Rusting In the Rain by Azurine
Date Completed July 8th, 2003
He doesn't take him to the medical bay--he takes him to the locker room. There's nothing they can do for him down there anyway, and Jean's too busy freaking out, and Xavier and Scott are too busy freaking out over Jean freaking out. Hank's hermited away with his computer. Bobby is gone. Storm. . .who knows what Storm does these days. And Kitty shouldn't be around for this.
It's just Peter and Logan, and the pitter-patter of dripping blood.
He dumps Logan on the floor next to the bench, takes off his boots and his belt, and puts them in his locker; they're the only things left worth saving. He fishes Logan's wallet out of his pocket, along with his lighter, and stashes them in one of the boots. The uniform is in tatters, which makes it a little easier to remove, along with the boxer shorts--bearing the X-logo, of course. It all gets tossed in the trash. Logan goes through more uniforms than all the rest of them combined.
Peter strips down to his boxer shorts and leaves his clothes in a pile. Makes a quick stop at the bin next to the showers and grabs an armload of towels, throws them on the floor of one of the shower stalls, and turns on the water. Hot.
As he carries Logan into the showers, a bullet bounces off the back of his calf and skitters across the tile.
He eases Logan down onto the wet pile of towels and lets the water run over him. He's a mess. Blood and dirt and ashes and something that might be motor oil, although Peter has no idea where the hell that came from. Hair flattened and matted, grime and gore running off his body, turning the towels a bloody shade of brown.
Logan mumbles when the water hits him, and his eyelids flutter. His hands twitch, trying to scratch at his healing flesh. Peter kneels beside him and gently moves his hands away from the healing wounds.
It must be awful. A million times worse than the itch in a broken bone as it knits, or a cut as it heals. The only saving grace is that it's over quickly. Peter rubs his hands over him, trying to distract him with sensation, replace the burn and itch beneath his skin with something more pleasant on top of it.
It must work, at least a little, because Logan goes still. Peter yanks one of the soaked towels out from beneath his legs and goes to work.
His hands used to shake when he did this, but they don't anymore.
Everyone thinks it's no big deal, barely bats an eye when he brings Logan home looking like this, but Peter will never be able to be as nonchalant as they are. Every time, he worries that this will be the time when Logan will not wake up. As he scrubs away the mess, he keeps watching Logan's chest rise and fall, because he's terrified that it will stop.
He's gentle and thorough at the same time, plucking out the bits of metal and the splinters of wood. Logan groans when Peter sticks his fingers into a small wound and digs out a bullet. He sets the slug aside. Before he is done, there are eight more on the floor of the shower.
The spray bounces off his back, and his shorts are uncomfortable and clingy, and he's starting to sweat in the steamy wetness, but his hands still move over Logan's body, checking, soothing. Peter gently rolls him up onto his side. The back of Logan's right thigh is dotted with bullets, a testament to human hatred and fear that Peter smoothes away with gentle devotion.
He finds it sickening and unreal, how undisturbed Logan is by physical trauma. It used to bother him that Logan acted like he didn't care. Then he realized it wasn't an act, and that bothered him even more.
Peter, who has suffered very few injuries in his life since his mutation manifested, is not used to dealing with serious wounds. Seeing this on a regular basis should be nearly intolerable, but he won't give it up. This is something for just the two of them, and he can't walk away from it. It's all he has.
This is all he will *ever* have, and it seems so adamantly unfair that he wonders how it's even possible. How can he want this man so much and not have him?
He has wanted Logan since the very first time he laid eyes on him, since he stood there and looked through the bars of that cage, at a man like no other he has ever met. Even then, even as he recognized what he wanted, he recognized that he would never have it.
He supposes it's easier this way, knowing there's no hope. He's never watched for signs that aren't there, never read more into Logan's actions that he should, never let himself get too carried away.
Well, almost never.
Their friendship was a pleasant surprise, but makes sense to him. They're a lot alike, the two of them, and Logan recognizes it, responds to it. Metal on the outside, metal on the inside. Both wanting what they can't have.
He's not sure if Logan knows the truth. If he does, it does not appear to bother him. Peter is careful not to cross any lines that might change that. Sometimes he can't believe how much he does have of this man, things no one else does. He has his friendship and his trust, or as much of either as Logan is willing to give anyone, anyway.
Even Jean, who shared Logan's bed, does not know Logan as well as Peter does.
Sometimes he wants him so badly he can't even bear to think about it. He can't let himself think about what it would be like to really touch him, anywhere, and for as long as he wanted.
To touch him when he isn't full of shrapnel, when he isn't unconscious.
His hands slow. He eases Logan down onto his back again, and lets the towel slither to the floor. His fingers smooth gently down Logan's outstretched arm, tracing every curve and ripple. The dip of his elbow, the bulge of the muscle in his forearm. If he presses his thumbs into the underside of Logan's wrist, he can feel the claws in there, just barely. Three sharp ridges. Spring-loaded death.
He opens Logan's fingers and flattens his hand, draws his fingers gently down his palm. Logan mumbles something and his fingers twitch, try to close. It must tickle.
Peter reluctantly lets Logan's hand curl shut. He's done. He should leave. Go get himself cleaned up.
He leaves Logan where he is, under the soothing spray of the warm water, and goes around to the other side of the partition. Strips down and showers, one ear tuned to Logan, alert for any sound that indicates movement.
When he finishes and comes back with a towel around his waist, Logan is getting to his feet. A little unsteady, but he pushes away Peter's hand when he tries to assist him, which tells Peter more than anything that Logan's just fine.
He asks anyway. "You okay?"
"Yeah." Logan leans against the wall and eyes the pile of bullets. "Wow. That all?" Peter's about to laugh at the dry humor, but then Logan reaches for the shampoo and says, "Felt like more," and he's reminded that Logan does feel pain, just like everyone else, and he doesn't feel like laughing anymore.
"I think I got them all," he tells him. He's long past feeling awkward about it, about this. He thinks sometimes that maybe Logan lets him do this because he knows what Peter really wants, and he can't give it to him.
"Feels like it," Logan tells him, scrubbing at his soapy head. One hand slows down, fingers probing. "Oops. Here's one." Tiny gray slug, a wash of blood. Logan tosses it in the direction of the others.
Peter stares at the pile of bullets and shakes his head. "Sometimes I think everyone but us has automatic weapons."
"Seems like," says Logan. He sways on his feet, still a little unsteady, as he reaches for the soap. Peter contemplates sticking around, but he's not sure he wants to be here when Logan is soapy and naked. There are limits to his self-control.
Logan's hands work the soap across his chest, lathering, and then slide down his stomach, scrubbing hard muscle and newly healed skin. White foam runs down his legs, melting into nothing as it merges with the water.
He looks so good it hurts.
Logan flips his wet hair out of his eyes and turns to face the wall. "I'll see ya tomorrow," he says, and the message is clear: show's over.
Peter follows the trail of blood and bullets back to his locker, then hurries into his clothes. He wants to be gone before Logan comes back from the showers, wants to be away from the only place where he's allowed to touch him, because it's never going to be enough. He'll always want more, and he'll never have it. It will never be enough.
There's a bullet in the dark red smear Logan left on the floor by the lockers. He picks it up and holds it in his palm. It's just a chunk of metal, but it's powerful, and dangerous. Like him, like Logan.
He turns it in his fingers. The ones fired at him bounce right off, are inconsequential when he's in metallic form.
The ones that find Logan are an entirely different story. The ones that hit Logan matter, at least to him.
He tosses it in the trash on his way out.
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