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Fic: Time's Fool: 4/5: R/A, R/L: R

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  • vic pusateri
    Disclaimers in Part 0 Time s Fool *** 4. The Two Suitors Two Months Later... Logan sat in the corner of the dining room, alone. He watched as Rogue reached
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2002
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      Disclaimers in Part 0

      Time's Fool

      ***

      4. The Two Suitors

      Two Months Later...

      Logan sat in the corner of the dining room, alone. He watched as Rogue
      reached over into Alex's plate with her fork and speared a piece of
      broccoli. She ate, as she did most things, enthusiastically, but with a
      certain refinement that would have done her genteel Southern mother proud.

      He simmered silently. That should have been *his* broccoli. Rogue should
      have been *his* girlfriend by now.

      He'd had it all planned out. First, a little commiseration at the engagement
      party -- making sure she was all right with Scooter marrying Jean, telling
      her that he understood she might be hurt, but that it was better this way,
      because Scott was in love with Jean, and nothing was going to change that.
      Then, he was going to woo her.

      He ran a hand through his hair and scowled at his steak au poivre.

      Woo.

      He had actually used the word "woo" in his thoughts. It had felt right,
      which made him wonder exactly how old he was, because men didn't pitch woo
      anymore. They didn't even court. And yet, he'd been planning on wooing her,
      taking her to nice restaurants, maybe even out dancing afterward, if she
      liked.

      He knew she was attracted to him. That hadn't changed, though everything
      else had since her twenty-first birthday. He thought that the feelings she'd
      once had for him had only faded a little, not disappeared entirely, and he'd
      hoped that, with the growing up they'd both done in the past three years,
      the time would be right for them to get together.

      He didn't much believe in destiny, but this was something his gut told him,
      and his gut was rarely wrong.

      But then Alex had cut in on their dance before he'd had a chance to say a
      word, and the next thing he knew, Rogue was going out with the punk.

      What was it about Summers men, he wondered, that he seemed destined to lose
      the women he loved to them? Though he'd never really been in love with Jean.
      He knew that, now that he had the real thing to compare it to.

      And the thing was, Alex was actually a pretty good guy. Not anywhere near as
      much of a tightass as Scott, and though Logan wouldn't admit to noticing or
      having an opinion, the guy was good-looking, too, in that blond, surfer way
      women seemed to find so attractive. And he was more understanding of Rogue's
      situation than that prick Greg had been.

      Even worse, his own relationship with Rogue was still strained. He missed
      their closeness, and once again cursed his lousy sense of timing, because he
      didn't think he could live like this much longer.

      He noticed Scott feeding Jean, mocking his younger brother with a smirk, and
      both couples laughed. Then Jean caught him staring and nudged Scott, who
      sobered immediately. Logan saw Rogue glance toward him and dropped his eyes.

      He refused to pine. Admittedly, he was more of a 'shoot first and ask
      questions later' kind of guy, but that was obviously not going to work in
      this situation. He had to put together a plan.

      He wondered, now, if he'd misjudged her feelings altogether. She had jumped
      from telling him she loved him into a relationship with Greg. Now, she was
      involved with Alex, after he'd been so sure she was in love with... Scott.

      <Christ, is she going out with Alex because she can't have Scott?>

      He was staring again, and he knew she felt it because she looked up for a
      moment before blushing and turning back to Alex. He smirked in triumph. Not
      indifferent. That was a start.

      He began eating, at least somewhat assuaged by her response to him, and
      resolved to talk to Jean. She'd know the real deal and she'd help him. He
      was sure of it.

      After dinner, he tracked her down in her office. She was, yet again,
      reshuffling the seating chart for the wedding reception.

      She looked up when he entered. "When you get married, elope," she said
      shortly. Her temper, usually held in check, had been growing steadily worse
      as the wedding approached and the planning seemed to get more intense.
      Everyone in the mansion had been stepping around her carefully for days.

      "You and One-Eye can still do it," he answered. "I know a guy--"

      She huffed. "Was there something?"

      He cocked his head at her sharp tone, startled out of his usual aplomb, and
      said, "Actually, yeah. I-- shit, Jean, I'm bad at this."

      She must have realized he was uncomfortable, because she put her pen down
      and slid her glasses off.

      "Sit."

      He turned the visitor's chair around and straddled it. "It's Rogue. I --
      Shit. How do I fix it with her?" He winced at how pathetic he sounded, but
      had already decided it was worth swallowing his pride to at least get back
      to at least a friendly footing with Marie.

      "You love her," Jean said.

      "Yeah."

      "And she loves you." He raised an eyebrow. "She does, you know."

      Part of him was reassured -- his instincts hadn't been wrong. But the other,
      more logical part, was skeptical.

      "Maybe," he said, "but she's with Alex."

      Jean nodded. "Yes. She is."

      <You're not helping, Red.> She bit her lip and he knew she'd heard him, as
      he'd intended. She was trying not to laugh, which made him growl. But
      dammit, he needed help. He swallowed hard, consigning what was left of his
      dignity to the trash bin. "Do you think -- is she happy with him? 'Cause
      I've fucked up enough with her. If she's happy, I don't want to--"

      "You should be asked her these questions, Logan, not me," Jean interrupted.
      The words were sharp, but her tone was gentle. "I think that you and she
      need to clear the air between you. She believes," Jean paused, wrinkling her
      nose, obviously choosing her words carefully, "how shall I put this? She
      believes that you don't see her as a desirable woman."

      "What?"

      "That's the impression she has."

      He jumped up and began pacing. "What the hell is she thinking?"

      "That's what you need to ask her, though not, perhaps, in that tone."

      "I don't understand how -- I mean, I thought -- shit."

      Jean gave him a sympathetic smile. "She doesn't know. She doesn't see how
      you look at her when she walks into a room, or how you watch her when she's
      not looking." Jean sighed and leaned back in her chair, pushing her hair out
      of her eyes. "She's had bad luck, Logan. She's had her heart broken more
      than once." Logan dropped back into the chair, and rested his head in his
      hands. She didn't say, "You've broken her heart more than once." She didn't
      need to. "You're going to have to be very careful."

      He nodded, knowing she spoke the truth.

      When she didn't say anything more, he stood and returned the chair to its
      original position. "That's it?"

      "Uh huh." She was already engrossed in the seating chart again.

      At the doorway, he turned, hands shoved into his pockets, hesitant to ask
      his final question.

      "What, Logan?" Exasperation warred with amusement in her face.

      "She's not in love with Scooter, right?"

      He didn't appreciate the way she laughed at him.

      "What?" he said, irritated. "I heard them talking before I left last time
      and --"

      "And jumped to conclusions. God, Logan, you are an *ass*."

      "Hey!"

      "I'm sorry, but Scott?" She burst into laughter again. "They'd drive each
      other crazy. No. Rogue is not in love with my fiancé. Do you think I'd let
      them spend so much time together if she were?"

      He saw her eyes glitter dangerously, and remembered what had happened to
      Emma when she'd set her sights on the Fearless Leader.

      "Fine," he grumbled, walking away.

      "One last thing," Jean called after him. "It would help if you stopped
      treating her like the maid!"

      ***

      Over the next few days, Logan waited for an opportunity to talk with Rogue,
      but Alex was always around.

      He gave up trying to catch her in the hall or during meals, and decided to
      take the initiative and confront her in her room.

      He was halfway down the hall when he heard them.

      Rogue's voice, gasping, "Oh, God, Alex. Please..." Followed by the muffled
      rumble of male laughter.

      He stopped, stunned. Inhaling, he caught her scent, mingled with Summers',
      and felt as if he'd been kicked in the gut. Hard.

      With a low growl, he turned on his heel and left the mansion. He couldn't be
      around this. He couldn't sit back and watch her be with someone else. It was
      intolerable.

      He stopped in the garage long enough to get the motorcycle, and fled into
      the city to his apartment.

      While it had bothered him at first to be around Jean after she'd ever so
      gently turned him down completely, it hadn't felt like sharp pain in his
      chest that made him want to curl up and die.

      That's when he knew he was in love.

      He drained the liquor cabinet in the apartment and then sprawled, drunk, on
      the bed. The bed she'd made for him; the soft, white flannel sheets smelled
      of Marie.

      He wrapped his arms around a pillow and closed his eyes, imagining he was
      holding her. He knew she came here when he was out, that even after their
      falling out, even after she started dating Alex, she still stopped in and
      made sure the place was clean.

      No one else had been here. He hadn't been with a woman since the night he'd
      left the mansion after overhearing her conversation with Scott. He couldn't
      take the idea of someone else's scent replacing hers on the sheets and in
      the drawers; he hadn't worn any of the clothes she'd washed and put away. He
      just held them to his nose occasionally, trying to catch any last lingering
      reminder of her presence. He wasn't even sure anymore that he could smell
      her, but he knew she'd touched these clothes, and imagined her scent still
      clung to them; he was somehow comforted by the idea.

      Fucking pathetic was what he was; he suddenly understood what she had been
      trying to tell him that night on her birthday, about how painful it was to
      love someone who didn't love you back. And now he knew how she must have
      felt every time she found evidence of another woman in his bed, in his life.
      He felt sick at making her feel that way.

      That night he came to a decision.

      He was going to get rid of the apartment. He didn't need it anymore. He was
      going to tell Marie how he felt, apologize for fucking up so often, and
      leave the decision up to her. If she chose Alex, well, he wouldn't blame
      her, after his own stupidity all these years.

      He was done running. He just hoped he wasn't too late.

      ***

      Logan was dozing, but the sound of footsteps in the hall woke him. He
      sniffed the air experimentally.

      "Shit," he muttered, but there was really nowhere for him to go. He was
      sitting in Marie's room, waiting for her to come back from the bridal shower
      the X-Women had arranged for Jean.

      The door swung open and Alex stood in the doorway. He was startled when
      Logan rose from the easy chair in the corner, but his voice was even.

      "Logan. Can I help you with something?"

      "No, I don't think so."

      "Rogue's not back yet."

      "I know."

      "Is there a reason you're waiting in her room for her?"

      Logan shrugged. "I need to talk to her."

      "You see her every day -- at meals, at training sessions," Alex said.
      "What's so important that you're sitting in the dark waiting for her?"

      "None of your business," Logan replied, walking to the door. Alex didn't
      move.

      "Really? I'd say other men hanging around my girlfriend's room *is* my
      business." His tone was hard.

      Logan raised an eyebrow but didn't otherwise respond. He could taste the
      adrenaline rising in his throat. Would Alex really make it that easy,
      actually give him the opportunity to beat the crap out of him?

      They stared at each other for a few moments, until Alex broke the silence.
      "It must kill you that she's with me, that you had your chance and blew it."

      That stung, more so because it was the truth, and Logan knew it. "Look," he
      said finally, pushing his anger down, because he knew he was really more
      angry with himself than with Alex, "I know you care about Marie, and maybe
      she loves you. But maybe she doesn't. I think she deserves to know how I
      feel about her, and then she can make her choice."

      "I think she's already made her choice, Logan. Don't make it harder for her,
      just because it'll make you feel better."

      Logan's hands fisted unconsciously. He fought the urge to slam Alex into the
      wall. "You don't know what the fuck you're talking about." His voice was
      low, harsh.

      "I know more than you think. I see how you look at her. It's just eating you
      up inside, isn't it? That you wasted all that time screwing around when you
      could have had Rogue? How's it feel now that the shoe's on the other foot?"
      Logan said nothing. "She's happy now," Alex continued, "and doesn't she
      deserve *that*? Huh? After all the heartbreak?"

      Logan knew he was right, as much as he hated to admit it. "Yeah," he
      whispered, shoulders slumping in defeat. Alex stepped out of the doorway,
      and Logan slunk down the hall, out to the garage, and back to the apartment,
      alone, to wallow in misery.

      ***

      When Rogue got home, Alex was sitting in her room alone, in the dark. She
      caught Logan's scent in the air -- she'd retained his enhanced sense of
      smell -- but said nothing. Alex was apparently all in one piece, and she
      didn't need to hear that Logan had given him the big brother, "If you hurt
      Rogue, I'll kill you" speech.

      "Hey," she said, "what's up?"

      "Nothing," he answered, rising and pulling her close. "I missed you."

      Her eyebrows rose to her hairline. "I was only gone for six hours. What're
      you gonna do when you go on tour next week?"

      "You can still change your mind and come with us," he said, pressing his
      lips to her scarf-covered neck. "Come on. It'll be fun."

      "I'm sure it would, but I have responsibilities here, Alex," she said,
      allowing him to walk her back to the bed. "I can't just disappear in the
      middle of the semester. Who would take over my classes?"

      "You spend too much time with Scott," he muttered.

      "Do you really want to talk about your brother right now?" she teased,
      sliding her hands into his pants.

      He grinned down at her, sucking in a breath at her skilled strokes. "I guess
      not. I just -- I really want you with me. It's going to be hard to be apart
      for so long."

      "It's hard right now," she snickered and he groaned. "I know, but it'll work
      out. You'll see. We'll just get really good at phone sex."

      She used her legs to roll them over, all the while continuing to stroke him.
      He shimmied out of his pants, while she, with her other hand, reached into
      the drawer and pulled out a condom. After rolling it onto him, she bent and
      used her lips and tongue to continue stroking him.

      He slid his hands into her hair, thrusting into her mouth. "God, Ro- Marie.
      Marie!"

      She raised her head, brow furrowed in surprise. "What did you say?"

      He blinked, thrown by the sudden loss of her warm mouth. "Marie. I said,
      'Marie.'"

      "You never called me that before."

      "It *is* your name, right?"

      She sat up, and he sighed. "Well, yeah, but... Nobody calls me that
      except -- I mean, nobody calls me that. I haven't been Marie since I left
      Meridian."

      He ran a hand through his hair, his eyes never leaving hers. "I just
      thought -- you don't call me 'Havok' when we're having sex. Why should I
      call you 'Rogue'?"

      "I," she shook her head, dropping her eyes for a second. "I guess you're
      right. It's just -- It's -- Never mind. That's fine. You're right. It's my
      name. You should use it."

      She pushed him back down onto the bed and picked up where she'd left off,
      trying to ignore her own resistance to his use of the name, and the fact
      that he didn't do it again.

      ***

      Rogue noticed Logan's continued absence from everyday life at the mansion,
      but she didn't say anything to Alex. Things had been a little odd between
      them since the night of Jean's shower. She knew that the conversation about
      her name had been important, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what
      was wrong.

      She knew Alex was right -- her name was Marie and he should feel free to
      call her that.

      But she'd given up being Marie when she'd left Meridian. No one here really
      knew Marie, except Logan.

      <And there,> she finally admitted to herself, <is my problem.>

      When Alex went on the road, he called in every night at first, but as the
      time passed, his calls came less and less frequently.

      She felt him draw away from her, even as she knew he was coming closer to
      home. She wondered how she could fix this, keep it from falling apart, as
      all her previous relationships -- okay, her one previous relationship --
      had. She supposed she couldn't count the odd, non-relationship she and Logan
      had.

      When she weighed things in her mind, she knew her relationship troubles
      could all be traced back to one source, one unfulfilled desire that never
      seemed to fade.

      She had loved Greg, but looking back, she wondered if that was only because
      she'd seen him as her chance to be normal. And that hadn't worked out.

      Alex was a chance to fit into the social structure of the mansion -- to make
      Scott happy and keep the others off her back. While they'd had a lot of fun,
      and she cared for him deeply, she knew it wasn't love, not the kind of love
      that was leading Scott and Jean down the aisle in a few weeks.

      She divided her time between teaching, helping Jean with the wedding plans,
      the usual X-Men business ("The bad guys don't stop trying to take over the
      world just 'cause you're getting married," she'd teased the happy couple one
      afternoon when they'd been called away from their fittings), and cleaning
      for Logan.

      He was almost never at the mansion now, appearing only for his classes and
      mission briefings.

      Rogue figured he'd found someone new to drown his sorrows with. He'd done it
      before -- before each of Jean's other, aborted weddings, he'd withdrawn to
      the sex apartment. He'd done it when he'd actually fallen in love himself;
      Rogue had tried hard to forget the details of that relationship, which had
      ended badly, as Logan's relationships tended to.

      Just another thing they had in common.

      Even though she knew the chances were high that she'd run into his latest...
      friend, she found herself missing their old camaraderie more than ever, and
      secretly hoping he'd be home when she arrived, so that maybe, just maybe,
      they could at least become friends again.

      She thought that might ease some of the pain at realizing he would never
      love her, allowing her to finally move on with someone else.

      While Rogue was worrying about her relationship with Alex, Logan was
      spending most of his time drinking and brooding. He found himself
      appallingly uninterested in any of the women he met while he was following
      the underground fight circuit.

      He couldn't stop thinking about Alex's words, about how he'd waited too long
      and lost out. He cursed his own stupidity, his fear of being tied down and
      his overconfidence at believing Marie would sit around and wait for him to
      get his head out of his ass.

      But mostly, he blamed himself for having lousy timing. He went back over the
      past four years in minute detail -- a man with no past tends to hold and
      treasure the memories he *does* collect, and he had collected many of Marie,
      both of his time with her, and from watching her with others.

      He saw each and every opportunity he'd missed, in stark detail. All the
      times she'd reached out to him, and he'd pushed her away.

      Alex was right. She deserved to be happy, and if Alex was the guy who made
      her happy, he would just fade into the background. He'd had a lot of
      experience watching over her, and he'd continue to do so. And if Alex
      *wasn't* the one, and the opportunity happened to come along where he,
      Logan, could finally tell her how he felt, he would finally be smart enough
      to act on it.

      With that in mind, he began to pack up his things and quietly move them back
      into the mansion. No use saying he was going to be around for Rogue if he
      wasn't actually *there* when she needed him.

      And from now on, he vowed, he would be.

      ***

      When Alex came home, Rogue watched him carefully. He seemed a little off, as
      if he were avoiding her, and she knew, suddenly, that she'd been right.

      That night, he followed her up to her room, but she turned and pressed a
      gloved hand to his lips when he leaned down to kiss the top of her head.

      "This isn't working, is it?" she asked.

      He carefully brushed one white lock behind her ear. "I wish it was. But --"
      She raised an eyebrow when he broke off and led her to the bed. "Sit."

      "What am I, the dog?" she joked weakly.

      He smiled at the echo of the conversation that had begun the whole thing
      between them.

      "You're not in love with me, are you?" She lowered her eyes and shook her
      head. "And as much as I'd like to believe I'm in love with you, I don't
      think I am." He dropped onto the bed beside her. "I see what Jean and Scott
      have -- and, we don't have that, do we?"

      "No," she said, her mind racing for ways to salvage the relationship, so she
      wasn't a failure yet again. "But we could. Couldn't we?"

      He shook his head. "I don't think so, *Marie*." She bit her lip, fighting
      the urge to correct him, but he noticed it. "And obviously, you don't think
      so either. You don't want me to call you by your real name. I think that's a
      problem."

      "But--"

      "No buts, Rogue. We both knew you were in love with Logan when we started
      dating." She opened her mouth to speak, but he overrode her. "And we've had
      a great time. I like you a lot, love you, even. But I know we're not in
      love."

      "How?" She jumped off the bed and began pacing. "How can you be so sure,
      Alex? People fall in love all the time. Do you think I'd trust just anyone?
      Sleep with someone I didn't love?" She pinned him with a glare and grunted
      when he met her gaze and didn't squirm, as she'd expected.

      "No, you wouldn't." She resumed pacing, annoyed at how calm he was. "But
      you're right, people do fall in love every day."

      And that's when it hit her. While she had been stuck on trying to get over
      her past, his future had come for him, and it didn't include her. Not as his
      girlfriend, anyway.

      Her throat was tight and scratchy; she had to swallow twice before she could
      make a sound. "Who is she?"

      "That's not important. The important thing is, I think this is it for me,
      the real thing. I think we both know we were never going to be that for each
      other."

      "I--"

      He rose and took her hands, pressing a chaste kiss to each of her gloved
      palms. "Shh. I wish, I wish it could be different. But I don't want to wake
      up miserable ten years from now, knowing that what we have together is only
      a pale shadow of what we could have had with other people." He slid an arm
      around her and she allowed him to hug her tightly. "I do love you, Rogue.
      But not how you need to be loved."

      She swallowed hard. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I can't be what you need. That
      I -- I -- Dammit, Alex, why do I always do this? I want to be in love with
      you. Why aren't I?" She couldn't hold back the tears; he cradled her and
      gently stroked her hair while she cried.

      When she sniffed and raised her eyes to his, he quirked a half-grin. "I'll
      tell Scott, if you like. I'll even take all the blame, so he doesn't yell at
      you."

      That surprised her into laughing. "Oh, God. This means more blind dates. I
      think I'm going to be sick. Maybe I can join a convent."

      "Well, how 'bout we keep it quiet until after the wedding. That way, there's
      no awkwardness, and, well, you don't have to deal with anymore set ups. It's
      only a couple weeks away. I'll tell Scott and Jean."

      "But what about this girl-- this new girl you're in love with?" It was hard
      to say the words, but she managed it graciously, even if she did say so
      herself.

      "Jen? She's not going anywhere. She'll understand."

      "Jen? The lead singer in the band you were touring with?"

      "Yeah."

      "But she's -- You Summers men like older women, huh?"

      He smiled, and she knew it would be all right.

      She was just going to have to learn to be alone. It was obviously her
      natural state.

      Otherwise, why would she have been cursed with untouchable skin?

      She didn't let those thoughts show on her face, though, and over the next
      few days, she bore up under Scott and Jean's careful questioning and
      sympathy fairly well.

      It was only the thought of seeing Logan, now that she was single again, that
      niggled at her, made her feel down.

      No matter what she tried, she always ended up back where she started, with a
      hopeless love for a man who saw her only as a responsibility.

      She wondered if she'd ever get over it, or if this was part of her curse.

      ***

      victoria

      ~*~

      The Muse's Fool: http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool
      read my diary: http://musesfool.diaryland.com
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