Brazil vs. Argentina
Thanks per usual to Jedimom and Red Sith for their skillful betas.
"Oh, hey Logan."
"There's a soccer game on in a minute. Brazil vs. Argentina. Mind if I watch it down here?"
"That'd be great."
I sit down, grab the remote from his bed, switch on the TV they've got set up for him down here, then put it back down where he can reach it. I try to get down here every day just to watch TV with him and see if he needs anything. Think he appreciates company that doesn't demand anything from him. He doesn't feel like he has to put me at ease or anything. And I know he appreciates having someone around who doesn't feel sorry for him.
I watch out of the corner of my eye as he struggles with the controls for the bed. He'll get it. Agnes would have reached over and done it for him by now, but I know he'd rather do it himself. Yeah, he's got it. The bed slowly raises until he's sitting up enough to see the screen. "Hey," he says, "I'll probably fall asleep before it's over, but you don't need to turn it off. I can sleep through it."
"Want me to put the bed back down if you do?"
"Yeah, that'd be nice."
That's another reason why I come down here. He'll actually tell me if he needs something. He'll tell Jean too, but only if no one else is around. He's so damned worried about how everyone else is feeling, he won't say anything if he thinks it'll upset someone. Drives me nuts.
Agnes is just as bad. I know this is really hard on her, but she'll never say so. Caught her crying once, and when I tried to hold her, she just wiped her face and walked away. Hell, even Hannah's working really hard to act like nothing's wrong. Comes down to visit her uncle, and just chatters away like he's not lying flat on his back covered in bandages. Fucking Toynbee stoicism. The rest of the family's coming over in a week. Guess I'll see if it's genetic.
Everyone else here keeps going on and on about how they can't believe he did what he did. That's only 'cause they don't know him. Makes perfect sense to me. Doesn't make it any less fucking brave, though. Hell, even Scott and Ororo've finally admitted they respect him, even though they look like they're swallowing a rat as they say it. Oh sure, they were the first to accuse him of selling them out and going back to the Brotherhood, but as soon as the professor backed up Shariya's story, they changed their tune. Sometimes I can't believe I fight on the same side as those fucking ideologues. They're so convinced they're right. People like that are always full of shit.
I learned a hell of a lot about this guy that day I went out in his skin. No wonder he's so pissed off at the world. They hate him. He's got every right to be pissed. Listening to Ororo and Scott spout bullshit about nonviolence... Fucking hypocrites. She's just got weird hair and he's got funky glasses. I've seen weirder shit on normal folks when I go into the city. They're not green. Their bodies don't do things that gross people out. Easy for them to preach nonviolence. They don't get it. You've gotta answer a fist with a fist. That's all he was doing. He just had a lot more fists to answer for than they ever did. I mean, no, I don't like what the Brotherhood did, but I understand it. Hell, if I looked like him, I probably would have joined them too.
I look over at him during a time out. Good, they've already got the new bag of plasma hooked up. I finally convinced Jean to let me donate more often than she wanted me to. I make the stuff fast enough. No reason not to take it as I make it. Hell, if I could figure out how to make it faster, I would. Between that and Shariya, he's healing up pretty quick, although he's still looking at another few weeks down here. Hunh. She's also looking kinda out of sorts. Don't see her as often as I used to. I should probably try to talk to her if I get a chance. Or get Rogue to. Yeah, she'd be better. I suck at "talks."
"Hey, mind if I bring a beer down next time?" I ask.
"Sure, go ahead."
"That wouldn't bug you, would it?"
"Nah. I'm not really a drinker anyway."
"Okay. Hey, you need anything?"
"Um...actually, I've got this itch that's been bugging me all day."
"Where is it?" I ask, getting up.
"Back of my right shoulder," he says, trying to lean forward.
"Hang on. Don't hurt yourself there," I say, heading around the bed and putting my hand on his chest to stop him. "I got it." I carefully slide one hand behind his back and ease him away from the mattress a little to take a look. "You've got stitches back there, you know. Looks like they're dissolving."
"Yeah, that's probably what itches."
"All right. Never mind."
"Sure you don't want me to scratch around it or something?"
"Nah, that'll just make it worse." He's biting his lip as I help ease him back down.
"Need me to up the painkillers?"
"No, I can do that myself," he grunts.
"So why aren't you?"
He closes his eyes and takes a few deep breaths, then opens them, looking a hell of a lot steadier. "Makes everything too dull," he says.
I sit back down and watch the game.
Shit, no wonder this guy's lost track of where he's got stitches. He's covered in 'em. Did a good job, though. They already took them out of his face in a few places, and you can hardly see the scars. They'll probably fade completely in a few months. I think Jean's been rubbing vitamin E into 'em when he's asleep. Keeps insisting that people don't knock themselves out for him, so Jean's just learned to get sneaky. Damn, after what he did for these kids, he's entitled to have us knock ourselves out for him.
Ah, but that wouldn't be him. Besides, he didn't do this to be a fucking hero. He did it because it was the right thing to do. So if he doesn't want people doting over him, fine. I'll come down here and not dote over him. May as well pay him back in a way that doesn't make him squirm.
Dunno if he'd squirm or be angry if he knew what the older kids thought of him now. Another pack of hypocrites. Once they found out what he'd done, their opinion of him changed completely. Same kids who'd been grumbling about how they wanted the convict off the grounds were suddenly his biggest fans. They practically hero-worship the guy now. Makes me sick. He's still the same guy they used to hate. He hasn't changed a bit. They just know him better now. At least Agnes and Jean have had the common sense to keep their mouths shut about that. I love 'em both, but they both try too damned hard around Mortimer.
'Least Magneto and Sabretooth won't be a threat for a while. Wish we'd been able to finish them off. Not much I could do, really. Not with what that bastard can do to me with just a wave of his hand. But Storm fried him good, and Cyke nailed Sabretooth hard enough that Rogue could get in there and nearly suck him dry. Poor kid. She couldn't stop growling for a week after that. Plus there's the transmitters we slipped in each of 'em.
I wanted to fight. Wanted to mess those bastards up like they'd messed up Mortimer. Fist for a fist. But I couldn't do anything but guard Jean's back while she examined him. Damn, he was a mess. We had to abandon the rest of the team to rush him to the hospital. I'm just glad that Agnes didn't see him until he was patched up. Never quite seen a body hang in pieces like that before while still being alive. The guy's strong. I'll give him that. Didn't think he'd make it, but I'm damned glad he did. Those kids need him. Hannah and Agnes need him. And the rest of the fucking X-Men need him to remind them that they've got it easy compared to some mutants.
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Looks like he's trying to handle the bed controls again. Okay, this time, he needs help. Guy's exhausted, and he's only got two fingers that work. "Want me to do that?" I ask.
"Yeah," he murmurs. "Sorry."
I lower the bed back down, but his face is still tight. "Um..."
"You need more painkillers?" I ask.
"Just until I fall asleep," he whispers.
"Got it." I ramp up his medication a little and wait until his face starts to relax. "I'll let you know who wins, okay?"
I sit back down and watch the game until halftime, then pop his medication back to where it was and switch off the TV. Bravest fucking guy at the institute, and he's our convict. Figures.
Hang in there, big guy. See ya again tomorrow.
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