Logan sat on the bed, stretching and yawning. With the remote control in his hand, he scanned the tv for something interesting to watch, as he waited for "Francis" to finish his shower. How long does it take to scrub pizza sauce and ice cream off? he thought to himself, releasing another huge yawn. Then again, the kid was so disgusting and filthy, he began to wonder if one shower would be enough. He had purchased some Lava soap, a heavy duty shampoo to get rid of any bugs or nits the kid had along for the ride, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, and almost as an after-thought, new clothes. He placed the old ones in the dumpster, much to the dismay of the kid. But, when he calmed down, he was appreciative of the new stuff, even if they were a bit big.
Not soon after he arrived back at the motel room, Logan received an urgent cerebrogram from Xavier. He hated that. Although it was terribly convenient, it was disconcerting to have a conversation with someone who was miles away, in ones' head. He much preferred the telephone, but being a part of the group he had chosen as allies, he found it necessary to make some adjustments from time to time.
Xavier indicated he was pleased with Logan's progress. "You have done extemely well, Logan. Better than we could have expected."
Xavier side-stepped the question. "This boy, from what we were able to ascertain, has been on his own for nearly two years. For you to have gained his trust so soon, remarkable. Do you think the boy needs any medical attention?"
Logan decided just to keep it simple. He would get his answers when he returned. "No. He's got some scrapes and bruises, but he'll be fine. He has a pretty bad gash on his chin though. Jean may want to double check that. I don't think he has any broken bones."
"Wonderful. Thank God he's ok. We'll send the jet in the morning, at the rendezvous point, is that ok?"
"Have a nice night's sleep then, and we'll see you in the morning."
Logan opted for the news on the television, and decided to light a fire under the kid. He was tired, and just wanted to sleep, and he wasn't waiting all night for little Francis to get finished. He got up from the bed and crossed to the bathroom, and opened the door, only to receive a face full of steam. "Hey, kid, uh...Francis? You done? Or did you drown?" It took several moments for the steam to clear, and when it did, he saw the boy was sitting on the toilet. "Oh, sorry. Uh......hurry up, ok?" He turned to give the kid some privacy, but decided to turn off the shower before he left the room.
"My stomach hurts. I don't feel good." The kid did look a little pale, but then again, after eating nearly a half-gallon of ice cream, anyone would have an upset stomach.
"I'm sure it'll pass. You over-ate, is all." Logan looked the kid over. He looked even younger cleaned up. He smelled a bit better, although.......he felt it best to turn on the exhaust fan. He saw the bruises and abrasions much more clearly now. Poor kid, he must be a walking ache. His chin was a bit more swollen, but the gash didn't look too bad, it wouldn't leave too much of a scar. "Your side hurt? Or just your stomach?"
The kid made a face, and released a rather vulgar noise, giving Logan his answer. "I'm ok. Just gotta poop real bad."
Logan decided to make a hasty retreat. "Uh.........ok. Hurry up." He shut the door behind him, and choose to climb into bed. He removed his shirt and pulled down the blankets, and did the same for the kids bed, before climbing under the covers. It was several more minutes before Francis exited the bathroom, hair still dripping, wearing his brand new underwear. Logan glanced over at him, remembering what had taken him so long. "You gonna flush that? Or are you saving it for a later date?"
Francis blushed, and turned around, walking back into the john to flush, pulling up his baggy underwear as he did. He trotted back out, and flopped onto his bed, bouncing a bit. His hair was quite a bit lighter than Logan thought. A reddish-blond. And his face held a swarm of freckles that had been hidden by dirt and grime. He was extremely thin, frail looking, but his belly bulged, a lasting reminder of the ice cream. He had brilliant emerald green eyes, that glowed as he looked expectantly at Logan.
"Can we watch tv? What's on? I like tv. What do you watch? I like to watch football, or cartoons. Are there any cartoons on?"
Logan was astounded that the kid managed to say all that without taking a breath. "I think we should call it a night. You're gonna have a busy day tomorrow. You're gonna meet some of my friends. I think you should get some sleep."
"I'm not tired. Are you tired? What friends am I gonna meet? Are they nice? They're not mean are they? Oh, look! That's the kind of ice cream I ate. It was good............"
It was going to be a long night indeed. "Hey....uh, Francis? Yes, I am tired. I'd like to get some sleep. Why don't you climb under the covers?"
"Ok. When I go to the place where you're from, am I gonna have my own room?" He dove under his blankets, and came up talking. "Do you have your own room? How many kids are there? Are they like me? I don't have any friends."
The last sentence made Logan's stomach tighten a bit. No friends. He had been on his own for 2 years. Jesus, Logan thought. No wonder he won't shut up. He's probably been saving it all up, only to let it all pour out now.
"You'll find out in the morning, ok? Now, get to sleep." He said that last sentence a bit more strongly than he meant to, but it seemed to have the desired effect.
Francis layed his head down on his pillow, the first pillow in a long time, and suddenly became very still. Logan reached over to his side, and flipped off the light, and was about to turn off the tv as well, when he heard the boy's soft voice.
"Can I watch tv for a while?" His eyes were still glowing, reflecting the light from the tube.
Logan looked over at him. "Sure, but no more talking."
He saw a smile appear on the kids face. "Ok, good night, Mr. Logan." Francis curled up deep under the blankets, and focused his attention on the tv. Logan watched him for several minutes, and was relieved when he finally closed his eyes, and began a soft, gentle snoring.
"Yeah, good night."
Logan slowly woke up, stretching out the kinks in his muscles. He slept like a rock, and was grateful he wasn't woken up with one of his nightmares. He didn't even remember dreaming. He must have been tired. He was facing the window of the room, and saw that it was raining out. "Figures," he whispered to himself. He remained still for a few moments, when he suddenly became aware that he was not alone. He felt something behind his back. Something warm, something that moved slightly, nudging him. He lifted his head, looking over his shoulder, to see Francis curled up in a ball, burrowed into his back.
He nearly flew out of the bed. "Hey!" He shouted, feeling extremely uncomfortable. The kid stirred a bit, and his eyes fluttered open. Logan was feeling panic. "What the fuck are you doing?"
Francis rubbed his eyes, and looked up at Logan, confused. "I got cold."
Logan felt confused as well. He never expected the kid to crawl into bed with him. "Why didn't you just turn down the AC? Jesus Christ!" He saw he was beginning to scare the kid.
Francis sank down deeper into the blankets, his reply slightly muffled by the covers. "I didn't know how." He lay very still, his green eyes never blinking, staring up at the big man.
Logan was certainly sorry for blowing up like he did. The whole thing was very innocent. So the kid was cold. He did what he had to to get warm. Curl up next to a human furnace. But Logan couldn't help feeling like a pedophile. "Ok, then. Next time, just ask. Got it?" He saw the tiny head nod in the affirmative. "Good. Now, get up, it's time for breakfast." He spun around, and stomped into the bathroom.
He took a long, hot shower, and felt a bit better when he was finished. Upon reflection, if he were in the kid's place, he probably would have done the same thing. But, the whole situation still gave him the shudders, and once again, he thought about how the kid had survived the past two years. If anyone had taken advantage of him, had hurt him in any way.........
His thoughts were interupted by a tiny knock on the door. "Mr. Logan? I gotta go. I can't wait."
Logan pulled his pants on, and opened the door, nearly knocked over by the boy as he barreled in, dropping his underpants, and letting loose into the bowl. Logan didn't turn around to look, and instead, he left the room, speaking over his shoulder.
"Please wipe yourself when you're through, and don't forget to flush."
"Ok, I won't forget."
Logan pulled a clean shirt over his head, and pulled on his boots, once again listeneing to a steady stream of questions coming from the bathroom, over the flush.
"Can I have pancakes for breakfast? With sausages? I like the ones shaped like hot dogs, not the flat ones. But they're the same, aren't they? Bacon is good too. Do you like bacon? I like it crispy. I like it to crunch........"
The boy came out of the bathroom at last, adjusting his underwear. Logan tossed his new clothes at him. "Here, put these on." He watched as the boy did as he was told. The shirt and pants were both baggy, but they were a vast improvement over what he had been wearing. As the kid pulled his crisp white socks on, he opened up with a new volley of questions.
"You never said where you come from. Is it far? How are we gonna get there? Do you live there? How are these people gonna help me?........"
Francis jumped when he heard a knock at the door. He climbed onto Logan's bed, and curled up, knees to chest, and became very still. Logan watched him, seeing the terror suddenly return to the little guy's eyes. His chest tightened slightly when Francis looked up at him, his eyes shiny with a swell of tears. Another knock grabbed Logan's attention, and he turned to answer the door.