Logan had something on his mind, that much Scott could tell. Scott had spent enough time with him to know the signs. At the faculty meeting after dinner, Logan spoke even less than usual, but kept shooting Scott intense yet impenetrable glances. When the meeting was over, the two of them had worked on revising simulations in the Danger Room. Alone together, Scott thought he’d hear what was bothering Logan, but Logan had been all business. Now, back in Scott’s room, Logan had repeatedly begun to say something and then changed his mind. “Is there something you want to talk about?” Scott had asked, after the third time Logan had opened his mouth to speak and then said nothing.
“Not now.” Shaking his head, hand reaching to stroke Scott through his jeans. “After,” he added, unzipping Scott’s fly and lowering his head.
But the phone had rung right at that moment and there hadn’t been any sex to talk after. The conversation with Jean-Paul had led to a brief meeting with Charles Xavier and no time for talk.
Charles had told Cyclops and Wolverine to fly directly to Vermont and to come back with the woman who claimed to be Jean that night. Scott had anticipated her reluctance to return with them. Charles impressed upon the two X-Men that it was essential that she be brought back to Xavier’s right away, where her movements and her actions could be more closely monitored. The two X-Men promised that they would do whatever was necessary to bring her back, using force if they had to.
Alone in the Blackbird, sitting next to Scott, Logan seemed ready to speak. Scott’s hands on the controls and his eyes on the instrument panel, perhaps not looking at each other made it easier for him. “There’s something I think I should tell you,” he began.
“When me and you weren’t talking... or fucking or doing anything else, well, I didn’t like it.”
“I was thinking about you all the time. Some of what I was thinking was being real mad, although I’m not even sure why anymore. Or at least I’m not sure I know who I was mad at. I don’t know how much was about what happened between you and me, and how much was about how she was messing with us both, but I was mad.”
“But I wasn’t just mad. Something else was happening to me then. A lot of the time I was just thinking about when you and me had been together. About sex. And talking. And working together – on missions, at the school. And about working out and just hanging out together.” He faltered, as if he didn’t know what to say next.
“I’m glad we got back on track, Logan,” Scott said. “I missed you,” he added.
“Yeah, me too. And I’m glad, too. It wouldn’t have happened – us being friends again – if you hadn’t kept calling me in Vermont, if you hadn’t said the things you did. Then and later, after I came back.”
“I said some things I shouldn’t have said.”
“I know, but you owned up to that. I like how you’re willing to say when you make a mistake. That’s an important thing to do. I’m not so good at that myself. But I’m gonna try more... I made a mistake about her, I know that now. A mistake believing her. Doing it with her and letting her into my brain. I don’t know if she’s somebody else like you think or if she’s Jean but she’s just changed into somebody else, a different kind of person than she used to be. I know she’s no good, though. No good for you, no good for me, for the project, the team. She’s planning something, something bad. I don’t know if we can stop her.”
“We’ll stop her.”
“I don’t know if we can stop her without killing her.”
Scott took a deep breath. “That would be okay with me, I think. Charles might not like it.” Scott’s voice was grimly determined. “It’s not just that she’s impersonating Jean. It’s not just that she’s been trying to pit you and me against each other. There’s a kind of radiating malevolence about her. It’s there, Logan. I can feel it when she’s in my brain. She’s not the woman I knew and loved. She’s – well, I hate to sound melodramatic, but the only word I have for it is evil, as foolish as that sounds.”
“It doesn’t sound foolish. Evil is right.”
“We can handle evil. We’re the good guys.”
Logan laughed, then turned serious. “That’s not what I wanted to tell you.”
“Sorry. I got us off on a tangent. What were you saying?”
“I was telling you about how I was thinking about you all the time, when I was in Vermont and me and you weren’t talking.”
“But we made up before you came back. And then got pissed off at each other again,” Scott added with a wry grin. “The course of true love never did run smooth.” When Logan didn’t answer he said, “It was a joke, Logan.”
“No it wasn’t.” Scott shrugged, and Logan continued. “It’s what I want to talk to you about, that love stuff.”
“I haven’t exactly been dwelling on it, have I? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I just wanted you to know how I feel.”
“I’m not complaining.” Neither of them said anything for a minute. “So, like I said,” Logan went on, “I was thinking about you all the time when I was up there. At first I thought it was just ‘cause things were bad between me and you, you know? Some of the time I was mad at you, some of the time wishing you’d call and say you’re sorry, some of the time thinking I probably should be the one to apologize. And I was real happy when we did make up, but... well, it didn’t change nothing. So then I knew different.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I wasn’t mad anymore, but you were still on my mind all the time. When something was bugging me you were the guy I wanted to tell about it. When something good happened, well... same thing. When I was horny, I didn’t just want to fuck, I wanted it to be with you. When you told me you were jealous of Jean and me, that you didn’t want me doing it with her? Well, I get that. I don’t want you doing it with anybody else, either. Just me. I’d be real mad if you did. And, not only that. I don’t wanna do it with anybody else. That part’s new for me. I don’t ever remember feeling like that, not for more than a week or so.” Scott chuckled at that. “I guess it is kind of funny, but it’s true. It’s just not how I am. I’m just not built like that, to stay with one person. To feel like that about one person. Or, I wasn’t, anyway. But that’s how I’ve been feeling with you. It’s still like that for me. I think about you all the time. I’m feeling like I never felt before, that I can remember. Wanting stuff I never wanted before. That’s how it’s been for a long time now. Only one thing has changed.”
“At first it bothered me. I just wanted to stop feeling like this, and now I mostly think I like it. It feels good thinking about you, being with you. I want to keep going on like we have been.” Logan took a deep breath. “So, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m in love with you, too.”
Scott’s smile seemed to light up his face, even in the darkness in the jet. “You don’t know how happy I am to hear that.”
“Now that we’ve both said it, we don’t have to talk about it anymore, do we?”
Scott laughed. “Not a lot, anyway. I might mention it once in a while, but I’ll try not to be a bore about it.”
They found the FBI agents in the mud room. Sprawled on the floor, arms stretched out, face up. Dead. There was no doubt that they were dead, although the scene was confusing enough that Scott and Logan weren’t able to tell right away how they died. There was a lot of blood - on the men and all over. They didn’t stop to examine the bodies at first except to verify that they were indeed dead. No pulse, and they were cold enough that it was clear they hadn’t just been killed. The X-Men went looking for the rest of the house’s occupants, wary of one of them. Scott would have missed the two bloody lumps on the hall table if Logan hadn’t pointed them out. It took them a moment to realize that they were the dead men’s hearts.
“She cut out their hearts?” Logan sounded like he was trying to verify that this wasn’t another of his nightmares.
“I don’t know if she cut them. I don’t see any knives. Not that that means anything. But… her telekinetic powers – they were much stronger than Jean’s were, and they’ve been getting stronger all the time.”
“You think she... lifted them out? With her brain?”
“Death by telekinesis? Maybe. Let’s see if there are any knives missing from the kitchen.”
The knife block was full, but someone was in the kitchen. Sasquatch was unconscious but alive, lying on the floor of the kitchen, arms and legs spread to the side, just like the dead G-Men, but his heart still where it belonged and still beating. Northstar and Cassandra were nowhere to be found.
Logan cocked his head to one side, listening. “What do you hear?” Scott asked.
“Something that way. In the garage.”
“The panic room?” They looked at each other. The noise was getting louder now – Scott could hear it, too. A banging sound.
“She’s trying to break in,” Logan said. “Angela must be in there.”
“Okay,” Scott answered, moving into Field Leader mode. “She’s stronger than she was, maybe stronger than we know. Remember the G-Men. But there are two of us and – more importantly – we know she’s here and she doesn’t know we are. We need to surprise her and immobilize her. That means at least knocking her out – her brain can find weapons if she’s conscious, even if we can imprison her body.”
They entered the barn as quietly as they could. A shovel was embedded half an inch into the fortified steel door to the panic room. As Scott watched, an axe rose and hit the door with crashing impact. More tools flew through the air, a deafening sound as they connected with the hard metal, but the door stood. The woman whose brain was throwing them seemed to have no idea anyone else was there, her eyes and her brain focused on the door, and on the one she was trying to reach, behind the door.
Logan jumped her from behind, claws extended. Before he could use them on her, though, the adamantium extending from his hands began bending. “Retract them!” Scott yelled and he did, immediately, before they bent too far to go back in, realizing that was the only way he could use his fists.
And use them he did, attempting to knock the adversary unconscious. His hand stopped just before it connected, and he couldn’t break through the telekinetic barrier. Scott ran to join in the fray, grabbing another axe stored on a rack on the wall, to use as a weapon. As he did, his visor floated up and off of him. Eyes snapping shut, he managed to avoid any unintentional damage and tried his best to fight blind. He realized how ineffective he was when, swinging for Jean, he connected with Logan’s shoulder instead. He could feel bones in his hand breaking from the impact with the metal inside. Jean’s voice in his ears, he turned towards her and considered opening his eyes, but only for a split second. Cyclops had no qualms about killing her, but was disoriented without vision, and too worried that he’d accidentally hit Logan again, this time with deadly force. Or that the optic blasts would pass through the door or wall and hit Cassandra.
And then someone else was in the barn there with them. Scott was still blind and Logan couldn’t see him either, as the newcomer was moving too quickly for even his superhuman vision to detect. The first Logan knew that someone was there was when he saw their adversary fall to the ground, unconscious. Then the blur that had hit her slowed down enough to be visibly Jean-Paul Beaubier. Scott felt his visor being placed in his hand. Opening his eyes he saw Northstar for the first time.
“Where’s Walter?” Jean-Paul asked. “Did she do to him what she did to the others?”
“No, he’s okay,” Scott replied. “She left him alive. I don’t know why.” Northstar’s sigh of relief was loud in the now quiet barn.
The three men looked down at the woman lying there, unconscious. “What do we do with her now?” Jean-Paul asked.
“We’ve got to keep her like this until we get back to Westchester. Charles can decide then.”
“I say she stays unconscious permanently,” said Logan, extending his claws, verifying that they hadn’t been damaged, prepared to use them.
Before either of his companions could answer, something began to emerge from the unconscious body on the floor. Something not quite solid, yet not quite gaseous. Translucent, flickering, in hues of gold and red and orange. It looked like the figure of a human, yet also looked like a bird, and like a flame all at once. It emitted a light so intense as to be blinding to all but Scott, who saw the shape but not the colors or its flickering brightness. It hovered there in the air above Jean’s body, and then rose in a flickering, shimmering path to the ceiling of the barn. And through it.
It was gone.
“What the fuck was that?” Logan asked. No one knew. He turned back to the woman on the floor, claws still extended.
“No!” Scott yelled, stopping Logan before he attacked. “It’s Jean,” he added. “I can feel her. It’s really her.”
“That...thing? It was in her body? Merde!” Jean-Paul shook his head.
Scott knelt before Jean’s body and watched as she opened her eyes. “It’s okay,” he said. “You’re safe now.”
She sat up, looked confused for a minute, and then threw her arms around him, crying. “I thought I’d never see you again.” She tried to say more but appeared overcome with emotion. “I could hear you sometimes,” she added, and then couldn’t say any more.
“It’s okay,” Scott said again, holding her now, one-armed, his useless right hand hanging by his side. “It’s gone, whatever it was. You’re back, that’s the important thing. You’re safe. Do you know what it was?” She shook her head. “We’ll talk to Charles, figure out what happened. It’ll be okay, somehow. You’re okay.”
Jean was shaking hard. It took a minute for her to compose herself. “I’m okay,” she said, echoing Scott’s words. “As long as I’m with you, I’ll be fine.” Scott looked at Logan, over Jean’s shoulder. The expression he saw on Logan’s face was one he doubted anyone but him had seen before, one Scott had only seen when Logan was in the middle of a nightmare. Scott wanted to say something to him, but didn’t know what. He didn’t get a chance. Logan turned around without a word and left the barn.