Title: The Jailers of Fate Part Five – Conversation
Length: 3,500ish Words
Summary: Set after X1. Logan comes back to the mansion and helps Marie learn to control her mutation.
Notes: So I had a hard time trying to balance the intimacy of "The Talk"—which I wanted—with not regurgitation everything that happened in the other chapters. What do you think about how I handled it? Does it make sense with the snippets? Feedback and suggestions are shiny! Also, was Logan in character? I had to fight not to make him too sensitive. It was hard, but I think/hope I did it.
Talk that does not end in any kind of action is better suppressed altogether. –Thomas Carlyle.
I have a disorder.
Although it could be a dysfunction.
Or maybe a disease, even.
Wait, I know what it is.
It's a disability.
Yup, that's it—a definite disability. It's one of those really rare ones, too, that only affects like twelve people in the entire world. It might be even less than that. I might actually be the first and only person to have this particular handicap. That could be kind of a silver lining, right?
I mean, probably disabilities are like comets—if you're the one to discover it, you get to name it. And doesn't every little girl want to grow up to have a disability named after her? I bet it's right between "be a princess" and "ride a flying pony to the moon" on the Top 10 Most Wished For Little Girl Stuff list.
Ok, I'm full of it, but give me a break. I'm trying to keep my glass half full, here.
My disability works like this: For no good reason my mouth, which most of the time I can keep at least mostly under control, just starts moving, and I'm totally unable to stop it. In the interest of political correctness, I call it being Filter-ally Challenged, which sounds much better than either, "Dumb-Girl-Doesn't- Know-When-to-Zip-Her-Freaking-Lips-Syndrome," or "Diarrhea of the Mouth."
Because I never do anything half way, the stupid disability always picks the best times to rear its head. Like the night during my Sophomore year when I came home 15 minutes before curfew to find my Daddy in the living room waiting for me, tapping his foot and looking like he was going to jerk a knot in my tail.
He said, "Young lady, what do you have to say for yourself?"
And I proceeded to confess to snitching two of his beers and drinking them while I was on the deck tanning, stealing a thong from Victoria's Secret because I was too embarrassed to pay for it, then feeling guilty and anonymously mailing them $25 and the tags, skipping church youth group to go bowling with Toby Anderson—three weeks in a row—and faking a doctor's note so I could stay home from school to watch Hugh Jackman on Oprah.
Daddy looked dazed when he held up the crumpled chip bag he'd been holding behind his back. They were his favorites, and I'd eaten them all then shoved the package into the couch cushions because I was too lazy too walk to the trashcan.
I ended up grounded for six weeks, and my parents decided Oprah was a bad influence and canceled my magazine subscription. Plus they took away my thong.
It was pretty much the same in Logan's room once I got going, only I didn't stop at Oprah. And I got to keep my underwear. My brain tried to get me to shut up, but my mouth was having none of it. Logan maybe could have stopped me—he seemed like the kind of guy who knew how to use a muzzle if push came to shove—but I didn't slow down long enough to let him try.
I actually made it through the first few sentences lying down. But I got antsy as I built up steam, and before I knew it, I was pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed, giving Logan a minute-by-minute break down of my entire life since he'd folded my hand around his dog tags.
There was the inane:
"—and he was sitting on the bench. I probably shouldn't have, but I just couldn't help myself. I'm pretty sure that was your fault, though. At least, that's what I'm going with. Anyway—"
"—God, I was so nervous going in his office the first time. Then the Professor thought I was going to ask about—"
"—he's a nice guy, but he's so earnest sometimes. I just want to shake him—"
There was the embarrassing:
"—the first time she examined me was awful. I'd never had to do that before, and I just wanted to die—"
"—totally didn't know anyone was standing there. Then I turn around, and there's Pyro, smirking at me. And he says, 'Nice one,' so I think I'm in the clear, but then—"
There was the pitiful:
"—I know it was stupid, but I just couldn't take anymore. I didn't have anywhere else to go—"
"—hurts so badly. I didn't know it would hurt like that. Some days, I can't imagine how Mystique did it—"
"—buy stock in Diet Mountain Dew just to keep from going to sleep so I don't have the nightmares—"
And I told it all.
"—and then the doors opened up, and there you were. I actually thought you were a hallucination until you said Jean's name and your voice got all husky. I knew there was no way one of my hallucinations would do that." I paused and took a deep breath, hoping he hadn't noticed how disgusted I sounded when I said husky. I wasn't sure what to say next. Air I didn't even know I'd been holding in my lungs left in a whoosh, and I finished with an infinitely lame, "And, um, yeah, that's pretty much it."
Then all of the sudden I was totally wiped out. Lucky for me, the desk chair was close. If it hadn't been, I might have hit the floor. Blabbering for 30 minutes without taking a breath will do that to a girl. Well, I'm guessing it was 30 minutes. It could have been two and a half hours, but we're keeping the glass half full, remember? Either way, when I finally finished my throat was dry, and I was felt like I'd been rode hard and put away wet.
Logan had matched me pace for pace on the other side of the bed for a while—actually, his was less like pacing, more like prowling; he reminded me of a big cat in a little cage—but at some point he'd either surrendered to sore feet or I'd completely managed to exhaust him, because he was sitting on the side of the bed. I bit my lip and flicked my eyes up and down in a quick survey.
Beyond that, though, his arms were folded across his chest. His nostrils were flared a little. His lips were pressed together. His eyes were hard and starring at me.
All in all, he didn't look happy.
And the unhappiness seemed to be directed at me.
Crap. Crap. And double crap.
"Um, Logan?" My voice was tentative at best.
Logan looked up at me and growled, a muscle working in the side of his jaw.
"Are you—ok?" I asked, gamely, trying again.
Silence. Oh this was just great. I broke him. The emotional outpouring was obviously too much, and it sent his system into shock. Just as I was trying to decide how to go about putting all of Humpty-Dumpty's pieces back together again, he deigned to speak, his voice as low and menacing as I'd ever heard it.
"I'm going to kill him," he announced.
"Huh? Kill who? Logan?"
But he was already on his feet, looking less like Logan and more like Wolverine than I'd seen him since the first day I met him. I realized his claws were out as he strode toward the door, and just like that I was on my feet. I grabbed his bicep without thinking about it, pulling him backward.
Well, trying to pull him backward.
"Hey! What are you talking about? You just can't go off killing people!" He growled and shook me off of his arm—I couldn't help but notice he was careful not to cut me when he did it—and reached out for the door handle. Desperation rising, I did the only thing I could think of; I lunged in front of him and threw myself in front of the door. "Logan, stop!"
His eyes glittered at me, and I saw a flash of the animal inside him. It shook me for a minute before I reminded myself that this was Logan. He wasn't going to hurt me. Even so, I felt my shoulders sag with relief when he paused.
"Why not?" It came out more of a snarl than a question, and for a second I was thrown.
"W-why not what?" I stammered, confused.
"Why can't I go off killing people?"
My brain scrabbled for an answer and before I could give it much thought, I blurted out the first thing that popped in my head. "Think of the blood stains. Some of the carpets in this place cost more than most luxury cars." I paused for a second. "Well, the American ones, at least."
His head jerked backward almost like he'd been punched—not that I'd be stupid enough to do that—and all at once the feral heat in his expression collapsed into incredulous skepticism.
"The carpets—Christ, kid." He was shaking his head.
"What?" I asked, a little defensive but mostly just glad he didn't have the murderous haze thing going anymore. "It's true."
Logan scrubbed a hand over his face. For a second he looked as tired as I felt. "Only you," he finally said on a heavy sigh.
I decided not to be offended—at least I wasn't banal. Plus, his claws had retreated into his hands with a soft snick, so that meant I'd done something right. I tolerated the charged silence for about five seconds before I couldn't take it anymore.
"So who are you going to kill?" Believe it or not, death threats actually hadn't been the reaction I'd been expecting to my info dump.
Logan stared hard at me for a second. "The Professor. And maybe you. What the Hell were you thinking, Marie?"
I felt myself frowning. "Whoa. Back up. What do you mean what was I thinking?"
"Months. That jackass has been hurting you for months. And there you are just going back for more every fucking day. When I saw you in that bar, I thought you seemed like a smart kid. Jesus, was I wrong."
Just like that my temper flared. What right did he have to say—, "Excuse me. The Professor has been helping me for months. Yeah, it hurts. But I know what I'm doing."
"Really?" He shot back, voice a growl again. "You know what the definition of insanity is, Kid?"
"It's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
In the back of my mind, I realized I was fighting back tears. "Yeah, well, sometimes people call that not giving up." I turned around so he wouldn't see that my eyes were wet. "You should know all about it. You've spent 15 years doing the same damn things trying to find out about your past. But I guess you forgot about that, huh?"
Tense silence, and I wondered for a second if I'd gone to far. Then I tried to pretend to wonder if I cared.
"That's different." His voice was flat. "And you know it. I wasn't hurting myself."
I wrapped my arms around my waist and hugged myself. He was right about one thing. I knew all about it. And he was hurting himself, even if he wouldn't admit it. My throat was too tight to say that, though, so I just kept my lips pressed together. The quiet stretched, and I was surprised when he was the one who broke the silence.
"Why the Hell would you put yourself through that?" This time his tone was gentler. Well, Hell. Angry I can take, but kind turns me zero to sixty into a watering can in 3.6 seconds. Just like that, the tears, which I'd been doing a pretty good job of holding back, broke through my defenses. I could feel them trickling silently down my cheeks. I wasn't going to say anything, though. I wasn't going to answer. Huh uh. Not me. I was a rock.
Hands landed on my shoulders, and I jumped a little. I hadn't even heard him crossing the room. "Why, Marie? Christ, I thought you'd be safe here."
I'm not sure if he turned me or if I turned myself, but before I really realized what was happening, my face was buried in his cotton-covered chest, and I was sobbing into his shirt. Mysterious stoicism was overrated, anyway.
"I want to control it, Logan. I have to. I'm so lonely. It worked for Mystique, and I can't—I just can't—"
That was about as far as I could get coherently. The rest of whatever I might have said was lost in my tears. Muscled arms wrapped around my back, and Logan stroked my hair. He moved us back toward the bed and sat down on it, pulling me into his lap and letting me cry.
It took a few minutes, but I managed to get a grip. When he realized the storm was over, Logan shifted me so I was sitting beside, rather than on top of him. He used my hair for a buffer and reached out to tilt my chin up so he was looking me in the face.
"Hey, careful of the skin," I warned.
"Not worried," he replied.
I decided there was a fine line between brave and stupid but didn't say anything else to caution him. Truth to tell, I liked that Logan was gutsy enough not to be terrified by the thought of accidentally touching me. Selfish, yeah, but at least I knew it and wasn't afraid to admit it. And knowing is half the battle. Yo Joe.
"Look, how about we meet with the Professor tomorrow? There has to be a different way. You might not care, but no one hurts you while I'm around." His voice at the end had an edge that made me think maybe he was still a touch peeved about the whole pain thing.
A warm feeling spread outward from somewhere in the vicinity of my heart, but I still felt the need to protest. It was sweet of Logan to want to protect me, but he had to understand that in the end it was my choice.
"And there's something else I want to talk about," he interrupted. "Nightmares."
I winced and mentally cursed my ridiculous mouth. "Look, they aren't that big a deal."
Another strange look I couldn't decipher. "Kid, I live with them. They're a big deal. What I want to know is how did you get them?"
Where was a wall when you needed one to thunk your head against. I so didn't want to talk about this, but I'd promised myself I wouldn't put it off once he got back.
"I—got a lot of you—when you touched me."
"I remember. You told me on the train I was in your head."
I bit my lip. I'd been dreading talking about this with him for months, but since I'd already told him most of it when I was babbling—not that he really got it the first time, it seemed—it wasn't quite as hard as I'd thought it would be. "I should have explained better, I guess, but I don't really understand it myself. It's just, when you touched me, I didn't just pick up a couple of your habits, I got—a lot of stuff."
I shrugged and looked away from him. "Memories. Dreams. Abilities. You name it. It happens like that with everyone. But with you it was just—more—and it didn't fade as much as everyone else. Maybe because you touched me for so long. I don't know. I just—if it's in your head, its pretty safe to assume I know it." I trailed off, bracing myself for yelling, clawing, and other general forms of fury at having the privacy of his mind so thoroughly invaded.
My eyes stayed glued to the floor, waiting for a reaction, for a long time. The roiling ball of dread in my stomach got bigger every second that went by. Finally, when I thought my choices were to demand he say something—anything, for God's sake—or explode, I chanced looking up at him.
Logan was staring down at me, expression unreadable.
"I'm sorry, Kid." He said when my eyes hit his.
I'm pretty sure nothing else in the whole wide world—ranging from, "You mental parasite, get the Hell away from me. I never want to see you again," to him just getting up and walking out—could have surprised me more than that. I shook my head in confusion.
"Sorry? Why are you sorry?"
"You shouldn't have to carry that shit. I'm sorry you do."
Now he was looking away. I flicked my eyes around the room. Had we fallen into a transdimensional portal while I wasn't looking? Logan didn't do guilty. But there it was, clear as day. Logan felt guilty. I tried to think of something inspiring to say to make him feel better. Since I couldn't very well tell the truth—that I liked knowing so much about him, having a part of him inside me—I was left scrambling.
I channeled my inner Pooh. Think. Think-think. Think.
Yeah. I had nothing.
"Hey look, everybody's screwed up," I finally settled for saying. "Seriously, you should have seen some of Magneto's memories. Talk about something I don't want to carry. And in the lab today I touched Professor Summers. If I start acting like a Boy Scout, you have permission to shoot me."
Surprise flashed across Logan's features for a second before they smoothed. "Right. I'll remember that. And I'll even try not to do it on any of the rugs." I had another witty comeback, but an unexpected yawn cut it off at the pass. Then Logan was on his feet. "Past your bedtime, Kid. Come on."
"Come on?" I stood up as I asked. "Come on where?"
He was herding me toward the door. "Back to your room. You may be young enough to stay up all night, but I need my beauty sleep."
I choked on a laugh. "Of course. What was I thinking? Why are you going, though?"
"Not letting you walk around by yourself out there, the crappy excuse for self defense you've been having."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm just going down the hall. Pretty sure I'm safe here, Logan."
He stopped so suddenly I plowed into his back. His eyes were hard again when he turned around. "Don't take anything on faith, Kid. That's a good way to get yourself killed."
I faked a laugh and said with forced levity, "Trust in God but lock your door?"
Logan opened the door without bothering to answer, and we walked to my room in silence. The mansion around us was dark, quiet, and opulent. When we reached my door, I sent Logan a tentative smile.
"Hey, um, thanks. For listening. And—" I waved in the direction of his still-damp shirt, "—for being a sponge and all."
He grunted a non-acknowledgement, but when he spoke his voice was gruffly affectionate. "Lock up behind me. If I lose you, I'm stuck dealing with these geeks all by myself."
I nodded and ducked into my room. I didn't hear him leave or anything, but my Logan-radar told me he didn't head back down the hallway until he heard my lock tumble. For no good reason, I felt heart swelling just a little.
He didn't want to deal with the geeks without me.
Not a declaration of love.
But it still sounded pretty good to me.