Between the Darkness and Light

by Talya Firedancer

Part Twenty

Logan finished up tying the second duffel and tossed it beside the door where it made a satisfying thump. There it was, the weight of all his worldly goods, ready to go. He scowled at the black folder lying on the dresser. That, he hadn't packed away.

It wasn't so much a piece of his past that Xavier had found, something neat to slot into the overall puzzle. Logan had read it through a dozen times or more and it still didn't make sense to him, it still didn't jive with his own recollection or the taunts that Stryker had thrown at him all that time ago. Now the man was dead and the only record, maybe, was of any files he'd kept on his operations.

Problem was, although the file was meticulously detailed - and he'd read it enough to know - it told him nothing whatsoever about himself, Logan. If that truly was who he was, even; Logan was the only name he remembered, and he didn't know if it were last or first.

The file was about the Weapon X project, not the test subject. That was the core of Logan's problem. He thought he'd find out the answers to his own personal puzzle if he uncovered intel about the operation that did him how he was, and the folder only gave him more questions. Where had they found him? Had he truly been a volunteer, as Stryker had suggested? It told him about the healing factor; he knew about that. It let him know his psyche was extraordinarily dense, not easily subject to conditioning or intervention, for whatever that was worth. They'd messed with his head somehow, he knew that much.

His biggest question was why Professor Xavier hadn't shared this information with him upon uncovering it. The only answer he could come up with was the most logical, therefore probably right: the file didn't provide any answers of substance, so Xavier might have been using it as a jumping-off point to try to find out more. Then he had filed it away in box X-113, and then he had died.

Logan turned his back on the file and stared at the duffel by the door.

It was a fifteen minute face-off: that duffel and the expectations of hoisting it, taking off with a bike or a car from downstairs, and getting away from here, versus the alternative. Leaving this house and the place that had been made for him, almost against his will. Breaking promises.

He sighed so loud and angry it was more of a snarl, then picked up the folder from the dresser, claws slicing through skin and extending full-length a hair from the paper-thin surface. It was tempting, real tempting, but it was also the only thing remotely resembling a lead that he had. He let the claws slide home again, no flicker of expression betraying the oddness of the sensation as three damn near ten-inch blades slid between sinew and bone into the space they made in his forearm. Do they hurt when they come out? she'd asked him. Every time, and when they went in, it felt like popping a muscle back into place.

He turned, eyeing that packed duffel by the door. It was ready to go, as some part of him was or he wouldn't keep throwing all his things into a bag, over and over. But he wasn't. Logan huffed and dug his hand into his jean pocket, extracting a crumpled note. See if Logan responds better to a woman's touch. Name, address, phone number.

There was no calling this even so much as a lead, because he couldn't suss out Xavier's intentions in including this bit of information. This, like the other, made him wonder why the professor hadn't just given it to him when it was relevant. Or, perhaps like the folder, Xavier had intended to deal with it himself more directly and just...ran out of time.

He spent a few minutes throwing stuff from the duffel back into drawers, then squared his shoulders, unlocked the door, and went prowling through the mansion. One thing was for sure, he wasn't ready to pick up a phone just yet.

There were kids roaming the halls, normally the sort of circumstance that made Logan's skin crawl and set him to seeking a secluded upper balcony or spot on the grounds that didn't involve the rugrats. Of course, now he had an additional hazard to navigate.

His nostrils caught the scent and before he'd realized it he was turning a corridor, picking up speed until he was jogging to get out of range while his senses proclaimed danger. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the boy, his hairless, pale scalp marking him out from amongst the group, and Logan sucked in a quick breath of relief. One day he'd get caught out when the kid was downwind and then he'd really be in the shit.

"Some kinda warning would be nice," he muttered, and found the back stairs that took him from upper corridor to a passage right near the kitchen. Should bell the kid, maybe. He snorted over that idea and Slim's likely outrage if he should propose it - might be worth it, to strike the man speechless and make him guess whether he was joking or not.

Another familiar scent reeled him in, and Logan found the doorway where it lingered. Magnolia and sandalwood, a hint of honeysuckle. He didn't know what it was called but he knew who it was. "Hey, darlin'." He braced himself against the doorframe and prepared himself for a glare.

Rogue's head lifted from where she bent over an open book at the table, and her pretty face was instantly illuminated with a brilliant smile. It was the kind a person gave the love of their life or at least seriously hot and heavy crush of the moment so it was no wonder Logan was also the recipient of a very dirty look from Bobby Drake. They were seated next to one another at the cramped table with barely a handspan of space between them, two open books on the table, door swung wide so maybe there had been some studying going on after all.

"Logan!" Rogue exclaimed, bouncing up from her seat, and Drake's aggrieved look intensified.

"Um, we're studying," Drake said pointedly, his pale Husky-blue eyes fixing on Logan, far less thrilled than his girlfriend.

"Good," Logan returned, more because it seemed the sort of thing he was supposed to say rather than out of any particular conviction. "Just need to borrow your girlfriend here for a bit of help, then I'll return her in a moment."

"Need somethin'?" Rogue inquired, bouncing up out of her seat and looking positively thrilled to be asked.

"Somethin', yeah," Logan replied, dipping a hand into his pocket and finding the note within. He pulled it free of his pocket, hesitated, then pressed it into her warm, dry palm. She glanced up at him, a self-conscious half-formed look as her lips implied a smile and she huffed ever so slightly as her fingers closed over the note and he drew back before she could get a grasp on him too. The touch of her skin was a brief shock to him until he remembered - she had taken the cure, and this was the first time they had touched, skin to skin, since the Statue of Liberty and the night he'd saved her life.

With a flirt of her long chestnut ponytail, Rogue pivoted and made for the computer tucked in one corner of the room. She unfolded the note as she went, scanning the few lines of writing as she dropped into the desk chair, then turned a frown over her shoulder. "What do you need to know?"

"Need to know who it is," Logan responded, joining her beside the desk, leaning one arm against the hutch that housed the monitor. It creaked under his weight and he hastily rearranged himself in favor of leaning against the wall. "Name and phone number don't give me enough info to see what I'm getting into, and no one at the mansion seems to know her."

"Interesting," was Rogue's only comment as she turned to the computer, gripping the plastic mouse beside the keyboard.

Bobby Drake got up out of his chair to come supervise, or at least see what was going on. He folded his arms as he hovered at a point beside Rogue's left shoulder, opposite Logan. "You gonna try--" he began, cut off by Rogue's "I got it, Bobby."

She brought up a window on the computer with a single text field and the screen title "Google." In that text field, she typed "Emma Frost."

"That seems easy enough," Logan said, tone dubious. Was that really all it took?

Both of the kids looked at him. Rogue's mouth twitched. "Well, sure, but now we have to look through these search results and see if we got any good hits."

Logan waved a hand. "Just do your thing, kid," he said gruffly.

She nodded, expression going distant as she turned her attention back to the screen. "Huh," she said after a moment, and moved the mouse, clicking on something. She leaned back, and gestured at the screen. "Found her."

Logan came up to her other shoulder, careful not to elbow Drake, and put a hand to the back of her chair as he peered at the computer screen. She had brought up a website with a businesslike layout, crowned by a couple of pictures in the right margin. One was a picture of a low-slung building surrounded by an ordered, meticulous landscaped lawn. The other was of a beautiful blonde woman, her hair a pale, almost platinum blonde cut and styled attractively. She was wearing a low-cut white suit. The page bore the legend, "Emma Frost, certified psychotherapist, Ph.D. Harvard. Frost Therapeutic Enterprises."

"What the hell is a certified psycho--whatever?" Logan growled.

"It's a licensed psychiatrist," Bobby replied immediately, and both Logan and Rogue turned to look at him. He pinked immediately and his eyes slid for a far corner of the room. "What? My mom goes, and my brother."

"Well, the hell with this," Logan said, snatching up the note from the desk where Rogue had left it. He crumpled it up into a satisfyingly compact wad and stuffed it into his pocket. "I ain't going to a head-shrinker, Xaver-recommended or not."

The kids turned another deer-in-headlights look on him.

"But if Xavier recommended..." Rogue began.

"He left this note for me," Logan clarified. "It had this woman's name and phone number on it. And now I see why he didn't have the balls to give me the note, 'cause I'm not going to a therapist. They can't shed any light on my past, 'cause as far as my brain's concerned, I don't have one." With a wordless growl he stomped off, leaving them to it.

Last time he'd checked, he had Danger Room privileges. Time to make sure that hadn't changed.