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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part IV: MA: 3/9: Rogue, all

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  • Jenn
    3/9 * * * * * Ten inches. Exactly the amount of space that separated us. Me in my sweatpants and a t-shirt, gloves and socks, since I really didn t feel
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2001
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      3/9

      * * * * *

      Ten inches.

      Exactly the amount of space that separated us. Me in my sweatpants and a
      t-shirt, gloves and socks, since I really didn't feel like wearing the
      collar to bed at the Mansion and having a night emergency. I had grabbed
      an extra sheet from the linen closet, pleased to note that the air
      conditioning was kept as low as always, and Logan and I picked sides of the
      bed.

      Logan was a long time falling asleep, so I pretended first and curled up on
      my side, facing the wall. Logan got closet side. That was dandy. Trying
      to discipline myself into sleep was not easy. No sir.

      Logan was in my bed. Or I was in his. In any case, we were sharing a bed.
      A big bed granted, and that wasn't exactly old hat or anything, but neither
      was it completely new. I mean, he'd spent bad nights with me. Of course.
      I'd even slept practically on top of him when I was fighting Carol.

      See, the real difference was, this was Logan. *Logan*. Different Logan.
      Highly attractive short haired Logan in his own t-shirt, sweatpants, and
      socks combo, looking so incredibly delicious stretched out inches away from
      me that it was a pain to remember that this was *not* what I needed to be
      thinking about.

      Checking his breathing, I knew he was asleep and rolled on my back, then to
      face him, rearranging the extra sheet around me. I wasn't in any claw
      danger--yippee invulnerability--but also because he knew my scent as
      familiar in the bed. At least, that's how it'd worked in my world and I
      figured it couldn't be that much different here.

      The fine strong bones of his profile were etched in sharp relief against
      the cool white and brown of the wall and closet door, lips slightly parted.
      I could spend all day just tracing the lines of his face with my fingers.
      Sometimes, I could almost imagine I could draw him from memory, though God
      knew, I didn't have any artistic talent whatsoever. Logan did, though.
      Frowning, I felt the edges of a memory trying to nudge its way out. The
      smell of lead pencils on paper and charcoal, a physical memory so strong I
      rubbed my fingers together to get rid of the imaginary dust.

      Settling down to watch him, I watched his chest rise and fall with his
      breathing. God, I wanted him.

      Whoa.

      Blinking, I almost sat up. No, I didn't. I wanted my Logan, once upon a
      time. This was *not* my Logan. This was the head of campus security.
      This was the current instructor of camp security officers. This was a
      revolutionary and an oppressor and a very, very different man from the one
      I'd grown up with.

      A very different man, but the same. Still honorable in a different set of
      ethics. I suddenly wished I'd told him what Lucas was doing in the
      restricted zone--a lapse of faith, of belief on my part. He wouldn't
      countenance that. He wouldn't. He *wouldn't*.

      Reaching out before I could think better of my impulse, I shook his
      shoulder and he came cleanly awake, eyes finding me instinctively.

      "You okay?" One hand slid down my shoulder, stopping just above the edge
      of my t-shirt. I nodded, then bit my lip. In retrospect....

      "I lied."

      He raised himself on one arm and ran a hand absently through his hair, then
      rolled on his side, tilting his head. He'd always been a quick
      riser--unlike me, he could actually *think* upon regaining consciousness.

      "Lucas was trying to rape me in the restricted area. He thought I was
      human."

      --Oh shit, Marie. That was *not* how you should have told him.--

      Inner Logan's warning was milliseconds too late.

      Logan sat straight up and a very, very familiar expression crossed his
      face. The word was feral. I *really* should have planned this better. Or
      at all, for that matter. Before I could draw in a breath, I heard the
      sharp sound of metal and felt my breath catch as three claws ripped the air
      inches above the bedspread from his right hand.

      "I'll kill him."

      See, this is why I should always think things through. Logan threw the
      blanket back and I lunged, getting hold of his waist and jerking him back
      down on the bed. Score one for me--I was stronger and Logan fell down on
      top of me, knocking the breath out of us both. He scrambled up, arms going
      around me and pulling me into a sitting position across his knees.

      Talk about suggestive as all hell....

      "Marie?" His bare fingers were against my head, skimming my hair back to
      look into my face. "Baby, you okay?" Hazel eyes looked frantically into
      mine, and he drew in a sharp breath when I slowly nodded, before he roughly
      pulled me close.

      Pressed against his chest, with long fingers stroking my hair back--shit
      yes, I was okay. I was better than ever. That was probably not what he
      meant, though. Taking a breath, I looked up and smiled.

      "Invulnerable. It works for any and all occasions."

      Logan nodded and made as if to move me. Claws on one hand were still
      out--he was careful with those. I figured he'd be very careful cutting
      Lucas into pieces, too. I wrapped both arms around his clothed waist and
      held on--just to keep him in place. Only reason.

      "Don't."

      "He touched you." It was a growl.

      "He failed. I said I'd kill him if he went into the zone again."

      Logan looked down at me, studying my face.

      "Marie, no one touches you. For any reason."

      "I'm fine. He failed. I hurt him. Don't kill him."

      This might not work. Logan heated up fast and sometimes, just sometimes,
      it took awhile to bring him down. Sometimes a long while. Days, maybe. I
      shifted until I could get both hands to his face, make him look down at me.
      This wasn't good. He wasn't calming. And shit, I couldn't exactly say I
      was that against the idea. Young Lucas was high on my list of people who
      needed to be removed from civilization. Antarctica sounded good to me.

      Killing him, however....

      "Marie--"

      "Don't kill him. Promise me you won't kill him." I made him meet my eyes,
      feeling Inner Logan shake his head at my efforts. Thanks, babe. You're
      being sooo damn helpful. "Please, Logan."

      That got me a sigh and Logan relaxed a little. He was thinking. Thank
      you, God. I let my grip ease just a little, studying his face until the
      final signs of utter rage dissipated, replaced with cool appraisal of the
      situation.

      "He's gone tomorrow--he and his two friends. They were there, weren't
      they?" He said it like he already knew. Well, two guys were there. I
      opened my mouth, then shut it. There was no use saying the two guys hadn't
      done anything--they'd stood by and watched me be attacked. Just as guilty.

      "Two guys were with him, yeah. I don't know who."

      "They're gone. Out of the zone." His entire jaw was tense. "Little
      bastards." The strong arms went tight around me, pulling me close again,
      and I rested my face against his chest, careful of the bare skin of his
      neck. "That shouldn't have happened. No way in hell." He growled
      something softly and I wondered if he needed some Danger Room time to work
      out his aggression. For Logan, there were only two releases for excess
      stress--violence or sex.

      A vivid image of me pushing him down on his back here and now took up the
      entirety of my mind and Carol inside my head began to laugh. I deserved
      it. Logan growled, but I ignored him.

      "Do people--do we--do mutants..." I choked it off, not sure how to frame
      the question.

      "Mutants aren't allowed in the restricted zone without authorization from
      Lensherr, Scott, or me." Logan paused briefly. "The sentries are supposed
      to report entrance."

      "They told the sentries they were from Lensherr."

      "He couldn't authorize them if he wasn't here. Verbal confirmation is
      required on all access. They called me when you went in the zone." Logan
      paused, frowning into the air to my left. "Crap. I haven't been paying
      attention."

      Huh?

      "You?"

      Logan nodded, arms slowly loosening, but I really didn't feel like moving
      yet.

      "Yeah. The camps and restricted zones are my responsibility for personnel
      assignment." Logan growled something that could have been profanity.
      "Gotta check with Remy in the morning and get replacements. Shit."

      Slowly, I withdrew and watched as Logan ran through mental checklists. He
      was head of school security AND assignor of camp and restricted zone
      personnel in New York zone. That was--interesting. And complex.

      And sooo very different from my Logan. He'd have hated responsibility like
      that.

      "Logan--"

      "I'll be right back--Remy's up and can handle this now until I can go over
      the rosters tomorrow." With another growl, he reached across the bed and
      ran light fingers through my hair. "Go back to sleep. I won't be long."

      "I'll wait up," I answered, then looked around the room, then back to him.
      "It's--sort of weird without you."

      That got me a smile that dizzied me, before he moved from our bed with
      cat-like grace. He was wearing socks. It was cute. I watched him unlock
      the door and walk out, shutting and locking it behind him with the keys he
      grabbed from the bedside table and I moved over a few inches, curling up in
      the warm spot he'd left, taking in his scent. Silly maybe, but it felt
      good.

      * * * * *

      "Marie?"

      I lifted my head in surprise to see Jean standing in the open doorway. No
      need to ask her how she got in--a telekinetic had her ways. Sitting up, I
      wondered if I'd fallen asleep.

      "Hey." Blinking, I noted it was still full dark outside and the bed was
      empty except for me. "Where's Logan?"

      "He and Scott are currently making several people's lives very miserable.
      I thought you might want to grab some coffee." She smiled then, shaking
      her hair back from her face. It was annoying--how could anyone have just
      woken up and still be that beautiful? In worn blue cotton pajama bottoms
      and a t-shirt (both of which were obviously Scott's), no makeup, and her
      hair a mess, she looked like a centerfold come to life. Inner Logan was
      appraising that too. I rubbed my head, trying to push back the involuntary
      images that lingered like ghosts in the corners of my mind. "I'm sorry if
      I woke you up."

      "S'okay." I yawned and pushed the blankets back, running a hand through my
      hair. "Yeah, coffee would be good. Whose lives are they making
      miserable?"

      Jean grinned as I came out the door and we walked companionably to the
      stairs.

      "A few restricted zone personnel, some camp guards, and three kids pulled
      from bed about an hour ago.." She gave me a sideways glance. An hour ago.
      Ah. Logan was making use of his mutated lungs apparently.

      But they weren't dead. I'd bet anything that Scott's main function right
      now was to make doubly sure of that.

      "Did Logan wake Scott up?"

      Jean flushed a little and shook her head quickly.

      "I did. I--felt--Logan's temper." She shrugged delicately as we got to
      the bottom of the stairs. "Logan and I used to have a link of sorts--I can
      still pick up strong emotion from him. When he's like that, he needs
      someone to ground him. Scott's very, very good at that."

      I felt my mouth drop. A link? Logan let Jean *do* that? Scott and Jean
      had had one for most of their lives together, that I knew. My face must
      have reflected something, because her hand rested lightly on my shoulder.

      "No, Logan and I weren't involved. But--during the war, it was difficult
      to keep communication between the cells. When I came back from Genosha,
      Betsy and I set up a sort of--it's hard to explain." She frowned a
      little--explaining telepathy to a non-telepath sometimes sounded like some
      sort of psychotic episode. I should know--explaining my personalities to
      others had elicited a similar reaction. "It was a thread, you might say.
      Logan, Scott, Ororo and I set it up between us, to keep contact on the
      separate fronts and coordinate with Genosha when other forms of
      communication were impossible. It wasn't very strong, but it let us know
      that something was happening and when Erik rebuilt Cerebro, I could use it
      to speak to all three easily, even from Genosha."

      That made sense--but I got the feeling she was simplifying even more than
      necessary. Her power trickled along my skin in a soft buzz, a reminder of
      the amazing mind behind those mild brown eyes. She was so strong. It
      still surprised me to feel it on her. As we walked into the kitchen, the
      cabinet threw itself open as if in welcome and the coffee slid out,
      patiently hovering near the coffee pot. As Jean got cups out of the
      cabinet, the water turned on and the pot floated over to wash itself out
      before filling up and dancing back across the room.

      Fascinated, I watched a filter skip up from the far cabinet and slide into
      the receptacle, before coffee grains poured into it, then the pot
      cheerfully returned to pour water in. By the time Jean had the cups out,
      the coffee maker was on and the rich smell of coffee filled the room.

      "Okay," I breathed, utterly entranced. "That was very cool."

      Jean turned to look at me, then laughed before opening the refrigerator and
      getting out the cream and some leftover cake.

      "I've had a lot of practice."

      No shit on that. I would be surprised if my Jean could get the pot under
      the water without dropping it.

      As Jean sat down, I looked at the green mug with a happy little frog on it.
      The handle was a frog leg.

      "Cute," I said, pointing to the mug. Jean grinned.

      "Yeah. I like thematic mugs." She gave me a long look over the rim of her
      cup--a happy pig. I wanted one of those. The tail was the handle. "I
      don't need telepathy to know something happened to you in the restricted
      zone. Logan's anger was enough. What happened?"

      I sighed, playing with the mug and Jean's eyes grew distant as the coffee
      maker finished--that sucker was fast. The pot took flight and came over
      for a visit. I sat back as it poured into my cup, then Jean's, before
      taking a comfortable position between us on the potholder that ran over
      from the stove just in time to slide beneath.

      I loved this. I wanted to see more. But Jean had a question, and I got
      the feeling she might be waiting for an answer.

      "Lucas--thought I was human."

      Jean's expression remained smooth and curious--I took a breath, then let it
      out slowly. She didn't know either--about what went on there. What the
      sentries had allowed.

      "He--tried to attack me. Rape me."

      Jean was a good enough telepath not to project under stress, so I didn't
      feel her project. What I *did* feel was the tingling of her power jump,
      strong and hot against my skin. I drew back, all unmeaning, watching her
      eyes narrow.

      "Little rat." She stared at her cup. "Logan is exiling them from the
      zone. He'd rip their citizenship if he could, but we can't do that without
      Lensherr's approval. Damn." Taking a drink from her coffee, she pressed
      the tip of one finger to her mouth. "That explains a lot about Lucas'
      absences. I assumed he was going to New York."

      I nodded a little blankly, taking a sip from my coffee.

      "Well, at least that explains why Logan was so--determined." A little
      smile turned up her mouth as she looked at me. "Are you settling in okay?
      Logan's furniture is terrible."

      I almost choked on my coffee.

      "Pretty good," I managed between breaths. I should be ready for stuff like
      this.

      "In a few days, I'll take you into New York, and we can look for something
      better." Her smile turned mischievous as she cut us each a piece of cake.
      "He doesn't have any taste. Trust me, we've tried."

      That I knew. I smiled back, taking another sip of coffee and thinking
      about how I'd like to redo the living room. Leather couch would be nice,
      wood finish. A better coffee table--something simple and strong, yeah, but
      undamaged would be good. Maybe a bigger bed--

      --hello, my name is Marie and I am utterly insane. No question.

      "Yeah," I murmured, unsure what else I could say. Jean was making some
      serious headroads into the cake, I noticed, and she caught me watching and
      grinned, licking the icing off her lips.

      "Hungry a lot," she told me. "It's normal." She gave the coffee a glance.
      "I'm caffeine limited, but I don't think anyone wants to see me deprived
      completely, even Nathan."

      Who was Nathan? My expression must have showed it, because she paused with
      the last crumb of cake on her fork.

      "Logan hasn't told you?" She paused, shaking her head. "I suppose he
      wouldn't yet. I'm pregnant."

      My eyes widened. Jean was pregnant. That was--well, that was excellent
      news. My Jean had been talking about it, but--I leaned back into my chair.

      "That's wonderful," I answered sincerely. "Congratulations. How far
      along--"

      "Fourteen weeks," she answered, taking another sip of coffee and finishing
      off the fork. A glance at the cake, then she shrugged and cut herself
      another slice. "We--weren't sure I would make it this time, but so far,
      all's well." Unconsciously, her hand had dropped to smooth over her
      stomach slowly. "Everything's checking out normal. I'm not worried."

      This time? I shut my mouth over the question and took a drink of coffee.
      She was worried. She was stressed as hell and it showed--even though she
      wasn't projecting, I could feel her tension.

      "I guess Scott's excited too?" I said, trying to think of something that
      wasn't all the questions I wanted to ask. This time. There'd been other
      times. Her smile lit up her face and I caught my breath--so did Inner
      Logan, but for once, I understood. I totally understood.

      "Very. It's a surprise he hasn't grounded me to campus." We shared a
      smile over men and their strange ways. "He's been tracking down parenting
      books left and right."

      I could imagine. Once an overachiever, always an overachiever. I finished
      off my coffee, pouring by hand another cup and this time adding a little
      cream and sugar. Black was preferred for my first cup, but I liked it
      either way. Curious blend of Inner Logan and Marie there.

      "You want to ask what I meant by this time."

      I sputtered through my taste of creamed coffee and looked up. The dark
      eyes were calm, but suddenly seemed years and years older. Somewhere in my
      mind, Kitty's memories were trying to push forward, but I pressed them
      back. This was personal--something between Jean and I alone. I didn't
      want a sneak preview.

      "Was I projecting?"

      "A little. Just curiosity. People are usually sensitive around
      me--sometimes it becomes a little annoying." God, tell me about it,
      Jeannie. All that 'being deprived of human touch' crap had done strange
      things to those around me. I hated the pity, the veiled curiosity, the
      careful wording of the questions that finally would be asked. Sometimes, I
      would have given anything for someone just to ask outright and damn well
      stop pussyfooting around the issue like I'd shatter if someone was just
      straight with me.

      "I'm sorry. I know--I understand. I was wondering if it'd been difficult
      to conceive, that's all." My Jean had never mentioned any problems, after
      all; then again, that wouldn't have been something she'd have discussed
      with me. That was 'Ro's territory, or her close friends. I was her little
      sister, her surrogate daughter, not her friend. Not really, not in that
      way.

      "To conceive, no. To carry, yes. I miscarried in the camps and medical
      treatment wasn't forthcoming." She tried to shrug it off lightly, but the
      brown eyes didn't change.

      A cold shiver ran down my spine.

      "God."

      "It makes things difficult. There aren't a lot of mutant gynecologists or
      obstetricians I can consult with." And hell if anyone would trust a norm
      with Scott Summers' wife. I could completely see that. "So we worked with
      what we have. I'm hoping--this is the longest I've carried so far."

      "I hope so, Jean."

      Her smile lightened.

      "So do I." Another absent stroke of her stomach. Nathan. She thought it
      was a boy already. Maybe she knew--for all I knew about telepathic
      doctors, they could tell sex at conception. And Nathan was a nice name.
      Taking another drink of coffee, I thought about what it would be like to
      carry a child. I couldn't. Jean at home had never had to tell me so--I'd
      had enough biology and neurology from college and general exposure to be
      aware of all of the possible problems. Conception was the least of my
      worries--there was no way to know whether the child I carried could even
      survive my body, if my mutation recognized it as alien and tried to absorb
      it. And if I carried to term--would I be able to touch my own child?
      Probably not. Could inherit my mutation, and what kind of thing was that
      to do to a kid? What kind of parent could I be?

      The thoughts were unsettling--the truth was, I'd never really wanted it
      either. I was too young, still an X-Man, and it wasn't like I had a lot of
      prospects for a possible sperm donor wandering around me. Watching Jean's
      soft smile, though, the way her gaze turned interior--it reopened the door
      I'd closed.

      I shut it as fast as I could even as Inner Logan breathed his way through
      my thoughts.

      --It won't always be like this, Marie.--

      I gritted my teeth and slammed my shields down, knowing Jean would sense
      that and probably wonder why.

      --I'm not worrying about it. It's not that big a deal--I never really
      wanted kids anyway.--

      Maybe that could change, though. But God, wasn't this just the most wrong
      time in the world for it to happen?

      "So is Scott hand carving a nursery?" I asked in a bright voice, taking a
      definitive drink of my coffee. Jean laughed and picked up another forkful
      of cake.

      "He would if he could." Jean shared another smile with me and got down to
      some serious cake eating. "In a few weeks, I suppose we'll start
      decorating the nursery." Her voice held the slightest trace of nervous
      uncertainty--and I wanted, with all my heart, to tell her that everything
      was going to work out just ducky. That she'd have her little Summers kid
      and all would be well. Damn it, I was relating personally. This couldn't
      be a good thing.

      "Ladies."

      If Jean had been beautiful before, the appearance of Scott Summers just
      changed the universe's concept of beauty. Dearest God. I glanced back
      over my shoulder as Scott sauntered in, hair brown-blond mess, slightly
      flushed, and in a matching pair of flannel pajama bottoms. How very cute.
      Just adorable. Logan wandered in after and I almost swallowed my tongue.

      Anyone who can look that sexy wearing tube socks should be put on display
      somewhere for the masses to drool over.

      I turned back around and dived into my coffee as Scott grabbed a chair and
      pulled up to the table, his wife feeding him a bite of cake.

      "All well, Fearless Leader?" Jean asked with a grin.

      "Three deep scans tomorrow morning, before they're taken out of the zone,"
      Scott answered absently, licking the icing away and taking another bite
      from Jean. This was just too cute for words. "Who made carrot cake?"

      "Ro and Betsy did this afternoon. They hid this one for me." She shook
      her hair back and gave him a smile. "I can do the scans before
      breakfast--are they downstairs in containment?"

      "Yes." That was all. I felt Logan's presence just at my back and Jean
      looked up, giving Logan another smile, warm and completely friendly. There
      was something damn weird about the X-team being this all-over friendly. I
      shook my head and felt Logan pull the chair back, dropping beside me with
      an interested glance at my cake. I pushed it over to him and he grinned
      and took the fork. Logan never refused food.

      "When Lensherr gets back, I want them out of the country."

      Scott looked up and nodded from behind his red glasses.

      "So do I. But I doubt Lensherr will give a damn."

      "Not for entering a restricted area, probably not." Logan's voice was
      disgusted. "But for attacking Marie, they signed their own ticket out.
      Stupid of them to report Marie in the first place." He gave me a glance.
      "Stupid not to tell me immediately."

      I flushed and looked down at my cup. Vaguely, I heard the cabinet open and
      two cups hovered over the table before settling in front of Scott and
      Logan. Neither looked particularly surprised. They were so spoiled. This
      was an interesting show.

      "This doesn't help sleep, Jeannie," Logan remarked over his last bite of
      cake and Jean snorted.

      "Caffeine has almost no effect on you. And Scott burns it out fast.
      Besides," she gave Scott a glance, "sleep is overrated."

      "Jeannie," Logan's voice was amused as Scott flushed. Sugar shock was
      setting in from all this adorableness--and with it, a brief flash of envy.
      The X-Men of my world had never been so easy with each other and this Scott
      had somewhere along the line acquired a better version of his sense of
      humor. Logan poured himself a cup of coffee, glance darting between me,
      Scott and Jean, and the doors. I took a quick view of the room to confirm
      my suspicions. Yes, both he and Scott could see all three kitchen doors
      easily and no one could possibly sneak up on them. I wondered if they even
      knew they did it anymore--the automatic positioning of Scott's chair, the
      way Logan leaned on the table that kept everything in view. It showed.

      "You done, Marie?" Logan asked, and I blinked, readjusting to here and now,
      then drank the last mouthful of coffee down and stood up, forgetting my
      slice of cake. Logan was already on his feet and pulled my chair out.
      "Kids, go to bed."

      "Since when do you give me orders?" Scott asked without heat. A smile was
      turning up his lips.

      "Around the time I started listening to yours, Cyke. Night." His hand
      dropped to the small of my back and I followed the pressure of his fingers
      to the door and he pushed it open for me. The halls were still dark and we
      made our quiet way up the stairs in companionable silence. Then Logan
      stopped, head cocked slightly, and he laughed softly.

      "What?"

      "Listening," he answered and gently pushed me forward. Straining, I
      couldn't hear anything. But--

      "Oh." I felt myself flush and Logan grinned as he followed me up the
      stairs.

      "Jeannie's having a hormonal surge." Logan sighed. "And people wonder why
      I don't wanna stay on campus. Not something I wanna run into in the middle
      of the night."

      I giggled at Logan's pathetic tone and pushed open our door, stretching the
      crick from my back before absently crawling on the bed and collapsing on my
      side. Vaguely, I heard him scout the room, locking the door again and
      checking the bathroom.

      "For God sake, you think someone wandered in while we were gone?" I asked.
      The noise was getting to me. "Come to bed already."

      He laughed softly and I heard him pad across the room and one knee dropped
      the mattress on his side of the bed.

      "What, not checking under the bed for gremlins?"

      "Gremlins?"

      Well, my Logan probably wouldn't have known that reference either.

      "They come out after midnight--by feeding furry gizmos--" I reached for
      the rest of the storyline, then gave up. And truth be told, it sounded
      like a mental breakdown. "I'll find the movie. Never mind." Rolling on
      my stomach, I worked the blankets out from under me and yawned. "What time
      are you leaving in the morning?"

      "Six. In about--" he must have checked the clock from the pause, and where
      was the clock anyway? --"three hours."

      "Sleep."

      "You're hogging the covers."

      I lifted my head and glared.

      "I never hog the covers." Well, maybe a little. I was used to sleeping
      alone. Kitty said I looked like a burrito at night. And she was right.

      Logan dropped beside me, bouncing the bed, and I snuggled into the pillow,
      eyes growing heavy. Tomorrow I had things to do. Tomorrow night, Hank was
      going to finally go see the machine and start finding out what made this
      happen to me. I might have my chance to go home.

      Slipping into sleep, I wondered why the thought wasn't quite as exciting as
      it had been only a few hours before.

      * * * * *

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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