Logan’s seen some pretty fucking weird shit in his day, but honestly, this is starting to take the cake.
It hadn’t started off that weird. Or, at least, what passes for not weird now that Logan’s part of some super-secret spy mutant team, complete with their own gadgets and uniforms. Honestly, Logan’s still not really sure what he’s even doing here, but it’s not like he’s got anywhere else to go and at least they let him beat up annoying assholes every once in a while. Even if the uniforms really are fucking stupid and it does mean that Logan sometimes ends up fighting some weird magic guy from an alien universe that seems to think he’s meant to be the king of the Earth or something just because he can make a bunch of dangerous illusions.
“Someone tell this guy to get some therapy,” Logan tells Scott as he ducks under something that would look a lot like a tiger if it didn’t have giant horns.
Logan can’t see it, but he’d bet twenty dollars Scott’s rolling his eyes behind that mask of his. “Tell him yourself,” Scott says.
Logan would, but he can’t get close enough to the motherfucker to try. His illusions are weird and too-real—they don’t just disappear with one good punch. The guy, whoever he is, has surrounded himself with them until it’s almost impossible to see him.
Logan grits his teeth and rolls back into the fray. Most of them look like monsters or mutants, but there are humans scattered in there too and Logan’s stomach rolls at having to take them down. It’s doing weird things to his head, to his distant memories—he doesn’t like thinking about the days he spent as a mercenary or all the innocent people he’d cut down. He’s not that guy anymore and he resents this magic guy for making him feel like it for even one fucking second.
They’ve been fighting for what feels like five years. Logan’s preoccupied, moving from illusion to illusion as quickly as he can. They can be killed, but they don’t just vanish with one hit. Logan’s starting to get frustrated as more and more begin to replace the ones he’s already taken down and it still seems like no one’s managed to get a hit on their main guy.
Storm’s come the closest—she’s best at sweeping attacks and she can fly. But this guy’s magic is stronger and he keeps pushing her back with some kind of—fuck if Logan knows. Forcefield, maybe? He hates the magic guys almost more than he hates the scientist weirdos who inevitably try to take over the city. At least science makes sense, kind of. Magic’s just anybody’s best guess and Logan’s not a fan of fighting with guesswork.
Logan doesn’t have much attention to spare, but every time he glances over, there’s someone different on the magic guy—Storm, then Rogue, then her little boyfriend, then Storm again… It seems like half the damn team has tried taking the guy out and none of them can do it. He doesn’t look like much—skinny and wild-eyed, dressed in strange clothes—but he’s clearly powerful. Logan growls, wanting to take his turn, but he’s knocked down by something that looks like some kind of bear on steroids and it takes several long moments of grappling before Logan can pay attention to anything else again.
When he looks back, he’s surprised to see Scott locked in battle with the guy. The guy’s entire get-up is smoking a little from Scott’s beams. They’re exchanging blows, and the magic guy is looking more and more crazy with every hit he takes.
Logan huffs and starts off for the pair at a dead run.
“—entirely too dangerous,” he hears the kid say. Logan’s hearing is good—he’s still not in range to do anything but he can clearly hear what they’re saying. He runs faster. “No, no, no. I’ll need to take care of you, clearly.”
“I feel like I’m the one taking care of you,” Scott says. “You really aren’t good at hand-to-hand, you know?”
Logan almost laughs. Trust Summers to criticize the technique of the guy he’s fighting.
“Killing people is so messy,” the kid says, proving yet again that he’s crazy. “But leaving you around is too dangerous. Hm. It’d be easier to just neutralize you. And you’re not much without those eys of yours, are you, Cyclops?”
“What the hell does that—"
The guy pushes Scott back and waves his hands. Logan knocks into him just as a bolt of green light erupts from his fingers. Taken off-guard, the guy struggles with him for a long moment but Logan has him pinned in roughly two minutes. Scott’s right, he really isn’t any good at hand-to-hand and with the element of surprise, he didn’t have time to throw up any of his crazy magic. Logan snarls in his face and takes deep pleasure in the way it pales. Good.
“What’d you do?” he demands. He looks over his shoulder but he can’t see Scott at all. His panic spikes. “Tell me!”
“Nothing permanent,” the guy says. His voice wavers a little. “If anything, after what I’ve read about mutants is true, your friend might thank me.”
“What did you do ?”
“Logan!” Storm touches down beside him, her pale eyes filled with worry. “What happened?”
“He did something to Cyclops,” Logan said through gritted teeth. “He won’t say what.”
Storm glances over Logan’s shoulder. “I don’t see him,” she murmurs. “Logan, you have to find him.”
“I will keep him contained. His illusions are still in the area, though the others are taking them down—if Scott has been harmed in some way, they might hurt him further. You can find him the quickest. Go!”
Logan leans down heavily into the guy’s neck for a minute, just to get him to wheeze, then gets to his feet. Before he’s even taken a step, Storm has the kid locked down, surrounded by ice, unable to do more than sneer and wheeze. She gestures for Logan to go, her eyes fixed on her captive.
Logan flexes his hand but shakes his head and tries to focus. He saw the light go over his shoulder. What had that even been? He hadn’t heard Scott make a sound when it had hit, but he can’t think of any other reason Scott would just be gone. The magic guy said that he didn’t want to kill Scott, but…
Logan lifts his nose and takes a deep breath. Smells rush in all at once, almost overwhelming him—the sharp, acrid tint of strange magic, bodies upon bodies, old food and garbage and waste from the sewer. Logan has to focus to get a lock on Scott’s scent; sharp, piney, good. Scott always smells good even when he hates Logan’s guts. Logan takes another deep whiff.
His eyes snap open when he gets a trace of it leading into the buildings across the street. He takes off running, ignoring the confused calls that follow him from his still-fighting teammates. The scent gets stronger as he ducks into an alleyway and he swears as he catches sight of three giant hyenas. Where the hell had that magic guy even gotten his ideas anyway?
Logan doesn’t waste time. He lunges for the hyenas, rolling with one and kicking another off his back when it tries to pounce. He stabs the third directly in the throat and jabs the one he’s tackling in the belly as it tries to flatten him. One of them tries to take a bite out of Logan’s leg, but he kicks it hard in the face, driving it back with a yowl before raking his claws across its eyes. It stumbles into the wall, blinded and crazed, and Logan dispatches it with a flick of his wrist. For a long moment, he does his best to recover, breathing heavily and trying to get the pounding of his heart under control. He rolls off the hyena he’d pounced on.
A whimper catches his attention. He whips around, claws out, ready to fight another hyena or bear or whatever fuck else that crazy guy has dreamed up and stops cold. That’s not a bear or a hyena, he thinks. That’s…
“Cyclops?” he asks.
The boy huddled against the wall looks up at him. He’s wearing the Cyclops armor and glasses, but his teary face is pudgy with fat and the clothes hang off of him. He can’t be more than ten years old.
What the fuck?
Logan squats down. The kid’s heartbeat ticks up, thudding away like a rabbit’s, and he pushes himself back against the alley’s dead end. He’s shaking. Damn. That can’t really be Scott, can it? What did that guy do to him?
“Cyke?” Logan says again. He tries to make his voice gentle but it still comes out gruff. The kid shivers. “Is that you?”
“Who....” The kid’s voice is high and reedy. It hasn’t broken yet. “Who are you?”
“I’m Logan,” Logan says. He has no idea if the encroaching panic is showing on his face or not. He tries to keep it out of his voice. “I’m a friend.”
“You… you killed those things.”
Logan glances back over his shoulder. The monsters haven’t been leaving corpses—the alley is clean of them. Logan’s grateful; that’d be a bitch to clean up. He looks back at Scott.
“I did,” he says. “Stopped them from killing you, didn’t I?”
The boy’s mouth trembles. “Why were they trying to kill me?” he asks.
“Dunno. You were around, an easy target.” The kid stares at him. Logan keeps his expression neutral, his hands open. “Listen—Whoa!”
Scott tries to make a run for it. He’s a slippery little sucker, but Logan catches him around the waist before he can dart past. Scott’s wriggling so much that it’s like trying to catch a fish with his bare hands. Logan curses under his breath and tries to pin Scott’s windmilling arms.
“Let me go !” Scott howls and begins to beat at Logan’s shoulder and neck with his tiny fists. “Kidnapper! Pervert! Let me go !”
Logan’s way too sober to deal with this. “You run away, you’re going to run straight into more of those things,” he says. “They really will kill you. You want that, bub?”
Scott’s abruptly silent. Logan cautiously lowers him to the ground but keeps a firm grip on his shoulders. His mouth is trembling. Oh, shit, Logan thinks. He has no idea what to do with a crying kid.
“I don’t know who you are, but if you take me, my d-dad will come! He’s a colonel, he’ll find you so quick and he’ll make you pay!”
Logan would take the threat more seriously if Scott’s little reedy voice didn’t keep breaking. He sounds two seconds away from a breakdown. Logan sighs. He drops his hands from Scott’s shoulders. To his surprise, Scott doesn’t try to make an immediate bid for freedom—he scrambles back instead, pressing against the dead end of the alley like he thinks Logan’s going to hurt him. That, more than anything, makes Logan’s stomach swoop. That’s not a normal reaction, he thinks, even for a kid that’s just seen Logan murder some hyenas. That’s not normal at all.
Logan crouches down. Without the imposing height difference, Scott relaxes. He doesn’t move, though.
“Look,” Logan says. “I know I’m some stranger, but this is a dangerous place right now. You go out there, you’re going to get hurt. I don’t know why you’re here, but if you come with me I can take you to someone I bet will be able to figure it out.”
Scott’s mouth firms. “I’m not a baby,” he says, scornful. “I know not to go with strangers. You’re going to put me in a van and do weird things to me.”
Scott scowls. “That’s a nasty word.”
“Well, apparently I’m a nasty guy. Look, Cyclops—” Scott frowns at him and Logan shakes his head. “Scott. I’m not going to hurt you. Didn’t I take down those hyenas?”
Scott looks over Logan’s shoulder doubtfully. “You did,” he says. “How’d you do that, anyway? What are you?”
“I told you, I’m—”
“Not your name !” Scott points an accusing finger at him. “You… You killed those things like it was nothing! You have knives in your hands !”
“Uh.” Logan looks down at his hands. He looks back at Scott and makes a split decision. “Want to see?”
Scott’s mouth twists. He looks at Logan’s hands too. With that little frown, he might as well be his adult self again, never mind that his pants are falling off of him and he’s three feet shorter than he should be. Logan almost smiles but hastily arranges his face into a neutral mask when Scott peers at him suspiciously.
“Fine,” he says at last.
Brat, Logan thinks. But he shouldn’t be surprised; Scott Summers has always been a brat. Carefully, he releases the claws on his left hand. Scott gasps as they come out, flinching backward. Logan almost puts them away again, but Scott’s already recovered. He’s inching forward, eyes fixed on the claw. His mouth is open with shock.
“Cool,” Scott breathes.
Logan blinks at him, disconcerted. Scott’s never shown much interest in his mutation before. Logan had always figured that Scott thought it was stupid, just brutish strength and nothing more. Logan hurriedly clears his throat and retracts the claws.
“There, you saw,” he says.
“That’s so cool,” Scott tells him, suddenly full of enthusiasm. “Does it hurt when they come out? How many do you have? Can they come out of your feet, too? How’d you get them?”
Logan blinks, disconcerted at the sudden bursts of questions. When he takes too long to say anything, Scott deflates. His shoulders come up and he huddles back against the dead end.
“Sorry,” he says. “Everyone says I ask too many questions.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Logan says. “They don’t hurt when they come out, I’ve got six, and they don’t come out of my feet. I dunno how I got them, I’ve always had them.”
Scott’s mouth drops open again. “You—you’ve always had them?” he asks. “But—”
“Listen,” Logan says impatiently. “They’re a mutation. I’m a mutant, but I’m not the only one—the guy I want to take you to, he’s one too and he’s a hell of a lot smarter than me. He can figure out how to help you.”
“And send me home?”
Logan frowns. Scott sounds almost indifferent to that idea.
“Yeah, kid,” he says.
Scott crosses his arms over his chest. Logan waits because he’s come to realize that the way Scott stands when he does that means he’s thinking hard about something. Logan can still hear fighting going on outside of their alley—it’s a miracle nothing’s ambled in while they’ve been talking. He’s antsy just thinking about it.
“Okay,” Scott says at last.
“Okay?” Logan asks. “Just like that?”
“You did save me from those hyena things,” Scott reasons. “And you could’ve just grabbed me before and taken off. But you didn’t.”
Logan grunts. “Fine,” he says. “Come on then.”
He scoops Scott up.
Scott begins to yell in his ear, clearly indignant about being carried. Logan rolls his eyes and begins to run, which silences Scott in a satisfying way. He blasts out of the alley and takes off for the school without even pausing to say goodbye to the others. He knows they’ll follow once they’ve finished dealing with the leftovers and besides, he has something more important to worry about now.
“Extraordinary,” the Professor says. “This is no illusion. For all intents and purposes, Scott is a child.”
Logan glances at the kid, sitting straight-backed in one of the Professor’s plush office chairs. He’s scowling at the desk, arms folded over his chest, and totally ignoring the both of them the way he’s been doing since Logan set him down there. He’s still in the Cyclops armor. Logan hadn’t wasted any time when they’d come to the school—he’d gone right to Xavier’s office. Xavier had taken the news with his usual dignity.
“You can fix it, right?” Logan asks.
The Professor’s look is full of warm amusement. “I cannot fix everything, Logan.”
“Prof. He’s a kid .”
“I will speak to this… magic-user. Storm is bringing him in with the others. Perhaps he can shed light on the solution to this problem.”
“I’m not a problem,” Scott says loudly. He turns his frown their way. “You said he’d bring me back home.”
Tattle-tale, Logan thinks, ignoring the sharp look the Professor’s giving him. He shrugs at the kid.
“Said he’d try.”
“Logan,” the Professor said in a low, urgent voice. “He doesn’t know—?”
“Look, we were in the middle of a fight—”
“Know what ?”
Sharing glares with Scott almost made everything feel normal, even if Scott was pint-sized. The kid holds the glare for a moment longer, then pointedly turns his attention to the Professor. Cheeky little sucker.
“Know what?” he asks again.
The Professor looks at a loss for the first time since Logan met him. That almost makes it worth the whole mess. Logan leans against a wall, crossing his arms over his chest and waits for the shitshow.
“Scott,” the Professor says, clearly trying to find the safe path through a field of land mines, “the way you are right now… is not how you normally are.”
“I know that,” Scott says, looking down at himself. “What’re these weird clothes, anyway? And what’s this visor thing? It’s heavy, can I take it off?”
“No!” the Professor says, nearly shouting as Scott lifts his hands to the visor.
“What?” Scott asks, freezing. “Why not? What is it?”
The Professor sends Logan a pleading look. Logan rolls his eyes and straightens from his slouch.
“What the Professor’s trying to say is you’re not a kid anymore,” he says. “Some weird magic guy turned you into one. You’re an adult.”
Scott frowns at him suspiciously. “That’s a really weird lie.”
“‘S not a lie, bub. You’re, what, 28?”
“29,” the Professor corrects. “Last month. Logan, you were at the party.”
Logan remembers cake and spending the night arguing with Scott in the corner about a proper training regimen for Bobby. Had that been his birthday? Huh.
“I’m not an adult,” Scott says, scornful. “Are you guys crazy?”
“I’m afraid Logan is telling the truth,” the Professor says. “Here, you can look—today’s newspaper.”
He pulls one off his desk because Xavier is exactly the kind of old-fashioned bastard who still gets his newspaper delivered every day. Even Logan’s moved on from that, though he tries not to read the news much; there’s too much shitty stuff happening and he honestly doesn’t want to know about it. Scott’s told him more than once that he has no one to blame but himself if shitty stuff happens when he sticks his head in the sand, but Logan figures there are people more important than him paying attention who can do more about it anyway.
Scott takes the newspaper with scorn, looking down with the clear expectation that it will not confirm their story. When he takes in the year, his mouth drops open.
“ What ?” he asks. “It’s not—It can’t be—Is this true?” He shakes the newspaper at Logan. “You didn’t—I dunno. Fake it?”
Logan has no idea why Scott’s looking to him for an answer, but he shrugs. “Lot of work to fake,” he says. “We’d have to do the articles too. You really think we’d do all that just to convince you you’re an adult?”
Scott sucks on his lower lip as he contemplates. Logan blinks. Scott does that when he’s an adult, too. Weird. It’s a little distracting when he’s an adult, but as a kid, it’s mostly just pretty cute. Logan’s never really thought of Scott as cute before.
“Okay,” Scott says slowly. “If this is true… What happened to me?”
“As Logan said, you were involved in a skirmish—”
“Means a fight,” Logan says. From the surprised look Xavier shoots him, the Professor didn’t really expect him to know it. Logan rolls his eyes and looks back at the kid. “You were getting into it with this weird magic guy,” he clarifies. Scott scowls. “He said something about making you less of a threat then he did something.”
“It would be helpful if you tell us what you remember,” Xavier says gently.
Scott considers him and turns back to Logan. “I was in bed,” he explains. “The last thing I remember is going to sleep. I talked to Nate before I went to bed about playing outside tomorrow.” Xavier’s face does something pained upon hearing the name Nate, which Logan files away for future reference. “Then there was a green light and I woke up and there were people fighting. I tried to run away, but I got lost in that alley where those things found me. And you killed them.”
“Whatever process changed you, it’s clearly powerful,” the Professor says. “It’s taken your memories as well as changing your body. But he said it was not permanent?”
“Yeah,” Logan says. “But you didn’t see him, Prof. He clearly wasn’t right in the head.”
“Hm. I will speak to him. Until then, we will have to assume that Scott will be like this until further notice. He will stay here, with us, and we will do our best to make do without Cyclops.”
“Cyclops?” Scott asks. “Is that me?”
Xavier smiles at him, so gently it makes Logan turn his head to glare at the wall. Scott Summers has always been Xavier’s favorite after Jean, but it still makes Logan feel a little bitter.
“Yes, Scott,” he says. “You are using your mutation to help people. Save them.”
Scott’s silent for a long time. “Mutation?” he asks finally. “I have one, too?”
Logan’s head whips back around. He shares a look with Xavier, who clearly understands as well. Scott’s mutation isn’t one of the subtle ones, easy to hide and difficult to notice. If he doesn’t know about it, then…
“Scott,” Xavier says. “You said before that your headpiece was terribly heavy. I think it’s all right if you take it off now.”
Scott’s never been stupid. He frowns. “Take it off?” he asks. “But before, you—”
“I overreacted. Go ahead, Scott.”
“Prof—” Logan says, because if they’re wrong then they’re about to get a room full of beams.
They both watch as Scott lifts his hands to his visor. He takes it off. Logan’s holding his breath as Scott opens his eyes and it comes out in one long whoosh as he blinks at them. No lasers. Scott’s eyes aren’t red like Logan always assumed—they’re blue.
He doesn’t have his mutation.
“Good Lord,” Xavier says.
“You got that right,” Logan agrees.
“This is a school?” Scott asks as he tries to keep pace with Logan, turning to look around so much that he nearly trips over his own feet. “What kind of a school? It’s huge!”
“A school for mutants,” Logan says. “The only one of its kind.”
“And I’m a mutant, too, right? That’s what that Professor guy said.”
“Yeah,” Logan says.
“What’s my mutation? Do I have claws like you?”
Logan casts him a look, surprised by the longing in his voice. Has Scott secretly liked Logan’s mutation this entire time? Weird.
“Not quite,” he says. “Yours is a little more… obvious. And dangerous.”
Scott beams. “Cool,” he says fervently. “But I don’t have it right now?”
“Guess not. The Prof thinks it must have developed when you were older.” Logan glances down at him. “You’ve never noticed anything different?”
Scott’s little shoulders go up. “No,” he says.
Hm. Logan doesn’t push it, even though he’s pretty sure that means Scott’s noticed something. He just leads Scott through the twisting corridors of the Institute.
“Here’s your room,” Logan says.
He pushes open the door. He’s been in Scott’s room plenty of times, but never without Scott around. It smells of him and it’s spotless because Scott is an incurable neat-freak. Logan watches as Scott walks in, taking everything in. It’s still odd to see him without his visor. Logan’s spent years getting used to reading Scott’s face without seeing his eyes.
“My room?” Scott asks. “All mine? I don’t share with anybody?”
“Have you seen this house?” Logan asks. “No one has to share here.”
Scott sucks his lip into his mouth. “It’s so nice,” he says quietly. He moves around, looking at the bookshelves and the bed and the dorky guitar hanging on the wall. Logan’s never gotten over that Scott knows how to play the guitar. “It’s really mine?”
Logan shrugs. “Here,” he says and tugs one of the books open on the desk so that Scott can see. He flips it to the cover page, where it reads PROPERTY OF SCOTT SUMMERS, DO NOT TOUCH WITHOUT RETURNING AND THAT MEANS YOU BOBBY. “See? That’s your book.”
Scott stares. He reaches out to touch the writing but takes his hand back quickly. He looks very overwhelmed suddenly. Logan expects it must be strange to wake up and find out that you’ve missed your entire life, that you’ve grown up and done things you don’t know about. Logan felt the same way when he learned about his own lost past. Despite himself, his chest aches with sympathy.
Without thinking, he reaches out and ruffles the kid’s hair. Scott swats away his hands, but at least he’s glaring as Logan pulls away and not crying.
“We’ll fix this,” Logan says. “You’ll see.”
“What am I supposed to do until then?” Scott asks. “I’m not a—mutant. Not yet. But this school is for mutants, isn’t it? What will I do here?”
Good question. Scott’s always been sharp. Logan turns it over in his head, considering.
“Depends on how long you’re like this,” he decides. “For now, I’ll talk to some of the students. They can hang out with you.”
Scott’s sudden scowl is kind of adorable. Taking the visor away really upped the kid’s cute factor—it’s hard to look serious with such big eyes.
“I don’t need a babysitter,” Scott says scornfully. “Can’t I just stay with you?”
He blushes the moment he says it, as if he hadn’t meant to. He looks away as Logan blinks at him in surprise, pretending to study the desk’s contents. Logan lets him, disconcerted. When has Scott ever sought him out, ever?
“I’m not that interesting, kid,” Logan says. “Besides, I have my own job to do.”
“You have a job?”
“Well, yeah. I’m a teacher.”
That gets Scott to look at him. His narrowed eyes and disbelieving smirk are kind of insulting but at least he looks a little more like himself.
“You?” he asks. He makes a big show of looking Logan up and down. “You’re a teacher ?”
Logan crosses his arms over his chest. “Yeah,” he says.
“What do you even teach?”
Scott frowns at him. “That’s a class here?”
“Only for the people who want to join the X-Men when they graduate.”
“Who’re the X-Men?”
“Our team,” Logan says.
“That’s what the crazy outfits are for?”
Logan huffs. “Yeah,” he says. “Never been a big fan of them myself.” He straightens, rolling his shoulders. “You good, kid? I’ve got somewhere I need to be.”
Scott tenses. “You’re leaving?” he asks. “What—”
“Storm and the others will be back by now. I want a little chat with that magic-user who did… whatever he did to you.”
“Just stay in here,” Logan says. “Read something or take a nap, maybe. I’ll come back and get you for dinner.”
He’s looking toward the door, mind already on their new prisoner, but Scott’s silent for long enough that he looks back. He rolls his eyes when he realizes the kid’s actually pouting, his eyes on the ground and his bottom lip pushed out. If he tried that as an adult he’d look ridiculous, but as a kid it just looks pretty cute. Logan scowls at his bent head then forces himself to march back to the kid and crouch down in front of him. He keeps his hand gentle as he flicks at Scott’s chin, forcing his head back up.
“Look,” he says as Scott meets his eyes. “I know you must be pretty fucking scared.”
“‘M not scared,” Scott says.
Logan keeps his face neutral. “Oh?” he asks. “Then there’s no problem if I go deal with this thing I have to do, is there?”
Scott’s lower lip trembles a little, but he rises to the dare just as the adult him would have—with a glare that says Logan’s stupid for even trying to challenge him.
“Of course not,” he says with his head held high, chin tilted up. “No problem at all .”
Logan doesn’t laugh because then he’ll give himself away but he does smirk a little. Scott’s just as easy to manipulate as a kid as he is as an adult.
“Fine, then,” Logan says, straightening to his full height and ignoring the way it makes Scott take a reflexive step back. He still logs it in the back of his mind. “I’ll be back in a few hours. I meant what I said about a nap.”
He turns and marches out. Scott’s shout of, “I’m not a baby !” follows him and Logan huffs out a laugh.
“He insists he meant no real harm,” Storm says, leaning against the desk in Xavier’s office with a weary cast to her face. “That it is not permanent.”
“But he won’t say what not permanent means,” Logan barks out. “Little shit says it depends.”
“Logan,” Xavier says. “Where does he come from?”
“He’s Asgardian,” Storm says. “He says he snuck through the Bifrost when Thor came back to Earth last week.”
“Avengers,” Logan snarls. “Everything is always their damn fault.”
“Now, now, Logan,” Xavier says, even though Logan knows Xavier doesn’t have any fuzzy feelings for their local superhero team. “I suppose Thor will want to take care of this man personally, considering he is from his planet?”
“I’ve sent word already through T’Challa,” Storm says. “Thor will come to collect him before the end of the week and asks that we hold him until then.”
“We will continue to question him about what he’s done to Scott,” Xavier says. “Perhaps if he will not answer us, Thor will be able to shed light on the situation—magic is common in Asgard, after all.”
“So, what?” Logan demands. “We’re just going to leave it like this? Cyclops just stays a kid?”
“There are few alternatives,” Xavier reminds him.
“Force the little snot to change him back!”
“He says he won’t do it,” Storm says. “You heard him.”
“I heard him say a lot of bullshit about how it would ‘interfere with the original spell and cause irreparable harm’ but that doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth. For all we know, it would be easy!”
“For all we know, he is telling the truth,” Storm reminds him.
“Prof, you need to go talk to him.”
“If he is Asgardian, there is no guarantee I will be able to hear his thoughts,” Xavier reminds him. “The thoughts of aliens are not like our own—there are many I cannot read, Thor among them. I will make the attempt.” He looks at Logan. “How is Scott doing?”
“Scared stiff but hiding it. He’s tough,” Logan says. “He’s asking all sorts of questions.”
“He seems attached to you,” Xavier says.
Logan fidgets. “Well,” he says. “I’m the one who found him, that’s all.”
Xavier looks amused. “Perhaps when this has been resolved, you and Scott might finally find the common ground to be friends, Logan.”
Logan doesn’t say anything but scoffs internally. Yeah, he thinks. Like that will ever happen.
“Well, what do we do with Cyclops?” Storm asks. “His mutation hasn’t shown yet, so he can’t attend classes…”
“He can attend some of them,” Xavier says. “Our basic educational classes have little to do with controlling mutant powers and there are several students here in his age group.”
“Should we… tell people?” Storm sounds discomforted.
“They’ll already know by tomorrow,” Logan says. Storm shoots him a look but he shrugs. “You know what gossip’s like here.”
“There’s little reason to hide it,” Xavier says. “These are mutant children, Ororo. They are adaptable.”
Logan isn’t so sure about that, but the Professor is right that they won’t be able to hide it so he keeps his mouth shut.
“For the time being, we will keep an eye on him and allow him to join the natural rhythm of the school,” Xavier says. “With luck, he will recover and return to his normal age quickly.”
Logan gets all the way to the dining room before he remembers he’s supposed to go get Scott. Sighing, he turns and retraces his steps to Scott’s room. He knocks briefly on the door and peeks in when there’s no answer. He frowns when he doesn’t see Scott, but then catches sight of a lump under the covers of the bed. Logan approaches slowly.
He’s never seen Scott sleeping peacefully. Even on long missions, he usually sleeps sitting up, arms folded over his chest, ready to wake at a moment’s notice. But right now, his head is turned into the pillow and his breaths are deep and even. He doesn’t wake even as Logan reaches out to touch his shoulder. It takes a long minute of gently shaking him to get him to blink. Logan’s still not used to it—he has to rein in the urge to duck as Scott opens his eyes.
“Wha?” Scott says. “Nate?”
Oh no. Logan makes his face neutral and resolves to ask Xavier about this Nate person the next chance he gets.
“No,” he says. “It’s Logan.” Oh, the kid probably doesn’t remember his name. Logan frowns. “The guy with the claws?”
Scott snaps awake at that, scrambling back from Logan’s hand into the corner of the bed. His eyes are huge in his face, his arm coming up as if to ward off a blow. Damn it. Logan raises both hands and doesn’t make any attempt to get closer. After a long moment, Scott lowers his arm and peeks up at Logan warily.
“It’s dinner time,” Logan says. “You coming?”
He thinks Scott would have said no, but his stomach growls. Scott blushes and Logan forces himself not to smile.
“Fine,” Scott says.
He climbs out of the bed, carefully avoiding any contact with Logan. He’s not wearing the Cyclops armor anymore. He must have raided Scott’s closet full of tweedy sweaters and khaki. The pants he’s wearing are too long and too big, but he cinched them with a belt and the heavy sweater covers most of it. Logan stifles a laugh but Scott’s little glare says he didn’t do it quickly enough.
“Nice look,” he says.
“Nothing fits,” Scott says, tugging at his sleeves.
“We’ll see if we can’t get someone to find you some better clothes.” Funny as it is to see Scott parading around in clothes twice his size, if he's going to be stuck like this for a while he'll need something better to wear.
Logan follows him out of the room, letting him lead mostly for his own amusement since Scott clearly has no idea where he’s going and is too proud to say so. They walk for several minutes before Scott finally stops with a huff and looks at Logan, scowling.
“Where’s the dining room?” he asks with painfully forced politeness.
Logan smirks. He points the opposite way they’ve been walking. “That way,” he says.
Scott’s wounded silence lasts all the way up to the dining room doors. As Logan goes to push them open, he’s stopped by Scott’s hand curling in the hem of his jacket. Logan freezes, taken aback by the unexpected contact. He looks down. Scott’s staring at the doors with those huge eyes again. He glances up at Logan and down again, his face pinkening.
“It’s—” he says and swallows hard. “Are they going to stare at me?”
“At home, sometimes the kids stare.”
The kids? Logan thinks, bemused. How many brothers and sisters does Scott have? And why would they stare at him? But he has no idea how to ask.
“Do they?” he asks.
Scott nods. “They, uh. Don’t like me much.”
Logan scowls before he can stop himself and Scott flinches, dropping his hands from Logan like they’ve been burned. Fuck. Logan crouches down before Scott can step away and takes Scott’s chin lightly between his fingers. Scott freezes, his big eyes fixed on Logan’s face. Logan stares back at him.
“They won’t stare,” he says.
“How do you know ?”
“Because you’re walking in there with me,” Logan snaps. “If anyone stares at you, I’ll rip their nuts off.”
Whoops. Too much. Scott’s mouth drops open and Logan takes his hands off Scott’s face. He stands and crosses his arms over his chest, trying to keep up his bravado even though he kind of feels like blushing himself. Keep it together, he reminds himself. It’s still Scott standing in front of him, not an actual kid.
Not that that helps much. Logan’s never been great at keeping his cool with the adult Scott either.
“Oh,” Scott says. Then, more shyly, he adds, “You will?”
“Well,” Logan says, because most of the people in there are kids, “probably not. But I’ll glare back and most of them don’t want to cross me. So.”
If Scott were an adult, he’d laugh at Logan for saying that. Scott the kid, on the other hand, looks deeply impressed.
“Oh,” he says. “Is it because you have those claws?”
“No,” Logan says. “It’s because I’m not very nice.”
Scott stares up at him. For the first time since he became a kid, he smiles. His cheek dimples, his eyes glitter. He really is a cute kid. Logan half expects birds to start singing behind him.
“I don’t think that’s true,” he says and, to Logan’s shock, takes one of Logan’s hands in his. “Let’s go.”
Kids, Logan thinks, are damn confusing.
“I see you’ve adopted someone new,” Rogue murmurs to Logan over dinner.
Scott, sitting on his other side and asking Storm a series of increasingly excited questions, doesn’t hear her but Logan still scowls at her. She’s never really been intimidated by him, but she’s gotten more confident as she’s gotten older. She laughs in his face, flicking his nose with a gloved finger.
“Don’t be like that,” she says. “It’s cute. Especially considering you and Scott can barely be in the same room together when he’s all grown up.”
“We can be in the same room together,” Logan mutters.
“Yeah, if you’re arguing with each other.” Rogue’s smile turns a little sad. “Or if you’re mooning in a corner over each other.”
“I don’t moon,” he snaps, affronted.
“Who said I was talking about you?”
Logan frowns at her and decides to ignore that little tidbit, turning back to his dinner. “Besides, I haven’t adopted anyone,” he says mutinously to his potatoes.
“You know denial isn’t healthy, Logan,” Rogue says. “If the dad shoe fits…”
Logan shudders. “Do not call me that,” he says. “I’m not anyone’s dad .”
“You sure took enough interest in my relationship with Bobby that it felt like you were my dad,” Rogue tells him.
“That’s because that kid is shifty,” Logan says. “I won’t change my mind about that.”
“Okay,” Rogue says and adds, after a pointed silence, “dad.”
“You’re his daughter?”
Oh god. Logan fights the urge to hide his face in his hands as Scott suddenly tunes in to their conversation, leaning around Logan to look at Rogue with avid interest. Rogue, of course, simply laughs.
“No,” she says. “Can you imagine getting that hair? I’d rather die.”
Logan does not touch his hair because he’s not some vain priss, but he does make a mental note that maybe it’s time to chop it again. Scott did make a comment about it getting longer just last week.
“Why don’t you want his hair?” Scott asks. “It looks nice.”
Logan looks down at him at that. Scott’s scowling at Rogue now. Rogue looks like this is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to her.
“Sure,” she says, so choked up that it’s obvious she’s trying not to laugh. “Of course it does, I’m sorry. But I’m not his daughter. Logan just helped me out when I was younger.”
“Helped you out how ?”
Rogue sobers up. She exchanges a look with Logan and Logan tells her with his eyes that if she wants to tell Scott she can, but it better be a kid-friendly version. Her mouth ticks up a little.
“I was in some trouble,” Rogue says. “Logan helped me get out of it and get to this school. Without him, I’d be dead.”
That’s an exaggeration, Logan thinks and is about to open his mouth to say so when Rogue nudges his foot under the table. He frowns at her but she shakes her head.
“Really?” Scott asks, wide-eyed. He looks up at Logan. “Did you fight hyenas for her, too?”
Rogue’s somber face twists again. “Hyenas?” she asks.
“Yeah!” Scott says. He begins to tell her the story of that afternoon, with some embellishments. Logan shakes his head and goes back to his dinner, totally out-of-sorts.
Logan wakes up and sits straight up in bed before he registers he’s awake. He blinks several times, trying to figure out what the hell woke him. He’s always been a light sleeper, but he’s never just—
He hears something. A whimper, then a loud shout. Scott’s room.
Logan’s out of his bed and running before he makes any conscious decision. Scott’s room is across from his, something they’d both pouted about and then put up with. Scott’s usually not too bad as a neighbor—he’s an early riser and quiet at night, so Logan barely notices him except when they run into each other in the hall.
He bangs into the room at a full run. He’s not sure what he’s expecting, but his claws have already started to slide out by the time he registers that the room is empty. He frowns, still tense from the adrenaline. On the bed, Scott is tangled in his duvet. Logan takes a closer step and his frown deepens. Scott is sweaty and distressed, his little face twisted. As Logan watches, he turns, body thrashing and makes another loud sound, a wordless shout of distress. Logan’s heart twists. Fuck.
He reaches forward then stops, hesitating. He doesn’t like being touched after his own nightmares and he doubts adult Scott would care for it either. But Scott’s a kid now—don’t kids need to be touched? Logan knows he’s heard that somewhere.
“Cyke?” he calls and then winces. He clears his throat and says, more loudly, “Scott? Scott!”
Scott comes to with a gasp. His eyes are unfocused, but he must see Logan because he scrambles back just like he did that afternoon, curling into himself and shaking. Logan doesn’t reach for him. He keeps very still and quiet and lets Scott recover.
It seems like an age before Scott looks at him, but it can’t be more than five minutes. His eyes are red and glassy. He looks too pale. Logan curses again in his head.
“Kid?” he asks.
“Go away,” Scott says.
Scott heaves a pillow at Logan. It hits him in the face. Logan frowns but stands. He doesn’t want to force anything and it’s not like he has any idea what to do with a kid who’s coming down from a nightmare. But he doesn’t feel right just leaving Scott here.
“I’m right across the hall,” he tells Scott, who’s put his head on his knees again. “If you need me, come get me. Don’t hesitate.”
Scott says nothing. Logan’s heart twists again but he forces himself to turn, to walk out. Scott’s a kid, but he’s still a person. He should get to decide if Logan is there to witness him so vulnerable or not and he’s choosing for Logan not to be there. Logan gets that—he wouldn’t want anyone to see him after something like that either. But it still makes his stomach knot to think of Scott going through it alone. He doesn’t like it.
He stays outside of Scott’s door. He’ll just… wait, he thinks. That way, if Scott has another nightmare, he’ll hear it more quickly. Logan’s awake already anyway, and he’s never needed that much sleep, an aftereffect of his mutation. Decision made, Logan settles down next to Scott’s door and tips his head against the wall.
It takes a long time for his thoughts to settle.
Scott can’t look at Logan when Logan collects him for breakfast. He’s wearing another set of adult Scott’s clothes. They’re still too big—he’s rolled up the pants so much they look kind of funny and cinched them tightly with a belt. The shirt hangs off of him. Adult Scott would be horrified to look so undignified, but the kid bears with it. Logan reminds himself again that he needs to find better fitting clothes.
Logan lets him stay quiet as they eat breakfast. He takes heart that Scott still chooses to sit next to Logan even though he could try joining some of the students milling about at the food tables. They’re shooting Scott curious looks even though none of them linger under Logan’s withering stare. But Scott stays where he is at Logan’s elbow, picking at his meager breakfast.
Logan sighs as they finish up. It’s still the weekend, so there are no classes. What is he supposed to do with Scott all day? He has his own responsibilities—
Oh. That could work.
“Come on, kid,” Logan says, standing. “You’re coming with me.”
Scott’s shoulders come up. “Do I have to?” he asks.
That stings a little. Logan’s used to being dismissed by adult Scott, but this one had seemed to like him well enough. Logan rolls the hurt away, keeping his voice even.
“Guess not,” he says and turns to leave, betting that Scott won’t want to stay in the cafeteria alone.
He gives it a minute, but it only takes half that before he hears the patter of feet behind him. Logan smirks a little to himself.
“Fine,” Scott says, clearly pouting. “What’re we doing?”
“I’ve got some training I need to do this morning,” Logan says. “You can come help me out.”
Scott perks up a little. “Training?” he asks. “We’re going to fight?”
“I’m going to fight,” Logan says. “You’re going to watch and if I so much as see you try to throw a punch, you’re going back to your room before you can say, that’s not fair. You got me, bub?”
The scowl comes back. “Fine.”
Logan’s been doing Sunday morning practice for the last few months because there are some students who are honestly hopeless at hand-to-hand. Not that it’s just the ones who need to practice that come—several of his more advanced students attend too just to get in some extra work. Logan’s always left it optional and the amount of people always varies. This morning it’s only about a dozen kids, most of them from the upper years.
When Logan steps into the room, it falls silent. Some of the kids glance at Scott, but they know better than to look away from Logan in here. Logan rolls his shoulders, feeling some tension leak from him. After the fuckfest their last mission turned into, it’s nice to return to somewhere he can be in control.
“All right, kiddies,” he says and ignores the grumbling of the teenagers. “You know the drill. Warm-ups and then we’ll be pairing off.” He looks down at Scott. “Stay over there,” he tells him, gesturing to an open space nearby. “After we do warm-ups, you can help me get everyone set up. Okay?”
Scott nods, his eyes wide and his earlier sulk seemingly forgotten.
Logan knows these warm-ups by heart. He slows his breathing, following through each movement slowly, stretching muscle after muscle. He doesn’t tell the kids how to do it anymore—all of them have done this in their normal classes and know the drill.
He catches Scott watching avidly out of the corner of his eye. Adult Scott has never once come to Logan’s classes—he’d always loudly doubted how well Logan could teach to anyone who will listen. Logan is pretty sure Scott thinks he should be teaching hand-to-hand, even though they both know that Logan would win if it came to an all-out brawl between them.
Once warm-ups are finished, Logan gestures Scott over.
“Why d’you warm up like that?” Scott asks. “Is it fun? Does it hurt?”
“It helps prepare for a fight,” Logan says. “It’s not really fun but it’s relaxing. It doesn’t hurt. Come on, you can help me pair people up.”
He hopes he’s doing the right thing as he points to several students and instructs Scott to go and pair them on his own. He keeps an eye on things as he speaks to the other half of the class, putting them together by skill instead of age, but the students listen to Scott as seriously as they listen to Logan and don’t give him any grief.
One of the kids, an underclassman, Burns, asks Logan in an undertone, “Is that really Cyclops, sir?”
Logan doesn’t like being called sir, but that doesn’t stop some of the kids from persisting in it. He nods and Burns whistles.
“He’s not that scary as a kid,” he says.
Logan barks out a laugh. Burns is so wide-eyed that Logan almost does it again. Before he can say anything, a little hand tugs on his jacket. They both look down at Scott, who’s scowling at Burns. Logan raises his eyebrows.
“I’m finished,” Scott says, still looking at an increasingly uncomfortable Burns. “Are you going to start fighting now?”
“Yeah,” Logan says, a little bemused. “Come on, kid, we need to get out of the way. As you were, Burns.”
“Yes, professor,” Burns says.
That’s still weird to hear and it’s been nearly a year now. Logan shrugs it off and returns to the head of the gym. Scott stands next to him.
“All right!” Logan calls out. “You know the rules—no blood, nothing damaging. Run through the katas, then do a short practice fight. The first down is the loser.” Nods all around. Most of them have done this before. “Begin!”
Shouts echo through the room as the students begin to work through katas together. Logan keeps a sharp eye, but part of his attention is focused on Scott, who’s watching it all with wide eyes.
“Did you teach them to do that?” he asks as they start to shift into full-on spars.
“A lot of it,” Logan says. “Some of them have been training since they were your age.” Weird to think that Scott would start training pretty soon. “They were still pretty shit at it when I got here, though.”
Scott gives him the same deeply affronted look his adult self has whenever Logan says stuff like that.
“That’s a swear,” he informs Logan.
“I know, kid.”
“You’re not supposed to—”
“Hey!” Logan barks, catching sight of something out of the corner of his eye. Scott flinches and Logan looks back at him for just a second. “Not you, kid,” he says in a softer voice.
He marches to the middle of the room, ignoring the chatter as students catch on that something’s going on and drop out of their fights. The two kids in the middle don’t notice him, focused on a tussle that’s less practice and more all-out brawl. They’re shouting at each other, even. Logan grits his teeth.
“Hey!” he says again.
The kids, two upperclassman boys, don’t even seem to hear him. Logan runs through his mental list of students—Farn and Prewett. Moody boys, usually focused during class. Not much trouble. Logan frowns and reaches down. He grunts a little as he separates them—both of them are older and more in Logan’s weight class. They struggle against his grip until they realize exactly who has them. They go limp with satisfyingly pale faces then. Logan keeps his hold on them for a long moment to make a point, then releases them. He crosses his arms over his chest.
“Want to tell me what that was all about?” he asks in his mildest voice.
Both boys flinch.
“Sorry, professor,” Farn says. “We both got a little—” He glances at Prewett and grimaces. “I was saying some stuff to make Prewett attack me and I took it too far,” he admits.
To Logan’s surprise, Prewett pipes up. “I was saying stuff back. Sir. We were both—”
“No, I was—”
“Quiet,” Logan barks.
They both fall quiet. Logan wants to rub at his temple but he doesn’t. He watches them. He realizes someone has come up behind him and looks to see Scott nearby, just outside of reach, watching the whole scene thoughtfully. A thought occurs to Logan and he smirks a little.
“Well,” he says, turning back to the students. “If you’re gonna act like kids, you’ll be judged by a kid. Scott?”
“What?” Scott sounds wary.
“What d’you think we should do with these two?”
“You’re asking me?”
Scott comes up to Logan’s elbow. He squints at the two students, then looks up at Logan like he expects him to say this is all a practical joke. The students look like they want to sink into the floor out of embarrassment, which is just as well since Logan’s doing this to punish them for being immature.
“So?” Logan asks when Scott doesn’t say anything. “What’ll it be? Bed without dinner? Running some laps?” His smirk widens. “Hang ‘em up by their fingers for a few hours?”
“ What ?” Scott says, clearly appalled. “No!”
“Well, we could always throw them in the lake…”
“We’re not throwing them in the lake, Logan.”
For a moment, it’s like the real Scott, the adult Scott, is standing in the room. Logan grins, wanting to keep poking him, but then realizes that Scott’s face is actually pale not frustrated. He pauses.
“Let’s just do… the laps thing,” Scott says. His voice is a little weak. “Okay? Ten laps.”
“Sure,” Logan says. He looks at the students, who haven’t moved. He narrows his eyes at them. “Didn’t you hear him? Ten laps! Around the school!”
They scramble to their feet and shoot from the room. When Logan looks around, everyone is watching him. He scowls at them.
“Well?” he barks out. “This isn’t movie time, folks. Get back to your work!”
They begin fighting again. Logan marches back to the front of the room, Scott at his heels. They settle there together. And even though Scott doesn’t ask any questions or do much else, he stands a little closer to Logan than he had that morning, so that’s something.
The next day, Scott is still a kid. It’s also a Monday, which means, despite Logan’s misgivings, Scott will be attending classes for the morning.
Logan couldn’t fall asleep last night, listening for any hint of a sound from Scott’s room. But either he was quieter than he’d been before or there weren’t any nightmares, because Logan doesn’t hear a peep from him until he collects him for breakfast. He's wearing the clothes Logan managed to scrounge up yesterday—worn and a little threadbare, but they fit him much better than the adult Scott's clothes did.
Scott sits with him at breakfast again, looking pale and uncertain. He doesn’t eat much and Logan’s contemplating trying to force the issue when Scott speaks up in a quiet voice.
“Do I really have to go?” he asks.
Logan eyes him. “The Professor thinks it’ll be a good idea,” he says.
“There some reason you don’t want to go?”
Scott’s silent for a long moment. “They’ll stare at me.”
They probably would, but that wouldn’t help the kid. “They’ll get over it fast,” Logan says. “This is a mutant school, remember? They’ve seen freakier shit than you.”
At his other side, Storm gives him an appalled look but Logan just raises his eyebrows at her. It’s not like Scott’s a baby, he can handle a bit of language. Besides, Scott seems to brighten a little at that.
“Oh,” he says. “I didn’t think about that.”
“See?” Logan says. “Besides, it’s only for the morning.”
“And—” Scott cuts himself off, looking down at his plate. His ears are going red.
Scott clears his throat and doesn’t look up from his plate. “You’ll come to get me after?”
Logan stares at his bent head. He hadn’t been planning on it, but he’s hardly going to tell the kid no. It’s still weird to have a Scott Summers who seems to want him around.
“Yeah, kid,” he says. “Course.”
He ignores Storm’s laughing eyes. He’s just being a good teammate, thinks stubbornly, and besides, it’s not like he can abandon the kid when he’s clearly just trying to keep a familiar face around.
Logan knows classes let out around 1:00 so he’s loitering outside of the classroom for the underclassman by 12:55. He ignores the odd looks he gets from passing students and professors.
At 12:59, there’s a commotion inside. Logan tenses. He can hear shouting. He’s already headed for the door when a harried-looking teacher—Jones, one of the few mutant teachers who isn’t on the X-Men team—sticks her head out, clearly looking for help. When she sees Logan, she almost seems to faint from relief.
“Wolverine! Thank God, maybe you can help me—”
Logan has a bad feeling about this. He hurries in after her. Most of the class is on their feet, yelling. It takes a moment to get past the group enough to see—
Logan’s stomach compresses with rage. He snarls under his breath, clearly startling Jones.
“Wolverine—” she says, but Logan ignores her, pushing his way through the kids.
At the center of the room, one of the students has his hands outstretched. When he sees Logan, he pales but he doesn’t drop them. In front of the kid is Scott, who’s been sucked into a sinkhole that has opened up in the floor of the classroom. Scott’s terror is clear—he’s not even moving, clearly too afraid to move in case he sinks further than he already has. Logan can feel his claws starting to come out and forces them back in.
“What,” Logan says through his teeth, “the fuck are you doing?”
“It was only a joke!” the kid says, sounding nervous now. “Last week Professor Summers gave me an F because I missed some commas in my paper! I just wanted to—”
“I don’t care what Professor Summers did to you,” Logan roars. “That’s not Professor Summers! Get him the fuck out of there!”
“Wolverine!” Jones says.
“Where the hell were you when this happened?”
“I was helping another student,” Jones says, flushing. “While I understand you’re upset, you can’t—”
“I’m more than upset,” Logan tells her and turns back to the kid. “Get Scott out of there right now.”
The kid looks mutinous for a long moment, but takes a look around the silent room and slowly retracts his hands. Scott slides out of the sinkhole as it disappears entirely from the floor. Logan reaches forward and catches him, then lets out a startled breath as Scott pushes his entire body into Logan’s in a hard, almost desperate, hug. Logan doesn’t know what to do for a moment but wraps his arm around Scott’s skinny little back after a moment of indecision. Scott’s breathing rapidly and Logan can feel his heart beating.
“I don’t know what the hell you thought you were doing,” Logan tells the kid, who’s looking really pale right now. “But I’ll be talking to Xavier about this. And about you,” he adds to Jones, who frowns. “Don’t come near Scott again, do you understand me? Nod.”
The kid nods. Logan tries to stand, but Scott’s still clinging to him, his face buried in Logan’s shoulder, so Logan picks him up, keeping him balanced as best he can. Scott’s a pretty small kid, so it’s pretty easy to hold him. He glares around the room once and then marches out, still fuming.
Scott’s quiet during the entire walk to his room. Logan meets the curious looks they get with hard stares and everyone suddenly finds other places to look. He doesn’t relax until they’re safely behind Scott’s door.
He sits down on the bed, still holding Scott. He sighs.
“Christ,” he says. “Kid? You okay?”
Scott’s still shaking a little. Logan runs a hand down his back, concerned but not sure how to comfort him. He tries to untangle them, but Scott only clings more tightly, making a wet sound against Logan’s shoulder. Logan stops moving. For a long time, they sit in utter silence.
“You said they’d seen freakier shit than me.”
Logan starts when Scott speaks, his voice hoarse and thin. He looks down at Scott’s head, still buried against Logan’s neck. He sighs.
“This wasn’t about what happened to you,” he says. “Your adult self… well. He’s kind of a hard-ass. Some of the kids don’t like him much.”
That makes Scott lean back finally. His face is tear-streaked and wan, his eyes red. Logan really wishes that kid was an adult so he could punch him in the face. As it is, he’s going to be having a long talk with Xavier.
“Hard-ass?” Scott says, clearly nonplussed. “Me?”
“You have high standards,” Logan tells him. “Not many of the students meet them. Professors, either.”
Scott’s eyes are so strange to look at. Logan might actually miss them when Scott’s an adult again—they’re very revealing. His curiosity is shining right through as he looks into Logan’s face.
“Professors?” he asks. “You mean you, don’t you?”
Sharp as a tack. “Yeah,” Logan says. “You’ve never really thought much of me.”
“Really? But you’re—”
Scott seems to realize he’s still sitting in Logan’s lap. He goes bright red and scrambles off onto the bed. Logan watches him go, bemused.
“You and I don’t always agree on the best way to do things,” Logan tells him. “Are you okay, kid?”
Scott looks away. “I’m fine,” he says. “I wasn’t even in there that long. It didn’t hurt.”
“It still would’ve sucked,” Logan says. “You didn’t know how long he’d keep you in there. And it’s scary, sinking.”
“I’m fine,” Scott insists.
He’s looking more and more mortified. He must be remembering exactly everything that happened after Logan got him out of that sinkhole. Scott was always proud as a man—it’s no real surprise that his boy self is proud too. He’s probably embarrassed as hell that everyone saw him cling like a little kid to Logan, that Logan carried him out of there.
“I need to go talk to Xavier,” Logan says. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, Logan,” Scott snaps. “Go. I don’t need you.”
“I’m sure. I’ll just stay in my room for the rest of the day.”
Logan hesitates. He doesn’t like the shaky look of Scott, but he really does need to talk to Xavier. He stands, slowly moving to the door to give Scott plenty of time to call him back. But Scott doesn’t say a word even as Logan opens the door and leaves.
Xavier leans back in his chair, brow furrowed. “That is, indeed, deeply troubling to hear,” he says.
“The boy will be punished, of course,” Xavier says. “As will the teacher. Is Scott all right?”
Logan lets out a dry laugh, running a hand through his hair. He paces through Xavier’s office, feeling caged and restless. Xavier watches him from behind his desk.
“Is he all right? Fuck if I know, Prof.” He gives Xavier a hard look. “Did you know Scott has nightmares?”
“When he first moved here, he had them almost every night,” Xavier says, completely unruffled. “Has Scott ever spoken to you of his childhood, Logan?”
“Scott? Talk about personal stuff?” Logan snorts. “That would be a cold day in hell and you know that. His parents are dead, I know that much and that’s only because of Jean.”
Xavier sighs. “Yes,” he says. “Well, let it suffice to say that after his parent’s death, Scott did not have an easy or enjoyable time in the orphanage he was placed in. His parents’ death was also deeply traumatic for him. It took many years for the nightmares to stop.”
Logan scowls. He wishes he had something to punch.
“Scott never told me he lived in an orphanage,” he says.
Xavier smiles. “I doubt he ever wanted you to find out, Logan. He still views that time of his life with regrettable shame.”
“He didn’t want me to find out?” Logan asks, baffled. “Why just me?”
“You may not believe me, but Scott holds your opinion in very high regard.” Logan snorts but Xavier continues speaking with utter seriousness. “He has done much to keep you from learning about the details of his past which embarrass him.”
“He does not hold my opinion in very high regard,” Logan says with an approximate British accent that makes Xavier’s lips twitch. “He holds me in about the same regard as the dirt on his shoe, Prof. You know that.”
“I know you think that,” Xavier says. “It continues to baffle me how a man of your talents can be so obstinately blind to the obvious.”
“Blind to the obvious—?”
“Scott,” Xavier says in his slowest, you-are-a-moron-so-listen-carefully voice, “thinks of you highly and likes you very much. He has long since forgiven you for what happened with Jean and anyone with two eyes can see that. Except, of course, you.
Logan scoffs. “This is stupid,” he says. Xavier's wrong and Logan knows it, there's no point arguing about it. “I have to go back.”
“Think about what I said, Logan!” Xavier calls after him cheerfully.
Logan stays up late that night, thinking, and so he’s already awake when he hears the shouting. He sits up in bed immediately and hurries across the hall. It’s only when he puts a hand on Scott’s doorknob that he hesitates, torn. Should he go in? Scott had barely spoken during dinner, had barely looked at Logan. He probably won’t want Logan to see him in the throes of a nightmare, utterly vulnerable again. And Logan can’t stop hearing Xavier’s voice in his head, telling him that Scott’s tried to hide everything he finds shameful about his past from Logan.
Another shout and he turns the knob. He can just wake him up and go if that’s what Scott needs, but Logan can’t just sit there and listen to it happen without intervening.
Like last time, Scott’s tangled up in his blankets, twisting under them. His face is sweaty and pinched. Logan’s heart twists at the sight of him but he grasps Scott’s shoulder firmly.
“Scott,” he says.
Scott comes awake quickly this time. He doesn’t scramble away from Logan’s touch, though. He gulps in breathes as if he’s just run a marathon, trembling a little as he stares up at the ceiling. Eventually, he turns his head to look at Logan.
“Why are you here?” he asks tiredly.
“I heard you,” Logan says, taking his hand back. “I’m across the hall.”
Scott’s brow pinches. “You could’ve just ignored it,” he says.
“No. I couldn’t.”
They stare at each other. Scott’s expression softens. He sits up in bed, wiping at his eyes with the sleeve of the enormous shirt he’s wearing. He sniffles a few times. Logan waits silently, letting him get the nerve to say whatever he’s going to say.
“A year ago,” he says, “my parents died. In a plane crash.”
Logan knows this story. It’s the one Jean told him once, back before she disappeared. She never gave him any details. Even though he knows about it, Logan doesn’t interrupt. He stays quiet because Scott needs to tell him this and Logan’s not going to take that away from him.
“I don’t remember it very well,” Scott says. “I hit my head when my brother and I—when we fell. But I remember… my dad was crying. And he and my mom, they forced Alex into a parachute, then me, and then they pushed us out—”
Scott’s breath is coming too fast. Concerned, Logan reaches out to him again, smoothing a hand through the messy down of his hair and pulling Scott’s head up so that he’s looking Logan in the eyes. Logan takes a single, deliberately long breath in and releases it, silently instructing Scott to follow his example. Scott manages one long breath, then another, and slowly they begin to breathe in tandem. Once it seems like he’s not about to hyperventilate, Logan lets go of his head.
Scott’s little face is pale in the dim room. Logan sighs.
“Your parents must’ve loved you a lot,” he says, because they must’ve. Not everyone would choose to put the parachutes on their kids instead of themselves.
Scott sniffles. “I know,” he says.
He sounds so small and wretched about it. “Kid?” Logan asks.
Scott won’t look at him. “I know they loved us,” he says in a thick voice. “I know!”
“But I’m still so mad at them!”
Logan blinks, taken aback by the sheer ferocity of Scott’s voice. He reaches out again without thinking, taking Scott’s shoulder. Scott trembles under his hand.
“Alex says I shouldn’t be, they saved us.” Scott’s speaking too quickly now, like the words are tumbling out of him. “But they threw us away, they tossed us out of that airplane and then they—then they died—!”
“And I don’t care if Alex thinks they’re heroes! They left us!”
Logan roughly pulls Scott in. Scott shakes in his grip. His little hands come up around Logan’s waist and grip his shirt in two tight fists. Logan lowers his head until he’s covered Scott completely, frowning hard at the opposite wall. They stay that way until Scott’s shaking subsides.
“It’s okay to be mad at them,” Logan says. His voice sounds hoarse and odd. “But, kid, they did it to save you. They’re your folks, they wanted to keep you safe.”
Scott’s huff is bitter and small. “We could’ve died,” he says. “I almost did.”
“You had a better chance being pushed out then going down with them,” Logan tells him.
Scott pulls away from him. Logan feels a little colder and fights the urge to pull him back. He crosses his arms over his chest instead.
Scott frowns up at him. “It’s hard, not being able to really remember,” he says. “When we fell, my parachute broke and I hit my head, so it’s all kind of fuzzy. It makes me even more confused because I don’t even know if what I do remember is right. Like… I can remember the sound of the wind and the parachute opening, but there was this… this red light …”
Logan goes very still. That sounds a lot like something that Scott can’t currently do. Scott’s not looking at him, thankfully, so Logan forces his face into something more neutral. He tucks the new information away to talk to Xavier about it. He wonders if Scott ever recovered those memories as an adult if he knows he might have caused his own accident with the release of his mutant powers.
“I don’t know why I still dream about it,” Scott says quietly, embarrassed and uncertain. He’s looking away from Logan now, down at his knees. “It’s been a year. I should be over it by now, shouldn’t I?”
Logan doesn’t know. Logan carries his trauma with him like an open wound. Even when his memories were entirely gone, he could feel the pain like an afterimage.
“Sometimes it takes time, kid,” he says. That’s what everyone tells him and he figures there’s probably some truth to it. “If a big thing happens to you, that doesn’t just go away. You gotta take time.”
Scott frowns. “I don’t want to have nightmares anymore,” he says because he’s determined to break Logan’s heart.
Logan ignores the twist in his chest as best he can.
“Well,” Logan says. “Is there anything that helps?”
Scott doesn’t look at him. “Sometimes…” he starts, then hesitates, clearly uncertain.
Logan keeps his voice free of impatience. “Go ahead, kid.”
Scott gathers his courage. “Sometimes at the orphanage, Nate holds my hand until I fall asleep,” he gets out all in one go, almost one word.
Logan eyes him. He’s blushing again, looking at the wall instead of at Logan, clearly more than a little mortified at indirectly asking Logan to hold his hand. Logan can feel his mouth twitch, but he firmly forces it back down. He has to take this seriously.
He puts his hand on the bed, palm up. “Fine,” he says.
Scott glances at him, startled. “Really?” he asks.
“I’m not going to sleep anyway. Might as well do something useful.” When Scott doesn’t move, Logan wiggles his fingers. “Well?”
Scott hesitates then grabs Logan’s hand like he’s afraid Logan will pull away at the last second. Scott’s hand is small and a little damp. He has strong fingers. Logan settles in on the floor next to the bed, tilting his head into a comfortable position and ignoring the ache that’s starting in his shoulder. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Scott staring at their linked hands with wide eyes.
“Well?” Logan says. “Go back to sleep.”
Scott looks at him, looks back at their hands. Slowly, uncertainly, he settles back in under the covers and closes his eyes. Logan wishes he’d brought a book or something, but he figures he’ll just keep himself entertained until the kid falls asleep for good and then he can sneak away.
“Logan?” Logan looks up. Scott’s eyes are only open a slit. He already looks sleepy, which is a good sign.
Logan blinks, taken aback by his sheer sincerity.
“Well,” he says. “Uh. You’re welcome.”
He ends up staying through the night.
The next day, Scott refuses to go back to classes. Logan can’t really blame him, but it also means that he needs to figure out what the hell he’s going to do with Scott for the entire day. Especially when it becomes very clear that Scott isn’t interested in leaving Logan’s side—he follows so closely at Logan’s heels on their way to breakfast that he steps on Logan’s foot at least six times and he sits right at Logan’s elbow, asking him all sorts of questions and making it mostly impossible to eat his food. Rogue, sitting on Scott’s other side, looks like she finds the whole thing fucking hilarious, of course. Logan glares at her but she just winks back.
When they’d gotten up, Scott had told him in a quiet, firm voice that he wasn’t going back to class. Logan had looked down at his determined little face and said okay without thinking it through. Now, making his way through the halls, he’s trying to come up with something that will occupy them both for the day. Luckily for Scott, Logan’s got a free day on Tuesdays, but if there’s still problems tomorrow then he’s going to need to think of something. Maybe one of the older kids would be willing to babysit, he thinks.
He takes them out onto the grounds for a lack of a better idea. Scott doesn’t sound happy about going outside until he gets a proper look around and looks suitably impressed.
At this time of day, the grounds are mostly abandoned—the students are in class and not many classes take place outside. Logan decides they’ll just walk around for now and Scott seems on board, skipping ahead to look at different things and sometimes scrambling back to Logan to show him the things he finds.
Logan finds it strangely peaceful. He’s never been that interested in walking before, but it’s kind of fun to watch Scott, who seems energized in the clean air.
They make a few turns around the grounds before it’s clear that Scott’s losing interest. He starts to stick closer to Logan instead of darting off and he’s fidgeting. Logan frowns. He looks around and catches sight of the boathouse. Hm.
“Want to take a boat out?” he asks.
Scott perks up. “Can we?” he asks, looking over at the stacked canoes with interest. “Is that okay?”
The lake just beyond the grounds isn’t very big—more of a pond, really—but it’s fun to paddle around if the students can be trusted. Logan shrugs.
“Why not?” he says.
Scott helps him get the boat and insists on carrying it even though Logan showed him how he could lift it off the ground with one hand. Logan is given oar-carrying duty and watches in bemusement as Scott struggles to drag the canoe over to the lake. He doesn’t offer to help, though, since he’s pretty sure Scott will give him a dirty look if he tries.
The canoe isn’t that big, but it fits both of them okay. It’s kind of wobbly but Logan gets them off of the shore without too many problems. It really is a small lake—it will only take about a minute to get to the other side and back again—but Scott’s having fun. He keeps putting his hand in the water and yelping as Logan turns the boat unexpectedly. He even flicks some water back at Logan with a mischievous look.
Logan flicks some water back and stifles a laugh at the indignant look it gets him. After a while, he offers the oars to Scott, who does his best at going at the same speed as Logan. His arms aren’t quite up to the task, even though he goes on for an admirably long time. He sets aside the oars with a huff and they drift for a long time.
“Logan?” Scott asks.
“Hm?” Logan is feeling strangely indolent and sleepy, not really aware of what’s going on. It’s been a long time since he’s been able to relax like this, even in the relative safety of the school that he’s been enjoying for the past year. Logan’s never been the type to just unwind. “What?”
“Why aren’t we friends?”
Logan looks at him. “What?”
Scott’s looking across the water. He’s blushing up to his ears.
“You said—you said I didn’t like you. But… You’re—” Scott’s blush deepens. “I mean! I don’t get it. Why aren’t we friends?”
Logan eyes him. “Well,” he says eventually, trying to think of a way to explain it that will make sense to a ten-year-old. “We argue a lot, I guess. We have, uh. Different styles.” That’s what Storm says whenever she wants to diplomatically explain how Logan and Scott are basically polar opposites about solving problems. “I dunno, Scott. You haven’t liked me since you met me.”
There really was no way to explain it without talking about the elephant in the room. Logan sighs. This is going to be uncomfortable, he thinks.
“Well, there was Jean.”
Scott straightens. “Jean?”
“Your, uh, girlfriend,” Logan says. God, this is awkward to explain to a kid. Logan might start blushing himself soon. “She and I—uh. Well. We never did anything, but you didn’t like that she liked me or that I liked her.”
“You liked my girlfriend?” Scott asks.
Logan grins a little at his horror. “You’re not so surprised we’re not friends now, are you?”
Scott huffs. “Is she still my girlfriend?” he asks.
“No.” Jean Grey is still in the wind. Her disappearance had shaken Scott—and the entire school—a lot. They all worried about her. “I guess not.”
“She’s not your girlfriend, is she?”
Logan barks a laugh. “Definitely not.”
It never mattered how much they flirted, Jean had always been in love with Scott. Logan made his peace with that a long time ago.
“Then it doesn’t matter,” Scott decides. “We can be friends, can’t we?”
“Hey, what’s that?”
Scott begins to sit up in the boat. Alarmed, Logan tries to reach for him, drag him back down. The boat’s beginning to shake.
The boat tips. Logan has one moment to think fuck before he’s going in the water. He sputters to the surface and immediately searches for Scott, relieved to find him coming to the surface nearby, soaked to the bone and sputtering. The lake isn’t very deep—Logan can just about feel the bottom with his toes if he reaches—so he grabs Scott with one arm, ignoring his protests, reels in the capsized boat with another, and walks them back to the shore.
They leave the boat there. Inside the boathouse, there are several towels and Logan roughly dries off Scott and himself. That finished, they go back outside. Logan flops down on the grass outside of the boathouse, feeling tired. Scott cautiously sits down next to him.
“Sorry,” he says, a little sheepish. “I thought I saw a fish.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Logan says, shutting his eyes. “I think I need a nap.”
He hadn’t really slept last night and he thinks Scott gets that because he doesn’t ask questions or protest. Logan’s body is beginning to really relax, despite his semi-wet clothes, when he feels something settling in at his side. Logan cracks open an eye and Scott looks up at him from where he’s curled up against Logan’s side.
“I’m cold,” he says with great dignity.
Logan considers it. They should probably go back up to the school, change clothes. The sheer thought is tiring.
“Do you need to go inside?” he asks.
Scott shakes his head. “I’m tired too,” he admits.
“Fine,” Logan says and bundles him a little closer. “Naptime, then.”
Logan hasn’t really slept near other people that often, but he finds it surprisingly easy to drop off with Scott next to him. It isn’t a deep sleep, but it is peaceful. When he wakes, it’s much later, judging from the position of the sun, and Scott is clearly still asleep. Logan stretches carefully. His clothes are dry from laying in the sun, but they’re tacky and stiff and his skin feels clammy. Gently, he shakes Scott awake.
“Come on, kid,” he says. “We’d better go inside now.”
Scott grumbles and rolls over, burying his face in the grass. Logan smirks at his back. When Scott goes back to being an adult—and he will if Logan has anything to say about it—he’s going to have fun reminding him of this kind of stuff. Scott’s going to get so mad. Logan’s not really sure why that cheers him up, but winding Scott up has always been a fun hobby of his, so he doesn’t think about it too carefully. He shakes Scott’s shoulder again.
“Up and at ‘em,” he says. “Sun’s going down.”
Scott grumbles and doesn’t move. Logan raises his eyebrows and glances back at the school. It’s not that far and Scott’s not that heavy. Before Scott can do more than shout, Logan scoops him up and throws him over one shoulder. Little fists rain ineffectually down on his shoulder blades, but Scott’s foot swings in a kick that almost makes Logan double over. He reaches for Scott’s ankle and holds it steady.
“Come on, bub,” he says. “You’ve got to be getting hungry, right?”
Scott’s struggles soften and then stop. Logan’s almost to the castle door when he hears the mumbled yes.
“All right,” he says. “I’m going to put you down now.”
He does. Scott’s still bleary, his hair mussed. He looks about ready to fall over and go back to sleep again. He rubs at one eye and blinks up at Logan.
“Lunch?” he asks.
“Sure,” Logan says. “Lunch.”
He settles Scott in his room with some books and then goes off to find Xavier again.
“Any news about our magic friend?” he asks.
Xavier looks up from the papers he’s been reviewing. “His mind is closed to me, as I suspected,” he says.
Logan slumps. “So you didn’t find out anything? Nothing about when Scott will be back to normal?”
Xavier’s mouth softens and his eyebrows lower. “I’m sorry, Logan.”
Logan scrubs at his face. “If he stays a kid forever, we’re going to run into problems,” he says. “We’re lucky there hasn’t been some kind of fight in the last few days.”
“Yes,” Xavier says. “I am holding out hope that Thor might be able to shed some light on the situation.”
“And when is Thor coming to collect this guy?”
“Friday, he says.”
Logan sits down in the chair opposite Xavier’s, drumming his fingers on the armrest. “And what am I supposed to do until then? I didn’t sign up to be a full-time babysitter to a bratty little Cyke.”
Xavier’s eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiles. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he says with warm amusement. “From all reports, you seem to be doing a marvelous job.”
Logan glares at him. “Don’t you start with that dad nonsense,” he warns.
“I would never. But you always have had a way with children, Logan. It used to baffle Scott when you first decided to stay with us.”
Logan snorts. “Of course it did,” he mutters.
“I saw you and Scott out on the grounds this morning. Has he recovered from yesterday?”
“He doesn’t want to go back to his classes, but otherwise he seems fine,” Logan says.
Xavier’s voice lowers. “And the nightmares?”
Logan grimaces. “He had another one.” He considers Xavier’s concerned face. “Prof,” he says. “Do you know who this Nate guy is that Scott keeps talking about?”
Just as he thought, Xavier’s face contorts. Logan can’t read his expression, but it’s not pleasant. He leans forward in his chair, frowning.
“Nate,” Xavier says, “is someone I only know about from what Scott’s told me and my own investigations over the years.”
Logan straightens. “What? What do you mean, investigations?”
“Scott discovered much of this after he came to live with me,” Xavier says. “But the Nate he speaks of is no orphaned child. His full name is Nathaniel Essex and he is a deeply troubled man who has an… interest in mutant children.”
Logan sits back in his chair, shocked. “An interest?” he demands.
“He studies them,” Xavier says, his voice quietly wrathful. “Tracks them. Scott’s orphanage was the place where he would take in orphaned mutants and experiment on them without their knowledge, testing their mutations and manipulating them to do his bidding.”
Logan feels sick. “He experimented on Scott?” he asks.
“Yes.” Xavier’s face reflects Logan’s anger and disgust. “For the two years he was at the orphanage. After Scott was adopted, we learned that he continued to keep tabs on him.”
Logan needs to punch something. He curls his hands around the armrests and grips until he hears the wood creak.
“Where is he now?” he demands.
“He has taken to calling himself by another name,” Xavier says. “Mister Sinister. As for where he is… we have no idea. He vanished several years ago.”
Logan lets out a long breath. “Scott thinks he’s his friend,” he says. “Prof—”
“Telling him would do no good,” Xavier says firmly. “He won’t believe you and he certainly won’t thank you for it.”
“I told you this so you could understand why Scott might be wary of other people, Logan,” Xavier says. “He hasn’t had the easiest of lives and I’m afraid it will get worse for him before it gets better.”
Logan’s claws are beginning to slide out. “That’s not fair,” he says through gritted teeth.
Xavier’s smile is soft, wistful. “No,” he says. “It isn’t fair at all.”
Logan still hasn’t calmed down by the time he reaches Scott’s door. He forces himself to stand outside of it and breathe in deeply until he feels less like going out into the woods for a nice, long scream. He might be angry, but he’s not about to take it out on the kid, especially after what he’s just heard.
He knocks on the door. Scott calls and Logan comes in to find Scott in bed, reading a book. Logan relaxes at the sight of him and his damp hair, scrubbed face, and bright eyes. Scott might have had a dangerous life, but he’s safe now. Logan’s going to make sure of that.
“Just wanted to say good night,” he says.
Scott blinks and then smiles at him. “Oh,” he says. “Thanks. Good night, Logan!”
Logan takes another look, more to reassure himself, then retreats back to his bedroom. He strips off his shirt and begins his nightly routine with a little more aggression than he usually has—it’s a good way to work off some of his frustration and it makes him a little more in control. He’s in the middle of doing crunches when there’s a soft knock on his door.
Logan answers. He forgets that he’s not wearing a shirt until Scott goes bright red and looks down at his shoes.
“Sorry,” he stammers. “Um. I—”
“What is it?” Logan asks, riled up and concerned already. He crouches down so that he can look Scott in the eye, puts a hand on his shoulder. “Scott?”
“I’m—I don’t want to have nightmares,” Scott says, all in a rush. “And… last night….”
He can’t finish. He’s so red he looks like he might burst. Logan manages to get the idea, though and his heart softens. Damn kids, he thinks without any heat. Soon enough, he’ll be singing Scott a lullaby and tucking him, too. But he can’t say no to Scott, not when he looks like he wants to sink into the floor from the embarrassment of having to ask. Not after hearing what Scott went through as a kid. Logan likes to poke fun, but he’s not cruel.
“Sure,” Logan says. “Let me put on a shirt.”
Scott’s eyes dart up at him and away again. Logan smirks a little to himself at that, amused that Scott’s so shy about a little bit of nakedness. Logan’s pretty sure that burned out of him by Scott’s age and he wonders if Scott just hasn’t been in an orphanage long enough to be used to other people being undressed. But then he remembers what happened to Scott there and his humor sours.
He throws on a shirt and pads after Scott to his room. The bed is ready, duvet cover folded back and pillow plumped. To Logan’s surprise, there’s a hardback chair pulled up next to the bed. Logan eyeballs Scott, who is pointedly and exaggeratedly settling himself in bed. Hm, Logan thinks but decides not to ask Scott about it. The kid’s embarrassed enough as it is.
He settles into the chair and Scott turns off the lights. In the dim room, Logan puts his hand on top of the duvet cover and allows Scott to fold it in one of his. For a long time, they’re quiet. Logan’s thinking about classes tomorrow, preparing a mental list of things he needs to do and worrying about what he’ll do with Scott when Scott speaks up.
“Um,” he says quietly. “Could you… could you maybe…”
He falls quiet. Logan doesn’t sigh because he has a feeling that’s not going to get Scott to keep talking, but he wants to.
“What’s up?” he asks. “What do you need, kid?”
“I just… want to hear about the X-Men,” Scott says. “And about….”
About him, Logan realizes. Scott wants to know about his adult self.
“Oh,” he says. “Well. I’m, uh, not the best story-teller, you know.”
“That’s okay,” Scott says. “I just want to hear about it.”
Logan clears his throat self-consciously. “Well,” he says, “the X-Men are Professor Xavier’s idea. They started even before the Institute and…”
He tells Scott about the X-Men’s original team, about how Xavier went and found mutants who had discovered their powers and helped them. He tells him about Magneto and the Brotherhood. He explains the little he knows about how Scott got involved—that Xavier found him and invited him to the Institute, that he joined the team young, that he fell in love with Jean Grey. He explains about the hectic last few years—Logan’s own entrance onto the scene, the explosion of mutant rights debates, their clashes with Magneto and his team. It isn’t until his voice is going hoarse that he realizes that sometime during all that explaining, Scott has fallen asleep.
“Brat,” Logan says to his sleeping face. “I’m telling you a damn story and you fall asleep in the middle. That’s rude.”
He considers Scott’s face. He looks even younger now, his cheeks still full and round, his skin untouched by worry. He’s breathing in and out evenly. Something settles in Logan’s chest seeing him this way, safe and untroubled. Logan considers taking his hand back and going to his own room, but he hesitates. If he leaves, Scott might be fine for the rest of the night. But he might still have nightmares and Logan doesn’t want that to happen to him again.
He settles into his chair. He can stay here, he thinks. Just for tonight.
Logan wakes and immediately knows something is wrong. He stiffens in his chair, his back muscles groaning from sleeping upright. Slowly, he opens his eyes. At first, he can’t tell what set his alarm bells ringing—the room looks exactly as it did last night and there aren’t any intruders. Then he checks the bed and his heart jumps.
Last night, Logan had watched a ten-year-old Scott Summers fall asleep. But sleeping there now is the twenty-nine-year-old Scott who’s been missing for the past four days.
“Thank God,” Logan murmurs under his breath even as his heart twists a little.
Scott stirs and opens his eyes. Logan ducks just as an optic beam slices over his head. Scott yelps. He must close his eyes again because there aren’t any more beams. Cautiously, Logan sits upright off the floor. Scott’s breathing heavily, his eyes squeezed shut.
“Wolverine?” Scott asks. Logan tenses. “Did I just imagine you were in my bedroom?”
“No,” Logan says. “I’m really here, Cyclops.”
Scott’s breathing is getting faster. “You’re here because…?”
Logan’s heart sinks. “How much do you remember?”
“I was fighting that stranger. A kid. Bad at hand-to-hand.” Logan snorts. “Then he said he wanted to get rid of me and he flung some kind of—magic at me. Right before you bowled him over. After that, I—” Scott shakes his head, frowning. “What happened to me?”
Fuck. “He hit you with some kind of spell,” Logan explains. “It turned you into a kid.”
“Yeah,” Logan says. “Listen, I think we’d better get the Prof. He wanted to know the minute you changed back.”
“I don’t have my visor,” Scott says.
“It’s here somewhere.”
“No, I mean—why wasn’t I wearing it?”
Logan really doesn’t want to talk about this. If this was kid Scott, it’d be easier, he thinks. Kid Scott actually liked Logan.
“When you changed, you were ten,” he explains, hoping Scott will get it.
“Ten—? Oh.” Scott’s expression smoothes out. “Oh. I didn’t have it yet. My mutation.”
“Got it in one. I’ll grab your visor and we’ll go see the Prof.”
Logan stands, going to Scott’s dresser. He’s pretty sure that’s where they put it. He pulls out the abandoned X-Men uniform, visor bundled up with the rest of the clothes when Scott speaks again.
“That won’t be necessary, Wolverine,” Scott says briskly. “I can go see him myself. This doesn’t involve you at all, right?”
Logan flounders for a moment, clutching the visor hard in his first. He doesn’t know how to respond. Scott’s right, of course—the moment Scott changed back, he wasn’t Logan’s problem anymore. Logan doesn’t need to ferry Scott between places or worry about what to do with him all day. Scott’s an adult now. He can take care of himself.
Logan sets the visor down on the bed. Scott must feel the weight of it. He reaches out and grabs it, tugging it over his head. He relaxes the moment it’s in place and looks at Logan for the first time. His mouth curves into a scowl. Logan doesn’t know why it’s painful to see—little Scott scowled at him too.
“Well?” Scott says. “Shouldn’t you be going?”
“Yeah,” Logan forces out. “Yeah, you’re right. Good to—Good to have you back, Cyclops.”
Scott snorts. “You don’t have to go easy on me just because I was a kid for a few days,” he says.
“Right.” Logan rubs his head. “I’ll go, I guess.”
Scott doesn’t say anything to stop him. Logan’s not sure why he thought he would.
Logan ghosts through the rest of the week, off-center and feeling strange about it. He doesn’t pay much attention in his classes, hardly speaks to anyone at mealtimes, and hides out in his room during his free time. He doesn’t sleep well. He keeps waking up with his ears tuned toward Scott’s bedroom before he realizes what he’s doing.
He’s doesn’t know why he’s like this. He’d known Scott would turn back into an adult eventually. He’d only been a kid for a few days. But the strange feeling lingers.
Xavier had seemed pleased when Logan had reported that Scott had returned to normal. They’d seen off their magical prisoner soon after, escorted out of the building by the preternaturally cheerful Thor. Within a day, it was like the whole thing had never even happened. The only aftereffects of the entire ordeal are that some of the students still whisper whenever Scott entered a room and that Scott has been avoiding Logan.
Logan’s not sure he would have noticed before. He’s never tried to seek out Scott, never actively tried to spend time with him, but, thinking about it, he realizes they do inevitably end up spending together regardless. It’s usually training or arguing, but it’s only when Scott’s conspicuously absent that Logan realizes just how much time they’d spent together.
Why aren’t we friends? Little Scott had asked. Now Logan’s not sure they weren’t friends, but he’s fucked it up again anyhow. Scott hasn’t even been able to be in the same room with him since he changed back.
It makes their next mission awkward. They spend the entire trip to the rural city in New York awkwardly not looking at each other and also trying to avoid the strange side-glances from the rest of the team. Logan, at least, can just sit in pointed silence. That’s pretty much his norm anyway. Scott, on the other hand, is much more visibly nervous. When he explains that they’re there on a report of a rogue mutant in the area with a dangerous fire-based mutation, his voice shakes.
They find the mutant easily enough—young, volatile, and angry. Xavier had told them she’d caused some accidental damage to her own family when her mutation first showed. Logan can sympathize, but she’s so wild she’s setting things on fire all around them. She has to be contained, but it’s difficult to get close to her.
Scott tries. He’s talking to her, using the soft, soothing voice that Logan’s only ever heard when he talks to their youngest students and Jean Grey. But the girl doesn’t want to listen—she’s irrational and crazed with grief, unable to control herself or her powers. Logan sees her hands light up and runs before he knows what he’s doing, knocking Scott to the ground just as a spout of flame goes over where he’d been standing.
Logan has to catch his breath. Scott’s mouth is open with surprise, but it snaps shut into a hard line quickly.
“Get off me,” he says, shoving at Logan’s shoulder.
Logan gets off. He offers Scott a hand up, but Scott ignores him and stalks back to the girl. Logan snarls at his retreating back.
“You’re welcome!” he calls out. Scott gives him the finger without looking back. “Asshole,” Logan mutters, stung.
In the end, Storm is the one to get the girl. She coaxes up a gentle rain that douses her fire and speaks to the girl in low, even tones until her volatile emotions have been soothed. They bundle her onto the jet and hurry away before something can spark her off again.
Logan keeps his gaze pointedly on the ground even as he feels someone watching him. It has to be Scott—no one else sends that prickle down Logan’s back. He still doesn’t look up, still annoyed. If the fucker can’t handle that Logan was the one to see him as a kid, that’s on him, Logan thinks. It’s not Logan’s problem.
Storm takes the girl to Xavier as soon as they land. Logan makes a beeline for his room, but someone yanks on his elbow before he can get too far. He turns with a snarl, ready to bite off the hand that’s on him, but stops when he realizes it’s Scott. His mouth is tense, his jaw ticking. Pissed.
“What?” Logan snaps.
“A spar,” Scott grinds out. “You and me.”
“Now? We just got back!”
Scott doesn’t move. Logan lets out a rough sound of frustration and knocks his hand away, turning and making his way to the gym.
“Fine!” he says. “But no whining when I beat your ass into the ground, Cyclops.”
“I don’t whine, Wolverine.”
“Oh, really?” Logan taunts.
Scott’s jaw tightens so much that Logan’s kind of surprised he hasn’t broken his teeth. Logan smirks and keeps his head up as they march into the gym together. It’s quiet and dark. Logan turns on the lights and steps onto the training mats, bouncing on his feet a little. He’s still warmed up from before, but it isn’t like they had done much hand-to-hand with the girl, inexperienced as she was. He does a couple of quick stretches to loosen his muscles.
“Well?” he demands as Scott stays outside of the mat, watching him. “Let’s do this. I want a shower.”
Scott grinds his teeth. “No blood,” he says. “First three hits.”
Scott steps onto the mat. Within seconds he’s thrown himself at Logan, trying for an uppercut to his shoulder. Logan rolls with his momentum, catching his arms and turning them until he has Scott in a headlock. Scott struggles and Logan flicks his forehead.
“Hit one,” he says and steps back.
Scott scowls at him. “Cheat,” he mutters.
“Oh, I don’t cheat,” Logan says, grinning. Fighting always makes him feel better and fighting with Scott is the best of them all. “This is all skill, baby.”
Scott flushes. “ Don’t call me that.”
He flings himself at Logan again. This time he’s more careful—they exchange solid blows for several breathless moments before pulling back again, no-hit scored on either side. The tightness that’s been building in Logan’s chest all week begins to loosen. He’s not sure why seeing Scott’s scowl, smelling him, exchanging blows with him manages to make him relaxed, but it does.
“So you gonna tell me why you’ve been acting like a snot?” he asks.
Scott lunges for him. Logan dances back, surprised, and Scott manages to get a tap on Logan’s forearm.
“Hit one,” he says, smirking.
Logan scoffs. “Barely,” he mutters.
“It still counts,” Scott says. “And I haven’t been acting… like that. I’ve been busy.”
“Sure,” Logan agrees, rolling his eyes. “That’s why you run away with your tail between your legs at the sight of me these days. Never took you for a liar, Summers.”
Scott bristles. “I’m not lying,” he snaps.
“Yes, really. I’ve had a lot on my plate!”
Logan comes for him. Scott grunts as Logan descends, keeping pace and holding him off. Scott’s always been better on the defensive than Logan—he has a solid form and he rarely gives any openings. Logan growls through his teeth and withdraws.
“So this has nothing to do with you spending time as a kid?”
Scott’s jaw clenches. “Of course not,” he says. “I don’t even remember being one!”
Sharp acidity. Logan tenses. “Now that’s a lie,” he says.
“What? Of course it’s not—”
Logan taps his nose. “You know it’s not just the healing factor I have, right?” He stares at Scott. “You really remember?”
Scott’s hand clenches into a fist. He comes for Logan again without answering. This time Logan ducks under Scott’s blow and comes up inside his guard, knocking their heads together in a much gentler headbutt than he would use on an actual enemy. It still makes Scott stumble back, swearing and clutching at his head.
“You remember!” Logan demands. “Don’t you?”
“Fine!” Scott spits. “Yes, I remember! I remember every humiliating minute. Are you happy now!”
“Am I happy?” Logan asks with disbelief. “Why the hell were you hiding it?”
“Why would I want anyone to know that I remember?” Scott demands. “It was humiliating, Wolverine! I was ten and I didn’t have my powers and I acted like—” He shakes his head, shoulders bunching.
“You acted like a ten-year-old kid,” Logan says, confused.
“No!” Scott nearly shouts. “I acted like a little idiot with a crush, following you around and clinging to you like a fucking baby. You had to rescue me from a student! You had to hold my hand so I would fall asleep. God, even thinking about it is just so—”
“That’s what you’re upset about?” Logan asks, affronted. “That it was me seeing all of that?”
“Of course,” Scott says. “It’s bad enough that it happened, but that you had to see it all, deal with me as this little bratty kid—”
“Fuck off,” Logan says and Scott falls quiet, startled. “I didn’t have to do anything.” Scott’s staring at him now. Logan feels a blush coming on and forces it back. “I wanted to help you, you idiot.”
“You were all right as a kid,” Logan says with an uneasy shrug. “I didn’t mind it so much. Looking out for you.”
Scott’s mouth opens, closes again. He looks like he can’t believe what he’s hearing. Logan rubs irritably at his head and decides their fight is probably over even though neither of them has gotten to three hits. He turns.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Back to my room,” Logan says, stepping off of the mat. “This was a mistake—”
He goes down hard as Scott tackles him from behind. Ouch, Logan thinks as he turns with a snarl. They go tumbling across the gym floor for several breathless seconds, grappling and turning. Eventually, Logan manages to pin Scott to the ground, breathing hard and ready to just rip the idiot’s throat out.
“What the hell was that?” he demands.
Scott’s breathing hard too. “You don’t get to just turn your back on me!” he says furiously. “We weren’t finished!”
“This isn’t helping!” Logan snaps. “I don’t want to—”
“What, fight me? Suddenly too good to do that now that you’ve seen me sniveling from nightmares like a baby, Wolverine?”
Logan snarls, seeing red. “Don’t say that,” he says.
Scott scowls up at him. “Why did you have to come running in and see me, anyway?” he asks. “Couldn’t help but play the hero, huh?”
“You should’ve just let me deal with them, I’d always—”
“I wouldn’t do that to you and fuck you for saying I should,” Logan says.
Scott stares at him. The fight seems to drain out of him all at once. “Damn it, Logan,” he says wretchedly.
“You stupid, brutish, idiotic—”
Logan’s yanked down before he can figure out what’s happening. He freezes when he realizes Scott’s warm mouth is pressed against his. For a long moment, it’s like his brain gets wiped clean. He can’t think, can’t process what’s happening. Then, all at once, his brain catches up and he pulls away sharply. Scott lets him.
“What?” Logan asks, utterly confused.
Scott’s breathing heavily, flushed and scowling. “ That’s why I’ve been avoiding you,” he says. “Idiot.”
“I’m the idiot? You’re the one who—”
“Who wants to kiss me !” Logan says, still bemused by the entire thing. “Since when?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters, you little—”
“Since six months ago.”
Logan stares. Scott’s definitely red now but he’s still scowling.
“Six months?” Logan’s voice sounds strange to his own ears, too high and thin. “But that’s—”
“A stupidly long time? Yes.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
Scott gives him a look like he thinks Logan is deeply stupid. Logan resents that. Anyone would be confused by this entire situation.
“Because,” Scott says in his crispest, most annoyed voice, “until very recently, I thought you hated my guts and were still in love with Jean.”
“But that’s…” Logan shakes his head. “That’s what I thought about you .”
They stare at each other. Scott snorts. To Logan’s surprise, he begins to actually laugh. Logan watches him wheeze, feeling confused and a little happy despite himself. He’s never seen Scott laugh like this before.
When Scott recovers, he sits up, running a hand through his hair. His mouth is pursed, wry.
“We’re both idiots, then,” he says. “Don’t worry about it, Logan. I won’t let it affect anything from here on out.”
“Now hold on a minute,” Logan says, reaching out to grab hold of Scott’s hand as he starts to stand up. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s a stupid thing,” Scott says. “And remembering how you were with me when I was a kid, well—I hoped that meant you didn’t actually hate me. But even if don’t hate me, that doesn’t mean… This is stupid.”
“It’s not stupid,” Logan says. “You’re serious about this?”
“According to you, I’m always serious,” Scott says. He’s not looking at Logan, so Logan tugs sharply on his hand. Scott looks back at him with extreme reluctance. “Yes, I’m serious. Of course I am, Logan. Do you think this is easy for me?”
“No,” Logan says. “No, I guess not.”
He thinks about it for a long moment, taking time to reconcile what he’s seen of Scott in the last six months with this new piece of information. He would never have noticed if Scott hadn’t said something. He’s treated Logan exactly the same as always, with bad-tempered insults and derision. But he had, Logan recalls, blushed more often. Had sought Logan out more. They’ve sparred almost every day in the last few months. He’d invited Logan to his birthday party.
Maybe Logan is just an idiot.
“All right,” he says.
“What?” Scott says, skeptical. “Logan, you aren’t serious—”
“According to you, I’m never serious,” Logan snipes. Scott’s face tightens and Logan sighs. “I know fuck-all about this kind of thing,” he says. “Never really stuck around long enough to have people. But I... “ He swallows. “You’re not the only one who’s thought about kissing.”
It’s Scott’s turn to be astonished. “What, really? How long ?”
Probably since Scott first said something prissy to him, smelling irritated. Logan’s not exactly complex. But that’s not really what Scott’s asking. Logan shrugs.
“A while,” he says.
Scott stares at him. He begins laughing again. “Jesus Christ,” he says. “We are idiots.”
“Never said I wasn’t, bub,” Logan says, relieved.
Scott leans down into Logan. “This isn’t just some….”
“I don’t know. Leftover protectiveness? I’m not a kid, Logan.”
“If you were a kid, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Logan says flatly. Scott scowls at him and Logan rolls his eyes. “Look, I’ve wanted to fuck your brains out for months, so—”
“You asked!” Scott’s deeply red and Logan smirks. “You gonna tell me off for using swears again, Cyke?”
Scott makes a face. “No use,” he says. “Logan. You have to be sure.”
Logan reaches up and takes Scott’s face in his hand. “Trust me,” he says, pulling Scott in for a kiss. “I’m sure.”