Title: Commonalities, Pt. 1/?
Fandom: X-Men movieverse
Word Count: 1220
Summary: Nightcrawler/Wolverine friendship. Chapter one: in which Logan is a lousy conversationalist, and things get off to a rocky start.
Author's Notes: A birthday present for my friend Jordanna Morgan. The friendship between Logan and Kurt has always been one of my favorite aspects of comics/cartoon X-Fandom, so I decided to tackle the not-as-simple-as-I'd-thought task of examining how that kind of friendship might develop between the movieverse versions of the characters. As usual, I am a textual poacher.
Logan didn't have a real conversation with Kurt Wagner until two months after they came back from Alkali Lake.
He wasn't much of a talker to start with; conversations came looking for him, not vice versa, and even that didn't happen all that often. Pass the salt and The Professor's looking for you and No, sir, I promise, sir, we weren't trying to sneak out past curfew more or less covered the extent of the day-to-day discussions that passed between Logan and the other permanent residents of the Mansion. So it wasn't all that unusual that even less than that had passed between him and their half-guest, half-new-addition.
Nevertheless, it came as no surprise to Logan when Wagner accepted Xavier's invitation to stay on full-time; he, at least, had been expecting it since the first night he'd passed the kitchen while on patrol and spotted the German busily frying potatoes at two a.m. Logan could see that for what it was – the behavior of a man who felt at home, was at home, and intended to stay there. Kurt Wagner seemed to belong at Xavier's, at least as much and probably more than Logan himself did.
Maybe that was why Logan responded with a satisfied nod to Xavier's announcement of Wagner's permanent residency at the mansion, why he felt uncharacteristically pleased at the news. Maybe it was also what compelled him to stop at the door of the kitchen that night, propping one shoulder against the doorframe. On most of the nights when Wagner was awake and cooking Logan settled for merely glancing in as he passed by on patrol; he'd never really stopped to observe the other man's late-night kitchen escapades.
The fact that it was nearly midnight didn't seem to faze Wagner in the slightest – there were eggs and bacon frying in one pan, breakfast potatoes in another, and a full pot of coffee sitting freshly-brewed on the counter. The blue-skinned mutant was humming quietly to himself as he tended the stove – some up-tempo, merrily tuneless composition that made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in complexity. Logan felt an involuntary smile tug at one corner of his mouth.
"Chuck tells me you're gonna to stick around." He said without preamble.
Wagner turned, momentarily startled. "Ah – good evening, Herr Logan." He smiled – a brief, somewhat awkward flash of fangs that faded quickly as he turned his attention back to the stovetop. "Yes. I am going to stick around."
Logan nodded without comment and stepped into the kitchen, which earned him a quick over-the-shoulder glance from Wagner.
"There is coffee." He said, waving one two-fingered hand at the regiment of mugs next to the coffee maker. "Please – help yourself."
Logan did, examining the blue-skinned mutant thoughtfully as he poured out a cup of the coffee. They'd gotten off on the wrong foot, the two of them, all those weeks ago at Alkalai Lake, and Logan could sense that it was still making the other man unsure of how to react to his presence. Logan hardly blamed him – wariness was most people's default reaction to him, after all – but in this case, he was oddly sorry for it. There was a niggling part of him that regretted that bad first impression, and the uneasy distance it had caused.
It was an uncharacteristic thing for him, that kind of regret, and it was all the more aggravating because he couldn't quite get a hold on what was causing it. Wagner wasn't the kind of person Logan normally had much time for, and it wasn't as if there was anything that the two of them had in common . . .
Except, of course, that there was.
Because there was a gap in what any of them knew about Wagner between the Munich Circus and the White House – and in that gap, William Stryker loomed large. For a little while, at least, Kurt Wagner had been William Stryker's prisoner, his test subject, his tool.
Fascinated by the realization, Logan settled onto a kitchen chair and regarded Wagner's turned back with new interest. So that was what had been causing the odd sensation of connection he felt to this newcomer, this still half-stranger.
They'd both been there.
With the realization came all sorts of questions, things Logan wanted to know and yet did not want to ask. How long Wagner was at Alkali Lake, and how much he remembered; if he ever dreamt of the place, and if that was part of the reason he was always lurking the kitchen in the dead of night.
Logan watched Wagner hovering over the stove and debated with himself for a long time about what, if anything, he should say, before finally settling for his usual approach – rushing at the thing head-on.
"So how'd Stryker get you?"
He almost winced at the words, even as he said them – they came out too brusque and seemingly out of nowhere, confrontational instead of conversational. The sort of question Logan would be likely to answer with nothing but a snarl.
But Wagner just paused for a moment, one hand darting almost unconsciously to the back of his neck and the fading circular scar half-hidden under his collar. "Ach. That."
He shrugged and turned from the stove, crossing his arms. "I was . . . careless. I forgot that Boston is not Munich. Someone must have seen me. I remember . . . shouting. Someone chasing me." He lashed his tail. "The rest is a blur."
Logan nodded. There was nothing in the answer he couldn't have guessed, but the fact that Wagner had been willing to give it was unexpected.
Almost as unexpected as the fact that Logan had asked.
They regarded each other silently for a long moment. Logan wondered if Wagner was as conscious as he was of the unsteady, shifting distance between them – if it puzzled him the way it did Logan.
After a moment Wagner cocked his head to one side. "And . . ." He hesitated, then plunged forward. "How did Stryker 'get' you?"
Logan had known the words were coming before Wagner had spoken, but his back still stiffened – trapped by the question and by the echo of Stryker's voice answering it. He felt suddenly pinned down by the other man's question and his patient, innocently curious yellow stare.
Paralyzed by the answer he finally knew and did not want to give.
As I recall, you volunteered.
Any illusion of kinship he'd felt with Wagner abruptly vanished, driven away by those words. No amount of shared suffering at Stryker's hands could make up for the one vital difference between them.
How did Stryker get you?
Logan slapped the coffee mug down on the tabletop and pushed his chair back with an abrupt, ear-stabbing screech, already turning for the door even as he rose. Wagner made a startled noise, eyes widening; but Logan ignored him, too caught up in self-recrimination and anger and his need to be away from the failed attempt at a conversation.
Fight or flight. Just like an animal. It was hard to tell if the voice in his head was Stryker's . . . or his own.
He stalked out of the kitchen, feeling Wagner's bewildered expression burning into his back as he went.
To Be Continued . . .