by Lady Kate

Disclaimer: The X-Men belong to Marvel and no profit is being made from this story.

Notes: This story is a sequel to queenB's "Return to Sender" available at

I don't wanna be here.

I can think of a hundred places I'd rather be. One of the local watering holes. Preferably on the rougher side of town where the whiskey tastes more like lighter-fluid than alcohol. Can always count on a bar fight breaking out in those joints, working off a little steam that way. Hell, I'd even consider giving the old healing factor a real workout with a match-up against Juggy or someone like that. It's easy to know where you stand in a fight - there's one side or the other. Simple. As in uncomplicated.

As in not like right here, where I just stand and watch Warren as he reads whatever's written on that piece of paper. So damn quiet that I can hear the traffic way down on the street below, but there ain't a bloody sound in this room. I'd knocked; he'd opened. I'd stepped in and handed him the letter, without a word, cause what was I gonna say?, and he'd taken it, opened it and read it in front of me.

He flinches. He honest-to-god flinches. But he reads it all the way through, then folds it neatly up again, opens a drawer and puts it away and closes the drawer real slow, just like it were some kind of formal business letter that you file away for later.

He looks at me then, and his voice is real calm. "Well. I guess that says it all, doesn't it?"

I ain't got a clue what's written there - I wonder if he knows that. Oh, I know what the general drift of the letter is. Betsy made that clear enough. One way or another, it says 'the end', but there's goodbye and then there's goodbye. From the way she was behaving, I was thinking it wasn't gonna be the 'let you down easy' version. I'm thinking she spilled her guts all over that page, true feelings, no matter how unpleasant. That's why she was pacing and fretting when I was damn stupid enough to stop and get myself involved in all this.

But he's not reacting the way I thought he would, and so maybe I don't know anything at all.

For a moment longer, he stares at me with those sharp eyes of his - I don't know what he's looking for - and then turns and walks away.

That's it. Mission accomplished. Free to go now, and head off to that bar I was thinking of, maybe toss down enough liquor to wash the bad taste outta my mouth.

I don't. I just keep standing there, clashing with the décor, and watching him ignore me.

Finally, he drops the 'I'm pretending you're already gone' attitude and relents enough to ask oh-so-politely, "Was there something else you wanted?"

Hell, I didn't want to come here in the first place.

"You could go after her." I don't know why I say it. Maybe because I'm feeling guilty. Although that ain't too likely. Hell, I didn't do anything so awful - just one little kiss, nothing to get worked up over. And it wasn't like she hadn't already made up her mind. Letter was already written, signed and sealed long before she handed it over to me.

More likely it's just this goddamned silence driving me round the bend and I figure I got to throw him a bone.

He doesn't say anything, just stands there by the open window, staring out at the sky, maybe thinking his bird thoughts. "Why did she send you?" he said at last. "Why you, of all people?"

I don't take offense to that. God knows, there's been bad blood between him and me since way back to the first time we met. Hasn't improved much since then. At best, we've learned to tolerate each other. I even managed to work with him that one time - that was for Betsy's sake, though. Anyway, it doesn't matter. We're just too different, so far apart that we can't seem to find any middle ground. And then there's that little bite of envy way deep down inside me, that he's got all the things I could ever want, if I were foolish enough to start wishing for things I can't have. Which I ain't. But the weird thing is, sometimes I could swear that I see the exact same thing in his eyes when he's glaring back at me.

Right now, his eyes are. very blue. Face like stone. Can't read him. Whatever he's feeling, he's got it on a damn tight leash.

"Just happened to be there."

"Just happened," he echoes, a little bite carried on the end of the words. He's good at that. That kind of edged civility. Me, I'm the barbarian. Or so he likes to think.

"Aren't you even gonna try to get her back?!" I snap at him in annoyance. "You got wings. Use 'em. Go after her!"

He just shakes his head, and my temper starts to boil over. I don't have a lot of patience for inaction. I've got called on it a number of times, but I've been this way for a long time.

It's a hard habit to break.

"Hell, if I were you-" I start to say and then figure that maybe that wasn't quite the wisest way to put it.

"What?" He pounces in the instant I realize my mistake. "You'd rush in where angels fear to tread?" For a moment his gaze is piercing, almost unsettling.

But I give as good as I get - there ain't no one around who can outstare me. Even if I am sitting on his home turf, sitting here like a duck on a firing range, and Betsy picked me to be her own personal hatchet man. "I just think that you two were good for each other," I grumble, and he finally drops his eyes and looks away from me. But I meant what I said. When it worked, it worked well between them. No matter what I did or didn't feel for Betsy, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. "The two of ya were happy."

"Were." His voice is empty.

"Course, you sitting here and moping is gonna make it all better. Brilliant plan, flyboy." There it is, again, that lecturing tone. When the hell did I go and turn into mutant counselor of the week?

"I have nothing left to give her," he says simply, and he's looking at the wall, at the ceiling, the floor. Anywhere but at me. "I gave her everything. What more is there? She's chosen. to send it back." His voice falters, and he turns his head away from me. "She didn't write that letter wanting me to come after her."

"She was awful agitated," I say, making excuses that no one's buying. "Been through a lot lately. Coulda been the stress." He gives me a funny look, measuring. "You didn't read it, did you?"

"You think I did?"

He shrugs slightly, replies evenly, "I thought she might have shown it to you."

And I know just as well as he does what he means by that. Damn, I wish I hadn't come. Coulda shoved the blasted thing under the door just as easily. "Well, she didn't," I growl, fishing in my pockets for my cigarettes. Even get so far as to put one in my mouth and pull out the lighter before I remember where I am and look back at him.

I expected him to be giving me a look that translated roughly to 'I'll fling you off the damn balcony if you light that thing up in here', but I've caught him off-guard, at a weak moment. This time there's real expression on his face. He looks away, quickly, but I catch it.

And all of a sudden I can see that he's not cold, not calm about the whole thing, but horribly, deeply wounded beyond the point of talking about it. All that rigid control, because without it, he'd just come undone at the seams. I'd worn that same look of betrayal on my own face some years back. Mariko. Even now, I still feel it. Even if it weren't the cold-blooded betrayal I originally thought it was, even if there were circumstances I didn't accept or understand, even if there were all the reasons in the world. Even though she's dead and buried and it's all water a long way under the bridge by now.

Mariko damn near cut my heart in two. You don't really ever get over that. Not really.

"Look. I know how ya feel-"

And I should've known how well that one would go over. He didn't want to hear it, jerked away from me and drew himself up all regal and tall to look down on me in that annoying way that he's perfected. "You don't know anything about me." And he's just burning hostility, suddenly itching for a fight. "Just why are you here, Logan?"

"Betts," I said, flicking the unlit cigarette around in my fingers, then amend that, "Betsy asked me to come. To give the letter to you." And then I say it all, because he knows there's more to it and he's wondering what the hell it is, and I ain't gonna walk into a fight where I'm gonna have to kick his butt just so he can blow off the steam. "She figured you and me would have a lot to talk about."

" 'Betts,' " he says coldly, "obviously never really knew me either."

I let it go. Shrug. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't, but I ain't going there. "So. What're you gonna do?"

For a moment more, he hangs onto the hostility, then lets it go, seems to deflate a little bit, ruffling his feathers like there's a chill in the air. "I don't know," he murmurs distantly, staring off into space again. "I'll think of something."

"There's always room for ya at the Mansion-"


An abrupt, decisive reply. Surprises me. "Ya quitting the X- Men then?"

He throws a faint smile my way. "It's late," he replies offhandedly, and he moves away from the window. It's the first damn step either one of us has taken in the last five minutes. "I'm sure there are a hundred places you'd rather be right now."

I smirk. Can't help it. "You blowing me off, Worthington?"

"Does it matter?"

I shrug. And I'm crazy, I'm completely-damn-stupid-ass crazy - obviously the air way up here on the 23rd floor is just a little too thin for my blood - cause I say, "I know a place where the whiskey tastes like day-old antifreeze. Was on my way over there when I got sidetracked here." And he's staring blankly at me, not getting it and obviously thinking that I've gone and had some kind of seizure, so I get all impatient and growl, "So are ya coming or aren't ya?"

Comprehension then. He stares at me in utter disbelief, like I was some potted plant that suddenly started speaking English. "I. I don't-"

"Aw, come on. Misery loves company. An' I'm pretty sure you figure I've gotta be the most miserable company available." His jaw clenches, he looks at me, trying to figure me out. "Not arguing your point," he says, unable to resist that little dig, but I can't hold it against him, since I practically gave it to him, "but I'm not that miserable."

"Says you," I retort.

He doesn't say anything for a while, just looks at me. We got a lot of silence going on this evening. Finally, there's just the barest shadow of a smile on his face as he repeats, "Day-old antifreeze.?"

"Like paint thinner," I nod. "Or turpentine. Guaranteed to wilt your feathers. Ya drown your sorrows in this stuff, they stay drowned."

"I'm going to live to regret this, aren't I?"

I chuckle then, and give him my most ferocious smile. "If yer lucky, pal." Guy like him, raised on champagne and cognac and whatever other rare and fancy liquors that all that money can buy, I expect he'll keel over after three drinks. "Bring your wallet. You're buyin'." He gives me that look, so I shrug and add, "If ya want, we can play a few rounds of pool to decide who foots the bill, but either way, I think you'd better be bringing your wallet."

He shrugs, doesn't argue the point.

This is as close as he and I are ever gonna get to making amends. And, no doubt, either tonight or tomorrow or sometime soon, one of us will go and say or do something stupid that'll set the other one off again. But, for the moment, I ain't unsympathetic. Betsy's burned us both, in her own way, and I figure he needs the drinks as much as me, so what the hell.

Can't help thinking that this is the last thing Betsy woulda expected when she sent me up here, but then, who really knew what was goin' on in her mind? For her sake, at least, I hope that she really made up her mind before that letter, cause from the look on his face, any bridges that were there before are burning now. But then, what do I know? I never could figure just what made it work between them, and I don't know what made it break, either. As to whether it's broken beyond repair, forever and ever - well, I guess that's between the two of them.

Just happened to be there, just happened to be here. I got a real knack for being in the wrong places at the wrong time. As we're leaving, it's his stillness, his utter lack of movement that catches my eye, the way he's looking back at the empty room as he slowly closes the door behind him. There's a finality to it, to the look in his eyes. He's shutting doors that aren't gonna be opened again.

Goodbye, Betsy, and good luck. Wherever ya do end up, darlin', I hope you're happy.

At least one of us ought to be.