Xavier's office was cold. Logan knew it was winter, and the kids left windows open all over the place, but still. He found the thermostat on the wall and turned it up. Maybe it was bad for the ozone layer or something, but he couldn't care less.
Logan was alone in Xavier's office. The door hadn't been locked. Logan wasn't sure if that meant Xavier would be right back, or that he was just real trusting. Or that he was a telepath and would know if anyone messed with his stuff.
Logan wasn't messing with his stuff, just looking. The chairs and the carpet and the art on the walls all said one thing, loudly: money. It probably looked good on an admissions brochure, but it was a little over the top. It wasn't like the school was really competing for the prep-school crowd.
Logan wondered what Xavier was trying to prove. You'd think he'd made the money himself, but you can't make money like this being a teacher. Corporate raider or sports star, maybe. If you're a physics teacher, you have to be born this rich.
Anyway the stuff wasn't what an expensive decorator would have chosen. It was Xavier's own (lousy, Logan thought) taste. So maybe the other message was that Xavier could do as he pleased with his money and his school.
Logan wondered who ever told him he couldn't.
It was none of Logan's business, except that he was trying to be a team player. He was supposed to understand Xavier the way everyone else seemed to. Because Xavier was their mentor. Or something.
Logan was trying. He was bad at this team player shit, but he was trying. Scott said, talk to the professor about Rogue, so he was going to try that too. Because he was Rogue's mentor. Or something.
He wanted to play for this team, so he was trying to get the right spirit.
Anyway, he liked Xavier, mostly. He was pretty damned ruthless and he had a sense of humor, even if Logan didn't know where he kept it most of the time. He treated Logan like he was sixteen sometimes, but Logan was old enough not to take it personally.
He prowled around the room, looking at things. The windows were big and made to open, even though there had been air conditioning in the summer. Logan could feel the chill from outside seeping through the windowpanes. He wandered around behind Xavier's desk.
"Looking for something?" Xavier asked from the doorway. Logan jerked his head up like he'd been caught doing more than looking at the clutter of brass and books on the desk. He'd expected pictures—at least one picture—but it wasn't there.
"Just waiting for you," Logan said.
"Most people do that from the other side of the desk," Xavier said. He brought the wheelchair around behind the desk as Logan got out of the way.
The kids sat in the plastic chairs even when they were the only ones in the office; Logan had seen it the times he'd looked in the door, looking for Rogue or Bobby. Logan wasn't sixteen, and he sat down in the good chair. The thick blue satin was rubbed soft on the arms.
"Scott said to talk to you about Rogue," he said.
"I'm assuming it's not a problem with her schoolwork," Xavier said.
"She punched Bobby Drake in the throat in training," Logan said. "He spent the afternoon in the infirmary."
Xavier's expression didn't change. "I take it she had some reason?"
Logan shrugged. "He was practicing throwing her. She got tired of it."
"Was this free-form sparring, or was she supposed to react in a predictable way?" Xavier met his look of mild surprise with a shrug. "I do observe their training, you know."
"Free-form," Logan said. "So I don't really see the problem."
"What does Bobby say?"
"That he didn't think she'd hit him that hard."
"Well," Xavier said. "Clearly she would."
"So it's cool, right?" Logan said. He started to stand up.
"Sit down, Logan," Xavier said. Logan sat. "I think Scott feels Rogue needs to learn to control her temper, and I admit I do see his point."
"I don't," Logan said.
"That's not entirely a surprise," Xavier said. "The point of martial arts training is to learn self-discipline and control."
"The point of martial arts training is to give little girls like Rogue a chance against bad guys like me. But she's never going to be able to go ten rounds with someone six-one and two hundred pounds. The first punch better count."
"Not against Bobby Drake," Xavier said.
"Yes, against Bobby Drake," Logan said. "He can freeze things, and she's not supposed to use her powers. What's she supposed to do?"
"Unless Scott's changed the training curriculum drastically, I think she is using her powers," Xavier said. "She didn't learn that move here."
Logan realized Xavier must be seeing what he'd seen, Rogue moving smooth and fast and without the awkwardness all beginners had. Her face showing the moment of pleasure as Bobby fell and made strangled noises, chased away fast by worry and guilt.
"You think I'm a bad influence," Logan said.
"I think it must be difficult for her to have other people's memories and experiences to deal with on top of the normal problems of someone her age," Xavier said.
"If Bobby doesn't want to go out with a girl who beats him up in training when she's pissed off, he shouldn't be with Rogue," Logan said.
"I think Bobby is interested in dating Marie, not you," Xavier said.
"That wasn't me," Logan said. "That was her." Xavier looked skeptical. "I wouldn't have done that because I don't have to."
"Neither does she," Xavier said.
"If it were for real, she would," Logan said. "Look, she's got no flashy powers she can use. All she's got is what she's stolen out of my head."
"Yours and Erik's," Xavier said.
"I think I'm a better influence than Magneto," Logan said.
"Believe me, so do I," Xavier said. "I'm glad she's learning to defend herself, but I'd appreciate a little less wear and tear on other students in the process."
"You could teach Bobby to duck," Logan said.
"How good of you to volunteer."
It was a couple of days before Logan went hunting for Bobby, figuring he'd get further if the kid could talk. First stop, Bobby's room. Logan knocked, and then opened the door when he got tired of standing around in the hall. Kid wanted privacy, he could learn to use locks.
There was no one in the room, and Logan didn't see how Bobby would ever know if someone messed with his stuff. Half the room was trashed, littered with clothes and junk. Then again, Bobby's backpack was in the chair on the more or less clean side of the room. So maybe he would know.
Not much here to tell him about the kid. His clothes were hung up in the closet. They smelled like him, and also like laundry detergent. No trace of alcohol or pot, although there was the faint lingering smell of cigarette smoke.
He opened a few drawers and looked behind the stack of CDs on the kid's desk. No hidden stash of porn. No cash. No stupid teenage attempts at keeping a secret. Logan wasn't sure there's be any point, around here.
He wondered if Bobby would give him hell for being in here and touching his stuff. He kind of hoped so. It was the kind of thing Bobby ought to at least learn to notice. John sure as hell would have, and maybe it would have gotten the kid to talk before he said "screw this" and ran off with the crazies. Although Xavier would have given Logan hell if they'd had enough of a fight to set off the sprinklers.
Next stop, the library. Bobby wasn't there, but to Logan's surprise, Rogue was. She had her nose in a book, curled up in a chair by the crackling fire. She looked happy. If she saw him, she'd remember all kinds of reasons not to be. He shut the door and went down to the rec room.
Jubilee and Sam were playing some kind of shooter game on the big-screen TV, mowing down enemies with what looked like a cross between a chainsaw and an AK-47.
"Hey, Mr. Logan," Sam said.
"Want to play?" Jubilee asked without taking her eyes from the screen. "I bet you're awesome."
"No thanks," Logan said. "Are those supposed to be explosive rounds?"
Jubilee shrugged. "I think they just blow up when they die. See, it happens if you stab them, too." She demonstrated. Televised blood spattered.
"Why do I think Xavier didn't buy this game?" Logan said.
"It's Mr. Summers'," Jubilee said. "He says it helps him unwind."
Logan shook his head. "Go, Cyke," he said. "Just don't try this at home, okay?"
"I promise I won't blow anybody's head off around the mansion," Sam said.
Jubilee nodded, fingers working on the controls. "Yeah. Me, neither."
Great. He'd set a limit.
"Okay, then," he said. "You seen Bobby Drake?"
"He's on the couch over there," Sam said. "He said he was just gonna lie there."
"Until he dies," Jubilee said. "He didn't say of what."
Logan found Bobby sprawled on the couch watching the ceiling like there was a TV set up there.
"Aren't you supposed to be doing something?" Logan said after a while.
"Like what?" Bobby asked.
"I suck," Bobby said.
"You want to talk about your feelings, save it for the Professor."
"Why, because you don't want to hear it?"
"No, because . . . well, yeah."
"Join the rest of the world," Bobby said.
Logan turned up his hands. "I suck at this pep talk stuff, don't I?"
"Honestly? Pretty much."
"Let's go down to the gym," Logan said.
"Am I in trouble?" Bobby asked.
"Not this time," Logan said. "I got volunteered to teach you how to duck."
Bobby put his hands over his face.
"I'm in trouble for getting beat up by my girlfriend. Or I'm not in trouble, because the Professor figures I'm so bad it wasn't my fault I got beat up by my girlfriend. Either way, do you think you could just leave me here to die?"
"What are you planning to die of?" Logan asked.
"Whatever," Bobby said.
Logan punched straight at Bobby's throat, his hand stinging as his claws hissed out. Two claws buried themselves in the upholstery on either side of Bobby's neck. Another was pressed against the hollow of Bobby's throat, just hard enough to hurt. The boy's eyes were very wide. The sounds of electronic violence behind them didn't stop.
"How about this?" Logan asked.
Bobby swallowed. He very carefully didn't move his head.
"I think I'll come down to the gym," he said.
They went down to the gym. Logan wouldn't have minded the chance to play in the Danger Room without Scott looking over his shoulder, but he figured they'd better start with sparring and work their way up to giant robots and sharks with laser beams.
Logan stripped and put on sweats. Bobby did the same, more awkwardly.
"You know, Mystique nearly kicked my ass," Logan said on the way to the gym.
"She did not."
"I don't stay hurt, but that doesn't mean I like getting kicked in the head."
"Yeah, but you won," Bobby said. "I couldn't breathe."
"You could have frozen her, right?"
"I was playing fair," Bobby said.
"Never trust a woman to play fair," Logan said.
"I thought we were supposed to think girls were just like boys," Bobby said.
"Don't tell me we have to have the sex talk," Logan said.
"I mean as people," Bobby said. "Mr. Summers already gave us the sex talk."
"That must have been short," Logan said. "Look, women are different from us, all right?"
"This sounds an awful lot like the sex talk," Bobby said.
"I mean as people," Logan said. "They don't play fair, they don't forgive you when you fuck up, and they don't ever tell you everything they think."
"That's not what Professor Xavier says," Bobby said.
"I don't think he's the world's best authority on women," Logan said.
"What, just because he doesn't have a girlfriend? You don't have a girlfriend."
"Jubilee thinks you're hot."
"I'm not into jailbait."
"I'm just saying," Bobby said.
"Less talk, more action," Logan said. He threw the kid a few times. He wasn't a natural, but he wasn't bad. At least he knew how to fall. Logan moved into the rhythm of a simple blocking drill, and that wasn't bad either; Logan was slowing his punches to a crawl, but he always did in training.
"So why didn't you do this when Marie hit you?" he said after a while.
"I wasn't expecting it," Bobby said.
"You were fighting, not dancing," Logan said.
"Yeah, but I trusted her. I didn't think she'd really hurt me."
"Bad move," Logan said.
"Apparently," Bobby said. He threw a punch at Logan's shoulder. Logan blocked it, trying not to hurt the kid's hand.
"Aim for somewhere it hurts," Logan said. "Or don't bother." The next punch came at his face. He had to move a little faster. "Better."
"What do you think she thinks but doesn't tell me?" Bobby said.
"Maybe she's jealous."
"Of what? John's not even around anymore."
Touché, Logan thought.
"That you can control your powers. That you still talk to your family. I don't know. That's what I'm trying to tell you, you can't know. She wouldn't like it if you did. Women like to be mysterious."
"I thought we were friends," Bobby said.
"Friends is different," Logan said. "I thought she was your girlfriend."
"Weren't you and Dr. Grey friends?" Bobby asked. Logan blocked the next punch harder than he'd meant to. Bobby took it without wincing, although he let out a sharp breath.
"You like living dangerously?"
"What are you going to do, hit me for asking?"
"I might," Logan said.
"You might if I were Scott," Bobby said. "I'm not that important."
"What's the matter with you?" Logan said. He dropped his hands. "Why the 'I suck' thing all of a sudden? Marie's got a short fuse. You don't like getting hit, tell her, don't mope around."
"So were you?"
"You trust me, don't you? You trust that I'm not really going to hurt you," Logan said. "No matter what you say."
"Yeah," Bobby said. "Yeah, I do."
"That's going to get you killed someday," Logan said.
"You're not going to beat up a student," Bobby said.
"Maybe not," Logan said. "But you're not going to be a student forever."
"So, what, I should watch out in May?"
"You played rough like this with John, huh?"
"You mean the fighting, or the asking tough questions?"
"I guess so."
"I'm not John," Logan said. "I don't want to hurt you, kid, but if you push me far enough I will. And Rogue's just like me that way."
"I'm not trying to get hurt," Bobby said. "I just want to know the truth."
"That's a good way to get hurt," Logan said.
"Yeah," Bobby said. "Around here it sure is." He turned toward the door. "Are we done here?"
"Call it a day," Logan said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Sure. Whatever," Bobby said. He walked out. Logan figured the kid needed time to cool off, so he waited until he heard the hum of the elevator before he emerged from the gym. He walked down the hall, footsteps echoing in the steel-lined hallways. Now this was a weird decorating choice. Pretty much shouted "I have a thing about metal."
He stopped in the door of the infirmary, looking in. Nobody'd been in here much lately. They needed a new doctor around, both for the kids and for the team. It had come up at a couple of staff meetings, and everybody always agreed, and nobody did anything about it. Logan guessed that wouldn't change until the first time someone really got hurt and wound up in the county hospital.
He wondered if he could find her fingerprints on the smooth metal. He couldn't smell her. He felt irrationally angry that someone had been in here with disinfectant and soap, cleaning away any trace of her. He wondered if there were still stray auburn hairs curled up under the edges of the counters or fallen down behind the cabinet of drugs. He walked in and stood in the shadows in the middle of the room.
"What do you want in here, Logan?" Scott was standing in the doorway.
Logan shrugged. "Just looking around. No law against that, is there?"
"There's nothing in here you need."
"Afraid I'm going to go through the cabinets?"
"No," Scott said. "You know you can't get away with stealing from the professor."
"Just from you," Logan said. "But, hey, what's a car between friends?"
"We are not friends," Scott said. "I have to work with you, but that doesn't make us friends."
"Are we colleagues? Is that what we are?"
"Yeah, I guess," Scott said.
"You realize how fucked up that is?"
Scott ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
"Is there really nothing to drink around here?"
Scott looked at him sideways for a minute. "There's a bar in town," he said finally.
"You're buying, right?" Logan said. "'Cause I think it'll build team spirit."
"Sure," Scott said, with an angry smile. "Fine. When?"
"No time like the present," Logan said.
"I have papers to grade," Scott said. "I'm free Saturday night."
"I'll bet," Logan said.
"You are such an asshole," Scott said.
"I try," Logan said. He had the feeling that maybe he should have shut up a couple of sentences ago, but he couldn't now. "It's a date."
"Don't expect flowers," Scott said. "Meet me at my car. I think you know which one it is."
Logan was in a bad mood Saturday from the point after dinner where it hit him that this was the closest thing to a date he'd had in months. All right, there had been that girl in the bar on the way up to Alkali. He'd at least gotten laid once in the past year.
"You are living wrong," he told himself in the mirror.
He dragged downstairs. The house was still noisy, with the TV downstairs going full blast and students hanging around in the halls. He ducked out to cross the courtyard to the garage and nearly ran into Bobby and Rogue unfastening the gate. They jumped like they'd seen Magneto.
"We were just . . ." Rogue said.
"Getting some fresh air," Bobby said.
"Actually, we thought we might go to the mall."
Logan looked at his watch.
"And get some dinner," Bobby said.
"Lots of places that serve dinner," Rogue said. "Even real late."
"You know what?" Logan said. "I don't care. Stay out of trouble."
"You're a saint," Bobby said.
"Thanks," Rogue said. "You won't regret it."
"Kid, with you, I always regret it."
"Don't wait up," Rogue said. She leaned up, gloved hands on his arm, and kissed his cheek, too quickly for it to even hurt. Her mouth barely grazed his skin. She let go and bounced off, grinning. "We can let ourselves back in," she called, as Bobby pulled her out through the gate, looking not entirely happy.
Scott was waiting by the car. "Get in," he said.
Logan did. Scott flicked on the radio. Logan smirked. Scott shook his head.
"So you talked to Bobby," Scott said.
"I talked to Bobby," Logan said.
"I assumed that from the claw marks on the couch."
"I was making a point."
"What point would that be?"
"I'd show you, but leather seats are a bitch to repair."
Scott grinned. "You're a real piece of work, Logan."
"I'm not a guidance counselor."
"Neither am I," Scott said. "Jean was."
There were a few minutes of silence. Outside the window the dark woods slid by.
"I think the kid misses his friend," Logan said.
"I get that," Scott said.
"Jean and I were friends," Scott said. "Before we got together. We grew up together. When I met her, I was twelve. She was fourteen." He wasn't looking at Logan. He kept his eyes on the road.
"What am I supposed to say to that?" Logan said.
"Whatever you want," Scott said.
"Now you sound like the professor."
"As far as I'm concerned, that's a compliment," Scott said.
"If you want to sound like an old guy," Logan said.
"Look who's talking."
Logan opened his mouth and closed it again.
"At least I don't sound like an old guy," he said after a minute.
The bar was okay, a cleaned-up version of country, with a lot of exposed wood and a big fireplace blazing. Logan ordered a beer.
"He's paying," he said, jerking his head sideways at Scott. "It's a bonding thing."
"Go to hell, Logan," Scott said, slapping a ten down on the bar and waiting for his own beer with undisguised impatience. They looked at each other over their bottles. There was a moment of silence.
"Maybe this was a bad idea," Logan said.
"Too late," Scott said. "I need a drink now. Come on."
He led the way to one of the few unoccupied tables. It was in a corner, which Logan figured was just as well. The music was loud, and sucked.
Logan drank. He could feel the warmth from the fireplace on his shoulder. If he ignored who he was here with, he could almost feel that his life was getting back to normal.
"I don't like you," Scott said.
"I don't care."
"I know. But you're on the team, so I've got to care."
"Is that what the professor told you?"
"I'm responsible for you."
"Oh, Jesus," he said, and finished the bottle.
"You think that's really funny."
"I think the day I need you to be responsible for me, hell will have frozen over and Xavier will be ice skating." He waved the waitress over. "Another round."
Scott drained the last of his own beer and shoved the bottle to the side. "Okay, Logan. I'm not as tough as you. I'm smarter than you--" Logan gave him the finger. "But, fine, you're the tough guy. Why the hell can't you follow orders anyway?"
Logan shrugged. "Maybe it's a mutant thing. I have a problem taking orders from anyone I could put on the floor inside ten minutes."
"I really don't get that," Scott said. "You take orders from the Professor. Sometimes."
"What do you think would happen if I threw a punch at the Professor?"
"You'd wake up strapped to a table and have to talk about your feelings before he'd let you go," Scott said.
"He's scarier than you," Logan said. "Hell, Jean's--" He broke off.
Scott reached for his beer without looking, drank, and slammed the bottle down when he was finished. He caught the waitress as she was passing. "Same again." He turned back to Logan. "You think you'd do a better job?"
"Fuck, no. I hate teams," Logan said.
"I don't know," Logan said. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. No, actually it seemed like a bad idea at the time, but the Professor talked me into it. And somebody's got to give the kids some idea how the real world works."
"Then play ball," Scott said.
"I am pretty sure I have never played ball," Logan said.
"You know what I mean."
"Just as long as you aren't suggesting mandatory softball or something."
"That's not a half-bad idea."
"What is it with you?"
Scott drained the last of his beer. "You want to know what it is with me? What it is with me is that I've got half a team, a handful of kids who want to be superheroes, and you, and somehow I'm supposed to turn that into the only thing standing between us and the end of the world."
Logan thought about that while the waitress brought them another round. "So you figure softball is going to do the trick?"
"We all grew up together," Scott said. "The Professor was the closest thing to a father Jean and I had. We all would have done anything for each other. Anything."
"You're trying to run a team, not a family," Logan said. "We don't have to love each other to go beat up the bad guys together."
"We've got to trust each other," Scott said.
Logan frowned. "I'm not good at that."
"Tough to trust you when you hate my guts."
They drank for a minute. Scott kept putting his beer bottle down too hard on the table, and Logan didn't think his face was flushed from the heat. He wondered what the Professor would have to say about him getting Cyke trashed, and then figured that wasn't his problem. Scott was a big boy. Team leader and all.
He frowned at a familiar voice rising above the hum of noise for a moment.
"We've just got to pull together and--"
"Shut up for a minute," Logan said, listening. "Oh, great."
"What?" Scott said, and then saw what Logan heard. "Excuse me. I'm going to go kill them."
"Hey," Logan said, grabbing Scott by the sleeve. "They're just letting off some steam."
Scott scowled at him and pried his arm free. "Last time I checked, Marie and Bobby were both way under 21. And I don't think that's root beer they're drinking, which means not only are they here, they're in here using fake IDs."
"Lighten up," Logan said. "We can keep an eye on them until they leave, and then I'll catch them going back to the mansion and put the fear of God into them."
Scott shook his head. "I should drag them out of here right now."
"Fine," Logan said. "But you're not driving."
"You can--" Scott began, and then, "All right, no. We'll just--" He scowled. "Hell."
"You trust them to go fight bad guys," Logan said. "Let them have a beer."
"It's a stupid risk," Scott said. "They could get arrested."
"Riding a motorcycle's stupid, too," Logan said. "You could get hit by a truck."
"Nobody plays it safe all the time."
Someone was standing by their table, and Logan looked up, ready to order another beer. Instead there was a big guy wearing a stupid cowboy hat. "You're from up at that school," he said.
"That's right," Scott said.
"So you're a mutant."
"Look, who wants to--" Logan started.
"Yep," Scott said. "You got it."
"We don't want you freaks in here," he said.
Scott stood up. "Really."
"Really," the guy said, and swept the beer bottles off Scott's half of the table. "So get your ass out of here."
"You don't want to start trouble," Scott said.
"Try any mutant stuff on me, and I'll call the cops."
"Oh, I wouldn't do that," Scott said. He smiled, and then punched the guy hard in the jaw, knocking him down in a clatter of chairs. "I would do that, though."
"Jesus fucking Christ," Logan growled, and grabbed Scott by the arm. "Come on, Cyke, time to go." Scott was resisting, and the guy he'd punched was getting to his feet. Logan saw people moving out of the corner of his eye.
The guy grabbed Scott by the shirt, pulled him around, and hit him in the face. Logan turned and blocked the punch from one of his friends, a very drunk man in a dirty T-shirt. Logan hit him in the stomach and doubled him over, shook him off. This was looking like it might actually get to be fun.
"Freeze!" a voice shouted, with an accompanying click that made Logan go still. He turned his head to look. The bartender had a pistol out on the bar, not pointed at anyone but very visible. "Take it outside, or I'm calling the cops."
"They started it," Scott said.
"Like I care," the bartender said. "Get your asses out of here, and no funny business. I watch the news."
"Logan?" That was Marie, across the room. Logan spared a glance in her direction. She and Bobby had pushed their chairs back, watching in what looked like shock. Logan figured they didn't get to see Cyke start a bar fight every day.
"Stay cool," Logan said. "We're all going to leave now."
A guy near Bobby and Marie's table looked at them nastily. "You girls with the freaks?" The guy picked up an empty beer bottle and tested its weight in his hand.
"Well, it's like this," Bobby said. "You see, we--" He paused, frowning, and the guy yelped and dropped the bottle. There was the sound of splintering ice when it hit the floor. "Were just leaving," Bobby said, and grabbed Rogue's hand. "Come on, Mr. Summers. Mr. Logan."
"Coming," Logan said, and gave Scott a shove toward the back door. Out in the alley, he pushed Scott up against the back of the building. "What the fuck was that?"
"This isn't good," Scott said miserably. Logan rolled his eyes. He looked up as Marie and Bobby came slamming out the door. Logan jerked his head toward the street.
"You two get out of here," Logan said.
Scott nodded, visibly pulling himself together into Mr. Teacher mode. "Get back to school. We'll talk later."
"There are a lot of people in there mad at you," Bobby pointed out.
"Bring 'em on," Logan said.
"Logan, are you drunk?" Marie demanded.
"I'm not the one who's drunk," Logan said. "Cyke, you're bleeding."
"I don't care," Scott said. The door opened, and Scott piled into the guy coming out before Logan could grab him.
"Well, fuck," Logan said.
"We've got to do something," Marie said.
"What, watch?" Logan asked, and then regretted it when three more guys burst out into the alley. Logan took one of them, folding him neatly over his outstretched arm and him to the dirt. Bobby was mixing it up with another, doing well enough that Logan let him be. Practice made perfect, anyway.
The third went for Scott. Marie grabbed at his shoulder, as if she could spin him around and punch him like Logan could have; instead he shook her off and slammed Scott up against a wall. Scott kicked at the guy's legs, but he was moving too slowly. Alcohol and a spinning head from being slammed into the bricks would do that.
Logan was moving in to grab the guy from behind when the guy gave Scott a drunken grin and slapped the sunglasses off his face. Logan dropped as soon as he saw the motion, which saved him from being pounded into the opposite wall by the blast of red. Instead, there was the sound of splintering bricks.
Logan rolled and scrambled up. Scott had his eyes squeezed closed, arms up to ward off blows. The guy had backed off at nearly having his head blown off, but he was too stupid to back down. He drew back, ready to pound Scott's head into the wall again.
Logan's claws hissed out. He drew back one hand.
"No!" Bobby yelled. "Marie--"
Logan fought to stop himself from slashing out. "Jesus, kid, don't get in my way--"
"I got him, Logan," Marie said, and threw herself on the guy, knocking him down. He rolled her over and hit her in the face. She kicked him, hard, throwing him off, and Logan grabbed him and hit him in the head. He went limp.
"I wasn't going to kill him," Logan said into the silence that followed.
"We didn't know that," Bobby said finally.
Marie sat up and picked up Scott's glasses. "Here," she said, and pressed them into his hand.
"Thanks," Scott said.
"Can we go now?" Bobby asked.
"Yeah," Logan said. "Let's go."
They piled into Scott's car. Scott tried to get behind the wheel, but Logan yanked him back and shoved him toward the driver's seat. "Don't even try."
The doors slammed, and Logan took off toward the school.
"How much trouble are we in?" Bobby asked after a minute. No one answered.
"I can't believe I did that," Scott said.
"Neither can I," Logan said.
"Are you drunk?" Marie asked curiously.
"Kid, you should talk."
"We're not drunk," Marie said.
"Save it for the Professor," Logan said. There was some pretty tense silence for a while. He smelled blood, and wondered if it was Scott's. When they pulled up the drive into the garage, Logan waited for the telepathic shouting to start.
"He's asleep," Scott said. "At least, I think so."
"Good," Logan said. There was a general quiet. "Everybody can get out of the car now," he said after a minute, and they did.
Logan looked at them. Scott had a scratch across his cheekbone, and the back of his hair was dark with blood. Marie had a dark bruise forming across her cheek. Bobby followed his gaze to Marie and Scott.
"Training accident?" Bobby suggested.
"No," Scott said. He looked grim.
"You should get your head looked at," Marie said to Scott.
"It's okay," Scott said. "I've got a hard head."
Marie frowned. Logan mouthed "you wanted her to play ball" at Scott.
Scott sighed. "Maybe I could use some help."
"No problem," Marie said. She slipped her hand out of Bobby's and followed Scott into the house. "You are drunk, aren't you?" she said as the door closed.
"What just happened?" Bobby asked.
Logan shrugged. "Everybody loses it once in a while, right?"
"Maybe that's his problem," Logan said.
"Maybe," Bobby said.
"What about you?"
"I don't want to really hurt anybody," Bobby said. He sat down on the floor of the garage, leaning up against the side of the car. "I just want to play around sometimes, not fight so it really hurts. But Marie doesn't want to play like that."
"Marie's not playing when she's fighting," Logan said. "She's not flirting, either."
"I know," Bobby said. Logan sat down next to him. The floor was cold. "I've just got to grow up, I guess."
"Sorry," Logan said.
Bobby shrugged. "Not your fault." He stared at the knees of his jeans. "It's my fault, you know," Bobby said finally. "About John leaving. He was just so mad about me and Marie--"
"Sounds like that would make it Marie's fault," Logan said.
"It's not her fault she came here," Bobby said. "It's not her fault I wanted to be her boyfriend, not--" He broke off abruptly. "Never mind, all right?"
"I'm not stupid," Logan said. "I get it. It's not your fault if he ... got the wrong idea."
"Maybe it was," Bobby said.
Logan held up a hand. "I don't want to know."
"I figured that."
"None taken, I guess," Bobby said. "So what do I do now?"
"You want absolution, go talk to Kurt. You want to get over yourself, go find Marie and tell her if she sucker-punches you again in training you'll hit her back."
"What if she says 'okay'?"
"Your call, kid."
Bobby sighed. "It's not supposed to be this complicated."
Bobby thought about it "Professor Xavier?"
"He actually told you that?"
"It's that complicated," Logan said.
Logan lit a cigar and smoked for a minute after Bobby had gone inside. Finally he ground it out under his heel. He let himself in by the side door. The house was quiet. He got as far as getting out of the elevator on the second floor, swore, stepped back in the elevator and punched the button for the basement.
He walked down to the infirmary and stopped in the doorway. Scott was sitting on one of the beds, hands on his knees, looking at nothing in particular. Logan thought maybe he was trying to figure out if he could find her fingerprints anywhere.
He stood there for a long moment, trying to think of anything to say, and then turned and walked back to the elevator, his footsteps echoing on the floor.