Short Questions, No Answers
Logan was a puzzle, and Ororo wasn't about to leave him unsolved forever. The question was how to figure him out? This wasn't something like a mission - go forth, find the villains, and defeat them. It wasn't like bringing someone in to the school. And it certainly wasn't anything as simple as reading the weather.
But what did that leave her? He didn't enjoy going to places with large crowds of people, something that probably related to his enhanced senses. He wasn't much for talking about himself. He didn't spend large portions of his day reading in the library or in the cubbies and alcoves of the building. Honestly, he spent a lot of time outside, and had ended up working with several of the students, helping them learn how to fight.
Logan wouldn't be easy to unravel. Most likely, that was a good thing. Logan wasn't a simple person, he had complexities, and layers, and tangles - that was part of what made him interesting. He had contradictions - a loner who'd saved a strange teenage girl; a rough wild man who compared her to a goddess and had left a fragrant offering. He seemed to enjoy poking at Scott's calm, or making Jean feel uncomfortable with a wide smile and a slow once over. He avoided the medical area, literally needing to be unconscious before anyone could get him there, but he would sit calmly as Hank would ramble on about chemical and biological theory. He didn't seem worried by the scientist who'd recently arrived, apparently unconcerned with sharp teeth, claws or the blue fur that covered Dr. McCoy's body. Of course, it might have simply been that Logan had learned to tune people out and ignore them while they talked.
"Aren't you going to take a break? You've been watching that paper for a while now." Logan's voice came from the doorway, where he leaned against the frame. Amusement danced in his eyes, and he pointed towards the paper that had been sitting ignored on her desk as she had pondered him. "I don't think it's going to run away."
"Are you sure of that?" She smiled at him, wondering if he had just felt like dropping by, or if there had been a specific reason for his arrival at her door.
Chucking, he moved closer, far too graceful and predatory to describe as 'walking'. He looked at the paper, and tilted his head a bit as he studied it. "They do know there's a thing now... they call it a computer. No more messy handwriting? And the October Revolution didn't depose the Czars, that had been earlier in the year."
Ororo glanced at him, watching as he reached down, moving the top essay to see the one beneath. She wondered how much he knew of Russian history, and when he'd learned. "But if they use the computers, they might not be able to finish them at midnight the night before they are due."
"Putting off the paper until it's almost too late is over-rated." He chuckled, and moved a few more essays. "Hmm... Piotr's still turning in his work in Russian, or did he just think it was more fitting for the topic?"
"Russian? Oh..." Glancing at the page, she sighed. Piotr had come from a Russian farm to the school, as part of an effort of cooperation and partly because the people at his home had been afraid of him. While he spoke enough English for conversations, he still had a tendency to slip into his native language for longer projects.
Logan flipped the first page back, his eyes skimming over the words. "Pretty well organized, actually. Looks like he's got a good paper here."
"You can read Russian?" She asked, wondering how many places Logan had gone, what languages he might have learned.
Tapping the page, he gave a half laugh. "I guess so. Wonder when I picked that up?"
"What was it Jean said about your age?" Ororo offered, sliding a red pen towards him while he wasn't looking at her. She smiled as he picked it up and started making a few marks along the margins of the page, going over it just as a teacher would.
The pen scratched over the pages, occasionally circling something, then marking in comments in Russian, in the same jagged letters that she remembered from the flowers. "She said that I'm in perfect physical health, and that any other doctor would say I can't be more than late twenties, tops."
"You don't think so." Ororo didn't need to ask. After all, if he'd looked the same for the fifteen years of his past, he couldn't still be twenty-something, could he? "When you dream... Are there images other than the nightmares?"
"Sometimes." He shrugged, and started making a few end comments on the last page of Piotr's essay. "Last night there was this short guy in a big hat. He combined the worst traits of Scott, the Professor, and the annoying drill sergeant on that Basic Training reality television show. There were cannons firing in the background, and he was shouting for someone to bring him his horse. Colorful uniforms too. Of course, last week, I had this dream that seemed like a James Bond knock-off. I guess it just goes to prove that I can't rely on dreams."
"Why not? What if those are real memories trying to surface?" She wondered why he seemed certain that the dreams were no more than the product of late night movies.
"Right... You think there's really a file out there that says I got sent to rescue some guy named Steve Rogers from a Nazi named Johann Shmidt, better known as the Red Skull? Or that Leo Bonaparte's horse was called Lapin?" Logan shook his head with a snort. Setting Piotr's paper on the pile of other graded essays, he pulled out another one, and absently started making comments along the side of it, circling spelling errors and correcting dates. "The idea is pretty farfetched. Either one would be farfetched, but the idea that both could be memories... Napoleon was declared Emperor of France in 1804. Just how old do you really think that I am?"
"I suppose that there is quite a gap between the settings." Ororo agreed, not convinced that this made it impossible for Logan to have been there. Oh, perhaps he was right, and they were only dreams. But she remembered what Jean had said - impossible to determine his true age. With his healing factor, Logan could have been alive in 1804. But there was no point in pressing the issue.
For a while, things were quiet, only the sounds of red pens marking over pages. Then, she glanced at him, half wondering what anyone else would think if they could see him like this. “Logan? How old do you think I am?”
“Timeless, ‘Ro. Goddesses don’t get old, they just are. You look like one of the elemental goddesses, one that chooses to walk here, among mortals. You don’t ask a goddess how old she is, or how many candles go on a birthday cake.” He gave her a sly smile, and then added, “And besides, is there a safe answer to any woman asking how old a man thinks that she is?”
“I’m not a goddess.” She was smiling, part of her wondering why it seemed less awkward when he used that word than when others did. But there was no mocking in his voice, and he didn’t seem to be trying to force her to live a separate life from the rest of the people. And there was no fear in his eyes, no fear that she would summon the winds to blow him away, or blast him with the lightning. “It quickly becomes a frustrating way to live.”
“When I first woke up… one of the earliest things that I remember, I was in a forest. Eventually, I found people, but I didn’t want to get too close, didn’t want them to see me. The place where I woke up turned out to be part of an Indian reservation.” His voice was low and rough, as if part of him was uncertain that he should be speaking. “One of the first people who saw me was an old man. He thought I was a forest spirit, or one of the old hunter gods come to look at his people.”
“It feels like you’re being set apart. Not really human, just human shaped. Too powerful and frightening to chase away, too different to belong.” The words slipped out.
“Yeah.” He nodded, and for a moment, he closed his eyes. “That’s exactly how it feels.”
“Logan…” Ororo was uncertain what to say. She wanted to offer him comfort, to reassure him that he wasn’t alone. To have him assure her that she wasn’t alone either. But what could she say? Let’s be not quite human enough together?
He looked over, and his eyes were so full of tangled and tormented emotions that it would have silenced her, if she’d know the words to use. “For now, maybe it’s enough that there’s someone else who understands?”
“And in the future?”
“The future… Aren’t we trying to build a better future? Isn’t that the point of this school, of the team? Maybe we can shape a future that we can belong in. A future that has a place for us.” He sighed, and looked at her, his eyes meeting hers. “Maybe a future where we can be part of an us. Where we’re human enough, or where someone’s not to frightened to try.”
“I like your vision of the future.” Ororo wasn’t certain if he’d quite meant a future with the two of them living happily after, but it sounded lovely. “A place where we do not need to fear, and a time when we can love.”
“You can already love, ‘Ro. But sometimes, the fear and the problems try to take it away from you.”
End Fragrant Offering 4: Short Questions, No Answers.