Disclaimers etc. in Part 0
1. The Sex Apartment
Rogue fumbled with the keys to Logan's apartment, struggling to keep the
heavy laundry bag upright. "The things I do for you, Logan," she muttered,
as she turned the key and heard the tumblers click. She opened the door and
her eyes widened at the unexpected sight before her.
There was a blonde woman, wearing nothing but a t-shirt, splayed out on
Logan's couch. And Rogue knew she wasn't a natural blonde, because she'd
just gotten a pretty good view of the woman's goodies.
The blonde was just as shocked. She jumped up and tugged at the hem of the
t-shirt, which barely brushed the tops of her thighs.
"Who the hell are you?" she demanded.
Rogue thought furiously. Over the years, she'd been afraid this might
happen -- Logan only kept this apartment so that he didn't have to bring his
women to the mansion. But she'd never actually met one of them, so they'd
always seemed a little unreal.
"Cleaning service," she croaked, which wasn't entirely untrue. <I do his
cleaning and his laundry, and pick up his mail when he's jackassing around
the country,> she thought, trying to ignore the woman as she headed into the
bedroom with the laundry bag.
She wrinkled her nose at the heavy scent of sex that lingered there. The
sheets were a mess, the comforter on the floor. She sighed; she hated making
the bed. She knew he'd do it if she didn't -- he was a neat-freak, probably
a leftover from his time in the military -- but she really needed to get
those sheets off. The smell of him mixed with the blonde was bothering her
"He just went out to get some cigars," the blonde said, having followed her.
"I didn't believe him when he told me it was the maid's day off, but I guess
he wasn't lying."
Rogue bit her tongue. She knew he was just joking when he said stuff like
that, but she wasn't exactly thrilled to be relegated to "maid" status.
Though maybe if she wore that sexy outfit... <Stop it, Rogue. He's never
seen you as a woman, and he's not going to start now. You're over it, girl.
Stay that way.> But she couldn't help it. Her first long-term relationship
had broken up a few months ago, and she was still feeling the loss. Greg had
moved away from the mansion, and she didn't have to see him every day, but
the wounds on her heart were still fresh. Especially considering he was
still calling her, wanting his stuff back. As if she had any desire to keep
his stupid Grateful Dead CDs. She didn't even *like* the Dead.
She leaned the laundry bag against the dresser, forgetting all about the
sheets. She couldn't be here when Logan came home. It was bad enough that
he'd know she'd been here at all. "I'll be back at a more convenient time,"
she told the blonde, brushing past her and going to the door.
"I'm Christine," the blonde said. "Have you worked for him long?"
Rogue closed her eyes for a moment. Dear God, did the woman actually want to
have a conversation?
"On and off over the past few years," she answered. "Helped pay my college
tuition." Which wasn't strictly true. Logan would have happily paid whatever
was necessary, if the Professor hadn't, without ever asking for anything in
return, but she'd felt the need to give something back. Hence, the laundry
and the cleaning and, on rare occasions, the cooking she did for him. She
felt like laughing; she did all the wifely chores, without any wifely
And she was not going to think about that. It wasn't worth the grief it
"What service are you with? Because my roommate and I could really use--"
The door swung open, nearly knocking Rogue off her feet.
Logan stood in the hallway, listening to Rogue and the blonde -- what was
her name again? -- speak. <Christine. Oh, yeah. Okay.>
He flinched when he heard Rogue say she cleaned for him to pay her tuition.
He knew she didn't like taking handouts from anybody -- she'd been an
independent little thing before she ever got a dose of him in her head --
but he never thought she'd seen it in such black and white terms. He was a
little queasy at the idea.
He opened the door when he heard Christine try to hire her. "She's quit the
cleaning service. Ain't that right, kid?" he said, taking in the stunned
looks on both women's faces.
"I, um, yeah. You're my last," <and only>, "client. The laundry is in the
bedroom," she finished, pushing past him into the hallway.
"I'll see you later?" he asked, grabbing her arm.
"Call me when you're going out," she replied. "And I'll finish up." It
wasn't the answer he wanted, but he grunted and let her go.
She was fumbling with the lighter when Jubilee found her.
"Hey, chica, what's up? I thought you gave up the cancer sticks."
Rogue sighed. "Yeah."
"Something happen at the sex apartment?"
No matter how many times they called it that, it always managed to make her
smile. "There was a woman there," she said, proud her voice was level.
Jubilee knew how long and hard she'd worked to get over Logan. She wouldn't
be happy with any backsliding, though she'd understand.
"Well, it'd be kinda hard to have a sex apartment without someone to have
sex with," Jubes said reasonably.
That drew a reluctant chuckle. "I suppose," Rogue conceded. "It's just never
Jubilee's finely-shaped eyebrows rose. "You're telling me that in the six
years you've 'done' (as my mother would say) for Logan, you've never run
into any of the women he's -- doing?"
Again, Rogue had to laugh at her friend's phrasing. "Nope. Usually he's not
even there. I go in, drop off the clean clothes, pick up the dirty ones,
dust, vacuum and get out. Just like the maid. In fact, that's what he told
her about the mess in the apartment. 'Maid's day off.' Shit. That's what I
am to him?"
Jubilee didn't fail to notice the bitter twist Rogue gave her last words.
She put an arm around the other woman's shoulders. "You know you're more
than just the maid, Rogue. The man would give his left nut for you if he had
Rogue snorted. "I know. It's just -- It hit me right in the face today. It
doesn't matter that I'm twenty-four instead of seventeen. He's always gonna
see me as that scared kid he picked up on the side of the road.
"When I was with Greg, it didn't matter. But that fell apart and reality
hit. I'm untouchable, and no man is ever gonna want to spend his life with a
woman he can't fully *be* with."
Jubilee cursed under her breath, wishing once again that Greg hadn't left so
she could kill him for what he'd done -- unintentionally maybe, but he'd
still done it -- to her best friend.
Greg had been witty, tall and handsome. He'd swept Rogue off her feet within
a month of his arrival at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters three years
ago. He was a physician's assistant, hired to help Jean and Hank with the
routine medical problems a school with large numbers of accident-prone
children would have.
After two and a half years -- very good years, Rogue had thought -- he'd
become disenchanted with never being able to touch his lover without some
barrier between them. Harsh words had been said, and when he took a job in
Baltimore, he didn't invite Rogue to come along and share his life, as she'd
been expecting. She'd spent a good month crying and calling him, begging him
to take her back. She was a little ashamed at how desperate she'd been. But
he was the first man who hadn't been afraid of her mutation, who'd seemed
willing to work around it. Until he got tired of the whole "sex-through-the
Jubilee could see the direction in which her friend's thoughts were heading.
She sighed. "Come on, Roguey -- I've got a half-gallon of Chunky Monkey with
your name on it."
Later that afternoon, Scott rummaged through the freezer and sighed.
All of it -- his entire stash of Chunky Monkey -- was gone.
He definitely had to talk to Jean again about a refrigerator in their suite.
His personal ice cream store -- his only real food weakness -- turned up
missing far too often for his liking.
He supposed it was to be expected. A place housing three dozen angst-filled
adolescents, as well as numerous adults in various stages of coupling and
uncoupling, was *bound* to go through a ton of ice cream. But the Chunky
Monkey was *his*, and everyone knew it. It was like stealing Logan's beer or
Hank's Twinkies -- it just wasn't *done*.
Except that -- unlike in those two cases -- it was.
Another sigh as he settled for the vanilla fudge swirl and began scooping it
into a bowl.
He was back in the freezer when Jubilee came in with the mostly empty carton
of *his* ice cream.
"Aha!" he exclaimed, like some bad imitation of Hercules Poirot. "I should
have known it'd be you!"
She handed him the ice cream, and he added what was left to his bowl,
noticing the two spoons she held.
"Who is it this time?" he inquired.
"How do you know it's not me?" she asked indignantly. "Just because I'm
naturally perky and always cracking wise doesn't mean I don't have bad days,
Scott, days where a whole heaping helping of Chunky Monkey hits the spot."
He tried to hide his grin and failed. "Because when you have bad days,
Jubes, there's stuff blowing up all over the mansion."
She chuckled, dropping her drama queen pose. "Yeah, you're right." Her
expression turned thoughtful as she put the spoons in the dishwasher. She
turned back to him and leaned against the counter.
He frowned. "Did that bastard," short-hand for Greg among Rogue's friends,
"What do you mean, call *again*?" she demanded.
"I mean, he called her this morning, wanting to know if she had his Grateful
Jubilee sucked in a breath. "Did she talk to him?"
He shook his head. "Jean took the message. Rogue went out right after--"
"To the sex apartment," Jubilee interrupted.
Scott rubbed his forehead. "Please don't tell me--"
Jubilee nodded. "There was a woman there. Logan introduced Rogue as the
"Son. Of. A. *Bitch.*"
Scott and Rogue were as close as two people who weren't blood kin or lovers
could be. After she'd overcome the vestiges of Logan's dislike for Scott,
she'd taken to following him around, learning about all the things he did at
the mansion that none of the other students seemed interested in.
He helped her get over that first crush on Logan, providing a sympathetic
ear and a shoulder to cry on, taught her to pilot the Blackbird, and spent
countless hours with her, refurbishing old cars and motorcycles. It was the
one activity during which he and Logan seemed to co-exist peacefully. Their
protectiveness of Rogue was one of the few things they completely agreed on.
When she'd decided to major in engineering, he'd been thrilled, helping her
when things got rough and generally being the big brother she'd never had.
Between him and Logan, Rogue's dates rarely made repeat appearances -- if
her mutation didn't scare them off, her protectors did.
Logan hadn't liked him -- the young man had been human, and therefore, not
to be trusted -- but Scott had been happy that Rogue had finally found
someone who loved the woman she had become. Until things went bad between
His face was grim as he said, "Logan and I are going to have a little chat
when he gets back."
Jubilee was secretly delighted. One, it meant that Logan would at least get
beat up some for his thoughtlessness ("little chats" almost always wound up
as sparring sessions between the two men), and two, once Scott got involved,
things would start happening to help Rogue. She was kind of vague on what
"things" exactly would be helpful, but whatever they were, Scott would think
of them and put them into action.
And if he didn't, well, there was always Hank.
Mission accomplished, she left the Fearless Leader of the X-Men in the
kitchen, eating a bowl of melting ice cream and plotting to cheer up his
When he was done, he had an idea. It wasn't a brilliant idea. No one would
be confusing him with Hank any time soon, but he thought it would work.
He went in search of his fiancée, who was up to her neck in wedding
They were finally taking the plunge. Another sigh. He seemed to be doing
that a lot lately.
This was the third wedding they'd planned, and he prayed it would come off
without a hitch. He was starting to get a complex.
The first time, five years ago, the evil mutant Mastermind had interfered,
kidnapping Jean the night of her bachelorette party and forcing her to
assume the persona of the Black Queen. Scott still had the occasional
nightmare about that one.
The second time, two years ago, her father had passed away a week before the
big day, and everyone understood their wish to postpone the ceremony until
the bride and her mother were somewhat recovered from their loss.
No one expected life to get in the way, pushing the date back a full two
years. Now the wedding was nine months away and he was already on edge about
it. He swore, loudly and repeatedly, that if it didn't happen this time, he
was carrying her off to Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator,
whether she wanted to or not.
Jean was sitting in the solarium, poring over menus.
"Isn't it a little early for that?" he asked, standing behind her and
rubbing her shoulders.
She pushed the hair off her face and removed her glasses. "Yes, but time has
a way of getting away from us, if you haven't noticed. I want to have as
much of this done as early as possible."
"We could still opt for the elopement," he said. "Take a cruise, get married
onboard by the captain. They can still do that, right? Or hit Vegas one
She smiled at his decided lack of enthusiasm for her big wedding plans. She
couldn't blame him, after the last two times.
"So," she said, leaning back against him and closing her eyes, enjoying the
impromptu massage, "what's this brilliant plan of yours? If it's got
anything to do with booby-trapping the freezer, you can count me out."
He laughed and kissed the top of her head. "I'm projecting, huh?"
"It's Rogue. And I don't know if I'd call it a *brilliant* plan, but I think
it'll work. We need to start getting her out of the house. Maybe she could
meet some guys, go on some dates, instead of sitting around here moping all
"Eating your ice cream." Jean sighed and Scott thought there seemed to be a
lot of that going around lately. "It's only been a couple of months, Scott.
Do you really think she's ready--"
"Alex is visiting next week," he interrupted. He didn't say any more, just
let the thoughts he'd been having in the kitchen flow over the link between
He imagined his younger brother taking out the woman whom he considered a
younger sister, making her laugh again.
Jean took his hand from her shoulder and pressed it to her lips.
"Bringing in the big guns, huh?"
"Well, I know he's not seeing anyone since Lorna ran off with her thesis
advisor. Even if they don't, you know, fall in love, I think they'd at least
be good for each other. First off, they don't have to do any of that awkward
getting to know you crap, since they already know each other."
"And he won't be intimidated by you and Logan glaring at him if he brings
her home in the middle of the night," she said dryly, remembering one
particularly disastrous evening.
"Hey, I told that guy to have her home by midnight. It's not *my* fault he
The young man in question had brought Rogue home at three a.m., drunk and
sick. He'd been greeted by two very worried X-Men, their worry quickly
transforming into anger. After an icy chewing out from Cyclops and an
impressive display of carving from Wolverine, the guy had never called
The damage to the foyer had cost a couple thousand dollars to fix, but that
was one time Scott didn't begrudge Logan his penchant for destroying the
Jean laughed. "Well, fairy godfather, I guess you can try your magic again."
"Fairy is right," Logan growled, stomping into the room. "Where the hell is
Which reminded Scott that he needed to have a chat -- <more like a shouting
match,> he thought -- with the gruff Canadian.
"Are you sure you wanna marry this punk?" Logan continued, leering amiably
at Jean. "You and me could still run away together, Jeannie. I got a little
place down in Enseneda--"
Jean laughed, knowing he wasn't serious.
When he'd first come back to Westchester, a mere six weeks after leaving to
search for his past at Alkali Lake, he'd been relentless in his pursuit of
While tempted on occasion, she'd let him know in no uncertain terms that she
wasn't leaving her darling Scott, and certainly not for something as
fleeting as a roll in the hay with him. Over the years, he'd settled into
his role as her perpetually unrequited suitor.
She noted that his supposed love for her hadn't precluded his involvement --
seriously once or twice -- with other women. Hence the sex apartment.
But after the first couple of years, she'd sensed a change in his feelings.
Yes, he was still attracted to her, but where once he'd been fierce in his
passion and bitter in his disappointment, now he was simply playing a part.
He was expected to hit on her and yearn for her tragically, so he did, with
a twinkle in his eye and a half-grin on his face. She suspected he was more
excited about taunting Scott than he was about flirting with her.
The passage of time had eased his feelings, and she knew -- even if he
didn't (and she wondered sometimes, in exasperation, when he would clue
in) -- that his superficial "love" for her had been supplanted by far deeper
feelings for Rogue.
And she was pretty sure Rogue returned his feelings, Greg notwithstanding.
But there was nothing she could do if they chose to remain oblivious. She'd
never mentioned her suspicions to Scott -- she wasn't sure how he'd react to
the idea of Logan and Rogue as a couple, even after all these years -- and
she didn't bring it up now.
Scott, who'd already been irked by Logan's callousness in regard to Rogue,
only grew more annoyed watching him hit on Jean.
"Where is Rogue?" he repeated Logan's question, his voice cutting. "Why? Did
you find dust bunnies under the couch this morning?"
Logan's eyes narrowed. "What?"
"You know, did the *maid* not do a good enough job? Did your *friend*
complain about the state of your apartment?"
Jean raised an eyebrow. It was unlike Scott to lose control like this,
though when it did happen, it was usually Logan on the receiving end of it.
"She fucking told you? Jesus Christ, Cyke, do you think I'd treat Marie like
that? Like she's the fucking hired help? I thought you knew better."
"So did I," Scott replied, slightly mollified by Logan's use of his pet name
for Rogue. No one else, not even Scott, called her Marie. Only Logan used it
regularly. She hadn't shared that name with any of them for almost a year,
and even then, they'd only learned it because Logan would ask for her by
that name and no one knew who he was talking about. "And no, she didn't tell
me. She told Jubes."
Logan growled. That was almost worse. If Marie had confided in Scott, that
meant he was in for a lecture, which would lead to a fight, which would be
fun. But she'd told Jubilee. Which mean he was in for a week of watching his
back, because Jubilee wouldn't lecture, he'd just end up with Nair in his
shampoo bottle or water in his gas tank.
And he stomped off before Scott could get a good head of steam up on his
"That was no fun," Scott pouted.
Jean laughed. "No, but I can think of a few things to take your mind off
it." She stood and kissed him lightly.
He didn't have to think twice. "Okay."
He took her hand and led her to their bedroom, all thoughts of Rogue and
"Lemme in, kid."
"It's open," she called, her voice muffled.
He slipped into the room, vaguely disturbed by the fact that the shades were
drawn and no lights were on. Marie was bundled into her comforter, her eyes
puffy and red from crying. He closed the door quietly and stood, unsure, at
the foot of the bed. Once again, he wished he could kill Greg -- kill him a
lot -- but he didn't think it would make her feel any better.
And his own assholery that morning only compounded the problem.
"Hey," he said finally, at a loss for words.
She raised an eyebrow, a gesture that had begun in imitation of him, but one
she'd made her own over the years. It was far more effective on her than it
had any right to be, he thought, considering he'd perfected it while she was
still in diapers.
Which was a train of thought he really didn't want to ride. That was one of
his problems with the whole "having feelings for Marie" thing he'd been
wrestling with since she was seventeen. Reminders of the huge age gap
between them only made him feel even guiltier than he normally did for
thinking of her sexually.
"Look, this morning -- you know I was joking, right?" No response, no change
in her expression, just puffy, red eyes and one raised eyebrow. "About the
maid thing. I never thought of you like that. You know that, right?"
She sighed, and he felt his stomach drop. That couldn't be good. "I know.
You know, not everything is about you, Logan. I'm not sixteen anymore. I'm
not hiding in my room crying over you!"
"Well," he paced awkwardly around the room, "I just wanted to make sure you
knew. I mean, that I wasn't serious." He cursed the night that changed his
relationship with Rogue. They were still friends, but nowhere near as close
as they'd been before. He longed for the days when things between them were
simple -- she wore his dog tags and was madly in love with him, and he
pretended to be oblivious, while keeping her all to himself.
That had changed the night of her twenty-first birthday, when she'd demanded
to know, after four beers and far more tequila than could possibly be
healthy for anyone without a healing factor, why he didn't want her.
In trying to prove that that wasn't so, that he *did* want her, things had
gone a little further than he'd planned, and he'd pulled back. He hadn't
wanted to take advantage of her drunken state, and he was still confused
about his feelings for her, for Jean, for the woman he'd been seeing on and
off for three months at that point.
Rogue had taken that rejection to heart, though. Soon after, Greg had come
to the mansion, and he'd lost any shot at explaining to her what exactly
he'd been thinking when he'd pushed her away after their kisses had grown
heated in the alley behind the Auger Inn. Kisses, shit -- he'd had her up
against the wall, her shirt open to the waist, her legs around his hips, and
his hand down her jeans before he'd come to his senses.
Of course, it was his own fault for running after that. Four months away to
figure things out, and she'd had a new boyfriend when he got back.
Which just proved that he'd done the right thing that night. If she could
move on so quickly, she hadn't really been in love with him, and he'd have
been doubly damned, taking advantage of a drunk young woman who had a crush
"I know, Logan, it's just -- sometimes I wish things were back the way they
used to be." He'd stopped being startled long ago by her ability to voice
exactly what he was thinking. "Why does everything have to change? Greg and
I were happy." Okay, so maybe not *exactly* what he was thinking, but close
"Hey, hey, none of that. He was a shit, Marie. He didn't realize how good he
had it, and when he does figure it out -- if he's even smart enough -- he'll
be regretting it for the rest of his life. By then, you'll be with someone
else, someone who knows how to treat you right."
"I suppose," she said, but she didn't sound convinced.
He opened his mouth, but then realized he had nothing to say -- nothing that
wouldn't cause problems of another sort. He could admit he wanted her
himself, but he wasn't willing to give her the commitment she needed,
deserved. There was still too much he didn't know about himself, his past,
and he wasn't ready to saddle her with all his baggage. Yet.
"I'll see you at dinner?" was what he came up with. Not high on the comfort
scale. <Bang up job, there, asshole,> he told himself.
She shrugged. "Just ate a ton of ice cream with Jubes, so I doubt it."
"I think Doug is making the quesadillas you like so much."
She smiled half-heartedly and he wished he could gather her in his arms and
rock her until she felt better, but he knew he would never be able to stop
touching her once he started, and that just wouldn't do right now.
He settled for brushing his lips lightly over hers, so quickly that her skin
couldn't react. He hoped she got the message, even if he couldn't verbalize
it. He figured he had some time; she was still getting over Greg, so he had
a little while to get things straight in his head.
"I'll stop by later and see if you've changed your mind."
She nodded and he left, feeling very unsatisfied with the way the
conversation had gone.
He still had two hours until dinner, so he headed down to the Danger Room
for a work out -- the one surefire way of getting his mind of all this
emotional crap he hated dealing with.
Two hours later, Logan raised his hand to knock at Rogue's door when he
heard Scott's voice.
"It'll be better soon, Rogue. Trust me."
"I know. I know. But I hate it. I hate sneaking in and out. I hate feeling
this way, like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I want to get
it all out in the open, but--"
Logan froze. What the hell was going on?
"I know you do, and I understand. I thought you weren't going to do this to
yourself anymore. I thought we agreed -- it's nobody's fault; it's just the
way things are."
"Look, it'll be better after the wedding, I promise. Different. You'll see."
"Oh, God, the wedding." Rogue sounded like she was ready to cry again. Logan
was even more puzzled; Rogue had been an enthusiastic participant in each of
the weddings Jean had planned. Why wouldn't she be happy now? "Great, Scott.
Make me feel guilty."
"There's nothing to feel guilty about, Rogue. If you talked to Jean--"
"No. I can't. I feel like such a bitch."
"You can't control who you fall in love with, Rogue. She knows that as well
as I do. I wish, I wish I could do more."
"I wish you could make these feelings go away. God, Scott, why now? Why?"
Logan walked away, stunned. Rogue had feelings for *Scott*? When the hell
did that happen? And how had he missed it?
He had to get out. The idea of Marie with Scott was sickening. He was like
her *brother*, for God's sake.
He pulled out the bag he always had prepared for such occasions, and left
Chuck a brief note. They were used to his disappearances by now. No one
would question it or ask what had sent him off into the night again.
He cursed himself for being blind, for not paying closer attention, for not
being around when she needed him. Most of all, though, he cursed whatever
fate that had somehow allowed Marie to fall out of love with him and in love
with Scott, just when --
He stopped, knowing he was still not able to take that thought to its
logical conclusion. He'd shied away from it too many times. Dammit, he
couldn't give her what she needed; he'd accepted that for the time being,
and thought she had too. He never expected her to turn to Scooter instead.
Though it made a perverse kind of sense. Rogue liked men who were older, who
were protective, and who could hold their own in a fight. Summers was all
three, and polished in ways Logan never would be.
Shit, he was also the most pussywhipped man Logan had ever met, so damn
whipped he *enjoyed* it. He knew Scott loved Jean, so what the *fuck* was he
doing trying to comfort Marie, telling her to talk to Jean about it?
These thoughts and others like them tormented him at night for the next
three months, until a cryptic remark from Jean brought him running home.
"It's driving me crazy, Logan," she'd said when he called in, and he could
hear the strain underneath her laughter. "It's Rogue this and Rogue that and
we have to take care of Rogue. I love her, I do, but Scott's going a little
<Jesus,> he thought as he headed back to New York, this could only end with
Rogue, and Jean, getting hurt. If that happened, ol' One-Eye would find
himself facing six very deadly claws, and one very pissed off Wolverine.
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