This was written for the Xmmficathon for mofic. Her request: Logan and Scott (not necessarily slashed). Scott didn't really die in X3. Logan goes to find him.

Letting Go

Cousin Shelley


Both Logan's hands were fisted at his sides, and his claws wanted to extend. He held them back just so the tip gouged against his skin from the inside, tiny pinpricks of pain that reminded him how much damage he could do if he lost control and lashed out now. Because he was oh so close to lashing out now.

"We have to assume he's gone, Logan. Right now we have to--"

"The hell we do," Logan said evenly. "I'm not assuming anything. How can you just give up on Cyke like that? You, of all people?"

"It's not a matter of giving up on Scott. But we have to look at what's happened, and we have to find Jean and bring her back to the safety of the school. I have to get through to her . . . if Scott's out there, Jean's our best lead, isn't she?" The Professor's eyes seemed to Logan to be seeing something else, something probably before his time here.

Logan thought the part about finding Scott sounded thrown in for his benefit. He stared at Xavier, wanted to shake him and ask where the hell the real professor might be hiding. "Professor, I am looking at what's happened. That's why I'm not giving up on him."

"Storm," Xavier said, ignoring Logan, "you get in the jet, I'm going to Cerebro, and we'll coordin--"

"Exactly," Logan said. "Use Cerebro to find him, and we'll pick him up. Or I can go and look for him on foot while you two . . . do what you do."

"I've tried that already, Logan," Xavier said. "I haven't found him."

"That doesn't mean you won't, right? It could be . . . I dunno, something wrong with him, something she did." He stared at the professor for several seconds, until it was clear he was getting nowhere. "Dammit!" Logan swiped his hand over the countertop, sending a few vials and chips skittering across the floor. "What's wrong with you people? This is Scott we're talking about. Come on, Ro. Scott."

"Logan," she said, shaking her head as she did so, "Do you think I want Scott to be dead?" Her voice broke and she looked at the floor for a moment. "Right now, Jean's clearly capable of anything."

"But she didn't kill me," Logan ground out. "She didn't even really try."

The Professor tilted his head as if considering what Logan said, but then an air of defeat that Logan was quickly learning to hate settled over him again. "She knows that you're practically indestructible."

"Practically. But if someone tried hard enough? If she could reason enough to decide I wasn't worth the time to kill, then she's reasoning. If she's as dangerous as you think, if she killed her fiancé, why wouldn't she try to kill me, too? Because that's Jean in there!"

"What about his glasses, Logan?"

Logan frowned at Ororo. "Maybe he's unconscious." He took a step toward her, frustrated. "Maybe he's keeping his eyes shut. But if Jean didn't kill me, there's no way she'd have killed Scott. No way."

"You don't know that," was all the Professor said.

"Well, we'll find out." Logan spun and stomped away, and the last thing he heard was Ororo shouting after him, at first just his name, then be careful.

He punched his fist through a wood-paneled wall before he got out the door. He looked at the split skin and flesh, already healing so fast it barely bled, felt the bones snapping back into their positions. Why the hell do I need to be careful? he thought.

After Jean died, disappeared, he corrected himself, he'd gone out into the woods, cried and howled with rage at the unfairness of it all. He'd kept his claws sheathed and slammed his hand into an oak, first felling the tree and then eventually splintering it where it lay. His bones dislocated, destroyed the flesh that covered them, but because of their indestructible casing, never broke. Over and over he'd beaten his hand into a pulp only to watch flesh grow and spread over the bones, perfect once again.

Now, just like then, he thought it was so fucking unfair. Just once, he wanted to be able to bleed and break. He needed a physical ache that kept hurting, something to distract him from the type of wounds his mutation couldn't touch.

***


Logan didn't know how it was possible to hate a place so much and yet feel so drawn to it at the same time. But Alkali Lake stirred that intense hatred tinged with longing in him. He felt uneasy while there, but strangely like he should be there, as if the place held secrets for him to find if only he looked in the right place.

Today, he was only concerned with looking in the right place for Cyke.

He'd called him Scott several times in the conversation with Ro and the professor and it had felt strange on his tongue. Scott. Somehow calling him Cyclops or Cyke felt better, if only because he felt so little when he said those things. They were just names, labels, things put on him from the outside, where Scott was who he was.

Don't get philosophical now, he told himself. He'd been searching for hours when he finally thought he got a scent, so faint, but unmistakably Cyclops. Scott, he thought, just as he realized how the man's scent stirred things in him that were a lot like the feelings he got being at Alkali Lake. It drew him in, even though he resented the man it belonged to.

"Scott!" He shouted it repeatedly, telling himself that he only shouted his name because he'd have felt foolish shouting, "Cyclops" to the empty sky.

The scent was getting stronger now, and despite what he'd said to Ro and the professor, he feared what he'd find. And when he found Scott . . . .

"Jesus," he said, emotion pulsing through him to see Scott on his back, eyes wide open and staring sightlessly at the sky. "No." He dropped to one knee next to Scott, Cyclops, he thought, trying to put some distance there to make it easier, and reached up to gently close his eyes.

Scott flinched away from his hand. Logan threw himself back instinctively to get clear of Scott's eyes and the deadly energy they produced. But nothing happened. If he'd been like this, out in the open, not eating or drinking, he shouldn't be alive, Logan realized.

Scott moaned. He still hadn't blinked, but Logan could see his hands starting to move a little.

"Scott?" he asked, approaching him again carefully from the side, leery of his eyes.

Scott's body spasmed then and his back arched, and Logan though he was going to snap in half. His entire body seemed to glow red for a moment, and then he collapsed flat on his back again.

"Scott!"

"L-L-Logan?"

Logan reached for him and grabbed his arm, and noted that despite the frigid weather, Scott was warm. He even felt feverish. "I'm here."

"J-J-"

"Jean. I know."

"She-she-" Another spasm hit him and he arched again, but this time it didn't last quite as long. "She . . . where?"

He moved closer so that he could lean over Scott. "She was at the school, but now . . . I don't know. We think she might be with Magneto."

Scott nodded and then turned so that he was looking right at Logan. His eyes are blue, Logan noted. Scott had large pupils of blue, which wasn't something Logan had been expecting. He thought they might be yellow or red, some color that hinted at the deadly force inside them. Or just white, two wedges of blinding white that glowed from the back of his skull. Not baby blue. Cyclops.

Scott kept trying to talk, but he'd spasm up or stutter so badly, Logan finally stopped him. "Come on, we need to get you inside somewhere warm, then we'll talk."

Scott shook his head and looked at Logan with pleading eyes, but Scott was too weak to put up a fight. Carefully, Logan lifted him into a fireman's carry and even that had him shouting in pain. He'd found a truck, a lot like his old one, for sale cheap not far from here and in optimism he'd bought it, so they wouldn't have to share the bike on the ride back. It was fortunate he'd done that, and that he'd bought a truck instead of a car, because to try to sit Scott on the bike or in a front seat would have probably have been agony for him. He gently put Scott in the bed of the truck.

"I'll take it as easy as I can, but the hospital's not too close."

"No, hosp--no hospit--"

"No hospital, I figured that much. Why not?"

"Just . . . no. Pl-please."

He hoped he didn't live to regret it--he hoped Scott Cyclops didn't, either. Instead of going to a hospital, he found a no-tell motel and paid in cash, up front. This time Scott resisted being picked up, so he helped Scott to his feet, and put an arm around his waist to get him into the motel. It was probably good that Scott could walk a little. All they needed was for the owner to call the cops because some guy was carrying an unconscious man into his hotel room. That'd draw too much attention, at least once the cops showed up.

He gently lowered Scott to the bed, wet a washcloth from the bathroom under hot water, and wiped his face and hands. He still couldn't get over the eyes. He'd seen eyes just as blue, but the fact that he could see these eyes at all was what threw him.

He spent several hours sitting up, watching Scott, because soon after Logan had wiped him off, Scott fell into unconsciousness--or maybe he was just in a deep sleep--and he came close to calling an ambulance several times, Cyclops' plea for no hospital be damned.

***


"Logan?"

Logan heard his name and sat up on the other bed. He watched Scott reach up and touch the sunglasses Logan had put on him while he slept.

"I didn't want you waking up okay and blasting a hole through the roof."

"Good thinking."

"How ya feelin'?"

Scott didn't answer him, but instead removed the sunglasses and blinked rapidly. "Still gone. It feels . . . empty."

"While you were out, every half an hour or so you . . . sparked. It was like a red burst of energy coming up out of you. It started to slow down after a while, and for about the last hour before I fell asleep, I didn't see it at all. What the hell did she do to you?"

"Jean," Scott said, as if he'd only just remembered. "We have to find her." He sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and the momentum almost toppled him over.

Logan reached out and righted him. "We will. Just hold tight for a minute. You need to be able to handle yourself when we do find her." Logan was worried that Scott didn't even protest, just looked at him with those unfamiliar eyes. "Sit back and eat something while you tell me what happened."

Scott scooted back on the bed and leaned against the headboard, while Logan spread his stash out next to him. "There's no gas station close and I didn't want to be gone long, but there's a vending machine in the lobby." Not that it could have been called a lobby. It was a tiny little room where you stood to pay for a night, or a few hours. And the vending machine had a quarter slot with grooves where you wedged the coins in and then pushed. It even had pull knobs to select the chips or candy that you wanted. Some rows were filled with off-brand cigarettes, but there had been Doritos, Lays and a few snacks Logan didn't recognize. Many rows were empty, leading him to believe the machine wasn't filled or serviced very often.

He popped open a bag of Doritos and handed them to Scott. "Don't look at the dates on the packages. It's probably best that we don't know." Then he filled two plastic cups he'd had to ask for in the "lobby" with water from the bathroom.

Scott downed the water, Logan refilling it twice more, before he was satisfied and could drink more slowly. Then he ate only a few chips before he dropped the bag to his side. He looked down at his feet, and Logan though maybe he was about to lose consciousness again, until he started talking.

"I thought she was going to kill me."

"She thought she had, kid."

Scott looked at him, his head tilting to the side. "She said that?"

Logan took a drink. "When she was herself she was pretty hysterical, and thought she might have killed you. She couldn't be sure."

He watched Scott's lips tighten into a line, then start to shake. Scott looked back down at his feet. "It wasn't her who did this. She'd never have . . . ."

"I know." He wanted to press, to find out exactly what happened, but he sensed Scott needed a little time. After a few minutes, Scott took a deep, shuddering breath.

"I came out here, I don't know, I don't know why. I just couldn't let it go. Couldn't let her go. And when I got here, I could just feel something. Energy. A thickness in the air."

Logan nodded, remembering how it had felt when they'd found her. The rocks, and Scott's glasses hovering in the air.

"But I could feel her, too. And I thought . . . I thought it was just me, trying to hang on, and then . . . there she was, Logan." Scott smiled a little and looked at him, one tear tracking down his cheek. "She was alive and right in front of me, smiling, saying my name, but her eyes . . . something about her looked so scared . . . . "

Scott sniffed and wiped his cheek with his fingertips. "And then she touched me, and I knew it was all wrong. I mean, it was Jean, she was there, but it wasn't her. Something else was all around her, and it started pulling at me, from the inside. She reached for my glasses and I begged her not to, but I couldn't move, and nothing happened. She was . . . sucking that from me somehow, and . . . it was like a transfusion, I remember thinking that. Like a blood transfusion where they remove your blood and replace it with something . . . foreign. She was in my head, filling up the places she was . . . sucking dry." He took a breath and let it out, a sob coming on the end of it.

"The last thing I remember was her voice, the real Jean, saying "no" and "I love you" over and over, echoing inside my head. " He looked up at Logan and didn't bother wiping his face this time. "She didn't want to hurt me, she was trying to stop . . . whatever it was."

Logan had to press his own lips together in a tight line to keep them from trembling. Everything that had happened was bad enough. But for Scott to sit here and talk to him this way, saying more words in one rattled off story than he'd probably said to Logan in the entire time they'd known each other . . . it spoke to how bad this whole situation had become, for all of them.

He looked down at the floor until he'd composed himself. "She did, kid. She stopped it, or you'd be dead." And somehow whatever that red energy had been Logan had seen all over him, somehow that had managed to keep him alive, even exposed as he had been. The stubble he'd had had when he left the mansion hadn't grown enough. He'd been suspended by it, somehow. And Logan guessed it didn't matter how or why, he was just grateful that it had.

"What about my eyes?" Scott said. "How did she take that from me? Were here eyes normal? Could she do what I did?"

"I didn't see anything like that. Her eyes . . . they weren't like yours. Come on, eat up," he said, nodding at the abandoned chips. "You're probably the only one of us that can get through to her; you'll need your strength."

Then he explained what had happened at the mansion, but he left out the professor's and Ro's unwillingness to look for him. He played it so that they felt it vitally important to find Jean as fast possible, while they sent Logan to find Scott, and Scott agreed that they should have been looking for Jean. That's what he'd have wanted.

Scott was so close, so many times, to completely losing it. Logan could tell. It was like back at the mansion all over again, when he'd tried to get through to him but had to watch him leave anyway. Jean's death had left something so broken in him. But at least now there was a way to fix it, if they could manage to get to her and bring her back.

He felt protective of Scott in a way he hadn't before, because he had the same kind of hole inside him. They'd shared a love for her, and now, like it or not, they shared the pain of her loss. That brought them together, if nothing else. And somehow, that Jean had loved Scott, made him Logan's to protect now. He owed them all that much.

As soon as Scott had finished the chips, he was ready to go and Logan could see no real reason not to. He seemed to be getting his strength back, and his attitude, as he'd demanded Logan stop calling him kid. Logan knew Scott wanted to lash out at him, for many reasons, and could tell that was coming back too, bubbling just under the surface.

"On the road we'll get some real food; you're not gonna get far on chips."

Scott stood, a little unsteady but without needing to grab Logan for support. "First, I need to go back to the lake."

Logan didn't ask why, just looked at him like he might be losing his mind.

"She kept saying something else, in my head . . . I can almost hear it . . . it might help me remember. It might be important."

***


They stood at the edge of the water, Scott looking out at the surface intently, Logan watching Scott in the same way. Scott had the sunglasses in his hand, and he put them on to mimic how he'd arrived, how he'd been when Jean found him.

"Anything?" Logan asked.

"Just give me a minute," Scott snapped, tilting his head in Logan's direction but not looking at him. At least, Logan didn’t think he was looking at him. It was hard to tell through the sunglasses.

Scott took the glasses off slowly, and by his expression Logan knew he was remembering Jean approaching him. He hadn't seen Scott look that happy since before.

Scott's hand went slack, and the glasses slipped from his fingers.

"Kid?"

He grabbed the sides of his head, and he turned to face Logan. "She was saying, kill me." His voice broke and got louder. "Please, Scotty, kill me, hurry." He dropped to his knees then and wept, and Logan stood his ground. His urge was to go over to him and comfort him somehow, but though the urge was there, he didn't know how to do it right. Maybe he couldn't. Maybe Scott needed this.

When Scott started to calm down, Logan said, "She said that to me, too, at the mansion. When she was herself, she--"

Scott caught him off-guard, both with the scream and the body slam, somehow managing to topple them both over despite Logan's weight and center of gravity. Scott beat at him with his fists, an animal growl bursting from him with each blow.

"Scott, kid!"

"She said it to me, not you, Jean's mine, don't try to make it sound as if she--"

"Whoa, whoa!" Logan managed to get a hold of one wrist, felt his lips split open and heal, while he tried to grab the other, with Scott the whole time shouting about Logan trying to take Jean from him, trying to make it like she'd tell him, share with him, the same things as she might with Scott. His words were a jumble now, but Logan understood that he was getting at all that. Maybe because, deep down, that's exactly what he'd been trying to do.

Then Logan became aware of the tiny hairs all over his body, as if they'd all moved suddenly in a light breeze. Scott's blue eyes suddenly flashed and that spark was there, arcing off of him, and all at once he and Scott both realized what was happening. Logan shoved Scott back and away from him as he rolled to get away, and Scott started to turn and close his eyes, too late.

Logan screamed as the flesh of his back and right side was sheared off by the blasts from Scott's eyes.

"Logan!"

Logan's scream turned into a hiss as he fought the pain. Oh God, this was . . . he'd never felt anything like it. Burns were the worst type of pain, and this was like having someone grab flesh and tear it away and then burn the open wounds that were left. Unlike a cut that hurt right where it was, both during the injury and the healing, this was a whole body kind of pain with fingers that reached away from the damaged flesh and sent agony wrapping around him like rope. This was an injury that, if he couldn't regenerate, would have killed him by now, he realized.

He made a strangled sound, and couldn't breathe, his body starting to lock up. When he finally managed to drag in a breath, the sharp smell of his own cooked flesh made him gag.

"Logan, Logan!"

He could hear Scott stumbling, blindly looking for him or his glasses, and he wanted to answer, to tell him to calm down, but he couldn't make a word. Every process in his body seemed to be sending all its available resources to replace mutilated, burned meat with new. He managed to turn his head and could see a metal rib glinting in the sunlight before a spiderweb of flesh slipped over it, making it pink again.

***


When Logan woke, he was on his stomach and the only pain he felt was from the rocks digging into him.

"Logan."

He raised his head to see Scott, who'd found the sunglasses. "I'm all right." He realized he was shirtless, and when his eyes focused he could see the burned pile of flannel and denim next to Scott.

"I didn't feel it coming until it was too late."

"I know. Neither did I. It's okay. Lucky we both moved when we did." A delay of even half a second would have mean he'd been looking at Logan's face. Or he'd have caught him full on in front, instead of the energy just grazing him, as it had.

Scott held out a hand for Logan, who took it. He pulled gently and stood.

"I thought I'd killed you," Scott said softly.

Logan could tell this had taken a toll on him--and he'd already been stretched to the limit before. He'd heard Scott shouting his name, heard him falling and crawling, and could only imagine what it had felt like to think he'd broiled Logan and was unable to even open his eyes to see. He looked worse now in many ways than when Logan had found him.

"I'm all right," Logan said, "don't worry about it."

"I'm not worried about it," he said, his lip curling, "I'm just relieved."

Logan turned his head from side to side, the pops loud in the silence around them. "Probably nothing you haven't thought about doing a time or two." He hadn't meant it to sound quite that way, but now that it was out, it felt good. They needed to get back to where they were before. Familiar territory. "Considering it's the only way you could get the better of me."

Scott's mouth dropped open, and then he laughed. "Is that so?"

"Yep. You ready to go?"

"Logan . . . I'm sorry."

"You said that, kid."

"Stop calling me kid."

"Okay. You said that, asshole."

Scott's jaw set, and Logan almost smiled.

"Logan, I would never have even imagined hurting you like that, for the record. You saved my life, coming here like you did. And . . . I'm grateful. But none of that changes the fact that I still--"

"Hate me? No, you don't. You've never hated me. You just think you're supposed to. " Logan turned away and started walking. They shared a love for Jean, and that made Scott understand him better than anybody else. That's why Scott, Cyclops, dammit wanted to hate him. Maybe that's why Logan felt a strange kinship with him, too. That pull that was uncomfortable and familiar at the same time.

"Would you have taken her away from me? Not that she ever would have . . . but if she'd have come to you . . . ?" he called after Logan.

Logan stopped, sighed, and without turning said, "Yes."

"Now?"

He turned and looked at Scott. No. Maybe. "She wouldn't come to me. She's yours."

They stared at each other for a long time, and Logan wished he'd looked closer at Scott's eyes so he could be sure to remember details. He realized that all the years Scott and Jean had been together, Jean hadn't seen his eyes. He needed to remember the details, because they were his alone.

Scott sighed and though neither man spoke, Logan knew that the stand-off was over. "Come on, Scott Cyke. Let's go get your girl."

November, 2009