Logan watched as the boy punched at the heavy bag. He would occasionally offer advice, but all in all, the kid had the basics, he just lacked the power. The bag swayed very little. Actually, it was a mismatch. But Francis was game, and insisted on copying everything Logan did in the gym. Lifting weights, punching the bag, shadow boxing, everything. All these activities made a difference in the kid; his muscles beginning to build, and his stamina growing. He was game enough, his face crunched in concentration and effort, but his physical size held him back, and his left arm was still tender from being in a cast for so long, the last remnant from his mothers thwarted attempt to regain custody of him.
For a long while after that event, Francis suffered from night terrors, and Logan was deeply affected as well, being extra protective of the boy. However, with Xavier's help, most of Francis' little demon selves faded and eventually disappeared. The kid seemed to have a super human ability to bounce back, much to everyone's surprise. Logan, however, was still haunted by the visions placed in his mind by Xavier, the images of the boy getting beaten, the kitten, that petite body in the hospital bed, with wires and tubes sticking out from everywhere. An odd emptiness flowed over Logan when he let his guard down and allowed those images to work their way into his consciousness.
Again, he found himself fighting the images, and he focused on the boy's progress instead. "Hey, step into the punch. You're swinging like a girl now. Getting lazy?"
Francis stopped the assault on the bag, pausing to take a deep breath. "Oops, sorry." He took another deep breath, and wiped the sweat from his forehead with one glove and wiped the snot from his nose with the other glove. Logan winced. He began his punching anew, this time stepping into his punches, the thud as he hit the bag resonating throughout the empty gym, for everyone knew to avoid the gym when Logan was in there punching the shit out of everything.
It was obvious that the boy was tiring, but he had proven himself to be as tenacious as a pit bull. If left alone, he would smack away at the bag until his arms fell off, unless he was told to stop, at which time, he would utter a joyful 'OK' and stop.
Logan was a little tired, and a bit keyed up as well. He looked down at the weights at his feet, and decided to call it quits for the evening. "Hey kid? What do ya' say we call it a night and have some dinner?"
Francis continued to punch the bag. "Got a date tonight? Where are you taking Anita? Someplace special, or the bowling alley again?"
Logan grabbed his towel, and wrapped it around his neck. "What's it to you? I thought you were going to the movies tonight with Jason and Steph and her little friend?"
Francis now stopped. "Steph called to cancel again. So we're just gonna play video games tonight. Come on, tell me where you're going. Bingo? Sushi bar? Joe's Motor Lodge? Got your rubbers?"
Logan glared at the boy, who was becoming quite adept at being a pain in the ass. "I am gonna kick your ass from here to next week, you know that? For your information, Anita called and canceled too, so I was just gonna hang around, and see what trouble I can get into."
"Oooo, can I help?" Francis plopped down on the floor, and gnawed at the gloves on his hands, trying to get them off. "My hands hurt. When will my hands stop hurting? How come the bag is so hard? I wish it was a little more squishy, so my hands wouldn't hurt so much."
Logan put the free weights back into place, and as he walked past the boy, he dropped a towel over his head. "You get used to it. Gotta toughen up." He sat on a bench.
Francis removed the towel, and scrubbed at his hair. "When will I be able to kick the bag?"
"When you learn balance. The last time you tried, you ended up on your ass, remember?"
Francis sighed. "The bag was too high, remember?" There was a slight sarcastic lilt in his voice.
"How about I just lay it on the floor? Would that be low enough for you?"
Francis scowled and sneered. "That's just plain nasty."
Logan knew that the boy was beginning to realize he was small of stature. Logan also knew that he would be lucky to reach five feet tall. The boy would, when he didn't think he would be noticed, stare at Logan, and then look down at his own tiny frame, and sigh deeply. He would also ask, offhandedly, when he would get bigger, when he would get stronger. Logan was aware, having been told repeatedly by Jean, that this was just a normal part of growing up. Teen-age self-esteem issues. His first experience with this dreaded disease occurred when Francis developed his first zit, a real Lulu smack on the end of his nose, and the kid stayed in his room, under a blanket for three days until it cleared up.
The next big event which will be sure to cause teenage trauma syndrome will be the upcoming break-up with his girlfriend. Logan knew the reason Stephanie and Anita were canceling dates left and right. They were preparing to move to Atlanta, and Anita was getting back with her husband. Stephanie didn't want to break the news just yet. She was very upset about the move, but excited to be living with her dad again. And while all this would not cause Logan any emotional harm, they were all a bit concerned about how the news would affect Francis.
It was all these natural part of growing up events that caused Logan to plan an extended trip up north with the boy. Embraced by Xavier as an opportunity to further bond, and frowned upon by Maggie, the boy's grandmother, as poor planning and reckless. But it wasn't up to her, so they were going, period.
He looked over at the boy, who by now was lying on his back with the towel over his face. "Come on, let's get de-stinked and grab some food. I have something to talk to you about."
From beneath the towel, Francis moaned. "Aw, what now? Every time you say that, it's never good news." He sat up now, concern spilling over his face. "What is it? Am I in trouble? Are you in trouble?"
Logan smirked, and stood to make his way to the showers. "Nope. Not bad news this time. It's good news, if you want to go."
Francis sprung to his feet. "Go? Go where?" He trotted behind his father. "What do you mean, if I want to go? Where are we going? Are we going somewhere? Tell me where were going! Is it Disney world?" Logan suddenly stopped walking and Francis, not paying attention, trotted right into his backside. He rubbed his injured nose. "Hey! Why'd you stop?"
"Disney World? Are you kidding me? No. We are going up north for a month."
Francis jaw dropped open, and he suddenly jumped in the air. "For a whole month? Seriously? Canada? Wow! How'd you manage to get Granny to agree to that? She must be pissed!"
"Well? You want to go? I can go alone." Logan began walking away and into the locker room.
Francis bounced throught the doorway behind him. "Yes, I want to go! When do we leave? Soon? I need to get packed. I need a new winter coat, and a new pair of boots. Is it really cold up there right now? Can I bring my laptop? Oh, I'm gonna need my camera too. Are we gonna see a lot of mountains? Oooo, are we gonna take the new RV? That thing is so cool."
The sound of the boy's endless questions echoed throughout the empty gym. Some things never change.