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A Dish Best Served Raw

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"How many centipedes?"

"Twenty-six," Scott says, in his most rational, everything-under-control voice. At the moment, Logan would rather hear a crazy laugh. "One for every day I spent at the bottom of that cliff, living on bugs."

Okay. Hard to argue with that. "You said you wanted an apology, not -"

"Like I'd trust words from you."

In a way, Logan's kind of glad. Because Scott just letting him back into the X-Men--no, coming to Canada and inviting him back into the X-Men--was not the act of a normal human being. At the time, Logan figured either Chuck was up to a little brain fiddling or else Scott was applying to become Gandhi.

But Scott biding his time until he could get a little quiet, Scott-like, strategic revenge--that makes sense.

"Fine. Whatever. I've eaten worse." It's true, though Logan's pretty sure Scott just rolled his eyes behind the visor. Some of the Weapon X flunkies thought it was funny to make him eat stuff. Puke. Drain cleaner. His own shit. Other people's shit. "I ain't helping you catch 'em, though." Watching Scott hunt bugs in the dark would almost make up for having to eat them.

"Don't worry," Scott says, and takes a white box out of the backpack he's carrying. "I came prepared."


"I hate to ruin your joke, but I was never a Boy Scout. Here."

The box is one of those paper jobs that restaurants use, and it smells like Chinese leftovers. But Logan can hear the scritching of little legs inside. "They're alive?"

"Believe me, they taste worse when they're already dead."

"Well, thanks a bunch." Logan finds the flap and then decides he's really in no hurry. He looks around at the trees, then down the hill towards the mansion. All the lights are off. He wonders if Jean's asleep or if she's in Scott's head enjoying this. Hell, it might have been her idea.

"Problem, Logan?"

Logan shakes his head, then wonders if Scott can see it in the dark. Wonders how Scott can see anything in the dark with that red filter. "Think I'm gonna sit down for this."

Scott sits down near him, like they're friends. Like they're out here to share a six-pack and talk about girls. Except for how Scott actually follows Chuck's 'no underage drinking' rule, and girls are not a topic they should get into.

"Okay," Logan says, and he tries the thing he learned to do in Weapon X, where he makes his mind go fuzzy around the edges. Switch the imagination off, switch off fear and hope and every kind of feeling, and you can get through anything. It's harder than it used to be, but he gets it finally, that stillness, and he opens up the box and grabs a centipede.

Nothing here to freak a guy out. Just food. Just protein and crunch. Okay, he could do without the wiggling, but . . . don't think about the wiggling.

Not thinking about the wiggling, he ends up thinking about Scott. Wondering how many of these little fuckers Scott ate, altogether. Must have been thousands, because he went a month without any other food. Without water. And with sixteen different broken bones (a bit of information Jean passed along, right before she threatened to break thirty-two of Logan's).

"Jesus Christ," Logan says, and he's got to give Scott credit for knowing just how to maneuver him into being sorry. The guy's not team leader for nothing. "These things are disgusting."

"Yeah. But after a while I started to like them." Scott doesn't sound mad. More like he thinks it's kind of funny.

"Want some?"

"Hell no."

Made you swear, Logan thinks, and goes back to eating.

Twenty-six centipedes is not, in any way, like twenty-six potato chips or even twenty-six brussels sprouts. It's hard work. By the end Logan's jaw hurts and there's stuff between his teeth he doesn't want to imagine. He spits into the grass a few times, and then Scott silently pulls a couple of bottles from the backpack and hands him one. Orange juice, not beer, but the best orange juice Logan's ever had.

Apart from being queasy, Logan feels . . . good. Released from something. He's happy to sit here on the grass, smell the trees, hear the little shrews running around and the wing-flaps of a hunting owl, watch the line of Scott's neck when he swallows.

"I'm sorry," Logan says.

"I know."

"So we're good? We can kiss and make up now?"

Dumbass thing to say if he wants to keep this sorta-kinda-happy moment going. Scott's sure to take it as an insult and get all huffed-up and formal.

"I'm not going to kiss you, Logan. You've been eating bugs."

"Hey, that wasn't my idea," Logan says. And he feels even better, because there's an answer here, maybe, wrapped up as a joke. A way out of this mess, one where everybody gets to be happy.

Too soon to talk about it right now, though. So he lies back and looks up at the stars.