Category: AU where I take all the realities and mash them together as I see fit.


Author’s Notes: This… is not my normal style at all and it doesn't really have a point or a plot. At all. I hope people manage to enjoy it anyway.


Dedication: To Lauren, for being my cheerleader.




Damned stupid fucking animal in the middle of the road.


Damned stupid fucking animal in the middle of the road that trashed his truck.


Damned stupid fucking animal in the middle of the road that trashed his truck and left him here. In fucking ALASKA. In January.


Really, that was all there was to say as Logan trudged down the snowy highway, cursing the existence of moose everywhere.




Ryeton, Alaska was the sort of small town that no one other than the seventy some people who lived there ever thought twice about. Its public buildings consisted of two bars, a shack of a police station with a sheriff that slept his way through the day, a restaurant (named simply Joe’s) that’s cuisine was just one step above a roadside diner, a motel, and a general store. While it obviously wasn’t the height of society, for the past eight or so months it had been home for Rogue, and it suited her just fine. She had an apartment and a cat and a job at the local restaurant. People didn’t notice or care that she wore gloves and scarves all the time, and life in general was quiet.


It was a nice change, she thought idly while gathering together the last bit of trash from the morning rush that was now over and hauling the bag through the bitterly cold wind and into the dumpster behind Joe’s. After all, there were worse things than leading a life where no one bothered you as long as you didn’t bother them.


Rogue brushed off her hands and blew briefly on her gloved fingers as she started to head back inside, only stopping when she caught glance of a figure in the corner of her eye. She looked again and through the white of the snow, could make out the shadow of a man leaning against the far wall of the bar across the alley. For a moment, she was scared—everyone knew that being alone in an alley with a strange man was far from a desirable position to be in, even if you were a mutant with life-sucking skin, super strength, and the ability to fly.


The fear faded surprisingly quickly, though she wasn’t really sure why. In truth, he was just standing there, not even paying particular attention to her, so she turned away and headed back inside. After all, while it was peculiar to see someone hanging around out there in the middle of a blizzard, she had seen weirder things.


Or so she thought until three hours later after the lunch rush when she took out the next load of trash—and found him still standing there.




Damn, it was cold. His healing factor kept things like hypothermia and frostbite at bay, but it didn’t negate the biting of the Alaskan wind or the brittle feel of his skin after being exposed to the elements for so long. The hike to this wretched little town—if you could call it that—hadn’t exactly been short, and now sitting here waiting for the fight bar to open so he could make some cash was robbing his normally warm body of any spare heat it produced.


A sound other than the howling of the wind whipping through the alley he was standing in caught his ears and through the snow, he could make out the door to the restaurant opening. Ah. The girl was back.


She had first showed up a few hours ago, probably a waitress judging from the little apron tied around her waist. He was pretty sure that she had seen him but chosen to leave him alone, a decision he understood and respected. After all, he was a scary motherfucker and she was just a little thing. Besides, he liked his privacy and his current mood wasn’t really fit for company.


Apparently though, neither of those things was going to stop her this time, because she was coming right towards him. As she got closer, he could make out more of her features, long hair whipping in the wind and overwhelming brown eyes looking right at him. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had just looked him in the eye like that. It was oddly appealing.


“You’ve been standing here all morning?” she asked just loud enough for her voice to carry over the sounds of the angry Alaskan winter.


He shrugged. “More or less.” He had managed to hang around in that little grocery type store for about an hour before they had thrown him out for “loitering”, which meant that they were tired of following him around the store with their eyes waiting for him to steal something or murder them all. But she didn’t need to know that.


“You’ll freeze,” she said with what actually sounded like concern lacing what he could have sworn was a hint of Southern drawl.


“I’ll be fine,” he corrected, which was true enough. Being cold was unpleasant, not deadly. Not for him, at least.


But she looked skeptical, and rightfully so he supposed. It’s not like he was going to say that his freak mutation would make sure that nothing happened to him. “All the same,” she finally replied, “why don’t you come inside?”


Ain’t got any money,” he explained shortly, hating the cold reality of the fact that all of his cash had been in his truck and his truck had blown up with everything else he owned after that damned moose had caused that wreck.


Instead of looking put out, she just appeared to be sort of amused by his statement. “Well, even I could’ve figured that out, which is why I didn’t ask. Come in the back, you can sit in the storage room until the storm clears up.”


He blinked, honestly unsure of what to say. Not only had she sassed him, but she had just…offered something, knowing he didn’t have anything to give back. He wondered if there was a catch—and then he wondered if it really mattered. After all, he was damn cold.


Fuck it, he thought, following her inside. He could worry about the consequences later.




Leading the stranger into the storage room, Marie couldn’t help but feel a bit giddy. It was strange, the feeling of empowerment that came with helping someone out and not really expecting anything in return. She was Good Samaritan Marie, and it was a nice feeling. She had needed to feel just nice for a long time.


She peered around the small room, producing a blanket that had been covered some crates in a corner and handing it to the snow-encrusted stranger. “Here. It’s sort of gross, but it’s warm,” she said with a trace of apology in her voice. “Uh… you can flip over some crates or something to sit on. I think there’s a heating vent over on that wall somewhere, if you sit by it you’ll warm up faster.”


He was just hanging by the door, and she turned to look at him expectantly, only to find his expression be somewhat…confused. “Are you okay?” she asked. “I mean, other than the parts of you being blue thing.”


He blinked. “Uh… yeah.”


Marie rewarded him with a smile and pushed past him. “Good. Be right back.”


Slipping into the kitchen, she filled the largest mug she could find with hot coffee—black, because he looked like the kind of guy who not only drank it black, but would be insulted if you dared to insinuate that he ever put anything else in it. Carrying it carefully over to the storage room, she offered it to him. “Here. It’ll help you defrost.”


He eyed it with all the hunger of an obviously starving man, but didn’t reach for it. “I told ya I ain’t got any money,” he said gruffly.


She rose an eyebrow. “And I told you that it wasn’t an issue.” Or at least she had implied it, which was sort of the same thing.


He finally took the coffee and gulped it at a rather alarming rate, making her wonder how he didn’t burn right through the roof of his mouth and wondering if there was enough soup that Joe wouldn’t notice or care if a sizable bowl was missing. But it was a moot point right now, as she could hear him hollering her name back in the kitchen. “I have to go,” she explained. “Make yourself comfortable…and uh, don’t freeze to death or anything, okay? I’d have a hell of a time explaining that.”




Logan had been dozing in the corner of the storage room until the sound of the squeaky door jolted him awake again, opening his eyes in time to see the girl come in, a bowl and another mug of coffee in hand. “Soup,” she offered. “Well, chili, really. I thought you might be hungry.”


Was this girl for real? She not only picks up complete strangers from dark alleys and sticks them in storage rooms, now she feeds them. It was too…something, and it made Logan suspicious. “Look, what do ya want from me?” he asked even as his stomach rumbled at the smell of food.


Somehow, she managed to look both surprised and annoyed. “Have I implied that I wanted anything from you other than to have you avoid an icy demise?” she asked so coldly that the storage room suddenly felt as frosty as the alley outside had.


“…People don’t just do shit like this, you know,” was Logan’s argument.


He was honestly stumped when she shrugged as though it was all nothing. “You caught me on a good day, sugar. Now eat up.”


Well, really, what was there to say to that? He started shoveling chili into his mouth, thankful for the first food he could remember eating in days. Not that he would actually say thank you—the Wolverine didn’t do gratitude. He might, however, be able to pull some passable conversation out of somewhere. Now if only he could think of a subject.


Studying the girl who had done so much for him for what appeared to be nothing more than a few snarky comments, he had to admit that she was…unexpected. Beautiful to be sure, with auburn hair strangely streaked with white and those haunting brown eyes staring at him from her pale face. Petite, but built in all the right places, and a completely unique aura of sweetness about her, a purity that Logan couldn’t remember running into in all of the seventeen years he could remember. It intrigued him and scared the shit out of him at the same time. He could tell that if he let himself, it would be easy to get addicted to that.


A man like the Wolverine couldn’t afford to have an Achilles’ heel, especially in the form of a beautiful young woman who was barely past being a child.


Instead of doing something ridiculously stupid like vocalizing some of his thoughts, he seized on the first thing that struck him as odd—her name tag. “What the hell kind of name is Rogue?” he queried gruffly.

She blinked at him again, tilting her head. “What kind of name is Wolverine?” she retorted. When he startled at her knowing any name at all, she pointed to his dog tags, where the word was clearly imprinted on the metal, causing him to scowl and tuck them back under his thermal T-shirt.


But quite despite himself, he heard his voice saying, “Name’s Logan.”


She smiled a little. “Marie.”


It suited her a hell of a lot better than the rather depressing “Rogue” imprinted on her nametag did, even if she was an enigma who made him want to say things he would never normally say and silently wish that he was the sort of person who’d be worth the time she’d already invested in him.


That she made him want anything at all was reason enough to run.


Besides, the bar across the way should be open by now.


He had asses to kick. Money to make.


So after she went back to work, he picked up and left. And it did not mean anything that he’d bothered to fold the blanket and neatly stack his dishes before he’d slipped out the back door.




Marie wasn’t surprised to find that Logan had gone without saying anything—she honestly hadn’t expected anything else. The fact that he ate all of the chili and drank all of the coffee was thanks enough. She wasn’t sure why it mattered—she could have lost her job for stashing him in the storage room like that. But while she wasn’t up for saving the world on a daily basis anymore, it seemed like the least she could do was help one guy avoid the hazardous effects of inclement weather.


Her shift was finally over, and though it may have been more eventful than most of her days as of late, it was still just another day where she had to bundle up, trudge down the street and up to her only moderately well-heated apartment to spend an evening alone. Well, alone save the long haired black cat she had taken in that her contrary nature had demanded she name Snowflake.


She was still fastening the clasp of her cloak as she stepped into the snow, absently looking around as she began her hike. She couldn’t help but notice the larger than usual crowd at On Tap—but then, Tuesdays were fight night, so she supposed it wasn’t that much larger than normal. Certainly drew one’s eye, though. She briefly considered going in and watching her neighbors beat the shit out of each other for awhile before dismissing the idea—she had been known to enjoy herself there after hours on occasion, but tonight, she just wanted a good meal and some sleep.


Shivering as the wind hit her, she continued on her way, absently hoping that Logan was all right—he had seemed nice enough, in his own gruff, unwashed, half-frozen kind of way. And if she remembered the way the light had reflected in his hazel eyes more vividly than most, well, that would surely fade away quickly enough.


Her apartment was pretty sparse, and only two sounds greeted her when she swung open the door—the meow of Snowflake’s greeting and the nearly incessant beeping of the X-phone stashed in the back of her dresser.


Over the last months, she had learned to talk back to the first and completely tune out the second.




This was a bad idea. Logan knew it was a bad idea. There was absolutely no reason to go into that restaurant. He had money now, after a night of cleaning up at the fights. Not enough money to buy even a shitty truck and leave, but enough to hole up in the ratty-assed motel and eat crap from the general store until the next fight. Spending the extra money on a restaurant meal was not in the budget.


But that didn’t seem to be stopping him, he noted as he pulled open the door to Joe’s and strolled right in.


The place was simple, some sort of cross between sports bar and roadside diner that instantly appealed to him. Small, but then it didn’t really need to be that big, not all the way out here. Really, even if it was a bit run down around the edges, it was a decent place. It fit more with the Marie who had pulled him out of the alley yesterday than the rest of this two-bit town did, at least in Logan’s mind.


And speaking of Marie… “Hey kid,” he said a little awkwardly.


Her head snapped up and her eyes got real wide, but she didn’t smell nervous or afraid or anything. Just…surprised. And maybe even…happy?Logan,” she said unnecessarily. “I didn’t figure on seeing you ever again.”


He shifted his weight a little awkwardly. This really had been a stupid idea. “Yeah, well…I figured…I don’t know. I’ll go.”


“What? No! No, no, it’s fine. I was just surprised is all. I mean, you’re walking through the front door and everything. You can see why I’d be confused.”


He wasn’t really sure whether he wanted to laugh or growl at her teasing. “Hey, I got money today and everything. What’s a guy got to do to get seated ‘round here?


She smiled, a sight unlike anything Logan could ever remember seeing before. “Follow me then,” she said, grabbing a menu and automatically leading him to the perfect table—furthest away from all the noise, but with just the right vantage point to keep an eye on everything going on in the whole damn place. He wondered if it was just luck or if she had somehow known that he’d want to—no, that was a dumbass thing to think. Things like that didn’t just happen.


“The specials today are chicken pasta with—“


“Awe, don’t worry ‘bout that. I’ll just have a steak. A big one. Rare.” He hesitated, then added, “And whatever you want.”




Logan couldn’t quite seem to look at her, so he sort of glared at a spot on the table. “Figure I owe you a meal.”


“Logan, I told you I didn’t want…” she stopped mid-sentence which caught his attention, so he ended up looking at her after all, catching the thoughtful expression that passed across her face as she studied him right back. “…You’re sure you don’t mind?” she asked finally.


Wouldn’ta asked if I did, darlin’.” Where did that come from? Well, she didn’t seem to mind the endearment too much…it might have even made her smile a little.


“Well then, I guess I’ll tell Joe I’m going on break.”


Logan nodded, feeling oddly…relieved.




Okay, let’s see. Two steaks? Check. Surly but astoundingly attractive in a rugged flannel-wearing kind of way lunch companion? Check. Conversation topics? …Sadly lacking.


This could be a problem, Marie admitted to herself as she began to cut into her steak. She hadn’t had to make a whole lot of small talk the last couple of months, her main forms of socialization revolving around what sides people wanted with their entrees and reciting the specials list in under thirty seconds. And Logan...well, Logan didn’t exactly seem like the small talk kind of guy. But then, he didn’t really seem like the kind of guy to suggest this whole lunch thing in the first place, and it sure as hell hadn’t been her idea. Though it was sort of nice—over the past two days she had spent more time with him than she had with anyone but Joe in ages. And Joe, while he had his charms, was really only concerned with getting the orders out right and keeping the food from getting burnt, which didn’t exactly make for scintillating conversation.


All of which left them here, sitting at a table chewing their meat in silence.


If nothing else, it gave her a chance to really look at him now that he was clean and not tinged with blue around the edges. He was exactly the kind of person your parents always warned you about, the sort of guy you avoided when passing on the street—and she wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of him. Maybe it was that she knew that she could kick his ass in two and a half seconds despite their obvious size disparities, or maybe it was because he could have tried something all day yesterday and hadn’t. Really, she thought that it was just something about him—with him, she felt…comfortable. Easy. Even…safe?


That was ridiculous. And stupid, because after this one obligation meal, you could bet your ass that he was gone. No use in getting attached.


Randomly, she noticed something. “Logan?”


He grunted. Well, there were worse ways of communication.


Logan…why are you glaring at that stuffed moose head on the wall?”


Yes, she was pretty sure that he had growled. That was…surprisingly hot. “I don’t like moose,” he grumbled.


She blinked. “That moose in particular or moose as a species in general?” When he stared right back at her, she shrugged. “I was just wondering if that specific moose head had done something to warrant your wrath.”


“…A moose was standing in the middle of the road. I hit it with my truck. It blew up.”


She was pretty sure that he meant the truck had blown up and not the moose, though neither option was particularly appealing. It certainly explained a lot though. “Are you okay?” He looked fine, but car crashes were nasty things. You never knew.


He actually looked amused at the question. “Fine.”


She just smiled back at him. Beamed really, an expression that should have felt out of place on her too long solemn face. Strangely, it didn’t. “Good.”




Two days later, Logan was sitting in his motel room, trying to convince himself that three days in the same place and three shared meals with the same person did not. Mean. ANYTHING.


And the fact that Marie hadn’t bored him yet, that she was unlike anything or anyone he had ever come across, and that he couldn’t really figure her out but didn’t mind that little detail, none of THAT meant anything either.


Neither did the fact that he had laughed at her joke this afternoon. He couldn’t help it if her impression of country singers was so woefully bad that it was actually good.


He was still here because he was still a little short on ready cash. The beautiful brunette who had pulled him out of the snow when she had no reason to and could eat a rare steak as big as his own and made him laugh had nothing to do with it.






Marie hadn’t been into On Tap in a few weeks, but tonight she felt like company, and the fight bar was the only place still open. Besides the strip club, that is, and she had no desire to spend time at a place called Bare Necessities. So she fought her way through the crowd and claimed a barstool, ordered a double shot of bourbon, and began to actually enjoy the smoky, rowdy atmosphere that surrounded her.


It wasn’t until she had her drink in hand that she really noticed the fever in the crowd, eyes swinging to the cage in the center of the room. Normally, cage fighting wasn’t really her style—she had seen enough real violence to long since wear off the shine of novelty—but judging from the enthusiastic crowd, this was no ordinary cage fighter.


Catching sight of what had to be dubbed the most perfect back she had ever laid eyes on, Marie had to agree. This guy was anything but ordinary.


When his head rose and she saw that it none other than Logan, she knew that her initial assessment had been dead on.


Hazel eyes caught her own through the crowd and she couldn’t stop the corner of her mouth from turning up in a smile, and though he didn’t return the expression, she thought that something about him shifted slightly, though she couldn’t have specified what it was, exactly. She supposed it didn’t really matter, so she just downed the rest of her bourbon without so much as a grimace and joined in the cheering for the Wolverine.


Watching Logan go head to head against a guy twice his size made her strangely nervous, but as soon as the bell was sounded, Marie stopped being nervous and started feeling a tad suspicious. It wasn’t that Logan—or maybe she should say the Wolverine—was winning with any great ease or too quickly. In fact, he took a good number of shots before even so much as swinging back. She couldn’t really put her finger on what was wrong with the picture. But in what seemed like another life, a young girl named Rogue had spent endless hours training for real battles, the kind of life and death situations that everyone fantasizes about and no one ever really wants to be in. She knew what fighting looked like.


She wasn’t sure what was going on in that cage, but it wasn’t fighting. Not even close.


When it was over and Logan’s opponent was face down on the floor, he spoke to the referee and jumped out of the cage, heading straight for her. Somehow, Marie wasn’t surprised. He invaded her space almost right away, the heat radiating off of his particularly amazing shirtless chest making her nervous. Whether it was because of her skin or because of the way he gazed at her, she couldn’t really say.


“Bourbon, kid? Isn’t that a bit strong for a little thing like you?” he asked finally.


She snorted. “Yeah well, you can take the girl out of the South, but...” she trailed off with a shrug and a gesture to the bartender for another. “You need anything in particular, sugar?”


He shuffled a little closer, another thrill of lust and panic running down her spine as his bare hands reached for her new glass. “Could use a bit of this.”


She relinquished the glass easily, trying to stay calm as she gazed up at him. “Feel free.”


He slugged it down as easily as she had hers and put the tumbler back on the counter behind her. Drawing back, he ran one finger down the inside seam of her opera length glove, loving the silk as no one had ever bothered to do before. For one terrifying moment she thought he would ask about them, about why a girl crammed in an over-crowded bar filled with body heat and sweat, would insist on wearing something so binding. She wondered briefly if she would actually tell him.


Instead, he just said, “Thanks.”


And so without a word, the decision was reached—she would never ask him why he bothered with the show of fighting a battle he couldn’t lose and he would never ask why a girl of only twenty insisted on covering every spare inch of skin she could. It was somehow recognized that they both had secrets and accepted without qualms—the silent understanding was that whatever they were or had between them wouldn’t be about what they didn’t say, but about what they did.


It was the easiest deal Marie had ever made.




A week later, Logan began looking for an apartment. Not that it was a long search, because there was only one apartment building in all of Ryeton--Marie's. Convenient, how that worked out.


Logan didn’t explain before moving in across the hall, because he wasn’t exactly sure what he should say about it. The simple truth was that he liked her, that he wanted to be close to her, and this was the easiest way he could think of to accomplish that. But he couldn’t tell her that.


So he just showed up one day, duffel bag in hand and the key to a scantily pre-furnished apartment now on his keychain. After looking around, he dropped the bag and sheepishly crossed the hall. She was home, he could hear her moving around behind the closed door. But maybe this had been a bad decision—right now, she liked having lunch with him every day, and always looked happy to see him. What if that went away?


He really didn’t want it to go away.


Finally, he knocked, and when she swung open the door and merely looked surprised to see him standing there, he started talking without really knowing how to say what he needed to.


“I, uh, got a job,” was what he started with. “At the club, the bartender needed a new bouncer. He said after a week of watching me in the cage, no one would dare step out of line while I was there, so he offered. I figured, maybe, I could make some cash, and took it. Just for awhile.”


She was still just standing there.


“But, uh, I figured if I was gonna be here awhile, an apartment would be good. Because the motel maid kept coming in to clean things, and I don’t like other people poking around all the time, and it smelled funny. So I live across the hall now.”


And there it was, as much of the truth as he could actually verbalize. She’d probably freak out. It was a little weird, he knew, to meet someone and then just move right next to them without any warning at all. He had probably ruined everything.


“I was just cooking dinner,” Marie said finally, and his awkwardness receded enough to register the smile that still played around the corners of her mouth. “Want to join me?”


Now that she mentioned it, it did smell awful good in there. And she was smiling at him still. Good. That was good.


“Sure,” he replied, more relieved than he’d ever be able to explain.


Her apartment was pretty much the same as his, even down to the faded striped sofa. Still, somehow, hers seemed ... better. Homier, maybe. “What’re you cookin’?” he asked, trying to relax once again and not obsess over why Marie hadn’t freaked out or seemed put off by the whole thing. Had the situation been reversed, he sure wouldn’t have invited himself in for dinner.


“Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread ... all of Mama’s favorites,” Marie replied. “I haven’t lived in Mississippi for nearly four years, but I never really lost the urge for big Sunday dinners. Besides, if I cook a lot, it normally lasts me a few days.”


He’d be cutting into her leftovers. “I could go…” he offered.


“Don’t be ridiculous. A big part of Sunday dinner is company, and while I love Snowflake over there, he’s not exactly much for deep conversation. Or conversation of any kind, really.”


He eyed the fluffy, black cat sprawled over three quarters of the sofa like he owned it. “It’s a black cat.”




“Named Snowflake?”




Logan turned his gaze back to Marie, who was smiling and brought him a beer without even having to ask. “You’re weird.”


She just laughed. “Coming from Logan, the Amazing Moose-Slayer, that ain’t sayin’ much.”


He couldn’t do anything but laugh with her, and finally, he began to relax. Maybe things would be okay after all.




Sometime in the middle of February, Marie had the disturbing realization that she was actually…happy. At some point, she had stopped just existing and started to really enjoy the quiet life she had built for herself. People in the town were starting to warm up to her, she had painted the walls of her apartment a sunny yellow, and, of course, there was Logan. Deceptively small things, when put separately, but together, they added up to a life that made her smile more than it made her cry.


That hadn’t been the case for her in a very long time.


So when she swung open the front door one Saturday night expecting it to be Logan fresh off of work and wanting to sit on her couch and chat while trying to pretend that he wasn’t petting Snowflake, and found Scott and Storm standing there instead, it understandably felt like she had been punched in the stomach.


“What are you doing here?” she asked, and regretted that it sounded more hostile than it really should have. But the phone had finally stopped beeping a few weeks ago, and she had let herself believe, even if just for a little while, that they’d stopped trying to get to her, to convince her that everything would be just hunky dory if she came back.


She knew better.


“There’s a mission. We need you,” Scott said in his clipped tones.


“You need my stolen super strength, you mean,” she corrected. “Or is it flight this time? No, it can’t be that, because ‘Ro is perfectly capable…”


“Rogue,” Storm said with that unflappable calm. “Please.”


Marie sighed. When it came right down to it, she knew she’d go. They wouldn’t have come, have invaded like this, unless it was really important. They were meddlers, yes, and they’d willingly pester her into submission. But they’d never force her. And really, it hadn’t been their fault.


No, she had managed to kill their much-loved teammate Carol all her own.


“Let me get my coat,” she said finally, resigned. Turning away, she managed to scribble down a note to Logan before they hustled her off to the Blackbird.


“Something came up. There are leftovers in the fridge. Be back in a few days,” it read. On the way out, she slipped it under his door and just hoped that he found it before he tried to come over that night, so he’d know not to worry.


She actually managed to make it back in less than twenty-four hours, trudging up the stairs to her apartment around eleven Sunday night and finding a nearly frantic Logan waiting for her.




“What happened? Where were you? Are you okay?” were the first words that tumbled out of Logan’s mouth as he caught sight of Marie, pulling her close without even thinking about it.


He had come home and she was gone, just…gone. It had been awful. Breathing her in, he tried to slow his breathing, to regain the control that seemed to have disappeared with her the night before.


“Oh, Logan…didn’t you get my note?” she asked, letting him cling to her tightly.


He snorted. “Some note. You just…vanished! No explanation, nothing. You could have been anywhere, hurt or in trouble or something. And you missed Sunday dinner. You love Sunday dinner.” He hadn’t meant for the last part to come out so petulantly, hadn’t really meant to say any of it.


“Oh, I’m sorry Logan. Tell you what; we’ll have Sunday dinner on Monday this week. I need to call off tomorrow anyway,” she admitted, pulling back a little and wincing as she did so.


“What’s wrong?” he demanded, pushing her an arm’s length away so he could study her and finally seeing the cuts and bruises that littered her face, feeling an irrational rage bubble up inside him. “What happened to you?” He should have been there, he could have protected her….


“It’s nothing,” she said quietly.


“Bullshit! You’re hurt,” he insisted, surveying the damage he could see and wondering if there was more beneath her ever-present layers of clothing. Knowing she wouldn’t volunteer the information, he pushed up the hem of her shirt a bit, going to place a hand against the pale expanse of her stomach, checking for bruises and bumps.


Before he could, she jerked away violently. The movement stunned him at first, and then the idea that she was that against him touching her just ached. “I’m not gonna hurt you,” he said quietly, swallowing against the lump in his throat that appeared at the very idea.


She sighed, heavily. “No, Logan, it’s not that. I know you won’t. It’s just…I just…look, I can’t explain. Just know that touching my skin is a bad idea.”


That didn’t make any sense. None of this did. “Marie, where were you?” he asked, desperate and sad and hurt.


She just gazed at him, and for a brief flicker of a second, he thought maybe she’d tell him, that she’d tell him all her secrets and he could share his. That maybe she wouldn’t be afraid of the claws just like she hadn’t been afraid of the fact that some stranger in a back alley moved across the hall without warning. If she would just make the first concession, maybe….


But she just shook her head, her deep brown eyes completely unreadable for the first time. “It’s late, Logan. Go to sleep. We’ll have dinner tomorrow. I’m sorry I missed it tonight.”


She left him there in the hallway, alone and uncertain for the first time since he had met her.




Marie had hoped that when morning came, she would feel a little less like shit.


No such luck, as it turned out.


Not only was she bruised, cut, and burned over various parts of her body, but she had upset Logan. On some superficial level, they were nothing more than neighbors and lunch buddies. But really, it was deeper than that. It was connection and conversation and caring. Maybe it would have been something deeper still, if she had been honest with him from the beginning.


As it turned out, maybes weren’t worth much.


She somehow knew the knock on the door wasn’t Logan and was loathe to answer it. Marie expected Scott’s face before she even caught sight of the red glasses—she had, after all, flown off in the middle of an argument the night before. All she had wanted was to go home.


“Come in, Scott,” she yelled, not really feeling like getting up from her careful prone position on the couch.


The X-Men’s team leader entered with an almost sheepish expression on his face. “How are you feeling, Rogue?”


“Like I got the shit kicked out of me. You?”


“About the same,” he admitted. “Look, Rogue…we want you to come back. Come home. This has gone on long enough, don’t you think?”


Marie sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I don’t know, Scott. Is there an appropriate length of exile for someone who killed a team member? A friend?”


“You can’t keep blaming yourself for that. It was an accident.”


“And still, I see blame in everyone’s eyes. Even now, more than a year later, people can’t look at me without wincing. They can’t brush my shoulder without freaking. I was isolated before, Scott. After Carol, I was a god-damned leper. And maybe it’s weak of me, maybe it’s selfish. But is it so wrong for me to want to stay someplace where if I’m alone, it’s at least by choice?”


Her voice was raised now, she couldn’t really help it. Remembering back to that time, where her head was too full and her life was too empty wasn’t a pleasant thing to do.


“Rogue, we need you on the team.”


She winced. “And that should be enough, right?” she shook her head. “The thing is Scott, I’m not sure it is. Not anymore.”




Logan jerked awake knowing one thing: Marie was upset.


He didn’t even pause long enough to throw on a shirt, barging into the apartment across the hall in a near frenzy. It only got worse when he saw Marie near tears and a perfect stranger hovering over her. Was this who had hurt her? The reason she had come home with bruises and in pain? The reason she had missed Sunday night dinner and pulled away whenever he got too close?


Already feeling dangerously close to the edge, he pointed to the stranger. “You. Out.”


Behind his weird looking sunglasses (and who the hell needed sunglasses in fucking February, anyway?), the guy just managed to look sort of bewildered. “Look, man, I….”


“OUT!” Logan roared, seeing nothing but red as he started to advance on the other man. He wasn’t even aware that he had let the claws out until he heard Marie gasp.


Logan…” she said, eyes wide as she looked at them, then up into his eyes and back down again.


The rage melted away to a moment of sheer panic, where he knew that the game was up it was all over now and he didn’t want it to be. He wanted, no, he needed Marie and the way they were, plain and normal and easy. But it would never be that way again.


Or so he thought until Marie cried out a nearly joyfulLogan!” and threw herself into his arms, heedless of the claws or anything else.


She was warm and tight against him, laughing. He couldn’t process it all. There had been a lot of different reactions to the claws over the years, but never this.


Not that he was complaining. And if she was going to come to her senses in a moment and run screaming, he’d just have to take advantage of this. Sliding the claws back in, he tugged her even closer, burrowing his nose into her dark locks and forgetting everything else.


There was a spout of words coming from her mouth, words he didn’t really care about because she was laughing and crying and still hugging him, and really, that was all that mattered.




He was a mutant.


Of all the weird twists of fate, after all her bad luck, there was this. There was a chance now, that she could tell him everything and he wouldn’t run away or think she was horrible or evil or just not worth the trouble.


She was letting it all loose now, the whole story from running away as a scared seventeen year old to the Statue to Carol and the X-Men and it felt so good to tell him everything finally. She hadn’t even realized how much she had wanted to.


“…And Logan, this is Scott, he’s the team leader. He wants me to go back, to fight for them again because now I’ve got Carol’s super strength and can fly and they want that on their team, and I …”


That caught his attention and Logan pulled away, looking just at her. “Are you going?” he asked, as though the rest of it didn’t matter at all, as though that was the most important detail.


It threw her and thrilled her. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I…I probably should….”


His hands tightened around her shoulders. “Don’t,” he whispered, eyes wide. “Stay here. With me.”


That was the best offer she’d ever heard, and Marie couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across her face. “Really?”


He swallowed, nodding, and she reached up, tracing the lines of his face with her gloved finger. Even knowing about her skin, skin that had already killed the strongest person Marie had ever met, he didn’t so much as flinch. And she knew.


“Okay,” she whispered. “We’ll stay.”