“Go fuck yourself,” Logan says. The least these suits could do is buy him a drink before they try and talk his damn ear off. Anything less is just impolite.
“Ah,” the Brit says. “At least let me buy you a drink. Erik?”
The other one – the one with a coppery smell of danger coming off him, who has Logan’s hackles standing at attention – glances over at his companion. “What?”
“Could you get my wallet? It’s in the car.”
They maintain eye contact a little longer than is strictly necessary, and then Erik nods to Logan and leaves. The Brit – wide-eyed and painfully innocent – turns back to Logan. “What are you having?”
“Look, bub,” Logan says, relaxing minutely once the tough guy is out of the bar. “I don’t care who you work for. Whatever you’re selling, I ain’t buying.”
“Good thing I’m not a salesman. Just a messenger.”
“Oh yeah?” Logan drains his beer, starting to wonder if this tweed-wearing, floppy-haired ding-dong is actually working for the mob or something. He’s guessing not, but tenses anyway. “What’s the message?”
You’re not the only one who’s gifted. The voice cuts through the noise in the bar, rattling around his head. Wolverine’s claws are out before he consciously thinks about it.
“What are you?” he hisses.
Then he notices that the entire bar has gone still. Entirely still. There’s a splash as the pint Chuck was pulling spills over the rim of the glass.
“We’re special. Just like you.” He leans over the bar and takes the overflowing pint from Chuck’s hand, offering it to Logan. “How about that drink?”
And that’s how Logan joins Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr in working with the CIA.
Hey, he never said he wasn’t an easy date. And Xavier’s got some impressive drinking skills.
“Wait,” Darwin says, after a furious and mostly-silent conversation with Alex. “I’m coming, too.”
He steps out through the broken window and walks steadily over to the small group, ignoring the others’ eyes on his back. He’s too busy preparing himself for what is probably a shit-stupid idea. Can’t be helped, he knows, even if he understands Angel’s reasons for wanting to go. Darwin’s not too happy about working for The Man either, but Shaw is tipping the scales of his Motherfuckers-To-Watch-Out-For-Meter.
That’s when Logan launches himself off the roof with a blood-curdling scream. He hadn’t indulged in the show-and-tell session earlier, but he pretty much broke Darwin’s aforementioned Motherfuckers-Meter. Whatever his powers are – besides throwing himself through the air like a bat out of Canadian hell – Darwin doesn’t really want to be on the receiving end of them. He lets his skin go hard and flinty and flings himself on Angel, crashing them both to the ground.
The stone skin deadens his other senses a bit, but Darwin is dimly aware of some more screams, several explosions, and then Angel pounding on his shoulder and cursing in Spanish.
Darwin cracks his eyes open. Against all odds, Shaw and his pimped-out minions are gone. Logan is lying on the grass, looking like a piece of bread left in a toaster for too long.
“Jesus, what happened to him?” Darwin asks, shifting back from stone to skin, helping Angel back to her feet. He looks around at the various expressions of shock on his friends’ faces.
Raven is the first to recover her senses enough to answer. “Alex did his thing, and Shaw absorbed it. Then he, like, regurgitated it at Logan.”
Sean adds unnecessarily, “He fried him.”
Alex looks frozen in shock and horror, and Darwin can already see the number of nightmares the kid’s going to have over this one. He takes a step towards him. “Yo, Alex,” he starts to say.
That’s when Logan’s crispy, smoking corpse groans and sits up.
Everyone shrieks, Darwin included. It’s not his proudest moment, but on the list of weird shit he can put up with, walking and breathing corpses do not make the cut.
“What a jerk,” Logan says. His skin knits itself back over his bones as he stands up. “This was my favorite flannel shirt.”
He tears the rest of it off. He makes as if to toss it on the ground, but then pulls a cigar out from somewhere, and lights it with the smoldering cloth.
When he sees the rest of them looking at him, Logan exhales a stream of smoke and says, “What?”
Logan’s never been a big fan of fancy houses. They make him feel like a rat in a maze. Especially when he’s trying to find a damn bathroom.
The sixth or seventh door he tries, he finds Angel instead of a toilet. It’s impossible for him to tell whether she’s dressed or not – apparently, you can take some girls out of the strip joint, but you can’t make them put on something that’s larger than a handkerchief – so he plays it safe and says, “Oops, sorry.”
She doesn’t look angry, though. She looks guilty. Hell, she smells guilty, it’s coming off of her in waves. That’s when Logan sees the open suitcase on the bed, the piles of clothing falling out of it.
“Ah,” he says. “You heading out, then?”
“You gonna tell the Professor?” she says. And it’s the tone she says it in, half-afraid, half-hopeful, that tells him she doesn’t quite want to leave. Just thinks she should.
Logan sighs. “Hell, you let me use your bathroom, I’ll walk you out myself.”
Five minutes later, with his bladder no longer screaming abuse at him for downing a six-pack after dinner, he’s walking out the front door with Angel in terse silence.
“Ahh,” he says, inhaling the cold night air deeply into his lungs. “Christ, that feels better. Can’t breathe properly in that old tomb.” Then he lights a cigar.
Angel snorts. Then she asks, “Can I have one?”
Logan narrows his eyes at her, then shrugs and pulls out another one. “Sure. Call it your goodbye present.”
He lights it for her and waits. After a moment of exceedingly awkward silence, she asks, “Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m going?”
Angel strikes him as the type to throw good love after bad, the kind of girl that gets mixed up with the wrong people because she thinks that’s what she deserves. Logan’s met plenty of women like her, and more than a few men.
“Don’t really care,” Logan replies. “Ain’t gonna change my opinion of it.”
“And what is your opinion of it?” Angel asks, an edge to her voice.
“That it’s dumb as shit and ungrateful to boot. ‘Specially after those kids tried to save you and all.”
She hisses, and that’s all the warning Logan gets before a gob of acid severs his cigar in half. She’s got good aim, he’ll give her that.
Logan relights the stub of his cigar and says, “If you didn’t want to know, you shouldn’t have asked.” He turns away. “Don’t let the door hit your ass on your way out.”
When he comes down to breakfast the next morning, Angel is cooking eggs and bacon and sharing a cup of coffee with Raven. She glares a little at him, but doesn’t spit any more acid at his face. Logan figures that means they’re friends.
Hank had kind of hoped that by the time he’d gotten his PhD, guys like Alex would stop being immature apes towards him. To no avail: some people can’t ever leave the locker room behind. Not even at the dinner table.
Hank opens his mouth to sputter back a reply that he hopes will be cutting and assertive (and knows will probably fail to be either), when Logan – who terrifies Hank – beats him to it.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, kid. I know you’ve been in solitary confinement since you’ve been in diapers, but learn to flirt like an adult.”
Hank wishes a hole would open under his chair and swallow him. Never mind that the rebuke isn’t for him, but for Alex, who’d been ragging on him yet again at dinner.
He chances a glance over at Alex and is... stunned, actually. Alex looks like someone just shot an arrow into his chest. He flushes all at once, red staining his cheeks down to his throat, spreading back to his ears. Hank doesn’t know why, it’s not like Alex really cares about what anyone says. He mostly ignores Logan, with the wariness that seems to be innate in all guys who are used to being the toughest ones in the room, but are suddenly confronted with someone way out of their league.
You could hear a pin drop in the cavernous dining room. It’s easy to hear Angel’s amused snort, then her hiss when Armando nudges her with an elbow.
“What?” she says. Hank catches the wink she sends across the table at Logan, and what the heck does that mean?
Alex drops his fork on his plate and actually knocks his chair over when he leaves, stumbling over an already ungraceful exit.
“I’ve met lumberjacks who are more in touch with their feelings than Alex,” Logan says, leaning back and draining the rest of his beer.
“If you could refrain from emotionally gutting the students at the dinner table, Logan,” Professor Xavier says wearily, “I would appreciate it.”
Logan shoots back, “I’d appreciate it if he just grew a pair and asked the nerd out.”
“Hey!” Hank says, then nearly swallows his tongue when Logan looks at him.
“Got something to add to the conversation, bub?” Logan asks.
Hank’s deeply-repressed, shadowy Hyde persona -- whom Hank has buried under scientific enthusiasm and years of oppressive parental discipline -- surfaces just long enough to take hold of Hank’s mouth, lungs, and vocal cords and spit out the words, “Yeah. You’re an asshole.”
Then it retreats, and Hank realizes he just insulted someone with twelve-inch retractable claws.
Hank flees the table with even less grace than Alex did. Angel and Sean’s laughter follows him.
It’s pure animal instinct that drives him to the kitchen, to the door by the pantry that leads outside. All he knows is that he needs cool air in his lungs, grass under his feet. He needs to run.
Hank catches a whiff of cigarette smoke and leather the second before he runs straight into Alex, who’s standing right outside the door. They tumble to the damp grass in a messy tangle of limbs, and Alex’s cigarette goes flying.
“Crap,” Hank says, shoving Alex off of him. The universe must really hate him right now.
“Look, man,” Alex says, holding up a placating hand, like Hank is holding a weapon on him. “I don’t– I’m not–”
He’s never seen Alex at a loss for words before. It’s fantastic, if slightly unnerving. “You what?” Hank asks, feeling a strange thrill curl beneath his ribs. The Hyde persona is reaching out in curiosity and selfish want. Hank realizes he can smell more than just the cigarettes and leather jacket, he can smell Alex himself, his skin and hair, his hot embarrassment.
Alex swallows. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Hank is many things: socially awkward, ungainly, a mutant, a PhD candidate, easily excitable over protein markers and cell structures. He is not, however, stupid. “Yes, you did.”
Alex looks like he’s considering self-immolation as a means to escape this conversation, which leaves Hank only one drastic option. He lets his instincts take over, grabs the front of Alex’s shirt and kisses him.
Alex‘s mouth tastes like Black Jack gum and Marlboros, and against all expectation, he’s kissing Hank back. More, he’s clutching Hank’s shirt in his fist, opening his entire body to him, every line and angle tense with want. His eyes are squeezed shut, like this is physically hurting him.
“Don’t,” he mutters against Hank’s lips.
Hank freezes. If this is some kind of joke, he’s going to tear Alex’s arms off and club him to death with them. Nobody would blame him.
“Don’t change them,” Alex says, still kissing him.
Hank pushes him away, because what the heck. “What?”
“Your feet. I’m a dick, I’m sorry, shit–”
“My feet?” Hank asks, now even more confused. It doesn’t help that he’s also feeling desperately horny, probably minutes away from just giving in and rutting against Alex.
“They’re cool,” Alex says.
“Cool?” Hank says, aware that he’s beginning to sound like an echo, but this conversation has rapidly spun out of coherence.
“Don’t do anything to them. I know you’ve been trying– I didn’t mean to– I’m a dick,” he repeats.
“You are at that,” Hank agrees, because it’s true. Alex is twenty-one, has spent the last two years in prison, and several years before that in the kind of boys’ homes Hank’s father threatened to send him to when he skived off studying. The fact that he escaped all that with only turning into kind of a dick instead of some kind of human-robot-shark hybrid like Erik Lensherr is actually kind of miraculous.
“Yeah,” Alex says, and runs a hand through his messy hair. “Sorry about that.”
Hank could analyze this apology for the rest of the night, agonize over what this all means, try to reconcile this contrite Alex with the one who has been giving him crap practically from day one. Or–
“You wanna make out some more?” Hank asks.
“Fuck, yeah,” Alex says, pulling him close.
“I guess pets are always cuter when they’re little, right?” Raven asks.
“They’re certainly easier to get along with than teenagers,” Logan says, stomping into the kitchen. He hipchecks Charles out of the way to peer into the refrigerator. “Did I leave my Molson in here?”
“Oh my god, do you mind?!” Raven shouts. “Personal conversation happening here!”
“Here's some food for thought,” Logan says, pulling out a beer bottle and kicking the door shut. “How would you feel if Chuck here started walking around with his twig and berries dangling in the wind?”
Raven recoils at the thought of seeing Charles’ pasty ass on a daily basis, but– “That’s not the point!”
“Then what is?” Logan does something tricky with the beer bottle and the marble countertops, and the bottle cap goes flying off.
“Logan, for the love of god, would you just leave?” Charles asks, squeezing the bridge of his nose. “And I’ll thank you not to think that way about my sister.”
“Hey, I can’t help noticing that she’s walking around in her altogether–” Logan starts.
“The point is that he doesn’t appreciate me for what I am!” Raven shouts. “He just wants me to be normal, like he can pick-and-choose what kind of mutations are acceptable! I shouldn’t have to hide what I look like in my own house!”
There’s a moment of shocked silence that greets her outburst. Then, Logan turns to Charles and says, “She’s right, Chuck. That’s some heavy internalized oppression you got.”
The psychic command of GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN is strong enough for Raven to pick up. Logan double-times it out of there, trying, Raven thinks, to suppress a shit-eating grin.
After a moment, Charles reaches back into the refrigerator and pulls out two more beers, passing one to Raven. It makes her wonder when they last time they drank together was. Was it really back in Oxford?
“I’m sorry,” Charles says. “Raven, it’s just... I don’t want you to be hurt.”
“I can take care of myself, you know,” Raven points out. “I did it for years before we ever met. And it’s not like you’re actually much older than me, I just have a groovy mutation.”
Charles, damn him, sounds entirely too sincere when he says, “Yes, I know.”
This is some stupid shit, Logan thinks, as a man dressed like a drugstore-costume devil drops him and Darwin onto the deck of a warship and vanishes.
“Freeze, freaks!” some overenthusiastic sailor shouts.
He should have told Charles where to stick it when he still could, Logan thinks, as he picks himself up. Or at least given him some hints on tactics before it all went to shit. Honestly, a half-dozen mutants, none of them with any real training, half of them barely out of diapers, against two world superpowers.
Stupid, through and through.
“Hey, boys!” he hears a feminine voice call. He and Darwin share a grin as Angel touches down on deck, wings shivering, all the tassels on her ridiculous outfit twitching. The sailor closest to him and Alex -- who probably hasn’t seen a girl outside of a sticky-paged Playboy in months -- gives an involuntary twitch. “I want you all to listen real close for a second.”
Well, at least Chuck got this much right, Logan thinks, as Sean flies into view: there’s strength in numbers. Logan covers his ears.
The four of them manage to get back to the beach in time to see the devil man get the better of Alex, one knee pinning him to the ground, a knife at his throat. It gets even worse when Sebastian Shaw steps out of their wrecked jet. And damn it, Logan may think that Alex is a know-nothing snot-nosed kid with a big mouth, but he is really not looking forward to watching him get his guts ripped out.
“Shit,” Sean says, because they’re still airborne, too far to do anything. “Shit!”
For some reason, the devil-man is hesitating, looking at Shaw, as if waiting for his approval. Logan starts running through his options, trying to think of a way to stop this, but comes up empty. They’re too far away to do anything.
Their position, as it turns out, actually does have one advantage. It allows them a great view when Hank appears and delivers a righteous beat-down, slamming the devil man into the sand while -- sweet Jesus, while roaring like a bear.
“Whoa,” Sean says. “I didn’t know he had it in him.”
The others, including Logan, are stunned into silence. Until Hank hauls Alex off the sand anyway, and kisses him forcefully, with lots of tongue.
“Woo!” Angel shouts, while Sean groans and Darwin snorts laughter. “Get it!”
Jesus, these kids.
“Erik,” Charles pleads. “You said yourself we're the better men. This is the time to prove it. There are thousands of men on those ships. Good, honest, innocent men!”
Logan dares to hope that Chuck’s words might actually be having an effect on Lensherr, that the Prof might actually reach him. The missiles waver slightly in their path.
Then the idiot adds, “They're just following orders.”
The wavering subsides, and the missiles resume their flight to destruction.
“God damn it,” Logan sighs. There’s no way this is going to end well.
“I have been at the mercy of too many men who were just following ordUGH,” Lensherr says, or tries to before Logan tackles him to the ground. In his experience, there’s very little that can’t be solved by a good flying tackle.
Logan’s dogtags instantly tighten around his neck, cutting off his air. Big deal; he’s had much worse. He gets his hand around Lensherr’s throat, lets his claws slide out from his knuckles, the sharp points brushing against Lensherr’s skin.
“I got two minutes before I run out of air, Lensherr. Plenty of time to make you see the error of your ways.”
“You fool,” Lensherr spits. The dogtags tighten even more, but Logan just grits his teeth, raises his fist to strike.
Logan, stop. And Logan finds his claws sliding back into his skin without his say-so at all.
“Damn it, Chuck,” he chokes. Then the chain around his neck tightens even more, yanking him backwards, and Logan blacks out. How embarrassing.
When he wakes back up, Charles and Lensherr are wrestling on the sand. They’re two of the most sorry-ass fighters Logan’s ever seen, shouting and slapping at each other like boys on a playground. Logan pushes himself off the ground, ready to pull them apart, when Moira opens fire.
The lady’s got guts, but she’s dim in that government-trained way, shooting lead bullets at a goddamn metal-manipulator. The first bullet wings off that stupid helmet Lensherr’s sporting, the second one ricochets off whatever defensive field he’s thrown up, and Logan is up and moving before the third bullet leaves the chamber. He throws himself on Charles either too late or too early: he feels the bullet burrow through his torso and into Charles’s. Charles cries out, loud in the sudden silence, and then they’re both on the ground.
Things get kind of gray and fuzzy for a second, until Logan’s arteries seal back up and his blood replenishes itself. The first thing to come through the dull roaring in his ears is the sound of someone choking. Moira. Lensherr’s got his hand out, fingers turned to claws.
“You did this,” he hisses.
Logan looks at Chuck, who’s been pulled into Lensherr’s lap. There’s blood seeping through his fingers, but it’s red and not black, a steady trickle instead of a pulsing stream. There’s a good chance he’ll live, but only if they get him off this stupid beach in time.
“No, Erik,” Charles says, voice quiet and calm. “You did.”
Logan can practically hear Lensherr’s heart break from here, as he turns back to Charles. Boo fucking hoo. At least Moira can breathe again.
He stands up when Lensherr turns back to Chuck, pretty sure he’ll be distracted enough not to notice. Logan thinks about his claws for a second: it’d be easy, a single reflex and then one quick stab. But no, Lensherr got this much right in his ranting: fighting each other is what they want.
Logan fists his hands together and brings them down on Lensherr’s head, with all the (not inconsiderable) strength he can muster. The helmet makes an intensely satisfying bong, like Logan just punched a chuch bell, and Lensherr goes down like a ton of bricks. Charles groans as his stupid megalomaniacal boyfriend slumps over onto him.
“Dammit, Logan,” Charles wheezes.
“If we waited for you two to finish breaking up, we’d be here all night,” Logan says, completely unrepentant. He pulls a cigar out from the specially-designed crush-proof pocket in his suit, strikes a match off of the goofy helmet that has rolled loose from Lensherr’s thick skull, and lights it.
“Here’s what’s going to happen. You two--” He points at Shaw’s two lackeys, the devil man and the guy with the ridiculous hair. “--You’re gonna come with us. We’re gonna get these two yahoos to a hospital, then lock them in a room together with a couple bottles of whiskey, and let them have their damn moral debate where they can’t get a few hundred people killed. Sound like a plan?”
Everyone except Charles nods, but he makes a wheeze of assent. Or a wheeze of pain, but Logan chooses to take it as permission to take command.
“What about us?” Angel asks. “What are we gonna do? I don’t think they’re gonna let us go for long.”
“Yeah, considering they tried to blow us up with, like, eight thousand missiles,” Sean points out.
“Burn that bridge when we come to it,” Logan says, shrugging. Governments are surprisingly easy to evade, when you try. He’s managed fine for years. “Now, I don’t know about you kids, but I want a goddamn beer before deciding the fate of mutant-kind.”