Logan yawned tiredly as he trudged silently up the stairs, technically it was still the ninth, for about three more minutes. He had been apprehensive about returning but he gave his word, in a moment of weakness though it was, so he had come. His plans had almost been derailed on the trip over, he had had to fly - a wonderfully pleasant experience as always - see that, his brain, at midnight, jet lagged, and hungover could still pull off sarcasm...
The flight had been made even worse by the little blonde girl two rows ahead of him who sat there innocently, minding her own business, just reminding him of the reason why he didn't want to go back. Aside from the lack of bruises and broken bones, she was a spitting image of the little girl whose body he had recovered on that horrible mission. Or maybe his brain had just been fucking with him.
Either way, after landing, instead of coming straight to the mansion, he'd holed up for the day and got shit faced, because why not!? Because of hangovers, his brain reminded him, as he missed a step and everything around him swayed violently. Yep, in the last two years he had discovered hangovers, boy no wonder regular people bitched about them.
Charles had told him his usual room would be ready for him, so that's where he was heading. He slammed the door shut on arrival, harder than he had meant to, and proceeded to pass out on the bed, didn't even get a chance to kick off his boots.
The next morning, he woke, hangover gone but a sharp pain in his gut, it took him a minute to realise he was lying on his belt buckle. Finally undressing he decided to shower first, that was one thing this place was fantastic for, hot water, bucket loads of it. He stood under the hot spray for about half an hour before he was more relaxed, and probably something resembling clean.
Towelling off he stalked naked into the bedroom, and proceeded to sort through his pack. Dumping all his dirty laundry in the hamper in the bathroom to sort out later, he managed to find something that wasn't too offensive to wear. Being back at the mansion, reminded him of how much of a slob he'd gone back to living like.
He was just tugging his jeans on when the door flew open.
"Jesus Christ Jubilee, learn to knock!" he commented, partway annoyed but mostly amused when the girl in question immediately squeaked and covered her eyes after flying into the room.
"Sorry, are you decent?" she asked, she'd seen those pants going on and did not want to see what they were covering. She loved Logan to bits, but not like that...
"Hardly ever," Logan quipped, before moving on to pull on a shirt now that the jeans were sorted. He saw Jubilee peek between her fingers to check he was dressed before she threw herself across the room and hugged the daylights out of him.
"I missed you," she said, her voice muffled where her face was pressed up against his chest.
"I missed you too kid, you been behaving yourself?" he asked, ruffling her hair as he finished dressing before upending his pack on the bed.
"More or less," Jubilee replied with a shrug and grin.
"More more, or more less?" Logan chuckled in response.
"Probably more less, depends who you ask," Jubilee answered.
"That's my girl," Logan replied with a grin, handing her a little wrapped box he grabbed from the pile of junk now on his bed.
"You got me a present!?" Jubilee squealed, jumping up and down, she was tearing the paper off before he could reply. She squealed again when she pulled out the little stuffed toy kangaroo, it was wearing a bright yellow hoodie, and its pouch was stuffed with candy. "I love it!" she said, hugging him again, "You didn't tell me you were going to Australia," she added suspiciously.
"Last minute work trip," Logan replied cryptically, before ushering her out of the room. "I take it Chuck wants to see me bright and early?" he asked.
"He said you could get yourself breakfast first but then come straight to his office, he wants to introduce you to Kaden a-sap," Jubilee informed him, as they made their way to the stairs. She made a quick detour to add her present to the collection she had stockpiled from Logan, he sent her something from every country he visited, it was a lot of countries.
When they got to the cafeteria Logan chugged a couple of mugs of coffee, and devoured a plate of bacon and eggs. The cook remembered him and apologized that there was no steak, giving him extra bacon to make up for it. As soon as he finished inhaling his food, he ruffled Jubilee's hair again, just to annoy her, and headed off to find the Professor, nodding a greeting to the rest of the arriving staff as he left the room.
"Logan, it's good to have you back, how have you been?" Charles asked, greeting the man he considered a friend.
"Fine," was Logan's reply, his catch all phrase usually meaning, 'I'm not going to talk about it so leave it alone'.
"That's good to hear," Charles replied, both knowing his true meaning; 'I'm here to listen when you feel like talking'.
They chatted pleasantly for a time, catching up on what had been going on at the school, and briefly what Logan had been up to in his travels. A knock at the door about an hour later saw their conversation head back to the reason for Logan's return.
"Thank you very much Jubilee, I will let you know when we are ready for Marie, in the meantime, Kaden, come in, this is Logan... he has a mutation like yours, and is here to teach you to train your feral," Charles explained to the young boy.
Logan was momentarily distracted when the Professor's mention of the name 'Marie' brought to mind memories, of the pretty brunette girl he had come across years ago, and still not been able to forget. Shoving those thoughts aside, he refocused on the boy, watching him cautiously enter the room. After doing a quick sweep of the room the boys eyes locked on him in a calculating observation, as he moved into the room but made sure to keep at least one piece of furniture between himself and Logan at all times.
"It's alright Kaden, you're safe, it's okay to be cautious but there is nothing to be afraid of, fear will make the feral come out, you need to be confident, you're only little so I know that's hard but remember, your mommy wouldn't let you go somewhere you would get hurt, she brought you here so we could help, you have to trust us if that's going to work, and you want it to work don't you?" Logan spoke to the boy, gently but authoritatively.
Kaden's little head cocked curiously as he considered Logan's statement, before he nodded, and climbed onto the chair he had been all but hiding behind.
"That's more like it little man," Logan grinned as he watched the boy, still cautious but calmer. "My name is Logan, I'm a feral, like the Professor says you are, I understand you have a... can't remember what Chuck calls it, what do you call it, that little voice in your head that tells you what's happening around you?" he asked, trying to weasel his way past the boys defences.
Kaden shrugged, before replying quietly, "I called it a wolf, 'cause it likes to growl."
"Does it have a name?" Logan asked curiously, "Mine is called Wolverine," he added.
Kaden shook his head. "It doesn't have a name, d-does it need a name?" Ah, good, curiosity, about himself, the boy was definitely open to learning not just being afraid of his feral nature.
"I guess a name will come in time, yours is just a baby after all, mine is old, very old," Logan replied with a grin.
"How old?" Kaden asked, smiling in amusement as he calmed more.
"Well, I heal too, so I'm a lot older than most people, even though I don't look it, I'm over a hundred years old, and so is Wolverine," Logan explained.
"Wow, that is old, like a sea turtle, sea turtles get real old like that," the little boy informed him.
"Is that so, sea turtles huh, that's very interesting," Logan replied with a chuckle. "So how about you little man, can you tell me about the first time the wolf talked to you?"
"It's always been in my head but when I was little it used to just growl sometimes, then one day I was supposed to be sleeping but a policeman came to the house and was talking to mommy, so I sneaked to listen... the policeman was talking about the bad man, who hurt mommy, when I was just a little baby in mommy's tummy, the policeman said that he might come out of jail soon, and that was the first time the wolf talked, he said mommy was scared, and we had to protect mommy, so she didn't have to be scared anymore," Kaden said, this was all news to Logan, though Charles was familiar with the timeline.
"And did you protect your mommy?" Logan asked, his own feral perking up his ears in interest to hear the response.
"I- I don't know, I think so," Kaden said uncertainly, "We moved to a new house and I gave her lots of hugs, and slept in her bed sometimes so her bad dreams didn't come, she was still scared sometimes but not like before, she's not scared anymore... except of me," he finished in a whisper.
"Hey, your mom is not scared of you little man, you hear me, if your mom was scared *of* you she wouldn't have come here with you, your mommy is scared *for* you, this is a big scary change that's happening to you, she knows that, she wants you to be safe, and happy, and protected too, just like you want that for her, you remember that, okay?" Logan told the child firmly. He was pleased to note the boy smiled shyly, before admitting his mommy said the same thing.
"So, what else does the wolf tell you?" Logan prompted next. Watching curiously as the boys’ eyes darkened, a sure sign that his feral was coming to the surface. Wolverine too sat up and took notice, the child wasn't a threat but a young male feral needed to be kept in his place.
"He tells me about the smells, what they mean, and the people, when they want to hurt people, Billy's daddy likes to hurt people, that's why Billy picks on people, I didn't want to hurt Billy but when he tried to hit me the wolf came out, he said we needed to be stronger, be the strongest, so we could protect mommy, if Billy's daddy thinks we're weak he might hurt mommy..." Kaden went quiet suddenly, his brow furrowing in confusion.
"What would Billy's daddy do to hurt your mommy?" Logan asked, he knew which way his own mind was tending at a statement like that, and he didn't like it.
"I don't know," Kaden replied, brow still furrowed, "The wolf knows, but he won't say."
"You know, the wolf protects you too," Logan said softly, "Sometimes the wolf protects you by not telling you things, sometimes it protects you by telling you things you need to know but don't need to act on, but your wolf is still a baby, so it's still learning, like you are, how to tell those situations apart, that's what I'm here for, I'm here to teach you, and your wolf, how to interpret situations and act the right way. Are you and your wolf okay with that?"
Kaden smiled at him and nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I like that, my wolf is scared of you but it's not ‘scared’ scared, it's just... you're bigger, and stronger... but you won't hurt us... you're just the boss," the boy replied, his thought process clearly displayed by the changing expressions on his face.
"That's right little man, I'm the boss," Logan chuckled, throwing in a little growl and a 'you better not forget that'. The boys’ eyes widened momentarily, a flash of fear crossing his face but being chased away by awe and a giggle.
"Does your wolf growl too?" Kaden asked, still grinning.
"Sure does," Logan replied, "He likes to try and scare people sometimes, he's a bit of a jerk."
"So, how does you growl... does he- how- why doesn't he push you away when you growl?" Kaden eventually managed to get out his question.
"Well, we've been together a long time, we've learn to work together, see, if you crush the feral down too much, they get mad, and that's when they act out, if you crush them down too much you have problems, and also if the feral takes over too much you have problems too, you have to learn to both be in control and work together, that's what me and Wolverine are going to teach you," Logan explained, in a way he hoped was understandable for a six year old.
Kayden nodded. "So how do I learn that?" he asked, looking eagerly over at him.
Logan looked contemplative for a moment, he had given it some thought and he really wasn't entirely sure to be honest. "The first thing you need to do, is get to know the feral, don't try and squash him down so much in the back of your mind, let him look around a bit, get to know him, the feral has a whole different personality, different likes and dislikes, so, for your first lesson, this is going to be your task for today, I want you to find out what your wolf's favourite food is," Logan directed.
"So... not pizza? Pizza's my favourite but it might not be his... right?" Kayden asked.
"That's right, so you spend today letting your feral decide his favourite food, he might not have one yet so he might want to taste lots of different foods, and then tomorrow you tell me what his favourite food is and I'll set a new task, does that sound like a plan?" Logan asked the little boy.
"Yeah! I like that, can I go now and start?" the boy asked excitedly. Right at that moment there was a knock on the office door.
"That must be your mother, in which case, yes, you may go now," Charles agreed, Logan offering his own farewell.
"Thanks Mr Logan," Kayden said, sliding off his chair and wrapping him arms around Logan in a quick hug before he darted to the door, yanked it open, and raced out.
They could hear the boy excitedly telling his mother that 'Mr Logan' had a wolf too, and had told him to find out what his wolf's favourite food was, so now he had to go to the kitchen to find foods, lots of foods, lots of different kinds of foods. There was a strangled gagging sound following a female voice suggesting his 'wolf' might like vegetables so not to forget to try a few of those, before the boy ran off to complete his assigned task.