"...My Heart Belongs To Someone Else"
by Bavand

(Takes place during the Recovery scene where it's a fact that people in a coma can be aware of their surroundings...)

Had to, darlin. I couldn't let you die. I promised I would take care of you...

It didn't seem that long before Logan's darkness was sprinkled with scents, sounds, and sensations: itchy bandages and tons of tubes plastered all over his body, people coming and going, the sharp smell of antiseptic solutions, blips from monitors, and those cool, compassionate hands he had come to love. One minute he was hanging on to Marie for her dear life until the soul searing pain took him away, and then the next minute those hands were cautiously cutting away his uniform with surgical scissors.

As careful as she was, it still pulled enough to make the wounds bleed again, but it was worth it to get that stifling, sweaty leather off. Odd... other then hot, he felt pretty good- no pain, no scorching skin, no aching muscles- and no nightmares. This was different then the usual recovery process, but then he had never poured his whole life-force into someone else either. He could feel everything happening to him, but some how he was disconnected from all the pain and that felt good too. Real good. Being naked- except for the little towel discreetly covering his groin- felt even better until she started bandaging everything up and putting a sterile sheet over him. Didn't she know that covering him up was like putting the lid on a boiling pot to keep the steam in? Just let me stay naked to burn off the healing and I'll be fine...

The little noises of shock and dismay at the extent of his injuries was a bit unsettling, not for himself, he just didn't like to hear her so distressed. Don't worry, Jean, I'll be fine. So tell me, what do you really think of me after all we've been through? Hopefully it was more then just ravaged flesh that needed her medicinal care. So much had happened so fast that there hadn't been any time to sort out any feelings and find out. He only knew that it was getting harder and harder to suppress the longing and desire. What was that saying, head over heels in love? Yeah, really. The flirting had been fun, and she never rejected it- but she never exactly responded either- and it was driving him nuts. "Oh and Logan, stay away from my girl"... but what are you gonna do, bub, if she doesn't want to stay away...

)))(((

"Welcome back. I knew you'ld find your way."

"Well I had you to guide me. How did we do...?"

Jean and the Professor- it sounded like he was coming around- good. Soon after, those marvelous hands were soothing the skin around the wounds with a cold gel that smelled like aloe. But something wasn't quite right with her scent. She was generating... fear? My God, it was coming off of her in waves. Why? Don't be afraid, Jean, I'll be fine. I just wish you hadn't put that sheet on me...

)))(((

"Just cut the all that medical crap and tell it to me straight- is he going to be all-raht ?!" Marie? That soft southern drawl had a snarl to it that he never heard before. "Damn it, why didn't he let go before it was too late! It's all mah fault!" Bam! A fist came down hard on the counter.

"No, that's not true, and getting upset isn't going to help anything."

"Storm's right. He knew what he was doing-"

"No he didn't! Y'll don't understand!"

"Rogue, listen, it's not-"

"Shut up! Listen, bub, y'll don't understand! Ah told him in his truck, Ah said, 'don't touch me, people get hurt when they touch me', and Ah told him what happened to that boy back home when we were on that train. Ah said he was in a coma for 3 weeks- 3 weeks, Jean! And that was just from a kiss! Logan didn't let go at all! Don't y'll get it? He hung on too long and Ah'm afraid he won't ever recover and it's mah fault! Ah told him, don't ever touch me! Why did he touch me!? Why!!"

Had to, darlin. I couldn't let you die. I promised I would take care of you...

)))(((

"How is he?"

"There's no change, he's still in a coma and I don't see any evidence of the healing factor at work. I don't know, Scott, I don't know what to think."

"But he still has a fever, right? Doesn't that mean his immune system is doing something? He'll pull through, he's too stubborn to give up on... life." Long pause. You look tired." He heard the rustle of the lab coat, it sounded like "Cyclops" was massaging her shoulders. "Why don't you go get some rest and I'll stay with him. I promise I will call you if there's any change."

Tired sigh, "I could use a bite to eat."

"And get some rest and I'll join you later. Storm can stay with him."

"Ummm, thanks, but I don't want to be gone long." Logan caught her hesitation. See? Maybe it was possible she doesn't want to be with you, "Cyclops". "He's not out of the woods yet and without a thorough understanding of his physiology- I just can't take any chances."

"Sure, okay. You're one of the most dedicated doctors I know- and that's one of the things I love most about you." Smooch. It sounded more like a peck on the cheek then a real kiss.

Jean moved out of his awareness, leaving him with "Cyclops".

"Come on, tough guy, squeeze my hand and let everyone know you're okay. Just pop those claws out and show me what you can do." Nothing. I'm trying, bub, I'm trying. I can feel your hand, but why can't I crush the hell out of it? "Cyclops" put his hand down and patted it reassuringly. "Well, maybe you're just not ready yet. You were pretty badly beaten up. It looked like everything you were ever hit with was ripped open again. It's probably going to take some time for you to recover."

Long pause. "I don't know if you can hear me, but I have to admit I was glad you were on our team. When it came right down to it, you pulled together with us and what you did for Rogue took real guts. I may not always agree with your methods and your attitude sucks, but I know we can count on you. And I know you think you're such a tough guy loner, but I hope you realize you can count on us. We'll always be here for you..."

I'll be damned. He never expected any sort of sentiment from pretty boy. Well... Scott- nope, sorry, you'll always be "Cyclops" to me- you just need to loosen up some. You turned out to be an okay leader, but you need to learn how to understand and trust the abilities of the people following you. And hey, no hard feelings, but I think you do have something to worry about...

)))(((

Jean was back, flipping the sterile sheet up to look at his legs. He had loose fitting boxers on now. He really wished he could have just stayed naked. Come on, would that really be so bad, Jean? It's not like you haven't seen it before... and it's purely for medicinal purposes since I really can't do anything...

)))(((

Swish, swish, leather pants by the monitors.

"Hmmm, I'm no doctor, but I know this one shows you still have a fever. It looks like you're burning up. Wouldn't it make more sense to try to cool you off?" The sheet came off and suddenly the air around him dropped several degrees as a light breeze blew across his body. "Let's see if this makes a difference..."

Ahhhhh, finally somebody gets it! Thank you, Storm... Logan faded into a heavenly oblivion until the temperature came back up.

"Did it help?"

"No, there's still no change."

Sad sigh, "I kept it up for over an hour."

"It was a good try, Ororo, I'm sure he would have appreciated it if he knew." Oh, lady, I do. I owe you one.

"Yeah, but it didn't work and I hate being ineffective."

"I know... and I hate not knowing what's going on with him. I can't help feeling that if I knew more, I could do more- or at least know he was all right."

"So all we can do wait and hope his body is doing what it's suppose to be doing."

)))(((

"Time for your bath..."

What? Are you serious? He heard the whoosh of one those stands coming up out of the floor and then the tap of a tray placed on top of it. A small basin rattled and water sloshed in it.

She moved around to the head of the exam bed behind him. An herbal mist was sprayed all over his hair- not a flowery herbal- but a nice masculine herbal. It started to foam and firm fingers dug in to lightly scrub his head... oh my God, this is fabulous. She lifted his head slightly so that she could wash and massage the nape of his neck as well... fantastic. As the foam dried, she ran a comb through his hair until it was clean. She tried to style it but his thick, untamed tresses refused to be shaped.

"I suppose a haircut doesn't make much of a difference, does it?" You've got that right, lady. It's the wild and woolly look all the way for me. She finished by cautiously combing his sideburns without pulling the skin on his face. You're good. Can I come back to your shop?

He heard more rustling of fabric- rolling up her sleeves?- and the snap of a plastic bottle opening. A strong citrus smell greeted his nose as a cool gel was studiously smoothed on his face around the lacerations. A wet cloth followed to gingerly wipe it away, leaving his skin feeling clean and moisturized. She didn't forget his ears, the cloth went in and around each one.

This pampering is really nice, Jean, but do you want to tell me what this is really all about? I mean, do all your patients get this kind of star treatment or am I so irresistible? Or... is this just a necessity, as in becoming too unsanitary for the lab? Everyone else showered when they got back from Liberty Island, but Logan had been hauled in on a stretcher. Which is it, Jean? Are you being purely professional or is this purely personal for you?

Her touch was compassionate, but precise and almost impartial... and yet the very idea of grooming him seemed so personal and intimate. Damn, he was getting too caught up in second guessing her every move and what it could possibly mean. I really shouldn't even care- I'm not sticking around. The world is safe from Magneto now, so you don't need me anymore, and what I want are some answers. But... what if she's trying to tell me something by doing all this?

Next, a minty mouthwash smell hovered over his mouth. She cupped a hand around his jaw, put her thumb on his chin and opened his mouth where she systematically rubbed a paste across his teeth. Front and back, top and bottom, and then came to rest lightly on his tongue. She let go of his chin and his mouth closed around it. This was definitely more personal and intimate, wasn't it? It was a tasty treat, but he still couldn't move.

Deep sigh of disappointment, "Oh, Logan, not even a suckle reflex? I figured you of all people couldn't resist, umm, oral stimulation. Try, Logan, please try." It seemed like an eternity that her finger tempted his tongue and he tried everything he could to do something to it. He imagined sucking all her fingers and nibbling his way up her arm. Nothing. He switched to sucking and nibbling other delectable parts of her anatomy hoping to at least get some juices flowing. Damn it, nothing. Okay, people, no more trying. My body will come around when it's ready.

Finally, she slowly she withdrew her finger, but it lingered lightly on his lips and they felt dry. All of a sudden, there was some sort of odorless goo, probably petroleum jelly, spread across them as a nice finishing touch. In his mind, he couldn't help but smile in appreciation. Instead of cottonmouth, he now had a minty fresh mouth, and moist lips to boot. For whatever reason she had, she was taking very good care of him.

He heard the wash cloth being wrung out in the bowl and the citrus smell filled the air again. The wonderful wet cloth came down on his throat, washed his neck, behind his ears and back up to the collarbone where she stopped. The rest of his chest was covered in gauze. "How can I do this without disturbing that shoulder?" Hmmmm, there's more? "I can't, we'll just have to settle for this side."

Jean left the cloth there. Very gently, she bent his elbow and grasped his biceps to angle his arm out away from his body. The cloth resumed its course across the shoulder and down into the armpit. After awhile he noticed that this area seemed to be getting extra attention. Granted, it was probably all sweaty and smelly, but it was also an erogenous zone. And I know you know that, but you're a professional and just being thorough, right?

She patted it dry with the towel and then smoothed out the tuft of hair with her fingers... smoothed and caressed the soft, silky hair... is this your way of flirting with me? Still smoothing and caressing... oooo, tell me this isn't getting personal and intimate. Finally, her fingers left and came right back with a gel that smelled like Old Spice... kind of old fashioned. I would have thought you were more of a Musk kinda gal. This was liberally spread in his armpit with a little more smoothing and caressing. When she was done, she eased his arm back down to his side and he cursed the other shoulder for being too banged up for the same attention.

Jean diligently replaced all the bandages covering his torso and he sleepily slipped away... In the distance, he thought he heard a faucet running. Click, click, the sound of her heels coming back woke him up.

She picked up the tray. As the stand by his head went down, another one came up by his feet. The sterile sheet was lifted into the air, exposing the rest of his body. He heard and felt a slight whoosh as it flew away, followed by the pop of the laundry bin opening. The air felt good and he wished he could tell her not to bother with another sheet. A cabinet opened. Whoosh. Her hand caught fabric and placed it on the stand. Damn...

Suddenly, a warm towel was expertly laid it across his groin like a masseuse. Hmmmm... Up to this point, she had been very thorough, but she wasn't planning on washing everything... was she? Without hesitation, she reached under the towel and slipped off the boxers. For real? Are you really going to do this, Jean? The laundry bin closed. He guessed the boxers had been deposited in it. The cabinet closed and she caught something lightweight and cottony, which was dropped on the stand.

More savory citrus smell. Jean folded the towel back to bare his abdomen. She started below the bandages and worked her way across and down his belly with the washcloth. Her hands slipped under the towel and continued on where her touch tenderly became very reverent. Logan knew she would never manhandle him like some bar room broad, but he had to admit he was expecting something possibly playful after the way he had been coming on to her. But this... this was more loving, like he was something precious... like she was going to cherish him as though it were their first night together. He didn't know what to think now, but the mood had definitely changed to something special.

Part of that feeling came from the courtesy to keep him covered. Not that being exposed would embarrass him- far from it. He was completely comfortable with his body and didn't mind showing it off at all. No, it was her thoughtfulness to keep whatever was happening under the towel just between them. No doubt about it now, being respectful and private made it very personal and intimate. Her fingers smoothed and caressed the satiny curly hair as she felt her way around his entire pelvis with the washcloth. When she was done, she unfolded the towel back over his abdomen.

Next, Jean folded over the side closest to her to expose his hip, but still keeping the rest of him discreetly covered. Pulse points were also erogenous zones. Her fingers sensually circled his femoral artery before she lightly pressed down until he could feel it beating under her touch. "Still strong and steady," she murmured as she patted the area like a job well done.

The washcloth descended on his hip and made its way down and around his outer thigh as far as she could reach. Her other hand pulled his leg open while the washcloth went down and came back up along his inner thigh under the towel. Again, her touch became very loving as she wonderfully washed the prized prowess of his physique. He was too weak for any sort of response down there, but it still felt ooo ooo ooo good as the best possible personal intimacy to share.

It was hard to stay awake afterwards and Logan started slipping away on a cloud of bliss as she washed off the rest of his leg and then his foot. He still didn't know what to make of all this. All he knew was that he so desperately wanted to hold her now, and kiss her, and caress her, and give her a bath...

)))(((

He heard the hum of the Professor's wheelchair and Jean was here. Did he hear right? Was that a sob?

"I'm afraid we're loosing him. The fever has dropped but I still don't see any healing taking place."

"But that could mean he's mending from the inside out."

"Or that his body is shutting down. Professor, I tried, but I couldn't reach him. It's like he's gone already." No, no, Jean, I'm still here.

"You didn't know it can be difficult to reach patients in a coma?"

"No, I didn't. There still hasn't been that much research done on how telepathy works."

"True. Well, in this case, it's a matter of a different level of consciousness. You can't "look" for him where you normally would because he's in a different place in his mind."

"Can you try?"

"Yes, of course. Can you lower the bed, please?" The wheelchair moved around the exam bed behind his head as the Professor had done with Senator Kelly. Logan floated down until he could feel the Professor's hands hovering near by.

The silence became unsettling and he began to wonder if he was okay. When Jean had tried it before, he felt something, like the whisper of her presence in his mind. He couldn't feel the Professor at all. My God, what if I'm not gonna wake up...?

"It's faint, but he's still with us. I'll stay with him now. Why don't you go take a break? You've been here for hours."

"Thanks. I'll be back soon."

"Oh, take your time. Get some rest and spend some time with Scott. He's concerned that you're not taking care of yourself."

"Hardly. He's "concerned" that I am spending too much time taking care of Logan and it's ridiculous. We've already discussed this and he has nothing to be jealous about."

"I see. I didn't know jealousy was an issue."

"It's not! I'm trying to save a life here for God's sakes!" She took a deep, calming breath. "I'm sorry, Charles, I didn't mean to snap. It just bothers me that Scott doesn't trust me after all this time. Okay, I guess I am a little tired and on edge. I'll be back later."

"But there's never been any competition before to challenge that trust," whispered the Professor after she left. True. Maybe she really had been just making time with the only mutant around.

Positive conversational tone, "Well, Logan, I'm happy to report that I do have some information that might be helpful to you. Actually, it's a location and once you're up and about, I'll show you in the Map Room..."

Thanks, Professor, but I'm not so sure I want to leave just yet...

)))(((

Something was wrong- different. It started as a tiny wave in the back of his mind, and then it grew, forcing him out of this place until the petrifying pain claimed his body back. Every muscle in his body ached- including some he hadn't felt in a long time- but the exhaustion was oppressive enough to make waking up a slow process.

Logan heard a whisper of surprise and joy as very familiar fingers feathered his face, turning it this way and that under the lights. Jean started peeling away the bandages on his chest and caressed the perfectly healthy skin. She removed the last bandage near his abdomen where her light touch made the muscle over his appendix quiver. Instinctively, he grabbed up her hand to stop it. "Hmmmnn, that tickles."

He lightly squeezed her hand to confirm that he had control of his body again. She squeezed back and he couldn't wait to hold her and kiss her, and tell her how much he loved her. His eyes fluttered open and he looked up into the face of... a friend?

"Hey, how do you feel?"

"Fantastic," he answered weakly, but this wasn't the reception he had anticipated.

She gave his hand another affectionate squeeze. "That was a very brave thing you did."

"Did it work?"

"She's fine. She took on a few of your more charming personality traits for a while, but we lived through it."

So that little spitfire had been Marie. He started to laugh, but it ended up coming out in a cough that hurt. Everything was starting hurt now, including his heart.

"I think she's a bit taken with you," she said, smiling sweetly over such a cute idea.

Logan didn't think it was cute at all and couldn't stand it anymore, he had to know... "Yeah, well, tell her my heart belongs to someone else...."

Her smiled slipped into... what? Sorrow? Regret? Misunderstanding? Damn it! He still didn't know and his head started banging from the tension until a whisper flashed in his mind. Yes, you awakened a desire in me that Scott will never be able to satisfy, but would it really be enough to build a life on?"

"You know... you and I-"

"How's the Professor?" He cut her off, abruptly changing the subject. Why make her say it and add salt to the wound by having to admit then that she was right. He couldn't guarantee how long it would last. I'm not ready to make a permanent commitment just yet, and you obviously don't want to enjoy the here and now without worrying about a future together, so I guess that's it, dear lady...

"He's good," she answered, amazed at how gracefully he let them off the hook. Genuine fondness filled her face in a dazzling smile. Ah yes, the consolation prize: we can still be friends.

" Good," he said as an oblique answer to both things. He really thought he could handle that, but a wall came down around his heart just the same. Maybe later when it doesn't feel so raw- I just wanna get outta here now.

I understand... She started to pull her hand away, but he couldn't let go just yet. He brought her fingers to his lips for a kiss and just a little smoothing and caressing of his own. He hated good-byes, but it didn't hurt to show a little gratitude in spite of the loss. Thank you for taking care of me, Jean. I'll never forget your exquisite, personal touch...

)))(((

(No warm towels, heart monitors or counter tops were harmed during the production of this story. The world of the X-Men is the property of Marvel Comics and 20th Century Fox. The Joy of Long-term Patient Care was for medicinal purposes and not for profit.

This is the last story in my X1 scene-scope trilogy, darlin.

I'm flattered if you want to post this on your own website- unless it's for "good examples of bad writing", in which case I'll be crushed- but either way, please let me know. You can even request the Writer's Extended version that includes a carefully selected picture! 10/2000, reposted/no revisions 2004.)