"The Player on the Other Side" (WIP, CH.6) Scott [PG-13] X1 and X2
- Title: The Player on the Other Side
Characters Ch. 6: Logan, Scott. Jean and Rogue get talked about by
sexist men. Some pre-slash going on. The requisite Horrible
Summary Ch. 6: Charles offers Logan an employment contract. Scott and
Logan are going to have to hash out some issues first.
Summary WIP: A popular officer is framed for the destruction of
Alkali Base. His friends band together to ruin the mutant they
Rating Ch. 6: PG-13
Author: Rachel Martin
Archive: Archive anywhere.
Disclaimers: The X-Men belong to Marvel and 20th Century Fox. No
copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.
Feedback: Feedback is welcome. Critical comments will not be
misinterpreted as a flame.
Scott Summers was younger and prettier than his own girlfriend, but
Logan was too old and wily to casually dismiss him as Jean Grey's
fuck toy. Jean Grey, the double doctor, the regularly quoted "subject
matter expert," the activist invited to testify before the
Senate. . . . There had to be a reason why a woman like Jean Grey
would take up with a boy like Scott Summers, and it was probably the
same reason why that Worthington guy hadn't torn him to pieces for
it. Logan had never been one to observe the posted speed limit but he
did decide to proceed with caution.
And in his very first week at the Institute, Logan acquired some
useful insight into the character of his rival. A hippy-trippy
liberal. The kind of guy who called himself a feminist. The kind of
guy who'd vote for Hillary. The kind of guy who thought women ought
to be allowed to serve on the front lines. The kind of sensitive,
educated, enlightened guy who turned into Cro-Magnon Man when another
guy came sniffing around his girl.
Logan figured out that in some respects Scott Summers was as
unevolved as Rush Limbaugh, but wanted to believe he had achieved a
higher plane of existence. Logan wasn't sure if Summers was a garden-
variety hypocrite or just seriously self-deluded, but he knew he'd
found the kid's soft spot. Summers aspired to civility. He'd grit his
teeth and watch his woman exchange meaningful smiles and lingering
looks with another man. He'd shove his fists into his pockets and
listen with forced politeness to the perfectly logical explanations
Jean offered for the perfectly innocent situations she got into.
Logan didn't doubt Summers' inner cave man would cut loose under
sudden, intense provocation. Nor did he doubt Dr. Grey would run like
a rabbit when she could no longer pretend to herself that she was
involved in a harmless flirtation. The trick lay in turning up the
heat gradually and keeping it just high enough to keep both Cyke and
Jean in a constant simmer without causing either one of them to
actually boil over. Kind of like cooking a frog.
Logan set himself a couple of rule for the game. For one thing, he
knew he'd have to fly under the radar of the Great and Powerful Oz,
unless he wanted to wake up gay one morning. He knew he could not let
Xavier perceive him as a genuine threat to the relationship between
Jean and Summers, who seemed to be Xavier's bastard or adopted son.
But even more importantly, Jean had to be a willing victim. Logan
wasn't into stalking. And he wasn't going to give Summers the chance
to play Popeye and rescue Olive Oyl from the evil Bluto. Jean had to
be willing to play the game, and as he found out on his very first
night in the mansion, she was.
Logan wondered, now and then, why a woman staring down the road at
the big four-oh would risk a wedding ring for a fling. It wasn't like
Summers was some ugly son of a bitch with no manners and no options.
Logan didn't think enhanced senses were really needed to identify all
the nubile young ladies in lust with the Xavier Institute's assistant
headmaster. But Jean had seemed oblivious or unconcerned or supremely
confident of her charms. She certainly hadn't ever seemed worried
that her boyfriend might pay her back in kind.
So Logan had chased Jean, and she had run almost but not quite slowly
enough for him to catch, and he had never given a thought to Marie --
not that kind of thought -- until one day he discovered he had been
relegated to the status of Big Brother. Marie was in love with Bobby
Drake, the Summers clone, and wasn't that just too fucking ironic? He
had chased Jean and lost Marie and somewhere along the way he'd lost
himself too. God knew what Stryker had been doing to Cyke while he'd
been trying to do Jean, but he knew which one of them had caused the
kid more pain.
It was hell to suddenly grow a conscience about the guy he loved to
hate. Hell to watch Summers tear himself apart over a woman who had
made him unhappy for months before her death. A woman with whom Logan
had colluded to torture a man -- why mince words? He and Jean had
tortured Summers. Given a choice of torturers, the guy would
undoubtedly pick William Stryker. And then, the icing on the cake --
he, Logan, had cornered the grieving man outside Xavier's study after
Jean's memorial service and forced him to listen to a concession
speech that could only serve to confirm his worst fear. "She chose
you," what the hell was Summers supposed to deduce from that? Why the
hell had he said it, what the hell had he been thinking?
He hadn't been thinking. He hadn't been thinking.
And Charles Xavier had called him back into the study and handed him -
- a clue. And not to his past, either.
Three days after Jean's death, three days after their confrontation
with the president of the United States, the Institute's staff and
senior students had met and with the minimum number of words
exchanged had divvied up the duties of summer session. Summer
session. Because, incredibly, life went on. The Army had invaded,
there were six-year-old P.O.W.s in the student body, but the Xavier
Institute had to go on, or Jean Grey had died for goddamn nothing.
- Ch. 6 con't
So, surreal as it seemed, Munroe and Summers and the new guy, the
other blue guy, McCoy, spent their mornings teaching remedial classes
and cram courses for an alphabet soup of academic tests -- PSATs and
SATs and APs, and something called the Regents. The afternoons were
taken up not only with repairs to the mansion but also sports
clinics, day trips, hiking and camping, and Logan found himself. . .
just sticking around long enough to earn some cash before hitting the
road again. Yes.
He didn't slip seamlessly into the lives of the students. The little
kids had no difficulty accepting Wagner but they didn't want a whole
heck of a lot to do with Logan. He was too big, too loud, too hairy,
and admittedly, too grumpy. And the older kids had mixed feeling
about him. On the one hand, a gushingly grateful Marie and Bobby had
ensured his place in the pantheon of mutant mythology. On the other
hand, even Bobby didn't seem quite able to forgive Logan for coming
between Jean and Summers. Jean and Summers had been the Mom and Dad
of the Institute, and not a few students regarded Logan as the Happy
But Logan stuck it out. For the cash, naturally, that Charles handed
him in an envelope every week. Charles had become a bit of a recluse
after their return from Washington, D.C. There was the whatever-it-
was going on between Xavier and Summers. There was Jean's death, of
course; the old man had loved her like a daughter. But Xavier had to
cope as well with all the deaths he had caused under Stryker's spell.
Deaths for which he'd never be called to account, Logan reckoned,
unless the American president and Canadian prime minister became
willing to fess up in World Court to their boondoggle in the Rockies.
Xavier seemed nearly as stunned that his old chess partner had
betrayed him so spectacularly. Charles Xavier didn't shirk his duties
to the Institute, but he spent all his uncommitted time locked in his
suite, and refused more food than he ate. He acted pretty much the
way Logan had expected Summers to act.
And Summers acted. . . normal. Very, very normal. The other adult
residents of the mansion expressed frank relief. Logan thought it was
a good thing the Institute didn't have a clock tower.
So the days slipped by and Logan slipped insidiously into the school
routine. His days took on a comforting predictability that they had
never possessed. He started to have a favorite chair in the TV room.
He started to use a particular coffee mug. The days slipped by and
Summers took a trip to California and returned a few days later with
the Lee girl, one of the kids who had been held captive at Alkali.
Lord knew how he'd talked her parents into letting her come back to
the Xavier Institute for her senior year.
And finally there was no more putting off the memorial service that
Jean deserved and the kids needed, though Logan for one could have
managed nicely without it. Summers and the old man had actually begun
to talk to each other afterwards, a halting conversation that had
come to a full stop when Chuck started yakking like a shrink instead
of a human being. And Logan had followed Summers out of the study and
said -- Jesus H., what had possessed him to say that?
And Charles had called him back into the study and handed him an
And he was going to have to start thinking.
Logan walked straight past the door to the suite that had belonged to
Jean and Summers. Summers didn't live there anymore. The furniture
was collecting dust. Marie reported that Jean's clothes and
toiletries were still strewn about the bedroom and bathroom. If
someone didn't pack that place up and move in soon it'd probably get
the reputation of being haunted.
Logan walked past the door and down the long hall, illuminated in the
evening only by dimmed wall sconces. He walked past several
reasonably quiet student dormitories and around a corner to the room
Summers had randomly staked out after their return from Washington,
D.C. Or rather, after McCoy had pried the visor off his face and
released him from the med-lab. Summers' new place wasn't a suite. It
was a small furnished bedroom with an attached half bath, the kind of
room lived in by the resident advisors like Pete Rasputin.
He paused irresolutely in front of Summers' door, raised his hand to
knock, and realized the door was already ajar. He wasn't exactly
surprised. He had the hearing of a dog, and over the past six weeks
he'd overheard any number of small children come crying to Rasputin
or Summers, babbling about Stryker's invasion or worse yet, their
incarceration at Alkali Base. The older students were tiptoeing
around their assistant headmaster these days -- Marie and Bobby and
Jubilee had not been discreet -- but the little kids didn't give a
good goddamn about Summers' problems. The rug rats were selfish and
demanding and didn't allow the guy the opportunity to indulge in his
own grief, a situation of which Logan thoroughly approved. It had
occurred to him -- and apparently to no one else -- that Saint Scott
might try to commit suicide. Logan doubted the little snot-noses
would leave him alone long enough to do so.
Logan put his hand on the door and paused. He might still have an
out. The guy might be asleep. Cyke was one of those self-righteous
early-to-bed early-to-rise assholes. Logan hesitated. He and Summers
had not had an awful lot to say to each other since the man's
horrible and horribly public breakdown on the Blackbird.
Suddenly irritated with his own cowardice, Logan pushed the door
open. The room was barely illuminated by a nightlight that he
supposed Summers had installed for the benefit of the brats who
barged in on him. His eyes adjusted rapidly and he saw Summers
sitting at a desk. Sitting at his desk in the dark. That couldn't be
- Ch. 6 con't.
Summers said calmly, "Who is it?" His right hand closed around the
visor lying on the desk beside his. . . book?
"Hey, don't shoot. It's me."
Was that a twitch at the corner of Summers' mouth? "Prove it."
"You're a dick." Logan felt his own lips twitch.
Logan slouched inside. Summers relaxed his grip on the visor and
turned around in his chair. Logan jerked slightly in surprise. He'd
been looking at the back of Summers' head and he hadn't noticed. The
guy was wearing a blindfold.
"What happened to your glasses?"
Logan moved further into the small room and found a bit of wall to
prop himself against. Glancing again at the book on the desk, he said
slowly, "When'd you learn to read Braille?"
"When I was seventeen." Summers paused. "Charles enrolled me in the
New York School for the Blind, down in the Bronx."
"You got the glasses."
"Didn't get the glasses till I was eighteen. Didn't know there would
be any glasses. So I learned how to read Braille."
"Oh," Logan said rather blankly. Well -- what *had* he thought? That
Summers bought his ruby-quartz glasses at the mall?
"I owe Hank." Logan tensed automatically at the mention of Jean's
replacement in the med-lab. Summers paused again before adding,
slowly, "And Magneto."
"*Magneto?*" Logan repeated disbelievingly. "Are we talking about the
same Magneto who nearly murdered Rogue?" He added belatedly, "And
everyone in New York City?"
Summers simply nodded.
Bad enough Chuck was buddy-buddy with the bad guy, but
Scooter? "*Magneto* invented those glasses for you? Why the hell
would he do that?"
"Erik Lenscherr used to live here. He co-founded the Institute with
Charles." Summers smiled faintly. "He always claimed the Institute
was something they dreamed up on the spot in the D.A.'s office."
"What D.A.?" Logan was feeling more confused by the second. "The
Westchester County D.A.?"
"San Diego County. I sort of vandalized my high school." With a wry
expression, Summers tapped his right temple, the spot where his
fingers would normally encounter the dial of his visor.
Logan said nothing. What was there to say? He had, after all, seen
the Scott Summers Memorial Sunroof at the local train station.
"All the little murderers and rapists were refusing to share a
cellblock with me, and the guards were threatening to go on
strike. . . so. . . the D.A. was open to suggestions." Summers
shrugged. "Charles never had to put the whammy on her."
Logan tried not to boggle and remembered Summers couldn't see him
anyway. He inhaled and wished for one of his cigars. Some information
just could not be digested without the aid of nicotine.
Logan looked away abruptly from Summers and refocused on their
surroundings. Nondescript rug and drapes. Nondescript bedspread. A
narrow bed. A dresser. A nightstand. Metal bookshelves. A desk. All
institutional issue, hard-wearing furniture designed to survive years
of abuse at the hands of students. Logan didn't see a picture or a
knick-knack. Summers' books were all that distinguished his room from
He looked back at his former rival, slouched in his chair, as if
there were nothing odd about a visit from Logan, as if he were in the
habit of giving up personal information to Logan. Summers seemed
comfortable enough with the lengthening silence, poking absent-
mindedly at the shaggy brown hair falling in a most undisciplined
manner all over his blindfolded face. Well, had he thought the guy
slept with his visor on? Logan found himself noticing that Summers
dressed modestly even for bed, T-shirt and cotton drawstring pants
glimpsed under a loosely belted robe. Logan shifted uneasily and
silently thanked God that the kid was temporarily blind. Not that
Summers smelled like Jeannie, not now, not ever again. But. . .
Jeannie had always smelled like Summers.
He said abruptly, "Want to talk to you about something. This
employment contract thing."
To his relief, Summers did not appear to be taken by surprise. Logan
wouldn't have put it past the old man to have made Logan an offer of
employment without first consulting the kid. He'd call it a father-
son power struggle whenever Xavier got around to acknowledging his
bastard -- maybe some time after the two got around to speaking to
each other again. Right now Logan just knew it not longer amused him
to fan the flames.
"Are you going to sign?"
"Dunno." He hesitated. "I was thinking maybe I oughta hit the road
pretty soon." He waited for Summers to enthusiastically agree.
"Hmmm." Summers propped his chin on his fist. "Why?"
"Because. . ." Logan paused, taken aback. "I, I want to, uh. . . ."
What? he thought suddenly. Once he had wanted to find the man he had
been. Did he want to find that man anymore? William Stryker's last
words were hard to dismiss.
*You were an animal then. . . *
As if divining his thoughts, Summers mused, "You know, there are
parts of my life I'd pay money to forget. And it'd be pretty ironic
if I went and spent the next sixteen years trying to remember what
I'd paid to forget."
Startled, Logan opened his mouth. He shut it again without saying
"Okay, so." Summers shrugged. "You're going to, what. Bumble around
North America until you stumble into a clue? There's a better way,
Logan. And you wouldn't even have to leave New York."
Logan debated with himself. On the one hand, he'd like to slap
Scooter upside the head for the bumbling-and-stumbling remark. On the
other hand, Summers might be about to make a suggestion he'd actually
want to hear. He'd never doubted Summers was book-smart. And anyway,
Marie would never forgive him for slugging a blind guy.
"Yeah? Whatcha got in mind?" Logan strove to sound unimpressed in
"Well, for starters, you could try talking to Pete Rasputin and Kurt
Wagner, and not in English. See if you know any Russian or German.".
"Well, you seem to take it for granted you're Canadian. But I've
always wondered about that. I always wondered if you might be East
German or Soviet."
Logan stared thoughtfully at Summers. Maybe he'd tell the kid about
finding the lab at Alkali Base. About being recognized by Stryker.
But -- "I'd have an accent, wouldn't I?"
"No. Some government invested a lot of money in you."
"Huh." Logan decided he'd been standing long enough. He slid down the
wall and sat on the floor. "So I talk to Pete and Wagner. Then what?"
"We figure out what you know about world history. And literature. And
different religions. There are a lot of avenues of approach."
Now genuinely intrigued, Logan asked, "What's the point?"
"Build a profile on you. See where it leads." Summers half-
smiled. "You ever eat something called Marmite?"
"Try it tomorrow morning at breakfast. The jar is always by Charles'
"And why should I try this Marmite stuff?"
"Because if you like it, it is absolute and final proof that you
weren't raised in the United States."
"Huh." Putting aside Summers' feeble attempt at humor. . . the guy
had something there. A strategy. Definitely, a strategy. Logan had to
admit to himself that his own bumble-and-stumble method hadn't paid
off in fifteen years.
He thought about the only tangible evidence he had of his past life,
the dog tag he had given to Rogue. A tag imprinted with only the
word 'Wolverine' and a number. A tag that had never been officially
issued by any man's army, of that he was certain, even though it was
shaped like a Canadian tag. He was convinced, now, that the tag was
nothing more than a patient ID issued by William Stryker at Alkali
"So, uh, supposing I decide to sign this contract thing." He raised
his eyebrows, forgetting that such gestures were currently lost on
Summers. "Security chief, huh?"
"Thirty thousand a year, plus room, board and transportation, which
makes the contract worth more than twice that. I'd loan you my
motorcycle except that I seem to be missing a car. You wouldn't know
anything about that, would you?"
Logan did not follow the red herring. "And you got no problem with me
"I wouldn't have had the contract drafted otherwise."
Logan stared hard at the blindfolded face. "Why?"
"Because we need someone to focus full-time on our security. My own
attempts were inadequate, obviously."
Surprised at this admission -- something he himself had thought but
hadn't had the cruelty to say -- Logan hesitated, then said
gruffly, "You got the school to run and all."
Summers made a soft noise of impatience.
"You were expecting some protestors, Summers." Logan could not think
why he was attempting to assuage the kid's guilt. "Not the friggin'
"My mistake." Summers sounded grim. "Those sons of bitches came into
my house. That was their mistake."
Logan eyed him. "I thought you and Chuck believed in this whole
peaceful co-existence thing."
"Let's just say I reserve the right of self-defense."
Logan nodded, slowly, forgetting again that Summers couldn't see.
Maybe he had his explanation for the Cold War currently raging
between Xavier and Summers. The kid was wising up. It was about time.
Logan didn't know why it should make him feel vaguely wistful.
"Look, I get why you want a security chief," he said abruptly. "Just
not why you want to hire *me.*"
"I've been doing some talking to Peter and Bobby." Summers
paused. "I'll be honest, Logan. When you put your life on the line
for Rogue, I wasn't impressed. I figured if it had been any other
mutant, you would have just waved us goodbye on our way to Liberty
Island. I thought, yeah, he's a hero, when it's his girl." Summers
smiled. It was not a nice smile. "You know, I always had this
consolation. Every moment you spent with my girl was just another
moment you weren't spending with your own."
Logan quickly recovered his equilibrium. "Rogue? Oh, yeah, right.
She's like my kid sister." And yet he could not stop himself from
adding, "Like you wouldn't'a called the cops if I laid a hand on a
Summers paused a moment, as if waiting for the punchline. Finally he
said, "That'd be pretty hypocritical of me."
"What?" Logan stared at the other man in amazement and creeping rage.
No. It wasn't possible. "What the hell are you saying? You sleeping
with -- with a seventeen-year-old?"
"I was the seventeen-year-old," Summers said dryly. "Jean was twenty-
five. Dr. Lenscherr was not amused. So, yes, I'm well aware that
seventeen is the age of consent in the great state of New York. Rogue
can have you if she wants you." He added simply, brutally, "You know
she doesn't want you anymore."
Logan narrowed his eyes. Forgetting he was supposed to be Marie's big
brother, he snapped, "I don't know that I know any such damn thing."
"You had your chance. You blew it. She's Bobby's now." Summers smiled
that unpleasant smile again. "Every moment you spent fucking up my
life was just another moment you spent fucking up your own."
Logan shot back, automatically, defensively, "I didn't fuck up your
life." He chose not to deal with the second half of the equation.
The two men sat silently.
"No, you didn't, actually." Summers spoke slowly, thoughtfully. "I
suppose I do know better, Logan. Maybe it's time I apologized. I do
know it's stupid to blame you for Jean's actions. If it hadn't been
you, it would have been someone else. If she was that type of person -
- it would have been somebody."
"Summers. . . ." God almighty. "I don't want any freakin' apology,
"I know she was in your tent at Magneto's camp," Summers said
dispassionately. "Wagner thought you were her husband and I was her
"No -- Scott --" He would rip Wagner to pieces. "Scott, it
was Mystique --"
"Stop it." Summers' voice was low and hard. "Just stop it, all right?"
Helplessly Logan fell silent.
"Look, Logan -- I'd like to think that Jean regretted sleeping with
you. She seemed -- she seemed glad to see me."
"Scott." Logan couldn't listen to any more. "She --"
"Shut up," Summers said tiredly.
" -- told me she loved you. She told me --"
" -- she was going to marry you."
"Did she say that before or after she fucked you? No --" Summers held
up a hand. "I don't want to know. I don't want to know anything about
it. Consider that a condition of your employment."
Logan heaved himself to his feet and walked heavily to the door. He
paused on the threshold and half-turned.
"The only reason I ever went after Jean was to piss you off," he said
in a low voice.
Summers appeared to ponder this. He said, finally, "I didn't know I
was that important to you."
Logan didn't answer.
He just left.