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FIC: "Confrontations" [L/R, R/B, K/B] (1/1)

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  • vic pusateri
    Title: Confrontations Series: Achin to Be Author: Victoria P. Disclaimer: The characters are owned by Marvel and/or Fox. I didn t own them before, and I still
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2000
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      Title: Confrontations
      Series: Achin' to Be
      Author: Victoria P.
      Disclaimer: The characters are owned by Marvel and/or Fox. I didn't own them
      before, and I still don't own them
      Rating: PG - mildly objectionable language
      Summary: Bobby and Rogue have it out, Bobby confronts Logan, etc. Follows
      "Girls Talk"
      Archive: List archive; Kielle's site if she wants it. Anyone else, just ask
      first - I'll probably say yes. If you've got my other stuff, you can have
      this too.
      Feedback: Pretty please... it makes my day...
      Notes: Thanks to Dot, Jen, Meg and Pete, especially when this took so long.
      Also, I think Bobby's kind of saint, no? I really need to be nicer to him...


      < > indicates thoughts
      ~ ~ indicates telepathic conversation

      Confrontations

      Rogue felt somewhat better after her conversation with Kitty and Jean, but
      she knew the hardest part was still to come. She had to tell Bobby she
      wanted to be with Logan, and she hoped he wanted to be with her. Regardless,
      she couldn't be Bobby's girlfriend anymore. It wasn't right to stay with
      someone when you loved someone else, even if - maybe especially if -- it
      turned out the other person didn't love you back.

      She thought of all the things she could say, all the clich├ęs she'd heard on
      television and at the movies, and no matter how she put it, she knew he
      wouldn't believe her, and she knew he would be hurt.

      He'd always been very understanding about her feelings for Logan, maybe
      because he'd believed Logan was never coming back. But he recognized that
      the feelings were there, like the elephant in the room no one wants to talk
      about.

      So when she stopped him in the hall on the way to down to dinner that night,
      nervously tugging at her gloves and unable to meet his eyes, he knew the
      hammer was about to fall.

      He'd followed Scott's advice in the past few days, and showered her with
      little gifts and notes - reminders of the good times they'd had together.
      He'd followed Jean's advice and didn't push her for an answer. Hell, he'd
      even given Dr. McCoy's extremely depressing words about walking away a lot
      of thought. But he couldn't do it, even though he knew Kitty was watching
      him, waiting for him, her eyes hopeful every time he sought her out for
      comfort. He just couldn't let Rogue go.

      And what was all that "Marie" crap, anyway? he wondered. She said she wanted
      to be called "Rogue" and he had obliged her, regardless of whether it made
      sense.

      She was his first real girlfriend. They'd been together unofficially almost
      since the day Logan left. Maybe some part of him knew that those two years
      were simply an interlude for her, that she would only ever be his in a
      shadowy, in-between-times way. He was just a stand-in while she waited for
      Logan to return.

      He wasn't completely unprepared when she said, all in a rush, "Bobby, you
      know I love you. You were, like, the first friend I ever had here, but I
      can't be your girlfriend anymore. It's not fair to you or me or any of us.
      And I don't like feeling as if I'm cheating on you. I don't want to feel bad
      about loving Logan, and I don't want to make you feel bad, either."

      Bobby found that even when you're expecting it, being dumped hurts like a
      mother. His fists clenched and unclenched spasmodically as he fought the
      urge to encase her in ice so she'd still be his, at least until the ice
      melted.

      He thought he'd managed to handle his anger pretty well so far, but now he
      allowed it free rein. He was tired of being mature and getting hurt. He
      wanted to do some hurting of his own. He focused on the last part of her
      little speech and her unwillingness to look him in the eye. The word
      "cheating" stood out like a red flag, and he leapt at it.

      "Cheating on me?" he asked harshly. "What did you -- What did he do to you?
      Did that son of a bitch put his hands on you, Rogue?"

      She had never seen him so angry. He'd always been sweet, gentle Bobby with
      her. She still wouldn't look at him. "It's not like that," she said weakly.

      "You can't even look me in the eye, Rogue. What the hell happened?" He
      grabbed her arms. She freed herself remarkably easily and had him up against
      the wall, fist at his throat, before he knew what hit him. His eyes burned
      with unshed tears; he wasn't sure if they were from anger or shame. Probably
      both.

      Suddenly, he understood. "You let him touch you again, didn't you," he
      accused. Rogue wasn't normally the most agile fighter, though in her first
      few weeks at the school, when Logan's personality had permeated her being,
      no one had been able to match her. The physical skills faded quickly, though
      she still had the memories of his technique. Apparently, those dormant
      skills had been revived by his latest touch.

      She was looking him in the eye now, a little confused at her reaction. "I'm
      so sorry," she said, letting him go, but he clutched at her hand, and with
      his other he reached toward her face. "Bobby, no," she snapped, pulling
      away, "I don't want you to get hurt."

      He laughed bitterly. "You mean you don't want me in your head, getting in
      between you and *him*." He managed to turn the simple pronoun into a vile
      epithet.

      She was getting angry now. "If that's what you want to believe," she said,
      "I'm not going to stop you. I was hoping-"

      "We could still be friends," he finished with heavy sarcasm.

      "You knew what the deal was," she replied. "You knew from the moment I got
      here, what it would be like to be involved with me, so don't blame me if you
      can't handle it now.

      "I like you, Bobby. I even love you - you're one of the best friends I ever
      had -- but I don't have to justify myself to you. I'm so tired of all this,
      this tension. I want it to end."

      "You want, you want it to end?" He was getting loud now. "Well it doesn't
      just end, Rogue. I can't turn off my feelings for you because you want to be
      with someone else. After he gets what he wants from you, how long do you
      think he's going to stick around, huh? You think it's gonna be all hearts
      and flowers and Sunday picnics? Well, let me tell you something. It's not."

      She flung up her hands. "I've had enough," she said. "I don't have to listen
      to this."

      "Go right ahead and walk away, but don't expect me to be waiting when he
      leaves again and you've got nothing."

      And she did, leaving him standing in the hallway, angry, hurt and ashamed.

      He didn't go to dinner at all. He raided the cache of beer he and John had
      accumulated over the past couple of months. The beer, on an empty stomach,
      fueled some of his more baroque revenge fantasies, so he sat just inside the
      garage, waiting for Logan to return.

      ***

      It was dark as Logan made his way slowly back to the mansion. He'd gone down
      to Manhattan, drunk enough to float the Titanic (<Damn healing factor,> he
      thought, <can't even go on a good, long bender>), and gotten into a couple
      of unsatisfyingly brief scraps with assholes who'd looked at him the wrong
      way.

      Now he was sober and disgusted with himself. Not only had he practically had
      sex with Marie on the pool table, he'd lost control and kissed her - on the
      mouth. Part of him wanted to believe that he was truly lost in the moment
      and hadn't known what he was doing, but deep down inside he knew he wanted
      to be inside her head again, as if mere physical coupling - which was
      almost, but not quite, impossible with her - was not enough. And he'd done
      it knowing full well that she'd hate herself for hurting him. He just hoped
      she wouldn't hate him for doing it to her. Or maybe he did. Maybe if she
      hated him, she wouldn't look at him with those soft eyes, and he wouldn't
      feel the need to throw himself at her feet like some damn fool
      eager-to-please puppy. So he was a selfish, perverted old bastard on three
      counts at least.

      He didn't want to know what Chuck was going to say about the whole thing. He
      was sure he was in for a stinging lecture on the inappropriateness of a man
      his age seducing a student. He focused instead on the damage to the pool
      table. He'd have to pay it off, but Scott was going to hold it over him
      forever. He just hoped that damn one-eyed choirboy didn't find out why he'd
      torn it apart.

      And he was sure Jean would be disappointed in him. He wasn't used to caring
      what other people thought - they could all go to hell as far as he was
      concerned - but he found that the redhead's opinion mattered to him, and
      even more amazingly, not because he wanted to get into her pants.

      It was strange to care, he mused, but strange in a good way. It meant he
      wasn't alone anymore. Of course, for every good part of it - like the way
      Marie smiled at him when he managed to be civil to Scott, or when he said
      something that made her eyes light up with laughter - there was a bad
      part -- like having to be civil to Scott, or being accountable for when you
      screwed up. <Everything's a trade-off, I guess. But Marie is worth it.>

      As he approached the mansion, he was pulled out of his reverie by the smell
      of beer. Beer, anger and Bobby Drake. He sighed. He couldn't hurt the kid,
      well, not too badly anyway, or he'd be in even more trouble, especially with
      Marie. He was going to have to keep control - something he'd already failed
      at a number of times today. He parked the bike and began walking away,
      hoping the kid was having second thoughts about confronting him, but he was
      ready when Bobby jumped out of the shadows.

      "You can't have her," Bobby said, slurring slightly. "You don't deserve
      her."

      "Can't really argue with that," Logan replied quietly. "But shouldn't that
      be Marie's decision?" He couldn't believe he was standing there talking like
      a wuss - like Summers - when every instinct screamed to remove his rival,
      preferably in the most painful way possible. He recalled Jean's words from
      the other night - he was the adult, he was the one who should be able to
      walk away without feeling like a dog slinking off with its tail between its
      legs. But he'd lived like an animal for so long, and he was still working at
      overcoming that part of himself. The idea of walking away from even this
      type of confrontation left a sour taste in his mouth.

      "Don't try to pull that crap," Bobby snarled. "You knew she loved you and
      you left anyway. I was here for her, every day. I made her happy when no one
      else could. What gives you the right to walk back in and expect her to fall
      into your arms?"

      He had no answer for that. It had been fear, pure and simple, which had
      driven him away from his present and toward his past. Fear, and the desire
      to learn something about that past. "Marie," he started, but Bobby was
      swinging a fist at him - a fist encased in ice, he noted as he avoided it.
      Bobby staggered as he missed, and barely managed to right himself.

      "Her name is Rogue." Bobby swung wildly again. "You think I'm afraid of you?
      Why don't you fight back, you old pervert?" And again he threw a punch,
      which actually landed, shocking Logan into a retaliatory blow so quick he
      couldn't have stopped it even if he'd wanted to. Which he didn't, he
      admitted to himself.

      "Her name is Marie," he growled as he knocked the kid down. Bobby would have
      a nice shiner tomorrow. He could smell the fear wafting off the boy now,
      overwhelming the anger and even the alcohol. It stopped him from following
      up and beating him to a bloody pulp. He was just a dumb kid who was panicked
      and hurting.

      He was also a kid who had his hands extended, frost streaming from them.
      Logan's momentary hesitation had given him time to use his power.

      "Whoa, kid," Logan said, "that ain't a good idea." But it was too late. He
      was frozen to the shoulders in a block of ice. He couldn't get any leverage
      to claw himself free.

      Bobby, realizing what he'd done, ran. He was going to be in a world of hurt
      tomorrow, he knew. It was bad enough he'd gotten drunk on stolen beer. But
      to use his power against Logan, even if he had been defending himself, was
      out of bounds.

      Time slowed to a crawl as Logan stood ensnared in his icy prison. Of all the
      things Bobby could have done to him, leaving him trapped and helpless was
      the worst. He extended his claws and tried to find some way to escape, but
      he was going to have to wait until the ice melted a little. The outside of
      the column of ice was beaded with condensation, and, with the night as warm
      as it was, he figured he'd soon be able to claw his way out. At least, the
      rational part of him figured that. The other part of him wanted to howl at
      the moon and use his teeth to chew through the ice. He was sweating
      profusely, even on ice, because of it.

      Then he got wind of Scott. He snarled like a trapped animal. <Goddammit,> he
      thought, <why couldn't it be Jean or Storm?> Not only had he been bested in
      a fight by a drunken child, but now he was about to be discovered in this
      humiliating circumstance by the one guy who'd revel in the sight and never
      let him live it down.

      Scott took in the scene before him. There were empty beer cans scattered on
      the floor of the garage and Logan stood encased in ice up to his neck. He
      knew it was wrong, but he couldn't help it - he laughed until his sides
      hurt.

      "Bobby got his revenge, I see," he finally choked out. He'd deal with
      Bobby's offenses in the morning. He couldn't be too upset with the kid right
      now - he was laughing too hard. Logan simply growled. "I guess after your
      little pool table escapade with his girlfriend, he thought you needed some
      time to cool off, eh?"

      Logan closed his eyes and willed the ice to melt so he could kill Scott. He
      opened them and looked down. It hadn't worked, of course. He said nothing,
      even though he knew if he asked, Scott would break him out of the ice.

      "What do you want, Scooter?"

      "I want to know if you plan to seduce that girl and take off again, or if
      you're in this for the long haul."

      Logan was surprised by Scott's turn toward the serious. "It's none of your
      damn business," he snapped, not believing a word of it. "You're not her
      father." His respect for the guy increased a notch (not that it was all that
      high to begin with) - he seemed to actually care about Marie.

      "No, but someone needs to look out for her."

      "That's my responsibility."

      "And a damn fine job you've done of it, too, what with the disappearing, and
      the reappearing and the seduction in a public place." Scott was irritatingly
      smug in his list of Logan's sins with regard to Marie. "Not to mention
      breaking up her relationship with Bobby and wrecking the Professor's very
      expensive pool table."

      Now Logan wanted to howl in triumph. Marie had dumped the kid. She wanted to
      be with him. He suddenly felt strong enough to crack the ice surrounding
      him. He grunted with the effort. No dice. <Apparently love doesn't conquer
      all,> he thought ruefully, glad Scott couldn't read his mind.

      Scott just looked at him, inscrutable as always. The ruby visor hid his eyes
      completely, of course, making it extremely difficult to tell what he was
      thinking at any given moment. Logan tackled the easy part first.

      "I can pay for the pool table. Not all at once, but I can make the money.
      Tell Chuck not to worry about it."

      "Professor Xavier already has an idea as to how you can pay for the table.
      That's the least of your problems."

      Logan tried to work the kinks out of his neck as he figured out what to say
      next. "I'm not gonna hurt her," he said finally, with a quiet intensity that
      reassured Scott.

      "Not deliberately."

      Logan rolled his eyes. "Of course not, dumbass. People get hurt. It happens.
      But I'm gonna do everything I can to keep it from happenin' to Marie."

      Scott was satisfied for the moment, though he didn't allow it to show on his
      face. Jean was convinced of Logan's sincerity and good intentions regarding
      Rogue, though she'd been upset by his behavior. Scott just wanted to make
      sure the other man knew Rogue was not without protectors.

      Meanwhile, Logan's attention had shifted to his current predicament. He
      thought the ice was starting to get a little slushy and he'd be free soon.
      He hoped so. Cold didn't usually bother him, but he was freezing his nuts
      off. Literally. And he was damned if he was going to ask the boy scout for
      help.

      "All right," Scott said after a few moments of silence stretched
      uncomfortably. At least, it was uncomfortable for him. Logan didn't seem to
      notice. "But if you screw up, being frozen is the least of what'll happen to
      you." Logan let out a bark of appreciative laughter. There were times when
      he almost liked the guy. "If you ask nicely, I'll cut you out of there,"
      Scott continued, and Logan remembered why he didn't.

      He grunted noncommittally. He really wanted out of the ice. He wanted to
      knock on Marie's door and finish what they'd started this afternoon - this
      time without screwing it up. But he hated the idea of asking Scott for help.

      And Scott knew it, which made the situation even funnier for him. When Logan
      said nothing, he said, "Well, good night, then," and walked away.

      <Damn,> Logan thought, <I thought I had him.> "Thanks," he said grudgingly,
      "for lookin' out for Marie."

      Scott turned and smiled. "Sure thing." Putting a hand to his temple, he
      cracked the ice enough so Logan could claw his way clear. "Don't even think
      of going to see her tonight," Scott said as Logan walked away. Logan ignored
      him. He'd do what he damn well pleased.

      "You smell like a wet dog," Scott called after him, laughter in his voice.

      There was that to consider. Not that it had stopped him in the past. But she
      had a roommate - the kid who walked through walls. He didn't want an
      audience for when he turned into a sap. He decided it could wait 'til the
      morning. He'd ask if she wanted to learn some foosball tricks he knew.
      Grinning like an idiot, glad his back was to Scott, he went to his room and
      took a shower.

      ***

      Bobby awoke the next morning with a head that felt three sizes too big and a
      mouth that tasted like he'd been licking the pavement in the garage. <The
      garage!> he thought, sitting up suddenly, and then carefully laying back
      down when he felt his gorge rise. <Oh god, I froze Logan in the garage. I am
      so dead.>

      "You all right, there, slugger?" It was Kitty.

      "Not so loud," he muttered. "Who let you in?"

      "John. He mentioned something about getting out before you yakked."

      Bobby thought about that for a second. He was queasy, but he didn't think he
      was going to puke. "I'm all right."

      "Here's some aspirin," she said, handing him the pills. "You should put some
      ice on that eye."

      He got up and looked in the mirror. His right eye was practically swollen
      shut, and the skin surrounding it was a garish purply black. He fell back
      into bed, moaning. "Do you think they're gonna expel me?" he asked.

      Kitty looked him over sympathetically. "For drinking or for brawling?" She
      appeared to think for a moment. "Only if they kick out Mr. Summers and Logan
      as well."

      Bobby laughed weakly at the joke. Maybe it would be all right. Kitty didn't
      seem to know about his lapse in judgment. "So is Logan around this morning?
      I'd kinda like to avoid him."

      Kitty smiled. "No problem. You don't have time to eat." Which was fine by
      Bobby. He didn't think he could face food for a few days. "You've already
      missed most of History, and Physics starts in 15 minutes. You know he won't
      be in class." But that made him realize he was going to have to face Rogue.
      With a shiner. He moaned again.

      "Get up, Robert Drake. You are not staying here like a coward. You got
      dumped. It happens to everyone. You face Rogue now, things will be much
      easier next time. Trust me."

      "You two made up?" he asked.

      "Yeah."

      "She doesn't deserve a friend like you." He paused, thinking of how Kitty
      was always there for him, encouraging him in everything, even his
      relationship with Rogue, though he knew she had feelings for him herself.
      "Neither do I."

      "Damn right, Popsicle Boy. Now get a move on and get dressed." She waited,
      but he didn't move. "What part didn't you understand?" she asked, hands on
      hips.

      "I can't get dressed with you here," he squeaked, humiliated.

      She rolled her eyes and walked out. "I'll be right here," she said as she
      closed the door.

      Kitty stood in the hallway, tapping a foot impatiently. <And the guys
      complain about us taking a long time to get dressed,> she thought.

      The only reason she wasn't going to get in trouble for missing History was
      that Ms. Munroe had already told her she was going to pass with flying
      colors, regardless of her score on the final exam, for which the class was
      reviewing that morning.

      Even though it had only been a few minutes, she was getting tired of
      waiting. She wanted to get him to class so he and Rogue could get the first
      meeting over with, and then they'd all be on their way to eventually
      patching everything up. At least, that's what she was hoping.

      So she poked her head in, catching Bobby in his tightie whiteys and nothing
      else. They both blushed crimson.

      He stared at her and sputtered, "Geez, Kitty, what the - can't a guy have
      some privacy?"

      "Just wanted to make sure you were all right."

      "I'm fine," he snapped, still red.

      "Your blush clashes terribly with the black eye," she said helpfully, trying
      not to laugh. He was so cute.

      "Kitty!"

      "Er, sorry." With that, she left him alone.

      ***

      Kitty and Bobby slid into their seats in Physics only a few minutes late.
      Professor Xavier raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, out loud anyway.

      ~Mr. Summers would like to see you after class, Bobby.~

      Bobby closed his eyes - he was in the jackpot for sure. "Yes, sir," he said.

      There were only six of them in the class, but Rogue managed to keep her eyes
      intently focused on her textbook and Professor Xavier for the whole hour,
      not once sneaking a glance at Bobby. Finally, when it was over, she looked
      over at him and gasped.

      "Bobby, are you all right?" <That was dumb,> she thought. <You dumped him
      and treated him like shit, plus he's got a huge black eye, courtesy of
      Logan, I bet. Of course he's not all right.>

      He brushed past her out into the hallway. "I have to go see Mr. Summers."

      "I'm so sorry," she said. <I've been saying that a lot lately. Maybe at some
      point I'll stop messin' up and I won't have to apologize anymore.> He
      continued to walk away from her, so she followed, almost skipping to catch
      up with him. "I was, well, I was a real bitch to you yesterday, and I'm
      sorry. I was out of line. I'm really sorry. I know you must be hurtin' and I
      never meant for that to happen. I just - " she broke off as he stopped and
      turned at last.

      "Whatever," he said, but his voice lacked the bitterness she had feared. She
      thought that, given time, he might forgive her. And that was more than she
      had a right to expect, so it was okay. She would have a few choice words for
      Logan, though, the next time she saw him.

      Which was right after lunch. She had an unexpected free period since her
      daily session with Jean and the professor had been cancelled. They spent an
      hour every day with her, looking for something in her head that might allow
      her to turn her mutation off. So far it hadn't been successful, but they
      were nothing if not persistent. However, Jean was preparing to go to
      Washington for a conference, and the professor was locked in his office with
      Mr. Summers and Logan, so she was free for an hour.

      She was sitting outside on a bench, puzzling over Raskolnikov when a large
      shadow fell over her book. She shifted her eyes slightly and saw a pair of
      worn black boots in front of her. <I guess he's not with the professor
      anymore.>

      "Hey, kid," Logan said, sounding disgustingly eager to his own ears. She
      raised her eyes to his face. He wasn't sure what approach to take. She'd
      been so upset with him yesterday - for good reason - but he was hoping he
      could coax her out of it. <Maybe if I pretend it didn't happen... Nah, that
      wouldn't work. Or would it?> "Wanna go shoot some stick?" <That was real
      subtle, you jerk,> he thought. <But maybe she'll go for it.>

      She flushed becomingly, which made him ridiculously happy. He wondered how
      far down below her collar the blush extended, and hoped to find out soon. He
      imagined unbuttoning her blouse slowly and running his hands over her body.
      He had a pair of gloves in his back pocket for just such an occasion.

      So he was more than a little shocked when she stood up and started yelling
      at him. He was lost in his little fantasy and missed the first couple of
      words, but he knew immediately what she was talking about when she said,
      "... and he's like half your size. How could you hit him? What could you
      possibly have to prove?"

      "Whoa, Marie, slow down," he said, catching up quickly. "He -" he couldn't
      say, "He started it," because then he'd sound like just another dumb kid. He
      couldn't say, "He deserved it," even though he had. And he, for damn sure,
      wasn't going to tell her that the kid had gotten the best of him. So he
      stopped and just looked at her, enjoying the picture she presented. Her eyes
      sparkled and her chest was heaving. He couldn't help but grin.

      "And you - you think you can just stand there grinning at me and I'm going
      to fall into your arms again like some sort of silly schoolgirl, after you
      abandoned me without a word for two years." She was working herself into a
      temper now, and he wanted to nip that in the bud.

      "There were things-" he started, but she cut him off.

      "You had to take care of. Like that redhead in Edmonton? And the woman with
      the gloves-" she inhaled sharply, trying to figure out exactly what the
      gloves had meant to him. "Gloves, Logan? What the hell were you doin' in
      Canada when you were supposed to be here, takin' care of me?" And she shoved
      him in the chest with both hands. He didn't move, of course. It'd take a lot
      more than that to knock him over. He'd take whatever she wanted to dish out,
      though. He deserved it. But she just left her hands there, as if she were
      reluctant to break the contact.

      He hadn't realized such a brief touch would have allowed her access to his
      latest memories, though he supposed it was possible. What the hell *had* he
      been doing? They hadn't really discussed his trip, or what he'd gone looking
      for.

      Alkali Lake proved to be a big dead end, and he didn't want to admit that
      he'd found nothing. He also didn't want to tell her he'd spent the last two
      years wandering the backwoods of Canada, drinking and brawling, trying to
      forget about her, this place, and the fact that he couldn't remember
      anything about his life before he woke up with adamantium soldered to his
      bones. <Though she probably already knows,> he realized. His ears burned
      slightly from embarrassment. He couldn't hide from her.

      She wasn't waiting for him to answer though. She was on a tear and she was
      going to say her piece.

      "I prayed every night, to whatever gods there might be, that you'd be all
      right, that you'd come home safe. I looked at the stars and thought you'd be
      lookin' at them, too, and it made the world seem a little smaller, made you
      seem a little closer.

      "And you were off screwin' around. Now you're back and you want to screw
      around with me, too. Is that it?" She was conveniently forgetting everything
      Jean had said to her yesterday, forgetting even the images and feelings that
      she'd absorbed from him, images and feelings in which she was the main
      attraction. She didn't even care that she was letting her feelings for him
      show, that she was making herself vulnerable to him.

      She had so many conflicting emotions fighting for precedence - love, anger,
      lust, fear - and right now, anger was winning. Even she hadn't realized how
      hurt she'd been by his disappearance, but it was all coming out now. Her
      hands clutched convulsively at his shirt.

      He told himself he wasn't going to get angry. He just wanted to make things
      right with her. He'd messed up big-time yesterday and didn't want to make
      the same mistake twice. So he said nothing. If she had seen all that, she
      had to know how much she meant to him, how much he wanted it to be more with
      her than just meaningless sex, and how sorry he was that he'd left her alone
      for two years.

      "Answer the question, Logan. What are you plannin' on doin' with me?"

      He captured the gloved hands that still rested against his chest. "If you
      know so much about what's in my head, Marie, why don't you tell me?" He said
      it quietly, hoping, willing her to see it.

      She blinked and seemed to shake herself. She'd felt his love for her
      yesterday, as well as his fear, and knew what an effort this whole thing was
      for him. That he was making it, that he was willing to shoulder some
      responsibility and willing to stick around, despite his aversion to being
      tied down, told her how much he really cared. But still, she was hurt. Her
      confusion was evident.

      "I, I..." She looked at him, unable to speak about what she'd seen in his
      head, her eyes bright with tears. Love was now overwhelming anger and
      confusion, but it was a close call.

      He decided they'd done enough talking. He pulled her roughly into his arms
      and hugged her until she thought her ribs were going to break. She buried
      her face in his chest, inhaling the scent of him - motor oil and cigar smoke
      and just *him*. She was trying hard not to cry. She was tired of crying,
      even if this time the tears were from happiness. She could feel his heart
      beating, and it seemed to be in time with her own. He kissed the top of her
      head, and then rested his cheek there, content, for the moment, just to hold
      her.
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