Ultra-sensitive hearing is, on some occasions, a curse. On others, it's a blessing. Sometimes I can't tell.

I can always hear her shriek as she sleeps, terrified of the nightmares that belong to me or to Magneto. I could never leave her alone after hearing how scared she is, so I get up and pull on a sweatshirt. Stepping into the hall, I count the doorways down the right side. One, two, three, four. She is four doors down from me.

I don't think she knows, but I watch her like a hawk. I was in a bar once, nameless and dark, and I walked into the men's bathroom and there was a girl on the floor. She was dead. Her eyes were staring and not seeing the decaying wood panels on the ceiling. Blood pooled on the floor on either side of her and I thought she'd been murdered. Then I saw a sliver of glass from a shattered mirror clutched loosely in a limp fist and jagged, fleshy cuts on her wrists. I saw my reflection in that little piece of mirror that still had blood on it. I turned and ran to find someone. The bartender nearly cried in front of me. It was his daughter.

So I watch her like a hawk. I do it because I love her. Not like she's my daughter and I'm afraid she's going to kill herself. Like I love her so much I would cry in front of suspicious-looking cage-fighting men because part of me would die if I ever had to find her on the floor of a bathroom with slashes on her wrists and piece of mirrored glass that holds my reflection floating in a pool of her blood. That's why I go to her room every night she wakes up screaming. Because I love her.

She doesn't know. At least I'm pretty sure she doesn't. She thinks we're friends. She comes in my room to do her homework and she's falls asleep against my shoulder when we watch TV. Whenever she falls asleep like that, I don't move except to turn and press my face to her hair.

For me, her hair is a sensory experience in itself. It's beautiful and shiny and earthy-brown. It smells so good (sweet and clean) and it feels like nothing I've ever felt before, so soft. Marie's hair even has a sound. I can hear a soft rustling as the strands slide over each other. From a distance, I can hear it swish when she flips it and I can hear it slide against her skin as she runs her fingers through her hair.

I stand in front of her door, thinking about her hair before I let myself in.

"Marie," I say in a whisper. She has a roommate who sleeps like she's been drugged, which made her an ideal roommate for Marie. I whisper her name again, walking towards the sliver of light that bisects the room. I can see her skinny body bent over the toilet, waiting to purge the nausea that almost always accompanies her nightmares.

The hinges creak as I push the bathroom door open all the way. She doesn't acknowledge my presence, just stands there, her hands on her knees to support her and her long hair hanging around her face. I step behind her and lace my fingers into that wonderful hair and pull it into a ponytail I can hold in my fist. Her trembling hand points to the sink--a rubber band is sitting on the rim. I twist the band around her dark strands, careful not to pull them and I brush the missed pieces floating around her face behind her ears, feeling the tears on her cheeks.

I have to steal small touches of her skin like this. Brushing her hair off of her face, placing a reassuring hand on her arm. I don't want to scare her by doing what I want to do, which is laying her down on my bed and peeling off every layer of clothing and feeling every inch of her skin beneath my mouth and my hands. I could too, if I was even a fraction of the asshole Cyke seems to think I am. She can control her power now and I could have her if I wanted to. I think she'd be so unsure of what to do that she would only stare up at me with her deep brown eyes and let me touch her. But I'd never do it unless she wanted me to.

Her body shuddered and she retched into the toilet. For all of my brawn, the sound makes me pinch my eyes shut. But I keep my hand firmly on her back. She flipped the silver handle before sinking to the floor and pressing her face to the cool tiles. I pass her a glass of water from the sink and she sits up and drinks slowly.

Her laughter cracks the silence.

"I thought only alcoholics did this every night."

I smile weakly because it's a bad joke. She knows it and says she's sorry.

"Don't be," I say and ask her if she's okay.

"Oh, I'm great. Feeling like a million dollars, thanks."

"How many nights in a row is this," I ask, knowing it's been several.

"I don't know," she says, her voice breaking and her breaking my heart as she sucks in her breath and tries to stop the sobs from coming. I hate to see her so upset but I love to hold her to my chest and comfort her, a thumb caressing her neck.

"I'm tired, Logan," she says.

"I know," I say and I take her hand. She jerks it away and stands on wobbling legs.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going to brush my teeth."

I don't say anything, only watch as she squeezes toothpaste onto her brush and scrubs at her white teeth. She spits out the foam and rinses her mouth.

She turns to look at me and now she holds out her hand and I take it into my own.

"Make me forget, Logan," she says in a sad little voice.

I cock my head to the side a little. I think I know what she wants, but I can't believe (hope) that she's serious.

"Marie, I..."

"You know what I mean."

She steps closer and runs her fingernails over the skin on my chest revealed by the V of the half-open zipper of my sweatshirt. She leans her body into mine, and my knees almost fail me as she lightly kisses me where my heart is beating through my ribcage. Where did she learn how to do this?

"Please... I know you..."

What does she know I wonder.

"Logan, I know you don't love me. I just want to feel something good. Everything else seems to be so sad and...ugly."

She thinks I don't love her. I remember I was talking to Jean one day--she's the only one who knows how I feel about Marie and she understands how love can be an obsession. Marie walked in and I think she misinterpreted the situation. She never said anything and she and I spent so much time together that I thought she forgot about it. I guess I was wrong.

All I want to do, though, is tell her she's wrong about how I feel about her. I want to make her forget her dreams, I want to make love to her... Yet I don't want her to forget her innocence.

"Marie," I say, gripping her arms and pushing her away, pushing her away, "This isn't a good idea."

She stumbles back into the door, closing it with a slam that makes me jump. The look on her face is pained and she doesn't hide the sobs now.

"You don't even have to think of me. I just want you," she says through her tears.

I am 100% the asshole Cyke thinks I am because I take her in my arms and kiss her, promising to give her everything with the way I capture her lips with mine. I can't say anything because her moaning is undoing me. Blood is rushing to places it shouldn't be rushing to so soon and my pulse is racing.

She breaks away so she can slough off the thin, long-sleeved sweater she always wears over her nightgown. I think she's still afraid she'll hurt someone. Her fingers fumble with the zipper of my sweatshirt, but I stop her, and kiss her again. She sinks to the floor and pulls me with her, a relief to my still-trembling knees. I'm kissing her and she's kissing me like this is the last chance she'll ever have to do it.

I can't take her on a bathroom floor, though. The sad, dead girl from the bar bled to death on a bathroom floor.

I stand, pulling her with me and whispering into her ear, Not on the floor, Marie. I turn off the light and lead her out of the room and down the hallway, four doors down on the left from hers.

She shuts the door behind us and walks to my bed. My breath is coming in gasps but I don't think she realizes what she's doing to me. Her breathing is just as erratic as mine as she slides her small hand down my chest, over my stomach, and under the elastic waistband of my pants. As much as I want her hands on me, I don't want it to be cheap. I catch her hand and lace her fingers in mine. I try to kiss her like I feel: like I love her.

I don't think she can believe it, though.

Her fingers whip out of mine and before I can slow her down, she has looped her fingers under the straps of her night gown and slid them off her shoulders. The gown drops and this lovely girl I'm in love with is standing almost naked before me, her underwear the only piece of clothing remaining. Her beauty is almost enough to make me cry and she would give it to me even though she thinks I'm imagining someone else. But how could I?

I am more scared that I've ever been in my whole life because it's my Marie in front of me and I'm at a loss. I've done this before, but god... Never with someone I loved.

Cupping her face, I tilt it up to me and I see those stormy brown eyes. I love you I tell her. Something happens in her eyes but I don't know what it is exactly. She pushes up on her toes suddenly and locks her lips with mine. Her tongue slides in my mouth and the strength of it surprises me. We are both desperate.

I can hardly think because this is what I've wanted for so long. I want to give her something she wants. She smelled like she wanted me to touch her, so I did.

I pull her hair out of its ponytail gently and I run my fingers down her face and her neck. I feel relieved when I see a pleasured smile creep onto her face. She was smiling as my fingertips skated over her bare skin.

My groin tightens as I reach her breasts and she gasps, moans. Her hands reach for my waistband again and I don't stop her this time. My pants fall, followed by my boxers and I slip my fingers under the edge of her underwear.

We are standing in front of each other stripped of all of our clothes and all of our defensive mechanisms. I can't run away now and she can't fall asleep on my shoulder. I slide a hand around her hip and let it rest in the small of her back, pulling her body close to mine. My other hand cradles the back of her head and I lower my mouth to hers. Then I tell her that I love her again and ask if she believes me. She says yes and I let that be enough.

I lay her down and let my lips and and tongue explore her body as she twists and cries out softly. Her hands are squeezing my shoulders and running through my hair.

Then I ask if she still wants to do this and she nods. I kiss her again and keep whispering in her ear I love you, love you, love you, Marie. She seems to tense when she hears her name. Are you okay I say. Yes she says, then Please, Logan, please. I listen and I adjust her hips and warn her that it might hurt. I'm so ready for her and I can feel that she is ready for me so I do it. I enter her slowly and wait for the expression of pain on her face to fade.

When it does, I begin to make love to her, hoping she'll know that's what I'm doing. She's warm around me and under my body and under my hands, in my mouth. I would make her forget her pain every night if it would always be like this.

She begins to say things and I begin to say things. She says this is what she wants and I tell her that she's the only one for me, she's my girl. We expose ourselves to each other as she comes first, then me. I want to collapse onto her but I use the last of my energy to lower myself slowly, my face resting on her chest.

The rise and fall of her breathing soon rouses me and I roll onto my back and pull her with me, something I don't think she expected. She pulls a sheet over us and lays still. Marie doesn't say anything as her tears leak onto my shoulder and her fingers trace circles around my heart.

I wake up to find her sitting up with her back to me, her knees curled up to her chest. I'm worried that I've hurt her and I'm sitting beside her faster than I thought I could move.

"Do you regret this," she says and my heart sinks because I'm afraid she does.

"No," I say, "I don't and I never will. But I'm scared you might."

She shakes her head and I am relieved. I lean forward and press my forehead to her temple and kiss her cheek. I trail a hand down her back, tracing the small curves of her spine that press through the skin.

"Do you love me, Logan?"

I tell her Yes, yes I do. Just you I say.

"You told me so many times last night," she says, "but I could hardly believe it or even hope for it to be true. I--"

I mute her reply with my mouth and we kiss. Then she whispers in my ear I love you, Logan and I am made a man.

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