The Legend by aranenumenesse
Summary: "I don't need a miracle. I need the best."
Categories: X1, AU Characters: None
Genres: Action, Angst, Shipper
Tags: None
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 17393 Read: 33361 Published: 09/03/2007 Updated: 09/05/2007

1. Chapter 1 by aranenumenesse

2. Chapter 2 by aranenumenesse

3. Chapter 3 by aranenumenesse

4. Chapter 4 by aranenumenesse

5. Chapter 5 by aranenumenesse

6. Chapter 6 by aranenumenesse

7. Chapter 7 by aranenumenesse

Chapter 1 by aranenumenesse
Author's Notes:
This can be seen as a second take on The Glass Butterfly. What if Marie was really looking for help instead of mercy?
“What the fuck do you want?”
“I… I need help.”
“Go bother somebody who actually cares.”

Blind eyes, shining silver turn slowly towards the sound of her voice. Nostrils flare and she knows he’s taking in her scent. His face is turning to a grimace and he takes a big gulp from his beer before turning his wide back at her. She can see the tension in his shoulders through numerous jackets and shirts. She knows the best thing to do would be just to leave him alone and find somebody else, but she doesn’t have the luxury of options. There are bad people after her, and she needs the best to shake them off from her tail. She reaches with her hand, swathed in dirty and torn glove and grabs his arm to get his attention.

“Please… I already asked from others. They said I should find you. Find the Wolverine.”

He seems to consider her words for a moment, then sighs and turns to face her. Grabs the collar of her cloak and pulls her closer, leaning down from the stool he’s sitting on, those silver eyes reflecting her own desperate ones like a mirror.

“I don’t give a jack shit what other people are telling. From the smell of it you need a fucking miracle to squirm your way out of the shit you’ve gotten in to.”
“I don’t need a miracle.”
“No? I may be blind, but I’m not stupid. You fucking reek of the lab.”
“I don’t need a miracle. I need the best there is…”
“…At what I do? Right?”
“I don’t know what kind of bullshit you have been listening to, but obviously something has escaped from your ears. In case you haven’t noticed I’m fucking blind. It’s a good day for me when I’m able to tell the difference between light and dark, and even those days are getting far and fewer. So why don’t you take your little dilemma the fuck away from me before I…”

She raises her palm and tries to slap him. He grabs her wrist in mid-swing, his grip nearly crushing her delicate bones. His brows knit together and his eyes narrow to tiny, silvery slits, his lips drawing to a grimace.

“As I said… I’m blind, not stupid. Now, why don’t you take a hike…”

He doesn’t get to finish his sentence. She doesn’t get a chance to try and argue with him some more. Hail of bullets, like angry bees pepper the bar, and suddenly she’s crushed between the filthy floor and considerable weight of the Wolverine. More bullets whistle over and she can hear glass shattering. Something wet rains on them. Booze. And something warm and sticky dribbling down her cheek. She can hear Wolverine grunting, spewing out a string of curses, and suddenly he’s gone and she can breathe again. There are no more bullets flying in the air that is suddenly filled with screams and stench of blood and fresh guts. She rolls in to a ball, hiding her face against her knees when she hears enraged growl and wood shattering. Something snaps, and sharp scream ends to gurgle.

“You have a car?”
“Yes… Yes, It’s outside…”
“Get up. You’re going to give me a lift.”

She scrambles to her feet, trying not to look too closely the bodies littering the floor and tables. She can hear Wolverine chuckle. He’s walking towards the door, stumbling a little when his foot gets caught in to open ribcage on his way. He stops at the door and turns his face towards her, silver eyes gleaming in the dim lights, his head slightly tilted.

“Move your ass. I’m not planning to stick around and wait for the back-up team to arrive.”

She’s driving. Wolverine sits next to her, his hands jammed deep in the pockets of his jacket, and he keeps shifting and grimacing every now and then. His blind eyes drift back and forth, as if trying to find a spot to fix on. He’s looking paler every passing second. And suddenly she’s very aware of the growing stench of blood. Instead of diminishing as the splatters on him start to dry it keeps just escalating until she can actually taste it at the back of her throat, and she has to open the window to let in some fresh air.

“Are you alright?”
“Yeah. Just keep driving.”
“You don’t look alright.”
“You should keep your eyes on the road. There’s a motel coming soon. Just ditch me there and we’re even.”
“I was doing just fine until you came around and dragged those bastards in. Give me a ride to that motel and get the fuck away from me, and we’re even.”

She sees the bright neon sign at the side of the road and turns the car to the parking lot, steering it right in front of the rickety building marked as ‘office’. Turns off the engine.

“Here we are.”

Wolverine is just sitting there. Fluorescent light of the flickering sign above them colors his face in turn green and red. There are small beads of sweat trickling down his forehead, and when he leans forward to grab the door handle he lets out a small moan. His hand closes around the handle and that moan turns in to a strangled sob, and now she can see the source of blood. The hand grasping the plastic handle is swollen, skin stretched taut over black and blue flesh. Thick and sticky globs of clotted blood squeeze out from between his knuckles when Wolverine tries feebly to open the door.

“Sit. I’ll go and get a room for you.”

For a moment he looks like he’s about to protest, but then he just flops against the backrest, closing his eyes and shoving his hands back in to the pockets, his jaw set stubbornly.

“My wallet’s in the breast pocket.”

Denim jacket and shirts underneath the leather, as well as the leather jacket’s inner lining are soaked through with dark blood. She zips up the jacket and squeezes his shoulder reassuringly, unable to put her hand in to that mess.

“You’ll pay me back later, okay?”

She glances herself from the rearview mirror, wipes off the trail of blood from her cheek and checks her purse. There’s not much left, but probably enough for few nights in a roach infested room with a scent of sex and cigarettes permanently imprinted to the furniture. She shivers already from the mental image, but shrugs it off. Beggars can’t be choosers.

The man behind the desk at the office doesn’t even look at her twice, just takes the money and hands her a rusted key. For her inquiry about ice and food he shoves her a small bucket, telling that there’s an ice machine and a snack vendor just round the corner, and then promptly returns to the backroom. She can hear the sound of a TV filtering through the door the man closes behind him.

“Can you walk?”
“Yes. Just point me to the right direction.”

She parks the car as close to their room as possible, but she still ends up practically carrying Wolverine those last steps it takes to close the gap between the car and the door. She pushes him against the wall, urging him to lean on it while she jostles with the bucket and the key, trying simultaneously to keep him upright rather than just let him slump down to icy asphalt. He’s shivering and his breath escapes with hot, ragged huffs from the effort of trying to stay quiet and conscious. Finally she manages to open the door, and Wolverine stumbles in, falling face first to the carpet, his hands still deep in his pockets. He groans and rolls on his side, nostrils twitching and his eyes scanning the room, probably more out of a habit than anything else. Once the inspection is over he relaxes a bit.

“I’ll go and get ice and something to eat…”

She backs away from the room, turning her back and closing the door, unable to face the sight of him trying to claw his way to the corner where a lone recliner sits under the window. As an afterthought she cracks the door open and fumbles the side of the wall until her fingers brush against the light switch. She turns it on. She can hear a surprised grunt, then something reminding a ‘thank you’ before she shuts the door again and leans her forehead to it. She has spent the last month trying to track down the legend, and now it looks like that’s all she has found. Beaten up wreck of a man, former champion gone bad and useless. And now there’s nothing standing between her and them, but she’s rather standing between him and them.

She takes her time in the vendors, trying to figure out the best way out of the mess. She can’t very well just abandon him. There are all the possibilities that the people chasing her come after him as well. Wounded and blind he’d be easy pickings for them. She punches the buttons angrily, grabbing the energy bars from the slot and filling the bucket with ice, dropping it and filling it again.

He’s in the bathroom when she returns. Door is open. He’s peeling off his blood-soaked clothes, layer from layer with quite un-cooperative and shaky hands. She throws the snacks to the bed, walks in to the bathroom and plunks the bucket to the counter, then starts helping him.

“What the fuck are you still doing here?”
“Helping you.”
“I don’t want your fucking charity…”
“Can you, or can you not get out of those clothes by yourself?”

He grunts something intelligible but finally relents and lets her pull off the last bits of clothing. There’s a small red dot on his back, just below his left shoulderblade. There’s no matching exit wound on his chest. She probes the scar gently and he flinches. That’s where the blood came when she lay under him at the bar. She finds the exit from his right side, large blotch of aggravated, raw skin, and ghosts her palm over it.

“You’re damn lucky woman. That slug ricocheted from my sternum. Had it gone through you wouldn’t be standing there.”
“Yeah. Real lucky…”

She’s unable to mask the disappointment in her voice. She can see from the look on his face that her attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed. There are grim lines etching over his features.

“I didn’t offer to help you. You came to me by yourself.”
“I know, I know… It’s just…”

‘Sorry, I was expecting something more’ doesn’t sound appropriate, not after he has taken a bullet meant for her and slaughtered a bar full of people for scaring him. Yet there are no more apt words, so she stays silent instead and turns on the shower, adjusting the water temperature. From the corner of her eye she can see Wolverine standing by the sink, clenching and unclenching his fists, more blackened, sticky blobs smacking on the white porcelain and oozing towards the drain.

“I thought… They said… Why don’t you heal?”

He lets out a snort, something between laughter and growl. His eyes flicker to the mirror, silver on silver.

“I heal. Used to heal a lot faster. Then this fucker that calls himself Magneto got a hold of me. Jostled me up for good. Fucked me up. There are so much loose bits of metal floating in me that it’s a fucking miracle that they haven’t clogged my brain yet. That’s why I have so pretty eyes. Those bits float just fine in bigger veins but get stuck in to smaller ones. And they’re poisonous. Takes about every bit of my healing just to keep me up and going, don’t have much left to spare for injuries.”
“Yeah. You came looking for the best there is. I still am. Just not as durable as the legend goes. If I were you, I’d skip the ship before it sinks. They’re probably coming after us.”
“But what about you?”
“I can get a lift. There’s no problem…”

He turns his head, silver pools avoiding her gaze and steps in to the shower. Grimaces when the hot water sluices down his forearms and hands but stands there, letting it dissolve the blood and grime from his skin. Gaping slits between his knuckles are slowly knitting shut.

“I brought some ice for your hands.”
“Thanks… Hey?”
“What’s your name?”

He turns face to face with her, those silver eyes narrowing. His fingers comb back strands of wet hair that’s plastered over his forehead.

“What kind of a name is Rogue?”
“I don’t know… What kind of a name is Wolverine?”

He grunts and shrugs his shoulders, water cascading over taut muscles in pink and crimson rivulets, then turns his back again and she retreats from the bathroom, closing the door. Sits on the bed and unwraps one of the energy bars and starts munching it. She’s still chewing the last bits when shower stops and door opens.

“Still here? What part of the ‘get the hell away from here before they catch you’ you didn’t get?”
“I’m here because you’re here.”
“You said it yourself. They’re after you as well. You helped me back at the bar. I’m helping you now.”
“I don’t want your charity.”
“Then lets call it a mutual profit. You get the hell away from them, and I get to tag along somebody who knows what to do when something happens.”

He doesn’t answer, just shuffles carefully to the bed, nudges the comforter from under her and curls on his side, shoving the rest of the energy bars down to the floor and spreads the comforter over his nude frame, closing his eyes. She can see the pulse ticking on the side of his neck, just under the flawless skin. Erratic. Nervous. He’s feeling uncomfortable, and doing his best imitation of not caring.

“I’m not stupid either.”
“Sure could have fooled me…”
“When they come you’re as good as caught. You got lucky in that bar because it was packed full and they couldn’t get away from you. What happens when you’re walking down the side of that road hitchhiking and they come? They can shoot you from the distance, then just wait for you to keel over and shackle you.”
“I fucking know that.”
“Then why can’t you come with me?”
“I’d only slow you down. You don’t need a blind man as an extra burden.”
“You’re right. I don’t need a blind man. But I need the best there is. I need Wolverine.”
“You don’t need me. You need my instincts. My memories. Most of the shit just happens when I need it. When there’s a room full of armed men after my ass… It gets blurred. Everything happens so fucking slowly, there’s blood and shit everywhere and then I wake up somewhere far away from where I last remember being. I can’t… I can’t teach you something like that. I can’t teach or explain something that I don’t even understand myself. Trust me, you’re better off without me.”
“Fine. Be a jerk…”

She glances out from the window. There are several hours left before dawn. She could probably afford a brief nap before leaving.

“Do you mind?”
“Mind what?”
“Sharing the bed? I’m tired.”
“Just don’t hog the covers and we’re good.”

She settles on to the bed carefully, leaving a good distance between her and Wolverine. She lets out a surprised squeak when his hand closes around her and pulls her flush against his large frame. One hand slithers under her neck, other curls around her waist and she can feel the hard outlines of his body through the thin comforter.

“Do you mind?”
“Uh… This is kind of a sudden, and…”
“Stop fucking stuttering. I just need something to lean against. I think I pulled a muscle from my back when I took that hit.”
“Oh… Go ahead, then… I guess…”

She can feel him relaxing a bit. His legs tangle with hers when he shifts his knee, bringing his thigh resting partially over her hip. He shifts a little more, almost crawling completely on top of her, then lets out a relieved sigh, and suddenly it feels like he practically melts there, every tendon and muscle turning lax and heavy as led.

“No problem…”

At least she can still breathe. But there is no way she could get out from under him unless he’s willing to let her. She can feel small muscle on his stomach ticking slightly against her lower back. Little twitches and jolts here and there. He’s still healing from the inside. And falling asleep quickly. Breath evening out. Vice-like grip from around her waist loosening until she moves a bit and there is the heavy band of his arm again, pressing her back against his stomach and chest almost as if he were trying to pull her in to him right through his skin. She rubs her right shoulder; thankful for the small lump of the inhibitor she can feel underneath the skin there. He’ll be safe from her mutation. At least one good thing has come out from her imprisonment at the lab two months earlier. She closes her eyes and tries to relax. She’ll need all the rest she can get later.

When she comes to, she’s struggling against heavy weight upon her, fighting for her life against them because they are holding her down and cutting in to her, parting skin from flesh, trying to find the mechanism behind its function. She is screaming and scratching and biting, and there is utterly confused and groggy Wolverine on top of her, trying to get away as fast as possible and falling from the bed with a hard thud.

“Oh, for fucking shit…”

His pained voice tells her that he probably hurt his back again, but she can’t bring herself to care. She flees to bathroom, kneeling in front of the toilet bowl just in time when her stomach forces out bitter bile and saliva, aftershock from her nightmare taking over and leaving her to trembling heap on to the cold and hard floor. She can feel something wet and warm trickling down her back and sides. She curls around her knees, trying not to think too hard how long it will take this time from the tender skin of her back to knit back together again after being torn open from her struggle in dream. It will heal. She’ll just need some time, and it’ll heal. Eventually it has to.

“Hey… You hit your head or something?”

Wolverine, standing at the doorway, his nose twitching, blind eyes scanning the thin air futilely. He walks in and crouches stiffly next to her, his hands cradling her face first then sliding lower.

“What the fuck… Tell me this is water, Rogue.”
“Jesus. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I thought it was better already… It wasn’t hurting anymore…”
“You weren’t hurting because what ever this shit is, it’s infected. There’s so much puss and shit that your nerves are all clogged up… Fuck. What the hell happened to you?”
“They took away my skin. Cut it all off from my back. Then put it back on again when they couldn’t figure out how it worked…”
“Hmph… They did a bang-up job while stitching you up.”
“I thought it was already healed!”
“It isn’t. And it’s not going to heal like this. We have to get this cleaned up…”

She can feel his palms smoothing over her back and grimaces when she feels the loose skin shifting, blood and puss dribbling from between the torn stitches on her sides and shoulders. He helps her to sit up and starts to unbutton her shirt with clumsy but efficient moves.

“How long?”
“How long ago they cut you?”
“Couple of months ago…”
“Okay. Listen. I need you to stay still. Don’t move a fucking inch. You understand?”
“I’m going to cut off this shit. There should be new skin underneath already. Since I can’t see what I’m doing, you have to stay still. I don’t want to poke extra holes in you.”

She hears a soft screech, as nails on a chalkboard, and she can see from the corner of her eye Wolverine’s left hand, fingers curled to a loose fist, one metal claw extended, blood already oozing from the base of it. Fingers of his right hand skim over the row of bulging stitches. Left hand moves, and she can feel the cold claw sliding over, thin metal wires that held her skin together parting without resistance at its wake. She’s holding her breath, trying not to move. Wolverine is holding his breath as well, fingers skimming over stitches over and over again, memorizing the path before the deadly extension of his left hand follows it.

“There… I think… I think it was the last of them… I think…”

There’s a hitch on his breath. His fingers slide over the edges of the flap of dead skin once more; plucking out cut stitches and discarding them to the floor. Everything that had been brewing underneath is dribbling down her sides. She’s nearly gagging from the stench of it. She can only imagine how awful it must be for his enhanced senses.

“Tell me if it starts to hurt, okay?”

She breathes deeply, trying to brace herself when he starts to peel off the skin she has been so carefully guarding for two long months. She’s waiting for the inevitable stab of pain, the feel of tearing and burning, but there’s none of it. Just heavenly feel of weightlessness when the last bit slides off from her back. Small snip just above her buttocks, and it’s over.

“Sorry about that. It had started to grow back from there.”
“It’s… It’s okay. How does it look?”

She bites her tongue, intending to apologize, when she feels his fingers sliding over her back. Carefully, touch as fleeting and light as a feather.

“Feels like there’s real skin. But you should be careful with that still. You don’t want to tear that one as well.”

He starts to stand up from his kneeling position, one hand braced against the brim of the bathtub. For a moment he wobbles, then manages to find his balance and turns on the shower.

“Get in.”
“It’s cold…”
“Has to be. Any warmer and you’d burn your back.”
“It’s too cold… I can’t…”
“You can and you will. You reek like shit. Get in.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sakes…”

He’s under the cold spray, pulling her in there as well, making sure he isn’t hurting her back when she fights against him. She’s screaming all the way through it, but when it is over and he turns off the shower she thanks him, her teeth chattering.

“Grab a towel. Don’t rub your back, just pat it dry. Then go back to sleep.”
“What about…”
“I’ll clean up this mess. Just go to sleep.”

She towels her hair dry and watches as Wolverine cleans up the bathroom, wrapping the horrifying evidence of his improvised surgery to a towel and throwing it to the trash bin, tying the plastic bag tightly around bloodied rag. Next he rinses the floor meticulously, making sure that none of the blood and other fluids stick to the plaster between the white tiles. He shuts of the shower, straightens his back and cracks his neck, then takes a whiff, nodding slightly. Wraps a towel around his waist, grabs the trash bin and gathers his clothes and heads towards the door.

“Where are you going?”
“Taking out the trash. And wash my clothes. There’s a Laundromat out there.”
“You sure? Do you need me to…”
“There’s always a Laundromat. I could smell it when we arrived. And I need you to shut your mouth and go to sleep. We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, and since your back is already fucked up… Sleep now when you can.”
“We? Didn’t you say you’d only slow me down?”
“It’s starting to look like you don’t know even the basics of running. Your pace can only get better from here, no matter what happens.”

On the next day she finds out how right Wolverine has been. She has slept on her stomach, waking up to a wonderful feeling on her back, she can actually feel it, feel the skin stretching along her movements, and for a moment she’s been more contended than she remembers ever being. Then she puts on her clothes and sits behind the steering wheel. Soft cloth of her shirt feels like somebody has replaced it with burlap. Soft and tender skin of her back, still aggravated from the infection is still stretching, but from all the wrong places, and it doesn’t feel very nice. It’s itching. It’s burning. Her muscles start to cramp after an measly hour because she tries to sit straighter than usually, and at the end of the second hour she would kill for the possibility to stop and strip off all of her clothes and step outside for a roll in the crisp white snow. And Wolverine is having none of that.

“Keep driving.”
“It’s itching.”
“Yeah. And you can scratch it raw, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are people after you. After us. Keep driving.”

He has tilted his seat backwards and lies on it on his side, grimacing when she accidentally hits potholes on the road.

“Where are we going?”
“Nowhere. Just keep driving. Turn when you feel like it. Turn when I tell you to turn.”
“They had you. They had me as well, many years ago. They know how we think. They know where we are going to go. If we take random turns and stop at random places, take turns choosing them… Who knows, maybe we can fuck up their scenarios.”
“They had you?”
“Where the fuck did you think I got all this hardware in me?”
“They put… How?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Can’t remember a thing about it. Probably cut me open and poured it in.”
“Oh, God…”
“Hey! Why are you slowing down? We can’t stop yet!”
“I’m going to be sick…”
“Hey! Rogue! Get back in the car!”

There’s nothing for her stomach to force out. It doesn’t stop it from trying. She stands a long moment on the curb, clutching her sides, trying to will the nausea away. It leaves a sour taste in her mouth, but finally she’s able to return to the car. She sits down carefully and shuts the door. Then turns to look at the man sitting next to her, his silver eyes seemingly watching her.

“Next time you feel like puking… Just suck it up.”
“Well excuse me if I’m feeling a little queasy after witnessing you slaughter few people and butchering my back…”
“You asked for it. Step on it. I have a feeling that our company is getting closer as we speak.”
“You have a feeling?”
“Yeah. And that feeling has never been wrong. Hear that?”

She strains her ears. After a while she can pick it up. Small whining noise in the distance, getting closer every passing second.

“What is that?”
“It’s a jet.”
“A jet?”
“Step on it! Or should I drive?”
“Jesus! I’m driving! I’m driving!”

She lets out a shaky breath when black, sleek jet whoops over them and lands smack dab middle of the road in front of them.

“I don’t think we’re going anywhere. At least not straight forward…”
“You’re aware that every average vehicle has a reverse as well? Fucking use it!”
“I can’t! There’s two SUV’s parked and they’re setting up a road block.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Tell me about the jet.”
“The jet! What does it look like? Is it armed? Are there lots of people there? Are they armed?”
“It’s just standing there. I can’t see people. And it doesn’t look like it’s armed…”
“Step on it. If it’s as pricy as it sounded, owner will move aside rather than let us crash it.”
“Do you need me to drive?”
“Are you insane?”
“Yes. I’m sure I have it written on a paper somewhere. I can show it to you later. Drive!”

Her heart is hammering against her ribs, and she has driven last kilometers numbly, her leg pressing the gas pedal, hands clutching the steering wheel and her eyes staring the road ahead, not even really seeing her surroundings.

“I think you can relax a bit. It seemed like that jet wasn’t their buddy. It attacked those SUV’s.”
“So… Enemy of my enemy…”
“That’s bullshit. Just because they like to beat up people who are after us doesn’t mean that they’re our friends. For all we know they might just be some private corporation, looking for something they can sell to the government for hefty profit.”
“Oh, God… I think I need to slow down…”
“Go ahead. They trashed that jet when they landed it on top of those SUV’s. I think we can afford to go slower for a while. But keep driving. More space we get between us and them, better chances we have to loose them from our tracks for good.”
“Can we stop soon?”
“For what?”
“I’m hungry. I need to eat before I keel over. Aren’t you hungry?”
“I could eat. We stop at the first diner we find.”
“Is that a good idea?”
“They expect us to keep running. If we stop now for a while it’ll throw them off-course. At least it should. Makes it harder for them to calculate where we are going to show up next.”

Wolverine is out of the car and walking confidently towards the front door of the diner before she has the time to pull the key from the ignition. She can’t help wondering how he manages to swerve past randomly parked cars and not to stumble over small banks of snow when he can’t see them. She has to run to catch him. In the diner he walks straight past the counter, and chooses a small booth from the furthest corner, his face turned towards the door, picks up the menu and gives it once over before shoving it to her.

“How… Why…”
“I can still smell and hear things. Don’t care to advertise my little handicap.”

Arrival of the waitress interrupts her further questions. Woman gives them a radiant smile, pulling a pencil from behind her ear and a notebook from her pocket.

“Welcome to Mickey’s! What can I get you?”

Wolverine prattles down his order. Ordinary breakfast, something you can expect to have from pretty much everywhere. Waitress writes down his order, stealing glances over the notebook, then turns towards Rogue.

“I’ll have the same.”

Again the woman scribbles something, then turns to look at Wolverine again.

“Cool contacts. Where did you get them?”
“Custom made. A friend of mine is in the business.”
“Wow! I wish I had friends like yours!”
“No, you don’t. The guy is an asshole…”

Wolverine turns away from the waitress, clearly annoyed from the attention, his eyes taking the slow and tedious journey, trying to find Rogue’s face. She reaches with her hand over the table and places her palm on his cheek and guides him, a false caress to keep up the pretence.

“But I like your eyes, honey…”
“And I like yours darling…”

Wolverine is leaning closer, and just as it’s starting to look like he’s going to kiss her the waitress turns on her heels, her interest in them completely gone. Rogue can hear the sharp clicking of her heels in the background, but her whole attention is directed towards the man sitting in front of her. His face only few inches from hers, blind eyes staring at her like he could actually see her through those silvery discs, his nostrils twitching slightly.

“What color are your eyes, anyway?”
“Your eyes. What color?”

She swallows and licks her lips nervously, lowering her hand that she has forgotten on his cheek and tries to find the right answer to his question. For some reason it’s very hard to remember the color of her own eyes.

“Uh… Br… Brown.”
“And your hair? Brown as well?”
“Let me look at you…”

She squelches a startled yelp when his right hand rises and his fingers ghost over her features. Over her brows, down her nose, trailing along the curve of her lips and jaw.

“Pretty. They didn’t mess up your face? Just your back?”
“Yes… Yeah, just my back…”
“You’re young. How the hell a kid like you ended up in to the lab?”
“My parents… They needed money.”

Wolverine’s hand falls from her face and angry frown settles over his features.

“At least I have nobody but myself to blame. I think so. I think I volunteered. But what kind of fuckheads sell their own child to those bastards?”
“People who think their daughter is possessed. They would have probably turned me in for free, but they needed the money for their congregation.”
“Congregation? They’re some sorts of yahoos?”
“Sort of…”

Arrival of their breakfast interrupts them, and for a moment they just sit and eat. She can’t remember the last time she has seen this much food, let alone warm and not dug up from some garbage pail. The little money she has had left she has been preserving for life-or-death kind of situation. Wolverine eats heartily as well. She isn’t even half way through her meal when he polishes off the last bits of bacon and gulps down the coffee.

“We should get back on the road. We can play twenty questions while you drive.”
“Oww… Do I have to?”
“Unless you want me to take the wheel…”
“Okey-dokey! Ready to go… Oh… Could you take the check? I’m…”
“You’re broke. I kind of noticed that when I took your clothes to wash up last night.”
“You snooped my pockets?”
“It was either that or toss your wallet in to the machine. Don’t worry about it. I have enough for both of us. For now.”
“Don’t argue.”
“But it isn’t fair to…”
“It’s fair from me to force you to give me a ride, but it isn’t fair to pick up checks along the way?”
“You didn’t force me in to anything.”
“I would have, if you hadn’t asked me first.”
“But I asked, so it doesn’t matter! But we have to find a way for me to make some money. I can’t…”
“You can’t make money. Well, there’s few ways, but most of them require you spreading your legs, and I think you’d rather live on me than…”
“And how the hell would you know what I rather would do?”
“Fine. If you want to start whoring, who the fuck am I to argue. Just drop me off at the next motel, I’ll find a new ride for me…”
“Can we just stop this? You can pay the checks, if… And only if you let me pay you back as soon as I get some money.”

They fill their gas tank as well though it’s only half empty before they hit the road. Wolverine is dosing off, his head resting on the backrest and his eyes closed, looking definitely more comfortable than what he looked just last night.

“You think I’m beautiful?”
“Yeah. Kind of.”
“What was that supposed to mean?”
“Well, you’re not drop-dead-gorgeous. But you’re pretty.”
“Hmph. Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“No. Just a fact.”
“Well, I guess that has to count for something. Even if it comes from a blind guy. Pretty sounds much better than ugly mutie freak.”
“Hey! I haven’t always been blind. I know what I like in a woman. And pretty… It’s not a bad thing. I just think you look… You look nice…”
“Keep it going. Why don’t you kick me for the good measure while you’re at it?”
“Fuck. Just forget it. Wake me up if something happens, okay?”

As she drives she keeps stealing glances from the man sitting next to her. Earlier, when he had been rigid and hunched from the pain he looked much smaller. Now that he lies on the seat relaxed, lines from his face smoothed out by dreamscape he looks big. Very big. And safe. Like the favorite teddy bear you place on the floor by your bed to scare off monsters lurking in the dark corners when you sleep. Except that your favorite teddy usually doesn’t come equipped with razor sharp claws and truth to be told quite annoying attitude. Nor has it as broad chest and narrow waist as Wolverine has. Even when she was on her way to unconsciousness on the previous night in the bathroom she found his body pleasure to her eyes. And now it’s starting to become pleasure for other parts of her as well.

“Stop ogling and keep your eyes on the road.”
“How could you tell I was… I wasn’t ogling!”
“You were. I can smell you.”
“Just keep your eyes on the road. I promise to strip for you at the next motel if we get in there in one piece, okay?”

And he has the nerve to smirk and wink at her. She swats his arm and turns her gaze back to the road, wincing when her back protests the sudden move. Her breath escapes with a loud hiss when a small muscle on her lower back starts to cramp.

“Pull over.”
“No, it’s okay…”
“Pull over. You’re hurting.”
“I’m fine!”
“Okay. Suit yourself…”

Half an hour later she has to give up and stop the car. Wolverine helps her to turn down the backrest of her seat and she lies on it on her stomach, unable to move because every muscle and nerve in her back are tingling and cramping from the tension.

“Do you mind?”
“What? Oh, cigar? No. This isn’t my car anyway… Stole this when I run from the lab.”
“You did change the plates after that, right?”
“Well, duh! I’m not stupid! I have been changing them at least once a week. Oh… Crap…”
“Well, it really isn’t my business, but shouldn’t you go and find a doctor?”
“A doctor?”
“Yeah. Can’t be healthy for a baby when you can’t eat or sleep properly. And who the fuck knows if that infection from your back has spread…”
“A baby? What fucking baby?”
“You didn’t know? You’re pregnant.”
“Pregnant. Knocked up. You’re going to have a baby.”
“Ha-ha. Fucking-ha. Good joke.”
”Not a joke. You really didn’t know?”

A baby. Not possible.

“I can’t have a baby! I’m only seventeen!”
“Honey, if you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to have babies. Simple fact.”
“But I haven’t had… I’m… I’m not…”
“Oh, crap.”

She can’t stop crying. Wolverine is patting her arm awkwardly. He doesn’t say a word, just lets her grab his hand and hug it for all her worth until her screams and sobs subsides.

“H… How do you know? Are you sure? What if.. If…”
“Smelt it on you back at the diner. I thought you knew already.”
“I didn’t… They must have done it when I was unconscious. I was that a lot. Unconscious.”
“You said that you escaped couple of moths ago. I’m no doctor, but… Want it or not, you’re going to have that baby. It’s too far along for ab…”
“Just shut up!”
“Shutting up now…”

She straightens her back and raises the backrest. Wipes her cheeks and turns on the engine. Turns the car back on to the road. She isn’t thinking about them after her. She isn’t thinking how her back is itching and hurting. She isn’t thinking about the baby. None of those won’t exist before Wolverine says it’s okay to stop, curl up and die.

Scenery flies past at rapid pace. So far she has been choosing the directions, but suddenly Wolverine clears his throat.

“Take the next turn to left.”
“But what if it is just…”
“I don’t care what it is. I want to go to the right, so it’s probably the best to take the left road.”
“You always do what you don’t want to do?”
“Not always. Just every now and then. And stop fucking arguing with me! I’m tired of it!”
“Well, excuse me. We pregnant women can be a pain in the ass…”
“Hmph… It’s not like I knocked you up.”
“Sorry. I’m not usually this bitchy.”
“I believe you. Do you think you could keep your evil bitch twin under the hood until we stop for the night? I have just about had it with this shit.”
“What shit?”
“This! Stop fucking arguing and questioning me! How the hell am I supposed to take care of you when you keep talking back at me no matter what I say?”
“Take care of me? I was under the impression that it was a certain handicapped individual that was just dying for a ride…”

She doesn’t get to finish her sentence. Wolverine grabs the steering wheel with one hand, the front of her cloak with the other and gives her a good shake, wrenching her to face him.

“I may be little out of it, but you’re out of line. You came looking for me. You dragged me in to this mess. You need a fucking hero. You need somebody to pick up the bills. You need a doctor. You need food and shelter. You need taking care of, and at the moment I’m your best shot at getting all that. If I were you, I’d think more carefully what comes out of my mouth.”

She releases her foot from the gas and presses brake, stopping the car. Wolverine is still ‘staring’ at her, those silver eyes blazing from anger. Again she could swear he can see right through her. From this close she can see almost non-evident gleam on his skin. Same silver as his eyes, dusted over his cheekbones. In time his skin will turn in to rigid metal she realizes. She lets her fingers graze over those microscopic speckles, marveling how warm and alive he still feels. His eyes narrow and he wrenches his head back, shoving her away from him.

“Keep driving. We’ll stop at the next motel. You need to eat and sleep. That back of yours won’t heal if you sit behind that wheel all day.”

She starts the car with shaky hands, thankful that he can’t see her burning cheeks. She can’t mask her scent, but she hopes her nervousness will cover the underlying twinge of lust she felt when she touched him. She knows it’s a false hope. Nobody with as keen sense of smell as Wolverine would ever mistake the heated flush that ran down her spine to anything else but what it was. But to her relief he lets it slip. Doesn’t throw in a cocky remark, doesn’t keep sniffling, just leans back and closes his eyes, telling her to wake up if anything happens. And when she finally parks the car in front of a motel he takes her wallet and goes to pay for the night.

“I took two beds. We both could use some space.”
“Oh, that’s… That’s good. So I did hog the covers?”
“No, you didn’t. But I have a bad habit of hogging the whole bed for myself. You wouldn’t be getting much sleep next to me.”

She resists the urge to correct him. She didn’t sleep next to him at the previous night. At first she slept under him, then alone as he went to take care of the ugly mess in the bathroom. When he takes the bed by the window she flops on to the other, her back turned at him, face turned towards the door.

“You should go and take a shower. And let me have a look at that back. You’re better already, but I can still smell…”
“Fine. I’ll go and have a shower. God forbid me from insulting your sinuses.”

She gets up and walks in to the bathroom, slamming the door shut. She has the time to take a step backwards before the door is wrenched open, small metal bits of the lock scattering to every direction. Wolverine looks absolutely furious, standing there, one hand still clutching the door handle, other combing through his dark hair.

“How many fucking times I have to tell you? Stop that fucking bitching! It may, or may not make you feel better about yourself, but me… I’m not the most patient man to hang around with.”
“I’d stop if I could! I’m so fucking afraid all the time, and you keep scaring me even more, and I have nothing! Nowhere to go, no means to get anywhere, nobody I could turn to… I have nothing!”

Wolverine grimaces, lets go of the door and steps in to the bathroom, cornering her between his body and the brim of the bathtub. He grabs her shoulders and narrows his eyes.

“I know you think it isn’t much, but for what it’s worth, you got me. I’d rather kill us both by myself than let those bastards cart you and that baby you’re carrying back to that lab.”

She snorts and short, nervous laughter, unsure of how she should react. Licks her lips.

“You sure know how to make a girl feel comfortable…”
“I’m not trying to comfort you. I just wanted you to know, that what ever happens, there’s a way out for you. You don’t have to go back there, ever.”
“If that means that you’re going to kill me, I’d rather live, thank you very much.”
“You will live. But if the worst happens and we get caught, you don’t have to worry about them hurting you anymore. I promise.”
“That’s all you have to offer? Death?”
“There’s a hell of a lot more I have to throw at them before that. But it’s fucking hard to keep running and keep you safe when you keep fighting me every step we take. You have to trust me, or else this won’t work.”

She shuffles her feet, stares at her toes. She knows he’s right. She came looking for him. She came and asked for his help. She hasn’t made it easy for him to help her. She turns her gaze upwards and sees her image reflecting from his eyes. Small. Tiny and slightly distorted, swimming on the silvery surface. Wolverine doesn’t look angry. Just tired and serious.

“I can’t… I was going to hire you. Then I ran out of money. I can’t pay you…”
“It doesn’t matter. We’re in this together now. They’re after me as well now that they know I’m with you. Come on… I’ll take care of you.”
“Yeah. I promise.”

She lets him strip her clothes and check her back. He tells her that he doesn’t know what’s going on, but that her scent is improving, and she can see from the mirror that the skin is still red, but already getting paler. He stands up from where he has been kneeling and she turns around, wrapping her arms around him little hesitantly, the zipper of his jacket cold and hard against her bare skin and nipples. He rubs her arms quickly and clears his throat, then guides her out of the bathroom and tells her to choose a bed.

“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Your back… Is… Does it still hurt?”
“It’s fine. Just go to sleep, Rogue.”
“Marie. My name is Marie.”

He nods and sheds his jacket, throwing it to a chair in the corner. He doesn’t miss. Jacket lands neatly to the armrest. He spent first minutes they arrived shuffling around in the small room, skimming his fingers over surfaces, memorizing everything. Now he heads straight to the bed closest to the door. He lays on it, on top of the covers, fully clothed, his back turned towards her. She sits on her bed, trying to decide if she should follow his suit and put her shirt back on. She decides not to, but puts it to the foot end of her bed. Just in case they have to leave quickly, she doesn’t want to squander precious seconds it would take to find it in the darkness.

“Good night.”
“Good night, Marie.”

Half an hour later she can’t take it anymore. Wolverine keeps tossing and turning, beating up his pillow and shuffling back and forth. Just as she’s falling to sleep his silent curses wake her up again. She pulls on her shirt before she sits up and turns on the light.

“You’re not alright.”
“I’m fine. Sleep.”
“I can’t when you keep muttering and grumbling. It’s your back, isn’t it?”
“Bullshit. You’re a lousy liar. It was better when I slept with you, wasn’t it?”

She scoots down from her bed and stretches next to him. Turns on her side and grasps his hand, bringing it over her waist, urging him to lean on her.

“You know, this would be much easier if you helped me out a bit. You’re kind of heavy to jostle around…”

Wolverine grabs her, tucking her half under his frame again, now mindful of her back and lower abdomen. He folds around her like a warm, living blanket, one leg curling against hers from behind, other bent and thrown over her thighs.

“It probably snapped a ligament… It doesn’t usually take this long to heal.”
“Is this better? Can you sleep now?”
“Yeah… Much better… Thanks.”

When he moves slightly she can hear faint scratching sound from inside of him. Metal grating against metal. She’s quite sure that sounds like those aren’t everyday sounds.

“Are you really going to get better?”
“I always do. I have gone through worse.”
“But what if…”
“Hush. Sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.”

When the door opens Wolverine is up from the bed, metal claws sliding out from his hands and locking in to their places with sharp, metallic snap. She can see blurred, black figures standing at the doorstep, then Wolverine blocks her line of vision, moving between her and the threat, charging forward. Bright red flash pierces the darkness and Wolverine gasps, flying backwards, crashing heavily against the bed frame and falling to the floor unconscious. There’s a smoking hole smack dab middle of his broad chest, bleeding profusely.

“Grab the girl!”
“They’re almost here, we have to move fast!”
“Somebody take the girl, I’ll bring him!”
“We have to move fast!”

Everything is a blur. She’s screaming, grappling and flailing, kicking and biting. Dark figures are struggling, trying to subdue her. She can only see Wolverine, unmoving, dark pool spreading slowly but inevitable around him where he sits, his head slumped forward. She can see only him, and hear the weak whistling sound of air filtering through the hole on his chest. Then she’s on her feet, dragging his lifeless body across the dark parking lot, wrenching open the passenger’s door and pushing Wolverine in. Crouching and hiding when dark SUV’s speed past them towards the motel room, towards the dark figures she left lying unconscious, maybe dead.

“Where… What…”
“Don’t try to talk. There’s a hole big enough to stuff a fist through on your chest.”
“What… Happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know!”
“Shut the fuck up! I don’t fucking know anything! I just know that you’re really hurt, and we’re screwed!”

Wolverine tries to grab her arm, but his hand flops down from midair, landing on her thigh instead. She can feel his blood seeping through the denim of her jeans, warm and sticky. It sparkles brightly when streetlights reach the interior of the car. Fingers dig in to her thigh; Wolverine starts convulsing, then suddenly goes rigid as a board, his head snapping against the backrest. She knows he’s probably dying, but there’s no way she can stop now. Not when they’re this close. She grabs his hand and pries off his fingers from her thigh. She’s going to have bruises later, and she’s going to hate herself for not letting him to have the comfort of holding on to something at his last moments, but she’s going to need both her legs if she’s going to get out of this alive.

“Don’t leave me.”
“I won’t, just hang on. It’ll be alright.”
“I’m dying… Don’t leave me.”
“I won’t leave you. And you’re not going to die, you hear me? Nobody’s going to die. We can pull over soon and I’ll tie up that wound and…”
“Already dead… Don’t fucking… Leave me.”
“Stop talking! You’re not dead. You’re hurt, but you’re going to be just fine, you’re going to heal and… Wolverine? Wolverine? Wolverine!”
Chapter 2 by aranenumenesse
Author's Notes:
Duh. Looks like I took stupid pills when I posted this to the WRbeta. In there it says that this has 4 chapters. There's actually 6 chapters. Sorry for the confusion.
He opens his eyes and draws a ragged gulp of air. In darkness. But alive. His heart is fluttering unsteadily, skipping beats, but he’s alive. He can smell the girl. Rogue. No. Marie. That’s what she said her name was.


His throat is dry. Parched. Voice a mere whisper. The car sounds awfully noisy. It probably drowned his croak. He licks his lips and tries to sit up, grasping the backrest he can feel against his side. She must have moved him to the backseat while he was out. It takes a while, but finally he manages to pull his carcass to a seated position. He can hear an alarmed gasp, and the car starts slowing down.

“You’re a live?”
“You’re alive!”

The car stops, doors are opening and suddenly she’s on his lap, hands wrapped around him, cradling his head against her shoulder and he can smell her tears and exhaustion.

“I thought you were dead!”
“Was… But I’m alive now. Thirsty…”

He’s thirsty and tired to the bone. There’s no strength left in him. He can only sit still when she suddenly starts kissing him. Hesitant, feather-light brushes against his lips, turning bolder every passing second until her tongue sweeps access from between his lips and slides against his. He lets his head sink against the backrest and loops his arms loosely around her hips and buttocks. His heart is pounding, struggling to meet the demands the rest of his body is presenting.

“Where… Where are we?”
“You were out for two days. I haven’t seen anybody during the whole time. Anybody. It’s like there’s no other people left in this world.”
“That’s not a good thing… Too isolated… Fuck, I need something to drink…”

Something to drink for keep his lips from splitting. Something to eat to keep him from collapsing again. And the girl, Marie, back on his lap, because she felt rather nice sitting there, warm and soft and gentle. She’s rummaging through the trunk of the car and he can hear her muttering to herself, throwing things around and rustling plastic, paper and cloth. He’s shivering from the cold and now he realizes that he’s naked. Naked except a thick quilt thrown over him. She probably covered him from head to toe with it when he died. Now it has fallen to his lap. He grabs it and pulls it tighter around him.

“I stopped at some big shopping center. Spent all your money, sorry about that. We have spare gas, clothes and camping gear. Food for few days more and water.”
“That’s… That’s good…”
“There’s some water. And I made you a sandwich.”

He takes a drink from the plastic bottle, tries not to drown in it when his throat needs a little coaxing to start cooperating again. He hates this. He has died few times before, but it looks like he was gone longer now. He’s all clumsy and weak. Disgusting.

“I have to get out of here.”
“I’ll go and get you some clothes…”
“No. I’m getting out now…”

Snow under his feet. Crisp, cold air in his newly healed lungs. He walks to the side of the road, and dives in to the snow bank with a mighty roar, face first and hoping there really is a thick layer of white stuff cushioning his fall, otherwise he’d end up spluttering pebbles and sand. There is snow. Cold, soft and clean, filling his nostrils with icy scent, scrubbing off dead layer of tissues from his skin. He eats it, eats the snow and rubs it to his skin, dunks his head in to it and lets the coldness and freshness seep in to his greasy hair.

“What the hell are you trying to do? You get pneumonia or something!”
“No, I won’t.”

Marie is dragging him away from the cold, pushing him back in to the car. Hot and dry air hits him with a full force. She has turned the heater to the max. She’s scrubbing him dry with a blanket, coarse wool creating delicious tingling sensation all over him. Her thighs are cradling his hips, she smells little scared and worried.

“Give me that…”

He takes the blanket and drapes it over his shoulders to catch the droplets of icy water dripping from his wet hair. The shock from the cold has made all the small blood vessels shrink, and he can almost see her now. Blurry image just inches away. Pale skin. Dark brown framing her face. Worried, brown eyes darting between him and the scenery outside. Sun is up, and the light gives her a glowing aura. Pretty. Definitely pretty. He cradles her face between his palms to still her. It’s not often he gets to see at all, let alone something this beautiful. And she’s already fading; the warmth of the car is going to steal her from him soon.

“Logan. My name’s Logan.”

Her smile is the last thing he sees before his eyes cloud over again.

“It’s nice to meet you, Logan.”

Her fingers slide in to his hair. Warmth of her lips feels shocking on his cool skin. He can’t get enough of it, can’t get her close enough. There are too many clothes on her. She starts to resist when he tears off her shirt, but when his lips find her breasts and nipples she arches her back. Granting him better access. He rubs his face between the valley of soft and creamy mounds, already slightly fuller from the pregnancy.

“Take off your jeans.”
“I… I don’t…”
”Please… I won’t hurt you… I just want you…”

He’s already tugging the waistband impatiently, trying to yank open the buttons when her fingers land on top of his. He can’t see, but he can tell from the feel of warm breath on his face that she’s looking at him. She doesn’t want this. She wants to cuddle and hold him, but she’s not ready for anything more. He swallows and lets go, then wraps his arms around her waist and lets his head droop against her chest.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you think that…”
“Don’t worry. I got carried away.”
“I didn’t mean to…”
“Hush. Just put your shirt back on. Get off from me and let me get dressed.”
“Is this… You’re not mad at me?”
“Christ, why the fuck would I be?”
“You said that you want me.”
“Yeah. Doesn’t mean that I should have you right now, right here. Or have you at all. I got carried away. There’s no reason for you to start worrying. Let’s just get dressed and find a way back to the civilization, okay? It’s not safe to be this far off from everybody, we need some people between us and them, and…”

She plants a soft, almost timid kiss to the corner of her mouth and whispers a silent thank you before scooting off from his lap. He can hear the door opening and snow crunching under her feet. Cold whiff of fresh air is almost enough to eradicate the scent of her arousal. She’s afraid, but interested. He fumbles around until his fingers brush against the water bottle. Grabs it and takes a long pull. Warm. Slightly stale and tastes like plastic. He reaches out and grabs some snow. It’s almost clean. He takes a mouthful and lets it melt on his tongue.

“Here. I hope these fit. I had to guess your size.”

Pile of clothes flop down on his lap, the door closes and he can hear Marie walking around the car. Door on the driver’s side opens, leather of the seat creaks when she sits behind the wheel.

“When I said that you don’t have to worry… I meant it. I’m not angry. I do want you, but what happens is up to you.”
“I… Thanks. I didn’t mean to lead you on. It’s all so new to me. Touching and stuff. I haven’t… My skin is my mutation. When it’s active it hurts other people.”
“Touching my bare skin hurts them. Then they get in to my head and it hurts me as well.”
“It didn’t hurt me.”
“I can’t hurt anybody now. They put some sort of inhibitor chip in to me at the lab. It suppresses my mutation.”

He thinks about it when he puts on the clothes. They’re little snug, but they’ll do. T-shirt, jeans and a flannel shirt.

“I got you new jackets as well. They’re on the backseat.”
“Thanks. Do you want… Your skin. You’d be safer if it was on.”
“What do you mean?”
“Where did they put the chip? If it’s… I could probably cut it off. You’d be safe…”
“No! I like it like this!”
“Like the chip?”
“Yes! I was then years when I manifested! Before they installed the chip I couldn’t touch anybody! Now I can touch who ever I want to, when I want to, and I don’t have to worry over hurting them!”
“Well, that makes sense. But if you change your mind, just let me know, okay?”
“If I get rid of it, we can’t… You can’t…”
“Doesn’t matter. You’d be a lot safer with your mutation on.”

She doesn’t answer, but he can smell her frustration. Her leg is heavy on the gas. He leans back and shuts his eyes.

“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen other people or any kind of buildings in days.”
“You have a map?”
“Nice. You think you could find your way back to civilization if you turned this car around?”
“I… I think so. I’m not sure. I was so worried about you that I kind of forgot to keep track of where I was going.”
“Hmph… It’s okay. We’re bound to hit some kind of town or village sooner or later. Just keep driving.”

When the familiar sound of jet engines starts to approach he tells her to stop the car.

“Stay in the car. I’ll go and see what they want. If they put me down, run.”
“Run. I can take care of myself.”
“But who’s going to take care of me?”
“You are. You did a pretty good job earlier when I was out cold. Just keep doing what you did then, and you should be just fine. You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for, Marie.”
“I’m scared.”
“That makes the two of us. Come here…”

He can feel her heart hammering through the clothes; can hear it racing right beside his own. It’s time to make good of his promise to take care of her. He steals a quick kiss when jet starts landing in front of the car, blocking the way. Small bits of snow and ice are pinging against the windshield, making it sound like a blizzard of the century. He lets go of the girl, opens the door and steps out, closing it behind him. He can hear her locking the doors, and places his palm against the side window for a short moment. Feels her warmth seeping through the glass. Then he can smell only jet fuel, hot electricity and leather. Hear silent footsteps approaching.

“Who the fuck are you? How do you know my name?”
“My name is Scott Summers. This is my wife, Jean Grey. This is Ororo Munroe. We’re from N.Y.”
“What the hell do you want?”
“Charles Xavier sent us. He’s willing to offer you a sanctuary.”
“We’re schoolteachers. Mutants like you, and the girl you’re traveling with. Professor Xavier’s school is a haven for all mutants.”
“Is that why you blasted a hole through me the last time we met?”
“You were about to attack Jean. I had to stop you. And we were in a hurry.”
“Well, I guess it makes it alright, then… Fuck off!”
“Excuse me?”
“You heard me. Fuck off. You’re scaring her. And we have enough problems without you people trailing after us.”
“But we can help. We can protect you…”
“Would you just think about it? What are you going to do the next time the military snoops you out? You’re blind!”
”Get back in to the car, Marie!”
“No! I want to know what’s going on.”

It’s quite apparent that Summers is telling the truth. Yet there’s something that makes his hackles rise, so he leaves Marie to negotiate with them and stalks back to the car, flopping to the passenger’s seat and slamming the door shut. Schoolteachers. Must be a hell of a school when they can afford to fly around in a private jet.

“I think it would be a good idea to go with them.”
“Well, if you think so…”
“I do. I’m tired of running and living from hand to mouth.”
“Then you should go. You don’t mind if I grab some clothes and the camping gear before you go?”
“What… What are you talking about?”
“I was just thinking you wouldn’t need them anymore. I have a feeling that the next bar isn’t just round the corner. Wouldn’t want to freeze my ass off before I find it.”
“You’re not coming with me?”
“It’s a school, Marie. Not my kind of place. But you should go. They can keep an eye on you better than I. Quite literally.”
“I want to be with you.”

It’s awfully tempting. For a moment he actually considers it.

“You’re going to be a mom soon. You and the baby… You need better than what I have to offer.”
Chapter 3 by aranenumenesse
She watches out from the jet’s window. There’s a small black dot down below, getting smaller every passing second. Even smaller dot is moving around it. Logan. Rummaging through the car, gathering all the necessities. She turns her back to the window, trying not to think about him anymore. Trying not to think about how far from everything they had gotten. Trying not to miss him. And finds it impossible. She wants to ask the pilot, Scott Summers, to stop and land. There’s still time. Logan hasn’t left the car yet. But she doesn’t do that. She promised to leave with these people. Logan can take care of himself. She can take care of herself, but it will be much easier with these nice people. She squeezes her eyes shut and chokes back a sob. A gentle hand lands on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, child. Everything will be okay…”

The white-haired woman they called Ororo holds her and lets her cry, rubbing her arms soothingly and whispering soft words of comfort. She thinks she could learn to like her. She seems like a nice person. Right now she just wants to hit her and scream. She doesn’t do that. She promised to Logan to take care of herself.

“How is she doing?”
“Aside from malnutrition and slight infection… She’s in surprisingly good condition.”
“She’s pregnant.”
“No. He didn’t… I would have sensed if…”

She doesn’t want to see them so she closes her eyes and tries to tune out their voices for the best of her abilities. Jean and Ororo keep discussing about her like she weren’t even there, sitting right beside them. It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t even want them to include her in to their conversation. She’s not in the mood to talk. She keeps her eyes closed, and in the darkness behind her lids she can see his silver eyes, shiny, reflecting pools. She can hear his voice. She can feel his touch. She can hear his heart, beating in the rhythm with hers.

“It’s Rogue.”
“Rogue? That’s… That’s fine. We’re here.”

Ororo helps her up and walks with her down the isle, making sure that she doesn’t stumble when landing the rickety stairs from the jet to the hangar. She grasps her arm and bites her lip, determined not to cry. This is a good place. These are good people. She’ll be safe in here.

“Welcome to Westchester.”

A bald man in a wheelchair is smiling warmly and extending his hand. She takes it and nods, forcing a brave smile on her face.

“Thank you. You must be professor Xavier. I’m Rogue. Thank you for… For having me here.”
“But of course, my dear. You may ask anything you feel you need, and it’ll be delivered to your room. You should go with Jean first. She’s our doctor, and she’s going to make sure that everything is alright with you.”
“Yes… Yes. And thank you.”

She kind of doubts that they’ll be able to deliver Logan in to her room, no matter how badly she feels that she needs him, but that’s not a reason to start acting like a spoiled brat. She’s a grown woman. She follows Jean through the maze of corridors to a door labeled as ‘infirmary’. One good look at her surroundings has her teetering on the edge. Tables and shelves filled with medical instruments, gleaming chrome and steel, sterile scents floating in the air, a chair with stirrups, several examination tables and beeping machines. She’s ready to scream.

“I’m sorry. It’s not my intention to make you feel uneasy. We’ll get this over with as soon as possible, and then go and find you something to eat. Is that okay?”
“It’s… It’s fine. Just some bad memories…”
“I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about. Just relax. This will be over soon.”

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Settles in to the chair and lets the doctor take the necessary tests. Lets her probe and prod until she retreats behind her computer and tells that it’s okay to get dressed again.

“Everything seems to be as it should. There’s nothing that a good rest and proper diet wouldn’t correct. I’ll just write you a chart and we’re good to go. I have already informed the kitchen, they should have something for your liking ready when we get there.”
“But… How?”
“I’m telepathic. Don’t worry; I haven’t been nosing around in your mind. But I couldn’t help noticing that you’re craving for some chicken. Fried, if I’m not completely mistaken?”

She can only nod in awe. Jean smiles warmly.

“It’s nice to see that you have a healthy appetite. For some women pregnancy causes the loss of appetite. I take it that you haven’t had that problem?”
“Any morning sickness? Fainting? Anything I should be aware of?”
“No… At least I don’t think so. And I’m sure Lo… Wolverine would have noticed if there was a problem. He… I didn’t even know that I was pregnant before he told me.”
“How did he found out?”
“He just knew.”
“The baby… It isn’t his, is it?”
“No! We aren’t… Not like that. I haven’t even known him that long. Little over a week. He was just helping me out.”
“That’s nice of him. Why didn’t he come along? I got the impression that the people that were after you were as much after him?”
“He… He said that this wasn’t his kind of place…”

And she’s unable to hold back the tears any longer. Sitting here, half naked on a chair with stirrups, her mind a million miles away with Logan, in the middle of nowhere, making his way through the snow, and he’s alone. So fucking alone, and there’s nobody to look after him. Nobody to warn him. Nobody to pick up the pieces after they get to him again and he fights his way out of them again and falls again. There’s nobody for him.

“There, there… I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with him. He seemed like a guy who’s more than capable of taking care of himself…”

She wants to scream that it isn’t the point. Wants to make Jean to understand that even if Logan can take care of himself, he shouldn’t have to. But she doesn’t. There’s no strength left to scream. She can only grab Jean's lab coat and cry her eyes out against her shoulder.
Chapter 4 by aranenumenesse
At first it’s a relief. To be on his own again. No need to worry over her. No need to keep remembering that she’s her own person who has a say over many things. No need to try and act nicely. First hour he’s walking down the side of the road he keeps scratching himself, belching and farting just for the hell of it. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s missing her already. Missing her scent and the warm feeling radiating from her. She gave him the reason to clean up his act, pull his shit together. Now that she’s gone, his senses are still sharp and he’s alert. He doesn’t want to be. Doesn’t want to hear every snap and crackle. Doesn’t want to keep sniffling the air. And he fucking hates it when there’s not a single trace of her in the crisp breeze that enters his nose and lungs every time he breathes.

“Get lost, asswipe…”

A bear rustles deeper in to the forest lining the road. For a moment he considers following it. His knuckles are itching, but the ugly truth is, that it would most likely be a fight he wouldn’t come out on top. If he were lucky the teddy would just maim him and leave him to freeze to death. And now there’s no Marie to drag his sorry carcass to safety.


It’s time to tuck the cocky attitude back to the closet. In the cage he’s still the king, able to mop the floors with anybody who dares to enter, but out here… Too many variables. Time to start turning the other cheek and hiding again.

“I’m a fucking moron.”

And that isn’t anything new. His stubbornness has gotten him in to trouble before. Stupid, old-fashioned pride and plain paranoia coupled with rather selfish nature will be his downfall one of these days. But not today. He grins, adjusts the knapsack hanging from his shoulder and sticks out his thumb when he hears a truck approaching. Sharp twang of fear slices through him like it does every time a car or a truck stops beside him, but he ignores it, grabs the door handle and yanks the door open. Takes a quick whiff from the driver, and when his scent reveals nothing but weeks worth of dust and sweat climbs in, slamming the door shut before the man gets the chance to start whining about the cold weather.

“Car trouble?”
“You could say so…”
“I think I saw your wheels few kilometers back there. Broke down?”
“No. Driver ditched me.”
“Driver… Holy shit, man! What happened to your eyes?”
“Accident when I was a kid.”
“What kind of an asshole abandons a blind man in the middle of nowhere?”
“A reasonable asshole. How long for the nearest town?”
“We should be getting there in an hour.”
“You know if there’s a cage? I could really use some money.”
“Jesus. Aren’t there easier ways to earn your living?”
“Probably. But it’s something I’m good at.”
“There is a cage. But can I give you an advice?”
“There’s this guy, I haven’t seen him, but they say that he’s a real animal in the cage. Wolverine. Stay out of the ring if his name comes up, okay?”
“I will, I will…”

An hour passes. The trucker, elder man called Fred keeps steady conversation going. He keeps contributing with short grunts and nods, generally just dosing off in the pleasant warmth of the cab. He learns everything there is to know about Fred and his family. Gets interesting tidbits of the towns he’ll be facing if he keeps traveling south. Gets a cup of coffee that is thick as tar, strong enough to make even his throat burn. And there’s another kind of burn inside of him as well. He can see her every time he closes his eyelids. Shimmering golden aura seeping through the cold silver and darkness, searing his gut until it actually starts to physically hurt and there’s rather embarrassing moisture trickling down his cheeks.

“You’re not alright, are you, buddy?”
“None of your business. But thanks. For the ride, and coffee. And thanks for…”

He turns away before his traitorous body humiliates him even further. He is not crying, for fuck’s sakes. He doesn’t cry. And when he hears the truck revving the engine, Fred getting ready to hit the road again he has to suppress the sudden urge to scramble back in and beg him to take him even further, closer to the border from where it would be easier to find a ride to the States.

“Get a grip, you fucking pansy…”

He shrugs his shoulders, straightens his back and makes sure the usual scowl is in place over his features before he walks in to the bar. Stench of blood, vomit, cigars and booze greet him. Home. He strolls to the bar, making sure that he’s not stumbling or seeking support, letting his nose guide him through the noisy crowd. He orders a beer and asks the barkeep to add his name on the cage roster.

“Wolverine. Boy, am I glad to see you!”
“Take a good look around you. You see anybody fit in to the cage?”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Was thinking that I should quit the business altogether. You’re not in a hurry, are you?”
“Could you stick around for couple of days? You know, to lure in more hard hitters?”
“I guess I could be persuaded…”
“Room and meals on the house. Fifty percent of the income from the fights.”
“That sounds reasonable.”
“I’ll have Clara to show you to your room…”
“You want someone new?”
“No. Just not interested in that kind of reward right now.”
“Okay. Suit yourself. Here’s the key. Let me know if you change your mind. Clara has been asking for you, you know…”
“Not interested. Fix me a sandwich. I’ll go and get settled in before I get in to the cage.”
“A sandwich? Wolverine…”
“Just make the goddamned sandwich, Burt!”

Now that he actually knows where he is it isn’t any easier to keep pretending that he isn’t missing her. Three more hours and he’d be cross the border. From there it would take few more days to reach N.Y. From there… He doesn’t have the slightest idea of where exactly in N.Y. Xavier’s school is, but he’s pretty sure he could locate it easily. Too easily. He wouldn’t fit in to that world, no matter how hard he tried. So he plunks his knapsack to the corner of the small room, returns to the bar, eats the sandwich and steps in to the cage. Beats up squirts that dare to enter, accepts drinks and throws them back to drown the flickering image of the girl dancing at the surface of his blind eyes, and keeps repeating it night after night for a whole week, until a familiar scent drifts among the stale booze and sweat. Leather and hot electricity. Summers.

“What the fuck do you want from me, bub?”
“It’s Rogue.”
“Take me there.”

He’s glad that he’s blind. He doesn’t like flying, and his perverse curiosity would keep his eyes glued to the window and the ground somewhere far below if he were able to see the whole two hours it’ll take to reach Westchester. Now he settles to his seat, keeps his seatbelt fastened and his fingers grasped tightly around the sturdy armrests even when Summers glues him in to the situation.

Taken. Stolen from the sanctuary, by Magneto of all the possible people.
Chapter 5 by aranenumenesse
Author's Notes:
Ack. When this is finished, I'm happy. I have taken probably twice as long struggling with the posting of this than the actual writing. The archive hates me. '...' A letter. *...* Flashback.
She regained her bearings slowly. Last thing she remembered was the horrible pain slicing through her whole being, and Logan. Logan had been there, staring at her through bright blue mist with hazel eyes. That had to be a hallucination. She was dead, and somebody had seen it fit to give her a nice memory of him to go with. Logan couldn’t look at her. His eyes weren’t hazel. He was blind, and instead of eyes he had shiny silver discs that shimmered in the light. And he wasn’t here. He was in Canada, probably frozen at the bottom of some ditch or ravine because there had been nobody to guide his steps through the treacherous terrain.

She cracked her eyes open. Soft light greeted her. Shade of yellow that colored the ceiling high above her from dull grey steel to almost gilt. Was there steel in heaven? And what was that beeping noise echoing from her right side? She turned her head carefully. Logan. On a bed. Hooked up to tubes and wires. A hospital? Logan?

She sat up slowly, taking in her surroundings. She was in the infirmary. With Logan. With unconscious Logan. Clock on the wall told her that it was well past midnight. A small envelope laid on a table next to her bed, ‘Rogue’, written with punctual, yet elegant handwriting.

'Welcome back, child. We were waiting for you to wake up, but unfortunately we were all too tired to stay awake. You’re home now. Magneto has been taken care of; you don’t need to be afraid of him anymore. We’re sorry that we couldn’t get to you sooner.

At the moment Logan is in a coma, but we believe he’s going to wake up eventually. We have made sure that he’s comfortable, and not in pain. If there’s any change in his condition, somebody will be there with you within minutes.

Rest now. Everything has been taken care of, and we’ll talk with you in the morning.


She let the paper slide from her fingers. In a coma? What had happened? She stepped closer and reached for Logan’s hand, but something prevented her from touching him. A fleeting memory. Something cold and sharp cutting through her skin, parting muscle. Fingers probing the wound and pulling out black and bloodied lump of the inhibitor.


Logan. Logan had done that. He had taken out the inhibitor and touched her. Held her, cradled her against bare skin of his face. And there had been so much blood.

*“Let me look at you…”
“Let go of me!”
“You’re so pretty…”
“Logan, let go! I’m hurting you!”
“No… You need more… The baby…”*

He hadn’t touched her once, but twice. First at the Statue of Liberty. Second time, severely weakened but still conscious in the Blackbird when she had started bleeding. Those hazel eyes locked to hers, his lips burning against hers, he had held on trying to stem the flow of blood that was all to eager to escape from her. All too eager to purge out the tiny life growing inside of her.

*“The baby… Won’t make it.”
“Let go!”
“Stop struggling… Have to stop the bleeding…”
“Logan, no!”*

Even the last traces of her ordeal at the hands of the researchers had been purged from her body. Logan had tried to stop it from happening. He had given his life to keep it from happening, and now she couldn’t even touch him. Couldn’t hold him and tell him how grateful she was for what he had done.

But why would he even want her to touch him? Hadn’t he suffered enough already? She crawled back to the bed and curled on her side, her eyes locked to him. He was naked, only thin sheet covering him from the waist down. She could still see faint red lines on his skin. Faint lines that had earlier been gaping wounds. There was a thick tube going down to his throat. A ventilator. It was forcing air to his lungs, making his chest rise and fall in steady rhythm. Silent beeping came from the heart monitor. It was beeping in the same pattern as her own heart.

She squinted her eyes. From this angle she should have been able to see the silvery gleam on his skin. Faint grey hue coloring his cheekbones. There was none of it.

*“Logan, no!”
“I have to, Jean. She’ll die…”
“You’ll die if you touch her! Magneto nearly killed you already!”
“The keyword: Nearly. And if I go, there’s no better reason to go than this.”*

Magneto. Logan’s leather uniform had been torn and bloodied, like he had exploded inside out. He had been weak, but strong enough to hold her. Magneto had done something to him. She had heard Logan screaming before. Before the machine had started.

Her eyes scanned over Logan once more, noticing something bulky under the sheet that covered his lower body. She crept closer and lifted the sheet. A cast. His left ankle had been wrapped to a white plaster.

“You… Your bones can’t be broken…”
“They can now. Magneto finished what he started few years ago.”

She turned to the sound of the voice. Jean was standing at the door, her hair tousled from the sleep, cheeks hollow and black blotches under her eyes. She swayed slightly, walked in and sat behind her desk, rubbing her face tiredly.

“What do you mean?”
“The metal on Logan’s bones… Magneto took it out. Tore it off right through his skin.”
“Oh, my God!”
“Don’t worry. Logan’s healing now. He’s already better. It’s only a matter of hours before he wakes up. He’ll probably be in better shape than he has been in years now that there are no poisons in his bloodstream. But it was a close call.”
“Why? Why did he do it? Why did he touch me?”
“I’m sure he’ll tell you when he wakes up. But before that… There’s something we need to discuss.”
“It’s okay. I know already.”
“Rogue, the machine… It caused a tremendous trauma…”
“I know! I lost the baby! Excuse me if I find it hard to care! I didn’t want it in the first place! They forced it in me!”
“That’s… You’re still tired. But I want you to know that if you need to speak about it, if you want any kind of help, you can come to me. You can come to me and we’ll deal with it together.”
“Why would I come to you?”
“I have gone through what’s happening to you. I know what it’s like.”
“Oh… I’m sorry…”
“It happened. I dealt with it. It’s still something… Something I do not wish to remember, but if talking about what’s happened helps you, come and seek me out. Night or day.”
“I will… Jean?”
“Thank you.”
“It’s okay. You… You should go back to bed now. You’re completely healed, but you need to rest.”
“Oh! The inhibitor!”
“What about it?”
“Is it here?”
“I believe it is. There’s something in Logan’s right hand. We haven’t been able to get him to open his fist. He probably took it when he cut it off from you.”
“Could you… When he wakes up, could you put it back?”
“Put it back? You want it back in to you?”
“Yes. Wouldn’t you if you had my skin?”
“Oh… Yes. I probably would. Yes, I’m sorry. I see what I can do. But I can’t promise anything. I haven’t had the chance to research the chip. I don’t know how it works, or if I’m even able to make it work again.”
Chapter 6 by aranenumenesse
Author's Notes:
I tried to make this six chapters, but this last one wasn't working. I had to cut it in half. I should have the latter, last part ready for tomorrow.
There was something hard chafing his windpipe, making him choke and gag when he woke up. He grasped the tube that was taped to the side of his throat and yanked it out. Plucked off small pads and wires attached to him and flicked off the machines before they exploded or made him deaf with their constant beeping. He was alive, and Marie was sleeping on a bed next to his. It was safe to assume that everything was okay. It felt weird to be able to see again. It felt good. He sat on the side of the bed and just stared at the sleeping girl. His ankle was itching. Somebody had seen it fit to put a cast on it. He flicked out a claw and cut it off, sliding down from the bed and testing the leg carefully. It was good. Better than good. He felt better than in ages. No more chafing and grating feeling inside of his joints. No more sudden chill feelings. No more constant taste of metal at the back of his throat. All thanks to Magneto.

He cracked his neck and checked his surroundings once more. The doctor, Jean. She had been in the room earlier. He could still smell her exhausted scent. He’d have to remember to thank her properly.

He crouched and picked up a small lump of black plastic that had fallen from his clenched fist when he had woken up. Placed it on the table next to Marie’s bed. Clock on the wall told him that it was nearly six o’clock in the morning. He wasn’t particularly tired anymore, but not ready to leave the sleeping girl either.

Quick inspection of the cabinets at the far side of the room produced a comfortable long-sleeved shirt and a pair of long underpants, as well as socks and rubber gloves. He got dressed and stretched on the bed next to Marie, pulling her against him and breathing in her scent. Clean. Healthy. Sleepy. She moved a bit and squinted her eyes, her nose twitching quite amusingly. Then settled back to sleep. He burrowed his face to the cascade of brown hair, now streaked with white and let out a contended sigh. Not tired, but he could rest. Rest and hold her. For she wouldn’t want to be held after she woke up. He still remembered her reaction to his proposal of cutting out the inhibitor. She wouldn’t let him touch her with a ten-foot pole now that the chip wasn’t in her anymore.

When he smelt another scent permeating the air he cracked his eyes open. Shifted slightly and peered over the side of the girl’s face. Summers was standing at the door. He tightened his grip from Marie instinctively.

“You’re awake. Good. How do you feel?”
“Fine. What do you want?”
“I just came to check up on you. Alarms went off and Jean thought… Well, I’ll go and tell her that you’re awake.”
“You do that. And tell her not to come here before Marie wakes up.”
“Yeah. It’s good to see that you’re both okay.”

‘Poor bastard…’ He could hear Summers whispering when he backed out from the room and closed the door. Poor bastard. And most aggravating thing was, that Summers was probably right. This would most likely be the last time Marie allowed him this close to her. Last time he could feel her warmth against him. Last time he could smell her scent this contended. Last time he could hold her.

One selfish act, born from the need to keep her with him, and he had condemned her to live the rest of the eternity isolated from the touch. He had actually died on the second time he had touched her to stop the bleeding, horrible hot gush of bright red blood with dark lumps on it, and he had the feeling that his mutation was a permanent part of her cell structure now. She wouldn’t be aging. She wouldn’t be dying. She would just keep on living.

As soon as he could detect first signs of her waking up he crawled away from her side. Took the dog tag that hung on his chest and laid it on the table. Scribbled a hasty, one-word note to a piece of paper with a pen he found and tucked it under the small metal rectangular. It was time to go.

She yawned widely and stretched her whole body. Time to wake up and face the world. Infirmary was eerily silent around her. No beeping machines. No steady huff and puff of the ventilator as it forced fresh air in to Logan’s lungs. The bed next to hers was empty. There was something on the table. A dog tag on a metal chain, name ‘Wolverine’ and series of numbers engraved on it. The inhibitor chip. Both on top of a small scrap of paper, torn from Ororo’s letter. There was writing on the paper. One word. Written with sturdy, bold, block letters. ‘Sorry.’

Logan was gone.
Chapter 7 by aranenumenesse
Author's Notes:
And this is where we step out for a moment due to the rating of this fic. I have a short sequel with higher rating under work. I'm not sure when it'll be finished, but I hope soon. I'm getting quite tired of Logie's constant whining of how he's not getting to spend any quality time with Marie anymore.
He snarled, baring his teeth, and threw back a shot of whiskey, swirling it over his tongue for a moment before letting it slide down his throat. She was somewhere close. Somewhere in the crowd surrounding the cage, and her scent was tickling his sinuses and coating his tongue with promises of forgiveness and need. Sticky and sweet.

Full month he had stayed in this dingy bar, helping out Burt and pounding his aggressions away in the cage. Full month of gut-searing longing and fear. Full month of booze that did nothing to him. Full month of women trying to crawl their way in to his arms and to his room. And now this. The very thing he had hoped and feared. Marie was here.

He had smelt her from the moment he had stepped in to the cage. Not even the generous amount of blood of his adversaries managed to drown it. It cling to him like a second skin, calling him, stealing his attention and causing him to miss hits and receive quite nasty kicks. He could shrug them off relatively easily now, but it was nonetheless embarrassing to curl around his crotch whimpering every time.

He was curious. He was afraid. He was hopeful. And getting angrier at every passing minute when he wasn’t able to spot her from the twirling mass of people surrounding the cage.

When the flow of customers started to peter off so did the steady stream of willing men to step in to the cage with him. He was standing in the corner, nursing his whiskey and trying to decide the best way to flush Marie out from the diminishing crowd when the door of the cage squeaked open. He refused to turn around, recognizing the careful footsteps that approached him.

“What the fuck do you want?”

Fear made him choose the aggressive approach.

“I… I came looking for the best.”

He snorted, still keeping his back turned.

“Keep looking, darling. If you came to kick my ass because I forced you to live…”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence when her hand landed on his forearm, grasping it tightly and spinning him around, whiskey spilling to the floor of the cage and the glass shattering against the metal bars.

“I came looking for the best and that’s what I’m going to get, you arrogant…”

He cut her off in mid-sentence, grasping the front of her jacket and spinning them around so that she was trapped between his body and the steel bars of the cage, slamming his lips on hers and swallowing her startled gasp when his tongue slid from between her lips to greet hers.

Her response was something entirely different than he had expected. Instead of struggling free from his hold she wrapped her legs around his waist and let her fingers slide in to his already messed hair, pulling him even closer and sucking his tongue greedily. And there was no pain.

“Jean put the chip back… Xavier gave me a car… Pointed me to the right direction and all I had to do was to keep asking Wolverine at every bar I stopped by…”
“You’re not mad at me?”
“Never was… I thought you were…”
“Fuck, Marie…”

Their heated groping gained well-deserved attention when relatively sober and utterly drunk patrons of Burt’s World Of Booze started cheering and hollering.

“Do you want this?”

He emphasized his question by rocking his hips against hers once, drawing out a sharp gasp and moan from her slightly swollen lips.

“We’ll take this to somewhere more private… Show some respect, assholes! She’s not your usual barfly, she’s a fucking angel!”

He didn’t manage to silence the crowd around them. They could still hear them whistling and cheering when they were walking over the parking lot, towards the motel from where he had rented a room. Luckily Marie didn’t seem to mind. On the contrary, she was grinning from ear to ear, practically beaming from joy.

“Is that really what you think about me?”
“What? That angel part?”
“Yeah. I have seen a lot of women during these years. Haven’t seen anybody as pretty as you. More beautiful than you? Probably. But only an angel can be so pretty as you.”
“I… Logan…”

He pushed the door open and steered her in. Sat heavily on the edge of the bed and leaned his elbows to his thighs. Stared at the ratty carpet for a moment and lifted his gaze to her eyes then, drawing a deep breath.

“What the hell are you doing in here, Marie? Pretty girls like you… You don’t belong in to this world.”
“I already told you. I came looking for the best. And I belong to where you are. I miss you.”
“You sure about that?”
“Don’t you… Don’t you miss me?”

Her gaze fell to the floor, but he had the time to see the bright red flush of embarrassment covering her cheeks. She was nervous. Earlier lust and anxiousness were gone, and she looked about ready to bolt out if he let even one wrong word stumble out of his mouth. He decided to play safely, and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against him to stop her from running.

“I do. I have missed you. I miss you now. I’ll miss you even more when you leave.”
“You belong to Xavier’s. Not out here. This is no life for you. At Xavier’s you’ll be safe and looked after…”
“I came here because I want to feel safe with you. I came to here because it’s you I want to look after me. I came to here because I need to know that you’re safe, and I want to look after you. Don’t make me leave… Please…”
“I don’t want you to go. But I want you to be sure. I need you to be sure. I don’t want to start anything that you’re going to regret later. I’m the best there is at what I do. That’s the truth. But this… What ever this is… This thing between us… It’s not something I do. I don’t want you to wake up one morning and realize that you’re getting less than you bargained for.”

There was God-honest fear in his eyes. He was afraid. The man that had taken a bullet meant for her, the same man that had risked his life to save hers was afraid of getting hurt. The look on his face, practically begging her to understand, understand and not to hurt him…

“No regrets. I came looking for you. You. Not some prince Charming, white picket fence and two point five kids. Just you. The best there is.”
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