Rogue was wondering around outside after breakfast--still utterly amazed by
the amount of snow, it seemed. Jamie, taking her coffee, slipped down on
the couch, watching Logan watch Rogue through the window.
"I'm leaving in a few minutes to go into Calgary. You need to talk to
Logan grunted something and Jamie took a sip.
"Why'd you pick her up?" He spun around, unreadable eyes--Logan was
familiar, had been for over a decade, but that didn't make it any easier to
understand him--well, in this case at least. "No screwing with me
now--this ain't somethin' you do, no question, honey."
"I've picked up hitchhikers."
"Not many you'd drag across the better part of Alberta in a stolen car.
And certainly none you didn't screw later--not that they were
unwilling--you tend to attract that type." A raise of his eyebrows,
admitting nothing. "I saw the marks on the car door this morning--broken
lock. You gonna explain or let me speculate? If I'm gonna keep her, I
need to know a few things."
"It's not any of your business."
Jamie cradled the cup in her palm, blowing softly at the steam. Very
"She's a runaway. A mutant. And a kid. That's three points of business
for me. I cut ya some slack last night, but you gotta give me some
"Your job meant risk. Don't screw around, Jamie--if you don't want her
here, I'll take her with me."
"And do what with her?"
Logan's jaw clenched--she'd bet he'd spent the better part of the morning
thinking this through. Unfamiliar territory indeed.
"I can take care of her."
A soft sigh. Jamie was rather curious what he would actually do with
her--drop her in random motels while he went out and fought? There was
nothing about his attitude that made her think he'd leave her at a bus stop
somewhere with money and a growl--though she wasn't going to test that
theory either, not when she watched the girl throw a snowball at a nearby
tree, heard a delighted rippling laugh from outside that caught Logan's
attention again, jerking his gaze back outside.
"You're thinking long term, aren't ya, Logan?"
Logan growled something, and Jamie stood up, watching Marie wandering
around the snow, staring into the distance, gloved hands tucked into her
cloak. It was bothering him--she'd never seen him in their decade
acquaintance so utterly off-balance, and it was all wrapped up in that girl
standing outside, almost perfectly still, as if she was aware she was being
watched. Hell, she could be--those dark eyes didn't miss much, Jamie
"No." He was fighting it, hard, the entire idea of it, even though Jamie
knew some part of him had pretty much accepted that the presence of the
seventeen year old in his life was somewhat permanent. "Temporary. Just
"Until what? You can't drop her at a bus station with a twenty and tell
her to figure it out on her own, Logan. When you picked her up, you knew
it wasn't for a ride to the nearest city. Don't try to deny it. Look at
me." Hazel eyes flickered to hers--sometimes human eyes, sometimes not.
Definitely not completely human right now.
"She's a kid and she's alone--"
"And she's a mutant."
"I could smell it on her in the bar." A tightening of the muscles in his
jaw. "She was watching me fight--I recognized her scent in the cage."
"And she still hitchhiked with you? I'm impressed with her courage, if not
her good sense."
The very slightest relaxation of his jaw.
It was speculation on Jamie's part, meandering through all Logan's possible
motives--getting the girl horizontal, skin problem or no, wasn't high on
the list, though she wasn't dismissing it completely. Logan hated to be
tied by anything--hated the world in general, people in particular, and
everything as a rule she'd never seen broken. Exception being Jamie
herself, and she suspected that was pure random chance that'd he'd kept
even minimal contact for as long as he did.
On some level, Jamie suspected he identified with her. And she bet dollars
to donuts that he identified with the little girl playing outside under his
Here was Rogue. Normal enough girl, mutant or not--and Logan had brought
her here--asked for help, which really was enough to shock Jamie, no matter
Outside, she watched the girl turn in a slow circle, cloak flaring around
her, gloved hand coming out to catch the snow as it fell, a sudden smile
lighting up her face, changing it completely. Jamie realized she'd caught
her breath at the look on Rogue's face.
Then dark eyes fixed on the window, and even though Jamie knew Rogue
couldn't see them watching her--the girl knew they were there. Logan
anyway. That smile was all for him.
* * * * *
Marie watched Jamie drive away, the woman tossing her a wave before the
God, she liked it here--the quiet, the isolation--no people to worry about,
no need to be constantly on guard and scared someone would try to touch
her, no questions or sidelong glances at her gloves and scarf--no
suspicion, which had been pretty common in the east US, where the whole
mutant situation was very much on people's minds.
She hadn't been this relaxed since Cody had kissed her and her life ended.
Marie spun around, looking up in surprise as Logan walked up behind her.
Distinctly uncomfortable, gloved hands shoved in his jacket, looking at
anything but her. She stared up at him, knowing she was staring, unable to
really help it, even though it really was very rude and she knew better
Different images of him--the man in the cage, having a damned good time
kicking the ass of the other guy--the man letting her ride in his
camper--the man dragging her across what seemed like miles of road that she
barely remembered--the man this morning that she couldn't stop staring at.
God, she owed him a lot, and had no idea how the hell she was supposed to
pay him back.
"You're gonna get too cold. Come inside." Without ceremony, he got hold
of her elbow, pulling her along--and shock made her follow. Once in the
door, she stripped her cloak, hanging it to dry over the concrete in the
small foyer, and followed him mutely into the living room.
Then Logan pointed her toward a seat and she took it. Mystified.
"You're gonna stay here for awhile." It was dropped in her lap like a
stone, and he let out a breath when he did it. She suspected it was
"Huh?" Usually, you didn't have what you wanted thrown at you like that.
So she'd misheard--wouldn't be the first time.
He left his jacket on a chair as he paced to the center of the living room,
and she took in the dark sweater, the scowl--the cigar he pulled out,
biting off the tip and looking utterly out of his depth. A great deal more
human, less frightening, more intriguing, ripping her fascinated gaze from
him to stare at his knuckles, wondering how it felt to have that metal
He said it hurt every time.
"Jamie. You'll stay with Jamie."
Two blinks, then Marie began to stand up. A glower, and Marie sat right
back down, sinking into the soft brown cushions. Her mouth opened, shut,
opened again, and finally words came, fast and hard and so mixed up she
wasn't sure what she was even saying.
"I--you can take me to Calgary--I'll get a ride--"
"You don't have any money, any family--where the fuck are you going,
He lit the cigar--was his hand shaky?--and turned that glower on her again.
"And do what?"
Getting there was the goal. What she'd do after was a mystery. It wasn't
like she could just go for any job--in fact, thinking it over, which she
now had the leisure to do, not desperately looking for food, shelter,
clothing, another pair of gloves--it was beginning to be a point of debate.
And Marie, while never having been accused of being the most practical
person on earth, woke up to the fact that she had absolutely no idea.
But she'd be damned if she'd agree--she didn't want pity, no matter how
perfectly, dizzyingly wrapped. Apparently, he took her silence as
"Exactly. Nothing. You go there, you'll probably freeze or starve to
death--hell, you don't even have the clothes to survive the weather. And
I've been there, kid, I know what I'm talking about."
"I can take care of myself." She'd done it so far pretty well, actually.
Though the luxury of sitting in a warm room was beginning to make her doubt
herself--she was attached to the shower. "I don't need someone to take
care of me."
"Too damned bad. Live with it."
Oh. Marie looked up at him--he'd come to a decision about her life for
her. She got the feeling he was used to making decisions.
To her surprise, the glower didn't increase. Instead, he put down the
cigar and dropped into the chair to her left. Watching her. Maybe a
little amused, she couldn't be sure, and that made her wary.
"Tell me what you'll do in Anchorage, assuming someone can get you there."
Marie set her feet firmly on the floor and looked straight at him, keeping
her gaze steady. Clasped her hands, hoping he didn't see them shaking.
"I'll find a shelter, have them help me get a job."
A job. That made her a little dizzy, grounded her in more reality than she
wanted to admit to. A job, a life--what kind of life would she have as a
mutant anyway? Freezing to death, starvation--those had grown steadily
more likely before she'd arrived in Laughlin.
"When you can kill with a touch, you're underage, and you're a mutant."
Ouch. "Think about it. You even have ID? Not to mention that great
mutant registration thing goin' on--that'll make it easy for you to find
employment and somewhere to live."
"I can take care of myself." As if repetition would make it more true.
"Until you accidentally touch someone and their family strings you up in
the nearest tree for murder. Or a few other options for the lynching of
mutants--you grew up in the South and I've been there. I think your head
can tell you what people'll do to you if they catch you, darlin'."
"I'm not staying here." But God, she wanted to. Wanted it so badly she
could taste it, and knew he could read it in her face.
"Then your other choice is to go with me."
That wasn't what she expected him to say. Marie frowned.
"I could run from you."
"You couldn't get three miles before I'd find you." A ghost of a grin.
"Good sense of smell *and* claws, darlin'."
"You can't watch me always."
"I could handcuff you to a bed--and the places I stay at don't really
notice screaming." His voice was thoughtful--as if he'd thought it through
or something. Hell, he might have, and a little smile, almost
indistinguishable from a frown, was turning up the corner of his mouth. He
*was* enjoying this. Marie sat back, staring at him in wonder.
"Why do you care?"
A shrug, and she knew she wouldn't get a damned thing out of him on that
score. Tried again.
"Make you a deal." Logan leaned back--yes, he was enjoying this a little,
she thought, and it was confusing the hell out of her. "Give me six months
to figure out why that bastard attacked us. Then I'll take you to
Anchorage myself. Maybe even stay just to watch you get yourself hung in a
tree. Sound good?"
"I don't care. Give me your word you'll stay and not get Jamie into
trouble--it's the least you can do, considering I did save your life."
And he was right about that.
"I don't have any way to pay--"
"We'll figure it out later. Promise me. I'll give you the benefit of the
doubt and trust your word--if you run, Jamie'll have to go after you and
you could put her in danger--whoever that guy was, he's probably still
lookin'." Then a pause. "Look, under normal circumstances, I'd leave you
in the nearest town and forget you ever existed. But I'm not too fond of
someone tryin' to blow me up. So I got some people to talk to and figure
out what the hell it is that guy wanted. So do this, consider it payback.
And we're even."
Marie left out a breath. Stared at him
"Jamie's fine with it."
"Promise." And he wasn't even trying to be threatening now, just utterly
himself. Which was enough. "Now."
A little dazed, Marie nodded, swallowing in a dry throat before attempting
* * * * *
--When I watch that scene I do not think "Oh, he's such a good father
--It was incestuous pity weird surgical glove wearing sex.--Reasonable