Between the Darkness and Light

by Talya Firedancer

Part Twenty-six

During the past half-hour, the only sound in the wide, vaulted garage had been the clank of machine parts and wrenches; the skitter of tools over concrete as someone groped for the right size of gauge. Here and there, an occasional curse punctuated the steady clatter of mechanics.

Bent over his wrecked custom bike, which was laid out on a length of canvas, Scott put down the long-handled wrench, leaned back, and folded his arms over his knees. Gradually his chin sank until he buried his head in the cradle of his arms rather than look at the wreck any longer. At first, he really had been too busy. Then, he'd used the pressure of all his other commitments to pretend that was the reason, and there was no way he could spend all the time he needed to undo all the damage he'd done. Today he had taken the repair job for a good excuse to tie up the last few spare moments of his day that might have been used for thinking.

Any other day, tackling a machine project this complex would take all his attention, drowning out thought.

It wasn't working anymore.

Scott fitted his chin on crossed arms and regarded the ruined bike. He'd wrecked it up but good. He remembered the hard skid he'd taken over blacktop, then his head bounced, and there nothing more until the infirmary and Hank's gentle concern. Before the ride into the night, well...he recalled that too, now. There weren't any gaps in the evening. What he tried to forget was his own enjoyment and guilty pleasure.

Of course, he'd thought it had been a one-off and Logan had just enough pity within him not to mention it again. Why he was helping him...Scott gave his head a slight shake. That was another matter. Between his over-full schedule and the focus with which he'd thrown himself into his training, there should've been no room for anything else, let alone an unwanted libido. That had worked for him before. Yesterday in the maze, though, with his blood running hot and Logan on top of him, he'd felt it again.

Then he'd panicked, failed utterly to throw off an easy hold, and the room spun around him until the taps to his cheeks brought him around.

Still, there was something bothering him even more than his own reaction -- and part of him knew he should tell Logan it was enough, his unasked-for help had already put him far enough on the right track that he could finish the rest himself. Should, but hadn't that morning as they resumed weight training and Logan met the line of his visor with a clear, unflinching gaze. It was those eyes, and the way they never failed to turn in his direction. Logan wasn't acting like a man disgusted by what had happened that night, or even one who would pretend it never happened.

Scott's arms tightened around his knees. That confused him. Logan had always been something of a cipher to him, but this...

With a smothered curse, Scott broke his long-held inactivity and began throwing his tools in the nearby tool chest. He sure as hell wasn't getting anywhere with this particular project, at least not tonight. Soon he'd have to prep for tomorrow, join the others for dinner, and then it was time for another Danger Room session. Presuming Logan hadn't changed his mind.

He dumped the last wrench into the tool chest and was snapping the lid closed when he heard a door shut somewhere in the far reaches of the garage. Scott froze, crouched beside the chest. It wasn't followed immediately by giggling or shushing noises, so he had a moment of relief that it wasn't a pair of students come to make out. It might be Alex. He began to rise, caught sight of a dark head with sleek wings of hair gelled into distinctive crests, and dropped into a sitting position on the tool chest, wondering for a split second why he was bothering to hide.

Logan paused beside the key rack, one hip cocked, a thumb tucked into one rear pocket of his dark blue denim pants. A rucksack rode his shoulder. After a moment, in which Scott wondered whether he should still his breathing or risk getting caught, Logan reached up and plucked a key ring from the line-up. The man squared his shoulders and headed for one of the lesser-used cars further down the line.

Mouth slightly open, Scott watched until the garage door ground shut. If the man had just gone out for a fresh box of cigars, there'd be no need for the rucksack. Skewing his mouth into a bitter twist, Scott shrugged and turned his attention back to the bike. He'd have to order a few parts. He covered the wreck with a drop-cloth and sought out the sink to wash his hands.

As he headed back to the door that would let him back into the mansion, Scott halted mid-step and turned enough to look at the garage door. He frowned, cocked his head as if listening to a distant voice, and widened his eyes. A heartbeat later the garage door rumbled to life, the sedan pulled inside right when there was barely enough space to clear it, and the car screeched to a stop back in its parking spot. Compared to its previous position it was only a touch crooked.

Logan climbed out of the car jerking his rucksack along with him, his brows lowered.

"Came back, huh?" Scott couldn't stop the words from popping out of his mouth, though he had long enough to regret it as Logan's head rose like his namesake catching a scent. He looked at Scott with unfamiliar eyes, and it was dark enough in the garage that the flat lack of color made his expression impossible to read. Figuring he might as well nail the coffin shut, Scott opened his mouth again. "Not running this time?"

"Yeah," Logan said, tone wary. "I mean, no." He let the rucksack drop from his hand and scuffled at it with his heel, as if to hide it behind the wheel of the car.

Scott tried not to smile, which turned out to be not that hard after all. He bit his lip, tilting his head at Logan and wishing he could see. There were nuances of expression he was probably missing out on. He cleared his throat. "So if you want to leave, what's keeping you?"

With a shake of his head, Logan leaned down and picked up the rucksack, hitching it over one shoulder. His eyes were still hard on Scott but not unfriendly, somehow. He crossed the distance between them in a few easy strides and it seemed that he'd keep walking without answering the question, but he stopped, meeting Scott's eyes as if the glasses weren't even there.

There was a jerk behind Scott's navel, but he didn't stir a muscle. That was impossible. Logan couldn't see him; no one could. He was probably focusing on where he thought Scott's eyes had to be.

Logan leaned in toward Scott and it took the muscle-memory of his rekindled judo habits not to jerk away, or flinch. Logan's finger moved over Scott's cheek, swiping along the line of one cheekbone. He lifted a grease-blacked finger to explain the sudden touch.

"Dunno," he said at last. "You want me gone?"

Scott frowned, imagining once again that Logan was looking right back at him through the quartz. "No," he said at once, and it flickered through his mind that the answer would have been different, once, and he couldn't spare a thought for when it had changed.

A frown crossed Logan's face like a flicker before his brows smoothed, and the man edged infinitesimally closer. It was the difference between socially close and crossing personal space and Scott knew damned well his had been invaded.

"You're a valuable asset--" he continued, about to add to the team when Logan interrupted him with a low growl. He was close enough for Scott to see the frustration cross his face, unmistakable, in the bare second before he pivoted, presenting his back.

The rucksack dangled loose in one hand as Logan stormed off, shoving the inner door open hard enough to bang the doorknob against the opposite wall.

Scott stared after him until the sound of his footsteps faded then shook himself as if shuddering free of a layer of water. He took a quick glance around the garage, checking for any last tasks that required his attention, and then followed through the open door.

As he passed one of the archways that connected hall with an empty classroom on the way back to his study, Scott heard a quick snatch of conversation. "--heard that Miss Dane got back together with Mr. Summers this morning, can you believe it?" "Ohh, I thought she was going after Wolverine!" "No way, she and Mr. Summers are tight, it's so cute..."

Scott blinked as his legs kept him moving along. As he continued up the corridor, his frown transformed into something a great deal more congenial, even if it couldn't be called a smile.