They’d gone up to Nick’s apartment. Jean had pinpointed it on Cerebro before they left. “Thanks,” Scott had told her, when she gave him the address. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“I’m coming with you.”
He shook his head. “I’m taking Logan. You’re hors de combat.”
“Well, maybe my going along will ensure it doesn’t turn into a combat mission."
"Not this time. I appreciate the offer."
"Scott, Logan is not the man for this mission. With the mood you’re in lately – and the mood he’s in all the time – someone’s likely to get killed if it’s you and Logan.” He’d hesitated, and she’d added. “Come on. You need me. I can tell you what’s going on in that apartment. Yeah, he could tell you what they're saying, if you're close enough, but I can tell you what they're thinking. And together you and I have a better chance of convincing her to come back than either of us would alone. Better than you and Logan, for sure.” He’d nodded his agreement.
Now, in the hall outside Nick’s apartment, Scott was glad he’d agreed. Jean listened telepathically and held up four fingers, to indicate how many people were in the apartment. Scott shook his head. “Too many.” Jean nodded. “I don’t want to be seen waiting here,” he added. “How far can you hear their thoughts from?”
“I’m not sure. Let’s try the coffee shop downstairs.”
It was a tall building, and mostly studios and one bedrooms, which made for a lot of people. It took great concentration on Jean’s part to stay focused on the thoughts emanating from the occupants of 12A, but she managed. When they worried that they were staying too long in the coffee shop, they tried walking along the block, stopping into shops. Three buildings down seemed to be the limit of Jean’s telepathic range. Trying to stay inconspicuous, they bought something in each shop along the way, taking as long as they could without attracting attention. And then went back to the coffee shop.
“How many now?”
“Just Nick and RoseAnn. The first guy left a while ago. I think he’s in the building, though. Maybe he lives in one of the other apartments. That other one just left a minute ago. I could hear him at the elevator, impatient to get out of there. We’ll probably see him come out.” A minute later she nudged Scott and told him to look out the window. “That’s him,” she said, as a man emerged from the building and walked quickly across the street, getting into a waiting car. He had a messenger’s bag slung over his shoulder, his arm holding it tight against his body.
“What were they doing in there all this time?” Scott was scowling.
“A drug deal.”
“Was Nick buying or selling?”
“Buying. Large quantities, I guess. That bag was full of cash. It’s all that guy was thinking about.”
“Any sign of Nick leaving soon? Or RoseAnn?”
She shook her head. “No, they don’t seem to be thinking about going anywhere. They’re sitting on the bed, watching TV.”
“Shit. I wanted to get to her alone, but I think we shouldn’t wait. Who knows what else will be going on in there? I don’t want her involved in – or exposed to – any more of Nick’s business. I want her out now. Let’s go.”
As they approached the apartment, Jean reached to press the buzzer. “No,” Scott said. “Stand back.” Switching glasses for visor, he opened it slightly. Red light flashed quickly as the lock disintegrated with the force.
Nick looked pretty much like Scott had expected. A little too good looking in a slick, flashy way. Mid-thirties. Currently looking both surprised and pissed off. “Who are you and what the fuck are you doing here?” was his greeting.
“We’ve come to take RoseAnn home. Come on RoseAnn,” Scott said, looking right at her.
“Tawny, you know these people?” And then, recognition dawning, “Ah, they’re the freaks.”
“Mr. Summers. Dr. Grey. I...” RoseAnn seemed at a loss for words.
Jean stepped in. “This isn’t a safe place for you, RoseAnn. We need you to come with us now. We’ll talk on the way back.”
“She’s not going anywhere. Certainly not back to that freak house. She doesn’t belong with you muties.”
“You’re not getting a chance to exploit her anymore,” Scott said between gritted teeth.
“Nick says I don’t have to work anymore.”
Jean spoke again. “RoseAnn, don’t trust him. I don’t know what he has planned for you, but think about it. You’re fourteen years old. You need home and protection and education and safety, everything we’re offering you. Not a life with some drug-dealing pimp.”
“But Jamie – “
“We’ll talk about Jamie later,” Scott answered, in his most commanding voice. “This is not where you belong.” He held out his arm to her and she got up off the bed, starting to walk towards him.
Nick jumped up and grabbed her before she could go anywhere. One hand across RoseAnn’s chest, he pulled a gun out of his pocket with the other. He aimed it at Jean, then Scott, seeming unsure of where to point it.
“Leave now, if you know what’s good for you,” he said. “Tawny is staying with me.”
“We don’t want any trouble here.” Jean’s voice was calm, almost soothing. “RoseAnn is going to come with us. You’ve got other girls, Nick. You don’t need her.”
“Yeah, I do. Her parents want her back and they’re willing to pay. I need you muties out of here before her mother shows up. I’m not letting you screw up this deal.”
“Come on, babe. It would take a shit load of tricks for you to earn me fifteen grand, and that’s what your mom is willing to give, no questions asked.”
“I can’t go back there!”
He held her tighter, waving the gun at Scott and Jean, frozen in place. “So you run away again. Big deal.” Turning towards the two X-Men, he added, “You two – out! Or there’ll be more trouble than you can handle.” He cocked the gun.
Before he could do anything more, the barrel started bending, twisting, until the end of it was folded, pointing back at Nick. “What the fuck!”
Nick dropped the useless gun, but his arm moved up to RoseAnn’s neck and he gripped her tightly. “Nick, you’re hurting me,” she said, but then she was coughing as he squeezed, having trouble talking.
He backed into the wall, RoseAnn in front of him, one arm around her neck and the other round her waist. “Get out!” he yelled. “Now! I don’t want to hurt her, but I will if you don’t leave.”
Scott reached to his temple and opened the visor. A red light emerged, blasting a hole the size of a baseball into the wall, three or four inches from Nick’s ear. Scott’s voice was even and clear. “Okay, now you know what I can do. And you know that I’ve got good aim. A few inches to the left and that would have been your head. I do it again and it will be. Take your fucking hands off my daughter or I’ll kill you where you stand.”
Nick’s hands fell to his sides and RoseAnn ran over to Scott. One arm encircled her, as he kept the other hand at the visor controls. He held her as she sobbed. “Are you okay?” he asked, eyes still on Nick. She nodded into his chest. “Sit down!” he told Nick, gesturing towards a chair. Nick did what he was told, eyes never leaving the visor.
“What is there here that we can secure him with?” Scott asked RoseAnn. “I just need him immobile for a short while.”
She pointed at a closet. “There’s packing materials in there. Some rope, I think.”
Scott nodded. “Jean, get the rope. Tie him to the chair.” As she started to move towards Nick with the rope, he added, “No. Stay back. I don’t want to give him a chance to try anything.”
She nodded and the rope floated over to Nick. He watched, astonished, as the ropes wrapped themselves around his wrists, forming knots around the chair arms.
“It doesn’t have to be neat,” Scott added. “You’re not doing sutures. As long as it will keep him in place for a few minutes, it’s fine.” He turned to RoseAnn. “Where are the drugs?”
“In the wall safe. Behind that picture.”
“Fine. Open it up.”
Nick sputtered a minute, then composed himself, saying, “Tawny doesn’t know the combination.”
“I don’t need a combination,” she said, taking the picture out of the way. RoseAnn’s hand came up and she held it there, concentrating for a minute. The safe opened. It was full of clear plastic bags filled with white powder.
“Good. Okay, Jean – are you done? RoseAnn, get the phone. You’re going to call 911.”
“What do I say?”
“You don’t say anything. They’ll talk to you, try to get you to talk. Don’t answer at all, not a word. Just stay on the line until they say the address. Then hang up. They’ll send the cops right over. Standard protocol if no one speaks.”
RoseAnn followed Scott’s instructions. “We’re leaving now,” Cyclops said, as soon as she hung up. Both women walked out with him.
The police car was just pulling up as the three mutants exited the building. “Where’s the car?” Scott asked.
“The next block. Are you guys mad at me?”
Jean gave her a hug. Scott shook his head. “No, not really,” he said. “Mostly sad that you didn’t come to one of us. And I’m sad that I haven’t been more available to you, in general. I’m sorry, RoseAnn.”
“I’m sorry I ran away. It was a stupid thing to do.”
“Yes, it was.”
“It kind of slipped out.” They reached the car. “Give me the keys,” Cyclops added.
“I don’t have keys. I don’t need keys.”
“No, of course not. Well, fine. You start it, but I’m driving. As of now, we’re back to obeying the law.”
Jean took her cell phone out and called Xavier’s as they pulled out of the parking space. Scott heard her say, “I’ll tell him.”
“What will you tell me?”
“You’ve got an appointment at the White House tomorrow. With the President.”
“Hard again?” Logan kissed Scott, holding the base of his cock in his fist, stroking slowly with thumb and forefinger. “I like this.” He pushed his tongue into Scott’s mouth. Scott sucked on it, moaning a little.
Logan pulled back from the kiss after a minute, still stroking. “Was Nick more dangerous than you let on?” he asked. “Did he almost take you?”
Scott laughed. “Are you kidding? Some two-bit criminal against Jean and me? And RoseAnn, for that matter,” he added. “She’s going to be some fighter when she grows up.” He licked his lover on the neck. “Believe me, it was a foregone conclusion. Why did you say that?”
“You’re so into it tonight. This is how you always get after a narrow escape. You know – dying for dick. Can’t get enough.”
“Yeah, you never noticed? I sure have. I’d even been thinking maybe I could get some villain to almost kill you, get you back in gear. Only I got stuck on guaranteeing the ‘almost’ part, so I gave up on that idea.”
Scott laughed. “Thanks for your concern for my welfare.” He turned serious, thinking about what Logan had said. “Am I really like that after dangerous missions?” Logan nodded. “Sex as a life-affirming gesture, I guess.” Scott thought some more. “It’s been better lately, hasn’t it? Sex, I mean. I really have been trying.”
“I know. Thanks for that. And, yeah, it’s been better.” He bent down and sucked on the head of Scott’s cock for a minute, tongue swirling around, then pushing into the slit. “But tonight,” he added, raising his head, “it feels like you’re not trying. Like you just want it, want me. Can’t get enough of me. And that’s even better.”
“I do want you. Would you fuck me again, Logan?”
“Sure thing. Turn over.”
And then Scott was lying there, face down, legs slightly spread. Logan kissed his cheeks, licking right where the crack began. He spread more lube on himself, rubbing his cock slowly as he did. Taking his time, enjoying the sight of his lover waiting to be fucked. He got on top of Scott, pushing in all the way, then lying there still, deep inside him. One hand on Scott’s cock, the other on his shoulder. “You’re easy to get into.”
“I’m relaxed. Ready for you.” Scott took Logan’s hand from his shoulder and kissed the fingers. “Would you do something for me?” he asked.
“Sure. What?” Logan was starting to move in him now, stroking Scott’s erection as he did.
“Extend your claws on this hand.”
“I don’t know.” Still fucking slowly. "It’s hard for me to control how I move when I’m... My hands... I don’t think it’s safe.”
“It’s okay. I’ll hold you by the wrist. I can control it for you. I just want to see them, touch them, while you’re fucking me.”
There was a Snikt! sound right by Scott’s ear and then they were out. Logan was moving a little faster now, long strokes punctuated by growls and grunts. “Watch out for the edges,” he said, somewhat breathlessly.
“I will.” The glint of adamantium was exciting Scott even more. The feel of Logan inside him, Logan’s hand stroking him, added to the sight of the claws in front of him and filled him with desire. He pushed back, moving with his lover, and reached out with his tongue to touch the metal claw.
“Fuck, this is good,” Logan said. Faster and stronger, talking and pushing and stroking until he felt Scott coming underneath him. Then, retracting the claws, he pulled Scott up on hands and knees. The whole weight of his metal-laced body resting on the man beneath him, Logan continued fucking with a ferocious intensity until he came, too.
They lay side by side afterwards, smiling but not touching or speaking. After a while, Scott reached out and took Logan’s hand, feeling the places in between the fingers, marveling at the unbroken skin.
“Maybe I did have a narrow escape,” he said. “Just not like you thought.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was so scared of losing RoseAnn. Scared she wouldn’t come back to us. I felt like I fucked things up irreparably with her. Destroyed another relationship. An important one, more important than I even realized. When Nick grabbed her, I called her my daughter. Can you believe that? It just came out – ‘take your hands off my daughter.’ I don’t even know where that came from.”
“Channeling the professor? He always called the kids here his children.”
“Maybe. Maybe something else, something about RoseAnn in particular. About what I want to do for her, what I thought I’d lost, losing her. But then I found I didn’t really lose her after all. She did come with Jean and me. She did leave Nick. I don’t know what will happen with her and Jamie, but I’m pretty sure she’s not leaving here again.”
“I think you’re right.”
“Jamie, too – I could have lost him. I couldn’t blame him at all if he wouldn’t forgive me. I was horrid to him. But he seems to understand that that was about me, not him. He seems willing to accept my apology.”
“He’s a good kid. He’s got perspective. He’ll look at the whole of who you are and what you’ve been to him, not one bad day.”
Scott nodded, then sighed. “And then there’s Alex, too. Another narrow escape. I’d lost him. And, I don’t know, I feel like I lost part of me, too, all these years. Lost my childhood. I feel like I’ve got a chance to reclaim that now, in some sense. Like Alex is the key to that.”
“When are you picking him up?”
“Tomorrow. I’m going out in the Blackbird and getting him. It’s done. Signed, sealed, delivered. I wanted it done right away and luckily it’s good timing for Obama, too. With things heating up in North Korea, he’s hoping that’s where the press attention will be and it won’t get a lot of comment.”
“It’s a risk, though. Presidential pardon of a violent criminal. Right when the President’s up for re-election, too.”
“He wanted to wait until after the election. I couldn’t do that to Alex. I talked to him the other day, after the lawyer gave him the bad news. He sounded awful. Not even angry at me, just despondent. I got his hopes up – I’ve got to deliver.”
“So what did you give Obama to get him to do this for you?”
“You mean other than my soul?” Scott smiled grimly and shrugged. “Our services, for starters. X-Men missions, as he needs them.”
“He didn’t settle for that, did he? You’re already doing that. How many missions have you done for him since the war’s over? The Professor got most of the concessions on mutant rights that way.”
“Well, I suggested we might not be so cooperative in the future if he didn’t pardon Alex.” He sighed. “But you’re right. That’s not all I gave him.”
“Veto power. I said I’d consult him before we undertake missions for foreign governments. And not take them on if he feels they compromise the U.S.”
“Yeah. I hate to lose our independence. I’m hoping it just won’t come up as an issue. Or if it does, that once he explains I’ll end up agreeing we shouldn’t do it. But it does feel like a bit of a Faustian bargain.” He rolled over, threw an arm around Logan, and held him close. “Nobody knows,” Scott whispered in his lover’s ear. “It’s completely sub rosa. I’m not telling anyone but you, and I’m pretty sure the President isn’t telling anyone. I had to do it. I need Alex out of there. I need him in my life.”
“I’m telling you, Scott. He’s trouble.”
“I know it. I’m going into this with my eyes open.”
“It’s not just him, not just because of what he’s like. He’s your brother. Under your command. That’s just full of problems.”
“You think I’ll go easy on him because he’s my brother? Do I go easy on you? On any of them? The team’s full of people I care about. That’s just the way we are. It doesn’t stop me from doing what’s necessary.”
“I know. I’m not saying it does.” He stroked Scott’s hair in silence for a minute, then continued. “It’s different with him, though. You’ve got to watch yourself. You’re feeling too guilty for what happened to him. You can’t let that affect how you treat him, not as an X-Man.”
“You’re right. I’ll watch for that. You watch for me, too. Tell me if you think I’m treating him different from the others. Okay?”
“Sure. But it’s not just you. It’s him, too. He’s not disciplined, not used to an outfit like this. And maybe he’ll expect you to go easy on him, eh? Maybe he’ll think you’re being extra hard on him if you don’t give him special treatment. Maybe the rest of the team will think you’re going easy on him, even if you aren’t, just because they’re expecting you to. There’s just so many ways this could go bad.”
“Yeah, I know. Like you said, he could wreak havoc with the X-Men. I’ll be on the lookout for that, do what I can to avert it. Deal with it if it happens. But I’ve got to do this, Logan. I’ve got to give him a chance.”
“Thanks for understanding.” Scott got on top of Logan, kissed him on the mouth, grinding his hips against him.
“Hey, you wanna fuck again?” Logan said, smiling.
“Yeah,” Scott answered, smiling too now and sounding almost surprised at himself. “Yes, I do.”