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paradigm shift

Paradigm Shift
by Molly
January 2001

***

Scott was down the hall when he first slept with Jean.

Down the hall, probably sleeping in his own room, and maybe she was thinking about that afterwards when she eased out of his arms and sat up, a flush of exertion covering her face and creeping down the slope of her breast. But she looked at Logan and it was only maybe, because he couldn't really tell what she was thinking. He could tell she had dark eyes and swollen lips and marks on her neck and shoulders, marks he had made that looked out of place on her flawless skin.

He was willing to bet Scott had never caused her so much as a blemish.

She tucked hair behind her ear, hair that managed to catch light even from darkness and gloom. "I don't love you," she said.

He just looked at her. "Yeah."

"You don't love me," she added. She bit her lip; he wondered if she were actually asking. He didn't answer, as it didn't seem necessary either way. "Should we just go to sleep?"

"Yeah," he repeated, and she fit well in the crook of his arm. A little bony, all things bared, but he ignored that. He could ignore things, for Jean.

***

Rogue knew exactly when it happened.

Or rather, not exactly, but by the next morning she was right in the thick of it all. She got up early as always to go for a run, and when she left her room and paused to close the door softly, there was Jean, doing the same thing two doors down.

And the only problem was that Jean didn't live two doors down. Jean lived all the way down the hall, with everyone else who'd been at the mansion the longest. Logan lived two doors down, and Rogue raised an eyebrow at Jean and went for her run.

Five years of habit didn't necessarily disappear along with five years of reality, even if she did add two miles that day.

***

His eyes were closed and the students could never tell, and so the impact was doubled. Scott, staring at Jean, poor Scott lost in regrets and failed love. Scott, eyes closed behind isolationist red quartz, poor Scott just unable to open up and see.

He got hurt on a mission; Logan was the one who dragged him, half-conscious, to the jet. Logan looked at Jean and Jean looked at Scott, and they both stumbled as Storm took off, but then she was in action. "What happened?" she demanded, trying to staunch the flow of blood from Scott's shoulder.

"That slimy green fuck jammed him with some pole." Logan jerked his head in Rogue's direction. "Help her. I'm gonna make sure Ororo's okay."

And Scott watched, through hazy vision and red tint, as Jean cursed under her breath and kept working. She never used to curse, he thought. God, how things could change.

***

Jean was tired, so tired, but Scott was finally stable and resting. The professor said he'd keep watch, and when she stepped out of the lift she went straight to Logan's room. "He's fine," she whispered, and the words sounded empty to her ears. "He'll have a scar, that's all."

Logan just nodded, standing shirtless by the closet. She didn't know what she was doing there. But then he put his hands on her and she was crying, and she clawed his back and felt the wounds heal beneath her bloody fingertips. Too easy, in a sense, and just barely easy enough.

She slipped out sometime before dawn, and Logan was calmly silent, watching her. Sometimes she hated his mute complacency; sometimes she hated how they used each other.

Sometimes she vowed never again. But she always came back.

***

He packed to leave three times in one week, and finally just kept a bag ready, jammed in the corner of his closet.

Jean's eyes haunted his memory. Dull and resigned, sparking to life so rarely now. And other eyes-- Xavier, carefully knowledgeable, always taking account; Rogue, young and watchful, learning so much, so fast, and fresh out of school at that. Everyone watching, waiting, and then there was Scott, too proud to let it pass that Logan had been the one to save his life.

He spent long afternoons training Rogue, and long evenings trying to tell Jean no in his head. And the nights were always short: brief flashes of requisite heat and lust and then she always slipped away. That first moment of feeling her move apart was starting to be better than any sex he'd ever had.

He was never going to be able to tell her. He knew it.

***

He was yelling at her, barking orders and criticisms that were too harsh and brought tears of frustrated fury to her eyes. Her muscles ached, her mouth was sourly dry, and still he insisted they couldn't stop. Something was wrong, she knew, and had been for awhile.

She lifted a foot, twisted her leg in its socket and slammed her heel firmly into Logan's stomach. He gasped, and already she was pivoting, letting her tense forearm crack against the side of his face. With a loud curse, he started to throw a punch, strength checked to protect her, but she ducked and caught him across the back, and when he hunched in pain, she drove a knee up into his stomach.

And he growled and swung, simply getting her away, but the strike of his arm flung her off her feet and she hit the mats hard. Getting to her feet, she winced at various bruises and caught her breath. "We're done," she said firmly. "I'm going to dinner. Three tomorrow?"

He straightened silently, slowly, and she hated looking into his eyes lately.They flicked across her face, which she knew must be red and drenched with sweat, and he finally nodded. "Don't be late. We have to work on a lot."

She sighed and shook her head. "Great. Thanks," she said, and she wondered on her way to the shower if anyone missed the old Logan like she did. Because God, how she did.

***

Scott stared straight ahead as he shrugged out of his shirt, and he didn't so much as blink when Jean's fingers gently probed the knotted mass of tissue on his shoulder. "Does that hurt?"

"No."

She made him move his left arm every which way, and her fingers were so warm and soft he thought he might just stop breathing. He wondered, if he did, how long those hands would work on him, trying to bring him back, before giving up; he wondered if she would rest one across his chest like she used to as they fell asleep together. He wondered if she would cry.

She nodded and stepped back. "Looks good. I'll tell Professor Xavier you're good to go."

"Good... Thanks." He reached for his shirt and held it in his lap. "Jean-- "

She looked straight at him and he stopped short. He couldn't remember the last time he'd looked directly into her eyes-- this wasn't anything he'd expected to see. "Looks good," she said again, slow and hushed. "You've healed well."

"No." He shook his head. "It still hurts."

"I doubt it," and she looked away. "There's nothing I can do, Scott."

"There's plenty," he said, pulling on his shirt. "But if you don't want to, what's the use?"

***

She saw, like a flash of inspiration, that Logan was angry. She remembered once in college, in molecular biology, an entire experiment botched because she'd taken one assumption and run with it. Weeks of work and life down the drain, and it took her time to realize she had actually learned from the experience, instead of merely failing.

She stared into his tense face, saw him waiting for her to approach, and she grimaced. He just waited, waited as he'd always done, waited for her to come to him, for her to want him, for her to choose him, and now he was waiting for something else, and she saw it.

He was waiting for her to leave. To stop. To get the hell out of his room and his fantasies and his walls, and god, but pent-up anxious desperate yearning waiting looked like anger on Logan. Just waiting, and she trembled.

"I'm sorry," she said, and her eyes burned with dryness because the tears just wouldn't come. "I'm sorry."

***

Breakfast was pancakes and hashbrowns, and Rogue rubbed streaks of sweat from her forehead with the back of one forearm and sat down next to Ororo. Something was wrong, she could tell. Something was different.

She dared a glance at Logan, staring at his plate with a marked absence of expression. Jean was talking to the professor, and she rested, more so than in the past weeks. And Scott was eating slowly, taking moments to carefully jot down notes for class on small cards. Always preparing, Scott was. And she could respect that; life had a way of hitting him when he wasn't looking.

She looked at Ororo, who looked at her and shrugged. "It can fade," Ororo said softly. "We'll find a balance again, now that the worst is over."

"Is it?" She wanted to believe it; she wanted things as they had been, but doubted it could ever happen. She wanted, she wanted... but what had wanting gotten everyone else?

She sighed, and she smiled carefully as Logan glanced over at her. At the very least, maybe she wouldn't have any more fresh bruises after training today.

**end**