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3272FIC: Blood Wedding: 1/1: Logan/Mariko, Rogue: R

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  • victoria p.
    Aug 6, 2001
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      Title: Blood Wedding
      Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@...]
      Summary: Bad things happen while shopping for wedding gowns. Sequel to
      "Should Have Taken a Chance"
      Series: Grief and Healing #2
      Rating: R- violence
      Warning: Character death
      Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and Fox; this piece of
      fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
      Archive: with "Should Have Taken a Chance" -- lists, Muse's Fool, if you
      want it, let me know.
      Feedback: Is savored like the finest wine
      Notes: Thanks to Dot, Meg, Jen, and Pete. I know nothing about Mariko's
      mother, so I've made it up as I needed it. The title -- and the idea --
      comes from an episode of Homicide. Poor Ed Danvers. Hey - there's a
      connection... wonder if he's related to Carol...

      Special thanks to all those who helped out with the Japanese. All errors
      there -- and everywhere else -- are mine.

      << >> indicates thoughts
      ~ ~ indicates telepathic conversation

      ~~*~~

      Blood Wedding

      The attack came when they were at the bridal shop, getting fitted.

      Four men in ski masks, brandishing Uzis, burst into the shop barking
      orders in heavily-accented English.

      Rogue was in the back room, watching as three women tucked and pinned
      the white gown Mariko had chosen for her wedding dress.

      She hadn't wanted to come. Had gritted her teeth and smiled when the
      woman asked. But then Logan chimed in, told her he'd drop them off and
      pick them up and they could all go for burgers afterward.

      Since the night of the engagement party, Rogue had withdrawn further
      into herself. She knew everyone was worried about her. The only one who
      had an inkling of the truth was Ororo. Funny how that worked. She lived
      in a house with two telepaths, an empath and various other powerful
      psychics, but Ororo, who had no psi gifts whatsoever, was the only one
      who understood.

      The weather goddess had found her that night in the rooftop garden,
      red-eyed and solemn, cried out from returning the dog tags. No words
      were exchanged, but from then on, Storm was the only one with whom Rogue
      felt comfortable enough to let her guard down. Storm was the only one
      who knew how miserable she really was.

      What made it even worse was seeing Logan so happy. Sure, she
      occasionally caught him staring off into the distance, a haunted look on
      his face, but that wasn't so odd. He was Wolverine -- loner, badass, man
      without a past -- and he was getting married. He still hadn't found
      anything out about his life before the lab, but Mariko had insisted it
      didn't matter, so he was trying to put it behind him.

      Rogue knew him well enough to know that those longing glances were just
      a manifestation of his fear of being caged. She didn't know that they
      were most often evident when his eyes rested on her, and no one
      mentioned it. He was marrying Mariko, and if one or two of their friends
      wondered what had gone wrong between Logan and Rogue, they never asked.

      She'd gotten bored and had pulled a glove off to finger the delicate
      material of the gowns hanging around the room. She wondered if, someday,
      she would get to wear white silk and walk down the aisle toward a man
      who loved her and wanted to spend his life with her.

      One of the saleswomen had noted her interest and offered to let her try
      on the gown she'd spent a good ten minutes staring at. They headed into
      a dressing room and Rogue had just removed her shirt when they heard the
      rough, foreign voices.

      A woman shouted and was silenced roughly with a single word, "Damare!
      (Shut up!)" and a thump.

      "Onna wa doko ni ikimasuka? (Where is she?)," another voice said.

      They were speaking Japanese. Rogue was able to catch a word here and
      there -- Logan's memories had given her that, and time spent with his
      fiancée had refreshed her knowledge.

      <<Mariko! Shit!>> she thought as she heard the sound of gunfire and
      women screaming.

      ~Professor! We've got a situation here!~ she shouted mentally, then
      burst out of the dressing room in time to see one of the masked men turn
      and aim at Mariko, in her wedding gown.

      Rogue launched herself through the air, praying that she would be in
      time. She couldn't let anything happen to Mariko -- it would kill Logan.

      She hit the bride-to-be, knocking her over as the gunman let loose a
      torrent of bullets. Rogue felt them rip through her. She looked down to
      see that bullets had torn through her abdomen, and suddenly, pain
      screamed along her nerves. But she was confident that Mariko hadn't been
      hit; she had been able to protect Logan's lover.

      She turned to the woman in the wedding gown, now spattered with her
      blood, and tried to say, "Go! Run!" but she could barely speak. Her mind
      was shrieking for the Professor, Jean, anyone to help them.

      Mariko's face was serene as she faced her attackers. "Sassato ni
      shimatte (Do it quickly)," she said, calmly awaiting her death. She was
      a warrior, born of warriors. She would not disgrace herself even at the
      end.

      Another of the gunmen stepped over her and, pulling out a .357 magnum,
      emptied the bullets into Mariko's head. "You betrayed your family,
      Mariko. Tooboo wa arienai. (Escape is impossible.)" She slumped over,
      the spray of gray matter and blood staining the white silk of the gown
      she'd never get to wear for her lover, because she'd never get to marry
      him.

      Rogue whimpered. She was going to die, and she hadn't even been able to
      save Mariko. She closed her eyes and felt herself floating off into a
      red haze.

      ***

      Logan heard the sound of gunfire and screaming coming from LaModa
      Bridals and took off at a dead run. Claws extended, growling at all who
      stood in his path, he barreled through the doorway of the shop.

      With a slashing motion, he disemboweled the first gunman, retracting his
      claws quickly as the man crumpled to the floor. Without even looking, he
      ripped out the throat of the other gunman who'd been left on guard in
      the front room. He also fell to the floor, his neck reduced to a gaping
      red maw that resembled a grotesque parody of a mouth.

      They were not going to get in Logan's way.

      He could smell blood -- Rogue's blood. The berserker rage took him.

      He burst through the curtains leading to the back room and killed the
      man standing guard. Time seemed to slow down as he saw Rogue splayed
      out, gut-shot, while a fourth man executed his fiancée. Then everything
      sped up again. He could never recount those few seconds accurately, nor
      did he ever want to, though he saw them over and over in his nightmares
      for years.

      "No!" he screamed. "M'iko!"

      He rushed the fourth gunman, using his claws to impale the assassin,
      whose intestines spilled forth like so much overcooked spaghetti. Then
      he dropped to his knees beside his dead bride-to-be, keening with grief.

      "M'iko, you can't be dead. You can't. Baby, say something. Please." He
      pulled her lifeless body into his lap and bent over her, kissing her
      neck and chest. It was the first time he could ever remember breaking
      down and sobbing like a child.

      "I tried."

      He heard the hoarse whisper and realized Rogue was still alive. He
      shifted, sliding Mariko off his lap so he could cradle Rogue. "Marie,
      darlin'--" he said, his voice breaking.

      "I tried," she said again. "I'm so sorry . . . I . . . couldn't save
      her."

      He was crying, and with wonder she felt the drops splash her face. "It's
      not your fault, Marie. Not your fault."

      "I wanted . . . save her," she murmured, and he brushed her hair out of
      her eyes, watching as she bled out in front of him, too shell-shocked
      from Mariko's death to even think of healing her. "Love . . . you."

      He choked on a sob as her words penetrated. "Love you, too," he
      whispered.

      "No. You. . . love. . . her."

      "I --" he began, and then Jean was there, and Hank and the rest of the
      team.

      ***

      Jean and Hank immediately moved to work on their fallen comrades, gently
      trying to get Logan to move out of the way. When he refused, Hank
      forcibly took Rogue from him.

      "Let me touch her," Logan demanded.

      The doctors ignored him, working rapidly to staunch Rogue's bleeding and
      get her ready to transport.

      His animal instincts coming to the fore, Logan turned his attention to
      Rogue -- he could save her. He'd worry about avenging Mariko later.

      He reached out to stroke Marie's face and Jean smacked him. "Logan,
      don't do anything. We've got to get her back to the lab and take care of
      her."

      "I can heal her," he countered.

      "I don't think you're in any shape to do that," Jean replied coolly. She
      was secretly grateful for her residency in the ER; it allowed her to
      appear calm when inside she was a roiling mass of nerves and anger. She
      knew Logan was Rogue's best shot at survival, but the doctor in her
      still recoiled at harming one person to heal another, even though she
      knew Logan would most likely recover quickly from the drain. And then
      there were the psychological issues Rogue would have to deal with. Jean
      wasn't sure *she* could deal with that again, let alone putting the
      younger woman through it. So, though it tore at her heart to deny
      Logan's grief-ravaged entreaties, she maintained the façade of
      competence and control she'd worked so long and hard to perfect.

      "Let me touch her," Logan repeated. "Please." It was the closest any of
      them had ever heard him come to actually begging.

      Hank laid a gentle hand on his arm. "Not now, my friend. We need you
      conscious. Storm and Scott will clean up here with some help from
      Charles. The police are already on their way and it would be best if you
      were not here when they arrive."

      Beaten for the moment, and exhausted with sorrow, he allowed Beast to
      lead him away as Jean continued to work on Rogue, placing an oxygen mask
      over her mouth and nose and doing a quick assessment of her wounds.

      ***

      The ride back to the mansion passed in a blur for all of them. Logan sat
      in the front seat while Remy drove. Jean and Hank worked furiously over
      their injured teammate.

      He couldn't believe Mariko was dead. He'd failed. He'd promised he would
      look out for her, protect her from her father, her half-brother and
      their evil plans, and he'd failed.

      Not only that, but Marie was going to die, too. He rested his head in
      his hands for a moment, then abruptly turned at the sound of Jean's
      voice.

      "We're losing her. Remy! Drive faster."

      "That's it!" Logan snarled, and he pushed his way into the back of the
      van. Ignoring the heap that was Mariko, he forced Jean and Hank away
      from Marie and gently took her face in his hands. "You're gonna make it,
      darlin'. You have to make it," he said, waiting for her mutation to kick
      in.

      The pull started a few seconds later, and he slumped over her half-clad
      body, pressing his lips to her forehead. Jean and Hank watched in
      amazement as her body began healing itself, the damage to her liver,
      kidneys and spleen disappearing as though it had never been there.

      When the skin began closing up, Hank dragged the nearly unconscious
      Logan away. "That's enough," he said, pressing a hand to Logan's carotid
      artery, making sure his pulse was still strong.

      "Is she--"

      "She's going to be fine," Jean said, pushing her hair out of her eyes
      with the back of her gloved hand. "Rest, Logan."

      And he passed out.

      ***

      Rogue woke in darkness. She was in the lab. She hated the lab. It was
      where bad things happened. The sterile, metallic smell nauseated her,
      and the beeps and flashing lights on the monitors scraped her ears, eyes
      and nerves the wrong way.

      At first, she couldn't remember why she was down there, but then the
      memories returned with a flash. The bullets ripping into her, Mariko's
      brains spattering on the wedding gown -- and Logan.

      She should have been dead. She hadn't been able to protect Mariko, and
      Logan had lost the love of his life, yet he'd still touched her, healed
      her.

      She closed her eyes and swallowed hard, trying to sort herself out from
      him in her head. Guilt. There was so much guilt. Hers, for not stopping
      the attack, for not being fast enough, for the small selfish part of
      herself that was glad Logan wouldn't be getting married. Not that she'd
      wished ill on his fiancée -- never that. But still -- maybe she hadn't
      been quick enough because, unconsciously, she'd *wanted* her dead.

      She shook her head, only vaguely aware of the tears streaming down her
      face.

      And Logan -- his guilt was all tangled up with hers. His inability to
      protect her -- *her*. She was uppermost in his thoughts at the time of
      crisis. It had been the scent of *her* blood that brought on the rage,
      not Mariko's. And he felt guilty about that, about loving her.

      That brought her up short. Logan loved her. It was in his thoughts and
      feelings -- she felt his pain the night she'd returned his dog tags, his
      confusion at her apparent disinterest in him.

      She began laughing hysterically, which brought Jean running into the
      lab.

      "Rogue! Rogue, are you all right?"

      Rogue continued to laugh as the tears streamed down her face, she
      laughed until she could barely breathe.

      "He loves me," she said between hiccupping breaths. "Logan loves me. I
      never knew it. All that's left now is the guilt and the grief. Soon,
      it'll be hatred, and I'll deserve it. I'll deserve it."

      Jean considered her options. Pulling on a pair of latex gloves, she
      grabbed Rogue's bare shoulders and shook her lightly. "Rogue, he doesn't
      hate you. He could never hate you."

      "Oh, but you're wrong, Jeannie. You're so wrong, and you don't even know
      it." Though she seemed slightly calmer, Jean knew Rogue was hysterical,
      and still in shock.

      ~Charles, I need your help.~

      Xavier's soothing mental presence calmed Rogue enough for Jean to sedate
      her. Though her body had been healed, her mind and spirit were obviously
      in need of rest, and time.

      ***

      "Is Marie all right?"

      Hank looked up from his reading. He had elected to sit with Logan until
      he awoke from his coma.

      "She's fine, Logan. Jean has her down in the lab, making sure everything
      is in working order." He paused, then, "Yours is an astonishing gift, my
      friend. When I think of all the good you could do in this world --
      providing antibodies for diseases, healing the sick--" Hank shook his
      head. "You are truly a wonder."

      Logan grunted, used to Hank's musings on the healing factor. The two men
      had argued many times about Logan's unwillingness to exploit his
      mutation for "the greater good."

      "If I can heal Marie, that's enough," he said. "I need to see her." He
      sat up quickly, and had to rest his head in his hands when dizziness
      overcame him. "Shit. How long was I out for?"

      "Four hours. You were thrashing about wildly, so I sedated you." Hank
      put his book down and rested one large hand on Logan's shoulder. "I am
      so sorry there was nothing we could do for Mariko."

      "Mariko," Logan said, as if he'd forgotten her in his worry about Rogue.
      Hank knew grief could often manifest in strange ways, so he didn't
      press. "Where is she?"

      "Downstairs. We have a -- a--" Logan was startled to see the usually
      verbose Hank McCoy at a loss for words. "A cold locker in the lab. We
      weren't sure what you would wish us to do."

      Logan closed his eyes against the reality that was setting in.
      Unfortunately, closing his eyes made the scene in the bridal store
      visible. Marie, gut-shot and dying. Mariko dead. His complete inability
      to protect the women he loved.

      The guilt was an almost physical force, making his stomach rise into his
      throat. He had thought first of Marie. Mariko hadn't even entered his
      mind. When he'd smelled Marie's blood, that had been it.

      He'd promised Mariko's mother that he'd keep her safe. The old woman
      hadn't wanted her involved in the clan-war her husband was fighting with
      his son, Kenuichio, Mariko's half-brother. Logan had no doubt the Silver
      Samurai was behind this attack, and he vowed not to rest until the man
      was dead by his hand.

      "We have to take her to her mother for the, the funeral," he said
      finally. "But first, I need to see Marie."

      Hank nodded and the two men headed down to the lab.

      ***

      Rogue was still sleeping, but Logan could tell she was healthy. She was
      alive. Any other time, it would have been enough.

      But not this time.

      He steeled himself and nodded at Hank, who led him through a pair of
      double doors into a part of the lab he'd never seen before. The dim
      lighting and lingering scent of formaldehyde immediately identified it
      as a morgue.

      Hank opened one of the drawers and withdrew quietly. Logan didn't even
      notice he'd gone.

      He stared at the lifeless body of the woman he'd planned to marry.

      It hadn't been a perfect relationship, but she had been good, kind and
      sweet. She had a beautiful smile, and he'd taken great delight in
      teasing her until her formal reserve broke and she'd graced him with it.
      He felt almost physical pain when he realized he'd never see that smile
      again.

      He felt the tears rise and spill over, and did nothing to stop them. He
      wept for the loss of the life they might have made together, for the
      cruel and calculated murder of a woman who'd never intentionally hurt a
      living soul.

      He silently vowed to avenge her death -- he had accepted responsibility
      for her life when he'd agreed to bring her to Xavier's at her mother's
      request.

      Not only had he failed at keeping her safe, he'd almost lost Marie as
      well.

      He'd killed the man who'd pulled the trigger, but he knew that her
      half-brother was ultimately responsible for her death and Marie's
      injuries. He promised himself that it wouldn't be long before Kenuichio
      Yashida's blood ran over his claws.

      He pressed one last kiss to Mariko's lips, the lips that would never
      smile at him again. Then he dried his tears and composed himself.

      Exiting the morgue, he said, "I'll call her mother. Get the Blackbird
      ready, Hank. We're going to Japan."

      ***

      There was no conversation, no lighthearted banter as the X-Men flew to
      Japan to return Mariko's body to her mother, the only member of her
      family with whom she'd remained close.

      In a break with their usual routine, Rogue slipped into the copilot's
      seat before takeoff. She had insisted on coming, and disputed everyone's
      objections that she wasn't strong enough. Finally, Jean, realizing how
      much to heart she'd taken the other woman's death (and unsure of how
      much Logan's personality was influencing her), overrode Hank and Scott,
      and agreed to allow her to come. Logan had been strangely silent. Jean
      knew Rogue would interpret his absence of support for her as evidence of
      his supposed hatred, and resigned herself to dealing with yet more of
      Rogue's wounds -- this time, the psychological ones.

      Ororo sat next to Jean, and Hank eased himself in beside the Professor.
      Kitty and Jubilee, who had grown close with Mariko during her time in
      Westchester, rounded out the group.

      Logan sat, stone-faced, alone. He tried not to think about the plain
      black coffin strapped down in the back of the plane.

      They landed after almost four hours later, at a private airstrip.
      Mariko's mother, Chiaki, was waiting on the tarmac, her black ensemble
      lightened only by the string of pearls adorning her neck.

      Logan, Scott and Hank bore the coffin off the plane. Three men joined
      them, and the sad cortege processed solemnly into Chiaki Yashida's
      fortress-like home. They were bringing Mariko home to the house where
      she had been born, and where she would not be laid to rest.

      Rogue avoided Logan. Her shame, coupled with the overwhelming guilt and
      grief she'd absorbed from him, made conversation between them
      impossible. She had woken up in the lab somehow *knowing* Mariko's death
      was her fault. In the way of small children who still believe that
      wishing makes things so, she had convinced herself that her jealousy had
      somehow prevented her from saving Mariko's life.

      Guilt, shame and almost palpable self-loathing rolled off her in waves,
      causing Jean and Xavier to exchange concerned glances as a subdued Logan
      introduced them all to his never-to-be mother-in-law.

      Rogue wondered desperately if she could escape, run back to the
      Blackbird and go somewhere, anywhere but here. Anywhere other than here,
      where she'd have to face the mother of the woman she'd allowed to die.

      And then it was her turn.

      "This is Rogue," Logan was saying. "She tried real hard to save M'iko's
      life -- took three bullets in the gut for her. If I had only been
      quicker..." he trailed off, and Chiaki laid a comforting hand on his arm
      before bowing deeply to Rogue.

      "I am very grateful for your help, Rogue-san. It is well there are not
      two funerals tomorrow, I think.

      "How is it that you are up and about so quickly? Has modern medicine
      come so far in America?"

      Rogue's eyes darted back and forth, seeking escape. "Logan saved me,"
      she whispered. "I'm the one who should have died. I deserved it." Her
      voice rose and broke. "It was my fault. All my fault."

      She fled the room, sobbing, leaving behind a perplexed Chiaki Yashida, a
      concerned group of X-Men, and one very stunned Logan.

      <<Shit!>>

      They stood frozen for a moment, then Logan's growled exclamation got
      them moving again.

      "Marie!"

      He rushed after her, realizing that she must be feeling his own grief
      and guilt. He cursed himself for hurting her even as he'd healed her.

      But Rogue was good at staying hidden when she didn't want to be found, a
      trait she'd no doubt learned from him.

      He decided not to push it -- he was here as Mariko's fiancé, and he
      would have to wait until they got home to straighten things out with
      Marie.

      Chiaki found him at the koi pond. "Your friend is mourning for more than
      my daughter, Logan. Will you tell me what happened to make her so
      upset?"

      He was silent for a few moments, wondering what to tell her. Finally, he
      said, "Ma-- Rogue blames herself for Mariko's death. Her mutation is her
      skin -- she absorbs the thoughts and memories of people who touch her. I
      healed her when she was shot. I *touched* her." He swallowed hard. "She
      feels my guilt and sorrow along with her own, Chiaki-san. She believes
      we can no longer be -- friends because of her inability to save M'iko."

      "Grief is a burden one often bears alone, Logan, even when surrounded by
      loved ones. That you share this grief with her --" the woman shook her
      head as if to clear it, "you can support each other through the dark
      times. Do not let the unreasonable guilt she feels drive a wedge between
      you. You need all your friends, my son. Perhaps after the funeral you
      can speak with her."

      "You are wise, mother," he responded, bowing respectfully.

      She laid a hand on his cheek. "I love you as a son, Logan, even though
      you never shall be my son by law. You made M'iko very happy, and you
      kept her safe for a while. I never doubted that you would. Shingen's arm
      is long, and Kenuichio is his instrument. It was only a matter of time
      before they struck at me through her. Her last days were happy ones, and
      I take some comfort from that fact. I pray you do, too."

      And she left him alone with his thoughts.

      ***

      The day of the funeral was hot, humid and overcast. Ororo made sure the
      rain held off as they traveled to the crematorium for the ceremony.

      Logan stood watch as Chiaki and her sister Toshimi washed her daughter's
      body, moistened her lips, and folded dressed her.

      "We fold the right side over the left to symbolize that death is the
      mirror image of life," she explained to him. She kissed her daughter one
      last time and then allowed the funeral parlor employees to take Mariko
      away.

      The X-Men joined Chiaki and her sister at the meal as Mariko's body was
      cremated. Then Shingen Yashida, Mariko's father, and her half-brother,
      Kenuichio, arrived.

      Chiaki welcomed her estranged spouse with a nod of her head and a
      tight-lipped smile that didn't reach her eyes. She ignored Kenuichio,
      and laid a gentle but firm hand on Logan's arm when he would have run
      the man through, there and then. "Later," she whispered through unmoving
      lips.

      When the service was done and the koden handed over to Chiaki, the X-Men
      escorted Mariko -- her ashes in an ornate urn -- back to the altar her
      mother had arranged for her.

      As Kenuichio prayed piously to his ancestors to watch over his beloved
      sister, Logan approached him.

      "It's only out of respect for Mariko and Chiaki that I don't kill you
      right here," he growled.

      "Logan," the Silver Samurai sneered, "my sister is better off dead than
      married to a gaijin beast like you. You have no past and no honor."

      *Snikt*

      Kenuichio found himself pinned to the wall, two razor-sharp adamantium
      claws at either side of his throat, with the third resting lightly
      against his Adam's apple.

      "I will kill you, bub, make no mistake. I'll avenge M'iko's death and
      Marie's wounds, and your blood will run red over my claws. Look behind
      you, Yashida. I'll be there," Logan vowed. Then he turned to Shingen
      Yashida, who had promised his daughter to his son in exchange for the
      younger man's loyalty and service in the family business. "And you won't
      escape either. You and your son are the last of your line. Your
      ancestors will wither away because there will be no one left to worship
      them."

      And he stalked off into the garden before either man could reply.

      He found Rogue kneeling before the koi pond.

      "Hey," he said, trying to rein in his anger. He knew she would
      misinterpret it in her fragile emotional state.

      "Hey, yourself." She sat back on her heels, and the unrelieved black of
      her funeral attire highlighted the paleness of her skin and the dark
      purple smudges under her eyes.

      Logan wondered if he'd done her more harm than good by healing her
      wounds. "You look awful," he said.

      "You don't look so good yourself," she responded. They were silent for
      several moments, and then both began to speak at once.

      "I don't blame you," he blurted.

      "I'm so sorry I failed you," she whispered. She broke into tears again,
      and he gathered her into his arms.

      "Listen, Marie, no matter what happens, you'll always have me. Nothing
      you could do would ever make me hate you. I'm just sorry, I'm sorry you
      have to deal with all my shit again." He closed his eyes, feeling his
      own tears beginning to rise, and squeezed her tightly, trying to convey
      without words how much she meant to him. "I can't take losing you on top
      of everything else." <I love you, Marie. Please don't leave me.>

      She leaned her head against his shoulder and looked him in the eye for
      the first time since he'd healed her. "I'll try, Logan. I really will.
      I-- I'm just so sorry." She didn't tell him how much she loved him, and
      how it was her belief that it had been her jealousy that prevented her
      from acting quickly enough. "It's not you -- I'm used to you in my
      head," she said with a watery chuckle. "I don't want you to feel bad
      about what you did for me. You never should. It's, I have my own stuff
      to deal with, Logan. I never want you to think you hurt me when you
      touch me, because you don't. I just don't ever want to hurt you. You
      understand what I'm saying?"

      "I do," he whispered, and dropped a kiss on the top of her head,
      inhaling the fresh scent of her hair as Ororo finally let the rain have
      its way.

      After what seemed like an eternity, Rogue nodded her head toward the
      house and said, "I'm going to --"

      "Yeah, you should get going." He gave her another tight hug, and she
      clung to him with all her strength, trying to give back some of what
      he'd given her for all these years. "I'll see you in a couple of
      months."

      "Take care," she whispered, thinking, <I love you. Come home to me.>

      "I always do." <I love you, Marie. Please forgive me.>

      She rejoined the X-Men inside the house, where they were paying their
      last respects to Mariko's ashes and saying goodbye to her mother before
      leaving for Westchester. Logan would remain in Japan for the next seven
      weeks, in accordance with their burial customs.

      They all hoped the next two months would bring healing to the man who'd
      just lost his fiancée, and the young woman who loved him.

      End

      ~~*~~

      victoria

      --

      Tim: "You never say please. You never say thank you."
      Frank: "Please don't be an idiot. Thank you."
      _Homicide: Life on the Street_

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