That Look
Chapter 7

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.

After dinner that evening, Gavin pushed open the door to the room he shared with Julio and entered slowly. There were no lights on in the room, only the fading light of day. It was gloomy and still. A slender shape was curled up on the bed in the corner, back to the room.

"Julio?" he called quietly. "You okay, mi amigo? You didn't come down for dinner."

"Not hungry," came the short reply.

Gavin stood by the side of Julio's bed, staring down at his friend in puzzled concern.

"You okay? You sick?"

"Just not hungry."

"Okay," Gavin said, frowning, still hesitating. "I've got to study. Mr. Summers wants to talk to me about classes later." Torn between his friend and his desire to not risk any of the new options that had opened for him lately. Training in martial arts again, and now with Logan to guide him, was better than anything he'd ever dared hope for. And if that meant he'd have to work extra hard in class to keep the privilege, then he'd gladly make the sacrifice. Gavin just hoped Julio could understand how much it meant to him. And wished his friend could be as happy about it as he was.

Gavin moved over to his own desk, sitting down and turning on his desk lamp. Casting a last, worried look over his shoulder at his friend. Then, with a sigh, he pulled out books and papers and began to study.

Behind him, Julio shuddered. Fought back tears. Curled tighter around his precious talisman. The hard, raised handle of the knife was cradled in his hand, pressed against his cheek. The flat of the blade had long since warmed against his forearm. Julio waited in vain for his friend to push, to care, to acknowledge him. His pain. His loneliness. Yet not knowing how to ask for what he wanted. Feeling the anger build as the silence lengthened.

And knowing that something would have to be done. Soon.

* * * * *

Scott wandered into the rec room during the last few minutes of the study hour, giving pointed looks to the few students already loitering around. Jean sat on the couch, leaning forward to watch the end of some show on the big screen TV with the sound turned low. Logan was propping up the open French doors, staring out onto the patio beyond where several girls, including Rogue, were enjoying the warm evening, clustered around textbooks. Doing more giggling than studying, probably.

"Finished that essay already, did you Jubilee?" Scott said to the slender Asian girl seated on the couch beside Jean. She rolled her eyes at him.

"Yes, Mr. Summers," she said with a long-suffering sigh.

"Aren't your TV privileges still revoked?" he asked, raising a single brow beyond his glasses. Crestfallen, Jubilee gave a huge sigh, shoulders slumping.

"That even counts for the news?" she said, aggrieved.

Scott glanced at the TV, catching sight of Jean's amused expression out of the corner of his eye.

"'Entertainment Tonight' does not count as news, Jubilee," he said patiently. The girl rolled her eyes dramatically again and slid off the couch in a huff, folding her arms over her chest and flouncing toward the French doors.

Logan laughed. Jubilee shot him an astonished look as she passed, clearly not used to having the Wolverine around in an amiable mood. Jean slid back on the couch as Scott settled down beside her, arms brushing companionably.

"So, ten minutes to go and how many of them are already goofing off?" he muttered to her. Jean smiled and patted his knee.

"Save it for class time, Mr. Taskmaster," she said. Scott let a bare smile touch his lips as he sighed. She laughed. Logan turned around, watching them, his gaze calm and strangely relaxed. Then he reached inside his jeans jacket.

"Don't even think about it!" Jean said, shooting him a dark glare. His hand froze, cigar half-exposed.

"What? The door's open. . . " Logan said with false innocence, gaze flicking from Scott to Jean. Scott just smiled and shook his head, knowing better than to challenge Jean on matters of health. And smoking was one of her major peeves.

"Nope. You smoke that outside," Jean said, pointing out the door. "Way outside. Your lungs might heal the damage but no one else's do."

"All right, all right," Logan said, stuffing the cigar back in his pocket and throwing his hands up in the air. Scott forced a sober expression on his face. Logan stalked away outside, muttering. But Scott had caught sight of his tight smile.

There had been a constant steady thundering of feet in the background; down the stairs and the hall as study hour wound to a close. Kids wandered freely between the rec room, the patio and the outside activity areas in the warm evening. Talking, laughing, playing, shouting, teasing. Some came by the couch, exchanging a few words with Scott and Jean, checking in, whining, nagging. Being normal teenagers.

A whole minute after study hour was officially over, Gavin presented himself in front of Scott.

"Sir? You wanted to see me?" the boy asked with his usual politeness. A faintly anxious look on his face.

"Hey, Gavin," Scott said easily. Jean shut off the television to the groans of a few kids hanging over the back of the couch. She shot them scolding looks and nodded toward Scott. "How are the sessions with Logan so far?"

Gavin relaxed, smiling eagerly, one hand toying with his long red braid where it trailed over his shoulder.

"Great, sir. He's studied a different style than I have, but it's not hard to adapt. He likes to learn my moves too. It's a lot of fun."

"So he's taking you shopping Saturday?"

"Yeah, if that's okay with you, sir," Gavin said.

"Oh, sure," Scott said with a laugh. "I'll just send along my credit card."

"Gavin?" a shaky voice called from behind Scott.

Gavin looked over, started to smile, then his eyes widened with horror.

Scott saw the motion out of the corner of his eye. Twisted sharply to the side as the knife came down at his chest so that it glanced off his arm and his thigh instead. Scott shoved Jean hard, off the couch. Away from danger. Gavin stumbled back, catching her as she fell against him.

Scott turned to see Julio standing behind the couch, face contorted with agony, drawing his arm back to strike again. He dove to the floor. Rolling away and coming sharply to his feet beside the television. Ready for action in a move he'd practiced a thousand times in the Danger Room and had never thought to have to use in the rec room. Julio stumbled after him, tears streaming down his face, brandishing the knife. Scott was in the corner, Julio between him and the rest of the room.

"You took him away!" the boy shouted, stumbling to a halt when he saw Scott was ready for him. Glaring at him even as he sobbed.

"Everybody, clear out!" Scott ordered. He shot a quick glance around the room. Most of the kids had already scrambled away, pushing and shoving to the hallway just outside the double rec room doors. Turning to stare back curiously. Faces shocked, alarmed, afraid.

//I could grab him with telekinesis,// Jean said in his head, concerned.

"No one does anything!" Scott answered her aloud, tone snapping with command.

Scott waved Jean and Gavin back, his gaze flicking between the sobbing Julio and a frowning Jean as she obediently tugged Gavin back behind the couch. He ignored the blood dripping from his leg. The wound stung, but wasn't debilitating. Yet. Jean's hands clenched hard on Gavin's shoulders, keeping him from charging forward into harm's way.

"Julio," Scott said, watching the boy's eyes rather than the knife in his hand. He wasn't quite in range, but close enough. Aware of the danger, Jean's TK could protect him. His concern now was for the boy in front of him. "This won't change anything, Julio. Gavin, he's found something he wants to do, but that won't keep him from being your friend."

Julio's face was pale, streaked with wild tears and hectic color, but the knife was steady in his hold. "You took him away from me!"

"I just helped him be himself more. Let him do what he wants to do. He won't leave you behind, Julio."

"No, I wouldn't! I promised you, Julio, mi amigo, forever. . . " Gavin called from behind them, voice strained with fear, with worry. Only Jean's hands on his arm kept him from rushing forward.

Scott caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye. Fast, furious.

"Logan!" he called sharply. The Wolverine crouched in the open French doors. Both sets of claws extended, a dark, deadly stare fixed on the trembling, ashen-faced boy.

Julio whirled, eyes wide with fear, backing toward the main hall. A fine trembling had started in the floor. Not the full-blown shaking the boy was capable of, but a precursor. He was backing toward the hall where most of the students had scattered. None of them had gone far, wide-eyed and frozen with shock and fear and curiosity.

Scott straightened up. "Back off, Logan!"

"He cut you," Logan growled, eyes narrowed with protective rage.

"I said, back off!" Scott bellowed. Everyone flinched; the kids in the hall gasped, Julio cried out and froze. The room shuddered, settled. The Wolverine tore his gaze away from the boy to glare at Scott instead, snarling with outrage but staying put. His claws slid away.

"Julio, give me the knife," Scott said, his voice low, soothing again. As if he hadn't just cowed the Wolverine with a single shout. The boy's head swiveled back to face him. "I want to help you, Julio. That's why I'm here. To help everybody. But I can't do it if you keep the knife."

"But Gavin. . . he's going to leave me alone. Just like everyone else. . . " So broken, so young.

"No!" Gavin said, anguished. Julio's gaze shot to his friend, then to Logan, then back to Scott. Confused, frightened, overwhelmed. In far over his head and seeing no way out. Scott felt the boy's misery. Understood it all too well. The room began to shake again.

"Julio," Scott said, trying to recapture the boy's attention, desperate to avert tragedy. "Julio, it'll be okay. I understand, Julio, things just get away from you sometimes. It's okay."

"How do you know! You've got everything! Everything! I've got nothing. . . nothing left. . . " Sobbing, the knife trembled in his hands. The clatter of loose items moving around grew louder as the room shook with the force of his mutant power, people crying out as they grabbed onto things and each other to steady themselves. The boy's dark eyes wild with pain and fear and despair. Scott wasn't worried about himself now, but everyone else. And the boy.

"Not always, Julio. I lived four years on the streets, Julio, just like you. Four years before the Professor took me in here. I know what you've seen. I know what you've had to do to survive, but you don't have to do it alone anymore. It's okay, Julio. Gavin's been a big help, he's your friend. Now let me help you too." Scott held out his hand toward the boy, willing him to give him the knife, to still the shaking. Knowing that Jean could take it away from him, but needing the boy to give it up himself. To make the choice.

Julio bit hard at his own lip, until blood trickled down his chin. Eyes wild with pain and fear as he stared at Scott's outstretched hand, then his face. The shaking eased, stopped.

"You were on the streets too?"

"Yes, I was, Julio."

The boy's face crumpled with self-loathing. "You ever kill someone?"

Scott swallowed hard, fear and dismay warring with the need to help, to save this boy.

"Yes, Julio, I did."

He heard the shock ripple through the room, through the kids in the hall. Julio stared at him, desperate, anguished.

"It was awful, Julio. But I had to do it or someone else would have died, and then me," Scott said, quietly, crouching down in front of him, hands spread wide. Julio watched him blankly, lost in some terrible memory of his own, tears streaming down his face.

"Awful. Yes, awful," the boy said, hand falling limply to his side. The knife loose in his grasp.

"Can you give me the knife now, Julio?" Scott said. Julio looked up at him, then over at Gavin, who smiled at him through his concern. The knife clattered to the floor. Scott scooped it up. Jean let Gavin go and the boy lunged for his friend, gathering him into his arms, hugging him close. Julio wrapped his arms around Gavin in return and sobbed.

Scott knelt in front of them, feeling the ache in his thigh, the pain in his heart, knowing they both had to wait.

//Are you okay?// Jean sent. He looked up into her eyes, weary beyond belief, fighting the trembling in his body from unused adrenaline. He had to appear strong now. For everyone.

//Not yet, but I will be,// he replied grimly. Then he climbed to his feet, stuffing the knife that was smeared with his own blood into his pocket. //Can you take them upstairs? And contact the Professor? Stay with them until he and 'Ro get here? I don't think I should be around them right now.//

//They're already on their way back, my love,// she sent back, smiling gently as she came close, touching Gavin's shoulder, speaking softly to him. Smiling warmly at Julio as well. //Have Logan get a bandage on that for you and I'll see you in the medlab later.// Gavin tucked Julio against his side, leading the other boy away, Jean close behind. The other students fell away to let them pass, muttering, anxious.

Scott scanned the remaining kids, noting their wide-eyed reactions. They slowly fell silent, watching him. Looking to him. He managed a weary half-smile.

"I think everyone should just go to their rooms for the evening," he said quietly. "The Professor and Ms. Monroe will be back soon. Everything's okay now. We'll discuss what happened tomorrow. Okay?"

He pinned some of the older kids -- Bobby, Rogue, Kitty, St. John -- with direct stares. By implication putting them in charge. They nodded back and began herding the other kids upstairs. He watched as they slowly disappeared, some shooting him concerned looks, most still scared to some degree. It wasn't often there was a knifing in the rec room. Unruly mutant powers were more the order of the day, not deadly drama.

Silence descended on the room as it emptied. Scott stared blankly at the empty hallway, most of his emotions still held in check, but knowing he'd have to pay the price soon enough.

"Did you really kill someone or was that a pretty story to talk the kid down?"

Scott turned to face Logan, stifling a hiss as the wound in his leg protested. He put a hand over it, feeling the slow trickle of blood seep between his fingers.

"I really killed someone," Scott said tightly.

Logan's hard, doubting gaze searched his glasses, unable to read his eyes through the concealing lenses in the glare from the light behind him. He came toward Scott slowly, a dangerous gleam in his eyes.

"I better get you downstairs," Logan growled.

CHAPTERS:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

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