Biology projects are an annoyance at the best of times, but when you've got four times as much as everyone else, surely you can't be blamed for being in a bad mood, right?
It was a weekend afternoon in the Xavier Institute. The Professor was out on some business somewhere (no one really knew where, apart from the fact that Ororo had gone with him for the weekend), perhaps unwisely leaving Logan in charge of the students. Everyone was immersed in various essays, projects and the like- scattered across the mansion, making it tricky for him to make sure that they were all actually there, but since everyone was working (even Kurt, for a change), they weren't going anywhere.
Really, it was meal times that affirmed that all mutants were present and correct- well, except for one. Knowing he had more than a solid 18 hour shift ahead of him, and not wanting to be disturbed (never mind inflict his current mood on anyone else), he'd locked the door to his bedroom and shoved part of an unbent paperclip into the lock, so no one could get in until he went out. Near guaranteed privacy, apparently
"Cyclops, if you don't get your sorry behind out of that room and eat I'll get someone to force it into you!" Logan shouted through the door so the individual inside could hear him loud and clear.
"Sorry, Logan, I have an appointment with Darwin I can't postpone for anything, and that includes eating," the reply came back. Logan sighed. Why'd the kid have to be so stubborn?
"If you think a bent paperclip's going to stop me getting in there, bub, you're really mistaken. I'm coming in. Now." Unsheathing a claw, he was about to slice through the keyhole when his quarry's reply make him think slightly more logically.
"Ah, but if you do slice the lock, you'll end up having to put on a new one in its place; you'll stop me from finishing this before the early hours of the morning, meaning I won't be in the Danger Room tomorrow if you do decide to hold a session- and you can explain to the Professor why there's a large hole in the corridor wall and you're covered in plaster. You don't get anything out of it, and nor do I. Just leave me alone." Deciding it would probably be better to leave him to it, Logan made his way back downstairs, only to bump into Jean, who was carrying a pile of books up from the library. It seemed that she had every book on the Theory of Evolution that Professor X possessed. Logan looked at her confusedly, as she picked up the now strewn dusty tomes and brushed herself off.
"If you've got all those, what's Scooter using?" he asked, helping her up.
"Oh, Scott knows Darwin back to front and inside out, plus he has his own copy of 'The Origin of Species' for some reason," she explained. "Since he could answer every question our teacher fired at him, she gave him an even bigger essay than the rest of us, so he's probably paperclipped the door, knowing my luck. I'll see you at dinner." She made her way up the stairs, and into her own bedroom, as Logan went outside for a cigar, seating himself on a bench just behind the building.
Absolutely nothing was happening today. Normally, you could be sure of some action, but with their three older students looking at survival of the fittest and the like, and everyone else ensconced in various projects, he couldn't even drag them off for routine torture, or, as he put it for the team, training exercises. He supposed he had done a lot of this when he was in school, but then, he couldn't remember. Hang on; maybe he could get them doing a survival of the fittest exercise... No. Going through the wall of the first floor wasn't his idea of fun, and in his current mood he didn't put it past Scott to make good of his threat, even if it would mean him doing some illustrious punishment afterwards.
A couple of years ago, you wouldn't have put it past their bespectacled leader to do anything, really. Maybe he was less of a loose cannon now, and his temper seemed nonexistent or at least under control, but if you pushed him hard enough, he would ignite, and at that point you had to get out of the way and hope and pray he calmed down (or, at least, that was the last time before he took his motorbike off for another search, so he might have got better since then...) He did use nicotine when he needed it though, to stop himself from going on a rampage. Yes, Logan knew- he'd found him in the woods cradling a death stick last year after a spectacularly bad day. Although his own smoking habits meant he couldn't really tell him off for it at least when the kid disappeared ever so often, he knew where he was. Didn't really blame him either, but that was against the point.
In fact, on that note, he was getting traces of tar floating in the air. Someone had their grubby mitts on a cigarette, and he only knew one person who smoked, besides him, in the place. Well, if he didn't get to smoke in the mansion, nor did someone younger than him. Grinding his cigar into his hand and pocketing the rest for later, he walked back to the mansion and made his way back up the stairs to the room in question.
"Put it out, kid. If I don't get to smoke in here, neither do you." There was a sigh on the other side of the door.
"I swear, I'm being repressed. I'll put it out, if that'll make you happy, /Dad/."
"Thank you. See you at dinner."
"If you even want to see me /tomorrow/, you'd be better off leaving now." Logan took the hint, and stalked away, only to turn and hear Jean crossing the corridor to the locked door, and tapping quietly on the door, as he turned the corner and listened in.
"Scott... I'm really sorry to disturb and everything, but I don't understand something again."
"What chapter?" The answer came through exasperatedly.
"Just give me the basic theory again in language that isn't old English. Then maybe I might get the rest a bit more."
There was an annoyed sigh. "In layman's terms, to improve the gene pool, female creatures look for a prospective mate that has properties that they would want to pass on to their offspring. For instance, if you wanted someone good-humoured, you'd pick Kurt. If you wanted sporting prowess, you'd choose Duncan, as you did, and if you wanted intelligence, you'd head straight over to the Professor. Hence, undesirable genetic traits such as obstinacy, temper and environmental ones like lack of social standing eventually go out of the window, and you're left with the perfect model for the species. That OK?"
"Great. You do not know how much of a help you are, Scott, thank you so much. How are you doing?"
"Incredibly badly, but I'd do better if certain older people would stop interrupting me. Talk to you in a couple of days." As Logan left, he suddenly realised the impact of what the teenager had said. He thought Jean had chosen Duncan over him, and he'd put it straight into the theory, coming out with that conclusion. He'd used some of his personality points as negative examples, and Jean hadn't picked up on it, apparently. Jean and Scott, now, wasn't there a thought...
Meanwhile, he took the hint, and didn't bother the upstairs corridor for the rest of the afternoon, got the expected result at the evening meal (Jean got there, as did Rogue- who was in their year, but a certain other wasn't), and decided to stop Kurt from eating like a pig as he usually did to make a preposition.
"Hey, Elf, will ya teleport me somewhere after dinner?"
"Vhere?" Dammit. He was hoping for no questions or resistance, even if it was slightly muffled.
"Just a locked room on the first floor. Nothing major, no tentacles will come out at you, I just need this favour." Kurt's fork clattered onto his plate, and this sudden noise caused everyone else to look around curiously, as the blue furred mutant swallowed with a nervous gulp.
"Mein Gott, no. If that door's closed, I'm not risking my ribcage, man. You veren't here last time we tried to go in there. Cyclops in a bad mood? No vay. Count me out."
"If Scott, like, paperclips the door you, like, never go in there. It's just not, like, safe," Kitty chipped in.
"Scott values his privacy like nothing else, Logan. Last time he was in this state of mind, you weren't here, and he ended up rebuilding his door before the Professor went up there, because Kurt and Kitty tried to go in and see if he was OK. He hates Darwin, and a 20 page paper proving that he understands the theory, with examples, really isn't going to make him the balanced Cyclops we know. Although, the paperclip thing is effective- he jams it in so tight I couldn't get it out the first time he went off. Just don't go near him unless you're completely sure you have to, and you trying to force him to do things won't help."
"And when did you get so experienced, Red?" Logan asked, in spite of himself.
"Since I know him far better than you do, and have seen him in this state a few times before. He'll come out tomorrow feeling a lot better or something like that. You know when he's annoyed because he just goes off for an hour, then comes back fine, for some reason. Just don't expect him to be entirely functional... I'd better go finish up my own paper. See you later." Taking her plate, she exited the room.
"What about you, Rogue?" Kitty asked. "Haven't you, like, got the same thing as they have?"
"Nah," she replied. "I have the 5 pager like the rest of the class, but since Cyclops muttered the answers under his breath after no one else bothered and proved he's good with the whole thing, he kinda got 4 times we did, since she thought he'd get through ours too easily. That's why he's pissed. In the off variety." With that, she followed Jean out of the room.
Logan turned to the three remaining around the table and they shrugged.
Sunday morning was normally a sacred time for the Xavier Institute. It was a time you could sleep in if you wanted, and no one would make you wake up. No Danger Room (not that Logan had made them go through it at all that weekend, seeing as everyone had begged the Professor for much needed study time instead), just relaxation. Normally, you would have found the younger residents outside and active, but they were all lying in bed fast asleep, exhausted after an unnatural day of hard mental work. Well, all except one, who was bent over his desk, still scribbling, as he had been most of the night. He was also wishing he'd not listened to Logan and kept smoking his cigarette, because he'd be feeling less like sending someone flying into the wall. But then, maybe it was better he had stopped. Better than the Professor finding out (but then, thinking about it, he probably already knew- how do you keep that from a telepath?) or having to take on some wonderfully heinous Danger Room simulation. Looking through what he'd just written, he sighed and continued on his point. If Forge ever made a time travelling machine, he was going to go back and kill Darwin.
However, seven hours later, Logan decided to go up to the room and try his luck again. Surely the kid had to have finished by now. Hence, he took a deep breath, but didn't bother to knock.
"Kid, you've finished. Get yourself out of that room right now, and I won't make you do double Danger Room tomorrow." He was surprised to hear the door swing open, but wasn't amused when he went flying back into the wall, making the corridor shake, and saw Scott push his glasses back up his nose.
"I haven't finished. If you'd have given me another hour, yes, I would be done, but I'm not. You've disturbed me enough this whole damn weekend, I'm not in a good mood, you stop me from eradicating that whilst I'm writing, and you feel you can order me around when I just want to work and get it over with, plus privacy apparently isn't in your vocabulary. Great. Remind me never to try and study again." He slammed his door behind him and turned the key.
Logan dusted himself off and decided to try again, possibly the worst move he could have made.
"Look, fine, I'm sorry, whatever. Just get out of there and I won't tell the Professor about any of this." The reply he got was unexpected, especially from Scott.
"Why can't you just fuck off, for once?" Doing a double take, Logan had to think about the statement briefly.
"Did you just tell me to-?"
"Yes. I did. And I repeat," The lock clicked open quietly, "Why can't you just fuck OFF!" The door opened with a crash, a red beam swept the adult outside off his feet and into the wall once more, only much harder, and in seconds the corridor went back to quiet again, the only changes being the unconscious mutant on the floor, with a dusting of plaster covering the carpet.
How unfortunate, as the missing members of staff had just entered the main hall, and witnessed everything after the first time Logan went into the wall. Jean and Rogue had been comparing projects and had heard everything through the open door in Jean's room. They'd (perhaps wisely) decided to stay out of it. However, exchanging glances with Storm, Xavier went up there in an attempt to cool the situation down slightly.
"Scott, I believe that was entirely uncalled for," he said calmly through the door.
"It really wasn't. He's been distracting me all weekend, and if he'd waited half an hour more, he wouldn't be in his current state. Sorry, Professor, but I'm not apologising to him. Just, please, give me some time and I'll be finished, I swear."
"Yes. I do hope you haven't been doing much of that over the weekend." Charles said reprovingly. He could just about ignore Logan's bad language, but teenagers shouldn't be using that kind of vocabulary in the first place.
"No, that was my first outburst, but I'm feeling a lot better now, incidentally. I just need to do another half a page of conclusion on the blasted theory and I'll be done. Really."
"Is this the one that Rogue and Jean managed to complete in 11 hours yesterday, Scott? I would have thought you'd be able to do that easily, seeing as you know the subject matter well." You had to hate having a telepath around the house.
"No, it's the one that's taken much longer than that because I couldn't resist the insane desire to mutter the answers under my breath. If you don't mind, Professor, I'll come down in half an hour. And Logan's probably going to wake up in a minute, so you might want to get him somewhere that's not near here."
Leaving the space beside the door, he watched Logan shake his head slightly and climb to his feet, looking venomous.
Don't do anything rash. Xavier sent into his head telepathically. Come downstairs and hear what Ororo and I have found out. You can settle your differences later. Sighing, Logan followed the Professor back to meet Storm, and they had a quick hushed conversation on what to do next.
When, an hour later, their resident moody teenager returned, sounding more his normal self, everything was looking up somewhat. Although he didn't say a word to Logan, he, Jean and Rogue had a group moan about their biology teacher (they all agreed that Scott's fate was worse than theirs had been), and all resolved to do the mental equivalent of covering their mouths with duct tape during the rest of their lessons with her, whilst Kurt hung upside down and swung like a pendulum in front of the group, singing a ditty in German, whilst trying not to laugh. As he translated everyone fell about giggling, and collapsed in a heap on the couch until the dinner bell rung.
The first trial was the unfortunate fact that Scott and Logan ended up sitting opposite each other. This amounted to a 'staring match' between the two, which lasted for the 25 minutes Logan managed to sit in the room. Since you couldn't actually see the eyes of the former, and the latter had years of experience at that kind of thing, it got them nowhere, until Logan picked up his plate, knife and fork and left the room. Scott shrugged, and attacked his plate with venom, simply because he'd been too preoccupied to eat.
The next day, the blows came quickly. For a start, Scott's car keys had miraculously disappeared from their usual spot on his bedside table, they were practicing hand to hand combat in the Danger Room and he ended up against Logan, who took full satisfaction in beating the shit out of him, and when they got into school, the good mood he was trying to preserve cracked slightly, and he stayed in moody silence for the rest of the morning. The only saving grace was that he did get the Darwin project in, and managed not to snap at their Biology teacher as she tried to question drill him again. This had not been one of his best days, to say the least.
"Jean, do you mind apologising to the Professor for me? I'll be back in about an hour." As the rest of the group headed back in the general direction of the Institute, he went the other way, up to the point and the solace of a cigarette to stop himself going off the handle, as he had done the day before.
I will not do that again/, he told himself. /It would only make things worse than they already are, and mood swings are not the way to go. I should know that by now. I really should be cutting back on the cigs too, he thought, glancing down into the packet. There were only five left. Five emergency precautions. That should last him about.... Well, long enough. Shouldering his bag, he walked back to reality, and managed to get upstairs and change clothes before anyone (except Logan) noticed the smell.
But then, he only noticed because he was headed upstairs carrying a bucket of soapy water and a scrubbing brush, which he handed over as soon as he found the person he was looking for, who sighed and began to walk to the hangar. Logan smiled wolfishly. Another two months of scrubbing, and the kid would never have another mood swing. And he wouldn't need to smoke either. Feeling that this would make the world a better place, he went to tell the Professor he was confident Scott would act with some decorum from now on, and it would probably be fine to return his car keys.