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"Counting Backwards" R; Rogue (Logan); 2b/5

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  • Molly
    Counting Backwards (2b/5) by Molly January 2001 She works the next day and then it’s Saturday, and Logan doesn’t mention it again as she takes him around
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2001
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      Counting Backwards (2b/5)
      by Molly
      January 2001

      She works the next day and then it�s Saturday, and
      Logan doesn�t mention it again as she takes him around
      to various places she likes. She knows he�s not much
      for tourism, but she can�t think of anything else to
      do and she doesn�t want him to leave.�

      And it�s good, because they talk about everything and
      nothing at all, and Marie comes out almost all the
      time without interference from memory. They see a
      movie and argue about it on the way back, and she
      likes, in a secret way, saying �Let�s go home,� and
      having him nod agreement.�

      She has trouble sleeping again, too caught up in
      knowing he�ll leave soon. He always leaves soon and
      always stays away; on Sunday she gets up and makes
      breakfast and doesn�t say much to him. He does the
      dishes and she does laundry and after she stubs her
      toe on a doorframe and curses loudly, he quietly
      suggests they go for a walk.�

      It starts raining while they�re out and she curses
      again, and Logan just looks at her. �Something going
      on?��

      �Bad day,� she mutters, and turns to head back.�

      �Yeah.� He�s silent then, but in the elevator, he
      asks, �When are you going to tell me why you left?��

      �I wasn�t planning on it at all.��

      �Start planning.��

      �You said you didn�t want to know anything,� she
      accuses darkly.�

      �Well, now I do.� He follows her down the hall and
      into the apartment. �What the hell are you doing here,
      Marie?��

      She throws her bag down and shoves damp hair out of
      her eyes. �Why? Why are you asking?��

      He looks completely dangerous as he takes a step
      closer to her. �I'll tell you why. I show up in New
      York expecting you to be there and you�re not. So I
      come here, because I need to make sure Xavier�s not
      being an idealistic old fool when he says you�re all
      right. And you do seem all right. Sad, but all right.
      But you work all the time and in four days the only
      person I�ve heard you mention is your aunt. You don�t
      go out, you don�t have friends here, you don�t like
      your jobs-Why. Are. You. Here?��

      She thinks it almost funny how many times she�s wished
      he would just show up and pay attention to her, and
      now she just wants him to ignore her. Almost funny.
      �I�m here because it was the only place I could go,�
      she bites out.�

      �Why did you have to go anywhere?��

      �Stop it.��

      �No. Tell me.��

      �You�re a jerk.��

      �And you�ve known it for a long time.��

      �Damn right I have,� she snaps, and laughs bitterly.
      �You want to know? You respect Scott but have never
      been able to stand uppity do-gooders. You hate being
      in rich surroundings and teenagers get on your nerves
      and Jean won�t ever love you and you think Xavier *
      is* an idealistic old fool. And God, you�re so right
      about that, and Magneto despises idealistic fools,
      always has. He has this way of being angry that never
      fades, Logan; he has too much to be angry about.�

      �So I stayed and I hated them because you both hated
      them, in your ways, and what the hell was I supposed
      to do? I couldn�t make all three of us be one person
      there. I couldn�t do it, but I can here. I am, here.��

      She stops and nobody turned the lights on when they
      got back; it�s gloomy and dark and the rain has gotten
      heavier outside. Logan is staring at her and she
      thinks there�s nothing worse than being unable to
      decipher the statement of the one person you know
      best.�

      He takes another step towards her. �You think because
      you�ve settled down-what? Is this what you want?��

      It hurts to keep looking at him but she does it
      anyway. �I want things I can�t have, Logan,� she
      whispers. �You know what that�s like.��

      He nods and he�s right in from of her, and she can see
      his eyes, dark and heavy in his face. He runs them
      over her form, takes her in, and she�s surprised when
      he grips her upper arms and squeezes tightly. �You�re
      standing still,� he says, leaning in, �but don�t trick
      yourself into thinking you�re not still running.��

      She welcomes the pain of his grip; she jerks and it
      tightens wonderfully. �Why not? I learned from the
      best?��

      He growls and it�s dangerous, and then her arms are
      free. She hadn�t realized the wall was so close, but
      she hits it with only a few stumbling steps and
      christ, but his hands are back, on her back. Her back,
      her hips, his thumbs pressing bruises that will take a
      fucking century to heal into her breasts, and she
      wants to scream at him to just be harder. His face
      falls into the damp tangle of her hair and the scarf
      beneath it; her knees give out and they slip, and the
      floor was never so welcoming as it is now.�

      �Tell me to leave,� he groans.�

      She wraps a leg around the back of one of his, traps
      it and arches up. �Don�t you fucking dare.��

      He says things she can't hear, all into her neck, but
      she doesn't care because he's touching, god, but he's
      * touching* her. Her shirt if falling open to fumbling
      fingers, and she has a brief flash of relief that she
      chose a decent bra that morning. When his lips and
      teeth latch onto one nipple, she wonders if she'll
      ever wear it again. Or if she'll ever take it off.�

      He shifts on top of her, grinds down and pulls her
      other leg up and she wraps it around his waist,
      feeling every bit the contortionist. His voice in her
      head has gotten spectacularly quiet; Magneto is still
      there, laughing at her with mocking cruelty, but Logan
      is so blissfully silent. She thinks it puts her back
      on even ground, only Magneto to fight, and she's
      grateful all the more to Logan for it.�

      She gets fingers into his har, clutches his head to
      her breast. "Harder," she finally lets herself say. It
      comes out as a gasping plea.�

      He nips at the satin-covered skin. "I don't want to
      hurt you."�

      "Even if I ask you to?"�

      It was a mistake. His hands go still on her thighs and
      he lifts to stare at her. "I need to know what that
      means."�

      "Nothing." She glares at him. "'Nother little thing I
      picked up from you, is all. Learning to like the
      smaller bits of pain?"�

      She can't read the look that crosses his features,
      because he's too obscured in shadow and his own damned
      indecipherable face. But his hands move again, gently
      rubbing circles that are going farther and farther
      under the hem of her hitched-up skirt. "I'll ask you
      one more time," he says, his voice almost too low to
      hear. "Is this what you want?"�

      "Is 'this' something I can actually have?"�

      "Yeah," he tells her, and one of his hands slips
      between her legs. "Yeah, it is."�

      She feels her eyes slide shut and she can only nod,
      and she's never felt the things he's making her feel.
      He bites her neck through her scarf and when she feels
      the tugging friction of tearing fabric, she realizes
      she didn't even hear a claw come out. Her eyes fly
      open; he moves to stare right at her and she gets her
      hands between them, tearing at his belt. "If you don't
      have-- "�

      "I do." He twists, digging in the back pocket of his
      loosened jeans to pull out his wallet.�

      She takes it away and finds a condom tucked inside.
      "Purple. Cute."�

      "Shut up," but he's smiling. He has a way, always has,
      of making her feel like he's never smiled at anyone
      but her. He snatches the packet and tears it with his
      teeth while she shoves at his jeans and boxers.�

      And he's so goddamned careful she wants to kill him,
      because she doesn't know what she likes but Magneto's
      not voting and that makes Logan win by always having
      preferred it rough. She digs gloves fingers into his
      neck and threatens him and *there*. She lets out a
      breath she only vaguely knew she was holding and he
      stops for a second, pressing up onto his forearms and
      gazing at her. "You're okay?"�

      She forces a jerky nod. She's not sure she it, but she
      wasn't lying about the pain and god, but this is the
      most bittersweet agony she's ever allowed herself to
      revel in. He holds her eyes and moves, and every now
      and then he dips down to brush the most grazing of
      kisses against her mouth.�

      She thinks she hears herself scream; she thinks she
      may have died for a few seconds. She can't be sure of
      anything, only that when she opens her eyes, which
      somehow wound up closed again, only the ceiling is
      there and Logan is wrapping her in his blanket from
      the sofa. He pulls her up, half-carries her to her
      bed, and she sleeps because she's tired and his arm is
      around her.�

      ***�

      She wakes up alone and stumbles into the bathroom, and
      after she takes care of business she stares at her
      image in the mirror. Half of her face is checkered
      with the imprint of the woven blanket, which more or
      less disappears after she scrubs her skin with hot
      water. Her eyes look younger than she can remember,
      and that scares her. She turns away from the sight and
      starts running the shower.�

      She notices, while she's toweling her hair dry in the
      bedroom, that it's dark outside the windows. A glance
      at the clock tells her it's after midnight; she groans
      because work is going to be hell if she doesn't get
      any more sleep. She doesn't think she will.�

      She finds Logan in the kitchen, sitting in an open
      windowsill and smoking a cigar. "Be nice and share,"
      she tells him, plucking it from his fingers.�

      "You snore."�

      "Liar!"�

      He smirks at her. "Okay, you wheeze. It's funny."�

      She returns a mock glare and lets smoke billow out of
      her mouth. "It's Monday," she says softly.�

      "Yeah?"�

      "Yeah. Weekend's over."�

      "Unless someone decided to change the calendars."�

      "Logan," she mutters, tracing the tile patterns on the
      floor with her eyes.�

      He crushes his cigar in a coffee mug. "Deal was, at
      least through the weekend. As I remember it, anyway."�

      "Right," she says slowly.�

      "I'm not just going to pick up and leave, Marie.
      You'll have plenty of warning whenever I plan to go."
      She forces an acknowledging nod. "Besides, we've got
      stuff to talk about."�

      "Stuff," she echoes flatly. She lifts her head to meet
      his eyes; they're stubborn and dark with absolute
      intent.�

      "Yep." He catches her arm and tugs her closer. "Like,
      how are you doing?"�

      "I'm okay."�

      "Just okay?"�

      "Well..." She suddenly laughs. "I'd be a lot better if
      you weren't in such need of a shower."�

      Something rumbles out of his throat; it takes her a
      second to realize it's an honest to God laugh, like
      she's never before heard from him. "Okay," he says,
      letting her go. "I can take a hint."�

      "If you call that a hint, your observation skills need
      tweaking."�

      "Marie-- "�

      "Shower, then we'll talk."�

      And so he goes to shower and she puts on a kettle to
      make tea, and when she sits down at the table she's
      sore and anxious and caught in the sleepy glow of
      having just woken up and showered. She stretches,
      feels her muscles complain, and it hits her very
      suddenly that they're going to talk about things she
      doesn't want to hear. About her and her life, about
      him and his pity, and she'd rather sit quietly in
      denial forever than have Magneto have been right.�

      It seems like the kettle whistles within seconds; she
      shakes herself and pours a cup of water. Logan comes
      back while she's absently dunking a teabag, and he
      watches her for a minute. "Heavy thoughts?"�

      She blinks. "Wha-- Yeah, I guess. I... I feel a little
      funny."�

      He frowns, a portrait of instant concern. "Funny how?
      Did I--"�

      "Christ, Logan, I told you I'm fine." She sighs.
      "Things are real quiet right now. I'm not sure I like
      it."�

      "Quiet."�

      "Yeah, quiet. Like, you've shut up and Magneto..." She
      sees him bristle at the name. "I don't know. He's
      being weird."�

      Logan pulls out a chair and sprawls in it, then draws
      her legs up into his lap and rubs her calves. "How's
      he being weird?"�

      She looks away; she doesn't want to talk anymore.
      "It's nothing."�

      "Doesn't sound like it. You know, Xavier could
      probably help you get rid of him-- hell, and me, for
      that matter."�

      "I don't-- " She pauses, wonders how to say it all.
      "Sometimes I wish you'd both just shut up and stop
      running my life with as much influence as I have. I've
      always got to run things through for three opinions,
      you know? Sometimes I just want some control back."�

      He gazes at her, statementless; his hands are no
      longer moving on her legs and she can't really see any
      signs of how focused he is on her, but she can feel
      it, nonetheless. "That's reasonable. What about the
      other times?"�

      She laughs, a little sad and a little bitter and very
      hopeless. "The other times are all the days I and what
      I want get drowned out. The days I feel like fighting
      and being angry and hating... hating a lot of people."
      She stares at the floor. "I hate telling anyone all
      this. But-- I should while I can. You and he probably
      won't let me later."�

      She pulls her legs away and takes a long sip of tea.
      It burns going down. "I've never been an angry person.
      Not until-- most of the times I actually feel like
      it's *me* controlling my thoughts, I think about you
      two making me who I am. And I don't always like who
      that is, but-- it's me now. How can I want to get rid
      of me?" She frowns. "None of that makes any sense."�

      "Yes, it does." Logan shifts, stays silent until she
      glances at him and sees how intently he's watching
      her. "You know, or you should, that I've got similar
      problems. I've always got to wonder if I didn't use to
      be such an asshole before... But I'm an asshole, and
      I'm pretty attached to myself, the past be damned."�

      She tries not to smile. "You're not an asshole."�

      "Sure I am."�

      "You aren't!"�

      He groans. "You're shattering my self-image here."�

      "Try therapy."�

      "Ouch. I'd cause a shrink to need therapy."�

      "Okay, I won't argue there." Her tea is getting
      cooler; she takes a minute to savor the balance of
      flavor and heat. "I keep wondering if I should just go
      ahead and do it... tell you to go."�

      He sits up straight. "Why should you?"�

      "Because if you stay much longer, I'm not sure I'll be
      able to handle it when you do go. Even with warning."�

      He's silent, and she's glad he doesn't try to placate
      her with empty possibilities of staying. It's probably
      the first time she's ever been appreciative of his
      reticence about committing himself. "Logan... part of
      me needs to thank you, for... for you, for tonight,
      for a lot of things. But part of me, a lot of me, is
      angry at you."�

      "Yeah? Why?" He sounds simply curious, and that helps
      her meet his eyes steadily.�

      "Because not a single one of the people in my head has
      ever liked receiving thing through pity."�

      The change in him is immediate; his statement hardens
      and the dangerous look that greets her unwelcome
      comments is back. "What the hell makes you think any
      of this has to do with pity?"�

      "I just know it does."�

      "You think you know a lot of things and I'd be willing
      to bet if you stopped wallowing in your *own*
      self-pity, you'd realize you're pretty turned around."
      He glares at her. "I'm not the pitying type, Marie,
      and certainly not for you. I'm worried about you, and
      yeah, I wish I knew what to do for you, but you're
      gonna have to be a sight more miserable to warrant my
      pity."�

      She steels herself and rips her gaze away again. "Call
      it something else, then. But I call it pity when you
      bring yourself to touch me when I'm not the one you
      want."�

      She knows she's probably made him angry; he surprises
      her when he finally speaks, his voice gentle but
      absolute like it once was on a train. "I would touch
      you, really touch you, if making you understand my
      feelings for Jean have changed was worth putting you
      through my thoughts again." He pauses. "I'm only
      half-sure it's not."�

      She sits for a minute, still and silent, letting that
      soak in. "Why?" she finally asks. She gets up and puts
      her cup in the sink, and stares, fighting tears, at
      the photo hanging above it, of a wild pony lying,
      probably sick, on the beach. Six other horses stood
      vigil around it; Lindsay said she'd taken it at
      Assateague, near daybreak, during a camping trip.�

      Logan answers right away. "Because I can't decide
      which is worse, you suffering another dose of me or
      you thinking... whatever the fuck it is you're
      thinking."�

      "I knew that. Why have you changed, about Jean?" she
      asks, not sure she wants to know the answer.�

      And this one isn't so quick in coming. "I-- I was
      pretty damn satisfied with my life three years ago,
      Marie. Then I did you a favor I didn't even want to
      do, and wound up in some fucked up real life video
      game where the joystick never seemed to work. And Jean
      is damned beautiful, no denying that, and it was even
      better that my attraction pissed Cyke off. But I got
      over it, and pretty damn fast, after I left."�

      "Yeah?"�

      "She's different from me, okay? I don't understand a
      lot about her and no amount of telepathy will ever
      help her understand me, even if she wanted to. We're
      different, and that doesn't much appeal to me."�

      "We're different," she says softly. �

      "Yeah, we are. But I can make sense of it, between
      us."�

      She turns back to him and then wishes she hadn't. For
      all his assurances, it's obvious she screwed up. He's
      angry; she can see it in his posture, in his face, in
      the way he stares her down and must have been staring
      at her back. "Oh," is all she can manage in the face
      of it all.�

      "Oh," he echoes, and now the anger *is* in his voice.
      "My turn for questions, Marie. If you think all this
      was to me was a pity fuck, what the hell was it to
      you?"�

      She blinks; she sees immediately that he's asking,
      directly asking, for everything she's ever wanted to
      say to him, but she's suddenly at a loss for words.
      "I-- dammit."�

      "Take you time," he says coolly. "We're staying right
      here until I get an answer."�

      She sinks back into her chair and can feel tears
      threatening. "It was-- Logan, it was something I
      thought I'd accepted I could never have, with
      some*one* I thought I'd accepted I could never have.
      And I-- it feels like too much, I think, having both."
      She squeezes her eyes shut and rubs one of her temples
      with the heel of her hand. "Where the hell have you
      gone, huh?" she demands. "You're so fucking quiet! Why
      won't you just tell me what to do like always?"�

      And tears seep out, even through her closed lids;
      panic catches in her throat and she struggles to
      breathe for a second, then nearly heaves. "He's gonna
      kill me," she whispers. "He'll kill me if you don't...
      say something, dammit!"�

      "Marie," Logan starts, and she hears his worry and
      flinches. "Shut up," she mutters. "Shut up, shut up, I
      can't hear you if you don't shut up."�

      Arms wrap around her, holding her still though she
      hadn't realized until then that she'd been rocking.
      She struggles for only a moment, then slumps against
      him and he picks her up, carries her back to her room
      and lies her down. She curls into him suddenly,
      insisting silently that he stay, and she rubs her damp
      face slightly against his chest. "I'm sorry," she
      mumbles. �

      "What for?" The anger is gone and she relaxes
      minutely, loosens her grip on his torso.�

      "I was so glad at first," she whispers, abruptly
      sleepy. "I was so glad you were gone, so I could have
      you to myself, so it was *me* you were with. I was so
      glad-- I'm sorry. You're not the one I wish would go
      away more."�

      He rubs her hair and sighs. "Go to sleep, okay? I'm
      not going anywhere, and I'm the real one."�

      ***�

      When she wakes up, the first gray lights of dawn are
      coming in through cracks in her curtains, and she's
      not alone. Logan is curled behind her, practically
      wrapped around her, his face against the back of her
      neck. She can't tell how precarious the shield of hair
      between them might be, so she doesn't dare move.�

      She lifts her hand instead, presses it against his arm
      where it crosses her stomach. After a light squeeze,
      he mumbles into her neck and shifts, and she cringes.
      "I know," he says more clearly. "I'm being careful."�

      "'Kay." But she can't relax and stares blankly at the
      opposite wall. "Logan?"�

      "Mmph."�

      "I don't know what to do."�

      The bed creaks as he moves to sit up, and she rolls
      onto her back to stare up at him. His face is upside
      down, his eyes sleepy and his hair flattened in
      various places. "Have any ideas?" �

      She shrugs as best she can. "Stay here, go crazy?"�

      "Hm. Possible, but I'm not wild about it. Next."�

      "Go somewhere else. Go crazy."�

      "Getting better. Let's work on that last part,
      though."�

      She smiles unwillingly for a moment. "He could really
      help me?"�

      "I think he could try." Logan scrapes a lock of hair
      away from her forehead. "Even if he doesn't do a
      thing, which is better? Facing him and trying to get
      Magneto under control, or staying here and... going
      crazy or something?"�

      "I don't know if I can go back."�

      "Well, you'll have to decide and live with whatever
      decision you make. And look... I'll go with you. I'll
      make damn sure I'm there, at least through the
      toughest part." He winks at her. "You'll have to stock
      up on tights, though, or I'll ruin every pair you
      own."�

      She tries to hold back laughter and snorts instead,
      which just sets her off. When she settles, she smiles
      ruefully. "It was a good trade," she says softly.�

      "Huh?"�

      "That's what it was to me. Last night... it was you
      for you. Fair trade."�

      He smoothes a hand over the top of her head. "I'll
      make sure you get your money's worth, then."�

      "Promise?"�

      "Count on it."



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