Title: Front Porch Conversations 1/1 PG13

Date: March 20, 2006 (completed)

Author: Wolf CrescentWalker

Email: wolf755 at hotmail dot com

Rating: PG13 (Logan and his language!)

Summary: The Wolverine tries to get Logan's attention on the subject of mating.

Series: Nope - it's a one-shot. (I think...) :-) Although, based on initial feedback to the wrbeta list, it may develop further. (Thanks, gang!)

Category: Unspecified weirdness. Y'all can decide.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but I can make them dance. No cash involved.

Archive: wrbeta, go for it: anyone else, please ask. I don't bite for the first 20 minutes (usually).

Spoilers/Continuity: None if you've seen X2.

Genre: X2

Author's Notes: I've always enjoyed the concept of Logan and Wolverine being a bit of the Jekyll/Hyde type but sharing the same body constantly. Looking for a place to insert a sort of dream scene' in X2, I decided the downtime after Logan got shot in the head on Bobby's front porch was a great opportunity to go Dream Time. It got weird after that. I hope you enjoy the story, and blame me if you find a typo - I didn't hunt down a beta.

"Put the knives down!"

"I can't..." Logan protested in vain, frustration rolling off him in waves at the futility of the situation: outnumbered, outgunned, and a porch full of kids to protect, not to mention Marie behind him. Raising one hand toward the officer to display the attached claws, he never heard the gunshot that dropped him like a sack of wet cement onto Drake's front porch.

With a strange ringing sound bouncing around inside his head, Logan pried open his eyes at the sensation of a considerable weight resting low on his belly, pressing his hipbones hard onto the porch floor. Looking down the length of himself, he saw himself, sitting on himself. Squeezing his eyes shut a few times, he looked again.

Yep. He's still there.

Risking a sideways glance around the area, Logan noted several odd things: no movement, no sound, no birds, no police cars, no breeze moving, no people anywhere. Dead silence, no apparent life, just him and... him. There were no people other than the Wolverine who squatted astride his belt-line, head cocked arrogantly to one side, eyes gleaming, arms resting on his own thighs, patiently waiting for... what?

"You done gawkin' at me yet, bub?"

Logan wanted to shut his eyes again and try to grasp what was going on, but found the experience of staring himself straight in the face without a mirror to be riveting.

"What the hell is goin' on?"

The Wolverine jerked his head sharply toward where the policeman had been standing, strands of his wild hair flopping down over his forehead, tickling his eyebrows. Logan thought his own eyes had never, ever looked that green.

"Cop shot you in the head. You're out cold on your ass. Not much blood, but the slug rattled your brains around from the impact alone. If you didn't have that chrome-plated skull," the Wolverine thumped his own knuckles against the side of his head to demonstrate, "...you'd be splattered all over Marie's shoes about now."

Logan groaned at the thought, but the Wolverine continued.

"You're somewhere between a concussion and a hallucination, so I thought it was a good time for another walk down Memory Lane. You're about ripe for one. 'Sides, gotta get this in before the mutation puts your brains back in place, and you spit that slug out in front of half the Boston police force. You ready for this?"

"Ready for what?" Logan felt like his head was nailed to the porch's floorboards, and he didn't give a tinker's damn what the Wolverine was saying as he crouched over Logan. The whole thing had to be a weird-assed dream while he healed up enough to regain consciousness.

Suddenly the air grew warm and the babble of voices overwhelmed him. Feeling like he was being sucked through a wind tunnel, Logan shook himself awake and stared out across a parking lot with dry grass that had been trampled flat. He must have dozed off in the afternoon heat.

Looking quickly around his immediate vicinity, he noted that he was inside a booth of some sort, and dressed differently; still in jeans, but different jeans, and a blue t-shirt with the sleeves cut out. People were milling along a sawdust-covered footpath in front of the booth, stirring up soft pillows of dust from the dry ground. He felt sweat trickle down his neck.

Christ, it's hot. Where the hell am I?

Rock music blared from a distance, muddled with the screams of kids and shouts of adults, but they were shouts of happiness. Machinery hummed noisily in the background. Suddenly Logan felt himself turn cold inside, recognizing his surroundings with a start. He was working in a small-time county fair as a roustabout. He'd taken the job for a few weeks after working his way down from Canada, pursuing one dead-end lead after another in his search for his former life.

Blending in with the carnival people had been a good cover when he'd run afoul of the law over a cage fight that ended in two dead bodies behind the bar late that night. He'd had nothing to do with the deaths and told the police as much. Still, after six hours in holding and lengthy questioning, the police had realized that he wasn't showing the effects of a round in the cage. Before anyone could yell 'mutie,' Logan had made an escape by slashing through the grating of an air vent with the claws, and slithering out through the duct work to disappear among the carnival workers on their way to the next state.

The constant hustle and smells of people, the shrieking of little kids, the music, the heat of the South, had all worn on his senses and he'd left the carnival in Oklahoma. The night work of maintaining the rides' machinery, and the setting up and tearing down had been fine, but the day work was aggravating at best. He'd agreed to stand in one woman's booth and collect cash while kids threw softballs at stacked milk bottles, especially since she'd put him up for several nights in her camper and been very friendly. And energetic. And creative.

The rush of memories shook Logan's awareness again.

What the hell am I remembering this for? It happened after Alkali Lake and Stryker. This is telling me nothing I don't already know. Fuck you, Wolverine. Get outta my head!

A neatly-dressed woman led a little dark-haired girl by one hand, and they stopped across the footpath, half-hidden by the people milling past. Suddenly a gangly hood grabbed the woman's purse and they struggled momentarily before he knocked her off her feet, knocking the little girl down too, and ran with the purse. The woman started screaming. Logan was halfway out of the booth when he saw a cop on foot, already pounding after the snatcher. Not wanting to risk being identified, Logan forced himself to stand down and let it happen. Helping the woman to her feet, he was surprised to see the kid was not crying. Her eyes were as big as saucers, but she was silent as a stone.

"Please, sir, watch my little girl." Stunned beyond immediate comment, Logan saw the woman run after the cop.

"Hey, lady!" It did no good - she still pursued the policeman, tottering along on high heels through the sawdust. Looking down at the child, Logan felt something go soft inside himself. She still hadn't uttered a sound, even watching her mother disappear into the crowd. The kid had dirt on her dress and shoes, sawdust in her pony- tailed hair, and a slightly haunted look in her eyes.

What the hell kind of mother leaves her kid with a total stranger? And a total stranger like me, to boot? Shit. What do I do now?

"You wanna sit in the booth, kid?" He went syrupy inside again when she reached up and took his big hand in hers. Boosting her over the front wall, he stepped in the booth after her and settled her on the stool he had been lounging on before the whole mess started. Looking around the booth for something to entertain her, he grabbed a newspaper laying under the counter. Glancing at the masthead, he noted the date: August 16th, 1990. He was in Alabama in fucking August, taking care of a kid in a noisy carnival. Charge: insanity. Plea: guilty.

"You wanna read the funny pages, darlin'?"

Silence. The lower lip came out. Damn. Probably too young to read. She wasn't old enough to be in school yet. Damn. There was a rag on the shelf out of sight.

"Want me to wipe the dirt off your shoes?"

The lip quivered, but still she was silent. Damn. Logan felt in his back pocket for a comb.

"I can get the sawdust out of your hair with this." He squatted down in front of her so they were on eye level and showed her the comb. His sharp ears picked up the barely whispered words.

"I want my mom."

Yipe. He slid the comb back in his pocket.

"Okay, darlin', she'll be back here any moment now."

Casting about for anything, anything, to distract the kid's attention, he grabbed the discarded red teddy bear that had been shoved under the counter that morning. It was tiny, hardly 6 inches high, but it would have to do. One of the other carnies had dropped it against some gears and smeared black grease up the teddy bear's furry ass, making it unfit for a prize. They'd passed it around with a string of bawdy jokes about bear grease and bear ass, and he'd finally shoved it out of sight when the crowd had started coming in for the day. It was just one tiny, greasy bear, but it would have to do.

Grabbing the rag and scruffing away at the greasy spot, he handed the little red bear over to the kid, who silently accepted it and hugged it tightly against her. That earned him a smile. It was a faint whisper of a smile, but it was miles better than the quivering lip.

Mom was back, purse in hand, followed by the cop with the handcuffed snatcher in tow.

"Thank you, sir, thank you for watchin' my little girl for me. Every penny I have is in this purse. We're on vacation, visitin' my sister and her husband; he's been sick, and my husband would kill me if I lost all our travelin' money. You're so kind. I don't know what I would have done."

That all came out in a breathy rush, and Mom noticed the bear. "Please, let me pay you for your trouble, and the bear. It's adorable." She reached into her purse, but Logan waved her off.

"No, ma'am. Just... well, have a good time on vacation." Hell, he couldn't remember the last time he'd called anyone ma'am', and he had intended to read her the riot act for leaving the girl alone with a strange man, but he couldn't do that in front of the kid, not after everything that had already happened. He tossed a wink at the girl and boosted her across to her mother. The girl turned and waved at him, still clutching the bear, before taking her mother's hand and walking away.

Biting down on both of his lips to keep from smiling at her, he waved back.

The floorboards of the porch were starting to make the back of his head ache, and the Wolverine's weight bearing down on his hipbones was pissing him off even more.

"Will you get the fuck off me, asshole?" Logan groused at the Wolverine who remained in a squatting crouch above him. "What the hell was the point of that whole drama?"

"You still don't get it, do you, nimrod? Yer hopeless." The Wolverine leaned forward slightly and regarded Logan's eyes, noting that his own had never, ever looked that nutshell brown. Must be the funky light here in the La-La Land that was the inside of their mutual head. "If you can't get a handle on it yerself, I ain't helpin' you. You knew it even then, down inside. Yer losin' yer edge, ya know? Why don't you know it now?"

"Know what?" Logan was readyfor snarling, trying hard, but the sound just wouldn't come out.

"That knowledge belongs to me." And the primal Wolverine snarled low and deep, rattling in his throat, even making Logan's nape hair stand on end. The Wolverine crept forward slowly, literally crawling upward astride Logan's torso to bore his eyes straight into Logan's.

"If you ever quit fightin' me, fightin' yer natural instincts, fightin' what you already know, fightin' what you should trust fer chrissakes, you'll find what you want in this life. I'd paint you a fuckin' picture if it'd help you out, but I'm not feelin' artsy today." Reaching up, the Wolverine thumped Logan on the side of the head none to gently, and continued.

"Now, that slug's gonna pop soon, and yer gonna wake up. I can't figure out if you've got the balls to remember this or not, but I'm hopin' something sticks with you. You don't know how much time you got left, so don't fuckin' waste a lot of it."

Before Logan could form enough profane words to express himself, he heard a soft 'pop' and then a 'plonk' and his head felt less like it was nailed to the porch. His eyes opened.

There was smoke and tension and the faint scent of his own blood in the air. And Marie scent. He climbed to his feet, glanced over the group of teenagers crowded behind him, noting St. Allerdyce looking less than his usual chipper self, and tried to make sense of the scene. A quick popping of his neck relieved some of the tension.

One Month Later

Marie reached for the beside lamp as she settled into what was left of her bedroom in the Xavier mansion. Repairs had begun after the raid, and it was feeling like home again in spite of the sawdust that clung everywhere and the white buckets of drywall plaster that seemed to appear in every hallway.

Pulling her old bear from beneath her pillow, she patted his black-streaked behind and kissed him goodnight. He'd been the only thing of her childhood that fitted into her pack when she left home, and she had managed to keep him with her throughout the years and the miles. Stuffing him back underneath the pillow, she settled in to sleep.

Late in the night, Logan tossed and mumbled in his sleep. The dreams were not of laboratories and scalpels and tubes this time, but instead he dreamt of Canada and the scent of cedars, of forests hushed under a blanket of snow. He quieted then, and slipped into an even deeper slumber.

The Wolverine stood up from the bed, naked, feral, hungry, and paced through the dark hallways of the mansion to where his mate slumbered peacefully. Leaning over her sleeping form, he let his green gaze feast on her: the mass of white-streaked dark hair strung out over the pillow, the innocence of long-lashed dark eyes closed in sleep, her scent warm and inviting, red lips parted, welcoming.

"Don't give up on me yet, baby. I'll make him realize that it's you he's waitin' for, that you are my mate. Our mate. His, yeah, his, I'll grant him that - he's more your... style, I guess. Just remember that I've got your scent, and I know. I know. We belong together. Be patient. I'll keep workin' on him."