Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make no money.

Author's Note: This is my first delve into a fandom other than Harry Potter, but I adore these characters so I had a go at it. Hopefully it is true to character. This is a movieverse, set after X3.

Secret Burdens

"He thought he was the only one. He had no idea."

Logan found it ironic that the med-lab of all places was where he went at times like this.

It was midday, Friday, and the last of the classes at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters were just releasing. Logan's ears picked up the treading footsteps a floor above him as he sat on the observation table, tubes and needles and monitors lining the white walls around him. One arm leaned over his knee supporting his slouched frame as his other hand held the nub of what was left of a cigar. He pulled it to his lips, drew in a large breath and exhaled as he lowered the cigar. The heavy scent filled the air slowly, leisurely.

He found himself here sometimes, just sitting atop the table or walking around the lab, pacing the floors that she used to spend hours of her day upon.


Logan loves this time of day, when he can sit here and imagine her usual day. Her last class just let out and she grabs her folders and bags, pulling her glasses over the bridge of her nose, rushing down floors to her lab, where she finds sanity. He had hoped it'd provide a little for him. But she hasn't been down there for months.

Logan is exhaling another puff into the air when he hears the sliding glass of the doors opening. He turns his eyes to see Ororo standing in the threshold, her hands smoothing over the length of her pinstripe pencil skirt. The matching jacket he remembers her wearing earlier that day was gone, and underneath he could see the deep aqua of her silk button-down. The cuffs of her sleeves were undone, as well as the two buttons below her collar.

She looked up to find Logan sitting there watching her, silently blowing smoke from his lips, and she stilled her hands. Ororo straightened up, and let out a puff that blew a white strand of hair from her face. Several of the waves had already escaped the loose bun she wore at the nape of her neck. "Good afternoon, Logan."

He nodded from his position. "Storm."

Ororo scrunched up her nose distastefully at the scent that tinged the air, then at the sight of his smoking cigar.

Logan smirked. "Something wrong, darlin'?"

She planted her hands on her hips, shifting her weight to one leg. "You know I find those utterly distasteful, Logan, especially in here." It didn't require mentioning exactly why here was important.

"Yeah." Another puff. "I know."

She stood there a moment, staring at him. It was pointless to ask why he was here. She figured Jean was most present to him here than anywhere else. And even if she was wrong, if she asked the real reason he wouldn't tell it to her anyway. So she never questioned him about his silent wonderings through the school halls, or how he plagues the grounds at night. Some things she didn't want to know about him, nor needed to know. If Logan kept to himself then that's how she'd keep it. So she stayed silent and finally looked over to what she came down there for.

Ororo put one pointed heel before the other and walked over to the computer monitor to Logan's left. She settled into the rolling chair and pulled up the directory under Hank's icon.

Logan stilled the path of his cigar from his mouth. "What're you doing here, anyway?"

She looked over her shoulder to look at Logan. "Hank needs some medical reports for a lecture in Chicago tomorrow." She turned back to return to the computer.

"Reports from here?" Logan asked, cocking his brow. He plopped down to the ground from the table and walked up behind her chair. He reached over to the ashtray on the edge of the desk and snubbed his cigar out. After habitual visits down to the lab he figured it was just easiest to bring a tray in for his visits. That at least calmed Storm down enough for her to let him continue smoking them.

"What kind of reports is he lookin' for?" Logan squinted down at the screen, watching her pull up windows faster than he could finish reading the filenames.

She paused in her clicking to look back up at him, hesitating briefly. She brushed another errant curl behind her ear. "Blood tests mostly. Some chemical compositions and cerebral readings."

"Of what?" He stuffed his hands in his pockets, still leaning over her to read the screen before him.


He looked to her face momentarily, then leaned back on his heels, still watching her.

She returned the stare for a moment before returning to searching the open files.

As her hands flew across the keyboard he took the moment to look at her. He'd barely seen her in these last few months. She was always either teaching classes or doing administration work in Xavier's old office. In his will, Xavier left the school in the hands of Storm, Scott and Jean. Seeing as she was the last surviving member of the trio, she became Headmistress and had been running the school ever since. They were short staffed as it was, so she took on her old classes. Logan can't remember the last time he saw her in the kitchen or dining room, doesn't know the last time he's seen her eat, if she eats at all now. He doubts she sleeps much either.

He cocked his head, observing how her thick hair threatened to escape the hold of the tie she hastily put it in. He realized he hadn't seen her with her hair down since the funeral. She was always in a rush to work, always had some releases to sign, contracts to cover, loans to fill out or approve, classes to teach. She never had time to do anything with her hair but pull it into a low bun away from her face. She never skimped on her wardrobe though. Logan always found her in three piece suits nowadays. Always the button-down top, usually rich colors and of some flowy fabric he never had a mind to name. She wore either slacks or pencil skirts, and he hasn't seen a pair of flats on her feet in so long he began to wonder if she owned anything but heels.

It had been a frustrating day today apparently, her jacket missing and cuffs undone. Logan figured she had to dress down some days though.

He flicked his gaze to the screen and caught sight of a name before it flashed away with a tap of the keys under Ororo's fingers. He blinked, then dropped his hand over the mouse, exiting out of the window.

"No, Storm."

She froze in her typing, then turned in the wheeling chair to face him. "Excuse me?"

He narrowed his eyes at her. She knew exactly what he was talking about. "You can't use that file." His voice was low, steady.

She returned the glare equally, crossing her arms over her chest and settling back in the chair. "Hank needs the files. What do you expect me to do?"

"Tell him he can't use that one. Tell him I said he can't use that one." His hand still hadn't left the mouse as he leaned on the desk.

"They are simply blood samples, Logan. This is just for observational and educational purposes."

"Bullshit," he ground out.

She narrowed her eyes, and he saw the subtle flaring of her nostrils. "Do not speak to me like that, Logan."

He leaned in closer toward her, and watched as she didn't inch back. "I say what I want, darlin', and I'm sayin' 'No.'"

"I am sorry to tell you Logan but these are not your files and thus you have no say in how they are used."

"I won't let you use her." It was almost a growl this time.

Storm cocked her head, almost disbelieving he would take that tone with her. It had been a while since they had touched on the subject of Jean. Neither of them really found the other to be that shoulder when in need. Grief wasn't something they shared, and so, Jean had not been a topic of their conversation since the funeral.

Ororo slowly stood from her seat in front of the computer and Logan had to straighten up to give her the room. "It is not her we are using, but samples of her blood to show a class of researchers some possible gene mutations and their effects. It is purely scientific, and does not demean her in any way."

"She's not a fucking guinea pig, Storm. Give her at least that much respect."

Logan saw the rise of Ororo's chest as she huffed in frustration. "Respect? Who are you to speak of respect? You seemed to be lacking it in spades when you tried to shove a wedge between her and Scott. Where was your respect then, Logan?"

Logan raised a finger at her in defense. "That was a long time again, Storm. It has nothing to do with what's going on now."

"Does it not?" She stepped closer toward him, daring him to raise his voice again. "You seem to never let things go, Jean included."

Logan grit his teeth and clenched his fists at his sides. "Don't go there, Storm. You ain't got that right."

"Oh," she spat, "but you have all the rights to tell me what I can do? Is that it? You can't have it both ways Logan. Either give it up or get out of the way."

"Give what up? Jean?" He couldn't help the snarl that escaped his lips, the step he took closer toward her. "You know I can't do that. Don't ask me to."

"I am not asking you Logan, I am telling you." She pulled a finger up to jab him in the chest. "You need to get on with your life, and stop wasting it on a dead woman."

There was a split moment, when Logan felt something rise suddenly in his chest, and before he knew what he was doing his hands had flown to her arms and he had her slammed against the wall.

She cried out as her head banged against the plaster behind her, white waves breaking free from her bun, and she blinked her eyes open to find Logan snarling inches from her face. His hands gripped her arms, and he could feel the subtle tug of the adamantium begging for release from under his skin.

"Don't," his chest heaved with labored breathes, "Don't ever speak about her like that."

Ororo could feel the hot puffs of air coming from his mouth as she stared at him, mouth agape, until her eyes narrowed so fast Logan almost missed it. She ground her teeth together and her eyes suddenly gleamed white beneath his glare. "You think you can tell me what to say about her? You think you are the only one who can claim to care about her?"

"I loved her!" He said it without even realizing the words were on his tongue.

"So that makes you privileged? You think you are the only one to have loved Jean?" She couldn't help the quake in her rising voice. "So you loved her." She barked a laugh. "Is that your excuse? Your mantra now?"

There was a growl rising in Logan's chest, and his fingers gripped tighter, hoping to scare her into silence. What he would give in that moment to have her shut up. "It's not a mantra. It's my fucking life. It's me, inside and out and all the fucking way across the universe." His heart was beating so fast, his breathing so hard. God, the woman was so frustrating. "Making it a mantra would dull the truth in it. As if it had to be proven."

"And I should have to prove it?" She screeched incredulously. "You are not the only one in pain here, Logan. If you were not so self-absorbed you would have noticed that."

He couldn't be sure, but Logan thought he saw the beginnings of wetness dotting the edges of her eyes. Oh please, no. Not that. Not tears.

A moment later and he smelled salt on her skin. His fingers loosened slightly and she yanked one arm free.

"I lost Jean, too, Logan. And I had no choice in it either." She stilled, letting that statement sink in before her eyes slowly began to dull.

But Logan heard it loud and clear, and he threw her other arm from his grip. "Shut the fuck up! You have no fucking clue what happened," he roared.

"Oh but I do." She was eerily quiet, and it made Logan want to rip the screams from her. "I lost Jean. I lost the Proffessor." She blinked, swallowed heavily. "I lost Scott."

There was something different in her voice then, something heavy and hidden he'd never heard from her before, and it jarred him. He froze, and she turned her damp eyes away, realizing he had caught the change in her voice, unwilling to shed tears over this. She sniffed loudly, swallowed one more time and then turned back to face him, brows furrowed over still swirling white eyes. "We cannot have everything we wish for Logan."

He stepped back. "You…"

"But you deal. And you learn to compromise. Love rarely ever turns out to be exactly where you want to find it." She rubbed one of her wrists, and stared up at him through thick lashes. "Wake up and look around you, Logan. The world was spinning before you came here, and it will continue to spin when you leave here, as we both know you will soon." She dropped her hands, her white tresses falling over her shoulders. She took a step toward him. "Do not dare think for one second that you are the only one with burdens."

Logan stood there in silence, watching her, his chest rising with labored breathes and his fists at his sides. He didn't stop her as she stalked past him toward the sliding door of the lab. She stopped just inside the threshold, then turned back one last time. "And Logan," she began. He didn't turn to face her, his back still toward the door. "Do not presume to think that I will allow you to lay hands on me again."

Logan heard the sound of the door as it closed behind her, and he dropped into the chair below him, his head landing in his hands.