Hunger and Thirst

"Come with me."

Jean had no other warning before Logan's rough hand grabbed her smaller one with strength she doubted he intended to use. They had been standing in the mansion, more specifically, in front of the elevator, and Jean had asked if Logan would mind her running a few tests on him. She had been gathering data on his mutant ability to heal but her scientific thirst was no where near satisfied. She hadn't thought he minded.

She stumbled off the last step and cursed her heels under her breath. Logan paused to make sure that she was okay before continuing to lead her outside. Jean felt his heavy steps reverberating up his skeleton and through his hand. She imagined briefly how the impact traveled through the adamantium, magnified by the metal's weight. She vowed to investigate it more thoroughly later.

"Where are we going?" Jean asked, breaking the silence because she hated not knowing.

"I wanna show you something."

Jean let herself be half-dragged across the manicured lawn and out of the school's view. The grass grew wild here, and weeds emerged vigorously where there was no weed prevention. Trees littered the ground with their shed leaves, which lay used and frivolous in the afternoon sun. Jean rarely came this far on the school's property. She doubted anyone did. Anyone except Logan, who obviously knew exactly where he was going by the firm intention in his step. A bird exploded from a wild shrub, startling her enough to cry out, but seemingly having no effect on Logan. Jean realized that he probably knew the exact location of all the wildlife within a quarter of a mile and shook her head as she regained her breath.

"You should have told me to wear hiking boots," she said, trying to make light of the confusing situation but getting no reaction from the driven man in front of her. His muscles were tight, but they usually were, or else Jean might have suspected that he were tense about something. The heat was making them both perspire. She felt a bead of sweat form on her temple and threaten to fall as she once again stumbled in an effort to keep up with Logan. They passed a clump of Queen Anne's Lace and Jean remembered how good it felt to be able to spend the afternoon in the gardens, admiring the flowers for their unselfish beauty. She would have to make it a point to visit one afternoon this week.

The air was getting cooler and soon Jean heard the sound of running water. There was a creek this close to the school? Jean decided that it was only fitting that Logan be one of few to know about it. The birds were louder here, presumably because the water provided more life and ultimately, more prey. A squirrel darted up the base of a large tree to their right. Logan stopped.

Jean looked at him and watched the way a calmness she'd rarely seen him display smoothed the furrows of his brow. "We're here," he stated.

Jean looked away from him and up into the canopy of trees. "Where's here?"

"Home."

Jean didn't understand. "Logan-"

He turned to face her. "That's yer world back there," he began as he jerked his head in the direction of the school. "You know the ways of medicine, of teachin'... of Scott," he added, rolling his eyes. "And they're what you know best. You thrive because yer comfortable there."

Jean just studied him. When the Wolverine had something to say, it was undoubtedly worth listening to.

"This is what I know." He emphasized by pointed to the ground. "Where I'm comfortable. Yer on yer own out here, to do whatever you want as long as it don't get you killed." He looked around the woods to redirect her attention and Jean knew he was seeing more clearly than she was.

"What are you saying, Logan?"

"We both know I shouldn't be standing here today. I don't need no medical tests to tell me that."

Jean studied the Wolverine, the way his compact, muscular form tried to take up as much space as it could, even in the vast openness of this tranquil forest. She noticed then, that the wildlife paid him no mind and the squirrels carried on about their notable task of gathering food. The birds continued to sing from their unseen perches high in the trees. Even a rabbit stretched from it's hiding place to nibble on some nearby vegetation. It was as if Logan belonged here. Why hadn't she noticed before? "Why do you spend so much time out here Logan? So much time alone?" With a small smile she added, "Life is passing you by."

"Life is always passing me by," he answered quickly.

With his blunt answer, Jean began to understand and her smile dropped with the dead leaves. Logan was near immortal. He had seen nearly everyone he held dear die without him, and some of them he didn't even remember. He was constantly preparing for the day when they too would grow old and leave him. It hurt Jean's heart to understand that, to imagine what it was like not wanting to get close to someone for fear of the pain you would be left with the day you outlived them. Logan was suddenly the strongest man she knew.

"Yer quiet all of a sudden."

Jean looked into his eyes, those haunted hazel eyes and swallowed past the lump in her throat. She imagined a scene from an animated movie where a scruffy dog was sitting outside in the snow, looking in through the window at a happy family gathered around the fireplace. There was such longing in it's big, wet eyes that she had cried then. She wanted to cry now. What do you say to ease such hunger and thirst? "I don't know what to say."

Logan smiled at that, and Jean was glad of it. "Is that a first?" he asked softly.

"The first in a long time," she admitted. "I'm sorry," she said because it felt right.

"Don't be." Logan absently scratched his chin as he turned away from her. "I brought ya here so ya could enjoy it. I think ya need to get away once in a while. Yer too serious 'bout everything."

Observations of a Wolverine. She wanted to blush but was lost in watching the way his knuckles moved against his skin. The way he could breathe so heavily and remain so silent. His eyes focused on something in the distance and Jean wished that she could see it too. "You're not alone, Logan."

He turned to her and because he was a male, replied, "I know."

"I mean," Jean started, then took a breath of the clean air. It smelled like Logan. "There are people in that school that care about you. You can come inside anytime." He nodded. In her mind, she opened the door for the scruffy cartoon dog and it bounded in, full of gratitude and joy. But Logan was not a dog, and sometimes there were no happy endings. He damn well knew where the door was and how to operate it. Jean hoped that he wasn't already used to his teammates not around anymore. She hoped that he wasn't numb to the hunger and thirst.

"Well, we'd better git back. Ya need to run yer tests on me," Logan interrupted with a modest sigh.

Jean reached for his hand. "I think I have all the information I need."

Logan grinned as his large hand enveloped her smaller one. He looked at her with a calm confidence that she knew had frightened many opponents into submission. She knew now what he had endured to gain that certitude. Jean felt privileged and saddened at the same time. Silently she vowed to honor his needs, and his fears, because sometimes they were indistinguishable.

She would not let him run anymore.

FINIS

Insipired by:

My Last Name Keith Urban CD: In The Ranch, 2004

I can feel your goodbye comin' Like a storm up from the south The rain'll splatter at the back door The wind'll whistle 'round the house

So it's you and Howie Johnston Somebody told me at the store I guess I'd better get used To the idea of you Not around anymore

And so, I'm doin' my best to prepare for the worst And I'd better get use to the hunger and thirst I gotta find me a potion To take for the pain And all you've got to lose Is my last name

I know he's cute and he's got money I ain't no handsome fancy Dan In a way it's sad and kinda funny You'll be ok and I'll be damned

So I best be gettin' ready For the bitter nights alone Sleepin' on the couch Wake up starting out Livin' life on my own

And so, I'm doin' my best to prepare for the worst And I'd better get use to the hunger and thirst I gotta find me a potion To take for the pain And all you've got to lose Is my last name Yeah, all you've got to lose is my last name