“You saved the day and convinced the locals not to judge a book by its cover. You should be proud of yourself… It’s not your fault y’know.”
“I’m just tired Logan, that’s all…”
“Hmm… I don’t believe that’s all it is. You’ve changed, Kurt.”
“Well, it’s been over 3 years since I saw you last. People are bound to change in that amount of time.” The air suddenly became colder. Kurt's voice was tight like a bowstring.
“Ah. You’re still mad at me.”
“Why should I be mad, Mein Freund? Because all this time I thought you were dead? Because you didn’t bother to call me when The X-Men were revealed to be alive on Television? Here I was, blaming myself all this time for not being by your side in your final moments all the while you were in Australia doing Lord knows what.” Kurt turned his back to Logan at this.
Logan hesitated before slowly walking over to Kurt and settling a rough hand on his friend’s stiff shoulder. “I was trying to protect you…”
At this Kurt violently swung his body around to look at Logan, face contorted in quiet fury. “How dare you? Who are you to decide what’s best for me??? I may not be as good in combat as you, or as strong as Peter or as powerful as Ororo, but you still didn’t have the right to make that decision for me. I’m not the teams mascot to be brought out when the victory is won and then to be put away in a box once danger is near.”
Logan was taken aback, he never saw such anger. Even with his confrontation with the Beyonder. “Kurt… hey, you know that’s not the reason.”
“No. It isn’t. No one knows better than me what it’s like to see those you care for die all around you. Death has always been a big part of my life, Kurt. When the Marauders cut you down before my eyes… I felt as if my heart was ripped out of my chest…” Logan almost could not go on, expressing his feelings left him feeling vulnerable and it wasn’t his strong suit, all the same he needed to go on. “I was sure you were dead. When I came back from the Morlock tunnels and Moira told me that you were still holding on and there was a possibility you would make it, I decided that I would make damn sure those bastards wouldn’t get another shot at you. You’re life, Kurt. You’re everything that’s wonderful about it. I had to protect it.”
Kurt was speechless for a while. He wanted to say 'You’ve changed, too' but didn’t, “Logan, I can handle myself…”
“Oh, I know you can, but sometimes that doesn’t make a difference.” Logan tried to put all the fondness he felt for Kurt in his gaze.
Kurt almost smiled at this, but decided not to let Logan off the hook. He had more questions.“Then why did you not contact me when it was made public?”
Logan sighed. He hated this sort of thing. “I… was all tied up in a lot of business.” He knew how weak it sounded, but Logan found himself at a loss there.
Kurt sighed heavily. “As if I wasn’t? Here I was suddenly thrust into a position of leadership of a brand new team, while being thrown from one dimension to the next with barely a breather in between. I’ve been trying to keep everyone together when I can hardly keep together myself these days.”
Logan chuckled and said, “Some things stay the same don’t they?” He walked closer to his friend again and put a hand on each of his shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “You are much too hard on yourself. You’re a good leader, Kurt. I’ve followed a lot of people and have taken a lot of orders in my life, but you’re one of the few I’d gladly follow.”
Kurt’s face finally softened at this. Kurt suddenly noticed how close the feral mutants face was to his own. He missed those rugged, handsome features. Logan was thinking similar thoughts as he watched the moonlight trace Kurt’s elfin features. The older mans heart began to race as Kurt finally met his eyes since this conversation started. So golden and warm, Logan thought he could probably stare into Kurt's eyes all day. He'd missed them greatly.
Kurt gulped. “I don’t want to be a leader.”
Logan inched closer still as if trying to break Kurt down. “A lot of the times the best leaders are the most reluctant ones.”
“Logan I—“ Kurt pulled out of Logan’s grasp and said. “Kitty cried for months you know, many nights I had to come into her room and hold her. She loves very deeply. Since her parents split, we’ve been all she has. So once you’ve rested, I want you to take a trip to Braddock mansion for a visit and you are going to let her hug the stuffing out of you as much as she wants. Since… since we lost Rachel. It would be a nice surprise for her. Understand?”
Logan was disappointed when Kurt pulled away. “I would have done that anyway.”
Then Logan realized everything Kurt said. “Wait a minute. You said “you”. Aren’t you going back with me?”
“Um… nein. I was thinking of staying at one of the motels in Hamburg near the airport before I return. “
“Then I’m staying too, and then we are going back to see Kitty together.” Logan put his hand up to stall his friend’s protests. “Besides, Kitty would be pissed if I didn’t come back with ya. I’m sure she’d worry.”
Kurt sighed in defeat. “I hate it when you’re right, Logan.”
Kurt laughed. The first time the blue mutant laughed since they reunited. It was a pleasure for the older man to see. It was like the sun shining through after a long rainy day. “I knew if you ever found that out you would have to tease me with it.”
Logan gave Kurt a long intense gaze and said with a smile, “I wasn’t teasing. Well, not completely. I was also going to say it’s nice to know there are some people left with good taste.”
Kurt almost got lost in Logan’s ice blue eyes but decided it wouldn’t do for them to get in an accident. That was the last thing that was uttered between them before Logan decided to turn on the radio. Mazzy Star was the DJ’s current choice and Logan found the haunting melody quite soothing. The sound reminding him of some music that was played in lounges he’d been to.
Kurt decided on Motel 21 for it’s more private set up. He wanted as little interaction with others as possible. With it’s lone story Kurt knew he’d have less of a chance of bumping into people. It was close enough to the city and the airport, but far enough away from the cities bustle. As they pulled up Logan said. “Hm, nice choice, Elf. I’m glad you didn’t go with The Holiday Inn. Too many flamin’ people.”
They were out of the car now and as soon as Logan looked over he saw that Kurt activated his image inducer. Kurt granted him a smile and said. “That was the idea Mein Freund, plus, quicker access to the car in case we have to make a hasty retreat.”
Logan sighed. “Is that why you have that blasted gizmo on? Afraid people will have a look at you and chase us out of town?”
“There is nothing wrong with being practical once in a while, Logan.”
“I don’t know… folks seem to like Excalibur enough. Also. Three words,” Logan said with mirth in his eyes “London Woman’s Magazine”.
“Ach! I’m not going to be able to live this down am I?”
“No. You’re not shutting that thing off are ya.”
The good humor had left Kurt once again. This is why he didn’t want Logan to come along. As much as he missed him Kurt knew Logan would give him a hard time on such matters. He appreciated the sentiment, but sometimes Kurt didn’t want to fight the good fight and preferred peace. Logan meant well but sometimes he just didn’t understand.
“No. And Logan… I would rather if we both took separate rooms. Don’t misunderstand. I’m glad that you’re here, but I would really like to be alone for now. I’ll stop by your room in the morning, Ja?”
Logan was hurt and that’s no lie. It showed briefly on his face before he schooled his features into a more neutral expression. But he willed himself to understand. He knew full well on needing to be alone.
“Thanks, Mein freund.” Kurt let out a sigh of relief.
As they entered, a middle-aged man with average height and hazel eyes had greeted them warmly. “Well gentlemen. What may I do for you?”
“Hello, we would like two separate rooms for my friend and I, please.”
“I’m afraid there is only one room left available.”
“Ah, I see…” Kurt gulped and looked over at Logan. If he didn’t know better he could swear Logan was amused by this. Kurt considered briefly on trying another Motel but felt that would have been going too far. Kurt was anything but rude. “Very well, we’ll take it.”
“Excellent, Herr Wagner. Here is your key. Just take a right, the room is four doors down.”
The room was rather attractive, nice furniture and drapery with plenty of space yet still it remained cozy. Kurt was happy to see that there were twin beds. He was afraid he might have to share one with Logan, which would have been more than awkward considering their past on again off again relationship that wasn’t without passion, yet confused him to no end until one day it finally slowed to a halt.
“Well if it’s all the same to you I’m going to take a shower.” said Logan. He removed his hat, then his jacket and set it on the chair. Kurt looked around cautiously as if a mob was ready to burst into their room, but decided that he was being ridiculous and deactivated his image inducer with a shake of his head.
“I think I’ll be doing the same. When you’re done. I - I mean…“ Kurt mentally kicked himself. Wagner, you idiot!
Logan smirked. “Well, of course when I’m done. What else could there be?”
“Umm… “ Kurt put his thick three fingered hands in his pockets and looked at the floor. “Logan I…”
“Don’t mention it.” And with that Logan went into the bathroom leaving Kurt alone with his conflicting thoughts.
Kurt, exhausted from the past days events and the current tension between him and Logan, dragged himself over to the bed and sat down. He reached for the pitcher on the nightstand and poured himself a glass of water. This was going to be a long night, Kurt thought. Why do you always end up doing this to me, Logan? For a while he just sat there staring out the window at the moon until he finally decided to get dressed. He pulled his grey sweat pants out of the duffle bag and set it on the bed. He slowly began to undress. He suddenly realized there was someone watching him. It was Logan, of course, who was standing by the bathroom door looking at him, all he had on was a small towel wrapped around his waste, and hair slicked back. Logan moved only slightly and Kurt watched as the towel tugged at his muscled hips. The blue mutant felt like a fly caught in a web. Logan was still staring as if in challenge. The feisty mutant finally spoke. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
“I didn’t expect you to be done so soon.”
“Well, I figured you’d be in a hurry to use the shower.”
“Not a problem, pal.”
Kurt continued to undress himself and Logan was still watching. He could go into the bathroom but he refused to let Logan think he was getting to him, and casually continued to take off his clothes as if no one else was in the room. Once finished Kurt grabbed his pants and headed to the bathroom, purposely avoiding Logan, once in, after he shut the door Kurt slumped against it with a light thump. This was going to be a long night.
After the shower Kurt felt much better. It was as if the warm water lifted all his aches, pains and worries and took them down the drain. Kurt swore lightly as he realized he forgot to bring a shirt. Kurt opened the door and the sight before him filled his senses. Logan was lying on the bed, still clad only in a towel. Left arm bended to hold up his chin as he watched a soccer game on the TV. His right hand was holding a cigarette as he slowly brought it too his lips. Logan spotted Kurt’s gaze. “Enjoy your shower, Elf?”
“… Ja. It appears to be just what I’ve needed. Um… aren’t you going to get dressed, Mein Freund?”
"I don’t got any clothes. And I sure don’t feel like putting my costume back on. I can’t relax in that thing.”
“I do not have anything to lend you. “
“Hey, it’s no skin off my back. Unless you have a problem-“
“Nein. There is absolutely no problem at all.”
Logan just snorted.
Kurt sat down on the bed and a thought occurred to him. “Logan, how did you know I was in that magazine?”
“What’s there to explain? I read it in the magazine.”
“Yes… but Logan, unless you aren’t telling me something, I can’t see you reading "London’s Woman."
“All right Kurt, I’ll bite. I’ve been keeping tabs on you. I wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“You always were sneaky, having to do things the round about way instead of simply calling me.”
“I missed this.”
“I hate to admit it, but I missed your nagging.”
“Cat got you’re tongue? They chose a good picture. I saw you picked up some new moves while we were fightin’ those “monsters.” I forgot what a pleasure it was to watch you move. And I was wrong. You’re not out of shape. In fact, you’ve grown quite a bit. Filled out very nicely…” Logan let his gaze wander to Kurt’s muscled chest.
Kurt swallowed and grabbed his left arm and kept his hand there. He looked at the floor, which was becoming a habit now and looked back up taking a deep breath and saying. “Why do you do this to me, Logan?”
“What? What am I doing but stating the obvious?”
“This. This thing you keep doing. I swear the more uncomfortable I am the more you push and once you have me you’re gone. I -“
“You pushed me away. Not the other way around. After we faced the Beyonder Amanda wasn’t the only one you pushed away.”
“I wasn’t finished. Here you tell me how much you’ve missed me and now you’re doing your danmdest to push me away again. Bad timing I guess. Maybe I came at a time when your soul is so raw that you were looking forward to hiding away. Perhaps I should have picked a time when you weren’t feeling so messed up. And we can laugh, then go and get a beer. But life isn’t perfect Kurt. You should know that as much as me.”
“That is not true, Logan” Kurt closed his eyes. “It isn’t.”
“I was going to marry Mariko. But she was the one who called off the wedding. Not me.”
“Right, you were going to marry Mariko.”
Logan snorted. “Well I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to marry you of course. Besides. I know how much you want children. That’s what you were plannin’ with Amanda wasn’t it? And you were still practically a pup. Anyway I don’t think forever is quite our style with each other. At least not like that. And Mariko would a shared me with you.”
“I told you she was an amazing woman.”
“I was just imagining you getting on your knee and “popping the question” as they say. You know Logan, that wasn’t what I meant.”
“All right. Then what’s the problem? Mariko and I are pretty much through I think. Oh she still loves me and I love her… Actually, you both remind me of each other in a lot of ways.”
Kurt let out a sigh. It was another new habit.
Logan slowly got up and went over to Kurt, then tilted his chin up with his left hand and ran his right hand up and down Kurt’s chest. Kurt closed his eyes once again and began to shiver.
“You always did like that.”
“You always liked to be stroked. Just like a cat.”
Kurt saw Logan’s face inching closer and closer. Finally Kurt panicked and jerked away. “No Logan. I can't.”
Logan dropped his hand, moved away and sighed. “All right Kurt. Have it your way.”
“Leave em’ alone!” Logan shouted, swinging even more wildly. At this Kurt whipped his tail around Logan’s arm and shouted. “Logan. Wake up!”
Finally Logan jolted out of his nightmare. He sat up breathing so fast and heavily as if he ran a marathon.
“Ja, Mein Freund. That was some nightmare. One of the worst I’ve scene.”
“Tall dark figures with claws… They were clawing at me. They kept coming and coming and wouldn’t stop. Then they went for you…” Logan's voice cracked near the end.
“Oh, Logan…” Kurt went over to Logan’s bed and sat down putting his large hand on his forearm. “You can't save everyone. And you can’t always keep everyone from harm. Not even me. It wasn’t your fault Logan. What happened to me, I mean…”
“I know it wasn’t.”
“I’m not sure you do. That’s why you couldn’t face me. Isn’t it?”
Logan looked into Kurt’s face. So gentle and caring. He had a look of quiet wonder on his face.
“Well, you’re one to talk. Stefan… Rachel…?”
Kurt put a hand over his mouth and said. “I guess… I guess that is why we know each other so well. Move over.”
“I said move over.”
Logan did as he was bid and moved over onto the other side of the bed with Kurt spooning in behind him. Kurt slipped his arms under Logan’s and hugged him lightly for a brief second before letting them rest there.
“Elf, you don’t have to.”
“Hush up you fool. I want to.”
“Shhh…" Kurt stroked Logan’s hair. “Sleep.”
“God, I missed you.”
“I missed you too. Now sleep.”
And for the first time in years Logan did.