claws out,
and Scott has blasted a hole in the bathroom door. They are
circling each other, cursing and swearing. Then Logan pushes
it over the edge. "That's all you've got? *This* is the
chose over me?" His lips curl into a terrible smile.
Scott's response is to blast Logan so hard that he slams through
wall into the classroom beyond, and the only thing that saves his
life is his healing factor.
Later that night, Storm rages at Kurt during what has become their
customary evening tea. "How could he say that?" She
all the I knew Logan could be harsh, but that was
"It worked," Kurt points out softly. This brings Storm up
"What?" She replies. "What do you mean?"
"It was harsh, yes. But Charles' gentle reminders
You softly knocking at his door wasn't working. Us leaving him
alone and giving him time wasn't working. Logan might have
him out of his room but it worked."
Storm considers it. It's true Scott had stayed out of his
after the fight. He'd had a long talk with Charles, and then
the entire student body for dinner. Now he is downstairs working on
one of the cars, and she is certain a few of the male students have
drifted down to watch. He still looks haunted and overwrought, but
he is out.
She returns her attention to the man before her, who finishes,
did what he had to do."
Storm looks thoughtful. "He made himself the bad guy."
"And it worked."
Over the next few days, Scott appears more and more. Mostly he's
just a ghost in the mansion, sitting silently at meals or
disappearing with Charles for hours at a time. Every once in a
while, though, he seems to sit up and take notice of the world
around him, chatting with a student in the hall or joining the staff
for tea. He isn't teaching, and has explained that he has no
to, not yet, but he is interacting, and he's looking more alive
he has since Jean was lost. Kurt notices Logan nodding in
Later that night, Kurt lays awake, waiting for the sound.
Ordinarily, the soft opening and closing of the front door would
wake him from his light slumber, but he knows that tonight it will
be so quiet that he would sleep through it. Even awake, Kurt nearly
misses it. Belatedly, he hears the latch, and hurries to the
hallway window in time to see Logan trudging down the drive,
wheeling Scott's motorcycle beside him. Once he makes it to the
road, Kurt knows, there's no catching up.
Making a quick decision, Kurt teleports to the other man's side,
reappearance startling Logan. Without warning, he finds himself
lying on the ground with a claw at his throat. Logan growls, and
then recognizes his `attacker' and lets Kurt stand up. He
bike up on the kickstand and retracts his claws, lighting a cigar.
"Where are you going, my friend?" Kurt asks in his soft
Logan smiles his ghost of a smile. "I should have known better
to try and sneak past you," he replies. Kurt says nothing,
as Logan blows out smoke. "Ah, hell, Wagner, I can't stay
longer. It I hell, you don't need me anymore."
Kurt nods. "No." Logan's face darkens and he turns back
bike. Kurt's hand on his arm catches his attention. "We
*need* you, Logan," he continues. "We *want* you here.
Logan lets out a bark that could almost be a laugh. "Only one
person actually wants me here," he replies, "And she's
enough to think I'm some kind of hero."
Kurt wants to tell him that he is, but he knows it's the wrong
to say. Instead, he replies, "I want you here, my friend."
"Fine, two people," Logan concedes, smiling for real this
Kurt won't let it go. "What about Bobby? And Peter? And
Logan shakes his head. "They don't want *me*, Wagner,"
earnestly. "They want a role model, a defense teacher. Scott
do that. Scott should do that." He scowls up at the sky as it
begins to rain. "God damn. Now let me go I wanna put some
between me and this weather."
Desperately, Kurt hops up onto the bike handles. The rain is
falling harder now, slicking the road, making it difficult to
see. "Just give me one week, Logan," he bargains, raising
his voice over the splatter. "One week, and if you still feel
you're not wanted, then you are free to go wherever you
smiles appeasingly. "And I'll convince Storm to make sure
clear skies all the way." As if on cue, a great clap of thunder
sounds, lightning flashes in the sky, and the downpour becomes a
Logan swears there's no way he's going anywhere in this
storm. "Fine," he growls. He pulls the collar of his jacket
around his ears. "One week. Now let's get out of this
After escorting a grumbling, soaking wet Logan to his room, Kurt
stops by Ororo's and peers in the door. She appears to be
her breath rising and falling in a deep, even rhythm while the storm
outside continues unabated. Kurt is almost ready to consider the
weather a natural occurrence when he notices something.
"You don't usually sleep with your shoes on," he
doesn't open her eyes, but she can't stop the grin from
across her face. Kurt smiles too, and then grows serious. "He
me one week," he informs her, then tip toes away. He has only
seven days to convince Logan to stay, and he's going to need some
The next morning, Rogue is woken by an urgent knocking on her dorm
room door. She nestles further down into her comforting, but the
knocking doesn't stop. She groans and pulls her pillow over her
head, but the knocking continues until Kitty finally leaps out of
bed, throwing her covers to one side in disgust. She stalks over to
the door and sticks her head out, hollering, "Who are you and
the hell do you oh, sorry, Professor."
Kurt jumps back, unnerved by the site of her disembodied head
sticking out of the closed door. He ducks his head for a moment,
and then grins. "Pardon me," he says, "I realize
it's very early,
but I require your assistance."
By breakfast, thanks to Jubilee's staggering ability to gossip,
whole school knows that something's up with Logan and he needs,
the Asian girl so colorfully puts it, "a little lovin'".
know, however, that they can't be too obvious about it; the
have already sensed that their affections scare Logan more than any
bogeyman ever could, and they keep it tame around him, being cool
and giving him some distance. Breakfast is a bit quieter than
usual; Jubilee doesn't give out details, but everyone can sense
Logan's pulling away, and although no one says it, they all
understand it's up to them to make him see that he must
The first one to act is Peter. Like usual, Logan doesn't come
for breakfast. Ordinarily no one does anything about this; the man
will eat when he wants to eat. But this morning, Peter grabs up two
plates, piles eggs and sausage and toast on each of them, and
disappears to the third floor History classroom. Sure enough, Logan
is there, repairing some damage to the outer wall. Peter plunks one
plate down in front of him, hunkers down with the other, and starts
eating. He pretends not to see the look of surprise on Logan's
face, but he acknowledges the soft, "thanks," with a nod.
"Missed your company," he says through bites of egg.
sitting around all those girls for the whole damn morning."
Logan smiles. "Let me guess Brad Pitt?"
"He really doesn't make a good Achilles I mean come on,
Pitt? But do they think about his acting abilities? Not even for a
second!" Peter stabs a bit of sausage, playing up the grump.
almost even laughs.
Kurt wanders past the hallway later than morning and finds that the
two are engrossed in conversation, plates long since set aside. He
pauses long enough to hear Peter say, "You know, when the
came, all I could think of was that you must not respect me or
trust me, to not want me fighting with you." He holds a hand up
Logan can't interrupt. "I get it now. But I wanted to tell
it it matters that you respect me. I value your opinion of
"Thanks, kid," Logan replies, gruff, surprised.
Peter nods. "Most of the teachers here, well they
don't come from
where I come from, you know what I mean? I mean, Ms. Munroe was
raised as a goddess in Africa. Professor Xavier obviously came from
money, Mr. Wagner was in a circus which is just weird and
Summers, give me a break. Prep school drop out. I came from the
wrong side of the tracks, you know? I was fighting almost by the
time I was walking. I don't I never met anyone, any adult
who got that."
Logan is very quiet for a few minutes. Then he nods. "Yeah, I
that," he replies.
Peter nods. "Good. Because there are a lot of us here, you
who've had to go there. And it matters when someone who's
there* says that you're doing well. I just wanted you to know
Logan smiles genuinely. "Thanks," he says again. "Now
get out of
here before this gets emotional."
Peter grins and lumbers to his feet. "Yeah. Next thing you
I'll be waxing poetic about Brad Pitt." Laughing, he picks
dishes and walks away. Kurt smiles, moving on before the boy can
see him and before Logan gets wind of him and gets suspicious.
Later that afternoon, Storm finds herself hanging around the staff
lounge, waiting. She's already put on a fresh pot of coffee,
Logan of course appreciates the minute he walks in and smells
it. "Ah, I could kiss you," he says thankfully, pouring
"If it keeps you here," she replies, and the lightness
from his face.
" he starts. She hushes him.
"Of course I am aware of what's going on. And no, Kurt
anything to me. I saw you take Scott's bike last night."
beside him, setting her tea cup down, and restrains herself from
reaching over to touch him.
"I thought you were asleep."
"I thought I heard a noise in the garage." Logan gives a
snort of laughter.
"Must be getting soft," he comments, eyes haunted and lost.
didn't even smell you."
"Maybe you're just tired, and grieving," she suggested.
for that to be."
Logan shook his head. "No, it's not." He replied.
might have said in response, he cut her off with a sharp
gesture. "Don't push it, Storm. Okay? It's not your
"I don't want you to leave."
"I don't think I can stay."
He stands, agitated. "Leave it alone!" He exclaims, a little
loudly. "Fuck." He takes a deep breath, sets his coffee cup
by the sink. "Thanks for the coffee." He closes his eyes
moment before straightening his shoulders and walking out. Storm
watches him go, feeling terrible, trying to ignore the worry
building in her stomach that she just made things that much worse.
Six nights later, Logan sits up in bed, chest heaving. The dreams
are worse than ever now, instead of just seeing himself lying
tank, or remembering the feelings of scalpels carving into flesh,
the heat of Adamantium being poured against his bones, he sees all
this and Jean. Sometimes Jean is standing over him, cutting into
him. Sometimes she is next to him in a tank of her own, getting
cut. Always, she turns to him and says, just before he's able to
claw his way back to consciousness, "It's your fault."
Logan runs a shaking hand over his face, willing the images to go
away. He's pretty sure he didn't scream this time, which is
thing, since that usually brings some student or other running to
his door, frightened and in need of comfort, and he doesn't think
can dredge up the energy to help anyone else right now.
He spends a long time in the bathroom, splashing water on his face
and the back of his neck. There's no way he's going to get
sleep tonight, so he pads out on silent feet toward the front door.
William, the TV kid, is sitting in the living room.
sleep?" he says, flipping through the channels.
"How could you tell?" Logan supplies his line from the old
William stops flipping to look at him and deadpan, "You're
Then the kid grins; Logan finds himself grinning back. It's the
first time he's smiled in so long
Banishing the thought, he sits down and says, gruffly, "Change
channel, kid." The kid obliges. They sit in silence, watching
for a while, and then William turns to him.
"You know, Logan, the whole school is talking about you."
"Yeah, I know."
"Everyone's talking about how we have to make you stay
you're going to run away tomorrow."
"It's not like that," Logan tries to explain, but the kid
let him talk.
"I don't care what it's like or not like," he
interrupts. "I just
want you to know that if you went, I'd miss you." He turns
Logan is surprised. "Really?" he asks. "We barely even
other all day; what would you miss me for?"
William shakes his head like Logan is the dumbest person he's
come across. "Duh we see each other practically every
did mention that I don't sleep, right? Ever? Well it gets kind
lonely at night you know. You're the only other person here
up at 3:30 in the morning."
"Huh." Logan sits back, thoughtful. Lots of kids have been
him how they feel about him, but most of it he's dismissed as
that the other adults could have done. The only exception was
Rogue, and he'd spent all week preparing to say goodbye to her
again, convincing himself that she was better off without him. But
this kid is different. For one thing, he's the only one so far
who's been willing to be honest about the fact that the entire
school is plotting against him, thanks to the blue teleporting
devil. He's also the only person who hasn't actually asked
stay. `I'd miss you,' is something very different.
used to being something that someone might miss.
He gets up, his head in a fog, walks back to his room and lies down
on his bed lost in thought. Eventually he drifts away, and it's
only when the sun is pouring through his window and he can hear kids
laughing in the hallways that he realizes he was going to leave last
night, sneak away before his seven day thinking period was up
before anyone would try to put him on the spot. Shit.
For a brief moment, Logan considers what it might be like to stay,
to be a member of this school for real, and not just a drifter on
his way through. And then he remembers Jean, sharply, like at any
moment he might inhale her scent. And the stab of grief that spikes
through him feels like it's going to take him to his knees. He
can't. He just can't. Furious, denying that he's angry
he starts packing his meager possessions into a bag.
There's a sound at his door and he whirls around, guilt and anger
warring across his face. Scott, of all people, is standing there, a
smirk on his face and his arms crossed. "Running away,
Logan scowls. "Don't start with me, Summers," he warns,
the straps on the pack.
"Why? Because you want to make a clean getaway, and I'm
with those plans?"
"You don't know what you're talking about." Logan
pulls on his
boots, reaches for his coat, and heads for the door, only to find
Scott blocking it.
"Cyclops," he says, remembering the first time he said it,
wanna get out of my way." Jean was there, she was behind him,
was watching him - that was the first day he met Jean. Logan takes
a deep breath against the memory and growls: "Move!" Scott
like a rock.
"Why do you get to be the spoiled little kid, Logan?" He
sincerely. "Why do you get to bolt when it gets too hard, and
us to pick up the pieces?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Logan tries
to deny it,
but he can't look at Scott's face when he says it.
"I'm talking about the kids, first of all," Scott
*know* how they feel about you. How much, for god knows what
and stupid reason, they love you. And you're gonna just walk out
leaving us to deal with all that grief and loss, after so much
has happened?" He takes a step closer, pushing Logan back into
room, his face dark. "And I'm talking about how fucking
is that I have to feel like my heart's been ripped out of my
and still get up and go on and be *present*, while you don't even
have to say the words out loud, say how much you miss my
He's yelling now, pushed up against Logan, nearly spitting in the
other man's face.
Logan takes a breath to argue back, to deny it all, but what comes
out is an anguished cry. "I have no right!" he shouts back,
pricking in his eyes.
That stops Scott up short. "What?" he takes a step back,
"I have no right to be here this isn't mine! And I
have no right
to grieve her because she's yours, not mine, don't you
None of it's *mine*." And damned if he isn't crying now,
desperately trying not to, the tears coming anyway. He stumbles
back a few steps until his back is against the wall, and then slides
down it. "I how can I feel so much for something that
mine? And then I think, I can't lose another thing, I can't
one more thing, not one more thing, not even a little thing I
don't have anything and I can't lose any more because
everything, and nothing's mine, I don't know what's mine,
I can't do
this." He's babbling, he's not making any sense, and his
are shaking now. Logan covers his face with his hands, sobbing.
And then Scott's there, kneeling beside him, grasping his
firmly. "You have this," he whispers roughly. "You have
what you feel. And whether you like or not, you have this school,
these kids. You have people who want to be your friend, whether you
want to see it or not
Logan pushes against the grip, but Scott won't let go. "Are
trying to tell me that *you* want to be my friend?"
"No, dumbass," Scott replies. "But I'll be your
Logan snorts, dragging one hand across his eyes, wiping away the
tears. Scott lets him go and he leans back against the wall.
"Oh, god," Logan breathes after a moment, his voice shaking.
Scott nods tightly. He stands and picks up Logan's pack,
it and thrusting the contents back into the dresser drawers.
it is. But you'll just have to deal with it."
When Logan finally comes out of his room, twenty minutes later,
Rogue is sitting on the floor. She jumps up and pushes him back
in. "You're staying, aren't you?" She demands.
"Mr. Summers said
you were staying. Aren't you?" She's crying steadily,
and Logan is
"Whoa," he says, pulling her to him, wrapping his arms
around her so that he doesn't touch her skin. "What's all
Rogue wails in his arms.
"You were going to leave me again," she accuses,hiccupping.
been hinting at it all week. `Marie, if anything ever changed,
ever had to go somewhere, it wouldn't be because of you.'
this school is important and you need to stick it through no matter
what.' Did you think I was totally stupid?" She punches him
chest, surprisingly hard for a weeping girl.
"Ow. No." He replies, rubbing his ribs. "Hey, relax.
I'm not going
anywhere. I'm going to stay, okay?"
"For real?" Logan looks at her and realizes that although
grown up a lot in the last few weeks, inside her there is still the
scared little girl that tried to hide in his trailer back in
Laughlin City, hoping for some protection.
He nods, uses his sleeve to wipe away her tears. "For real,"
promises. "I won't leave you."
"Good. Then come down to lunch." She wipes her eyes, and
looks at him closely. "On second thought go have a shower.
look like shit."
"Watch your language." He warns, but there's no anger in
"Yes, Professor," she mocks back, and slips out the door.
Left alone, Logan falls against his bed. He feels more tired and
older than he can ever remember feeling. That's his little joke
with himself, of course, because he can't really remember
Maybe he's felt this way before and he just doesn't know it.
lies back against the pillows and puts his arm across his eyes.
That's the whole thing, isn't it? It's not just that
Jean is dead
it's not like he loved her, really. He wanted her, he respected
her. But it's not that. It's that when Jean talked to him,
like a member of the human race, and when she died, well
his chance at humanity was all wrapped up in her, and without
"I really can't stand to lose anyone else," he remarks to
feeling his heart speed up with the fear that he'll get close to
these kids, to these people, and someone else will die. But when he
considers repacking the bag and bolting now, he knows he couldn't
it. He's not an animal; he can't just flee from danger. He
consider all the others. The fear of losing people that he loves is
being balanced by a stronger fear never having anything to love
After a few minutes, he picks himself up, starts the shower, and
stands under the stream until the hot water runs out. Then he dries
off, gets dressed, and goes downstairs.
Late that night, Kurt hears the soft clicking sound of a door being
opened and shut. He gets up and pads out on his silent feet,
peering through the window. Logan stands in the driveway, patting
down his pockets, chewing on an unlit cigar. As Kurt comes out the
door, Logan finds a match and lights it, giving Kurt a quick wave as
he walks towards the trees. "Not this time," Kurt whispers
himself. He teleports over to Logan's side, and is thankful that
doesn't end up on his ass with Adamantium claws against his neck.
Instead, Logan almost smiles at him. He reaches into his coat
pocket and withdraws another cigar, offering it to the other man.
Kurt accepts it with a smile.
"Huh." Logan fishes around for another match. "I
wasn't sure if
"Well, we are only getting to know one another," Kurt replies
reasonably. They walk through the night time forest in silence,