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FIC: For The Good Times (1/2) [L/R, NC-17]

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  • Donna Bevan
    Title: For The Good Times Author: Donna Rating: NC-17 overall Category: Logan/Rogue Summary: Rogue can touch - so what s with the angst? Disclaimer:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2001
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      Title: For The Good Times
      Author: Donna
      Rating: NC-17 overall
      Category: Logan/Rogue
      Summary: Rogue can touch - so what's with the angst?
      Disclaimer: Sooooo not mine. Even the song ain't mine. It's by Kris
      Kristofferson, but the version I'm using is the one *sung* by Al Green,
      'cause that man rocks my world. :)

      Dedication: This bunny came straight from Diebin Farms. She grows some
      huge, tenacious suckers out there! ;) Thanks for being my partner in
      LoganTorture, Tyler. You always hurt the ones you love. So sayeth the
      Frogman.

      Thanks: To Gowdie, Nancy, and Jengrrrl, who all helped me figure out how
      to complete this never-ending monstrosity. ;)

      Author's Note: Look, whatever you do, don't stop reading after you see the
      song lyrics. LOL They'll depress you anyway, and you may as well give me
      a chance. Oh yeah, and the end has not been beta’d. I just want to get it
      the hell off my hard drive before I lose my mind. It’s been there for,
      like, three freakin’ months. What was my point? Oh yeah, if it sucks, the
      fault is entirely mine. Fully. Totally.

      Read on. <grinning>

      <thoughts>
      [telepathic broadcasts]
      *italics*

      ~~x~~

      don't look so sad, I know it's over
      but life goes on and this world will keep on turning
      let's just be glad we had this time to spend together
      there's no need to watch the bridges that we're burning

      I'll get along, and I'm sure you'll find another
      and I'll be here if you should ever find you need me
      don't say a word about tomorrow or forever
      there'll be time enough for sadness when you leave me

      lay your head upon my pillow
      hold your warm and tender body close to mine
      hear the whisper of the rain drops flowing soft against the window
      and make believe you love me one more time
      for the good times...

      ~~x~~

      It happened because Rogue was distracted.

      She was sitting in the library, working on a few of the meditation
      exercises Professor Xavier had given her. She barely noticed when her
      Persian kitten, Jasmin, nudged the not-quite-closed door open and padded
      inside. Then the cat jumped onto her lap. Rogue was so relaxed that she
      was only dimly aware of the new weight on her legs.

      But… It made her think of Logan. Yes, she was thinking about Logan. With
      a smile, she recalled the day that Jean and Scott had given her the tiny
      kitten. Logan had tried his damndest to look horrified, but after five
      years of living inside his soul, Rogue wasn't so easily fooled
      anymore. She knew that he'd lost his heart the moment she had, when the
      tiny ball of smoke-grey fur had opened her blue eyes and meowed plaintively.

      Five years, and they seemed like mere moments. She grasped at every day
      that passed, not wanting to let it go. Five years, and Rogue had never in
      her entire life been happier. She had Logan. She had love. And he didn't
      care if he couldn't touch her skin. He still cherished her, still held her
      closer than skin. In his soul.

      She smiled, and didn't notice that Jasmin had left the warmth of her lap
      and begun to claw her way up Rogue's shirt. Then she felt it, the delicate
      touch of a soft paw on her cheek. Startled, Rogue gasped and began to jerk
      away when it hit her.

      It hit her.

      Jasmin wasn't hurt. She merely sat there, perched on Rogue's shoulder,
      with one paw on the woman's face and her pink tongue curling out with a
      lazy yawn.

      She wasn't hurt.

      Jasmin yowled as Rogue bolted up from the wing backed chair, panting. "Oh
      God. Oh my God," she whispered aloud, watching her cat stalk off, annoyed
      at the sudden movement. "Oh God…"

      She burst out the door, nearly knocking over a student in her haste.

      He called after her, "Miss Gordon… Whoa, are you okay?"

      Timmy, the boy's name was Timmy. The knowledge was a vague pulse in
      Rogue's mind as she stumbled. She tried to respond, then shook her head
      and dashed down the hallway, intent only on reaching the Professor.

      He was alone in his office when she came crashing through the door, chest
      heaving.

      "Rogue? Good Lord… Has something happened?" The fear on his face made
      her shake her head wildly in negation.

      She began to babble incoherently. "No! My… I touched… Oh God, Professor,
      I *touched*--" She broke off suddenly, waving her hands madly around her
      head. "Just look," she begged.

      Touched? Who had she touched? With panic threatening to break his
      control, Charles Xavier reached out with his mind and found the younger
      woman in turmoil. Her thoughts raged around his, and then he focused on one.

      [...touched Jasmin--she's fine…didn't hurt her--oh God, she's FINE--]

      "Rogue, calm down," he commanded. "Rogue!"

      Finally, she collapsed into the chair he indicated. "Professor, have I
      really--"

      "I'm going to summon Jean," he murmured. "And Logan. If we should need to
      further test this, he's the ideal candidate for--"

      "No!" she interrupted, unyielding. "Not Logan. Not if it's not true,
      Professor. It… I can't let him think it if it's not true." The look she
      cast him was pleading. "Please."

      He nodded. "Very well, then. Just Jean. Perhaps she'll be able to shed
      some light on this."

      ~~x~~

      Rogue sat on her bed, unmoving. Across the room, Logan slept peacefully,
      unaware of the fear and conflict raging inside her.

      Twelve hours. It had been twelve hours since Jean had smilingly touched a
      bare hand to hers, telling her how happy she was for her. It seemed unreal
      now, as Rogue stared down at her hands. She could touch others. Neither
      Jean nor Professor Xavier could offer any explanation, though Jean had
      tried valiantly. She performed on Rogue every physical test at her
      disposal, but nothing about the young woman's body had changed. None of
      the results were different.

      But she could *touch*.

      The Professor had been so proud of her. He sat silently by, smiling,
      watching Jean work. "You've done it, Rogue," he'd said later. "We may
      never know how or why, but you have done it."

      She had begged the Professor and Jean both to keep it to themselves, told
      them that she needed time to come to terms with the sudden change. They
      simply smiled benevolently and assumed that she wanted to tell everyone,
      especially Logan, herself.

      But she'd told no one.

      Especially Logan.

      She came to her feet, padding wearily across the hardwood floor. Her
      lover's bare skin, silvered by moonlight, was a Siren call, and she had no
      choice but to heed it. Her shaking fingertips touched the slope of his
      shoulder, and she bit her lip in an effort to keep from crying out.

      She could touch him; why hadn't she *told* him?

      He shifted unconsciously into her touch, sighing softly, and Rogue drew
      back her hand, chest heaving. She was scared out of her mind, and she had
      no idea why. Was it the fact that she'd lived for so long, seven years
      now, without naked touch? Or was it something else entirely that kept her
      mute?

      Was it the depth of her feelings for the man on the bed before her?

      It was more than a little ironic that she and Logan had ended up
      together. He was pure animal energy, and she was untouchable. He walked
      around glaring at the world, daring it as a whole to take him on, while she
      hid behind layer after layer of cloth, constantly shrouded in a barrier of
      fabric.

      Rogue forced herself to admit that, at times, Logan overwhelmed her. He
      made her lose control. She, who always had to be so careful, completely
      lost it whenever he was within ten feet of her. It had been that way since
      the moment she'd first seen him, standing unbeaten in a metal cage; he was
      so powerful, so primal, so…

      Physical.

      Rogue shivered. If he could affect her body so compellingly through the
      insensate clothing she continuously wore, how quickly and deeply would she
      fall apart when bared to him? Would the thin veneer of restraint she
      maintained disintegrate under his naked fingers like so much dust, leaving
      her scattered to the winds, helpless in his arms?

      Lost?

      Yes, she would lose herself in him. That frightened her more than it
      should, and more than she would ever admit.

      Rogue sighed in confusion and returned to her bed. Curling into a
      protective ball under the comforter, she resolved to sleep on it and figure
      it all out in the morning.

      ~~x~~

      The next morning stretched into afternoon, and still, Rogue had no idea how
      to tell Logan that no walls remained between them, that nothing could
      physically keep them apart.

      Rogue had morning classes to teach, but had a hard time focusing on
      literature and history. She let her last class go nearly half an hour
      early, stunning and pleasing the students. Then she reported to the
      medical bay, as ordered, where Jean insisted on running more tests. She
      spent a large part of the afternoon being poked and prodded and jabbed as
      Jean mumbled hypotheses under her breath and jotted notes in her file.

      "I don't get it," Jean finally pronounced. "Everything's normal, which
      answers the question, I suppose, of whether your mutation is controlled
      physically or mentally." She blew her bangs out of her face, then grinned
      as she hopped up on the table next to Rogue. "So… How'd Logan take the
      news? I heard him whistling over breakfast this morning and almost busted
      a gut trying not to snicker," she teased, elbowing her friend lightly.

      Rogue froze, guilt painted across her face. "I didn't tell him," she
      admitted quietly, toying with a thread on her sleeve.

      "Rogue…" Jean seemed stunned. "Why?"

      She struggled to find the words to express her fears to Jean, but all that
      came out was a bald-faced lie. "I… I didn't want to tell him without
      bein' sure. You know, in case this was just a fleetin' thing."

      "I see," she mumbled, and her tone told Rogue that she didn't see, not at all.

      "Jean, don't tell anybody, please. Not yet. This is gonna take some
      gettin' used to, this touchin' thing, and… " Rogue's eyes met
      Jean's. "It's a little scary."

      She smiled. "Don't worry, Rogue. This secret is yours to
      tell. Just… Don't wait too long, all right? It's good news, and it
      should be shared. When you're ready," she added, sliding off the
      table. "Now, how does dinner sound?"

      "Better than stickin' around here with you and your needles, that's for
      damn sure," Rogue retorted, grinning at the redheaded woman. "And
      Jean? Thanks."

      ~~x~~

      "Hey, is that you, darlin'? There aren't any clean towels in here…"

      Rogue kicked the door shut, then dropped the wicker laundry basket onto the
      floor and grabbed a folded towel from the top. "That's 'cause I just did
      all our laundry this evenin'," she informed Logan, nudging the bathroom
      door open and holding the towel out to him. "You weren't at dinner," she
      noted, trying not to stare too blatantly at his wet, naked body.

      Logan rubbed the towel vigorously over his head before wrapping it low
      around his hips. "Aw, I'm gonna grab something in a minute. I was in the
      Danger Room." His arms shot out, snaking around her waist, hauling her up
      against his damp chest. "Worked up quite an appetite, too," he growled
      against her shoulder.

      Rogue stiffened slightly at the contact. "I'll bet you did," was her
      hoarse reply.

      Frowning, Logan released her. "What's up, Marie?" he asked, dropping a
      kiss to her gloved wrist. "You coming down with something?"

      She flinched away from his concern, walking out of the bathroom.

      Logan followed, confused by her distance. "Marie…"

      "I'm fine, Logan," she lied, dropping onto her bed. "I just… I'm a little
      tired."

      "You sure?" At her nod, he moved to the dresser. "'Cause I want you to
      talk to me, you know. If you need to."

      At his words, her eyes shot guiltily to him. Had someone said
      something? But when he turned back to her, his eyes were clear, guileless,
      and she sighed in relief at his easy smile.

      She had to tell him and soon, or she was going to go nuts.

      "Actually, Logan, there is somethin' I need to talk to you about," she
      corrected herself, sitting up as he pulled on his clothes. "Somethin'
      kinda important."

      His smile faltered for a split second, then he shrugged, sitting on his own
      bed across from her. He rested his hands on his knees and cocked his
      head. "I'm listening," he said hesitantly.

      The words wouldn't come. Rogue's throat worked, and her lips moved
      soundlessly. Her gaze dropped to her entwined fingers and tears welled
      up. She could barely breathe, much less speak. "Logan--" Her voice
      cracked, and she cleared her throat. "We've been together for a long time."

      Again, his smile faded for a moment. "Five years," he noted, then smiled
      softly. "I didn't forget our anniversary or something, did I?"

      "No, it's nothing like that," she assured him, shaking her head. "Five
      years." Rogue squeezed her eyes shut, then looked at Logan once more. "Why?"

      "Why what, baby?" Confusion and a little fear twisted his mouth,
      compressing his beautiful lips into a thin line.

      Tears jeweled Rogue's lashes, and she breathed raggedly. "Why do you love
      me?" At the last words, her lips began to tremble, and she sighed shakily.

      Logan's eyes narrowed, and he moved to sit beside Rogue, pulling her close
      to him. "Hey, hey… What's this all about?" he demanded, wrapping one of
      her hands in his.

      "Why do you love me?" she repeated, upset but immovable. "I need to know,
      Logan. I need to know why."

      "Jesus, Marie. I love you 'cause you're you. My Marie. That's it." He
      squeezed her shoulder.

      Her eyes touched his face, searching for uncertainty, for doubt. "And my
      skin?" Her voice was low, pained.

      Logan tried to choose his words carefully. Sometimes, when she was in
      these moods, it seemed like nothing he said could make a difference. It
      was almost as if she couldn't believe that he loved her in spite of not
      being able to touch her skin.

      He understood the feeling. There were still moments when amazement
      overtook Logan, and he wondered how a woman like Marie could see something
      in him worth cherishing.

      Finally, he spoke. "We've always been pretty good at getting around that,
      Marie. And besides, I'm not in love with your skin, gorgeous as it
      is. I'm in love with you."

      Her shoulders sank, and she turned and buried her face against his
      shirt. "I love you, Logan," she choked. "I don't know what I'd do if I
      lost you…" Her breathing hitched and he could smell the salty tang of tears.

      "I'm not going anywhere, baby," he assured her quietly, leaning back until
      he was lying flat on the bed with his lover cradled in his arms. "I swear
      it, Marie. You're not gonna get rid of me."

      She cried for a long time. Logan continued to speak softly to her until
      she quieted and sleep claimed her. He was left holding her slumbering body
      to his, wondering what in hell had scared her so badly.

      ~~x~~

      Ororo sighed as she climbed down from the library ladder, brushing dust off
      her palms onto her jeans. "That's the last of them," she noted, turning to
      Rogue and smiling. "Next time, make sure you sweet-talk Logan into
      handling the new book shipments, hmm?"

      Rogue's answering smile was weak, and Ororo frowned. Rogue had been acting
      strangely for the past few days, and it was beginning to concern her. She
      cocked her head as she studied the younger woman's tense face and sad eyes,
      and she wondered yet again what was wrong.

      "Rogue? Are you all right?" she asked, wading through the emptied
      cardboard boxes that surrounded them.

      "I'm fine," she answered quickly, and Ororo knew that the response had been
      unconsidered, automatic.

      "You don't look fine," she persisted, still moving toward Rogue. "You
      look--" Her words cut off as the heel of her boot snagged on the edge of a
      flattened box, tripping her.

      "Ororo!" Rogue cried out, reaching to catch her falling friend. "Oh my
      God, are you okay?"

      Ororo clutched Rogue's arms, laughing softly and righting herself. "I'm
      fine, I just…tripped…" She trailed off and her eyes shot up. "Rogue?"

      A sick feeling twisted Rogue's stomach as she looked down, realizing only
      then that Ororo was gripping her upper arm, bare between the top of her
      glove and her sleeve.

      "Nothing's happening," Ororo whispered, shocked. "Rogue, your
      power--" She stopped short and sucked in a breath. The face she stared
      into was absent of surprise, bearing only guilt and pain. "You…knew?"

      Rogue squeezed her eyes shut and nodded. "It's been four days now," she
      confirmed. "I'm sorry, Ororo."

      "For what?" she grinned, pulling Rogue into a hug. "This is fantastic,
      Rogue! How? How did it happen?" she demanded, dragging her to sit on a
      nearby loveseat.

      "I don't know," Rogue confessed unevenly. "It just *did*."

      "You've worked for so long, Rogue. This is wonderful for you." Ororo's
      smile broadened and she laughed. "You and Logan must be absolutely thrilled."

      Rogue glanced away, then back at Ororo. "I haven't told him yet," she said
      in a rush. "Please don't say anythin' about it, Ororo. Please."

      The easy grin slid from Ororo's face, and she sat, silent. "Is there a
      reason why you haven't told Logan?" she inquired gently.

      Rogue stared at the rug beneath her feet for a long moment. "I'm scared,
      'Ro," she admitted shakily. "What if…"

      "What if what?" Ororo asked softly, shifting closer to Rogue and sliding an
      arm around her shoulders. "Talk to me."

      "What if--" Rogue's voice broke, and she laughed tearfully. "When we
      first got here, Logan and I… Well, no one's gonna argue the fact that he
      wanted Jean. Beautiful, *taken* Jean."

      "Yes, but that changed, Rogue. Then he wanted *you*, and he still does."

      "Then he wanted me," Rogue repeated in a whisper, nodding. "Yeah." She
      turned tortured brown eyes to meet Ororo's concerned ones. "And Logan
      would be the first to say that he's always loved a challenge." She closed
      her eyes, and the tears that had been welling in them flooded down her
      cheeks. "What if--if that's what I am? What if that's *all* I am? An
      untouchable challenge?"

      Ororo shook her head vehemently. "Rogue, you know that's not true," she
      insisted, raising her hand to the younger woman's cheek to wipe away her
      tears. "He loves you, and that's not something that comes lightly or
      easily for a man like Logan." She smiled as she brushed a stray lock of
      hair from Rogue's face. "He's going to be so happy. So happy."

      Rogue shivered. "I don't know how to tell him now, 'Ro. It's been days,
      and he'll want to know why I waited, why I didn't--"

      "You must tell him, Rogue, and soon." Ororo's face was grave. "The longer
      you keep this from him…"

      "The more it'll hurt when I finally do tell him," Rogue finished, wiping
      her eyes.

      Ororo grasped Rogue's hand with her own and sat silently, not voicing her
      other concerns. Foremost in her mind was the knowledge that Xavier's
      school was not a large place, and Rogue's newfound control over her
      mutation could not forever remain a secret. If Rogue did not tell Logan
      herself, then he would find out elsewhere.

      A cold knot formed in Ororo's stomach. Something told her that hearing the
      news from anyone other than a joyful Rogue would hurt Logan beyond anything
      else.

      It was only later that she would know how prophetic that thought had been.

      ~~x~~

      Logan stood aside as students streamed out of Rogue's classroom. A few of
      them stared at him warily, and some with blatant curiosity. He merely
      stared back, waiting until the last of them had passed.

      "You done freakin' my students out now, Logan?" Rogue called laughingly
      from the front of the room.

      He ducked inside the room, grinning as he watched her erase the blackboard
      and put her chalk away. "Nah, I must be getting mellow in my old age," he
      told her, levering himself to sit on a table in front of her desk. "I
      didn't even growl at any of 'em."

      She feigned a pout as she moved to stand between his spread knees, placing
      her gloved hands on his cheeks. "You still growl at me," she pointed out.

      He smirked as she rubbed a thumb across his lips. "Yeah, but only 'cause
      you like it." He grasped her hips and let a growl rumble up from his
      chest, noting with satisfaction the sensual widening of her eyes. "See?"

      "A very valid point," she agreed, smiling.

      Logan was glad to see her looking so happy and light-hearted. She'd been
      in such a weird funk for the last week or so that he was starting to get
      seriously worried. But she seemed carefree now, and he wondered if maybe
      she really had just been tired. "Hey," he said. "It's Friday."

      Rogue's brow creased in confusion. "So it is."

      "So… Whaddya say we take the weekend off?" he suggested. "I don't think
      the school's gonna fall apart while we're gone," he added, nipping at her
      finger. "We could go camping or something. Just you, me, and more stars
      than you could ever count."

      She let her eyes drift shut at his words. "Mmm, I love the way you think,
      Logan." Then she sobered and moved her hands to his shoulders. "But I
      think we should talk first. Logan, there's somethin' I need to tell you."

      His fingers tightened on her hips as fear edged back into his
      chest. "Okay, Marie."

      Rogue hesitated, then whispered, "Somethin' has happened, Logan. Somethin'
      that could change everythin'."

      He stared at her, waiting for her to continue, then laughed
      painfully. "Are we gonna play twenty questions, or are you just gonna lay
      it on me?"

      Rogue was a bit taken aback by his rough tone. "Logan, it's--"

      "Rogue!" Scott stood in the doorway, leaning in. "Can I come in?" he
      asked, and she broke away from Logan.

      "Sure, come on in," she invited, casting a sidelong glance at Logan, who
      looked extremely irritated at the intrusion.

      Scott grinned and walked toward her. "Jean just told me the news," he
      announced cheerfully. "This is great, Rogue."

      "Oh God," she whispered. "Scott, I--"

      Before she could speak, he swept her up in a huge hug. "No, it's better
      than great," he corrected, ignoring Logan's glare. "It's marvelous." He
      pressed a kiss to her cheek. "I can't tell you how happy I am for you."

      Rogue stood, frozen, as Scott released her, laughing. A look at Logan
      confirmed that he hadn't missed the kiss and the weight it carried. He
      looked…betrayed. And angry.

      Scott also caught the murderous expression Logan wore. He held up his
      hands and chuckled. "Whoa, relax, Logan. I'm not trying to move in on
      your girl, or anything. I'm just--"

      "Get out, Summers." The words were flat and harsh.

      Scott lowered his hands. "Logan, what--"

      "Out." Logan punctuated the word with the release of his claws. "Now."

      Scott frowned. "Rogue?" he questioned, looking at her.

      She nodded almost imperceptibly. "Go, Scott. It's fine."

      He glanced between Logan and Rogue once more, then turned and walked out,
      closing the door behind him.

      Logan retracted his claws, jaw clenching with quiet fury as he advanced on
      Rogue, grabbing her arm and dragging her glove off. He stared at the
      exposed skin of her wrist for a moment before wrapping his fingers around it.

      "Logan--"

      "How long?" he rasped, fighting to ignore the sparks of sensation that shot
      through his nerves at the feel of her bare skin against his hand.

      She shuddered and shook her head. His eyes were unreadable, and she was
      nearly sick with fear. He would never understand now why she hadn't told
      him. He would never be able to comprehend the fear that had gripped her,
      the insecurity. He couldn't, not after finding out like this.

      "Tell me, Rogue."

      She nearly cried out, hearing that name fall from his lips. He never
      called her that, not even in his angriest moments. "Nearly a week," she
      whispered helplessly.

      Logan exhaled shakily, snatching his hand back from her wrist, and Rogue
      reached for him. "Logan, please. I was--"

      "Save it," he spat, turning on his heel and stomping out.

      Rogue watched him go, then closed her eyes against the pain washing through
      her. All of her fears seemed so stupid now, so foolish. And now she'd
      screwed everything up, made her very biggest fear a reality.

      She was losing Logan, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

      ~~x~~

      Logan skidded the bike to a stop outside the tiny, rundown building that
      housed Reggie's Bar. He'd driven right past Lily's, not wanting to drown
      his sorrows where anyone might find him.

      The inside of the bar was smoky even though it was nearly deserted, and
      Logan planted himself on a stool with a clear purpose in mind - to get as
      pathetically drunk as was possible for him.

      The bartender, a portly older man, wiped his hands and approached as Logan
      lit his cigar. "Help ya?"

      "Jack Daniels, straight," he answered. "The bottle," he growled as the man
      slid a glass in front of him.

      The bartender sighed, then shrugged and flipped the metal spout off the
      nearly full bottle, placing it on the bar next to Logan's glass. "It's
      your funeral," he mumbled, ambling away.

      That almost made him smile. No, not his funeral, though he could always
      wish. Maybe, one of these days, it would come true.

      <Marie…>

      Logan shook his head and tossed the contents of his glass back in one
      swallow. No, he wouldn't think about that yet. Not until at least half
      the bottle was in his stomach, maybe more. He couldn't.

      A quarter of an hour later, the bottle was empty and the world was
      spinning. Logan smiled, deeply grateful to his friend, the whiskey bottle,
      for making blessed numbness possible.

      "She never loved me, Jack," he murmured, picking the empty bottle up and
      cradling it. "She couldn't have. I mean, look at her. And look at
      me." He shook his head, ignoring the concerned looks the bartender was
      giving him. "She's perfect. Perfect little Marie." He dropped his head,
      leaning it against the bar. "Perfect…"

      It was Logan's secret, the truth he'd always known in his soul and never
      admitted, not even to himself. He'd always known, deep inside, that she
      would walk away from him. That, one day, his beautiful Marie would realize
      that he had nothing to offer her - no life, no future, not even a past to
      share. And then she would slowly rip him apart, with sad eyes and soft
      words, and tell him that it wasn't working, and he would die.

      He would die.

      He wanted to die.

      "Hey, buddy. You okay?"

      Logan grimaced, wanting the grizzled old man to go back to tending bar and
      leave him the hell alone. Already, the pleasant buzz was fading, replaced
      by a hangover he knew would last only minutes. He welcomed the pain,
      savored the distraction from the ache in his chest. "I'm gonna be
      alright," he said aloud, raising his head, and he wished the words were true.

      The man flashed him a skeptical look. "You just polished off a bottle of
      JD in fifteen minutes, pal. You ain't gonna be alright. Hell, I'm
      surprised your ass ain't on the floor."

      Holding the aforementioned bottle aloft, Logan cocked an eyebrow. "Don't
      suppose I could have another?"

      "You gotta be kidding me." The man sighed, then leaned a little closer to
      Logan. "Is there somebody you want me to call? Your wife, maybe?"

      Logan's eyes clenched shut for a moment, then he stood, his legs steady,
      and stared the man down. "I said I'm okay," he growled, yanking out his
      wallet and tossing a sizeable bill on the bar along with the empty bottle.

      The bartender watched in incredulity as he strode out of the bar, not
      missing a single step.

      Once on his bike, Logan had no idea where to go. He wasn't ready to return
      to the mansion; he had to figure some things out first, like how to keep
      breathing. So he headed for a spot he and Marie had found a couple of
      years back, a tiny clearing in the woods near the school.

      He lay back in the warm grass and watched the sun fade away, giving up the
      sky to the moon and stars.

      "You fucking moron," he whispered painfully. He'd made a complete idiot of
      himself that afternoon by suggesting that he and Marie go away for the
      weekend to lie beneath those stars together. She didn't want him touching
      her, that much was certain. After all, she hadn't even told him it was a
      possibility.

      A week. She'd known for a week.

      Now all of her weird behavior made sense to Logan; she'd been trying to
      figure out how to let him down easy. She'd figured out how to control her
      mutation, and it was time for her to move on, see what else was out there
      for her. If Logan had been a tad bit nobler, like Summers, maybe, then he
      might have understood.

      But he wasn't, and the animal inside him screamed. The beast that had been
      tamed by the gentle touch of Marie's hands howled for her, for her voice
      and her eyes and everything that she was. It demanded that he go to her,
      burn her with his touch until she was branded as deeply as he was.

      Until she was *his*.

      It made him want to cry, because he thought she *was* his, but it had all
      been an illusion. It was a pretty dream that he was waking from, only to
      find that reality sucked, and he'd give anything to sleep in ignorance once
      more.

      And still the animal roared.

      He pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes until the beast
      quieted. Instead of peace, he found another voice whispering inside him,
      one that was hushed and desperate. It reminded him that she wasn't gone
      yet, that she hadn't left. That he still had time. He still had a chance.

      Hope. It was faint, almost undetectable, but it was there.

      Marie loved him and, in a way, she always would. Logan knew that much. So
      he would let her go, let her see what else the world held for her. Maybe
      then, if he was lucky, she'd come back to him.

      Maybe.

      But, until then, he had time. He could still touch her, remind her how
      good it had been. How much he loved her.

      God, he loved her.

      He climbed to his feet.

      Maybe he could have one more night.


      ... TBC in Part 2 ...



      \\^//

      If you love someone, let him go. If it's meant to be, he'll give you his
      dogtags.
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