It was early June, the last week of the school year. The students of Xavier's Institute were all off for a mandatory one-week survival camp before the summer break, much to the chagrin of most of the students.
Logan and Marie stood off to one side of the group as they all disembarked the bus that had brought them to a remote, isolated, wild, and overgrown campground. They were among the small handful of students who were actually excited about the week long excursion. Logan because he loved being outdoors and getting away from stuffy classrooms and tests, Marie because she had never been camping before and was excited to try it out.
As Victor, and two other teachers, attempted to corral the rowdy group of teens, Logan and Marie rolled their eyes at the multitude of complaints about no Wi-Fi, absent cell phone signals, bugs, and just nature in general. Each student was given a GPS tracker on a lanyard, to wear at all times – "So we can find your sorry carcass before the bears if you're dumb enough to wander off, or fall in a river," Victor advised, resulting in shocked and terrified exclamations about 'Bears!?', though Logan assured Marie, with a grin, the bears were well fed and easily shooed off.
A quick explanation was given about how the camp was being run. The students were being split into pairs and dropped off to camping spots, where they had to essentially survive on what they could find in the woods, building off previous survival classes at the school. They would get a tent, and two days emergency rations, but they were expected to build a weatherproof shelter, and find their own food and water.
Victor split the pairs, according to his own estimation of those whose strengths and weaknesses compensated, which triggered complaints from students who wouldn't get to spend the week with their 'best friend' or girlfriends, clearly, they had been expecting to pick their own partners. There was an uneven number of the sexes, so one pair had to be a mixed boy/girl pair.
"How come Logan gets to camp with his girlfriend?!" one of the snobby kids complained immediately.
"Three reasons, first reason, Logan has a lot of experience camping, Marie has none, second reason, Marie's safety is paramount, if she is in any danger whatsoever and a teacher isn't nearby, which will be most of the time, she needs someone with her capable of defending her, Logan can do that, unless you want to explain to her parents some human instigated harm befalling her, third reason, Professor Xavier approved the pairs, you have a problem with it you take it up with him, see how far you get with suggesting his niece's wellbeing should be entrusted to one of you brats," Victor replied, before directing everyone to collect their bags. Several of the girls had to dump and repack their bags due to an excess of luggage, and one boy was caught with a pack mostly full of snack foods, which were immediately confiscated.
The hike began, a large loop, with a pair of students being left about every six hundred feet. The teachers would be spending the week in a cabin near the carpark, at the apex of the loop, and would make one pass of the loop each to check on the students each day, so three checks per day from teachers. Due to Logan being the most experienced of the students at bush craft, he and Marie were left the furthest from the teachers’ camp, deep in the wood, in a small clearing.
As soon as the remainder of the group had departed Marie turned to Logan. "I defer to your wisdom, oh great bush master, what do we do first?"
Logan shook his head with a grin as he rolled his eyes, he made no move to begin setup, instead simply asked, "What do you think? What do we need first?"
"Well, somewhere to sleep and something to drink, are the first two things to come to mind, it doesn't look like it's going to rain any time soon so as long as we get shelter before dark we should be okay, technically you can go without water for days, longer if you drink your urine, so... shelter first?" Marie shrugged; she hadn't taken part in any previous survival classes so she really was flying blind here.
Logan nodded. "Shelter first, we do have water bottles so they’ll last us today but we need to find a water source before dark, knowing dad, there's probably no spring or stream anywhere near this camp which means we might have to get creative to find water, but let's start with a shelter..."
For four hours they worked, picking their shelter site, clearing a platform, choosing building materials, and construction. Their shelter had soft fern 'beds', which their sleeping bags were laid on top of, as well as a an overhang over the front of the shelter to stop rain blowing in. Then, Logan dug a shallow drain around the shelter, so that if it rained surface water would be diverted away. While Marie gathered a substantial pile of firewood, and helped Logan build a firepit.
By the time of their first check-up that evening, the shelter was finished, a temporary water collection device had been rigged up but Logan had also managed to find a small underground spring, and they had dug a small well which was settling overnight. They even had dinner cooking, a mixture of roots, shoots, fungi, and a small pheasant Logan had accidentally stumbled across. He had also showed Marie how to set snares, in the hope they would have rabbit for a meal the next day.
"As usual Logan, you've outdone everyone!" The attending teacher - the big, blue, furry, Hank McCoy - commented on entering their camp. "I'm impressed and just a little jealous, it almost looks better than the main cabin, and your dinner smells fantastic, I'm surprised you haven't attracted dinner guests with the smell. Enjoy your evening!" he added, after having checked the interior of their shelter, leaving them alone in the gathering dusk.
The next morning Logan took her to check their snares first thing, explaining that if they had caught anything, they wanted to kill it quickly, if it wasn't already dead, so it didn't suffer unduly. They caught three rabbits in total, two were already dead, having got caught by their necks in the snares, the third was stuck by a leg. Much to Marie's horror, Logan made her kill it, placing her hands and assisting her with technique to snap its neck quickly and cleanly.
When they got back to the camp Marie was watching the rabbit glumly. "It's food Marie, it had to be done," Logan said, as he sat down by the remnants of their fire from the night before, and began to build it back up.
"I know," Marie replied, "But it was a cute little bunny," she sulked.
"That 'cute little bunny' wouldn't have hesitated to bite you if it got the chance, should I let it take a bite out of you next time so you don't feel so bad about killing it?" Logan asked teasingly. Marie just stuck her tongue out at him childishly. "Lesson number two for this morning, how to field dress a rabbit," Logan continued, once the fire was crackling away merrily again.
He pulled out two pocket knives, handing one to Marie, along with the rabbit she had killed, and showed her how to quickly skin it, gut it - setting aside the offal that was also edible - and prepare it for cooking. Once the fattest rabbit was hanging over the fire cooking, Logan quickly skinned the third, before bagging and hanging the two raw rabbits in a nearby tree. Then they went in search of accompaniments for their rabbit breakfast.
Marie found a nest of quail eggs but Logan warned her they had best be left - this late in the season they likely had nearly ready to hatch chicks in them, or had been abandoned due to being rotten. They found some early wild strawberries, various herbs, and greens. Breakfast was odd, tasty, but odd.
"This would be perfect with bacon," Marie declared, as she licked the last of the rabbit juice from her fingers, "But that was yum, sorry little bunny but I will definitely be eating more of your friends."
"You can't survive on just rabbit though," Logan added, explaining that rabbit meat didn't have enough fat and people would get quite sick, and could even eventually die, if their only source of meat was rabbit. "I saw some run off while we were out this morning, that should mean there's a larger stream or creek nearby, I'm going to see if we can find it and do a spot of fishing, you want to come?" he asked her, as they washed their dishes and packed everything away.
Marie readily agreed and they stamped out the fire, and left a note hung on the door post of their shelter, a brief 'gone fishing back by dinner', before they set off. The creek ended up being just over a mile from their camp, and it did have fish. Logan showed Marie a couple of ways to catch them, building a fish trap for them to swim into themselves, and how to build a basic fishing rod, with a handmade hook, and a using a fern frond as a lure.
Lunch was fish and roasted roots, had on the creek side, before they strung the rest of the cleaned fish they had caught to carry back to camp. They ended up releasing the fish in the trap, as they had caught enough with the rod to feed themselves for a couple of days.
They walked back into their camp just before sunset.
"What the fuck!" Logan commented abruptly, on stepping into their clearing. Marie gasped in surprise when she saw that their shelter had been completely destroyed.
"Thank god you weren't here when whatever the hell did this came through, I was worried a bear got you both, your dad's already on his way, he'll no doubt want to track down the animal before it decides to come back," the teacher, who had been pacing in the clearing when they had entered, said.
"This wasn't a bear, this was a human," Logan replied, inspecting the damage to the shelter, "This was done with a hatchet, also, they've stolen our rabbit's, which were tied up in that tree, well out of reach of a bear, and filled in our well. God damnit!" he shouted, kicking the pile of glorified firewood that had been their housing, grunting in pain when he did but walking it off as if he hadn't just broken his foot.
"Can you tell who did it?" Marie asked, as she inspected the mound of damp dirt that had been their well.
"Bobby, and that new kid, guy with the red eyes," Logan replied, digging through the shelter debris to find their stuff. He had just pulled out two shredded sleeping bags as Victor stepped into the clearing.
"I think you're jumping to conclusions Logan..." the teacher began soothingly.
"A bear doesn't shred sleeping bags for no reason!" Logan stated, continuing as he pulled out the rest of their belongings, "It also doesn't open zips to steal freeze dried emergency rations, or steal tools, specifically the hatchet that was used to destroy the shelter."
"You two okay?" Victor asked, as he too began to survey the damage. No wonder the guy doing the evening check had freaked out when he had gotten to the pairs camp site, it was an absolute mess, it really did look like a bear had gone through and trashed the place.
"We've been at the creek all day," Marie replied, holding up the string of fish Logan had thrown to her when he saw the shelter. "We didn't know about this until just now. What do we now? We've got no shelter and no sleeping bags and it's almost dark, I am not wimping out and going to the cabin!" Marie declared, "I didn't bust my ass to help build that thing just to give up now."
Logan nodded in agreement. "We can use the tent for shelter tonight, and rebuild tomorrow. Are there extra sleeping bags?" he asked the adults in attendance.
"Yeah, I'll have Hank bring a couple up, he's checking off the rest of the camps while we sort this," Victor replied, pulling out a walkie talkie the teachers were using to communicate.
"Got another tent as well?" Logan asked glumly, glaring at the bundle of splintered fiberglass poles he had just tipped out of the tent bag.
When the spare tent and sleeping bags had been requested, Victor continued his inspection of the shelter rubble.
"Hungry?" Logan asked Marie when he came back over to collect the fish off her, eyeing the soaked firepit, and ice glazed pile of firewood that had been sitting at the ready.
"Nope," Marie replied, handing the fish over before taking a seat on a fallen log to watch as Logan tied the fish up in the tree where the rabbits had been that morning. After a moment she got up and began preparing a spot on the opposite side of the clearing for the tent to be set up, while Logan went to check on and reset their snares. He came back a short time later, and dumped the destroyed traps on the old fire pit, before sitting down with a growl to make new ones.
By the time Hank arrived with the spare tent and sleeping bags, the tent site was prepared, and a fresh pile of ferns was at the ready to make new beds. In silence Logan and Marie put up the tent, while the teachers discussed among themselves what to do about the situation. It was plainly obvious, once you looked closer, that the damage was indeed human inflicted. Victor agreed on the identity of the culprits, by scent, and it was decided the teachers would pay a visit to the nearby campers.
Once they were certain Logan and Marie were set for the night, they headed off into the darkness.
In the early hours of the morning Logan woke when he heard Marie shift in her sleep, it wasn't long until she woke too.
"You alright?" he asked, as she shifted around seeming uncomfortable.
"The tent sucks, the shelter was warmer, I'm cold," she admitted. Logan had to agree, it was quite a bit chillier than it had been the previous night.
"Get up," Logan announced suddenly, pulling himself out of his own sleeping bag. Marie glanced at him curiously before climbing out of her bag.
"So, now that I'm even colder, what are we doing?" Marie asked, hugging herself tightly. Without a word Logan dragged her 'bed' right up next to his, overlapping the fronds, before he unzipped both sleeping bags and zipped them up together, making one giant sleeping bag.
"Jump in," he directed.
"No, no-no-no," Marie replied, eyes widening as she realised what he was suggesting, "I don't want to hurt you," she clarified, as she took a wary step back.
"We are both dressed head to toe, I'll even put gloves on too how about that, nothing will happen, except our combined body heat will keep you warm," Logan reassured her, tugging on a pair of gloves he had tucked onto his pack on a whim, before he climbed into the sleeping bag. Eventually the cold forced Marie to climb in too. "Relax," Logan commented, as he pulled her closer. She lay stiff as a board beside him to start with but slowly she relaxed, eventually cuddling up closer to him as she fell asleep.
With a grin Logan shifted, closer to her, he honestly had only suggested it to keep her warm. But damn was that a good idea, he decided, as he buried his nose on her hair and joined her in sleep.