Revised Header in Part 2
* * *
Scott stared at him as he passed through the bulkhead door into the central compartment of the Blackbird.
Scott was sitting, still soaking wet, in the crew cabin in the Blackbird. The younger man was toweling himself off, hair tousled, as he watched Jean drying the mewling babies on her lap across from him. The moisture had seeped into his leathers, and the towels weren�t doing much. Scooter had gotten soaked to the bone trying to catch the mutant little ones in the fading twilight.
As Bobby brought him another towel, the Canadian watched Scott shiver from the cold rain.
Chuck had dispatched the team when he received strange mutant signals during a routine scan with Cerebro. The team scrambled quickly, and Logan had been caught far from the hanger while marking security system installation points out near the lake. The rest of the team had had time to suit up, and the Ice Cube was tagging along because Hank and Aurora were away at a conference.
The location was a farm, and they landed at dusk in a torrential rain a few hundred feet from a large, red barn. A gun shot rang out from the barn as Scott, Jean, and Logan got off the plane. Scrambling to the barn, they didn�t see the farmer until it was too late.
Figuring the team had come for the mutants, the farmer had taken a shotgun to the mother. Logan made sure that was the last shot that gun ever made. The farmer panicked when he saw his claws and bolted. Wolverine gave a half-hearted chase, mostly just to drive him off.
By the time he got back, Scott was busily chasing two frightened kittens, one black and one white, both with bright silver eyes. Logan looked confused, and Jean eventually managed to explain what happened between fits of laughter. Though the mother cat had been killed, the Professor was still getting the unusual readings. The signal must have been coming from the little ones. The kittens had bolted when Scott tried to catch them in the barn. One jumped away, almost flying, and the other seemed to teleport short distances. Outside, Logan could see the crimson flicker of his visor dance in the near darkness as he tried to catch them. He had to chuckle with Jeannie. With the rain and the farm being so far from the city, it was really dark, and Scott really was the only one who had a chance of seeing the speedy creatures in the half-light.
Without really thinking, Logan walked up behind Scott while shucking his body warmed coat, and he dropped it around the freezing man�s shoulders. Startled, Scott whipped his head around. Logan hadn�t thought about the implications of his offer until Jean gave a tiny little gasp, and he watched as Scott�s surprise turned to a frown as he stared. Wolverine watched him struggle with something, and Scooter just looked at him intently for a few moments. Logan held his breath unsure if he would reject the offer.
Scott didn�t move to return the coat.
Logan wasn�t sure if that was good or not, but he was glad that Scott wasn�t going to be a dick. Looking for a distraction, Wolverine glanced over to get a look at their new guests. Also soaked from the rain, Jeannie had them on the floor in front of her, wrapped in a couple of towels they were desperately struggling to get out of.
Grinning, he stepped over to them to get a better look. Still cold and wet, they looked up at him indignantly, their pride apparently injured at both the wetting and the capture. Logan chuckled, and then bent over to let them smell him, and he purred softly to them.
�Mew mew meow!,� they called, squirming out of Red�s grasp to nuzzle his hands.
�Now, now little ones, behave,� Logan gently growled at them as he straightened up. Of course, the little buggers _were_ cats, and his command simply prompted them to immediately climb his jeans like a tree. He grimaced as the tiny claws left rows of punctures on his thighs. Quickly grabbing them up to avoid any more welts, the Canadian cradled them in his arms. They looked up at him with those big silver eyes, and they settled right down, purring loudly and kneading his shirt with their paws.
�Hey, Jean, I found some canned milk and I warmed it up�� Bobby called out as he came through the door from the galley, stopping short in shock at finding him with an armload of kittens. Jean giggled.
�Set the milk down, Drake,� Logan grumbled as he crossed to him to put the kittens down for a meal. �I can�t help it if animals like me.�
He knew he sounded a little defensive. Bobby didn�t say anything, but he kind of stared at him with amusement.
Bobby watched the kittens drink, then looked at Jeannie and grinned. �Man, Hank�s gonna have a kitten!�
Jeannie laughed. �Or two. I think these are the first mutant animals on record.�
Logan sat down in an empty seat and watched the little ones. It was hard to believe how much they ate. �Then again, it�s hard to believe how much _I _eat,� he thought to himself, amused.
Logan sat back in the seat and stretched his legs out, which probably wasn�t the best idea because the kittens had easy access to climb right back up after their meal. Seeing the kittens were a little damp and probably a little cold, he opened one of the buttons of his shirt and tucked them in, one on each side. Within a minute, they were sound asleep.
Logan looked up to find Jeannie staring at him, a twinkle in her eyes. He wasn�t sure if he was going to be able to live this one down.
�Hey, Logan, I think they like you,� Jean teased softly.
�You have to keep your mate�,� Logan started to smile, and then stopped realizing just what he�d started to say. The barest hint of smile flickered out and he swallowed hard, and then corrected himself, �You have to keep your team mates warm.�
Scott was silent, but he had stopped shivering. Logan didn�t dare look at him, keeping his eyes on Scooter�s ex-girlfriend. It was hard to watch her eyes darken; the tiny crinkles at the corners of her eyes deepen.
* * *
It was early the next morning. Logan hadn�t slept, too keyed up from the mission and Scott�s utter indifference. He hadn�t said a word to him the entire trip.
He was the first to the kitchen, and it was Sunday, so they were on their own for breakfast. Logan had just started the first pot of coffee brewing when Scott walked in, carrying his jacket.
Scott walked straight over to him, and he couldn�t help but be a little wary. Scooter was wearing that grim, closed face he wears in battle. Cyke stopped no closer than he absolutely had to, then handed Logan his jacket.
�Thanks for the loan of the jacket,� Scott said stiffly, face rigid.
Logan looked down at the coat, then back up at Scott. Almost unconsciously, the Canadian warily leaned back from the other man. Logan thought, �He�s acting like I�m the enemy. What could I have done that was so bad?�
Logan nodded once, unsure of how to respond. Almost instantly, Scott turned and left.
Wolverine just stared after him, mouth falling open, Scott�s coldness cutting like a knife. He had hoped for a little more than that. He had hoped for a lot more than that. Logan even thought maybe they could have talked a bit. Logan could take anger, he could take pain, he could even take Scott breaking down, but he didn�t know how much longer he could stand to take the� nothing.
Trying to keep it under control, beating back the wild edge to his thoughts, he just stared at the coat gripped in white knuckled hands. Logan didn�t know what to do. �I want him, I want to stay, and I�m fucking up and hurting both of us.� It just all seemed to be crashing down.
After a few minutes, the smell of coffee brought him back. Inhaling deeply to draw in the comforting smell, Logan caught another odor, deeper, more complex, producing an even deeper resonance. Scott.
Scott�s scent was on his jacket. The Canadian buried his nose in the soft fleece of the lining, inhaling Scooter�s scent. It was like heaven and hell combined. Logan rubbed his face against the wool.
Distracted, he only heard the footfall an instant before she entered the room, and there wasn�t quite enough time to hide his actions. She stopped cold, noting the coat and his expression. She stood still for a long moment, and then continued over toward the coffee pot. She poured herself a mug, and then took a couple of sips before turning back to him. The mug made a faint ceramic sound as she placed it down on the stainless steel.
She gestured to the coat, her voice gentle and wistful. �You know I used to��
Her voice broke off. The crinkles around her eyes had reappeared. She looked miserable.
�She still loves him, but she can�t be with him,� he thought, suddenly not able to meet her eyes. �Like me.�
�Hey,� she said, just barely audible, as she moved to hug him tightly. Awkwardly at first, but then with real affection, he hugged her back. He realized that she understood.
Jean broke away after a few moments, then quickly turned and left without saying a word, grabbing her coffee mug on the way by.
Logan could smell the salt from her tears.
* * *
Logan walked through the woods, prowling along, crushing through the remaining curled, brown leaves. The first bright green buds of spring were beginning to emerge, and the tips of the later winter bulbs were stretching to the sun. Unthinking, he meandered a familiar path through the trees. Out again, alone, he was trying to escape from the smells, the sounds, and the overwhelming sensations of being enclosed with that many people.
He was wandering alone to avoid running into *him*.
He did see the younger man here and there, a few times a day. The Canadian knew he was being avoided, but the school was a much smaller place then it seemed. During the few times they inadvertently ran into one another, he could feel the hot glances, see the edges of a repressed grimace, and he could smell the sickening mix of lust and fear and anger from the man. It made him ache, and it was slowly driving him out.
Logan wanted to touch, to soothe, to make love to him so that he�d forget everyone else he�d known. He wanted to taste Scott�s tears and to trace his smile with his finger tips.
But that was never going to happen. Both Jeannie and Scott had made it clear that he wasn�t good enough, and it was ripping him apart. Unconsciously he started walking faster, ignoring the wetness on his face.
Sure, he was good enough to joke with, to flirt with, but Jeannie never let him in. She liked the attention, but when it came to anything serious, he sure as hell didn�t find out about it.
Logan was moving quickly now, taking random trails in his haste. His blood was warming, starting to bubble.
The Canadian couldn�t believe how she fucked Scott over. Just dropped his ass. That man would have died for her a hundred times over, and she just kept saying it was for his own good. �Fuck that!�
Adamantium tips glimmered in the light, and the blades shimmered as they slid from his forearms. He was loping through the forest, climbing toward the top of the tallest hill near the old Mansion.
Of course, Scott didn�t need her. He didn�t need anyone. He was rich, handsome, smart, and powerful. He had a good job, good friends, and the kids worshipped him. Scott sure didn�t need someone like him.
Near the top of the hill, Logan spotted a tree that had been split down the middle by lightning. Half the trunk had been sheared right off, and the other side was nearly severed, the remaining trunk lying askew against the neighboring trees. He desperately wanted to destroy something and it was just the thing.
Blades sang in the air, and in one stroke the rest of the trunk flew.
�Loser. Loner. Ugly. Freak.� Bits of the stump flew with each word.
�Stupid. Short. Hairy. Old. Grunt.�
The strokes felt good, the exertion and the expression of his frustration helped cool his fury, a bit with each blow. The chips continued to fly as he muttered to himself. Within a minute, he was soaked in sweat and the stump had been reduced to a fraction of what had been.
Suddenly, he stopped and looked intently at the stump. In the hacked wood, he could see a shape, small and unusual, and it reminded his of a story he�d once heard. He didn�t remember where, but it from the time he�d lost.
Logan suddenly grinned. A gift.
The memory was a gift to him, but the curves and the lines he saw could be a gift for someone else. With much more care, the Canadian returned his blades to the stump, shaving and carving.
In his heart, he knew this was it � the most he could do, the best he could offer. He only had himself, and if that wasn�t good enough, he�d leave.
* * *
Scott had forgotten his battle visor on the dresser that morning, so after his morning class, he stopped back at his room to retrieve it. He could smell something when he entered, a scent not normally there. He stopped and looked around, but couldn�t see anything amiss. Dismissing it as a new cleaner the staff was using, he crossed the room to grab his visor, and that�s when he saw it.
On the dresser, standing in the ring of his visor was a figurine of a rearing stallion.
Picking it up, he could feel its weight. The wood was fresh, and the scent in the room was cedar from the wood. The sculpture was simple and crude, but it had beautiful lines. It was hand carved, and the simplicity underscored the power and the strength of the animal. Scott turned it over in his hands marveling at it. It wasn�t a stallion, but it was horned. It wasn�t a unicorn � it had two horns radiating out over each eye. There was only one person that could have done this, and it was the one person that he couldn�t handle it from � Logan.
Unable to process it, he simply turned the statuette over in his hands, staring at it from all directions. �Is this how he thinks of me?� It was made with such care, such thought. Logan knew he loved horses. Unbidden tears fell.
�Oh, Logan, I can�t do this. You can�t want this from me.�
Almost reverently, he placed the statuette back on the dresser, scooped up his battle visor, then backed away like the horse was a dream and a nightmare rolled into one.
Scott�s hands were shaking with want and fear, and he hated that. He hated that he was so weak, so afraid.
He�s been too weak on the streets to fend them off, then later too weak with hunger and from the beatings. He�d whored himself for food and protection � men, women, whatever.
When he came here he�d tried to forget it, and he did his best to be someone else. Scott Summers: teacher, leader, mentor.
�Scott Summers: whore.�
Though Jean denied it, he knew that she�d finally decided to agree. He was just wasn�t good enough for her � he was too fucked up to deal with.
�God,� he whispered, and it came out as a choking sob. The scent of cedar filled his nose.
He couldn�t deny that he wanted Logan, but the man scared him to death sometimes. He was the one person in the house that he though might be as fucked up as he was. Scott hadn�t really even looked at another man until Logan came along. It wasn�t like he hadn�t looked at men before his emergence, but he just couldn�t think about it after he came here. This place was real, this was sane. This place was safe.
But not now. It was like reality was tilting and he couldn�t find something to hold onto. �Fuck, fuck, fuck,� he shouted, his fear and anger boiling over. He grabbed the statuette and cocked his arm back to launch it at the wall.
But one thought stopped him � just how deep would that simple toss wound Logan � the loner, the man with few acquaintances and even fewer friends. This was his heart, and he had no right to destroy it. He didn�t have to keep it, but he didn�t have the right to break it because he was totally screwed up in the head.
Scott�s head jerked around to the briefcase as the appointment chime went off from his Palm. �Shit!�
He was due in the Danger Room for an All Team session *now*. The alarm helped stabilize him, and he took one last look at the figurine before placing it gently back on his dresser.
He looked at himself in the mirror and took a deep breath, and then he did what he always did: he punched, packed, pressed, and prodded all of his emotions out of his mind, locked them away, put on his game face, and hurried out of the room.
* * *
When Scott arrived in the Danger Room, everyone just stood there and looked at him. Scott was *never* late. Jean shot him this look that hovered somewhere between worry and incredulousness, and Logan looked like he wanted to crawl out of his skin and escape.
Scott winced inwardly at the scrutiny. He was fucking up big time behind the scenes, and now everyone knew it.
�Ok, everybody, let�s get started. Computer, one minute hold, then execute program 03292021A.�
Scott crossed his legs at the ankle, and then let his torso hang from his waist. It was a good stretch, and he was tight as a bowstring, but mostly it was to avoid looking at his friends. He exhaled slowly as he straightened, the quickly changed feet and when back down.
* * *
Scott was late and Logan was on the edge of panic. He�d left his gift in Scott�s room, sure he wouldn�t see it until later. But when Scott came in late, rattled, and smelling of salt, he knew the other man had seen it.
�Fucking holy hell,� he swore to himself. Not having a clue what the other man was about to do, he could barely look the younger man in the eye. In a rare moment, Logan wished he was anywhere but where he was.
Logan wasn�t sure he could take the rejection, worse yet, a tirade. He�d deliberated for two hours before deciding he�d be chickenshit if he didn�t do something. The horse almost became woodchip more than once.
The Canadian didn�t know of he should be relieved or hurt by Scott�s indifference, so he ended up alternating between the two. When the five second warning chime went off he was ready to break things.
* * *
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