It's Scott and Jean's anniversary, but as
Psylocke discovers, not everyone is celebrating.
Before my morning coffee the headache was indeterminable. I was so used to exerting my psychic energy to shielding my mind from my own ability to hear other peoples' thoughts that sometimes I continued to try to employ that power, even though it has been taken from me. That effort, on top of a morning that began before I wanted it to, and no coffee yet, was reverberating bloody thunder inside my skull. Releasing that futile effort to shield my mind against a nonexistent adversary only helped a little. Coffee and half a dozen aspirins did a little more. But a pounding still persisted.
After my second cup I realized that the pounding wasn't in my head. It was coming from the Danger Room. So naturally I went to check it out. There wasn't anybody around so I started to wonder if maybe I'd slept through a training session. I glanced at the calendar. Nope. No group training sessions scheduled today-it's Scott and Jean's anniversary. They must have gone out celebrating. Everybody else must've gone with them.
But when I looked down from the observation room window I saw someone exercising-scratch that-I saw someone nearing a berserker rage. I didn't need my telepathic ability to tell me something was wrong and that Wolverine was seriously ticked. But I knew better than to jump between him and his target, so I watched him for a while, waiting for him to calm down-again scratch that-this is Wolvie, he wouldn't calm down anytime soon. I waited for the rage to subside. But as I watched him, his rage only grew more intense. It was incredible to watch him slash through anything and everything that came near him. He was no longer mentally present, his consciousness in complete submission to the rage as his inner beast roared and attacked faster and faster. There was no strategy. He just killed every obstacle in the room. The Danger Room's program had difficulty keeping up with him. I'd seen him go berzerk several times, but I'd never had the opportunity to study him so intensely before. He never was the type to talk about it either. As the images came before him, sent their attacks against him, he didn't even bother trying to defend himself, not that they were left standing long enough to matter. The wounds that they did manage to inflict didn't even seem to increase his anger anymore. He was at a point where increase was no longer possible. Despite all of this, he never faltered, not once. I was reminded of just how dangerous he is, and I gained a new respect for my teammate and his constant inner struggle.
He'd had all the controls set to the maximum capacity. I slowly began to decrease the intensity level of his exercises. The exercises slowed, but he didn't. So I kept decreasing them slowly until his rage began to release him. The pause between attacks against him finally distracted Wolverine, and he looked up to the observation room window.
I could tell by his stance and visibly laboured breathing that he'd been at this a while, and it had to have been a long while if he was this taxed by his efforts. I wondered just how long he could sustain a rage like that. They didn't happen often enough, nor were they brought on by such trivial matters as would justify their frequency; so my next question was: what happened? I thought about asking over the intercom, but decided against it. Wolverine's rage may have passed, but he was still angry, and an angry Wolverine is not someone I wanted to annoy. I knew from experience that trying to "handle" him would be worse than useless. He would be aware of the effort and would not appreciate it, which would just make him angrier.if I were lucky. It would behoove me to simply be considerate of him and his feelings. If I were that mad I wouldn't be in the mood to talk over an intercom. He knew me well enough to recognize my sincerity and not skewer me with his claws.I hoped.
Fear doesn't come easily to me, and certainly not in reference to Logan. Logan is a friend. But I had to fight the urge to take my time walking down to speak with him in person. The only thing that kept me moving at a brisk pace was the thought of insulting Logan.
He met me at the door. I looked him in the eyes. They were haggard and bloodshot. "Do you feel better, Logan?"
"Nothin' that concerns you Psylocke."
"It wasn't a security threat or you'd be slashing bad guys instead of Danger Room images. So someone must've upset you personally. But there's no one here. They've all gone out to celebrate-oh. I'm sorry Logan." What could Jean have possibly done to him? The last time I saw him this upset over her was the day of Scott and Jean's wedding. "Is there something I can do?"
"No. Not unless you can change the way things are. Jus' lemme blow some steam." He turned to resume his exercises.
"Maybe you should blow some steam somewhere else and give the Danger Room time to recover." We both looked back. Smoke was rising from various machines and the whole place smelled like an over heated car engine.
He turned again with a half a growl and stalked off. He was hurting and I knew it. And there was nothing I could do about it. Unless I could change the way things are. . . .
* * *
Around lunch time Beast came bounding out of his lab for "some much needed nourishment." He said, "It appears someone has set off a bomb in the Danger Room. Are you aware of the circumstances which put our Danger Room in its current state? I thought everyone had gone out with Scott and Jean."
"Not everyone. Logan, uh, wasn't feeling well today."
"Ah yes, our beloved Canadian does have a destructive temper. Well I do not believe that any damage done is unreversible. I shall see to it this afternoon." With that he stuffed a Twinkie in his mouth.
"Hank, did anything happen this morning? Before Jean left? Or perhaps last night?"
He swallowed the last of his Twinkie and furrowed his blue brow. "I believe I know of the incidents to which you make reference, Betsy. Though your telepathy is no longer with you, it seems you have assimilated its perception. Yes, Jean and Logan were talking last night in the kitchen while everyone else was watching Late Nite with Conan O'Brien. I saw them when I came in for popcorn."
"Is that all?"
"It seemed to be quite a pleasant and friendly conversation. Jean was rather exuberant and expressed no loss of affection for Logan. I do believe I saw her plaiting small blue flowers from the table arrangement into his trademark hairstyle. That is until Scott announced that he was going to bed. Jean was prompt to accompany him. It was then that Logan departed for Harry's, quite suddenly. He returned this morning just as Scott and Jean and the rest of the team were leaving. That was when I retreated to the solace of my lab."
"Thank you Hank." I had my suspicions about what had set Wolvie off, but I don't think I'd ever missed my telepathy as much as I did then. Judging by the way Hank's glasses slid down his furry blue nose and the frown that creased his normally joyfully contented face, I think he knew it too.
* * *
The mansion's silence was invaded by the chatter and laughter of the returning party. I heard them enter from where I was waiting in the Rec Room. I met them in the hallway. My countenance made a striking contrast to their collective one. I heard Jubilee calling, "Wolvie! Wolvie where are you?" And I cringed for her.
As everyone began to disperse I walked up to Jean. "I need to talk to you." She blinked her eyes and immediately scanned the forefront of my mind as well as the mansion grounds simultaneously. But I wanted her to have the benefit of my words, not my thoughts, so I blocked her out of my mind definitively. After having gained the added power of my telepathy she could have forced her way in, but what I didn't have in that power I made up for in temper and mood. In my anger I repelled her from my mind rather roughly, the equivalent perhaps of shoving her and knocking her down, which at that moment I had an intense desire to do; perhaps my friend Logan was rubbing off on me. Such treatment wasn't something Jean was used to. It seemed to set her off balance in more ways than one, conflicting with the joy that this very day represented for her. But doing it mentally prevented a scene. I turned on my heel and walked back to my room. I knew she would follow.
By the time Jean came through the door I was seated smugly at my desk. "What's this all about Betsy?" Her cool was on the verge of cracking. I didn't answer. It was spiteful, but oh well. "This isn't funny, and I don't appreciate it." Her brows wrinkled.
"You're right, it's not funny, and Logan doesn't appreciate it either." I said darkly. She seemed about to speak, but closed her mouth tightly instead.
A moment passed in silence before she turned to close the door behind her. "I can't help his feelings for me. I'm sorry that his unrequited love throws him into a nasty mood, but there's nothing I can do about it."
"You can't change his feelings Jean, but you can stop teasing him," and then more softly I said, "like you were doing last night."
"I have to stop being his friend? Leave when he sits down at the table with me? We're teammates; I can't do that. It's ridiculous."
"No one expects you to ignore his existence. But you're married to Scott, Jean. By now you should know that you can't stay up late at night smiling and batting your eyelashes at him, then toss him aside when your husband shows up, leaving him to suffer alone through whatever passions you've stirred up in him. You can't keep flirting with Logan, kindling that flame of hope that he still has a chance with you. He'd never act against your will, but you give an ambiguous representation of what it is you really want. Your flirting with him may be a joke to you, but it isn't a joke to him. He hasn't given up on you because you haven't proven that he needs to do so. You're toying with the man's emotions, and not just any man, but a man whose emotions have volatile power, a man who has the ability to take whatever he wants. He holds back because of that ring on your finger, but if you continue to ignore it, he might one day too. You're playing with forces you can't control, and someone else's gonna get hurt. Logan already is."
She dropped down onto the edge of the bed, not saying anything. I thought she was starting to understand the grave consequences of her little flirtations. I hoped so, for Logan's sake.
"How do you know?" She asked purposely not attempting to read my thoughts.
"The same way we always know when Logan is upset. Hank is repairing the Danger Room. Didn't you notice how upset he was before you left this morning?"
She didn't answer. From her it meant, "no."
I softened my voice again. "It's your anniversary. No one blames you for being happy about it, happy enough to be distracted. Just keep in mind that you have what you want. Logan doesn't. You can't have Logan to flirt with and Scott to love. Give him the room to move on. After all these years you owe him that." I moved to leave but Jean stopped me with a question.
"Where is he?"
I turned my head to look at her. "I don't know. No one but Wolvie knows where he goes when he gets upset."
"He was very upset when he left." It was a statement not a question.
I nodded. "He's Wolverine. He'll be all right.now." That last word dripped with if.
The door cracked open and a visored face poked in. "Everything all right Jean?" Scott asked.
She jumped to her feet. "Yes."
I finished for her. "Everything will be fine now."