Chapter 3: How You Remind Me
It had been only two weeks since Remy, Logan and Kitty had brought Minx to the Xavier’s School for the Gifted, and the teen proved to be quite a handful. For the most part, she behaved herself and proved to be a quick study. Nevertheless, dealing with the Minx’s sudden mood swings could and did try everyone’s patience. Rogue and Remy, the southern duo, remained close to the girl acting like surrogate older siblings in an attempt to provide her with decent role models. Minx suffered their company with a restrained grace although, like most real brothers and sisters, the three did have their share of squabbles from time to time.
It was not a surprise in the least to anyone at the school that Minx and Jubilation Lee, one of Xavier’s other young orphans, hit it off immediately. Both girls were adventurous, wise-cracking, and near the same age. Minx was thrilled to find a fellow free spirit that she could relate to, and Jubilee admired Minx’s tough bravado. Within a week of Minx’s arrival, the two teens were practically joined at the hip, much to Scott Summers’ dismay. For the past three years since arriving, Jubilee had given everyone at the school their fair share of headaches with her wild antics and ridiculous schemes. And now, Scott sighed in consternation, the little firecracker had a willing accomplice to egg her along.
What none of the adults could fathom though was why Minx seemed enthralled by their resident antisocial bad boy otherwise known as Wolverine. Minx herself couldn’t say for sure what drew her to him other than that his brooding demeanor intrigued her and somehow made her feel less at odds with her own moodiness. What was he hiding behind those deceptively non-committal eyes? She knew from her own aloofness that he was more bark than bite and as a result, was one of the very few students that even attempted to strike up conversations with him. Logan remained distant, yet watchful of the little punk. He liked her fierce independence and audacity to a point. But, like Jubilee, she could be a real pain in the ass sometimes he concluded after he discovered she was secretly following him around the grounds of the school.
“How the hell did you know I was there?” Minx asked him one day as she slipped from behind a nearby car while he was working on his motorcycle in the garage.
“Kid, I may not be able to see you at times,” Logan muttered over his shoulder as he picked up a socket wrench, “but I can sure hear and smell ya from a mile away.”
“Yeah? Well, I’m not the one who doesn’t shower as often as he maybe should,” she retorted, and then ducked as the socket wrench went sailing over her head.
“That’s not what I meant, ya little brat,” Logan barked at her and continued to fiddle with a spark plug as she went to retrieve the tool he’d half-heartedly flung at her. “I meant that with my heightened senses, it’s pretty tough for anyone to get past me. Something I think you know a little about.”
Minx didn’t say anything so Logan continued as he reached for another plug. “You may be able to hide it from the others, but not from me, Minx. I can tell one of my own kind sure as if you had fur and fangs to prove it. I’ve seen the way you test the air sometimes or hear stuff no one else hears. Well, no one ‘cept me that is.”
Minx dropped the wrench onto the towel by Logan’s leg.
“So what?” She said. “So, I can see perfectly in the dark and can hear what someone whispers as if they are talking in a normal voice. It’s not that big a deal really. Yeah, my senses are better than most, but nowhere near what you have.” She shrugged and leaned up against the hood of the candy-apple red Stingray parked next to Wolverine’s bike. “And I have to really concentrate to do it too. Not like you - your instincts are totally natural.”
She ran her hand appreciatively over the hood of the Stingray. Logan glanced up to wipe the sweat from his forehead and gave the girl a warning scowl.
“Don’t even think about, Minx,” he threatened.
“What?” she innocently asked.
“You know what,” he said and returned to his work.
Minx grinned sheepishly as she came to stand by Logan, watching him for a moment in silence.
“What are you doing here?” she softly asked him.
He grunted, “What does it look like I’m doing here?”
“No,” Minx shook her head and tried again, “I mean what are you doing here? You don’t exactly fit into the Brady Bunch picture, so what gives?”
Logan didn’t say anything. He continued to tighten a lug nut.
“Sorry,” Minx blurted, “I guess it’s none of my business-“
“That’s right. It ain’t.” Logan snapped at her.
She opened her mouth, then shut it and nodded once before turning and quietly wandering away. Logan sighed deeply, wiping his hands on a greasy rag. He wasn’t ready to share his nightmares with anyone yet, much less a snot-nose kid with her own haunted past to deal with. The man had spent the last two decades trying to learn about his past. He only remembered waking up one day in the middle of the frozen Canadian wilderness, alone, half-crazed, battered and unable to even remember his own name.
Over the years, bits and pieces of memory came back to him in shocking nightmares that woke him up screaming. They were only glimpses into the horrible past showing a group of men standing over him as he lay on a table of some sort while others in strange protective gear prepared him for some gruesome experiment.
Logan didn’t know who they were or why they did what they did to him. All he did know was that those sick individuals had bonded a super strong metal called adamantium to his entire skeletal system that included a pair of retractable razor sharp claws housed in his forearms. These man-made additions, along with his mutant given power of accelerated healing, made Logan an indestructible soldier with hyper-keen senses and savage strength. Professor Xavier, seeing past Logan’s angry feral nature, welcomed the man into his home and gave him a place on his team of mutant freedom fighters. Logan had proved to be a valuable member of the X-men, nevertheless, his unknown past continued to haunt him.
Dinner was usually a relaxed affair on the weekends since the older students were allowed to go off campus to blow off some steam and hang out at the mall or the movies. As a result, Professor Xavier had assigned his team to a rotation schedule for the weekends whereby members of the X-men was responsible for dining with the younger students in the cafeteria on his or her assigned weekend while the other team members enjoyed a private, cozier meal in the school’s smaller, yet comfortable dining room.
It was Hank’s and Jean’s turn this weekend, which left Scott, Logan, Remy, Rogue, Bobby, Kitty, Ororo and Minx to dine with Professor Xavier. Jubilee, although not a full-fledged member of the X-Team, often was allowed to join them at meals, but was absent this evening. She had managed to cajole Peter Rasputin and Kurt Wagner into letting her tag along with them to the movies. As a result, only the usual suspects were seated around the dining table now, the conversation light and cheerful. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the food and camaraderie - everyone except Minx.
She sat gruffly chewing a mouthful of roast beef and scooped up a spoonful of peas, debating on whether or not to fling them at Remy Lebeaux, who was seated directly across from her at the linen-covered table. The devilish Cajun had been baiting her all day, taking pleasure in the rises he was getting out of the little chit. Rogue had argued with him to stop, but Remy was having too much fun. He set down his fork and casually looked up from his plate of food, a wide grin spreading over his handsome face.
“Well now, I don know bout y’all, but I done heard someone got her a bit of a crush on ole Logan.”
Logan’s eyes narrowed furtively at the Cajun but he refused to rise to the insinuation. Minx, on the other hand, furiously mixed the peas on her spoon into the mound of mashed potatoes on her plate. Remy had been teasing her relentlessly all day ever since he’d happened upon the young girl earlier, spying on said Logan while he chatted with Jean between classes. Minx had only stopped to eavesdrop when she’d heard her name pop up in the conversation, but Remy refused to believe her explanation.
She let out a low animal growl as she angrily stirred the green and white goo on her plate until Storm caught her eye and shook her head imperceptibly. Minx shot Remy a dirty look then scooped up some of the potato-pea mixture and munched it in moody silence.
“Oh, Remy,” Rogue playfully hit him on the arm trying to dispel the tension, “quit telling fibs now. Ah’m sure it ain’t nothing of the sort.”
“Why, Remy not lyin to you, cherie,” he grinned even more while casting an eye to the sullen girl across from him, “ever’body can see that our l’il Minx got de puppy love for de lumberjack.”
“That’s total bullshit!” Minx erupted, her cheeks glowing furiously as her fingers twitched involuntarily on the handle of her spoon in agitation.
The sterling silver spoon froze instantly and cracked in two with a harsh snick.
She jumped at the sound of her name and dropped the spoon. It hit the polished tabletop and shattered like brittle ice, the little metal shards skittering everywhere. Professor Charles Xavier shot his new ward a stony, no-nonsense look and reached into her mind.
[That will be quite enough, young lady!]
He indicated the rest of the group at the table with a nod. “You will apologize to everyone for your uncivil behavior.”
Minx glowered at Gambit across the table. It wasn’t fair. It was his fault that she’d lost her temper, yet she was the one in trouble. Some loving “brother” he was! Fine, she thought huffily. They want an apology? I’ll give them an apology! Xavier cleared his throat and gave the teen an expectant look. She smiled sweetly at the man. A little too sweetly, Logan thought. He was right.
“I apologize,” Minx began innocently enough, and then smirked, “for saying BULLSHIT. It was BULLSHIT, wasn’t it Professor?” Minx looked around at the stunned faces sitting at the table. “BULLSHIT, right?”
Gambit bit the inside of his cheek trying hard not to laugh and looked across to Bobby who was also desperately fighting back his own sniggers. Remy chanced a quick peek down the table at the Professor’s shocked expression and did let out a tiny snort of amusement. He couldn’t help it.
Storm, at the other end of the table, just sat – her mouth a perfect ‘o’ of astonishment, her wineglass halfway to her lips. Logan sighed in exasperation and continued to shovel forkfuls of food into his mouth. Why waste the moment, he figured.
Gambit leaned over to his left and whispered conspiratorially into his team leader’s ear. “Pardon-moi, Scotty, but did I happen ta mention our li’l Minx has a bit o’ a sewer mouth?”
“No,” Scott said tight-lipped, “but thanks for the update, Remy.”
“Anytime, boss,” Remy cheerfully replied, and Rogue, who was sitting on his other side, dug her elbow hard into his ribs to silence him.
Charles Xavier was not pleased. He fixed his sternest expression on the girl while the others pretended to busy themselves with their napkins and water glasses.
When Xavier spoke, it was with a controlled fury none at the table had seen him use very often. “You will remove yourself from the table, young lady, and go to your room.”
Minx hesitated a moment, and the professor’s voice exploded in her head.
Keeping her cool, Minx daintily wiped the corners of her mouth with her napkin before setting the square of linen calmly on the table. She pushed back her chair and stood up and ran her eyes slowly around the table taking in the other diners. There was dead utter silence in the room.
“Later,” she sniffed in dismissal and sauntered nonchalantly out the door of the dining hall as if the whole scene had suddenly become just too boring for her sensibilities.
The tension broke visibly once she was out of sight.
“Nice going, Remy.” Scott fixed a sour look on his neighbor who shrugged sheepishly.
“I’m sorry,” Remy chuckled, “I shouldn’t a pushed her like dat.”
“Regardless of your taunting, Gambit, Minx’s behavior was absolutely inexcusable,” Xavier firmly stated.
Logan smirked, “Yeah, but ya gotta admit, the kid’s got brass.”
Professor Xavier shook his head, a sad shadow passing over his face as his voice softened somewhat. “She must learn self-control or she may end up becoming a menace to herself and others.”
“Seems to me like we’ve had this conversation before,” Scott commented. He made a point of looking straight at Logan while he said it.
Logan’s only reply was a sneer. He dropped his napkin onto his unfinished dinner plate and abruptly rose from the table. “S’cuse me,” he snarled as he made his way for the door.
“Logan, where are ya going?” Rogue questioned.
Logan didn’t stop to answer her but strode silently out of the room, one hand already searching his shirt pocket for a cigar.
“Well, this was a pleasant meal,” Ororo muttered sarcastically under her breath.
Having wandered down to the garage to check on his bike and have a smoke to take the edge off, Logan glanced about, still restless. He eyed his sleek black and chrome Harley parked beside him and debated hopping on it and taking a ride into town to see if there was any action to be had, but decided against it. He just wasn’t feeling up to it tonight. And he definitely wasn’t in the mood to go back and join the group for dessert and TV in the rec room. No, he was a loner at heart and always would be. He preferred it that way. Easier. Less confrontation to deal with. Well, unless he felt like letting off some steam, and then a confrontation was just fine with him. Not able to come up with a plan, Logan decided to just call it a night. He stretched his neck listening to it cracking noisily and waited impatiently for the elevator.
Logan rode up to the second floor in silence. He shook his head, replaying this evening’s dinner fiasco in his mind and absently ran his hands through his wild thatch of hair. The kid certainly had one gigantic set of cajones. The elevator stopped and the door slid silently aside to let the big man out into a long, dimly lit corridor. Speaking of the brat, he noted as he was hit with the heavy bass beat of loud rock music coming from down the hall.
Logan padded down the darkened corridor passing rows of closed doors on either side of him. Something caught his eye and he stopped in front of Gambit’s room a moment, a bemused smile crossing his unshaven face. He bent to examine the door, giving it a sniff. The doorknob, keyhole and tongue plate were nothing more than irregular globs of metal welded together onto the semi-charred wood of the door and surrounding frame. If Remy was lucky, he might be able to get into his room tonight with a pick ax and some muscle, Logan smirked. He reached out to touch the misshapen mess, then gingerly drew back his hand. The metal was still hot to the touch.
He continued down the hall, the music getting louder, and stopped at his own door directly across from Minx’s. He frowned slightly as he reached for his doorknob, and sniffed the air, his face upturned, eyes closed. They quickly shot open though, and he sniffed again, a mix of suspicion and disbelief building on his face. Two large strides brought the man to the door of the girl’s room, and he inhaled once more, his face suddenly darkening in anger. Without so much as a courtesy knock, Logan flung Minx’s door wide open and stepped over the threshold into a cloud of smoke and blaring rock lyrics.
¯ This is how you remind me... of what I really am…
It’s not like you…to say sorry… was waitin’ on a different story…¯
Minx had been seated propped against the ledge of the open window, one foot absently swinging while lazily blowing cigar smoke out into the cool night air, Gambit’s Nickelback CD cranked to the max on her little boom box. The teen practically fell out of the window when the door to her room crashed open hitting the wall behind it with such force that the doorknob imbedded itself into the plaster. Logan framed the doorway, all one hundred and ninety-five pounds of him, and he looked like he could blow smoke from his own nostrils without the aid of tobacco.
Gasping in shock, the girl hastily flung the lit cheroot out the open window, cursing silently to herself as she frantically attempted to waft the blue-tinged smoke circling her head out the same opening. When that didn’t appear to work, she tried to stand up, cracked her head on the top of the sash, and quickly sat back down swearing under her breath. Minx stood up carefully this time, ducking her head to miss the wood sash and tried to compose herself while rubbing her smarting crown.
Logan watched all this in a calm sort of rage. He wasn’t sure whether to ask after her injury or to take her over his knee and add to it. He reached behind him, eyes still pinned on the girl, and pulled the doorknob from the wall with a quick yank, then roughly shoved the door closed before speaking through clenched teeth.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He stalked over to the dresser and angrily stabbed the power button on the boom box. The music abruptly cut off, leaving the two in uncomfortable silence.
“Um, well I...” she began, but Logan cut her off, his tone low and dangerous.
“That was a premium Havana you just chucked out the window.”
“Oh...premium, huh?” Minx winced. The stocky little mutant looked like he wanted to throw her out after it.
“Yeah.” Logan snapped. “Funny - I don’t remember inviting you into my room to take one. In fact, I don’t remember inviting you into my room at all!”
And I don’t remember inviting you into mine either! Minx considered retorting back, but thought better of it. She didn’t really have a good answer to his accusations. She had, for a fact, invited herself into his room without permission. It had been out of curiosity at first – she just wanted to take a peek at his inner sanctum. But then, curiosity had made way for puckish impudence when she had spotted the box of cigars on his nightstand. They were too much for the little thief to resist. She knew that a box like that could go for quite a bit on the streets. Minx didn’t smoke as a regular habit, but had been known to bum a cigarette off a stranger in a pinch. A good puff or two often calmed her nerves when she was stressed or nervous. Kind of like now she noted wryly.
“Hand ‘em over,” Logan growled at her.
“Howdja know I took the whole box?” she asked but gave a grim nod when her accuser reached up and tapped his nose.
She kept forgetting that his sense of smell was even keener than hers. And cigars were not exactly known for their delicate floral scent. Groaning inwardly at this loss of profits, she knelt down at the foot of her bed and jammed an arm underneath it, searching. She slowly pulled the cigar box out from under the bed curtain and then rose to hand it over to Logan with a reluctant sigh. He glared at her, cracking the lid on the box and taking inventory to make sure she hadn’t kept any back for herself. Satisfied that all were accounted for, Logan set the box on the dresser behind him and fixed his icy countenance on the girl.
“Nice job on gumbo’s door, by the way.” Logan leaned up against her dresser, crossing his massive arms over his chest and gave her a caustic sneer. “You plan on paying for the repairs with your lunch money or were the cigars supposed to cover the cost?”
His voice dripped sarcasm, which was not lost on the impudent teen in front of him. She scowled back now, and folded her own arms to mimic his pose, pointing her chin over his shoulder at the doorknob sized hole in the wall.
“And I suppose you never lose your temper, huh?”
That struck a nerve with Logan and in a flash he reached out and snagged her arm, dragging the girl within inches of his face until they were nose to nose. His brow furrowed, and he glared into the girl’s eyes as they widened a little in fear.
“You need to ditch the attitude, kid, before you see me lose my temper. I don’t know what the hell that was all about downstairs, and I don’t care. But, I’ve had about enough of you runnin’ your mouth.” He continued, a little less gruff. “You don’t need to prove anything here. And you don’t need to steal either,” he added as an afterthought. “No one’s gonna hurt you or take anything away from you. Got it?”
Logan let go of her arm and she backed up and sat down on the windowsill, her jaw trembling. Whether in anger or frustration, Logan wasn’t sure nor did he care at the moment. He was still riled. “You think you’re the only messed up person around here? Think you’ve had such a rotten deal in life? Hell, kid,” Logan snorted, “You should take a good look around you sometime. Least you remember having parents,” he spat under his breath.
She stared sullenly at him, unshed tears forming in her big brown eyes, but Logan continued, relentless.
“You think I was born like this?” he snarled as he raised his left arm letting the adamantium blades thrust cruelly through his flesh.
The girl flinched and looked away from them. Logan retracted the weapons and rubbed his knuckles as the broken flesh instantly healed itself. A sob caught in her throat and Logan’s face immediately softened. As he looked at the frightened girl, an odd feeling began to overwhelm him. She’s scared of me, he thought guiltily.
Her breath hitched when she finally spoke. “It’s hard,” Minx whispered.
She looked up into Wolverine’s dark, wild eyes and found something familiar in them. “It’s hard to wanna trust or care…I’m not used to all this...everyone being so…” she searched for the right words, “…no one’s ever given a damn about me since my parents died unless it was to try to get something out of me.”
She fought hard not to break down and cry like a big baby in front of the imposing man before her as she continued. “And now, all of a sudden, I have like a whole house full of people – just like me – who want to help me just because, and…and..”
The tears now spilled from her eyes as she took a long ragged breath and stared down at the patterned area rug at her feet. “And what if it all goes away again…” she barely whispered.
She looked back up at Logan, her dark brown eyes glistening with tears and began to cry in earnest. Logan watched as big tears streamed from the young teen’s eyes. Without a word, Logan gently gathered the small child up in his beefy arms and let her sob unbidden into his flannel shirt, his own heart breaking. As tough and moody as he may be, the man still had a soft spot for the ‘lost souls’ like him. He perched himself on the dresser, cradling her against his chest as she shook with sobs, her wet tears soaking the front of his shirt all the way through to the dark T-shirt he wore underneath. He reached up a hand and gently caressed her golden brown head trying to calm her down. After a few moments of silence, Minx cleared her throat and wiped her snotty nose on her sleeve as she gently pushed herself away from his shirt.
“Sorry about that,” she mumbled in embarrassment.
Logan grunted and continued to brush his rough hand over her hair. “You apparently needed to get that out.”
She snorted and smiled up at him in newfound respect. “Yeah, well, I don’t plan to make a habit of it. And, you know, I’d appreciate you not mentioning it to the others.” She quieted a moment, studying the plaid pattern of his shirt. “I don’t know if I’ll ever fully trust again...It’s just been easier to keep the walls up, you know? Don’t care and you don’t get hurt.”
Logan made a sound of agreement, and then pulled her chin up to meet his gaze. “It’s a long, hard, ugly road we walk, kid. But it’s a pretty lonely life if we don’t let a few people in to share it once in awhile.”
He patted her shoulder and stood up to leave gathering up the box of Havanas he’d left on the counter. “What you choose to do is up to you. Just be sure it’s what you really want.”
Minx nodded and wiped her nose again on her already sodden sleeve. Logan grabbed the Kleenex box off the dresser and tossed it to her in mock disgust before reaching for the door.
“Here. Use it. You’re grossing me out.”
“Screw you,” she sniffled half-heartedly.
Both smiled and shared a laugh as she blew her nose into a wad of tissue. Logan opened the door, but paused in the doorway. He turned slightly to study the young teen on the bed, his dark eyes hooded. “How old are you?” he asked.
“Um, I turned fifteen last month I think. Why?”
Logan considered his answer as he ambled out into the hallway, reaching into the hinged wooden box he held to grab out a cigar and shove it in between his teeth. “You’re too young to be developin’ a nicotine habit. Cool it with the smokes.”
Minx just rolled her eyes. He continued on to his own door across the way and then turned, fixing her with a dark smile. “Oh, and I catch you stealin’ any of my stuff again? I’ll blister your butt for ya.”
“Whatever,” Minx snorted and closed her door quickly to cut off any further sage advice the older man might have to offer.
Logan chuckled softly and shut the door to his own room, relieved to see that the girl had recovered her customary brassiness. He crossed the plush carpeted floor of his suite and tiredly flopped down onto his unmade bed. Looks like Miss Lee is gonna have a run for her money as resident smart mouth around here, that’s for sure he thought. He raised his muscular arms over his head and yawned, adjusting the pillow until it supported his neck just the way he liked. Yup, if ever a name fit someone, Minx’s was dead on…
In the morning, things were back to normal. Last night’s tirade was all but forgotten by most although the Professor did punish the girl for it. Minx had to spend 45 minutes each day after her regular classes the following week in Xavier’s office working on a theme paper entitled: “Why I need to learn to control my temper and how I will accomplish this task”.
She had just finished her little detention for the day and was walking down the dormitory hall with Jubilee when she slowed and then stopped just outside Remy’s room. Jubilee, in a hurry to finish her homework so she could challenge Bobby to a game on his X-Box, continued on to her own room without waiting for her friend.
“Remodeling?” Minx asked innocently, surveying her handiwork from the night before.
Remy had attempted to open his door with a crowbar, but the lock of the door and tongue plate of the doorframe had essentially been welded together. No amount of brute force would separate them. It had finally taken a short blast from Scott’s eyes to free the captive door.
“Laugh all you want, chere,” the handsome Cajun winked at her mischievously as he finished tacking a blanket up over the empty space where his door had been. “Cause as they say: payback’s a bitch, petite.”
“You oughtta know,” she snorted derisively while eyeing his newly improvised door.
“I wan’ my CD back too, li’l thief,” Remy added as the teen sashayed confidently down the hall to her room. “An’ it better not have no scratches on it.”
Minx gave her tormentor a rousing razzberry before shutting the door to her room. Two seconds later, Gambit heard his Nickelback CD blaring from behind Minx’s door. He grinned and shook his head.
“Dis be war, ma petite,” he chuckled after her, “And Remy not about ta get caught on de losin’ side.”