Disclaimers etc. in Part 1
I was sitting outside on the verandah, decompressing after the wedding.
Even after all these years, it's still hard for me to be around crowds.
Especially wearing a dress that left a lot of skin exposed. I was more
comfortable now, in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, with long cotton
gloves covering my arms. It was hot, so I drew the line at shoes and
socks. Anyone who wanted to come near me was just going to have to
beware my bare feet. I'd taken a long shower after the reception, and
was combing the tangles out of my hair. The fireflies were out -- they
were early this year, I thought -- and I had a can of beer and a
cigarette. All was well with the world.
And then I heard him. He wasn't taking pains to hide, so I heard him
from a mile away. I realized that the whole bouquet-and-garter thing had
probably landed him in the doghouse. I wasn't too upset about it,
though. It wasn't my fault no one wanted to play knight-errant to the
woman with deadly skin.
I didn't move. I was there first. If he wanted to sulk, he'd have to
find somewhere else to do it.
He came out, leaned against the railing, cigar in hand. He raised an
eyebrow at me and I tossed him my lighter. Even after four years, we
still had that silent communication thing going on. It was a little
"Beer?" I asked, determined to be friendly.
He nodded, and I tossed him one. "Coors Light in a can, Marie?" he
"Well, you know us white trash types," I drawled. "Ain't got a taste for
that fancy foreign swill."
He was off the railing in a flash, and looming over me. "Fuck, Marie,
don't say shit like that," he growled. I'd forgotten how he hated
hearing me put myself down.
I shrugged. "It's true, Logan. Okay, maybe not the trailer trash part,
but that's how people," read: Jean, "see me."
"That ain't true and you know it, kid." He started pacing in front of
me, occasionally taking a puff of his cigar.
"Would you sit down already? You're makin' me antsy," I said, and it was
amazing how easily we'd fallen back into our old roles. I could almost
imagine him giving me the look -- the one that said, let's get naked and
screw -- until I remembered that he wasn't mine anymore, and he wouldn't
be giving anyone but Jean that look any time soon.
Instead, he actually sat down. I guess four years with Miss Manners has
finally beaten some into his metal skull. I don't really like that idea.
He shouldn't be completely civilized, settled down like a normal man.
He's Wolverine, for Christ's sake.
We sat in comfortable silence for a while, and I realized I missed this.
Just being. You don't have to talk or act or front with Logan. He is,
and you are, and it's enough. With Remy, it was always about
appearances -- how things looked, what other people thought -- never
just about who we were; and that was tiring. This was relaxing.
"You and Jean," I said finally, wanting to get it out before it choked
me, "you guys seem happy. You complement each other, you know? I hate to
say it, but you're perfect together."
He snorted, and I knew my timing was bad, because obviously, if they
were perfect, he wouldn't be out here having a smoke and a drink with
me -- he'd be upstairs, having sex with her. But it's the thought that
"We're good," was all he said. "How are you?"
And I knew he wouldn't ask if he didn't really want to know, so I told
him. "I'm hangin' in. You know, getting used to bein' back, havin'
people around all the time. I'm not big on crowds. That's one thing I
miss about New Orleans. Having my own place. I spoke with the Professor
about it -- about maybe me living in town and driving out to teach --"
"You're gonna be teachin'?"
"I gotta make a livin', Logan. I can't just hang on Chuck's coattails."
I only ever called him Chuck when I was with Logan, of course.
"And what will you be teachin'?"
"Just 'cause I didn't finish college doesn't mean I can't teach," I said
defensively. "I went to school in New Orleans. Worked as a mechanic. I
could take the Blackbird apart and put her back together with my eyes
closed. And that damned motorcycle you're so fond of? I've been talkin'
to Scott about makin' some adjustments. I'm going to take over his
mechanics for beginners class."
"Hey, no need to get defensive," he said softly, his face serious. "I
was just wonderin'. You're a smart kid. You should finish college." He
paused, then, reaching out a hand, he said, "If you can't afford it, I
got some money saved--"
I jumped up. It hurt too much. Even after having been his girlfriend for
a year, he still thought I was a kid who needed his protection. "I'm not
a child, Logan. I'm twenty-four years old. You don't have to protect me,
and you can't buy my forgiveness." Shit. Where did *that* come from? The
hand he'd be reaching out to me stopped, and his head dropped. For the
first time in all the years I'd known him, he looked defeated. He didn't
even mention that there was nothing for me to forgive, that I was the
one at fault, first with my unreasonable expectations, and then with my
"Logan, I -- Fuck." I grabbed his hand and knelt in front of him. "I
didn't mean that. I'm so sorry. I'm the one who needs to beg your
forgiveness. You've done nothing but take care of me since the day we
met, and I've repaid you with nothing but pain." I rested my head on his
knee, tears burning behind my eyes. Why couldn't I ever say the right
thing? Why did I always have to try to hurt him?
He slid his other hand into my hair, using it as a barrier so he could
cup my chin safely. "Get up, Marie. We've both made mistakes. Please,
don't look at me like that. I can't take it when you look at me like
that, kid. You're killin' me."
I sniffled, trying to hold back the tears, but it didn't work. He hauled
me up onto his lap and cradled me as I cried. "I'm so sorry," I got out
between sobs. "For what I did to you. I --" I couldn't say I hadn't
wanted to hurt him, because at the time, I had. "You're too good to me,
Logan. And I don't understand why."
He rested his chin on my head, cigar and beer long-forgotten. "I don't
know, kid. We're just in this together, ya know? You and me, we've got a
thing -- I don't have words for it, I just know it's there."
"I know," I whispered, cried out and mellowing. Even her scent all over
him didn't bother me at that point. He was right. What we had was
something that couldn't be explained, and even if it wasn't the type of
relationship I craved, it was still necessary for me to live, like air
"Why'd you come back?" he asked finally.
I shrugged. "Nothin' left for me in New Orleans. Figured savin' the
world on a regular basis has gotta be better than fixin' cars and
"That bastard's not gonna show his face is he?"
I laughed. "Nah. He's got himself a new girl, local. He's occupied
full-time with that and whatever capers he's workin' on. He's still
dreamin' about the perfect heist, the big score." I shook my head. Yet
another difference between us; after the argument about kids, the fight
about his stealing was the one that we had most often.
"Good. 'Cause I'll gut him if he ever does." I sniffed again, and
fumbled for my cigarettes. "Those things'll kill ya," he rumbled.
"Yeah, yeah. Everything I like is gonna kill me, what can I say? I like
to live on the edge." It was an old joke.
We sat in companionable silence again for a while. I fell asleep,
because I don't remember going to my room, yet I woke up in my own bed,
wearing only the t-shirt and my underwear. I sighed. Living here without
having Logan was going to be harder than I thought.
"I'd join the movement if there was one I could believe in / I'd break
bread and wine if there was a church I could receive in" - "Acrobat" -
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