Not That Different

This story was originally part of the Third Wave of the Sentinel & Guide Fuq-Q-Fest.

Flicking his eyes back and forth between the two Alpha Males facing off across the table in the interrogation room, Blair Sandburg sighed inwardly, wondering how the hell this had happened.

A call had come over the radio about a disturbance over at Michaelson's, a middle-class bar over on Third Street. When they'd gotten there, it was to find a stocky, bearded man with unusually pointy hair wiping the floor with his assailants. All the while blocking theirs – and everyone else's – access to a brown-haired doe-eyed slip of a girl that couldn't have been old enough to be the bar in the first place.

Jim had told (rather, growled at) Blair that the man set his senses on edge, so they stayed on the other side of the room until the fight was over. When the strange man had knocked the last guy unconscious, the Sentinel had finally deemed it safe to approach the scene. The man's eyes had focused in on them almost before Sentinel and Guide started toward the duo. Blair had been almost mesmerized by those eyes – warm and brown, they held such pain…and such rage.

And then he'd noticed that one of the guys that Blair had thought was unconscious got up, and hit the man over the head with a chair. He staggered, and then fell to the floor, knocked out.

A few minutes later, after he and Jim had managed to convince the girl that she wasn't being arrested – okay, she probably wasn't old enough to be in the bar, but as long as she wasn't drinking they'd overlook it – they'd bundled her and her protector (who weighed way more than he looked like he should) into the car and driven back to the station. They'd just managed to get the guy into the interrogation room to lie down on the table when he sprang up, and twelve-inch metal claws came out of his hands!

Instinctively, Blair put up his hands in a defensive gesture and said calmly, "It's okay, you're okay, Logan." He'd overhead the girl, Rogue (and wasn't that an unusual name) calling the pointy-haired guy that.

Panting hard, the man known as Logan took a look around the room, and when his eyes settled on the girl and saw that she was safe, he retracted the claws and some of the fire in his eyes was banked.

"Look, uh, Mister Logan…" Blair started.

"Just Logan, kid," he interrupted.

"Logan," Blair complied. "Everyone's okay, everything's okay…"

"Are we under arrest?" he cut in, flexing his fingers as if they hurt, while keeping one eye on the girl.

Exchanging a quick look with his partner (You handle it, Chief, he'll listen to you), new rookie Detective Blair Sandburg said, "Uh…not at the moment. It's just, you're the only one's who's awake, and can tell us what happened. If it helps, since you were the only one fighting, you'd be the only one we'd charge." He'd sensed that most of Logan's rage was because he didn't feel that the girl was safe. And considering what happened to some mutants in jail, he couldn't blame him.

Logan seemed to calm at that, and even sat down in a chair. "It was a misunderstanding," he said gruffly, running one hand through his hair.

Rogue huffed. "No, it wasn't," she said. "Ah'm not a child, Logan, ya don't have to protect meh. Ah know what they wanted, and if they couldn't take no fah an answer, then they deserved what they got."

Jim turned a baleful gaze toward the young lady. "One of those men is in intensive care. Your friend here broke his jaw."

Logan snorted. "So what? Fair's fair. He broke mine. And I should have broken something a little more important for what he tried to do." He was starting to get riled up again, and Rogue must have sensed this, for she came over and sat down next to him, rubbing his back soothingly.

"Ah'm okay, Logan," she soothed, her accent more pronounced in the face of her protector's (for that was what he was, Blair realized) distress. "No one's gonna hurt me here."

Turning a hard gaze on the two cops, Logan said, "I'm not so sure about that, darlin'."

Blair let out a long breath. "Look," he said. "All we wanna know is what happened. We're not looking to hurt you or anything, but we need to close this case. The owner of the bar is pretty upset, and we need to be able to tell him why his bar is going to have to close down for repairs."

Giving the younger, curly-haired man a measuring look, Rogue finally said, "We were havin' dinner when one of those men – the tall one with the snake tattoo on his arm – came up and asked how much fah an evenin' with meh."

Logan growled, but Rogue acted as if she wasn't paying any attention.

"Ah told him Ah wasn't fer sale, ta get lost, but then his two buddies showed up. They kept hassling meh, and when the short fat guy grabbed mah arm, Logan removed it. None of them took too kindly ta that, and they started fightin'."

Pausing in his note-writing, Blair asked, "Who threw the first punch?"

The answer came from Logan. "The other guy – the redhead with the blue flame tattoo on his cheek, and the track marks on his arm."

Blair nodded. "Okay. Okay. I think…um, did you use those, uh, claws on any of them?"

Logan growled, but shook his head.

Nodding again, Blair said, "Okay, as long as the three goons don't decide to press charges, I'd say you're home free. And I don't think they will, since I'm gonna let Narcotics know about the redhead. Your description sounds like a small time dealer they've been trying to pull in for a while."

Rogue and Logan exchanged a look. "So we're free ta go?" she ventured.

Jim nodded. "As soon as the paperwork is filled out – I'm going to need your real names, by the way – we'll let you go."

Logan looked pensive at this pronouncement, but relaxed when Rogue whispered something in his ear. He nodded once. "Okay. Lead on, Joe Friday."

Jim glanced at his partner. "Déjà vu," they said in unison.

"What?" Rogue asked.

Blair grinned. "I called him that the first day we met."

She smiled slightly at that. "Oh."

Ten minutes later, when they'd gotten the two mutants settled in a conference room, filling out paperwork, Blair finally had a chance to talk to his partner, alone.

Checking to see that their two charges were busy filling out forms, Blair said, in a hushed tone, "What did she say that got him to agree to this?"

Jim shook his head. "It was really weird. She said, 'Don't worry, I got the Professor to make you some ID. You have a last name now. And I got mine officially changed awhile back, so we're good.' Hell if I know what most of that means."

"It means, Bub," Logan said, without looking up from the form he was filling out, "that you shouldn't eavesdrop on people or you'll end up with more questions than you had goin' in."

Blair started. "Uh, er…"

"I have really good hearing," Logan pointed out the obvious. "Smell and sight, too." Giving the younger man a calculating look, he gestured at Ellison and said, "Just like your partner here."

Blair turned panicked eyes toward his partner. "Uh…er…"

Ellison's eyes shuttered and he said, "Yes, I do. And I'd appreciate if you kept quiet about this; Cascade is better than most places, but police stations are still rife with prejudice. I'm not a mutant, but that really wouldn't matter to people with the IQ of a turnip. Now, if we're through with the reveal-all soap opera-type conversation, would you mind getting back to filling out that paperwork?" Jim glared at the shorter man, who, other than Blair, was apparently the only one immune to it.

Logan smirked. "Sure, Bub. Whatever you want." He turned back to his pile of papers, picking up a pen and picking up where he'd left off.

Rogue had been watching them both warily throughout their conversation, but once it ended, she gave a relieved sigh and went back to filling out her own paperwork.

Grabbing something out of his backpack, Blair tugged Jim over to the corner of the room. Flipping a small switch on the side of the blue and white device, he said, "Okay, we can talk now."

A low buzzing filled Jim's ears, and he noticed Logan shaking his head as if his own hearing was affected, as well. "White noise generator?" he asked.

"Yeah," Blair confirmed. "I figured we'd all be happier if we weren't able to hear each other."

Logan looked across at them, and when Blair held up the white noise generator, he grunted and went back to his paperwork.

"Yeah…" Jim said slowly. He scowled and turned to his partner, speaking in a low voice. "He's dangerous…those claws… Should we really be letting him go? I know we don't have laws against mutants, and I don't really want to, but…"

"Those aren't natural, Big Guy," Blair interrupted his lover. "Those claws are metal; if they were part of his mutation, they'd be bone. I think, anyway. But I asked Rogue why he was so heavy, and she said something about his skeleton being coated with metal…that's not a mutation, that's…something else." He glanced away, as if not wanting to clarify his vague statement.

"You think he was experimented on," Jim guessed correctly.

"You know better than I what the government is capable of," Blair said gently.

Jim sighed and nodded reluctantly. "But that doesn't make him any less dangerous, Chief. And what's a girl like that doing with him anyway? She's not his daughter, and she can't be legal …"

"Maybe she's his Guide," Blair suggested whimsically.

Jim started. "What?"

Blair shifted uncomfortably, but said, "You saw how she calmed him down, man. I thought he was gonna skewer you. He responded to her, even when I tried my best to calm him down; a few words and a touch was all it took. He protected her in that bar, when she was in danger; considers her an equal despite her need for protection, as was obvious from the way he consulted her on how they should proceed, and accepted her input…"

"They're really not so different from us, are they?" Jim said softly, and Blair knew he wasn't just talking about the two mutants across the room.

"No, man. They need each other…like we do."

Letting out a long sigh, Jim rubbed his hands over his face in a vain attempt to ward off the headache he could feel coming on. "You're right," he admitted finally. "It's just…well, you know what it looks like. A young girl half his age…"

"True. But appearances can be deceiving, Big Guy," Blair pointed out.

Jim chuckled. "You got that right, 'Doctor McKay'."

Blair flushed.

An hour later the paperwork had been filled out and filed. No charges were being pressed; the redheaded biker wasn't the only member of the trio who was wanted. A fight had almost started up when Jim glanced through Logan's paperwork and found he'd put himself down as Logan Laughlin – from Laughlin, Ontario, Canada. But when Logan had shown Jim his ID – made out to one Logan Laughlin – he'd grudgingly accepted the paperwork, and had even restrained himself from asking any questions.

Watching as the two mutants walked out of the bullpen, Jim turned to his partner. "You were right."

Raising one eyebrow, Blair said, "I usually am. But what are you referring to this time?"

Jim huffed a laugh and said, "She's talking about us in the elevator; saying that we're not so different from them. Apparently Rogue noticed that you were the only thing standing between me and a fight with Logan."

Blair smiled softly at his lover. "Hey, everyone needs someone to look out for them."

"Speaking of looking out…" Jim took a quick look around, and, spying no one in the vicinity – it was the graveyard shift, after all – he leaned down and caught Blair's lips in a searing kiss.

"Much better," he purred as he finally pulled away long moments later.

"Oh, yeah," Blair agreed. "Been wanting to do that all night."

"Well, we're off now. We could go home and continue this…" Jim suggested silkily.

Blair grinned widely. "I like the way you think."

Grabbing their coats, they headed for the elevator. Jim chuckled as he realized that he could hear their two mutant guests in the parking lot, kissing. Blair was more right than he knew – they really weren't all that different.