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REPOST Homecoming (1/1) teen (Scott/Logan, ensemble)

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  • Tarchannon
    Hi all! Since things are very slow, and we re all waiting for the X-Day final results, I thought I d repost one of my early stories just for the hell of it.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 20, 2002
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      Hi all!



      Since things are very slow, and we're all waiting for the X-Day final results, I thought I'd repost one of my early stories just for the hell of it. The several of the sequals are entered in X-Day 2002, and the stroies of the AU can be found at my site (URL below) and in Nadja Lee's archive. I am working on the last two stories of the Scott/Logan arc, the first of which I hope to start posting by the end of the month. They are multi-parters, so it's taking a while. :)





      Homecoming 1/1

      X-Men AU � 2020 Universe � First week of February 2021



      RATING: teen for sexuality, mild violence, and swearing.

      PAIRING: None; hints of Scott/Logan

      ARCHIVING: Yes, with permission.

      FEEDBACK: Yes, please! Feeding writers increases productivity! Tarchannon@...

      DISCLAIMER: The established X-Men belong to the people at Marvel. The other characters that you

      don�t recognize are my original characters. This is just for fun and academic exercise,

      absolutely no money will be generated.

      SERIES/SEQUEL: 2020 Universe. The establishing story is Alterations, which can be found at http://ghostinthegenes.fandomnet.com

      SUMMARY: Logan returns to the Xavier Academy after five months and is welcomed with open arms,

      but he is bewildered by some new developments .

      NOTES: 1) Aurora = Ororo Munroe. This was a specific choice.

      2) �_� contains spoken dialog, /_/ contains thoughts, *_* contains mental communication

      3) Redstar is Jean Gray�s codename (for now), in this AU.

      ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to Trekscribe for the beta and suggestions. Most of the last

      two paragraphs are hers � they were too good to change much! You are fabulous!!





      Logan had ridden long and hard through bitter cold weather to get back to the Academy.



      /Almost home�,/ he thought with a wry twist to his lips. The Canadian wiped the frost from his mouth and sideburns with a black gloved hand. The motion had become almost automatic.



      About three weeks ago, Logan had just finished picking up some groceries at a tiny store in a tiny Canadian town not terribly far from Alkali Lake. Stepping out of the door bag in hand, he�d looked out over the mountains and pine forests and thought of home. Trouble was, when he thought of home, it wasn�t his cabin high in the Canadian Rockies.



      Wolverine had left the cabin the very next day, thoughts of a different house, nestled in the New England woods by a large blue lake, calling him back.



      * * *

      Logan wasn�t sure if it was trepidation or the chill brought by the New England weather to his metal-laced bones, but he�d soon know.



      He had been deeply conflicted about returning for his entire trip, but he knew he had to try. If there was one thing that Logan had retained in his scrambled memory was that he didn�t run from his problems. They ended up hunting him anyway.



      After the leads at Alkali Lake were exhausted, the Canadian had returned to his small cabin fully intending on remaining there for the winter. It had been his home for a few weeks in the fall, then again over the holidays, mostly because the world pretty much shut down around then. He�d quickly grown restless. Logan had done some checking at local government offices for construction plans and deeds late in December, but by the time that he�d finished getting the cabin back in order, the leads were pretty much exhausted. Something deep inside him had been touched, like a hand pulled through a rain barrel, and Logan knew that he had to return to the Academy.



      * * *

      The red hypercycle beneath had purred like a kitten beneath him the entire way. Logan had been impressed when he�d first ridden her, making a frantic trip to keep Rogue from running away from the school. He became even more impressed when he found out that it�s owner had helped design her. It�s wasn�t a Harley, but then again, what else was.



      /And a Harley doesn�t have a hyperboost!/ Wolverine thought with a wild grin.



      She carried him through Salem Center, then out the Six, past Harry�s. Logan considered stopping for a beer and a chat with Mac, but it was getting late so he continued, acknowledging the place by gunning the engine and popping up into a one wheeled salute. A few miles further, he slowed and turned onto Graymalkin Lane, the transponder embedded in the bike frame automatically signaling the gates to open.



      Wolverine caught the glint of something in motion on the gatehouse. /More security. Good!/



      He drove on, through the covered bridge over the little creek that ran through the estate. From the far side, the main building, Xavier Hall, could be seen just off to his right up the slope almost a mile away. The fresh smell of Graymalkin Lake off to the right sparked an instinctual response - to inhale deeply. It smelled good, right, the lake and the pine and the oak. Even though Logan had only stayed at the Academy a few weeks, the place had left indelible marks on him, and some of those he�d deliberately managed not to think about. Wolverine wasn�t yet sure he was pleased with his surprising attachment, and he certainly wasn�t sure if it was wise that he had returned. The mercurial cold of apprehension settled in the pit of his stomach.



      Just before reaching the Hall, the road formed a traffic circle around a large fountain just off the left front corner of the building. Circling the fountain three-quarters of the way around, the road continued along front of the building toward the main entrance and the drop off� portico, they called it. The road continued past the Hall about a quarter mile to end in a circle drive at the Xavier Mansion. Instead of following that path, Logan looped around just halfway, continuing straight along the north side of the hall on a road now called Graymalkin Lake Road.



      Xavier Hall was a big building, solid brick and stone and steel. Logan had approved when he�d checked it out � Charles hadn�t skimped during construction three years ago. It was reinforced more like the Pentagon than any building he had ever seen. It was the centerpiece of a complex of buildings that had been constructed specifically for the implementation of Chuck�s plans. On the outside, it looked like the perfect brick, stone, and wrought iron exclusive prep school that it really was. But appearances could be very deceiving, as any one of the kids that attended the school could tell you.



      At the far end of the Hall, there was a single story stone and glass breezeway that connected the Hall to the Garage Building and had door both out to the street and out into the auto courtyard on the far side. A yellow hypercycle sat there next to the breezeway doors, in the exact same place that he had found the red one last fall.



      /Scott�s home!/ Wolverine thought, suddenly grinning like a fool, a hot rush of something running through his chest, warming him, drawing his wildness to the surface.



      The intensity of that reaction surprised him, and the smile and heat faded as Logan�s brain recalled his uncertainty about Scott�s feelings towards him and the potentially detrimental effects his presence could cause. Unconsciously clenching his jaw until he grimaced, he mentally reaffirmed his determination to not hurt either Scott or Jeannie.



      On the long ride, the Canadian had set some rules for himself. Wolverine had never been very good with people, but then again, he had rarely given a damn before. One of his major goals, one that Logan had promised himself over and over as the road thrummed beneath the bike, was that he wouldn�t hurt either of them if he could help it.



      _If_ he could help it. /After all, I am a selfish bastard,/ Logan had thought more than one time.



      Logan had nearly turned tail and went back to his cabin three times, with only the knowledge that these feelings would not go away until he faced them kept him going.



      After all, he already had enough to keep him awake at night.



      The Canadian drove the motorcycle a few feet further, carefully turning through the large stone arch that led into the car arena and the garage. He parked his bike neatly in line with the others, and hopped off. The leather saddle bags were quickly removed from the back of the bike and thrown over a shoulder as he turned toward the Hall. After only a few steps, he stopped and turned to stroke the black leather of the seat.



      �I�ll be back to take care of you later,� Wolverine growled softly with pleasure. He had always gotten attached to his motorcycles, and she was a beauty. Besides, he had to clean it up for Scott.



      Logan quickly crossed the driveway, passed through the breezeway, and stomped into the building. He was more than a little surprised that he hadn�t seen anyone.



      No one had come to meet him, Logan realized, a little hurt.



      /They have to know I�m here�/



      Entering the building on the main floor, Logan passed what was going to be the research labs when they could be staffed. They had been empty five months ago, but that apparently was no longer the case, as there were gadgets galore all over the bench tops and half-empty boxes strewn about. A couple of new computers were set up and running, the monitors glowing brightly in the rapidly growing darkness of the early February evening. The lights were out and no one was around, so Logan continued on.



      Logan had smelled dinner nearly back at the bridge, and the delicious smells coming from the dining room off to his right made his stomach rumble. The room was well lit against the rapidly failing sunlight and was perfectly quiet. /Not quite dinnertime./



      Continuing straight down the hall, Wolverine passed the hallway to the dining room, more classrooms, another cross hall that had doorways to the two internal atriums, then past more rooms to reach the front hall. Turning right, Logan glanced into the game room and found it strangely empty. Continuing on, he headed the last 20 feet to Chuck�s office, where he thought it best to start - to ask if his return was welcome. That apprehension sat cold and heavy in his belly.



      The main hallway opened up in the center to form the main hall. The main doors to the outside were off to the left, with the main stairs on the near side of the doors and the public elevator to the far side. The Headmaster�s office was located centrally to the right. Before he could make it across the main hall to the office, Logan�s ears were greeted to the thunderous cacophony of a gaggle of kids getting out of class then coming down the stairs. He waited to see if Marie was among them.



      A cascade of kids came flowing down the stairs, most of whom Logan had seen or met during his first stay. He�d stood on the far side of the hall, well out of the way of the kids heading toward the dining room, looking a bit bemused. Most of them simply didn�t see him, being absorbed in themselves and each other like kids that age are. A few kids noticed him as they came down, but Logan didn�t know any of them by name. A couple looked at him quizzically, and two others looked briefly apprehensive and quickly disappeared with the crowd. As the flood reduced to a trickle, Wolverine�s attention was drawn back up the stairs by two familiar voices. Scott was talking to Marie as they were coming down the stairs.



      Logan couldn�t move, his eyes locked on the pair. Scott looked good, a bit bulkier than before and some new dark circles clearly visible under the goggles, but really good. Marie was simply beautiful.



      Scott noticed him first, catching his presence with a quick glance up, immediately followed by a snap back to his face as the unexpected presence sunk in. Scott stopped on the stairs and looked for a moment, then a brilliant smile spread across his face.



      Logan�s heart stopped. He couldn�t move, even breathe, and every thought in his head vanished.



      Logan was completely oblivious, but Marie noticed Scott�s sudden change of focus, and looked out to see him standing below. She literally dropped everything on the stairs and launched herself toward her gruff protector.



      The next thing that registered in Logan�s mind, the action that brought breath back to his body, was that a young teenaged girl slammed into him, and that he suddenly had arms full of Marie.



      �Logan!� she squealed in delight.



      Before a thought could form, Wolverine had wrapped his arms around the well-draped girl in a fierce hug, and a lopsided grin spread across his face. He was amazed that the welcome from the girl had affected him as much as it did, though it was of an entirely different nature than the feeling that he�d had a moment ago.



      After a few moments of strange happiness, Logan put Marie down, having realized that he�d lifted her well off the floor. She leaned back in his arms, but didn�t move away, intently scanning him as if she was checking for damage. She sniffed him. He was shocked when he realized that she had absorbed that habit from him during the Liberty incident.



      Apparently determining that he was fine, she punched his biceps with her gloved hands. Hard.



      �Ya didn�t write,� she chastised him, eyes narrowed in anger. Her voice was nearly a growl, and Logan was amazed at the change in her. It was good. Wolverine looked down, only half-feigning sheepishness.



      /The women around here sure knew how to wrap their men around their fingers,/ he thought sourly.



      She let him hang for a minute until he was really uncomfortable, then her look softened. �Are you gonna stay for a while?�



      Logan didn�t answer immediately, but he confided in a deep voice just for her ears, �I�m gonna give it a shot.�



      Marie looked happy, and her smile made him melt. He�d forgotten how she affected him. It was as if she believed that he could move the sun and the moon and the stars. It was moving and intimidating, and Logan certainly didn�t feel worthy of that kind of admiration. He stood there with a lump in his throat, struggling to maintain his gruff demeanor.



      �I�ve gotta talk to Chuck,� he finally managed to pull together.



      �Meet ya at dinner, then?� Rogue asked him sweetly.



      �You bet,� Wolverine said gruffly, softening it with a sly wink.



      The Canadian watched her for a moment, grabbing her things from the stairs heading back the way that he had come, and wondered at his emotions. /This is what it must be like to have a child. Or maybe a little sister�/



      Their exchange had taken less than two minutes, and when Logan had turned back to the stairs, he found them empty. He looked around.



      Scott had gone, and the Canadian sighed.



      Logan hadn�t seen Scott�s smile fade and the skin tighten around his eyes as Rogue threw herself in his arms. He hadn�t seen the stiffness of body or the whiteness of his knuckles on his books as he watched the hints of genuine affection for Rogue on Logan�s normally stern face. He hadn�t caught the whiff of Scott�s desire that had accompanied his smile, nor the sour smell of despair as he watched Rogue in his arms. He had missed seeing Scott turn and go back up the stairs, shoulders slumped, not being able to watch them together for one more second.



      * * *

      Logan approached the office door, and Charles Xavier summoned him into the room before his rough knuckles could even knock on the dark oak door.



      * * *

      Logan was unsurprised that Chuck had welcomed him back with open arms. They had kept his room for him, even though it was a corner room. He was pleased, as he had approved of that room. The room could be accessed at all hours from the balcony, and there were nights when sleep just wasn�t really an option for him. And the view didn�t hurt.



      Chuck had told him that he had been notified of Logan�s arrival by the time he�d driven up to the covered bridge. The short African-American kid, Techno, that he�d met last summer was their computer guy, and he had integrated the security system with some new scanners in the gatehouse. The house artificial intelligence, Cerebra, was now monitoring the grounds at all times. Wolverine was relieved to hear that he had gone unchallenged because Julian recognized him, and because the metal grafted to his bones was rather distinctive on the new scanners.



      He and Chuck agreed that he would stay for a probationary period of a few months. After that, they would talk again if he wanted to stay. Loagn was thankful that he wasn�t being forced to try and teach the kids right away, though he�d be a fool to believe that he wouldn�t be pressed into doing that later. If he stayed, and that was a big �if�.



      They had gone together in companionable silence down the hallway to the dining room and the chaos that it entailed.



      * * *

      With Charles proceeding him, Logan had almost made it through the door of the dining room. He hesitated slightly at the threshold, a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of scents and noises coming from the room. The riot of a couple dozen teenagers, faculty and staff was unsettling, as he�d been fairly secluded for several months. He glanced around the room, spotting Scott talking to Aurora at one of the teachers tables. He had just decided to join them, when he was stopped by a familiar voice.



      �Logan, you�re back!�



      �How ya doin�, Jeannie?� he ground out in a flirtatious voice between a growl and a purr, and he turned to see her approach. A rare half-smile had sprung to his lips at the sound of her voice. His breath caught in his throat at the sight of her. He�d forgotten how beautiful she was. She was plainly excited to see him, and crossed to him quickly, catching him in a strong hug that caught him off guard. Wolverine hesitated just a moment before he returned it, and she was kind enough to ignore his surprise.



      Jean Grey looked good and smelled better. She looked like she had put on some muscle, making her even hotter than she already was, he thought. But as he pulled back and really looked at her, catching and holding her eyes for a moment, he noted some worry lines around her eyes that weren�t there before, and just a hint of shadows in her eyes.



      Something�s wrong.



      She let him go, giving him the visual once over to assure herself that he was alright. Logan had glanced into the dining room to see that only one person had noticed his presence, and he was scowling.



      /Fuck!/



      Jean caught that, and looked at him quizzically, then catching the original direction of the glance, noticed her ex-boyfriend who was now scowling into his food. Jean quickly grabbed Logan by the arm and pulled him out of the doorway and out of the view of the diners.



      �So, did you find anything on your trip,� she asked, scanning his face for a reaction.



      �A little. No breakthroughs,� Wolverine grunted.



      She hesitated for a moment, clearly unsure if she wanted to ask the next question. �Are you going to stay long?� she asked quietly, avoiding his eyes until the question had been asked.



      /Something is really wrong,/ he thought.



      Logan assured her. �Yeah, it got cold up North, so I decided to come someplace warmer for the winter.�



      The Canadian made the multiple implications plain, and she seemed to be pleased.



      �Chuck said that we can try it out for a coupla months, then I can decide if I�m gonna stay longer.�



      He glanced quickly back towards the dining room, then back to the redhead in front of him who had suddenly grown serious.



      /Uh, oh, here it comes�/



      �Logan, you should know that Scott and I aren�t together anymore.� She watched as the color drained out of the older man�s face. He was utterly shocked, and she gave him a minute to try to adjust his brain to the myriad implications of that statement.



      Finally, he managed to stammer, �You know, you and I��



      She stopped him with two gentle fingers to the lips. �I know, Logan.�



      His eyes crinkled with concern and apology, then further tightened with the cold realization of the additional depth of her comment as she continued to hold his eyes with all seriousness. His change of expression let her know the message was received.



      Logan felt as if a icy knife had been plunged into his gut. Worry, then guilt followed by fear ran through him in as many breaths, leaving him cold, then sick followed by a stifling heat. His urge to run right back out to that red hypercycle was strong, his anima beating wildly in the mental container he enclosed it in. His panic at causing the one thing he had wanted to avoid was palpable, and his eyes went wide and wild.



      Jean quickly noticed his reaction, and touched his arm as she softly and firmly said, �No, Logan. This wasn�t because of you.�



      Lightly scanning him to assure herself that he wouldn�t bolt, she turned from him and took a few steps away before turning back, eyes still looking away.



      �Did you realize that we had been together for 11 years? Scott had never really dated anyone else, and I had only one sort-of-boyfriend when I was a teenager. We were together though all of our training and all through college. We are � were - as close as two people could possibly be.� She met his eyes. �Too close.�



      She stepped back close to him, well within his comfort zone, but he held his ground as she met his eyes with a gentle expression. �We were functioning emotionally as one person, and the stress of everything made us realize that we couldn�t continue that way. It wasn�t healthy, and it wasn�t fair � to either of us. We have to become� individuals, and explore our needs separately to become complete people. We needed each other to survive our childhoods, but we have to become adults alone.�



      She looked searchingly into his eyes, clearly looking for some understanding. Logan was bad at this sort of thing, but his soul ached for his red-haired friend. /Friend,/ he thought with absolute certainty.



      He drew her into his arms, his cheek pressed to her temple, and softly grumbled, �I�m sorry.�



      She held him fiercely for a few seconds, then pushed herself out to arms length to meet his eyes. With eyes wet with unshed tears, face wan and vulnerable, she looked at him like she was gathering her courage for something.



      �Don�t hurt him, Logan,� she finally whispered. �He�s my best friend.�



      Logan was frozen, mouth falling slightly agape at what she had said, the implicit blessing that she was giving him.



      Regaining her composure with a deep breath and a steel will, she stepped around him toward the dining room. She took a few steps then called turned back to meet his eyes with a hard look. She spoke just loud enough for him to hear, but the steel was clearly evident in her tone. �If you do, you�ll have to deal with me.�



      Logan gulped at the tone, feeling like a child rather than the killing machine that he knew he was, a response resulting from deep maternal memory roots and his respect for the power and determination of the woman behind the threat. He simply stood and watched her go, his brain rather unsuccessfully attempting to reassemble the whirring pieces of his shattered reality.



      He had never considered that Jean and Scott would have broken up on their own. Logan had worked out a hundred different ways that he could have broken them up, even inadvertently, and he had planned to avoid all of them. Now it was completely unnecessary. He was astounded that Jean actually thought that he had a chance with Scott. Her concern about his ability to hurt Scott worried him. Scott was a big boy, and he was tough and smart. What didn�t he know about the man? Did she really think that he would hurt Scott? Logan wasn�t sure if he should be happy or sad about the breakup, flattered by Jeannie�s comment or offended by her threat, or curious or wary about the possibilities with Scott.



      /Damn!/ His mind was a jumble.



      At the doorway of the dining room, she turned back to him, the regular Jeannie face back in place. She offered him a shaky smile and called out loudly, �Come on, Logan. Dinner is getting cold.�





      * * *

      Dinner had been rather uncomfortable.



      Jean�s call to dinner had alerted everyone of his presence, so when he reached the door, the room pretty much fell silent. Some of the kids were still afraid of him, either from having witnessed his nightmare-induced attack one of the students or from the rumors started from that incident. He had come to an accommodation with a number of the older students thanks to Jubilee, though Bobby Drake still looked like he thought Logan would flay him at any moment. A number of the silent people were new, including a small cluster of adults at one table. Two of them, a small Japanese woman and a very large blue cat-faced guy, were wearing lab coats. Logan surmised they were the new lab folks that Charles had been expecting. Jubes, Aurora, Cherise, and Tinker all looked happy to see him, and Marie was virtually vibrating with joy. Scott, however, was intently examining his mashed potatoes, his face stiff and neutral.



      /So not good,/ he thought glumly.



      Logan nodded and gave a small smile � a very small smile - to those trying to get his attention, then turned and sighed as he gathered some food from the buffet. Jean, noticing Logan�s expression and his faltering search for an appropriate seat, paused a moment to consider before she waved him over to sit at an open spot next to her. She and Scott were sitting at separate tables he noted as he crossed to her, then sighed again.



      It was not going as planned, and Logan couldn�t help but think that it was somehow his fault.



      Logan was even more quiet at dinner than usual, with Jean�s revelations weighing on his mind. His friends noticed but, thankfully, didn�t comment.



      After dinner, Wolverine was accosted by Rogue, whom he�d to promised to meet at the Gameroom for pool after her classes the following day. Jubilee came with her to simply say welcome back. Cherise had just nodded to him, a gesture that told him a thousand things and brought comfort to his skittish anima, and Tinker simply said, �Harry�s? Friday?� With a nod, he had renewed that friendship.



      The only reaction that he got from Scott was a scowl. Jeannie had mercifully dragged him away from the small crowd, only half-joking that she was going to give him the once over in the medical lab. Logan had wanted to speak with Scott, but he didn�t look like he wanted to speak with him. The Canadian just didn�t understand why he was graced with a hundred watt smile followed by the cold shoulder. He simply didn�t know what to say.



      * * *

      Jean could tell Logan was still troubled by her revelations. What little she could read from him was jumbled and chaotic. Plus, he was didn�t complain once during the exam.



      Jean was removing the sensor pads from his chest, when Logan finally worked up the courage to ask her the question that had been forming since their talk in the hall before dinner.



      �Jeannie�� he started, then stopped. He didn�t know how to, or if he should, ask the question.



      Jean watched Logan struggle, then go silent. �Logan, you can talk to me.� She placed the pads in a small metal tray.



      �Is Scott� Do you think Scott is mad at me?� He sounded small, like a child, which was very unusual for big, scary Logan. She had to suppress a smile. /He�s got it bad�/



      �Why do you ask?� she said trying hard to keep her voice neutral, not being sure if she really wanted to have this conversation.



      �He�s pretty much avoided me since I got here.�



      �Scott�s probably jealous, Logan. He looked uncomfortable when I hugged you in the hall before dinner.�



      �Why would he�?� he asked, sounding a little upset.



      �He�s still confused. We haven�t been apart very long, and we have to live and work together. Scott�s still sorting out his feelings, and I think he is jealous of our� relationship.� She chose the last word carefully, clearly traveling well into an area of emotional sensitivity.



      �But, Jeannie��



      �Logan, we didn�t discuss your feelings when we� He doesn�t know you�� She stopped for a moment to collect her thoughts. �He doesn�t know he��



      Her voice trailed off for a few moments, and Logan sat in silence as she struggled with her thoughts.



      Jean didn�t know if she was sure that Scott was ready or able to deal both with losing his romantic relationship with her and starting into another relationship that challenged some of his old demons. Beyond that, she wasn�t sure Logan was the best person for Scott, now or in the future. They were just so� different. But, they certainly were attracted to one another. Plus, Scott was stubborn, and it might just take someone as forceful as Logan to get him to move on with his life. She wasn�t sure if she should get involved, but she was also sure that he would need serious prompting to enter a new relationship. Logan certainly was capable of that prompting, but he was socially clumsy. She knew from scanning his mind that he was an honorable man, but his track record of relationships was spotty at best.



      Though she knew she might seriously regret it later, she made a decision.



      Jean continued in a much firmer voice. �Give him a little time. Talk to him. You may have to force the issue.� Logan looked shocked.



      �Gently,� she said quietly, almost amused. �He�s very stubborn. You don�t know Scott very well, and he has had a rough past.�



      Jean watched Logan hang on her every word about Scott.



      Redstar couldn�t believe that she was going to give a man tips on how to seduce her best friend/ soulmate/ ex-boyfriend. She was still too close to the breakup to find some closure with this, but she continued because she knew in her heart that they both had to move on to new relationships or they would just end up destroying each other. They were too close, too dependant. Scott was such an integral part of her mind, Jean would do anything in her considerable power to prevent the destruction of their friendship � she doubted she could physically survive it.



      Jean had paused while she considered her next comment, and you could have heard a pin drop as Logan waited.



      �I know that going slow and being romantic probably isn�t your normal style, but if you want Scott, you�ll have to. Go slow. Build his trust in you, be a little romantic, and be very sure that he is comfortable at each step when progressing in� sexual matters.�



      A light bulb went off in his head, and he started to get very angry. �You mean, he was��



      �You�ll have to discuss that with him. Scott _is_ interested. Trust me. But you can blow it by pushing too fast.�



      Jean was a little flushed and a little breathless. �I don�t believe I�m doing this,� she whispered aloud to herself, simultaneously flustered, upset, and a little surprised that she was capable of this conversation.



      She looked away from him for a moment, and with a small, steady voice marred only by a slight thickening of emotion, �Be careful with him.�



      Logan couldn�t begin to describe his appreciation. He looked at her adoringly, admiring her strength and her convictions.



      �You�re a hell of a woman, Jeannie,� he told her sincerely. She blushed just a bit in response, and looked up at him.



      He got a wicked look in his eye. �You sure that we�?� Wolverine teased wickedly.



      She clucked in surprise, then whapped him on the bicep � same place as Rogue did - as she chuckled at the good natured jest. She took his hand and they sat quietly, pondering their new, startlingly different friendship. After a few minutes, he pressed her hand to his lips, and with a look of true warmth and appreciation, got up to leave.



      �Oh, Logan,� she called out to him in the hallway. �I scheduled you for a visit with Dr. McCoy at 10AM tomorrow.�



      Logan winced, then looked at her a bit quizzically.



      �Big, blue guy. Research lab. Basement level. Be there!� Jean ordered with a small smile on her lips.



      Logan groaned and retreated to his room.



      * * *

      Once back to his room, Logan unpacked his small selection of personal items from his saddlebags. The leather pouches didn�t hold a lot, but he was a simple man. He noticed that all of the stuff Charles had bought for him when he first came here was still in the closet, right where he had left it. It bothered the Canadian that all of his needs were taken care of by the bald man, but if he had to accept it from someone, Charles Xavier would be one of few people that he would accept it from. That, and he was determined to make himself useful as repayment.



      After he unpacked, Wolverine threw on his coat and wandered out onto the balcony to have a cigar. His room was on the second floor of the staff wing of Xavier Hall, at the end and on the outside away from the pool. Straight out, Logan had a great view of the formal gardens and the Mansion proper, with the grounds stretching out on either side. To the right, the land sloped downward over a meadow to a creek and some forested land that hid the Six � the state highway � that ran along the top of the far ridge. To the left, the land sloped upward, the view crossing informal gardens, then fields, then out to the big forest at the back of the estate.



      It was beautiful in the evening, and though it was cold and snowy, the moon made it magical. Logan breathed deeply, drawing in the scents, his whole being settling into a warm sense of peace. A tiny scrape from above alerted him to Aurora�s presence. He turned and looked up two stories to her roof patio. She looked down at him, and smiled contentedly. They were alike in their appreciation, if not literal connection, to nature.



      She called down softly, �Do you want to take a walk?�



      Logan jumped the rail, falling over a story to land on the sidewalk. He shot her a fierce toothy grin, then bowed as if to indicate ladies first.



      * * *

      Wolverine had spent an hour and a half walking with Storm, their only real communication was that she took his hand and held it as they walked. Words weren�t needed. She smiled her goodnight to him when they returned, and he climbed back up to his room.



      He was really pretty cold by that point, the adamantium holding the chill, so Logan took a long, hot shower, toweled off and slid into bed. He replayed the events of the day in his head as he began to drift off, and though he had no idea what was going to happen, Logan realized that he had laughed and been touched more in the last eight hours as he had during the entire five months he been gone. It felt good to be needed and wanted, to have some kind of friends, and no matter what happened, he would never regret having come back.



      Even if it was only for a little while.



      * * *

      Scott watched as Logan and Aurora had said goodnight, Aurora taking to the winds. He couldn�t help but stare as Logan skillfully climbed the stone fa�ade up to his balcony. The sheer power of the man was evident, muscles rippling, highlighted by the pale silver moonlight. His breath caught in his throat.



      His desire, his raw need for Logan was so seductive, so powerful. He felt it burning deep within his chest trying to consume him, to take control. Scott would not, he could not surrender to it. He turned his back away from the window, away from Logan.



      ***

      The night grew long as he sat on his bed. The darkness that enveloped him bought no peace, no sanctuary. The darkness offered only more loneliness and confusion. He sat so still, like a work of art, painted against the darkness. Only the occasional glistening tears sliding down his handsome face shattered the illusion.


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