It's WEIRD, I tell you. Anyone wanna take it?
The ground is a little too slick for midwinter and if Scott thinks about it, he'd probably guess the ventilation fans have to be somewhere close by. Behind the heavy green foliage thirty steps to his right, there's a thicker humidity that doesn't quite match temperatures dropping deep into the subzero Celsius scale, though he's never quite gotten past the habit of translating everything into Fahrenheit.
He's too American to really feel the metric system like a Canadian native, Alaskan-born or not. Shows his lack of a truly scientific background too, but then, he's never claimed he's as sophisticated as his wife.
Under his coat, goosebumps are forming across his arms, and even the tiny movements of his toes in his boots aren't saving them from the encroaching numbness that's seeping upward by measurable inches. He's never been to Alberta before and the cold seems different from Westchester--or maybe it's just the flat building he's been watching for forty-five minutes thirty eight seconds and waiting with nothing but a cigarette to distract him from looking around too much and stumbling over something that will make this trip one way, not two.
And Scott Summers is a survivor first, so he stays in place like a good little boy scout and leans back against the car, wondering if it'll even start again. It's not as if he's anywhere near civilization and the last gas station he passed was ninety miles back. Walking just isn't much of an option.
There's brilliant light pouring through the uniform metal doorway he faces, blotted briefly by a shape that lasts just long enough to signal but not enough to let the cold inside, and then shuts again. Scott levers himself off the hood and crushes the cigarette into the snow under one heel. He reassures himself unnecessarily with a hand tucked into his jacket, feeling the envelope's edges blunted through thick wool gloves. Waits for a heartbeat, then walks toward the door, and drops the envelope five steps from the concrete slab that serves as a crude porch.
Forty thousand dollars. Easy to find when you have access to astronomical wealth and the man whose name is on the account would never ask why you need it. Harder to find it yourself, and Scott likes it hard, always has. Pawned his wedding ring and his bike, cashed in three CDs he'd stashed away in another life. The envelope holds the name of the account he's stored the payment in.
Meticulous has always been his trademark.
Another thirteen minutes, forty seconds that Scott counts under his breath with every puff on the cigarette he lights with a hand that doesn't shake like it should, this close to a lab. Waits with his body pressed to the cold metal of the car as it leeches the heat from him by the second, and if he dies of hypothermia out here, well, he has one more item to add to his mental list of things he hates about Logan.
Dusk is approaching with thin bloody fingers stealing over the hood of the car and it's now or never.
The second opening lasts seconds longer, light almost completely blocked by the bulk of the body tossed into the snow, then the quick retrieval of the envelope beside him with a fat latex-covered hand. And on one level, it's good to know this worked--on another, it's going to be a bitch to drag two hundred something pounds the forty yards to the car, no matter how in shape he is.
Basic rules of triage--have a clue what the fuck to look for, and it's something that he married a doctor and can guess at. Whatever they did to him is mostly healed, and Scott doesn't feel like extending his imagination to speculate what creative uses they put fast-healing flesh to that would stain a hospital gown in those particular patterns. Hands slide over the muscled body and can count the ribs beneath the material with the tips of his fingers. Broken bones, in this case, just aren't a possibility, so that's something he can rest easy about when his eyes shy away from the mottled flaking stains that criss-cross his skin. It's not easy, but he gets two hands under the heavy shoulders and begins to pull, wondering what they could possibly have given him to put him out this deep--he's breathing and there's a heartbeat, but that's all Scott knows for sure, and neither would benefit from exposure to snow. The drag is slow and the snow slips under his boots a little too wetly, but he doesn't really care.
Get to the car. That's all.
Reclining him in the back seat, Scott pushes the bare legs in and tucks the thermal blanket he took from the lab around Logan's body before he shuts the door. It's tempting, to lift the visor and burn a hole through the lab wall just to leave his signature, but he doubts they'd really understand or appreciate the gesture in the spirit it was given.
And God, he's tired, and slipping into the driver's seat, it's not just the fifteen hour drive or the twenty-five hours he's spent awake, or even the fact that the fucking car just won't *start* and the temptation to blast is growing just a little too irresistible. On the sixth try, the engine turns over, and he's only two seconds from saying fuck it and going inside to ask for a quick jump-start, if for no other reason than to see the face of the fucker who took his money.
"What--." From the backseat, voice thick. Scott grits his teeth.
"Shut up." He closes his eyes and grabs his glasses from the seat beside him, changing from visor to something just a little less noticeable on the open road on the off-chance some unfortunate motorist passes him in this godforsaken outback that has all the earmarks of Secret Hiding Places For Unethical Scientists. Who just don't have the imagination to hide in plain sight, like the X-Men do.
Drive--check your proximity for space, then pull out, all good-boy-scout, anal rules of driving he pounded into his own head because he's at enough of a disadvantage seeing in red and getting his license had been an interesting exercise of money and charm.
The road slips by colored in badly-repaired mile after mile, and Scott takes the first clear breath since leaving Westchester over twenty-four hours before when he's passed the five mile mark and nothing seems to be happening.
Logan's quiet now and that's something, though Scott doesn't know what, isn't even sure he's really awake yet. Checking the rearview mirror, he confirms that he's breathing, he's alive, and he's so out of it that there's the slightest temptation to poke him just for the hell of it. That, however, is not an entry that appears in the profile of Scott Summers, so he stares back at the road and indulges himself in the luxury of wondering why he's doing this.
He's going north, though, and the maps scattered over the passenger seat all point to Alaska.
It had been the random phone call in middle of the night, while Jean slept in her curiously lifeless way, that he always answered because when a phone rings, someone has to pick it up. That's the way it is. His private line isn't listed and that was his second thought, because his first was how fast he can get dressed.
He'd said it'd been sixty days, and Scott hadn't really believed it, a hoarse voice talking over an unsecured line, but that didn't stop him from scratching out a note to be left on the dresser and emerging from his closet with his jacket and boots in his hand. He'd long since mastered the art of walking quietly, though his wife could sleep through a war. Outside, he'd loaded his bike into a trailer and took the car with the registration in Ororo's name. Changed it in Baltimore where he'd also changed identities--though anyone with half a brain wouldn't be fooled, not with the glasses that branded him more thoroughly than a simple identification card ever could.
Sixty days, though, and he'd moved fast when he got out of Baltimore, stopping in Niagara at a non-random phone booth to confirm and hope to God this wasn't some sort of elaborate practical joke. Given verbal directions that he'd been glad he had the memory for and the number of the account, leaving to sit in his car for thirty minutes to look quietly at the envelope beside him before starting the car and driving.
Just driving. He didn't need to think anymore.
It's a ratty motel in a town so small it doesn't even appear on the maps Scott had purchased at the Falls, and Logan isn't coherent enough to risk letting the manager see him. Scott gets the key and finds the right room, giving it the reconnaissance that he's learned the hard way, by random ambush. Nothing to worry about but the smell and the stains on the carpet too dark and too flaked to be anything he wants to spend too much time contemplating. He drops Logan on the only bed with a sigh of relief and curls up in a worn chair to wonder if he'd be able to eat yet. His blood sugar's so low it's something of a wonder he's still upright, but he's more awake than he can ever remember being in his life.
Not that he'll be sleeping anytime soon, and he's ready for that too, with uppers taken out of Jean's lab on his way to the garage. He watches Logan sleep (unconscious?) for too long and decides to get the bag out of the trunk, tries to remember what he packed. It was so long ago, but he knows he was in Logan's room at some point and hopes he grabbed something useful. Autopilot has its disadvantages with memory retention.
Sensible Scott, though, even when he's not thinking, and he unpacks and neatly shakes out the t-shirt and flannel and jeans free of wrinkles, though God knows, Logan's never given a good damn what shape his clothes were in when he wears them. Crosses to the bathroom and a glance within decides him that neither of them will be showering here.
A glance at the cell phone as it rings, and it's a little thing, that he walks over and picks it up, flipping it off and dropping it on the dresser.
Just a little thing.
Dark eyes still dull from whatever they did to him, lifted on both elbows as if that's as far as he can get, though Scott knows that Logan'll never admit it. A pause before he shakes his head.
A longer pause that could be either recognition of his ability or simply exhaustion beating out instinct, before Logan lets himself collapse into the bed, body tense beneath the thin sheet, hospital gown discarded on the rough floor rug that needs vacuuming and a professional cleaners' touch. Not that he's seen any near here, so the negligence may be understandable.
Lightly, Scott sits on the opposite corner and pretends he doesn't notice the narrowed eyes.
"Fourteen miles from Alaska."
Logan nods. "How long?"
He doesn't pretend not to understand the question. "Sixty one days."
Another nod before he closes his eyes. "Seemed longer."
That's the conversation for the night, and Scott sits up in the chair until dusk, watching the fingers of light slide down the wall and disappear before he wakes Logan again.
His hand feels bare without his ring, but curiously, he realizes he hasn't worn it enough to leave a mark on his flesh.
Logan's awake in the bed before Scott's even aware the morning's arrived, and he leaves the clothes in reach at the foot of the bed, going outside to warm up the car. He doesn't bother to ask if Logan needs help--instead, he checks the gas and oil before brushing his hair from his forehead and leans into the steering wheel, eyes shut tight to breath in the smells of gas and freshly fallen snow he'll have to dig away from the back wheels of the car.
When Logan gets in, the hazel eyes close and Scott can read the utter exhaustion in every line of his body. Dressing himself probably wiped out whatever energy ten hours of sleep had given him.
Scott shrugs as he guns the motor and pulls out, looking at the stretch of road before them.
"I have a place up there."
A nod that doesn't ask any questions while the hazel eyes fall shut. It's almost surreal in itself, that Logan's letting him do this for him, when he almost expected him to grab for the wheel. Wrapping his fingers around the gear shift, Scott switches into third and thinks about the phone he left in the dresser and the exhaustion playing on the edges of his mind.
He'll crash hard when they're safe. But not before then.