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Brothers I

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Marvel, and are
used without permission for entertainment purposes only.

I was a fool. I thought I knew it all, thought I understood. I was wrong. I had heard the howl, the roar of loss, the throat-cut scream of pain that transcended agony, when he had heard of her being infected with HIV. The people in the room were silent, faces showing nothing. Showing more respect for a man - man! - they'd known only months than I'd shown him in many of the years I'd known him.
  When Apocalypse had been inside me - it makes me sick sometimes to think on it, but there it is - he had crept in when everyone was asleep and called the mutant out. I don't know why, but afterwards, I know this - I lost the boyhood I'd been living. Apocalypse was gone, and I was a free man. And I didn't lose my soul in the process.
   We all have to face the awful truth one day, kid - that we ain't nothin' more than what we are, just happened to get born. No-one gets born a hero, an' no-one gets born a monster. They make 'emselves along the way.
 The day he'd told me that I'd wanted to hit him. We'd been practicing, sparring, and he'd kept dodging me, knocking aside my blows as though they came from a child. He'd shown no effort, and when we were done, I knew Jean had been watching. I was furious. He'd just grinned that know-it-all smirk and told me to climb down off the high-horse before I chafed myself out of future kids. And he'd walked away, back to me, knowing nothing I did could really hurt him.
  I'd hated him for that.
  When the Phoenix took Jean, I woke every night for months screaming her name, crying out for her, and Logan was always there. I'd cry on his shoulder like a child, and he never said anything about it. Not to anyone. In the end, he became one of my dearest friends, a voice of cynical caution to my - what? - optimistic approach.
   He told me he'd follow me into Hell. Even though he'd already been there.
   I didn't tell him that without his voice to council me, to tell me when I was a fool, to outrage my sense of hope and raise the sense of justice in my heart, sometimes I couldn't go on. Even Jean doesn't know that.
   Don't get me wrong. I love my wife in a way that goes beyond words - cliched but true. She's the other part of me, the part of my soul that is fire and passion.
   And I have dear friends, friends I would die for in a moment. Without question, without a second thought.
   But Logan is the closest thing I have to - loving another man. It sounds strange, even when I think it. I've never touched him, and he's never touched me. But he's taught me almost as much as the Professor. About how to endure and stay sane, about self-honor and honor itself.
   The silence is awful. I close my eyes a moment, and Jean touches my arm, eyes full of love for both of us.
   I'm not jealous. I'm not afraid anymore - of being left, of being alone, because I know that, all his gruffness and snarls aside, he's been trying to be a brother to me, as much a brother as Alex is, in some ways even moreso.
   The X-Men arrive, many from other parts of the world, to stand with us in a kind of bewildered misery, praying for a miracle. I finger the ring - a simple gold band that means everything to me, and I get slowly to my feet.
   I know one thing I can do.
   I whisper an "I love you" to Jean, and walk slowly down the hospital hall, feeling my hands trembling.
   I lean on the door and it swings open, revealing the misery that is Logan, chair against the bed, eyes never leaving the pathetic little figure on the bed.
   His gaze swung to me, our eyes locked, and I drug a chair over next to him.
   He snarled, he threatened, he growled, he even popped his claws, but I did what I had never done and what he needed now. I wrapped my arms around him, let him struggle, fall against me, and finally sob.
   On the bed, Logan's tiny daughter still struggled for life, but I would hold Logan here for her.
   From now on, he will be my brother.
   And I will tell him I love him.

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