Between the Darkness and Light

by Talya Firedancer

Part Twenty-two

A level of technology the likes of which Logan had never seen before was housed in an unassuming corner of the house on the first level. The Danger Room was capable of creating battle simulations beyond mere realism - gunsmoke, stressed metal, ozone, anything from a junkyard of scattered parts to an urban city-scape to the surface of Mars was available in the configurations of the sophisticated holographic chamber. It was a big room, too, and extended into the sub-level areas of the mansion, totaling three stories in height with the widest part of the room half as long as the mansion itself.

Logan shucked his shirt off in the men's locker room that adjoined the Danger Room, grunting noncommittally in response to the greetings of the handful of teenagers changing from work-out clothes back into school clothes. He didn't recognize too many of them more than passingly. It was something of an embarrassment.

He had his own locker here. His own uniform, now. Though he'd only stopped by often enough to call it "passing through," these things were kept for him. Like the room upstairs, they were considered his.

It only took a moment to shuck his clothes off and change but while he did so, his thoughts turned to Scott and that fleeting brush in the hallway. They hadn't touched - he'd been careful not to do so - but he'd caught his scent as they passed and it confused the hell out of him. He woulda thought Scott wanted him to stay away. Hell, part of him still did. But the other... Logan jerked the zipper of his suit up and stalked toward the Danger Room antechamber. It had two doors, one for the simulation room proper, the other for the control room.

The antechamber door irised open and Logan found himself pulling up short to a quick stop to avoid collision. He backpedaled, catching the scent and narrowing his eyes at the second Summers brother to cross his path that day.

Alex's eyes widened, then he sidestepped and his brows were lowered, too. "I hear you're staying," he commented, face proclaiming he was none too happy with the fact. He leveled serious green eyes on Logan.

"Your hearing's good enough for now," Logan replied, giving the kid a brief lift of his chin. Alex was radiating hostility for no good reason, far as he could tell.

"Huh," Alex said, eyes flicking briefly to the side. He squared off, his jaw working, and he clasped his hands in front of him, gaze returning dead center on Logan. "I don't like it."

Logan raised a brow. "You donít have to like it," he returned. He folded his arms even though he was pretty sure he knew how belligerent that looked. "You have to put up with it, and that's about the size of it."

Alex's glare intensified. "I could've helped my brother," he asserted.

Ah, is that it? Logan thought, but decided not to drop any unnecessary remarks about brotherly bonding and all that. He settled for simple and to the point. "No, you couldn't."

"Oh yeah?" Alex challenged, tensing but not taking the step that would take it past argument into a shoving match. "And why is that?" A maddening, know-it-all smirk crossed his face.

Logan's other brow joined the raised one, then he dropped both into a coolly evaluating look. "'Cause he needs someone to push him, not coddle him."

"What the hell do you know about it?" Alex exclaimed, taking a breath to keep going along that train of thought but Logan interjected into that brief pause:

"I know that he knows it - that's why he took my offer."

There was a beat of uneasy silence while they stared at one another. Alex's lip curled.

"Bullshit, what've you got to do with this? What business of this is yours?" Alex demanded, bristling.

He was aching for it, Logan could smell the tension of it crackling. Alex wanted him to throw a punch. What he likely didn't know was if Logan threw a punch, it would be the last one of the fight.

"What business is it of yours, kid?" Logan tossed the words back in his teeth. "You just came on this scene. Way I figure it, no matter what my status is I've been here longer than you, so--"

"I'm his brother," Alex snapped, and gave him an expectant glare.

"Yeah, well I'm--" Logan began, and bit it off as the antechamber to the Danger Room irised open again.

Lorna stood in the doorway, her vivid green hair bound up in a ponytail, wearing a blue and yellow outfit that must have been Lycra, not the materials the X-Men used. It clung to every curve from breast over hip to the long line of thigh. She stood there in the doorway with one hand on her hip and her piercing green eyes flicked from Alex to Logan. That was all it took to silence them; Alex was already glaring in another direction, shoulders lowering from his battle-ready tense posture.

"Lorna," Logan acknowledged. "You here to go a few rounds?"

Her full mouth twitched. "I've already put in plenty of time today in the Danger Room, Logan, but thanks for the offer."

Alex cleared his throat, gaze searing even from the edge of Logan's peripheral vision. Now he mirrored Logan's aggressive pose, crossing arms over his chest and straightening his spine to the length of his height.

"I found a couple of simulations tagged code-name Wolverine," Lorna continued blithely, ignoring Alex and crooking a small smile in Logan's direction. "I loaded one up at random, but you can of course change it if you had something else in mind."

"Oh," Logan said, taken aback by the thoughtfulness of the gesture. "That'll do, thanks."

"Lorna, we have class," Alex said, then added without much hesitation, "elsewhere."

"Thanks, Alex...gee, what do I need a brain for, when I have you?" Lorna asked rhetorically, squeezing between the two of them and reaching up to pat Alex's cheek in passing.

Alex stepped back, his eyes tracking Lorna, then he met Logan's eyes for a moment. They were both silent, locked in that momentary battle of wills, but it was Alex who looked away first when the next door whooshed open as Lorna went through. He checked his wristwatch, spared one last hard look for Logan, then took off without a word.

Logan loosed a gusting sigh. "Finally," he said to the empty room, then passed through the antechamber on his way to the Danger Room. Like flexing a muscle, with a single thought his claws punched through the gauntlets; he examined them, then retracted them again. "It's killin' time."

Random turned out to be zombies, which suited him just fine. He appreciated a simulator with a sense of humor.