Of Security Concerns and Secondary Mutations
At precisely 1700 hours, X-23 arrived at the door to Wolverine's room. Her nose and ears confirmed that he was absent; consistent with known patterns. She approximated an 85% probability that he was in the Danger Room, 5% that he was smoking a cigar outside the range of her smell, and 9% that he was otherwise engaged in an unknown but benign activity. One percent was reserved for a threat to his safety, but this was deemed negligible for the time being. Picking his three locks, X-23 opened the door and, once inside, set all but one back to their original positions. It was doubtful that Logan would be surprised by her presence, but the subtle notice was something he would likely appreciate.
Sitting on the foot of his bed, Laura mentally prepared her report as she waited. Her information regarding a recent security concern was not highly time-sensitive, and so she saw no need to interrupt his normal routine.
At 1737 hours, heavy footsteps down the hall alerted her to Logan's presence. A minute later, the keys were inserted into the locks. As she had suspected, he paused momentarily at finding the last one unlocked, then opened the door.
He was shirtless, and his hair was wet. Residual moisture clung to his skin, as did the smell of soap, shampoo, chlorine and other trace elements that indicated tap water. All smells of tobacco and smoke were not recent. She had been correct: he had been in the Danger Room.
Logan nodded to her as he hung his towel. "Laura."
"I believe there is a security risk to the Institute. Threat level is currently uncertain."
"Well, you waited here instead of coming to get to me, so I'd say it can wait another minute or two. Right?" His voice was level, but she detected a hint of disappointment; most likely from her lack of greeting.
She nodded once. "Correct."
"All right, then. So, first off, how are you, and how did today go for you?"
"Day fifteen at the Institute has been satisfactory. Vital statistics are well within normal parameters. Training was completed in the Danger Room, as well as supplemental work in teen culture, popular films, and social etiquette."
Logan sighed. "That was X-23. Now try again as Laura. I want to know how you feel. Just you."
Laura paused, searching for what she felt personally. It was much more difficult than a status report. "I... I do not fit here. I am trying, but they are all afraid of me, and I do not understand the subtleties of interaction with them. Humor is particularly difficult. Kurt has been attempting to help me with this, but there is a security concern that may prevent our further interaction until resolved."
Turning, Logan looked directly into her eyes. She had been told this gaze was unnerving. "What security concern?"
"I suspect that Kurt has an unknown secondary mutation, and that it is interacting badly with my own powers."
Logan raised an eyebrow. "How, exactly?"
"Interaction induces fight-or-flight instinct. Increased adrenaline, minor increase in perspiration, elevated blood pressure. Prolonged eye contact is difficult. Symptoms worsen with proximity, though line of sight and smell can occasionally trigger the reaction. My theory is that this is a new secondary mutation, and will develop into an ability to instill fear. If correct, practical field applications should be tactically similar to Danielle Moonstar's." Report finished, X-23 waited for Logan to process the information and decide upon the appropriate response.
She had not expected the appropriate response to be laughter.
When he had stopped wheezing and pounding his dresser, Logan turned his face to her, mirth still sparkling in his eyes. "I was wondering when you'd get your first crush, kiddo."
Crush: slang, meaning infatuation. Laura had heard the word recently in one of the television shows she had watched with Kurt. He had clarified the terminology for her.
The glare she gave Logan had zero effect. "I do not have a crush, Logan. Infatuation is beneath me."
His snicker made her want to shred something. "Think again. What are the signs of sexual attraction?"
Summoning the information and comparing, Laura was forced to admit he was right. "And so... what does this mean? They never trained me for this, obviously..."
He shrugged. "Don't worry about it. It'll go away in time, or it won't. Either way, enjoy the feeling. Eventually you don't get those butterflies anymore."
Laura nodded. "Very well. As there is no security threat, I will return to homework." Just before she exited, she turned to him. "And Logan... thank you."
The smile on Logan's face was... rewarding.
Balancing three heaping plates on his arms, Kurt was preparing to 'port up to his room when a heavy hand fell on each of his shoulders. The plates went flying, and his food made a beautiful work of postmodern art on the kitchen tile.
"Scare ya, Elf? Sorry 'bout that."
Kurt gulped. "No problem, Herr Logan." He turned to find the man staring intently at him. "So... what's up?"
"There's something I want to show you a little outside of Bayville... nice place, good for sitting and having a little talk. Now's a good time, right?"
Eyeing the floor and his meal, Kurt couldn't help but stammer. "W-well, I don't know... I was going to at least clean this up—"
"Nah, it'll be here when you get back. Come on. Daylight's wastin'. We'll take my bike."
Kurt had no clue what was going on, but he knew he was in trouble.
AN: This just kind of occurred to me today, and I thought I'd pursue it. Also, one of Laura's lines is a reference to IronRaven's "They Never Trained Me for This," one of the best Laura-centric stories on FF. IronRaven writes some of the best XME (and other) stories on this site, and his Laura is spot-on. I encourage you to go check out the universe he's created.