Catching Up With A Side of Ketchup

December 26, 2015:

Jean and Logan catch up.

Jean's Office


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Scott, Professor Xavier


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The day after Christmas presented a type of dreary lull in the mansion; the excitement of yesterdays feast along with the opening of presents and general excitement tapered down to the children returning to their quarters with their gifts in silent play of the new items they've received. It was fantastic, most of them received gifts tailored to assist in their abilities while the -all- received laptops for their school work. Granted, they've already had laptops, but brand new ones to fit the changing of the times along with cellular devices with the all too normal GPS systems fitted.

Except for the youngesters. They're too young for cell phones.

But now, all was calm and quiet in the large mansion, which leaves Jean to catch up on paperwork, grades.. issuing commands to the lingering X-Men, all of the above. She was over-worked, tired.. stressed. Possibly in need of a pick me up and a good nights rest, which was sadly attempted with a burger that's stacked with way too much stuff and a large plate of waffle fries with some new fangled ketchup type creation that was sweet and sour all at once. And it wasn't even eaten yet.


Crime does not take a holiday. Nowhere in the city is this presently more true than the old Budiansky's Amusements factory in Queens, where a collective of dealers is holding a co-op meeting. Although the notion of pooling their money for cheaper packages from their founder Andro the Croat's Belarusian contacts predates the holiday season by a few months, they wouldn't be meeting today if Andro hadn't been so enamored with using the spirit of the holiday to smooth over the hurt feelings and jealousies that have begun to crop up.

Not that Logan's aware of that part. Mostly, he just knows that today is kind of a 'gimme' on the disguise front: he is not the only hard-looking man in a Santa hat lining the walls of the empty factory floor, even if he's the only one who has his hat pulled down nearly over his eyes— and the only one who bothered to match the hat with a high-colored Santa jacket to help hide his features some. At the heart of the factory floor is a round table where the dealers sit, just out of easy earshot for the bevy of enforcers watching over them. A couple bottles of champagne sit in ice buckets at the center of the table.

"If there is no more new business," Andro - wearing a festive red and green top hat with faux mistletoe and a candy cane glued on to go with his sportcoat, turtleneck, and black trousers - says to his cohorts while standing and resting his weight on the table, "then I would like to leave you with a simple sentiment: we in this together, my brothers, one and all! Together, we say— 'fuck you, Fat Man!' to the greedy little piglet who would take food from our children's mouths! We do not need to argue or fight; we understand that this big, beautiful city has addicts enough to make us all very wealthy men! As long as we remember this—"

None of the other enforcers notice when the smallest and hairiest among them breaks ranks by slipping behind a shelf full of unsold toys as Andro speaks, and the dealers themselves are too focused on the loud Croatian to pay any of their subordinates any mind at all.

"— we will prosper— together, as men do! Not—"


"— ggllgglg—"

At now there's a nice, seasonal splotch forming in the middle of Andro's turtleneck.

"Kinda breaks my heart," Logan grunts as dealers fall back in shock and weapons are locked and loaded, "interruptin' this nice li'l holiday bondin' moment between you sharin' and carin' gentlemen. Too bad nobody out there needs the shit gifts you're lookin' to give 'em, eh?"


Like Jean, Logan is still recovering from his holiday festivities. He was at least kind enough to leave a few cases of good beer in the fridge, along with a post-it note with a drawing of a sprig of holly: his gift to the faculty. And any brave/stupid students. In fact, when he shows up to interrupt Jean's lunch by banging on her door, he is still wearing a perforated and blood-stained wifebeater beneath maybe a third of a Santa jacket and staring intently at the door as he tries to gin up some emotion other than fatigue or rage so that he isn't glaring at her the way he did any others who may have crossed his path when he returned.

There's a bottle of champagne dangling between his fingers. He made sure to wipe it down first.

It was like the faintest hints of anger. One that makes her brows lower to scowl down at her burger, her eyes soon squint which dart left and right as she slowly pulls back within her chair. Her face even grimaces, her eyes launching up towards the door right before the loud banging was even issued, her fingers lifting to touch upon the middle of her head to blot out the noise that comes with such a greeting.

That internal noise.

"Turn it off, Jean.." She mumbles to herself, slowly rising from her chair to round the desk at a slow pace as she unbuttons the sport coat she usually wears when working. It was soon hung upon the rack and fixed before two paces to her right was taken and her fingers grip the doorknob. 'Pretend to be surprised'. With a huff of a breath, she opens the door, a smile upon her face..

..which drops immediately as she takes stock of his current state and attire.

"Oh my god, Logan! Did anyone see you like this?" Nevermind that he carried a bottle of wine that she'd be grateful to share, but she does reach out to try to grasp his wrist, and if she has a handle upon him, she'd tug him inside, closing and locking the door in rapid succession. She wouldn't fret or fuss over him, check to see if he has any injuries, but she does draw her arms around him in a tight hug. She actually missed the old man, and was glad that he was still alive and kicking.

As Jean might just expect by this point, Logan bears the echoes of injuries more than anything. All the bullet holes, the blood…

The blood couldn't all have come from other people, right?

Just before he's hugged, an apologetic expression flickers over his features; he is entirely aware of how loud his metal-clad knuckles can be against a door, but he really wanted to get inside— both to spare others from the sight of him and get a headstart on quelling the monster who celebrated Christmas.

Afterwards, there is a conflicted grimace that lingers for all of a split-second before his face relaxes into a neutral mask. His empty arm loops around her body as if he's hugging a glass figurine, until the embrace breaks.

"Yep," is all he says then. The weary shrug is in his voice, if not his body. "Figured it'd be easier all around— easier on the ducts an' shit, anyway. Learned my lesson, there." He presses the bottle towards her hands while wriggling the remnants of the coat from his other arm.

A little warmth finally finds its way into his voice as he continues, "Didn't mean to interrupt you: I see you're wrist deep in a thick'n' juicy pile'a business, here," without taking his eyes from her. "How you been holdin' up?"

Relieved as she was, she finally managed to pry herself away from Logan's all too light grasp, her hands remaning upon his shoulders to take that step back just to look at him. Thankfully, the blood on him was dried enough to not mess her own clothes, but even still she would probably hugged him either way. "Imagine the stories people would tell if they even knew that you were doing such a thi-.." She pauses, palming the bottle of wine that was soon studied as she turns to walk away, pausing within her step to offer a quiet 'Thank you', the cabinents soon reached and two glasses drawn out to rest upon the table a few spaces apart.

"Thick and juicy is another word for it.." She murmurs idly, taking great care at opening the wine with a few lifts of her fingers, trying her best to contain the bottled pressure without causing a little bit of upset to the liquid in it's interior. She then pours, leaning halfway upon her desk with one knee cocked upright as she lets out a sigh. "I don't know." There wasn't a sense in lying to Logan, or any friend at all.

"I don't know how Scott or the Professor could do all of.. this." She gestures at the table, but the plate that contained the burger was soon pushed in his direction. "I already know I don't have what it takes but it helps to fake it until I do.. I'm benched.. oh.." She finally looks towards him, a slight frown. "You've.. missed a lot, Logan. And I'm starting to feel selfish because I'm all.. me, me, me." She laughs just a touch, then shakes her head. "How have -you- been.."

"People wanna tell stories about pushers gettin' what's comin' to 'em," Logan gruffly replies as he strips the undershirt away and watches her fetch glasses, "they can go right ahead, for all I care." He balls and begins to discard the garment before glancing at Jean's carpet and thinking better of it; it goes over his shoulder instead. Despite the horrific state of his outerwear, he himself is pretty blood-free; he likely found time to hose off before coming home.

He watches her run through the fairly mundane routine that ends with a decidedly less-so *pop!*, studying her body language more than the actual actions. The stress and tension are written all over her; he is hardly surprised or disappointed when she anwers.

"One of 'em usually had the other one ta pick up their slack, didn't they?" he quietly asks, brow arching. He glances towards the table, which— yep! That sure is a bunch of paperwork. "Or someone," he allows while gently squeezing her shoulder. "Ya got some other teachers an' shit workin' here; let 'em worry about some'a this crap for ya."

He approaches the table and takes the burger while offering this advice; it is punctuated by a big bite that leaves him squinting uncertainly at what's left behind for a few moments after his initial chewing.

"Anyway, I'm good," he says while nudging burger and plate back towards Jean. "Been busy, is all." A fry is taken and tossed into his mouth; it is then washed down with an entire glass of champagne. "Sorry," he adds in a quieter tone while refilling his glass.

The bottle goes down, and then both hands are on her shoulders as he tries to catch her eye. "The hell's been happenin' around here ta getcha so down on yourself?" he wonders as concern creases his brow and lowers his volume further. "Maybe I ain't been around lately, but darlin'— I know you ain't been fakin' nothin', 'cept maybe this sad sack shit right here."

"I suppose so.." Jean murmurs, looking over towards the paper work. Was it that the teachers always deflected towards her because she was a proverbial doormat, riddled with guilt in trying to make things right by bearing the weight of it all upon her shoulders? Heavy is the head that wears the crown, at least. And it's weighing down upon her to the point her neck ached, the thought alone draws a hand up to lightly rub against.

The gentle squeeze of her shoulder grants a lift and a squeeze of his hand as well, looping her fingers within to tighten the grasp once and let go. "I suppose that is the best route at this point. Make them do their own work and stop trying to control everything.." Her shoulders slump ever so slightly, her green gaze resting upon him as he takes a bite of the burger, a little smirk drawn upon her face as she gives a shake of her head, nudging the plate back into his direction with a gentle push of her telekinesis, then left there alone, uneaten.

"For some reason, you being busy doesn't give me the warm and tinglies." She says, kidnapping his choice of words with a gesture of her hand towards his attire draped across his bare shoulder. She sighs a quiet sigh, taking up her own glass to take a sip as he fills his own. Her thoughts on the blood and what /could/ have been behind the story that lies upon his shirt something that makes her think. But.. as she glances up towards him, a little sad smile draws upon her face, which soon devolves into a slight frown and a little tremble of her bottom lip.

"I don't mean to be a sad sack shit.." She says quietly, taking in a deep breath, near hesitant and.. forget it. "Every one of us is dying, Logan.. and we can't seem to get ahead of it. And I played a small part in it when they took me.. and.." Her breath catches yet again as she leans forward, her forehead pressing upon his bare shoulders as she quietly begins to cry. "..and.. and it's all our fault because we're letting it happen no matter how hard we try."

"You ain't a shit," Logan immediately asserts while gathering the redhead in against himself. His touch is still light - it often is with her - but he holds her close as the tears swell just the same. The food is forgotten, at least for now. "You ain't, Jeannie— seems to me like you been keepin' this place runnin' by yourself, for fuck if I know how long. C'mon…"

One of his hands shifts to tentatively stroke her hair. He does what he can to block out the unmistakable scent wafting off of it.

"… you're one'a toughest ladies I ever met, an' you're lettin' a bunch'a fuckin' teenagers and other assorted varieties'a asshole mess you up?" This is said with a hint of humor as he tries to buoy her spirits at least a /little/ in the face of death and self-worthlessness; given the former thing, though, that hint quickly fades as he continues, "Who's 'everyone'— who's 'they'?"

He hesitates for a moment before his voice drops to a whisper:

"An' what'm I doin' to fix it?"

He never gets around to addressing her point about his extra-curricular activities, even as it lingers over them— moreso than before, perhaps, given the last question.

"For possibly five months.." Jean sadly corrects, through her sniffling. "I've been trying this for nearly five months with and without Scott and I'm already a massive fuck up.." She didn't move away, her face remained hidden against his chest with a slight move to pull back and wipe away at her tears. It was comforting, really. To be around someone who could tell you were lying, being forced to speak your truths and just be out in the world with it. Even if he gives compliment, praise.. it all just felt right.

Her arms curl around his waist as she retains that closeness, the little quip causing a slight hint of laughter to add to the bouncing shoulders that come from her sobbing. "Oh god.." She manages to murmur, finally breaking that hold she had upon him, allowing her that tiny little distance for her to look up just a touch, fingers still wiping away at her face, reddened whites of her eyes making the green in them most prominent.

The questions.. the questions.. she couldn't get it all out in one go. But her face carried the seriousness as both of her hands lift in the means to hover near his temples, but she pulls away for half a second. "I.. I can't tell you what to do or order you.. but I can show you everything. And I can ask you to.. stay. To come home. Even if it's for a little while." She frowns a little. He knew the drill, and it was a telling after this entire info-dump he'd have one hell of a headache.

When she pulls away, Logan shifts his hand from her head and lets it linger in the space between them briefly before trying to gingerly help her with tear-removal. "You been doin' this for five months," he echoes, "an' the lights are still on, classes're in session… that ain't a coincidence, darlin'. Maybe it ain't all perfect, but what— you gonna tell me y'all had years an' years'a smooth sailin' that all happened ta' go away the second I started comin' around?" There's no assumption of blame, just an attempt to help her absolve herself of some of what she's carrying.

When she stops partway to his temples, he grips her wrists - firmly - and guides them the rest of the way while he shakes his head a little and says, "Maybe that makes sense to you, but not me. C'mon."

As her fingers hit his head, he notes, "Far as the rest: if you're askin'… I'm considerin'. But—"

This is probably right about where the pained groans and grunts of receiving a psychic upload makes it impossible to be reassuring.

LOGNOTE: '… psychic upload make it impossible to be reassuring'

Jean laughs again, her head shaking slightly. "It's a little bit more than that, Logan.." But she didn't need to say what. The grasp of her wrists towards his temple would be a sign of what's to come, and already she's pushing the information into his head, her worrying glancing fading to focus.. pure concentration..

From her view.. The arrest of Scott and Rachel.. forming of the legal team and being unable to find them.. Their abrupt return and troubles that followed soon after..

The begging and pleading for at least a small break.. leading to her own kidnapping at the hands of the Purifiers..

..fires that burn in mutant town with Jean at the helm issuing orders to kidnap and capture by lethal means innocent humans..

..a fight in the park between her and Nightcrawler, Rachel, and Emma that leaves the poor blue devil broken and near dead..

..the pictures of fire and destruction as well as screams that flash through the vision was also applied, medical rooms and those people strapped to tables, doped and fed drugs while the mind-bending illusions were played over and over and over..

The rise of the Sentinels over the JLA complex, soldiers and psyborgs moving into attack positions while members of the X-Red, and SHIELD go on the attack.

..The soldiers remain the key symbol of it all, so much so that a memory lost.. one of the favorite Mutant Town citizens actually taking up arms to murder a Purifier in the middle of the street in broad daylight…
A woman, militaristic, yelling at Jean and telling her that this was a result for all of their inaction.. 'I love you sister but you are not God'..

Jean takes a solid breath, her eyes widening, flame broiling and coating her gaze as her hands rest upon his shoulders, fingers pressing in hard as she lowers her chin to close her eyes to snuff out all sight.

Grunts and groans boil over into something baser in Logan's throat as the compilation of death rolls through his mind's eye. Dark eyes grow until they can grow no longer, twitching - along with the rest of his stocky frame - with each violent shift, each new horror. His hands become vices, stopping just shy of the point where bone and muscle would begin to falter— not because he's afraid of what his touch might do to her, so much as because he's spent longer than she's been alive learning exactly what his body is capable of and how to restrain it.


His eyes are still wide when the upload ends and he finds himself able to use words again; despite their close proximity, he is not precisely looking at, so much as through her.

"— Jean—"

Slowly - until he realizes how tight his grip was - his hands unclench. A cool shiver runs down his spine to contrast the hot knife twisting in his guts.

"— I can't— you can't—"

Shock is of course evident in his expression, but more than anything else, the thing he endeavors to keep hidden from her - her, more than any of the rest of the X-Men - twists his features as it stalks uncaring into his tone.

"I— hh— gotta—"

Words fail him again, then, subsumed into another rumbling in his throat as he twists away from her. His eyes focus on the redhead for a moment then; somewhere in them is an apology.

Probably because as soon as he breaks eye contact, he means to bolt from her office.

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