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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part IV: MA: 1/9: Rogue, all

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  • Jenn
    Jus Ad Bellum: Part IV: Collateral Damage Author: jenn (jenn@igg-tx.net) or (jenn@thegateway.net) 1/9 ***** Means are ends in the making. Where the means
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2001
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      Jus Ad Bellum: Part IV: Collateral Damage
      Author: jenn (jenn@...) or (jenn@...)


      "Means are ends in the making. Where the means are bad, there can be no
      good end."
      --Mahatma Gandhi


      Scott surprised me the next morning by appearing at our breakfast table,
      where I'd taken up a quietly unobtrusive seat in Logan's shadow, trying to
      eat my eggs in peace. That I knew all eyes were fixed on me was an
      understatement--I was as aware of them as I was the color of my shirt
      (blue, by the way) and the fact I was gloved and people wondered about that
      still. As if they had nothing better to do with their time.

      Logan's presence, however, discouraged others from approaching, and I
      supported that wholeheartedly. Even Bobby--hell, most *especially* Bobby.
      I couldn't take another sad, disappointed glance.

      After getting home the night before, exhausted and practically floating in
      the door of the apartment, I'd gone almost straight to sleep, stretched out
      on the couch with dinner half-finished on the plate in front of me. No
      time to think of ways to see Polaris or figure out how on earth I could use
      the knowledge that St. John and Hank weren't alone in their opposition to
      the Polaris project. Bringing the two groups together seemed theoretically
      a good idea--but every time the thought popped into my head, I shrugged it

      Inner Logan agreed and interrupted my egg-eating as I turned the idea over
      in my mind for the umpteenth time.

      --You don't know enough about what's going on here, darlin'.--

      No shit, Sherlock. I was lucky to figure out who I could trust. If that.

      --It's just....--

      --Not worth the risk, Marie.--

      "Cyke's on his way, baby," Logan murmured as he speared a sausage with
      beautiful unconcern. I lifted my head just in time to see The Fearless
      Leader drop into the chair across from us, a friendly grin spreading his
      lips and suspicion written into every line of his body. I pasted on a
      smile, checked the fit, and threw it at him with all the casual charm I
      could muster. Hey, Fearless Leader, here I am, corrupting your favorite
      henchman. Nice to see you again.

      He might not have gotten the humor of the situation. Frankly, I was pretty
      iffy on it myself.

      "Noticed you weren't at the main table." A slight jerk of his head toward
      the seated X-Gods and Logan nodded agreeably, still focused on
      breakfast--he was one of those happy people for whom appetite was never
      diminished by outer or inner turmoil. I admired him for that.
      Unfortunately, that was one specific characteristic he'd never managed to
      pass on to me, no matter how many times we'd touched.

      --It's food, baby. Don't see the issue.-- Inner Logan had often wondered
      about my connection between emotional equilibrium and hunger as well, and I
      pushed my eggs around on my plate and concentrated on the outer world.
      Inner convos directly in front of the Leader just didn't seem like the
      brightest idea, especially when the Leader was on the suspicious side.

      "I need you on campus today," Scott said, and I kept my eyes trained on my
      eggs, piling the sausage links like little logs on the edge of the plate
      and forking an egg piece on top. Aesthetically pleasing, yellow on brown.
      "You too, Marie." Huh? I jerked my gaze up, but Scott's gaze was fixed on
      Logan, not me.

      Logan was looking back and a thousand questions flashed through his eyes
      that I wanted answers to as badly as he did.

      "Why do you need Marie?"

      "St. John wants to run her through a few more simulations. She's already
      worked with the beta team, so she might as well get familiar with
      procedure." A slight glance at me now, amused indulgence rich in his
      voice. My Logan would have broken his jaw for that alone. This Logan just
      raised an eyebrow. "Her evaulations were good, Logan. It'll just be a few
      hours. I think she can leave your sight for that long."

      Hmm...so it was that obvious. I tried not to flush, thanks to Logan now
      perfectly aware of the reason for all those glances in my direction so
      often. Everyone thought we were--well, we were a 'we'.

      And it wasn't exactly an idea I was fighting too hard either, and not just
      because of convenience. My fantasy life had scenes like this one, though
      usually he ate the food directly off my stomach and put the syrup to
      creative uses not mentioned on the bottle. Spearing an egg, I nodded and
      glanced up as someone took an empty plate away--a girl, though all I saw
      was a cropped blonde head and a flash of blue at her wrist when she reached
      by me. I'd automatically pulled a little toward Logan to allow her to get
      to the plate, and blinking, I wondered when I stopped noticing things
      around me like that.

      Or rather, stopped noticing the norms. How odd.

      "You done, baby?" I jerked my gaze up, now aware of two sets of eyes fixed
      on me, and swallowed the egg hastily, pushing aside the uncomfortable
      thoughts. No need to worry about it now.

      "Sure." I half rose and Logan and Scott followed--old gentleman
      conditioning. In Scott, it was a perfectly understandable part of his
      oh-so-anal-retentive nature. In Logan, it was relics of a completely
      different life and time, and it never ceased to fascinate me when that
      conditioning took effect. His gloved hand rested on the back of my neck as
      he and Scott exchanged a few more words that I wasn't really listening to
      as our plates were cleared. Looking around idly, I saw Bobby and Kitty at
      the far table--not that either was looking at me, but there was a turn to
      Bobby's mouth and stiffness to the wide shoulders that told me he was very
      aware I was there.

      "Marie? You ready?"

      I nodded, swallowing in a dry throat as we walked with Scott toward the
      door. The interested gazes of the mutant population were fixed with rapt
      attention on us again. I wasn't being paranoid.

      --It is paranoia, and it's rather cute, Rogue.-- Carol's snicker filled my
      head. I tried to tune her out. To my own surprise, it worked. I was
      getting better at it.

      "So when is Erik arriving?"

      I blinked, focusing on Logan's voice. Information. Always good.

      "He'll be back this week with Polaris. Jean should have everything ready
      by Friday." There was a tightness to Scott's mouth that didn't bode well.
      His next words told me why. "Hank was in town. Have you--"

      "He left, Scooter." The hand on my neck tightened in warning--what, did
      Logan think I was going to blurt out everything? Please. "Awhile back.
      He's not going to help, you know that. So I don't see why you're still
      tryin'. Just give it up, let him live his life."

      Scott didn't answer, but the sharp gaze rested on me, as if my presence
      alone was responsible for Hank's intransigent devotion to wanting norms
      equal. I kept my blank expression carefully in place. After a few more
      words between them, Logan led me outside, and I took a long breath as he
      pushed me gently onto a bench.

      The air tasted cleaner than inside, or it could have been the fact I was no
      longer bracing under the pressure of all those eyes and all that
      speculation. Straightening, I looked around the garden and had to smile a

      It was gorgeous weather--all pretty bright-sunlight,
      perfect-for-family-picnics, let's-play-a-pick-up-game-of-football sort of
      day that I'd looked forward to at home. Not too hot, not too windy, let's
      get a kite and have some serious fun in long sleeves without sweating to
      death. I could feel Logan gazing at me in an almost smothering worry, and
      that seemed normal too.

      "He has good instincts. Try not to look so guilty."

      I frowned up at him, and most especially at the sensible advice he gave.
      Scott had always had a nice paranoid streak running through him, but in my
      world, it'd been rigidly contained. The only thing that surprised me now
      after days of observation was that he hadn't ordered me into the sublevels
      and let Jean and Betsy double-team me until he got some answers.

      That I was walking free sure as hell showed where Logan stood in the Trust
      Hierarchy. He'd gut me if I was a threat, and that's all Scott needed to

      "I'm trying to look neutral." I'd seen him gut a deer once, during
      survival training with me, Kitty, and Paige. Paige had taken it pretty
      coolly with a slight moue of distaste, Kitty had vomited into the bushes,
      and I'd watched with unwilling fascination, my fingers flexing in time with
      his as if claws would protrude if I only got the right muscle combinations
      to work. It'd been one of those rare moments we'd been in such perfect
      rapport we actually twitched in unison when Kitty's noises from behind the
      bushes reached us.

      He could mutter whatever he wanted about feeling vaguely parental about me,
      but the truth was, and a part of him knew it, that you didn't get our level
      of sexual tension from random Jacosta complexes. Those moments he would
      never admit to were all the proof he needed. Both of us got off on
      violence and we liked it better together than apart. Being X-Men, in
      retrospect, could be considered our version of safe sex.

      "There's no such thing here. Either for us or against us." A shrug as he
      lowered himself down beside me, glancing around automatically, checking for
      surveillance or people too close. I wondered a little vaguely who would
      possibly have the nerve to follow Logan around. He was twitchy at the best
      of times--I'd bet money no one walked up behind him for any reason without
      *a lot* of advance warning, olfactory superiority or not.

      "You draw the lines that sharp?"

      "Yeah, we do." A pause, before he tilted my chin up. "Hank'll figure
      something out."

      I could lose myself in eyes that utterly sincere. It was nice to know I
      had the same effect on him, as the gaze lingered longer than necessary and
      the thumb on my chin unconsciously stroked my skin.

      "I can't stay here much longer," I said finally, and it frightened me when
      he didn't disagree. "They're gonna push one day. I can't--"

      "If it fails with Polaris, it won't matter, baby."

      "Sure it will. I don't think anyone would take the resurrection of Rogue
      well." Especially when they'd fucked around so beautifully with her

      Logan's shrug beside me was telling.

      "Don't worry about it. We'll think of something."

      I didn't want to have to think of something. Lifting my head, I gazed
      around the garden and took in the smells of flowers in bloom. It was home
      in a way that was starting to make me more comfortable than I should be,
      and I suddenly missed the rampant cases of deja vu I'd experienced those
      first days. I shouldn't be comfortable here.

      "You don't have to hover, you know. I'm fine on my own." Show that
      independent streak, Marie-baby. There we go.

      "You want me to leave?"

      Slightly surprised, a little intrigued. This Logan wasn't as familiar with
      Rogue, she who needed no one and nothing--or did a kick-ass imitation,
      anyway. No, I didn't want him to leave--what I wanted was for both of us
      to leave and let me hide on his sofa under a blanket with a good book until
      Hank returned with a miraculous solution. Failing that, I wanted to duck
      quietly into his shadow and hope no one noticed me.

      Funny world, this was.

      "No--but I don't want you to--you know, feel obligated to hold my hand
      through this, you know?" I'd never wanted his obligation, though God knew,
      I'd gotten it, full measure. Logan took duty seriously. Very seriously.
      Obsessively, some might say. And while I'd never *wanted* it, in this
      world or mine, I'd never been one to look at gift horse in the mouth and
      check out the dental issues within. When someone takes up seventy four
      percent (and I'd done the calculations, so I knew) of your fantasy life,
      you took what you could get, no matter what form they came in, no matter
      the condition of the teeth.

      "No problem." Of course not--this was something intrinsic to him. Jean
      had once hypothesized that he had the single most active paternal instincts
      ever found in a single male. I'd have to agree--it jumpstarted him into
      fatherhood without a single child of his blood, just the children of his
      heart and soul and choice. Me and Remy, Kit and Jubes to a lesser extent.
      The kids of the Mansion, who always knew who was most likely to let them
      off easy when they broke curfew, or ignore the beer parties in the boys'
      dorms, who would growl in frustration but still pick them up from clubs at
      two in the morning if they overindulged and couldn't drive. Bitch them out
      in colorful language, though, but that was sort of entertaining and
      certainly gave us all an education in selective profanity.

      We had Logan's cell phone memorized and his private extension in the
      Mansion on speed dial. He belonged to me, to us, in ways he'd never
      belonged to the X-Men themselves, even Jean.

      "I've been reading," I told him, dismissing the thoughts completely, and
      the hazel eyes fixed on me in interest. "About the war--about what you
      went through, all of you. I'm sorry." The memories from Kitty I just kept
      under wraps. No need to advertise my unauthorized use of powers on an

      An eyebrow cocked and I shifted uncomfortably on the bench.

      "For--for some of the things I said. You--you were right, you know." When
      we fought, before I knew he wasn't genocidal, merely insular. I'd hit him
      with words that probably still slithered about in his mind, and even if I'd
      been right--somehow, it wasn't fair to do that to him. I owed both Logans
      far too much to do that. "I wasn't here--I can't understand what you went

      Another shrug, but I sensed the tension under it.

      "Sometimes," he said, and it surprised me, since I didn't expect a
      response. "Sometimes, I was glad you didn't live to see it." He paused.
      "We lost a lot of people."

      Xavier. Jubilee.

      "I'm sorry about Jubilee," I said, and received confirmation when every
      muscle in the body beside me tensed, completely reflexive, utterly
      unconscious. Damning as all hell. "Kitty--" Don't tell him about the
      absorption. Don't know how he'd take that. "I heard that you--you and she
      were close."

      The hazel eyes refused to meet mine and something in me twisted abruptly--I
      hadn't really thought about it before, but it occurred to me to wonder....

      "She died early on," he said shortly. "I got Kitty out, but I was too late
      for her."

      He got a lot of people out. Kitty, Scott, St. John, Bobby. Questions
      floated to the surface of my mind even as I began to seek out Kitty's
      memories--vague impressions of a birthday party before the war and Logan
      disgusted when Jubilee threw cake at him, long nights downstairs in front
      of the television watching registration becoming inevitable and Logan
      telling them they'd be fine. Graduation gowns and Logan scooping Jubes up
      and throwing her over his shoulder while she laughed and beat at his back
      while Scott fell against the punch bowl laughing and Jean snapped pictures.

      How strange, that I could superimpose the memories of Rogue over those and
      get such a perfect match. My breath caught a little and I felt Logan's
      sudden gaze at me when my scent changed. I wondered if I smelled like

      "I'm going to go look for St. John," I said suddenly, getting to my feet,
      trying with movement to wash away the memories. "I'll see you later, okay?

      He didn't follow me. And you know, in my world, he would have.

      * * * * *

      "Where's St. John?" I asked of the first person I saw. Vaguely, I
      recognized her--green eyes, Sarah, that was the one. She skittered to a
      stop, turning so quickly she almost dropped the grocery bag she was
      carrying, and winced back when I took a step forward. Shit, I hated when
      people winced like that. What the hell did she think I was gonna do to

      "St. John?"

      "Yes." I answered, a little sharply. "Have you seen him this morning?"

      She pushed her hair back from her face nervously, and I almost growled.
      The second wince was just icing--I wasn't going to hurt her, for God's

      "Never mind. I'll find him myself. Go--do whatever you were doing."

      A quick bob of her head and she took off in the direction of the kitchen
      while I made for the stairs. Try his room, then do some interrogation.
      That'd work.

      Bobby was absent (probably still eating) when St. John crankily answered my
      knock on his door, and he let me in without much in the way of conversation
      as I snatched the collar out of my pocket and thought about putting it on.

      "Something wrong, R--Marie?" he said sleepily and I almost kicked him as I
      dropped onto his bed.

      "Be careful." I snapped, suddenly worried. "Marie."

      St. John nodded, still not fully awake, and shut the door, turning the lock
      automatically before brushing a hand through his short hair and glancing
      briefly at the collar clenched in my hands.

      "You like that thing?"

      Considering what I knew of his experiences with it, I understood his

      "It keeps others safe." I paused to let him go in the bathroom--St. John
      Allerdyce was useless before brushing his teeth, a habit he'd picked up
      from Bobby. Shower too--I heard the water come on and lay back on his bed,
      curling my legs up beneath the discarded covers and staring up at the

      If I got obsessive about the relationship between Jubilee and Logan, I'd
      scream. That was all there was to it. I didn't need to worry about
      this--I had more to worry about than a past that was irrelevant to me and
      with so many other far more pressing issues. Would Hank find a way to get
      me home? Would Scott get more suspicious and send Jean after me? Would
      Magneto figure out who I was? Would the Polaris Project go on as

      Had Logan replaced me with Jubilee?

      Fuck. So irrelevant. I rolled onto my stomach and was glad to see St.
      John had a nice, large, firm, fluffy pillow. Because I wanted something to

      Ten minutes later, St. John walked out of the shower and his pillow had
      lost something in the way of fluffiness.

      "I see you're feeling good this morning, babe." His eyes narrowed on the
      pillow in thought. Dressed in nothing but a towel, he crossed to the
      closet, pulling open the door. He was smirking. Narrowing my eyes, I
      considered my options.

      "You know I almost had sex with you once in my world?" I told him, and he
      dropped both towel and t-shirt. Amused, I averted my gaze and fixed it on
      the door while he dressed with jerky motions I could see from the corner of
      my eye.

      "That's nice." Pretty good attempt at normal conversation mode. I was
      impressed. "Why almost?" He emerged into my line of sight in jeans,
      pulling the t-shirt over his damp blonde head. I hid a grin.

      "Let's say your interest in me was purely--proxy."

      "Oh." Slightly amused, more than a little surprised, shades of
      embarrassment. Pure St. John, and he flashed me an uncertain smile.

      "Yeah," I answered easily and rolled on my side, giving him a long look.
      "Why aren't you and Bobby--you know--here?"

      A shrug as he settled the shirt at his waist and went hunting for his socks
      in the dresser. "No reason--never came up. Not since high school, anyway,
      and after Cecy died--"

      "Cecy?" I'd heard that name before.

      St. John turned with tube socks in hand, crawling across the carpet to dig
      under his bed. He didn't have a habit of putting his shoes in the closet.

      "Bobby's fianc´┐Że. Met her our first semester in college--before we were
      discovered." Johnny shrugged again. "She died in the camps for being
      a--collaborator. Or fucking the enemy, so to speak. I suppose when her
      parents turned in me and Bobby, they didn't expect her to be arrested with
      us, for sleeping with a known mutant."

      I shivered a little--he could say it so casually, and I wasn't used to that

      "I'm sorry."

      "So was Bobby." He came up for air with one shoe clutched in his hand, a
      frown creasing his face. The other shoe was being recalcitrant,
      apparently. "They were engaged--God, I swear, they decided on the second
      date." A strangely nostalgic smile curved Johnny's lips and he sat back on
      his heels briefly, head tilting. "She was a carrier of the X-gene, not a
      mutant herself though. She was targeted as much for that as for her
      relationship." Johnny ducked back under the bed again. Emerging with the
      second shoe, he gave me a long look. "Her mother and both her sisters were
      taken too. Even though her father was FoH."

      I thought about that, my mind turning over the implications.

      "That's odd."

      "FoH required gene tests after that to join the party."

      Whoa. I sat up straight.

      "They became a *political party*?" And didn't that just spook me in ways I
      didn't want to be spooked? Dearest God. Not good.

      Johnny's eyebrows arched briefly in confusion, before he belatedly
      remembered who I was.

      "Yeah. Got a full Congress and a President elected. Problem was, a third
      of them ended up having mutant family members. Lots agreed to
      sterilization to assure that their possibly corrupt genes didn't continue."
      Another smile that could have doubled for an animal's bared teeth. "Very
      interesting, how many suddenly turned up without families--sent them
      abroad. 'Specially their daughters--required sterilization on the kids who
      came back with a x in their chromosomes. We won't even cover the latents
      who didn't even know they *were* gamma class and found out at the ripe old
      age of fifty that their neat ability to always convince people with their
      speeches and their excellent luck in poker was low-grade psi ability."

      I'd never thought of that and pondered the implications.

      "What's the requirement to be considered mutant?"

      "Good question. Magneto makes the rules--he's partial to alpha/beta
      class." A shrug. "The way we wiped through the human gene
      population--norms outnumber us, but you know, most mutant kids come from
      norm parents. And some breed true every time; those have special
      privileges, a weird sort of second class citizenship, like Sam's family.
      Work visas, can operate heavy machinery without supervision, less
      restrictions on travel." Viciously sarcastic. "It's the ones who started
      executing their own kids that Mags targets--those and the collaborators.
      Mutant or not."

      I could see that.

      "So what do you need, babe?"

      I wondered if he'd know anything about Jubilee and Logan and dismissed it
      from my mind.

      "Scott said you were running me through sims this afternoon."

      St. John blinked, considering my statement from all angles.

      "Yeah, I mentioned to Scott I needed to--I guess he forgot to tell me." A
      shake of his head. "Weird. He usually doesn't forget stuff like that."

      "Probably meant to tell you this morning." Before I saw you, so I wouldn't
      know he was deliberately separating me and Logan. I wondered why, but St.
      John sat down on the bed beside me and the blue eyes looked into mine. In
      their depths were so many questions--I knew what he'd ask before he said
      it, before the blue eyes left mine and fixed on the far wall.

      "Me and Bobby--you asked about that. Is it--different? I mean--"

      "You and Bobby graduated from USC; you teach journalism at the school and
      freelance for a few magazines. You've been together for over two years," I
      said softly, and I heard his breath catch. I could tell him this. It
      wouldn't hurt anyone. "After Bobby broke up with me, you took him to Malta
      for awhile. When you got back, I was with Remy and Bobby was--I don't
      know. Weird about it. And then--well, something happened, I don't know
      what, but you got together." I smiled a little. "You're happy, I'll tell
      you that."

      St. John grinned a little, something lighting up his eyes.

      "You know Remy and 'Ro--"

      "Yeah." I almost sighed to myself. "Remy and I broke it off after what
      happened with Carol--it was hard for him. I made it hard, and I
      couldn't--" Couldn't stand to be touched, to be near anyone I could ever
      hurt again. Remy got angry about it--Logan just pushed me until I gave up
      trying to keep him away. I remembered them fighting outside the Mansion,
      when they thought I couldn't hear, remembered Logan ripping into Remy for
      abandoning me. Logan never quite understood I'd abandoned Remy a long time
      before. "He and 'Ro have been pretty good friends since Logan first
      brought him home. I think they're developing into more." Another sigh,
      and I flicked a finger over the blanket--it was strange, that it didn't
      hurt to think about anymore. It once had. "Surprise, surprise."

      His hand was gentle on my shoulder.

      "You okay?"


      A pause, longer, before he spoke again, and my luck should have figured out
      where he'd go.

      "Is the--are the Professor and Jubilee--"

      He felt my wince and drew back in surprise.

      "She's fine," I said, fixing my eyes on the far wall. "Everyone is.
      Everyone, you know, is fine. Mostly." Leave out random episodes of mutant
      violence and sundry, and I turned my head a little, knowing my face would
      show too much.

      "You and Logan in your world--you were very close."

      --He's a quick one. Told you, honey.--

      --Shut the *fuck* up, Carol, before I decide to figure out a way to *burn*
      you outta my mind.--

      Her laugh was malicious--Xavier and I had discussed the option early on,
      but the sheer difficulty of rooting through my mind and removing Carol
      neuron by neuron and memory by memory was a task fit for perhaps *six*
      telepaths of Xavier's caliber, not just one. And the dangers of losing my
      own memories, my own self--in balance, the risks were too great. At least
      in Xavier's opinion.

      But rethinking the situation...

      "Yes," I mumbled, wondering how I could change the subject.

      "It was hard for him--after you died." I looked up. "He stayed at the
      school--Jean thought it was because of the girls, you know? He saw you in
      all of them."

      I had to find some level of amusement in the fact that Logan couldn't even
      escape me when I was dead.

      "It's no biggie," I said, seeing him ready to say something else. "Do you
      think you can see Polaris when she gets back?"

      St. John shrugged.

      "She's with Lensherr--never leaves his sight. I'll try, but--" he shrugged
      meaningfully, and I understood, at least a little. People with
      martyr-complexes didn't want to be saved.

      "Makes sense." Magneto was good at what he did--he'd learned from that
      unfortunate incident with me, I had to guess. Twisting short blonde hair
      through my fingers, I gave the room a cool once-over before finally turning
      to face Johnny.

      "Scott's suspicious."

      "Scott is the epitome of paranoid. He doesn't like how you've shown up so
      close to the execution of the Polaris Project."

      "He doesn't believe in it, you know." Usually, I didn't think before I
      spoke--this was one of those times. St. John leaped on the words before
      they'd finished finding space in the air to hang meaningfully, grabbing my
      shoulders and spinning me around.

      "Where'd you get that idea?"

      It seemed sensible, on the surface, to start spilling--but I bit my tongue
      and shook my head. I didn't want to trust my instinct to tell him. I
      couldn't pretend to understand everything that was going on, and even if
      Scott wasn't a cheerleader for the project, it didn't mean that he would
      actually bring it to a screeching halt either. In fact, I'd guess from
      what Logan said, they weren't going to do anything yet. They'd learned the
      rules of sacrifice and ethical compromise far too well.

      "Just--observation." The intense gaze wasn't lessening and I wondered if
      this Johnny could read when I lied as easily as the other one. For a
      second, I thought he could, but he let me, go, sitting back to stare at the
      far wall with an intense expression. "Johnny--"

      "Sorry." His face turned down, hiding his expression from sight. "You
      wanna go look at the sim programs now?"

      With a quick nod, I stood up, glad to end the uncomfortable moment with
      some action. But I did notice that St. John's eyes didn't meet mine for
      the rest of the morning.

      * * * * *

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