That Look
Chapter 3

Archive: If you must, let me know.

Author's Note: The rating is for language, mainly and a little blood. Hmmm. Not sure exactly. Blame Vic for getting me started on Movieverse again, and Eoen for one little twist

Disclaimer: Uh-huh. Still not mine. Damn.

The mansion had two gyms -- three, if you counted the Danger Room. The one upstairs was a converted ballroom with a beautiful old hardwood floor. Used mainly for aerobic and dance classes, lined with mirrors. The one downstairs was more serious. Exercise machines of various types. Free weights. A wide, matted floor for tumbling. A racquetball court. A basketball half-court. A lap pool and a sauna. There was even a suspended running track for when the snow was too deep outside in the winter.

The Danger Room was in a whole other class by itself. Students weren't allowed in the Danger Room unsupervised, and the security on it was almost as tight as the security on Cerebro itself.

Scott almost discounted the ballroom entirely, thinking a boy like Gavin would be in the main gym downstairs, possibly pumping iron. If he was doing it alone, then they'd have a talk about using a spotter. But something made him look through the partially-open ballroom door on his way past.

What he saw astonished him. And made Scott realize just how little he still knew about the boy, even though he'd been with them for more than a year now.

Gavin had pale red hair, or so he'd been told. With his red-tinged vision, he couldn't tell. Scott just knew it was lighter in shade than Jean's. It was also very likely that Gavin's hair had never been cut in his entire life. At age seventeen it reached, even in the habitual thick braid, to the top of his thighs.

But it wasn't the boy's hair that had surprised him. Gavin was stripped to the waist, wearing only a pair of sweatpants. His body was lean and rippling with finely toned muscle that gleamed with faint sweat in the dim light. He'd been at this for a while then. Scott watched in open-mouthed astonishment as Gavin moved through a series of tightly controlled moves. Martial arts moves. Scott knew enough to recognize them as such, but not enough to identify the discipline.

Gavin moved with supreme grace and skill, his heavy braid whipping around almost like a tail. Each move flowed from one to the other with what looked like flawless precision. He'd had extensive training. Enough so that he'd apparently kept it up on his own, like a dancer or an athlete, but on the sly. Gavin had never given any sign of his skill during their basic athletics classes, except the boy didn't do well at team sports, and Scott now had an inkling why.

When Gavin came to an apparent resting point in his routine, Scott pushed the door open slowly, stepped inside and shut it behind him. The boy's head jerked up and he stared at Scott with wary resignation, rising out of his crouch with fluid ease. He wasn't even breathing hard.

"When were you going to tell us?" Scott asked quietly, careful to keep his tone and face clear of anger. But he was angry. At himself, mostly, for not reaching out to this boy sooner.

"I didn't think you'd understand," Gavin said, still watching him warily from pale eyes. Jean said they were a silvery gray. A strange color.

"Did you compete?" Scott asked. He made a move to cross his arms over his chest, hissed at the throb of pain in his right arm and stuffed his hands in his pockets instead. Gavin watched him soberly.

"Yes, from the age of five," the boy said.

"What happened?"

Gavin shrugged with careful nonchalance, his gaze flicking away toward the rest of the school, "I'm a mutant."

Scott knew a little of Gavin's background. Son of a career diplomat, he'd been raised all over the world. He spoke bits and pieces of at least twelve languages so far as they'd managed to determine, possibly more. Most of his youth had been spent in the Far East, isolated from his birth culture. Which was one reason he didn't fit in with the other students. He'd manifested his mutation at age fifteen, and his father had dumped him on the Professor shortly thereafter with a huge trust fund and instructions for him never to contact his family again. For a diplomat to admit to having a mutant son in this day and age was career suicide, you understand, the man had said. It still made Scott furious even to think about it.

"We all are here. Why didn't you want us to know you can fight?" Scott asked as calmly as he could. Gavin tensed. He could obviously sense Scott's anger.

"All the Professor talks about is peaceful coexistence. I didn't think he'd like it if I brought it up," the boy said warily.

"He'd understand, trust me. It's just a skill, Gavin," Scott said, forcing himself to relax. The last thing he wanted was for Gavin to think he was mad at him. "One you might even be able to share. You certainly don't need to be ashamed of it. I'm no expert, but you look like you're really good."

He startled the boy into a brief, shy smile. But the expression swiftly faded.

"I was. I won a lot," Gavin said with no modesty. "But I can't compete anymore, so what's the point?"

Scott shrugged. "You kept it up. You must enjoy it."

The boy's smile returned, wider this time and it lasted longer. "I do."

"That's reason enough for me," Scott said, smiling back at him.

Gavin looked away, blinking, his eyes suspiciously bright. "Thanks, Mr. Summers."

Scott turned away and looked around the room, giving the boy a chance to compose himself. Pulled his hands out of his pockets and waved them at the ballroom. "Is this the right kind of place for you to work out? Do you need different equipment?"

He heard a brief sob behind him, but didn't turn around, just continued his unnecessary examination of the walls, the mirrors and barres set up for the dance classes. He could see the boy out of the corner of his eyes in one of the mirrors, watched him swipe at his face. Overcome by such a simple thing as understanding from an adult. Scott was even more angry with himself, and saddened. There were so many kids in their care and too few adults around to give them what they truly needed. He thought of Logan and his mouth thinned into a grim line.

"Maybe a few things," Gavin said in a watery tone that firmed with each word. Scott turned around, pleased to see the boy had gotten himself back under control. Wouldn't do to embarrass him. Teenage boys had fragile egos.

He smiled at him. "Make me a list, and I'll see what we can do."

"Thanks, sir," Gavin said, gratitude shining in his eyes.

"And make sure you tell Julio you're not in trouble, okay? I stopped at your room first."

Gavin's eyes widened in surprise, then his expression fell. "Julio worries. He'll be okay."

"You guys have been good for each other," Scott said. "Thanks for helping him, Gavin. He needs a friend."

Gavin blushed. "He's a good kid. Really."

"Well, let's keep him from shaking the boy's wing down, okay?" Gavin gave a sharp laugh, smiling at Scott from the corners of his eyes and nodding, remembering Julio's first few days in the house just as vividly as anyone else. New York State wasn't prone to earthquakes, a fact for which Scott was eternally grateful after experiencing Julio's temper tantrums.

"I'll go talk to him," Gavin said. Then he went to the side of the room, gathered up his shirt and shoes and a towel and slipped out of the room after shooting Scott one last smile.

Scott sighed heavily and leaned his left arm against the mirror beside him. Stared under it into his own face for long, silent minutes. Feeling guilt and sorrow tug at his heart.

"Squeaked by on that one, didn't you, Summers?" he finally said to his reflection.

"Talking to yourself is a bad sign," a gruff voice replied from the other side of the room.

Scott tensed. Shifted his focus in the mirror to see Logan standing inside the door. Watched as the other man closed and locked it behind him. The anger he'd suppressed while talking to Gavin surged. But he held his position and just watched as Logan stalked toward him.

When he was halfway across the room, Scott straightened and turned around. Logan stopped.

"I'm really not in the mood for your shit right now, Wolverine," Scott said, his voice cold.

Logan's eyes narrowed and a sneer curled his lips. His gaze raked over Scott's body, coming to rest on his mouth before flicking up to his glasses, then down to his mouth again. Scott felt his own anger strain at his control.

"What's your price?" Scott asked him suddenly.

"Price?" Logan's eyes narrowed to slits and his hands fisted ominously.

"The school needs you. These kids need you. Jean, 'Ro, the Professor and I can't do it alone any more," he said, biting the words off like they were bitter. Logan just stared at him for a long moment. Then shook his head.

"I don't like kids," he said, scowling.

"Bullshit," Scott spat. "You saved Rogue."

Something flickered in his eyes. Logan looked away, then looked back and it was gone. Then he sneered again. "One time deal."

"You are so full of shit," Scott said viciously, taking a step toward him, hands fisted at his sides. "I want to know your price."

Logan moved then, and Scott saw him coming. Knew what was coming and held his ground, readying himself. Logan tackled him, driving him down to the hard floor. Scott twisted, rolling them as they fell so that they both hit equally. The impact still drove most of the air out of his lungs, but he fought the pain and the spasms and kept his left arm wedged up under Logan's jaw. His right hand clutched his glasses, holding them in place.

"For Christ's sake, I could blow your fucking head off!" he gasped, pleased to hear Logan gasping as well. A healing factor didn't deal with simple loss of breath.

"You're too much of a Boy Scout for that," Logan wheezed. Then he rolled them over, pinning Scott beneath him, straddling him and grabbing his wrists, one in each hand. Scott bucked up, but it did no good. Logan was too heavy and he had no leverage with the other man sitting on his thighs. Logan leaned forward, pressing his arms down beside his head. Scott didn't make it easy for him, straining against his hold, but Logan had position on him. He felt stitches tear on his arm again and cursed.

"I smell that," Logan said, hot gaze flicking from his face to his arm. Scott frowned at him. "Aw, hell, Scotty, I didn't want to hurt you again." Then he leaned down and kissed him.

Scott bit him. Logan reared back, an ugly look on his face, and spat blood to the side. The tear on his lip was already healing, but the sting remained. He stared down at his own blood on Scott's lips. Watched as Scott licked it away. Logan groaned, gaze locked on his mouth.

"Is this your price, Logan?" Scott asked, voice tight. Logan glared at him.

"I don't fuckin' believe you."

"Is it?"

Logan tried to search his gaze through the glasses, frustrated that he couldn't do so in the dim light. Then he bent down low over Scott's face, raking his gaze slowly and deliberately over him, his breath washing over Scott's skin. Close, but not touching. Breathing him. Scott couldn't suppress a shiver.

"What if it is? Will you whore yourself for this place, Scotty?"

Scott's face went absolutely still, and his body stiffened under him. Then a sharp smile crossed his lips.

"Would a whore buy you, Logan?" Scott asked slowly, mockingly. Rage washed over Logan's face as he reared back. He bared his teeth and snarled down at Scott. Then he released Scott's wrists and sat up, glaring down at the man underneath him, hands fisted in front of him.

For an instant, Scott saw his own death in those wild eyes. Then Logan scrambled up and was gone.

* * * * *

Scott sat in the medical bay again, arm braced on the exam table for the third time in two days. Jean was slamming drawers and equipment around as she readied suture material again. Four stitches had popped this time. Anger radiated off of her in waves.

Scott watched her with weary patience. Flinching slightly at each near-deafening ring of metal on metal.

"What is going on here, Scott?" she said finally, hands braced on the side of the autoclave, turning to shoot him a tight-lipped glare before she fished her recently sterilized tools back out. "And don't give me any of that 'I don't know' shit, or I'm going to rip it out of your brain."

He had already noticed she hadn't set out the topical anesthetic this time. He winced as forceps and clamps rattled down onto the metal tray in front of her. Scott let out a deep sigh.

"I'm recruiting," he said. That stopped her angry motions. She lifted a brow at him, expression carefully blank. He continued, "Logan. I want him to commit to the school."

"He already came back," she said, gaze narrowed.

"Yeah, and he's nominally part of the team, I know. But we need more adult help around here and it isn't like we can just hire someone off the street," he said, lifting the gauze away from his wound to see if the bleeding had slowed any. Jean stepped close and slapped at his hand, gesturing sharply for him to hold it over the wound again. He rolled his eyes behind his glasses but complied.

"You want him to teach, or something?" she said, frowning.

"Or something. I found something out about Gavin today. He has talent, Jean," he said eagerly, veering off the subject of Logan for a moment. "Martial arts training of some kind. Apparently he used to compete -- and win."

Jean turned to face him again, eyes wide with astonishment.

"Our Gavin? The silent one?"

He nodded, but continued, "He's been here more than a year, Jean. We should have seen this before. But there are so many of them, and so many more vocal ones that he just slipped through the cracks. And he's done wonders with Julio."

Jean looked briefly guilty, biting at her lip. "I know, but Julio's been so calm, so quiet I was afraid to pry and start his tantrums back up again."

Scott sighed deeply, guilt heavy on his mind for the exact same reason. "I know, but they aren't just unruly mutant powers. They're kids. They need us, and we just don't have enough time for all of them."

"And this macho game you're playing with Logan," she said, shooting him a hard glance. "Do you think it will work?"

"It's not a game," he said, nodding at his wound. She frowned at him again, but this time it was out of concern. "And I hope so."

She stepped up to the side of the table, taking his face tenderly between her gloved hands. Jean tipped his head back and stared into his eyes through the glasses. Scott felt the soft brush of her mind against his, but he kept his shields up. She didn't push, but she frowned again and he gave her a lopsided smile of chagrin.

"Be careful, honey," was all she said. Then she leaned down and kissed him. He dropped the gauze and wrapped his left arm around her, drawing her close as the kiss deepened. She stepped between his legs, breaking the kiss and relaxing into his hold with a contented sigh.

He looked up into her beloved face and hoped he was right.

CHAPTERS:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

All references to characters belonging to the X-Men Universe are (c) and TM the Marvel Comics Group, 20th Century Fox and all related entities. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication or distribution of these materials in any form is expressly prohibited. No money is being made from this archive. All images are also (c) and TM the Marvel Comics Group, 20th Century Fox and all related entities; they are not mine. This website, its operators and any content used on this site relating to the X-Men are not authorized by Marvel, Fox, etc. I am not, nor do I claim to be affiliated with any of these entities in any way.