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.
Scott stood in the bathroom the next morning after his shower, a towel slung low around his hips as he shaved. He'd already stripped the plastic away that protected his stitches. The wound was still rawer than it should be from pulling twice. He'd have a scar for certain. Another one. He was looking rather battered, lately. There were dark bruises on his upper arm, his shoulders and his hips as well. All from Logan.
Jean leaned against the doorframe, much as he had done last night, watching him. Her gaze lingered on the marks on his hips. Her lips pursed thoughtfully.
"You know, there are just some things woman wasn't meant to know," she said, trying to smile. Failing. He gave her a half-smile in the mirror, pausing with the razor under his chin.
"You mean about the male cesspit I call my mind?" he said. She gave a short laugh, straightening away and moving up close behind him. Her hands brushed against the red bruises on his hips. Measured her fingers against them, found them lacking. He watched her, feeling the warmth of her against his skin. Trembling slightly. He lowered the razor.
"I'm sorry. About last night," she said, glancing up at him. Guilty. Worried. "For a telepath, that's the most offensive thing I could have done, just rummaged through your mind like that. I shouldn't have done it, even if you did let me. The Professor will scold me."
"You just didn't like finding out how often a guy actually thinks about sex," he said, trying to relieve the tension. His words fell flat. He tried again. "It's okay, Jean. Really. I let you. I wanted you to. Call me chicken."
She smiled at him weakly, looked away, then back at him. Her face still, almost grim.
"Anything but that, Scott," she said, watching him in the mirror with steady intensity. "I want to talk to him
"I just need to. . . understand him."
That turned him around, razor clattering into the sink as his hands gripped her shoulders. "You won't try that on him, will you? Jean? Promise me? Last time. . . "
But she was already shaking her head, her hands resting on his ribs. Looking at his half-shaved, half-foamy face and smiling tenderly at him.
"No, just talk. Really."
His hands slid up, cupped her face as he pressed his forehead to hers. "Good."
* * * * *
Scott and Jean descended the stairs hand in hand. He was more casual than usual in chinos and a black tee shirt, the bandage stark on his arm. She was wearing a sleek pantsuit, low, practical heels on her feet. They paused together on the landing, looking down at the man lounging with apparent casualness on the bottom few steps. But staring hollowly up at them. Gaze flickering from their joined hands to their faces.
"Logan," Scott acknowledged quietly. The other man grunted in reply.
He looked faintly haggard and was wearing the same clothes he'd worn the day before. Apparently he hadn't slept. Jean folded her arms over her chest, rolled her eyes and shook her head at him. The picture of long-suffering woman. Scott suppressed a snort of amusement. Logan glanced between the two of them again, his expression faintly puzzled.
"You and me. Talk. Now," Jean said, the trace of humor in her tone belied by the stern look in her eyes. Logan's brows rose and he shot Scott a startled glance.
"Okay by you, Fearless Leader?"
"Like I have any say in it?" Scott said with a shrug, continuing down the stairs. Watching as Logan waited until the last possible second to move out of his way. It wasn't over then. But at least he could take heart that he was still here. He hadn't run.
Jean followed him, stepping down far enough to straddle Logan's legs, then leaned over, hand braced on the railing above him as she grinned tightly down into his face. Irritated by his comment to Scott. For an instant the Canadian looked haunted, hunted, then he plastered a wicked grin across his face.
A few kids on their way down to breakfast had paused on the landing above, watching this display with wide-eyed intensity. Shooting curious looks at Scott who just smiled with wry amusement and shook his head. The kids snickered nervously.
"My. Don't you look terrible this morning," Jean said sharply. "Bad night?"
"Why, Jeannie?" Logan said with a leer. "Want details?"
"Can it, Wolverine," she interrupted pointedly, rolling her eyes and straightening up to fold her arms impatiently over her chest. "Outside or in?"
"Gonna yell at me?"
She scorched him with a look. "Probably." Scott snorted with amusement. The kids above laughed. Logan shot them all warning glares. Secure in Scott's reaction, they stifled it behind their hands, but didn't stop. Unable to determine Jean's actual mood, Logan fought his own bewilderment, shaking his head.
"Better take it outside then," Logan said in disgust.
Jean turned and led the way to the front door, a decided sway in her hips, her stride long. Logan followed silently. Scott herded the delighted kids along to the dining hall, a pensive look on his face. Wondering about the strange light he'd caught a glimpse of in Jean's eye.
* * * * *
Jean stopped at the gazebo in the center of the rose garden. Ororo's domain. The younger kids had painted the rugged structure for her and it was cream colored with green trim. Or it was supposed to be. It was actually half green and half cream, inside and out. A decorator's mess. Ororo loved it.
Logan stood on the far side of the gazebo, hands shoved deep into his pockets as he stared out over the grounds. The scent of roses was clear in the cool morning air. Jean watched him for a moment. He was aware of her, she knew. But there was something fragile about him. In the way he stood; wary, defiant, waiting for ruin. It was a sobering realization to have about the Wolverine.
"You forgot something in your pack analogy," Jean said, fixing him with a cool, steady stare. He shot her a quick look then turned back resolutely to the grounds, mouth grim. "There's an alpha bitch too, Logan."
His head whipped around. Narrowed gazes clashed.
"He's mine," she said sharply. Paused while the words sank in. Saw something bitter, feral rise in Logan's eyes. "As long as you remember that then, well. . . then other things are negotiable. With him."
He held her gaze, searching it; uneasiness, disbelief clear on his side. Taking pity on him, she broadcast her understanding, her compassion, her own tentative regard. He nodded once, and she cut it off. A subtle tension faded from him.
She let him relax, so her warning would have greater impact. Then stepped close, nearly his height even in flats. Stared him directly in the eye.
"But if you ever hurt him," she said, frowning darkly. "Then you'll have to deal with me."
"I hear you, Jeannie," he replied after a long moment. Grave. Respectful. She smiled.
* * * * *
Scott saw them come back in. Not together, but still, not too far apart. Jean breezed in first, coming straight to the teacher's table, cupped his face in her hands and gave him a long, lingering kiss. The kids cheered and clapped. Whistling and catcalling until Scott pulled away, faintly flushed, to glare repressively at them all. Neither he nor Jean were normally ones for blatant public displays of affection. The kids only got louder at his expense, enjoying the moment. It wasn't often they got to tease Mr. Summers. Jean made to whirl away, but he caught her hand.
"What was that all about?" he asked quietly, half pleased, half stern.
She gave him a gentle smile. "No reason, just because."
And then she was gone, smiling brightly at kids as she went, to collect her own breakfast. Scott watched her go, only to catch sight of Logan standing in the doorway, arms folded over his chest, also watching Jean with a quirked, rueful grin on his face. Looking a great deal like a man who'd just been hit by a brick. A tall, smiling, red-haired brick. One or two of the brave earlier witnesses to the stair encounter called out to him. Logan glowered around until Rogue came up to him, laughing, and caught his arm to drag him off for food. He let her.
Scott sat back, puzzled, sipping coffee.
"Scott?" the Professor said, drawing his attention. His mentor frowned, but his eyes were dancing.
"Sir?" he replied, turning to face him, blushing slightly. Charles Xavier cleared his throat pointedly. Looked at Jean, then back at Scott.
"I gather your morning is going well?"
"Well, it was," Scott muttered dryly, rolling his eyes slightly behind his glasses. Glancing back to where Jean and Logan were discussing something, with great animation, over at the food table.
"If you are not too distracted, I did want to remind you that Ororo and I will be leaving after afternoon classes to attend this evening's local council meeting in Salem Center. Grass-roots efforts should begin at home."
"Yes, sir," he said absently. Watching in surprise as Logan intercepted Gavin as he came out of the kitchen to have his own meal, duties complete. Saw the boy flush, and duck his head. Glance across the room at Scott. Who smiled encouragingly back at him. Gavin's attention snapped back to Logan with lightning speed when the Wolverine growled.
"Your latest project is going well, I see," the Professor said, giving up on external matters for the moment. Scott all but beamed at him, his pride evident.
"It's amazing what a little one-on-one attention can do. He's really starting to warm up and fit in more," Scott said, taking another sip of coffee. Pleased. "His school work is improving too." The Professor nodded knowingly.
"Yes, and young Gavin is doing better as well," he said calmly. Scott's head whipped around and he stared at Charles Xavier in surprise. His mentor -- the telepath -- just smiled.
* * * * *
Where moments before he had been watching and waiting eagerly for his friend, Julio instead slumped lower in his seat, filled with sharp disappointment. Feeling silly for almost standing and waving to Gavin as he came out of the kitchen. Because the Wolverine had stopped Gavin. Was talking to him. And Gavin was listening eagerly, nodding, his face lit up.
Then he was following the Wolverine over to the teacher's table to talk to Mr. Summers as well. Gavin blushed and glanced around before taking the seat indicated across from him. Right there at the teacher's table. But not to look at Julio, no. To see all the other kids watching him enviously. Not Julio.
Who waited patiently. Heart pounding. Afraid. And so very alone, without Gavin. He slipped his hand into his backpack. Felt for the reassuring presence of his most valued possession as he watched.
And then, slowly, inevitably, fear turned to anger.
* * * * *
Scott was leaving the atrium after the last class of the afternoon when Bobby and St. John approached him. Kids streamed by, chattering and shoving as they always did.
"Mr. Summers?" Bobby said. Scott glanced at him, raised a brow beyond his red glasses. "We were wondering if maybe we could take classes with Gavin and the Wolver. . . um, Mr. Logan too."
"I'll have to find out if Logan's ready to take on more students," Scott said, face thoughtful. Inside he rejoiced. More ties for the Wolverine. If he'd accept them. "I'll check with him later on."
"Thanks, sir," Bobby said, St. John nodding behind him like a puppet. Scott turned toward the elevator, just catching sight of a slender, dark-haired boy as he slipped away, up the stairs. But St. John asked him another eager question and he looked to the boys beside him, the pinched, hard face of Julio momentarily forgotten.
* * * * *
Logan and Gavin were holding an intense discussion about the merit of different bo staff lengths when Scott entered the gym at the end of their training hour.
Logan's head lifted, gaze locking on Scott as he approached. Scowling at him. Gavin turned at the interruption, breaking into a broad grin when he saw Scott.
"Mr. Summers! Logan's going to take me to a shop he knows in town. To pick out gear myself," Gavin said eagerly. Scott nodded.
"Good. Frankly, I didn't know what half that stuff on your list was," he said, with a self-deprecating smile as he stopped beside them. Logan folded his arms over his chest and continued to glare at him. Silent. "I'm glad you've got an expert you can take along instead."
"Shower time, kid," Logan said gruffly, gaze flicking briefly to the boy.
"Yes, sensei," Gavin said promptly, then gave Logan a short bow -- which Logan returned -- before fleeing to the locker room, red braid flying.
"Gavin!" Scott called after him. The boy whirled around at the locker room door, hand on the latch. "Come see me after dinner, okay? We'll talk about adjusting your class schedule some." Gavin nodded eager assent, then disappeared into the locker room.
Logan dropped his arms and turned away, lifting his head for a moment as if he were listening. His hearing far sharper than most. Making certain they were alone. Scott subtly tensed in anticipation of a move.
"Thought this kid was your pet project," Logan growled instead.
"They all are, Logan," Scott said somberly.
"Why am I the one down here then?"
"I don't know," Scott said, burying his satisfaction deep. "Why are you?"
Logan snorted. "Fuck if I know." His gaze sharpened. "You've got me so bent around, twisted inside out I don't know what the hell is going on anymore."
"I do?" Scott gave a sharp, mirthless laugh. Then he stared at the other man, watching him closely. "Last night was it, Logan, your only chance to go. Why are you here?"
Logan stared back at him, face blank and hard. And Scott was almost convinced he wasn't going to answer. Then he gave a sharp sigh, a flash of anger in his eyes. Anger and something else. Respect? Defiance? Need?
"You need someone to watch your back, Scotty. And I don't trust anyone else to do it."
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