Evidence of Love

by Jordanna Morgan

Author・s Website: http://www.jordanna.net/librarie/xmen
Archive Rights: Please request the author・s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Logan, others in the background.
Setting: Post-X2, but with Jean.
Summary: Less than emotion・more than words.
Disclaimer: Marvel and Fox create the characters that sell. Not me.
Notes: This is an odd bit of contemplation. Take it as you will.

It was springtime at Xavier・s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Half-sprawled on a garden bench after a long workout in the danger room, Logan basked in the afternoon sun. He may not have appeared so to anyone passing by, but he was fully alert and aware of the presences around him. In fact, he was watching them all with some scrutiny.

Spring, he had noticed, had a goofy effect on the residents of the school.

 Rogue and Bobby walked by him once, their voices hushed because they thought he was napping. If he had been, it certainly would have been safest to avoid startling him・but he knew they kept from disturbing him because it was the nice thing to do. He left them to their assumption, the better to watch them. They were holding hands, but today Bobby was the one wearing gloves and long sleeves, so that Rogue could enjoy the fresh air and sunlight on her skin. There was love in that.

On another bench not far distant, Jean and Scott sat together in the aftermath of a late outdoor lunch, hands likewise intertwined. Scott slouched comfortably with his eyes closed tight, because his glasses lay abandoned in Jean・s lap. As Jean gazed out over the garden, thoughtful and content, Logan knew she was letting Scott see through her eyes; with her telepathy, she shared with him the color and beauty which he could only see filtered through ruby-quartz lenses. There was love there, too.

Ororo knelt in the grass still further distant, hard at work planting a new bed of daffodils. Crouching at her side, Kurt helped her, his shadow-colored skin almost cerulean in the sunlight from which he had once kept himself hidden. He made her laugh as he used the sharp point of his tail for a spade. There was even love there, if not quite the kind Rogue and Bobby or Scott and Jean shared・at least, not yet. The attraction did exist; Logan saw it plainly enough. For now, however, the affection between Ororo and Kurt was something of understanding and fondness and even sympathy. Love of a rather sweet, platonic sort, that might very easily grow to be something more one day.

Well, at least Logan had a steak dinner riding on that outcome, and he fully expected to collect that prize from Scott. Sooner or later, anyway.

In the meantime, Logan sat alone, watching and pondering love.

He had read books・though some might have doubted that・and he had watched movies. He understood that love as others knew it was something almost physically felt, a sort of tangible glowing warmth inside. And yet, he couldn・t recall that he had ever felt quite that sensation.

It wasn・t that he was incapable of love. Far from it, in fact, in his own ways. It was merely that love as he perceived it would be almost unrecognizable to others as an emotion.

Love to him was a thing of subtle instincts and impulses, at once both simple and complex. He connected to people and things on a purely primal level, from the bond of physical intimacy to caring protection toward those he accepted in his territory. Perhaps it was not the sustained happy glow that others knew, but the stirrings of his soul were all the more intense and focused for their elusiveness.

He suspected this was love as animals felt it. Perhaps that should have troubled him・but it didn・t.

The love he experienced was a thing of action, not words. He had a powerful sense of possession. Those he cared about, he claimed within his mind as his・and he protected what belonged to him. Not always in terms of defending life and limb・though by now he had certainly done his share of that・but in whatever ways he sensed were needed. Caring in his own manner for his people・ his pack.

Few people recognized his kind of love for what it was.

To feel like an animal and to think like a man was the difficult balance he struggled with nearly every waking moment. Difficult because it was so easy to also think like an animal・but hard, very hard, to ever truly feel like a man.

Sometimes, when some higher emotion stirred, and he dwelled on it more deeply than he usually cared to, he thought he could come close to feeling the bright presence of love as others felt it. Perhaps someday he would have learned enough, changed enough, to find and grasp and feel that solid emotion. To feel it as tangibly as he felt anger or pain.

But would he then be any more of a man?

A lot of men talked about love. Very few acted on it as steadily and silently as Logan.

There it was, even if no one else understood why he prowled the halls with watchful eyes, or sat wakeful by windows and gazed out at the darkness of night. Watching over the pack he had claimed as his own・an act of love in his own elemental terms.

For now it was best, perhaps, to feel as an animal felt. He had long been a solitary creature; familiarity with others was still, and might always be・ unfamiliar. The less he dared to embrace his fragile humanity, the less chance he had of being hurt.

Yet somehow, he felt sure that wasn・t going to happen. Not here. Not from those who were his.

And if, one of these days, someone・s smile or act of kindness should breathe on the embers within・

Well, he wasn・t running anymore.