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There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil, I say
oh, so this is what she means


Peter tries not to use words like 'bitch.' Even in his head. Even when he's being Spider-Man. Especially when he's being Spider-Man. First because he really doesn't need worse press than the bad press he's already got, and second because someday Aunt May is going to find out that he's Spider-Man, and then she'll go back and look at all the news reports and everything, and Peter's really trying as best he can to minimize the impact of that eventual, inevitable smack to the back of the head. He's gonna get in enough trouble for the sneaking and the lying. He doesn't need to add on having a mouth like the Punisher on top of that.

Maybe when he's eighteen, he'll get proactive and tell Aunt May the truth. Or twenty-one, that might be better. Twenty-five. Thirty is definitely too old to be grounded for life. Peter's almost sure.

The point is... Peter ducks and rolls as his spider-sense pulses, and a couple of shiny metal darts go spang against the brick wall of the alley. He's lost his train of thought.

"Little mutant freak!"

Okay, now he remembers.

The point is, the blonde who's currently shooting at him and Logan with darts and strobes and lasers and stuff is a total fucking evil hag bitch squared, b-i-t-c-h spells--

"Not this time, animal!" she yells, and Peter hears a van door slam open, a scrape of metal on metal. "We're putting you down!"

Spider-sense bangs against the inside of his skull again. It hasn't stopped tingling since he dropped down into the alley next to Logan, just to say hi, and got freaking growled at for his trouble. So now that they've actually been ambushed by bad guys and he's having to dodge bullets, it's amping up harder, more, and it hurts.

He sends a couple more sprays of webbing up, blocking the entrance to the alley. It won't stop bullets, but it'll at least screw up their aim. He drops down from the wall, his foot skidding in a puddle that wasn't there a minute ago. Logan's all crumpled up, torn and snarling, and Peter doesn't need a mutant nose to know he just stepped in a puddle of Logan's blood.

It'd give Peter the major heebies if he hadn't seen Logan heal from worse. Okay, no. He's seen Logan heal from worse and it's still giving him major heebies. "C'mon, Logan," he says, extending a hand, and Logan snarls at him again. There's no recognition in his eyes, nothing but fear and hate. He hasn't said a word since Peter showed up, just made these weird noises. Like an animal, that's the only comparison Peter can make, even though it feels like a betrayal to think of Logan in those terms. That bi-- that lady out there-- she's the one who thinks Logan's an animal.

Peter ducks a couple more bullets, and somewhere on the street a car's engine revs and headlights gleam through the ripped spots in the web. And Spider-sense bangs like a screen door and screw this.

Logan scares Peter sometimes. Annoys him, unsettles him. He's done bad things in the past-- he said so. And Peter's spent some nights wondering what it is a guy like Logan counts as so bad. But he's not an animal. And Peter's not going to let them get him.

Even if it means webbing Logan's arms to his chest and then slinging him over his shoulder and getting the hell out of there, just as the agents' van smashes through his layers of webbing with a screech.

Go, just go, and Logan's not struggling, maybe too weak to struggle, but Peter's not complaining. He doesn't know how the bad guys found Logan this time. Tracking device. Something. He doesn't know how they found Logan last time. But the point is, he can't take Logan home. He had enough problems keeping Aunt May out of the basement last time-- god, she must still believe that he had some kind of cosmically embarrassing teenage-type incident that required three days alone with the washing machine.

He slings a loop of webbing around Logan, landing them on the side of a chimney for a moment so he can shift his grip. He can't hear the agents in pursuit any more. Someday, he thinks, when he comes clean with Aunt May and explains everything that went on, all the stupid lies... yeah, he kinda needs to leave out the part where he hid a hunted mutant in their basement for three days and almost got the house invaded by Men in Black. He needs to-- he really needs to not worry about that now. Just find them someplace where they'll be safe for while. Long enough for Logan to heal, and Peter to find a phone.

And this time maybe he'll mention, to whatever X-Man answers when he calls, that they shouldn't let Logan wander around alone. Twice in six months Peter's got to get his butt out of this sling, and-- well, he's their friend. Isn't he? He's on the team, at least. So shouldn't they be looking out for him more?

Logan groans and shifts. Peter tightens his grip, his shoulder already starting to ache. He's looping them through the city, circling around and back, trying to stay out of sight. His spider-sense is mostly quiet. Finally he stops, in a section of town near the river. There's an office building that got banged up past repair the last time the Ultimates were downtown, the top floor vaporized and all the windows blown out, girders protruding at weird angles here and there. The city hasn't quite figured out how to knock it down yet, or whose responsibility it should be to foot the bill. So there it stands.

It takes Peter about a minute and a half to get up to the sixteenth story, scaling the gridlike remains of the west face. He swings into what used to be a conference room, judging by the charred shards of oak table swept up against the edges of the room. He sets Logan down on the scorched floor, trying to make sure he doesn't flop down onto any broken glass or splinters. This is good. They're high up. No elevators. No stairs. He stares down at the city streets below, a dark ocean unbroken by light. They'll be okay for a while.

That's assuming the bad guys don't have a helicopter this time.

Logan groans behind him and Peter turns away from the view. "Believe me, I know. This whole place smells like what happened the time I put a lightbulb in the microwave, but that's..."

He stops, 'cause it still doesn't look like Logan's really appreciating his wit. He's growling to himself, crouched over, balancing on the knuckles of his left hand. With the claws on his right hand, he's clumsily scraping the last of the webbing off his flannel shirt. He snarls, frustrated, and tries to strip the shirt off as Peter watches. Struggles with it, and finally lets it fall on the floor. He's bleeding again, through the shreds of his wifebeater, bleeding again or still bleeding, and he doesn't look right.

"Logan?" he says, and Logan looks up, wild eyes meeting Peter's gaze through the mask. His nostrils flare, slowly. Peter needs to find a phone. Logan said-- the last time they'd gone through this whole mess, Logan said he didn't want Xavier and the others to have to pay for the mistakes he's made. The things he's done. But they're his friends. They wouldn't leave him like this. So he needs to find a phone. But he can't just abandon Logan, so obviously still high on whatever was in those darts they shot him up with, or just out of his mind with the pain.

And Logan sniffs again, glancing from side to side, and rises, slowly. Peter takes a step forward, meaning to try and soothe him into sitting back down again. Staying in one place for five minutes, maybe-- and his spider-sense doesn't even have time to flare, Logan's fast-- and he's flat on his back in ashes and white dust, claws at his throat.

Peter squeaks like a girl. "Hey, man, it's me! Friendly neighborhood eep--"

Two claws retract, leaving one thin blade. It slides down next to his neck, sticks into the floor there and quivers, so close to his skin that Peter can feel it vibrating.

Logan's still inhaling deeply, his face so close to Peter's that his sideburns are brushing Peter's cheek. Every exhalation is warm against his skin, through the thin material of his mask, and the ripped bits of Logan's wifebeater are brushing against him, tickling his stomach. He tips his head back, exposing his throat to Logan's slow, careful examination.

"You remember me, right?" he says softly, staring up at the broken ceiling, up into the room above and maybe into the one over that. "Peter. Spider-Man. I'm your friend."

The claw next to his neck retracts suddenly. Peter can't help but flinch, and gets a scratch to the side of his neck for his trouble. It's nothing, it barely bleeds, but either the movement or the smell startles Logan, and his hand is hard on the side of Peter's face, wrenching his head sideways and exposing the scratch to Logan's-- oh, god. Logan's tongue. Hot around the edges of the scratch and wet where his claw made a rip in the costume, and Logan probably won't remember a thing when he shakes off whatever this is. When he finally comes to. Peter closes his eyes under the mask, opens his mouth and pants for air because he can't remember how to breathe like a normal person.

Logan growls again, the sound of it making something low in Peter's belly knot up right. There's a lower, smoother tone now that's weirding him out almost more than the ragged animal noises. And then Logan's other hand-- Logan is touching him. No. Groping him, probing at the cut on his neck. Searching out the other rips in his costume he got tonight-- at the shoulder-seam, across the ribs. Above his hip. His hands are huge, Peter thinks randomly.

The wind whistles past the broken edges of the windowframes. Peter keeps his eyes closed. He can't-- he can hear something like gunshots in the distance. But they're not far from Hell's Kitchen, so it might just be the city.

Logan is still pushing Peter's head down and to the side, his hand hard against the corner of Peter's jaw. Peter can feel his heartbeat throbbing against the cup of his palm. Logan's other hand rubs down over Peter's belly, pushing farther, and Peter's frozen for a moment and then freaks. Struggles and tries to shove Logan off, hands slipping for purchase in the sticky blood, tangling in the ripped wife-beater. Logan snarls, and Peter freezes as the claws slip out, slicing into the floor next to his face like it's nothing.

Fingers tighten on Peter's face, and he feels his jaw creak. Logan pushes awkwardly at the mask, as if he's forgotten how it works, and Peter bends his head, helping. He blows his hair out of his face as the mask slips off, staring up at Logan, willing him to recognize him. But Logan's eyes are just-- lost. Frustrated. Hot. He lowers his head again, inhaling through his mouth this time, lips nearly brushing Peter's face. Peter squeezes his eyes shut, and Logan strokes his chest slowly. Growl-mumbles something, a comforting noise, and Peter shakes in his arms.

Logan sniffs his face one last time, then moves on to his neck and his shoulder and ribs, all the ripped parts of the costume he found before.

"Listen," Peter tries, "you obviously have a whole thing going on here, but I, yi--" The claws shoot out again, and Logan makes an irritated noise, hands tightening on his chest. Peter's horrified at how broken his voice sounds, anyway-- and okay, he's starting to see the pattern here. Talking and noises are bad, touching is apparently good. But he still can't stop himself from yelling as Logan bites him through one of the holes in his costume, catching the scrape under his ribs where he knocked himself on a chimney trying to get Logan out of the alley.

"God!" he shouts, half because he's surprised and half because he's still sore there, and Logan grunts and slices with his claws and Peter holds his breath, waiting for the pain, waiting for the blood.

It doesn't happen. The spider-suit peels away in strips. Peter shivers as the cold air blows across his belly, and then Logan licks him there and Peter shudders hard.

"Oh, god. Logan, no," he says firmly, trying to wriggle away again, blinking. There's dust in his eyes, or cinders, and he says it again, louder, sharper. "Logan! No--"

Spider-sense hits him a bare second before Logan does, a sharp cuff to the side of his face. Peter winces and Logan rears back, one hand on Peter's chest holding him down, one hand to his own head. Panting roughly, something like a howl strangled low in his throat. Peter shakes his head, spots dancing before his eyes. Okay.

Okay.

He lifts his hands cautiously, stroking Logan's arm, trying to soothe him, trying to wriggle away. Logan lets him, as long as Peter keeps touching him. His claws are still slipping out and retracting every couple of seconds, and that's when Peter realizes that his spider-sense has gone silent. It hasn't been buzzing since they got here, not once this whole time-- except just now, when Logan hit him.

So. Logan doesn't want to hurt him. Just wants to-- wants-- Peter isn't going to think too hard about it. He isn't going to make any sudden moves, either. "It's okay, that's fine, we'll stay here," he mumbles as quietly as he can, stroking Logan's arm. "It's kinda growing on me, you know? A lamp, throw rug, maybe some Ikea--"

Logan puts an arm around his shoulder and pulls him closer, and Peter goes, his throat closing up as Logan hugs him. Okay, this is. Weird. But weirdly nice, too. He leans his head on Logan's shoulder and Logan sighs, shifting back and pulling Peter with him, holding him close. Peter tries to breathe. Tries to think. God, Logan's so warm, even though they're up on the sixteenth floor and all he's wearing is a wifebeater. Which reminds Peter that all he's wearing is spandex, and at this point he's really not too proud to cuddle for warmth.

He cuddles. And thinks. It kind of seems like Logan (or his strange new replacement, Crazy Logan) is just going with the flow. Freak out on Crazy Logan, he'll freak out on you. Be cool with Crazy Logan, he'll be cool with you. Simple enough. It probably shouldn't have taken this long for Peter to figure it out. Well, if wishes were horses he'd have something more impressive than this fabulous face bruise to take to school for show-and-tell on Monday.

Peter sighs against Logan's shoulder, and lets Logan snuggle him and pet his hair. He's had nights that have ended worse. Man, Logan's going to be incredibly embarrassed when he comes down from whatever this is. Maybe he'll be able to get Logan to buy him a pizza or something before he heads home. Hell, the face hitting alone should be worth a pizza. For face hitting and ruining the costume and the very disturbing belly licking, Peter deserves... more pizzas. Maybe something expensive, like sushi, except Peter doesn't actually like sushi. Something.

And there's kind of a disturbing thought to have while pressed up against Logan and being petted like Mr. Bigglesworth. If Crazy Logan's only going with the flow, then where the hell did the licking come from? He stiffens in the circle of Logan's arm, and Logan makes a soft noise and breathes on the back of Peter's neck. Slips his hand up through the sliced section of Peter's costume, smoothing over Peter's back and running his fingers over the bumps of Peter's spine.

Peter shivers, clutching Logan tighter. Not good. This is not good. Okay, he's had thoughts, and sometimes those thoughts come with feelings. Physical type feelings, the kind of totally normal teenage-boy physical reactions Logan can probably smell, and he presses his lips together hard but the thought-- he can smell it-- sends a charge all the way through him. A tingle, like spider-sense, and he shivers as Logan pushes at the ripped part of his costume, pushing it up over Peter's ribs, up to his shoulders.

Dizzied, wriggling, Peter doesn't realize he's being tipped down to the ground until his bare back hits the floor again. Dust prickles against his back, and Logan's pushing his arms up over his head and trying to get the top of the suit up over them. It's only half-ripped off and Peter's choosing passive resistance at this point, so he's having some trouble there, and Peter really has to stop thinking. Turn his brain off, turn his body off, stop giving signals-- but Logan's stroking him, brushing the backs of his knuckles over Peter's breastbone, over his nipple, his throat.

And Logan's pinning his wrists above his head, his arms all tangled in the suit. There's no way to pretend this isn't happening, no way to block out the touches, Logan sniffing and biting him. Licking his bruises. Murmuring unintelligible words into Peter's throat.

Peter tries not to move too suddenly when Logan touches him. Tries not to squirm against Logan when Logan presses down. It's not easy, not when Logan pants hot against his skin, still pinning both his wrists with one big hand. He's heavy, but it feels. It feels good. So warm. So hot, even though Logan smells like blood and cigarette smoke, and yeah, like wet dog. Earthy and prickly and harsh and oh god. Peter bites his lip, turning his head. Logan is-- he's-- either that's a roll of quarters in his pocket or-- He moans as Logan's thumb digs hard into the bruise on Peter's hip. Logan echoes the sound, his free hand sliding up to Peter's face, his thumb slipping into Peter's mouth. He tastes like blood, too.

His thumb slips out of Peter's mouth, then in again, then repeats the slow motion, smooth and rhythmic. All Peter can do is stare at the back of his hand, at the scarred grooves in his skin where the claws emerge. He could bite, he could fight Logan, but those claws would slice straight through his face and the other set would go right through his wrists, and at this point? Peter's not sure Logan's sane enough to care.

Right now, his hips are working slowly against Peter's leg, the button on his jeans etching a bruise into Peter's calf. Peter moans and sucks slowly on the thumb in his mouth. This isn't-- okay. He's thought about it. He's had thoughts about it. At certain specific times. In the shower. Late at night, on top of the covers, wrapped in a flannel shirt--

This isn't how he thought it would be.

Logan's hand moves from his wrist to his hair, tangling in and clutching tightly. And he's kneeling back, pulling, and if Peter weren't as flexible as he is this might hurt, at least until he manages to get his legs underneath him. He can't turn his head, reaching out blindly to brace himself, and finds his hands planted on Logan's thighs.

He'd pictured it differently. Logan's slow, teasing smile. He'd thought-- he'd imagined maybe someday he'd say something like "You can stop calling me 'kid' any day now." Maybe once he was actually taller than Logan. Assuming he ever actually got taller than Logan.

And Logan would smile, a crooked flash of teeth. Logan has really, really white teeth. Maybe because, Peter suddenly realizes, they get knocked out every now and then and have to grow in again, new.

Logan's not letting go of Peter's hair, not loosening his grip at all. He's fumbling at the fly of his jeans, and Peter's not going to freak. He's not. He digs his fingers into Logan's thighs, forgetting to be careful of his own strength, and Logan grunts and pops out a claw. Peter flinches, whining as he yanks his own hair, cutting off the noise as quickly as he can. The button of Logan's jeans falls noiselessly into the dust.

Logan doesn't wear underwear, and under other circumstances that fact might get filed under too much information, or maybe potential blackmail material, or-- Peter can't think. This isn't. He's not having one of his fucked-up nightmares. This is really happening.

Logan pushes him down further. A turn of his wrist and he's jerked Peter's head back. The forceful grip on Peter's hair is really starting to hurt-- he can feel the tension travelling down his spine, and god, Peter's so hard. He's been turned on since Logan licked him the first time and now he's so fucking hard. He can smell Logan's-- Logan's arousal, hard male musk cutting right through the smell of burned wood and crumbled drywall. Logan's got to be able to smell him, too.

Peter's sweating, even though the top half of his shirt is tangled around his left arm and right wrist. Even though it's fucking freezing up here, even though this is so fucking sick. Logan's got his dick out and he's shoving Peter's head down. Hand shifting on his cock, claws arcing up, brushing Peter's throat. Moving in tiny circles over his skin as Logan pulls him closer. Forces him down. He doesn't know if that makes it worse or better.

He's never. He never even thought about this. Slow, hot. Logan's dick pushing into his mouth, tears rising in his eyes just as slow and hot as Logan pushes in and in, hitting the back of Peter's throat and making him choke. He's shaking, all over now, and he can't jerk back with Logan's hand tangled in his hair. Can't go forward either except he has to, Logan's grip inescapable, pushing and pushing and grunting, making soft, gratified animal sounds as Peter swallows helplessly. He pulls out, then slides in again, fucking Peter's face, and Peter's hands clench on Logan's thighs with every stroke.

This isn't happening, he tells himself dizzily, his face burning. It doesn't count, it's not. It's not happening to Peter Parker. None of this counts, none of it has to matter. Not the fact that he's on his knees in splinters and ashes with Logan fucking his mouth, fucking him, making him hard. This never has to matter to his daytime life.

Logan just keeps pushing in, past Peter's instinctive choke, and Peter gags and has to swallow, takes Logan in so deep his nose is pressed to Logan's belly. His whole world is narrowed down, zeroed down to nothing but blackness and sensation: hot hand in his hair, burning scalp, thick cock fucking his throat open. Logan's other hand cupping his face, thumb shifting under Peter's eye. Brushing his tears away. Soft little satisfied sounds, barely audible over the choking, coughing, helpless noises Peter can't seem to swallow down.

He's not struggling any more, moving with Logan's rhythm. He's trying to swallow with each thrust, but he can't not choke with each hard push. Hot tears streak down over his face. He can't breathe. Logan's moving faster now, his thrusts jerkier, deeper, and Peter can't keep his teeth from scraping along Logan's cock once, twice, but that only makes Logan howl and yank at Peter's hair and then he comes, cock seeming to swell for a moment and then pulsing in Peter's throat.

Coughing and choking, Peter jerks away, and Logan's grip loosens for a moment. Peter scrambles back, his legs half-asleep, and he trips on his shredded costume and falls back on his elbows, coughing and spitting, wiping at his mouth, and there's no warning, no spider-sense tingle, just Logan on him again. Still hard, a big heavy hot weight blanketing and pinning him, and Peter's terrified and so incredibly hard it aches.

He lets his head fall back against the floor, gasping for air. Tears cool on his cheeks. He can't quite seem to get his breathing under control, every breath is noisy and ragged. It hurts. And then his whole chest contracts as his breath hitches because Logan's licking into his mouth, tongue pushing in and stroking over his abused lips. And Peter bites his own lip and Logan's tongue and even that doesn't muffle his startled cry when Logan's hand pushes between them, fumbling at his tights, shoving and then ripping when Peter can't lift his hips enough for Logan to pull his tights off.

He yelps once and then he can't seem to stop making noise, startled cut-off moans and high-pitched wails that vibrate around Logan's tongue. God, he can't shut up and he almost doesn't want to. Because Peter's hard and his cock is touching someone else, he's rubbing his cock on Logan's sweaty, muscled stomach. And Logan's got him pinned again, so he might as well arch and rub against him. Because this doesn't count, it's not real, and--

And Logan's not letting him go.

Time disappears. Peter doesn't have a thought in his head, just muscle-ache and body-twist, his throat burning, the roof hard against his back. How good it feels to breathe. The way Logan's sloppy-licking his face and his throat and his tears as fast as they fall. Purring and snuffling his neck. Making encouraging noises as Peter winds his legs around Logan's waist, pressing so close he's not even really thrusting, just rolling his hips against Logan's stomach, his whole body surging with it.

Logan feels so alive, sticky with sweat. Petting his head so gently, carding his fingers through Peter's hair, soothing down the sting from all the pulling. Peter clings tight, shaking and crying out. He bends his head, biting Logan's shoulder hard to muffle a wail when he comes, and the sensation is huge, bigger than anything he's ever felt. Like getting swatted down out of the sky, smashed flat, broken. It shakes him so hard he thinks he might fly apart if Logan wasn't holding him down, holding him so tight.

Peter goes limp, legs still tangled around Logan's waist, and god, he really needs air now. He lets his head fall back and tries to breathe, and thinks about trying to breathe without making embarrassing noises. And Logan pets his hair and pets his belly and murmurs softly against his throat. Murmurs and kisses and then stiffens, tensing-- Peter can feel the claws slip out, tickling his side.

"What..." Logan slurs, then shakes his head, inhaling sharply. "Kid, what..." He rears back on his haunches, eyes still wide. Stares unblinking at Peter's bruised body, his belly slick with come. Stares down at himself, and Peter rolls away, scrambling to pull the shredded top of his costume around himself for a little of that elusive, whadayacallit. Oh yeah, dignity.

Logan's zipping his jeans, when Peter looks up. Fumbling for the missing button, then staring at his hands. Staring at Peter with eyes about as wide as Peter's must be right now. It's kind of freaky. He's never seen Logan like this. Angry, shot up, frustrated, but not scared. "What the hell just--?"

"I'm pretty sure that's my line." Peter says, and his voice is so wrong, shaky and rough. He's not pulling it off at all. But it's okay. Logan's back. He's all right.

"You--" Logan's breathing raggedly. His eyes flicker to Peter, then to the blown-out wall behind them.

Peter runs a hand back through his hair, trying to smooth it down, and tries again. Everything's going to be fine. Hang onto that. Just for a while longer. "I think-- I think we lost them."


I rose from off of the doctor's slab
Like Lazarus from the pit
Now everyone wants to take a stab
and decorate me
with blood, graffiti and spit

 


More than just about anything, Logan hates waking up from a drugged-out haze in an unfamiliar place, not sure what just happened or what he just did. The short hairs on the back of his neck are bristling like fuck, and his claws are out. The fog's clearing with every heartbeat thundering in his ears. Every sharply indrawn breath is an assault of sensory input. Sex, fear, blood and salt, ash and ruin. The wind off the river, the kid. So much fear.

They're high up, someplace. Not much cover. The kid's talking, but Logan can barely make out the words, caught on the thready tone of his voice, and the smells, hooking right into his brain. Rich wash of Logan's blood, faint trace of the kid's. Salt is the glitter of tears on the kid's pale face. He's still talking, blinking shocky eyes. Logan still can't quite make out the words.

Logan backs up, stumbling over the debris behind him, and hits a wall. Drywall crumbles under the scrape of his claws. He's still flickering half-in and half-out of the blackout, the haze, and Peter is coming closer, wet with sweat and fear. Reaching out. It's dark in the-- wherever they are-- but not too dark to see the parallel scrapes along his ribs, the bruises on his arms, on his jaw. "Logan--"

He grits his teeth. Can't make himself look away.

He fucked the kid. Fucking coward, he can't even think it, call it by the right name-- but Logan knows. He knows what he did. Peter's lips are red, bitten. Used. There's come still slicking the corner of his mouth.

Logan's. And it washes over him in a cold, sick wave. He's not one of the good guys, even if he works on the same team as some of them. He thought he'd figured the depths he could sink to. Thought he knew how broken and worthless he could be. Junkyard dog, bred vicious-- but he never wanted to imagine anything as fucked as this.

"You're okay now, huh?" The kid reaches out, still clutching the shreds of his costume around his waist. His hand is shaking. Logan flinches, and the kid jerks away, eyes getting impossibly bigger. "Come on," he stammers, voice low and rough. "Talk to me."

"What the hell should I say?" Logan stares out into the darkness. Bad enough he went into some kind of berserker fit and fucked the first warm body in his path. Worse that it's Peter Parker. The kid took him in when he needed help. Watched out for him, and didn't give him too much shit about it. Christ, the kid liked him.

Really liked him. Logan was never sure whether Peter was aware just how much. People don't always know what their bodies say they maybe want. His lips draw back in a grimace as Peter touches his arm, smiling encouragingly. "Okay. Good. You're back."

"Outta my way--" He pushes the kid aside, stumbles through the ruins of the room and only pauses for a moment at the edge of the floor where it's been blasted away. The air is cold on his face. He can taste Peter's tears on his tongue.

He closes his eyes, and falls forward.

Fuck it all, but he'll live.

The cold air blasts against his face as he falls, blowing away the smells of pain and fear and sweat. Logan bares his teeth and goes with it, yearning for the deep red and black, the obliteration of thought waiting for him when he hits.

Something tickles his back, snagging on the remains of his wifebeater. His fall slows, and he's turning his head to see when the kid knocks into his side, knee in Logan's gut, arm around his waist, falling sideways onto an adjacent roof.

The kid lands badly, off-balance with Logan in one arm and a fistful of webbing in the other. He drops Logan, who catches himself on his hands and hits the ground rolling. The kid trips over him and goes flying, skidding over the concrete rooftop.

"Are you still fucking stoned!? Fuck!" the kid shouts, clearly at the end of his rope. "Don't do that!" He's got his mask back on, and Logan's ashamed of how much of a fucking relief that is. He's crouched down, posture guarded, wearing Logan's flannel shirt. It's at least a couple of sizes too big for his skinny little body, and he didn't have time to button it up. Logan can see his ribs heaving, and a patch of web at the kid's hipbone, patching his tights.

It's too much, and he turns to go. And the kid makes a frustrated noise and next thing Logan knows his fucking boots are webbed to the rooftop.

"What just happened?"

Logan hunches forward, pressing his scraped palms to the roof, hard. It slows the healing, makes it crawl. Makes it hurt. He felt something up there, in the burned-out tower. Like there was a bite on his shoulder, bruises on his legs, but those are gone already, gone with the fog that was clouding his thoughts.

"I mean--" The kid touches him again, still stinking of fear and violation and-- goddamned little freak doesn't learn-- "I mean, I know what happened-- I have cable--" But he's still stammering, still hoarse, his throat clicking when he swallows, and the joke falls flat in the darkness between them.

"I don't know." Logan says, not trying to shake the kid off any more. He's tired. "They hit me with something-- I couldn't think." Something like a laser strobe, looked like. But familiar, like he'd been hit with it before. Like he was especially subceptible to it for some reason, and shit he's really tired of this stuff coming outta nowhere to bite him in the ass. "I just-- goddammit, kid, get away from me, will you? I'm not safe, I have to--"

He cuts away the webs with his claws, slicing bits of his boots away along with the spider-gunk. Not really caring. He vaults over the edge of the roof, breathing out through his teeth when he hits the ground, anklebones snapping and crunching and pushing inexorably back into place. It's not as good as falling from sixteen stories but it'll do.

The kid's still following him. He's like a walking bruise, reeking pain and hormones and confusion. "Logan, you need help--"

Logan feels something crack inside his chest, and he turns, fast enough to make the kid skitter back like the bug he is. The mask's off again, crumpled in one hand. The sleeves of Logan's flannel shirt are pushed up above his elbows, and Logan's gaze catches on a ring of bruises around the kid's wrist like a cuff.

"What the fuck is your problem?" he roars, and Peter's staring. Not afraid to meet Logan's eyes, not afraid to show him compassion after everything Logan's done, and he's such a fucking little fool. Logan's advancing on him, pushing his shoulder, shoving him back. "You fucking brain dead or something, jesus--"

The kid's eyes narrow, and he plants his feet and shoves Logan back hard, knocking the breath out of him for a shocked second. He always forgets how strong the kid really is. When he speaks his voice is still hoarse, but it's steady. "It wasn't you."

"You sure about that?" Logan says, soft and low, and the kid's eyes go wide again, and he sways back. His throat works. "You think I couldn't smell it on you?" Logan snarls, moving closer. "You think I didn't know you wanted it?"

Peter's struggling to keep his chin up, obviously trying not to flinch, but he can't stay steady when Logan reaches out and grabs the blood-spattered lapel of his flannel, wrapping his fist in it and pushing Peter back, his feet scuffing through the discarded newspapers cluttering the edges of the alley.

"You think it's not written all over you," he says, "that you want it-- you want it just like that, you little--" and Peter hits the wall, and Logan looms over him. Peter's breathing through his nose, quick and shallow, lips pressed together as he struggles to stay cool. Logan grits his teeth so hard his jaw creaks as tears start to well in the kid's eyes, salt-smell blooming between them. He breaks first, looking down, and punches the brick wall over Peter's shoulder. He smashes a couple of knuckles, feels at least two fingers break, and he can't do this, he can't break the kid any more. He stares down at the ground. "I'm. I'm sorry--"

Not that his remorse is worth fucking shit, not really-- not that sorry saves a fucking thing, does it? Nothing makes it better--

And his throat is so tight he can't quite manage the words, and he's never felt so goddamned fucking old-- "So fucking sorry--"

And the kid... Peter touches his face, fingertips trailing across his stubbled jaw. Logan can't lift his head to meet the kid's eyes, and then Peter moves forward, ignoring Logan's startled exclamation, his reflexive flinch. He puts his arm around Logan's waist, his other arm around Logan's neck and pulls it down to rest on his own shoulder.

Logan does pull back. He does try. But the kid pulls harder (so strong, he always forgets) and Logan's so tired. Peter pulls too hard and Logan stumbles forward. Their legs tangle, and Peter's trying to kiss him. His mouth is pressed hard and hot against Logan's, and he's shaking hard now, and Logan's head hurts. He doesn't know what he could do to possibly make this worse, so he slides his arms around the kid slowly, carefully. Opens his mouth and kisses Peter back.

The kid tastes like sex. Tastes like Logan, and he kisses like a teenager who's barely even started to figure out what to do with his tongue. It makes Logan's chest hurt-- pretty boy, fucked without a kiss-- and he goes down like he's taken a bat to the back of the head, down on his knees in the trash at the end of the alley, dragging Peter with him. It's too sweet, and he has to pull away from Peter's soft, soft mouth. He kisses Peter's cheek and the hollow under his eye. He did this before, even if he doesn't remember it. He can taste the dried tears at the edges of Peter's eyes when he kisses away the new ones.

Peter's mumbling something under his breath, still awkwardly holding Logan, and Logan cocks his head, sighing as the words come through. "Be all right. Be all right. Logan..."

"I'm always okay, kid," he says. "I get better."

The kid chokes down a sob, tilting his forehead down to rest on Logan's bare shoulder. "You gotta stop doing it, hurting-- stop doing this to yourself."

The kid's voice trails off into a hiss, and Logan finds himself stroking his hair. It's soft under his hands, tangled, ashy. Peter's trembling, but calming down, and Logan closes his eyes, breathing in. It helps. "I'll go back to Westchester," he lies softly. "I'll let them help. Okay?"

"That's good," Peter mumbles, pulling back. He rubs at his nose with his wrist, fingers barely emerging from the cuffs of Logan's shirt. He bends and rifles in his boot for a second. "You need money for a taxi? I got--"

Logan stops him, taking his hand and folding it closed over the crumpled bills. "Kid--"

"Whaddaya gonna do, hitch?" The Queens accent is coming back into the kid's voice, and the color into his face. The stars are fading out of the sky. It's nearly dawn. "I don't care if you are Mister Famous X-Man, you look like your friendly neighborhood serial killer."

"I'll be fine, kid. You take a taxi--"

Peter rolls his eyes, leaning easily on Logan's shoulder as he gets to his feet. "In my Spider-Man outfit, I'll take a taxi. Right. Look, will you take the twenty? You can owe me."

Logan thinks if this conversation goes on much longer he's ging to have to drive his own claws up into his skull and scramble his brain around. People like this-- he didn't think there were people like this, but he keeps running up against them, keeps disappointing and hurting them. He can see some of the same spark in the kid that he sees in the Professor. That undeniable need to help, to make things better. Even though Logan's a worthless cause, it'll be good for the kid to feel like he helped. "Okay."

"Okay," the kid says. He slips the money into Logan's hand. Pulls his mask back on. Takes a deep breath, and a step back as Logan gets to his feet.

"You take care, kid," Logan says, as if it wasn't too late already. The kid nods behind his mask, buttoning up Logan's flannel shirt over his chest. Logan can't tell what he's thinking behind those big white lenses. Can't read the kid's posture as he lifts a skinny wrist, slings himself a web and slips away into the night. So much weight on those bony little shoulders.

He brushes his thumb against the crumpled twenty in his palm. He will, he thinks suddenly. He'll go to Westchester.


I am crossing the bridges of sorrow
Empty with yearning and full of tomorrow
The river is high and the bridges are burning
I know I've been hurt but I keep on returning

 


The silence is comfortable, soft and deep, like Peter's overstuffed chair. The library is warm, but not too warm, and full of yellow-green light. Peter snuggles down into the chair, tucking his feet up underneath him and balancing the poetry book on the edge of his leg.

He's been reading for a while now. His reading comprehension level is good enough to get him through English classes with his usual good grades, but he's definitely more of a science and math geek than any kind of culture nerd. Still, he's always thought there must be something to poetry beyond the boring crap they're learning in school. That is, if the simplistic quality of the limited science curriculum is anything to judge by, there has to be.

The book in his lap is some poet he's never heard of before, Bukowski, and okay, every now and then Peter's gotta blink-- he didn't realize you could say 'fuck' in poetry. But there's bits, lines, that seem more real than real, somehow. Images that flash and stick, clean as any balanced equation.

He closes the book and looks up at the Professor, who's sitting in the chair across from him, and Peter realizes what he knew all along. That he's not in a real library, he's somewhere in the Professor's mind, or a mental construct that the Professor created in Peter's mind, and he'll have to ask about that, because this is the kind of place he'd like to be able to get to on his own.

Professor Xavier is dressed casually, in blue jeans and a button-down shirt. His eyes are a cloudy, pale jade color in the weirdly tinted light slanting in from the tall windows. He's looking at Peter with a sort of careful, casual distance. Which is how he always looks, which is one of the creepier things about him. But right now it's kind of reassuring. Because it's not different than usual, and because...

Well, Peter knows what it means, that he's here. Why he's here.

"Hello, Peter."

He closes his book, tracing his fingers across the cover. Feels so real. "Logan made it back?"

Professor Xavier nods. "He asked me to check in on you."

Peter tilts his head back, gazing up at the vaulted ceiling. This whole thing-- it's really kind of freaky to realize that it's not the most traumatic thing that ever happened to him in his life. It's not the most traumatic thing that happened to him this year-- so really, Peter just. He tries not to think about it too much. And if he doesn't? He's okay. It was a bitch trying to explain the bruise on his face to Aunt May, and he literally jumped and stuck to the ceiling the last time Mary Jane snuck up on him in the basement. But mostly Peter's life keeps him way too busy to even think about the stuff he actually wants to take some time and consider. The stuff he's actively trying to repress is staying pretty effectively repressed. So, yeah.

Mostly he's okay.

"Peter?"

"Oh," Peter says, realizing that the professor isn't actually reading his mind. "Yeah-- yeah. I'm all right."

The Professor raises an eyebrow. "Are you?"

Peter smiles down at the book in his lap. Hard to resent the guy for asking when he actually seems honestly concerned about Peter's welfare. "I don't know. Am I?"

A faint shadow passes by outside the library windows, dimming the sunlight for a moment. "It was suggested," Professor Xavier says, each word careful, "that it might help you to forget your last encounter with Logan. That I might assist you with that."

"No," Peter says, but even as he says it, he wants to change his mind. It's-- and it's so quiet here. No sirens, no gunshots, no teachers calling on him, no Mr. Jameson barking at him, no Aunt May rousting him out of this dream. Nothing to do but feel his face start to heat as he remembers Logan's hand in his hair. All the time in the world and nothing to do but admit it: he can't sleep, not even after school, work, and patrol to wear him out. The smell of Mr. Jameson's cigars makes him break out in a sweat. And one of these days he's going to have a lot of explaining to do if there's people besides MJ around, the next time he gets startled and ends up on the ceiling.

And Mary Jane-- Mary is a whole other thing. Whether to tell her part of it, whether there's anything to tell her, whether he's crazy or Logan's crazy or if they both had a moment of crazy craziness together, never to be repeated, in which case there's nothing to tell, nothing to deal with, nothing to think about. And it seems so simple all of a sudden. Write it all down in a book, put the book in a box. Wrap up the box and drop it in the river. Get rid of it. He rubs the edge of his hand over his mouth, and glances up at the Professor. "Could you really do that?"

The Professor nods. His eyes aren't encouraging or discouraging, and Peter feels so safe here. He's not concerned about something going wrong, or the Professor doing something he shouldn't. That's not the issue. He stares out at the tall stacks of books, at the precise beams of sunshine falling in through the long windows and over his chair. It's his mind. His memories. But that just means it's his choice. It could be so easy, just to take a single hour out of a single night and not have it any more.

Except--

Peter closes his eyes, chewing on his bottom lip. He'd burned the ruined costume. MJ had just stared at him when he asked her to help make another. What, she'd said, you couldn't even save part of it? And, yeah, she had just finished sewing the old one the week before, so of course they'd had a fight. Well, more like a squabble. Maybe a tiff. Mostly Mary being upset that Peter was being an ass, because he had been. He'd been edgy, he'd over-reacted. It wasn't her fault. There wouldn't be any context for that fight, though, not if he didn't remember--

He'd gotten home, and he'd gone over to the spot behind the water heater where Logan had hidden, that time he'd come to Peter for help. Peter had tucked himself into the same spot, huddled under a blanket and fallen asleep, which he can hardly even believe, now. Thank God it had been a Saturday the next morning, and he could lock himself in the basement till the bruises went down and he was somewhere close to normal.

He'd read a lot that weekend. Pulled out his old favorite cheesy sci-fi novels and adventure books, the ones that he's read so many times he can just vanish into them. An old defense mechanism, tried and true. Hiding behind his glasses and a book, and disappearing. Being somebody besides a freak, even if only for a while.

Professor Xavier could make that permanent, Peter thinks. He could make Peter forget he ever had powers. Give him some kind of mental block about using them, so he'd be... normal. And, ok, the Professor would have to do it to Mary Jane, too, and all the bad guys who'd ever seen Peter's face, and probably also some people who weren't bad guys, like Nick Fury and and the rest of the Ultimates, and all of the X-Men, and... yeah. No.

Peter rubs his forehead. You can't un-spin a web as tangled as his life. You can't pull one strand out without unravelling the whole thing. "You know, I'm-- I'm surprised Logan even suggested it," he says, shifting in his chair, dropping a foot to the floor so he can kick at the thick, piled carpet. "Everything Logan's forgotten-- he hates it. He hates that he can't remember."

"Logan is a man in search of an identity; he doesn't know yet what he'll find. The uncertainty can be..."

It'd frighten anyone. Chased by these ghosts he doesn't recognize, condemned for crimes he doesn't even remember, but... "Just because you don't remember something doesn't mean it never happened."

Even if it never happened, him and Logan in the tower, it'd still. Peter would still be.

He followed Logan, afterwards. Wouldn't let him go. He--

Did Logan tell the Professor that part? Peter looks up quickly, taken aback, but the Professor is still sitting there, waiting.

"No," he says, and his voice is clearer now. "No, thank you."

The Professor nods, impassive as always, no clue in his expression as to whether he thinks Peter's making the right choice.

"There was this one time in fourth grade when I threw up on the school bus," he mentions. "I mean, as long as we're here." The Professor's mouth quirks to the left. "No?" He sighs. "Well, look, if you think it'll make Logan feel better, you can tell him I did go for it."

Professor Xavier does frowns a little, at that. "Peter. I'm not making this offer because I'm concerned with Logan's guilt--"

"No, you know what?" Peter says, a brittle smile stretching his lips, making his face hurt. He laughs shortly, taking the book in his lap and tossing it down onto the small table between the two overstuffed chairs. It hits the wood and disappears, and Peter blinks, but he doesn't let it derail his train of thought. "You tell Logan he owes me twenty bucks, and if he thinks he can send you to make me forget that particular fact, he's got another coupla thinks coming. He still owes me a favor from last time and now he owes me twenty dollars from this time, so you-- you just tell him that, okay?"

Peter stands up, rubbing his hands over his arms. It's warm in the library, but somewhere in the distance he can feel his real body, under the surface of this dream like something wavering at the bottom of a swimming pool. He's kicked off all the covers again, and he's cold.

"How do I--" And the question itself is the answer, because it wakes him up, and he actually sits up gasping just like in a dumb TV movie.

He lies back down, untangling the covers from the lump he kicked them into. He's had nightmares near-constantly ever since Uncle Ben died. He should've asked the Professor if he could do anything about that. The ones lately are pretty bad. He's back in the tower, back in that hour, except sometimes it's not Logan, it's Norman Osborn, or Doctor Octavius. Sometimes he dreams he's Logan, and he's hurting himself. Sometimes he's hurting MJ or Gwen.

Sometimes the things Logan does to him don't hurt at all.

And if Peter's going to be honest-- and if he can't be honest here in the dark, alone in his bedroom, alone in his head, there's really not much hope, is there?

He's twitchy. He has to get up. He pulls his quilt off the bed, drapes it over his shoulders and goes to the window. From here, he can see the Watsons' house, and even though it's just down the street and Peter could be there in two seconds if he strapped on his web-shooters, it seems like miles away. Mary Jane's room is on the far side, so he can't tell if her light is on. But maybe if he turned on his computer right now she'd be online and they could talk.

Or maybe she's asleep like a normal person. Maybe.

He really does love her, and he thinks he's going to have to tell her someday. Just like Aunt May and Spiderman... he won't be able to hide it forever, and he's not sure he really wants to. Someday, she'll need to know. Not the thing that happened in the tower, not necessarily, but the thing that happened afterward-- and not even so much that. But the reasons behind it, the reasons why--

He followed Logan. Didn't let him go.

Peter learned some things about himself that night. In that tower, in that alley. Till now the knowledge has been like a candle flame, tiny but too bright to look at directly. Still, he couldn't let the Professor snuff it out.

Maybe he could've gone his whole life without knowing that about himself. He's got MJ, after all, and he's not likely to ever meet anyone else like Logan. But... still. Willful ignorance is too close to willful inaction, Peter thinks seriously, raising a hand to touch the cold glass panes of the window. And then he smiles, because even in his head, that sounds like something Uncle Ben might've said.

He did the right thing, and so he leaves the computer alone. Turns around and goes back to bed, quilt trailing behind him. For right now, he'll do the best he can to be true to himself, and eventually, he won't lie to the people he loves any more than he has to. He thumps the pillow a few times, curling up under the blankets. Nobody, not even Uncle Ben, could ask him to do more.

He won't lie to himself, he won't forget, and he's definitely not letting Logan skip out on that twenty bucks.

Good enough for now.


And I kissed away a thousand tears
My lady of the Various Sorrows
Some begged, some borrowed, some stolen
Some kept safe for tomorrow