Logan pulled on a pair of sweats, and flopped down on his bed. He much preferred sleeping with nothing on, but here at the school, it was suggested he at least wear something, sparing the female population any embarassment. He glanced over at the small cot that had been added to his room. It was neatly positioned in the corner of the room, piled high with pillows and extra blankets. Logan didn't want the little guy joining him again in the middle of the night. He noticed the neatly folded pajamas at the foot of the bed, with fresh underpants and socks. Francis had been given a brand new wardrobe, clothing that fit the boy a bit better. Pants, shirts, jackets, sweats. The works. He actually jumped up and down when he saw the new things. He said that he had never had brand new things before. A statement that made Logan's blood run cold.
The boy finally emerged from the bathroom, dripping wet, wrapped in a towel. He looked every inch a drowned rat, but he was wearing a smile. He trotted to his bed, and wrestled into his pajamas, not completely drying himself, much to Logan's amusement.
"You really should dry yourself before getting dressed. And you forgot to put your underpants on."
Francis froze in place. "I forgot. Sorry." He removed the bottoms, and slid on the underwear, before pulling the damp bottoms up once more.
Logan shook his head, as he leaned back against the headboard of his bed. "Calm down. I know you're excited about your new clothes, but just relax."
Francis leapt unto his bed, giving a few extra bounces before turning to Logan. "Are we gonna watch tv tonight? I think it's too early to go to bed. Are you tired? I'm not. Is this really your room? Is this all your stuff?" He stopped bouncing, and paused, actually waiting for Logan to answer.
"Uh, most of this stuff was given to me. Like your clothes. I lost most of my stuff when my truck blew up."
He noticed the boy's expression change rapidly. His eyes glazed over, and his smile faded. "Your truck blew up? How? What happened? Were you hurt?"
"A couple years ago. Had an accident, dropped my cigar, propane tank went up, boom. End of story." The kid's expression did not change. "Rogue and I ran into some trouble. But we came out of it ok." Logan saw that the kid had suddenly focused somewhere else. He recognised the look. It was a look that he saw in the mirror frequently. "What's up, kid?"
Francis answered him in an unfamiliar, monotone voice. "My house blew up."
"It did? How?"
"It just blew up. I didn't do it, I swear. I just got really sad. My mom got hurt. It just blew up."
Logan watched the kid's eyes. The shine was gone. He was staring at nothing. His words, his description of what happened made Logan's skin crawl.
"Look kid, you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. Here, let's see what's on the tube." He grabbed the remote, and quickly flipped through the stations. "Here's some cartoons. Or would you like to watch something else?" Francis looked at Logan as if he had just woke up, blinking several times, then looking at the tv.
"Cartoons! I love cartoons. My favorite is Tom and Jerry, but I like RoadRunner too. I think Bugs Bunny is funny........."
Logan was relieved to have the kid back, but his skin still tingled. He decided then and there to ask, no demand that Xavier tell him everything that was going on. He watched as the boy spoke endlessly, non-stop, sitting cross legged on his cot.
"...........but I don't like Elmer Fudd. What do you like? You probably like Yosemite Sam, right?"
"Yeah, I like Yosemite Sam." He turned off all the lights, and propped up his pillows, to settle in to watch cartoons. When he turned to look at the kid, he saw him curled up, his head on his pillow, his eyelids beginning to droop. He crossed over to the cot, and bundled the boy up, tucking him in for the night. "I'll leave the tv on for you, how's that?"
"Ok, I don't want to miss anything. You going to sleep now?" The spark was back in his green eyes.
"Naw, I'll be up for a while." He crossed back to his bed, and positioned himself to watch some tv.
He could feel the boy's eyes on him, watching him. He decided to fire up cigar, if for no other reason, than for another excuse to piss Scott off. He hated the smell.
"Does Mr. Scott like you?"
"The guy with the funny looking sun glasses."
"No. I don't think he does."
"I get on his nerves. Personality conflict. He's an asshole. I don't know. Sometimes people just don't get along."
"Does he like me?"
"They all like you."
"Do YOU like me?"
Logan took a deep drag on his cigar. "Yeah, I guess I do."
"But I get on your nerves, right?"
"Everyone gets on my nerves."
Francis fell silent. Logan assumed he had fallen asleep. He then heard a hushed, tiny voice. "I'm sorry I get on your nerves."
"Don't sweat it, kid. Like I said, everyone gets on my nerves."
Again, it was silent for a few moments. And then, "I like you too."
Logan froze. Those words chilled him. He did not know why. He felt his stomach tighten. He looked over at the boy, his eyes reflecting the light from the television. He was staring at Logan, his face warm, his smile wide and bright.
Logan had no idea what to say, what to do. He just grunted out, "Go to sleep," and watched as the kid's eyes slowly closed, and then he was asleep.
Logan studied the boy's small face. It seemed so relaxed, so calm. He looked so innocent laying there, bundled up under his blankets. He could hear the boy's breathing, soft and steady. He wondered to himself if the boy suffered from nightmares like he did. He certainly had lived a nightmare the past few years. He needed to know what had happened to his home. What did he mean when he said that he didn't do it. Didn't do what? Why did he start acting strange when he spoke about it? First thing in the morning, Old Charles was going to do some explaining.
Another thing began to eat at him. Why was he getting so involved? Why did he care what had happened to the kid? He never felt such interest before. There were plenty of students at the school who had similar stories, who had it tough. But his thoughts turned to Rogue. He found himself caring for her, worrying about her, protective of her in much the same way. For years, he merely survived, alone, getting close to no one, caring for no one, not giving a shit about anyone or anything. He lived from day to day, making his way, alone. Suddenly, he was thrust into this world, Xavier's world, a world where he now found it necessary to care, to worry, to give a shit. A world where people depended on him, and he had to learn to depend on others. A world that was foreign to him. A world that was closing in on him, threatening to swallow him, a world he found impossible to resist.
Francis sighed deeply in his sleep, and rolled over onto his back, snoring slightly, his tiny arm draped over his head. Logan found himself smiling at the sight. He turned to the television to find a Yosemite Sam cartoon on. He sighed, stubbed out his cigar, and eased himself down into his pillows to watch.