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Disclaimer: Things I donít own: Any character in this story, any song used in this story, any movie, television show, etc. mentioned in this story, Twinkies. Who does own them: Some rich person who isnít me. What Iím not gaining off this: Profit (Donít ask what I am gaining, Ďcause Iím not sureÖ) Who not to sue: MeóIím just a bored kid with nothing better to do then warp the lives of my favorite characters.

Summary: As the years go by, Rogue attempts to live with and without Logan. Major Angst Warning!!!

Rating: R (adult language, mild violence, and mild adult content)

Feedback and Archiving: Feedback is always highly appreciated. My email address is addie_logan@yahoo.com and my AIM screen name is MrsPeteWisdom. Constructive criticism will be accepted and considered whereas flames and stupid comments will be deleted gleefully. You can archive this story anywhere you want, just email me and let me know where youíre putting it.

Thanks to: Alex for being my critic and sounding board and Gables for making the phone ring. ;-)

Shameless Personal Plug: Visit my Webpage! (http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/addielogan)

 

Sometimes it Ainít Enough

By: Addie Logan

 

I keep thinkiní any minute youíll be cominí home honey
I ainít seen nothiní of you in a month of Sundays
Tell me how long gone are you gonna be?

All you said was you had to get goiní
Oh but baby I wouldnít mind knowiní just
How long gone are you gonna be?

How am I supposed to make any plans
When I still donít even understand
If youíre ever gonna come back home to me
Tell me please
How long gone are you gonna be?

Maybe I didnít pay enough attention
But I do believe you forgot to mention
Just how long gone are you gonna be?

The phone ainít ringiní, Ďcause you ainít calliní
I ainít been heariní your footsteps falliní
Tell me how long gone are you gonna be?

How am I supposed to make any plans
When I still donít even understand
If youíre ever gonna come back home to me
Tell me please
How long gone are you gonna be?

*** *** ***

Rogue was sitting on the couch watching television with her friends when he came back. She was wearing a T-shirt that read "I hear voices in my head and they donít like you," and the dogtags heíd given her were still around her neck.

But those werenít the first things he noticed.

He noticed that she wasnít wearing gloves.

And her hand was resting on Bobby Drakeís bare arm.

Logan stared for a moment before he decided to make his presence known. He cleared his throat and she looked at him. "Hey, Kid."

Logan watched as recognition slowly crossed over Rogueís face. "Logan!" she cried as she jumped up from her place beside Bobby and ran to throw her arms around Wolverineís neck.

He lifted her off the ground in a tight hug and she giggled a little. When he put her back down, she grinned up at him. He glanced from her face to the dogtags and she reached up to touch them with her pale, ungloved fingers. "I still have these," she said.

Logan stopped her before she could take them off. "Keep Ďem. They look better on you than they ever did on me anyway."

Rogue blushed and began to fiddle with the tags nervously.

Logan grinned, glad to see that the greeting she gave him was almost exactly as he had expected. Heíd clung to the fact that things back in New York would be the same when he returned. And they seemed to beóexcept for the Marie gloveless thing, but he could handle that. He made a mental note to ask her about it a little later.

"Nice shirt."

Rogue laughed. "Jubilee gave it to me for Christmas," she explained.

"Is what it says true?"

"Well, one of the voices in my head is yours, after all."

"Good point." Logan looked up and noticed that her group of friends had become an audience to their reunion. "Uh, Iím gonna go upstairs and try to find the Professor. Talk to you later, okay Kid?"

Rogue nodded. "Okay, Logan. And I think the Professorís in his office."

"All right. Thanks." He ruffled her hair a little before turning to leave.

"Logan!" Rogue ran out into the hall after him.

He stopped and turned around. "Yeah?"

"I meant to ask ya if you found what you were lookiní for up north."

"I donít want to talk about that right now."

"Later?"

"Maybe."

Rogue nodded, understanding. "Kay. See ya, Logan."

He grinned. "See ya, Marie."

All in all, he thought it was a pretty good homecoming.

*** *** ***

Logan was glad to see that most everything else at the mansion had remained the same, too. Well, Jean had gone and married Scott, but heíd known that was going to happen. Besides, he wasnít above flirting with a married womanóespecially since he knew sheíd never give in. Heíd come to that conclusion on the Statue of Liberty with the way Jean had told Scott to trust her. Scott hadnít even hesitated to open his eyes after that.

But that certainly didnít mean that making Jean blush and Scott angry was going to be crossed off Wolverineís list of favorite things to do anytime soon.

The Professor had told Logan that he still had a place on the team, and Logan said heíd help outóas long as he stayed. Heíd made the last part perfectly clear. This wasnít his home, and he wasnít staying for good. Of course, that didnít mean that when he did leave, he wouldnít come back.

Rogue clung to him every chance she got. Apparently the adolescent crush sheíd developed on him before was still firmly in place. He welcomed her company and the ego stroke he felt from her hero worship.

Well, that and he found thatósurprisinglyóhe liked having her around. Logan didnít remember a time when he had actually enjoyed anyoneís company as much as he did Rogueís.

Logan had been back for about a week when Marie began the ritual of doing her homework up in his room. Why, he wasn't sure, but he figured that it was just an excuse for her to be near him. And he didnít mind so much.

He was lying back on his bed, head propped up on pillows, chewing on the end of a cigar because he knew it bothered her when he smoked in enclosed spaces. Normally, he wouldíve just told someone to shove it if they didnít want him smoking, but not Marie. He liked to see her smile and he didnít like to see her frown, simple as that.

So he was lying on his back, just chewing on his cigar, and watching her as she sat at his desk and scribbled furiously on a piece of paper. She sighed, flipped the pencil over, and began erasing furiously. "Youíre gonna rub a hole right through the paper there, Kid," Logan said, still chomping on the cigar.

"For the five millionth time, Logan," Marie grumbled in the Southern drawl that he found surprisingly endearing, "Be quiet so I can concentrate."

"If I annoy ya so much, why are ya in here?" Logan asked.

"Because you arenít half as distractiní as my roommates."

"You room with Kitty and Jubilee. What did you expect?"

"Pretty much what I got. Now hush back there!"

Logan smirked around his stogie, chuckling at the frustrated little noises Rogue was making. After a while, she grabbed the paper she was working on, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it across the room.

"Hey, donít go makiní a mess in here," Logan said.

Marie turned around and glared at him. He tried to look tough and not smile. "Pick that up."

She glared it him again for good measure and then went over to retrieve the paper ball. She got a mischievous look on her face, and suddenly, the wad of paper flew out of her hand and over to Logan, knocking the cigar from his mouth.

"Hey!" he said, his dignity wounded. He picked the cigar up from the bedspread and set it in his ashtray. Then, his lips curled in a mimic of her own impish grin and he picked the paper ball up and threw it back at her.

Rogue stared at him for a moment, stunned, then the paper ball was thrown back in his direction.

Logan got off the bed, paper in hand.

This meant war.

*** *** ***

Fifteen minutes and about twenty paper balls later, Scott Summers came running into the room. "Whatís going on in here?" he asked.

Both Rogue and Logan stopped and looked up at Scott, almost guiltily. Logan quickly regained his normal, cocky attitude. "What the hell are ya doiní bustiní in here like that, One-Eye?"

"I heard Rogue scream."

Rogue blushed. Logan glared. "Sheís fine. Go away."

Scott surveyed the room and the little balls of paper all around the room. "OkayÖIíll, um, leave now."

Logan crossed his arms. "You do that."

Scott gave a nod to Rogue then slunk out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

As soon as he was gone, Marie broke into a fit of giggles, and it didnít take too long for Logan to start laughing, too. "What was that exactly?" Rogue asked once she could talk again.

"Scott beiní a dick as usual."

Marie snickered. "No, not that."

"Oh. That. A paper ball fight."

"Since when do you have paper ball fights, Wolverine?"

"Since you started throwiní paper at me. Couldnít let that go without standiní up for myself."

Marie laughed again, and Logan decided he really liked that sound. "Youíre a mess."

"I try, Kid."

Marie went back over to his desk and gathered up her books. "Hey, itís gettin' late, and I really should go back to my room. I had fun tonight with you, Logan."

"Me, too, Marie."

Rogue stood up on her tiptoes and kissed Logan on the cheek. "Gínight. Iíll see you in the morniní."

"Yeah, see ya in the morniní." Logan reached up and touched the place on his cheek where sheíd kissed him. "Hey, Marie," he called out as she made her way to the door. "Iíve been meaniní to ask ya, when did you get your powers under control?"

Marie stopped and turned back around to look at him. "A couple of months ago. The Professor and I worked on it a lot, and I now Iím finally able to touch people."

Logan beamed down at her. "Thatís great, Kid. Iím real happy for ya."

"Yeah. Iím happy, too."

"I bet." Logan looked thoughtful for a second, then asked, "Hey, are you and that one kidóBobbyóan item?"

Rogue seemed to get uncomfortable at the question. "Uh, why do you ask?"

"I donít know, itís just that you were sittiní real close to him when I first got back, and you spend a lot of time with himówhen youíre not with me, that is."

"Would it bother you if we were?" Rogue asked.

"No. Iím just curious."

"Oh," Marie said softly. "Well, weíre notóreally. I mean, weíve been on a few dates and stuff, but nothiní too serious. I wouldnít call us an Ďitem.í"

"Would he?"

"I donít know. Iím goiní now. Night, Logan."

"Night, Marie."

Marie hurried out before Logan could ask her anymore questions.

*** *** ***

Rogue came into her room, threw her books down, and flopped on the bed. Kitty and Jubilee both turned to look at her. "Uh, something wrong?" Kitty asked.

"Nope," Rogue replied.

"Liar," Jubilee said. "Címon, what did Logan do?"

"He didnít do anything, Jubes."

"But youíre all pouty," Jubilee said. "Has to be Logan."

"Was it Bobby?" Kitty offered.

Rogue sighed, staring up at the ceiling. "It wasnít Logan and it wasnít Bobby. Not really, anyway."

"íNot really anyway?í What does that mean?" Jubilee asked.

Rogue propped on her elbow so she was facing her friends. "It means, well, that it isnít them, but a situation involviní them, I guess."

"Do tell," Kitty said.

"Well, Logan asked if Bobby and I were an item," Rogue explained.

Jubilee shrugged. "So? He wouldnít be the first person to ask that."

"I know," Rogue said, "But see, it was Logan askiní, and well, I, umÖ"

"Youíre madly in love with him, we know that, Rogue," Jubilee said.

Rogue sat up. "I am not!"

"Then why did the fact he started asking about Bobby bother you so much?"

Rogue looked away. "IÖI donít know."

"I do," Jubilee muttered.

"Look, so what if I do like Logan as more than a friend?" Rogue said, "What difference does it make? Iím always gonna be a kid in his eyes."

"So try to make yourself something other than a kid to him," Kitty said.

Rogue rolled her eyes. "Right. Like thatís ever gonna happen."

"It could!" Kitty said.

"I have an idea," Jubilee said.

"What?" Rogue asked.

"Dye your hair red and wear a white lab coat!" Jubilee exclaimed.

"I hate you," Rogue said, stifling a giggle.

Jubilee gave her a mock-pout. "Well, I think itís worth a try."

"Yíall are both insane, you know that, right?" Rogue said flopping back on her bed.

"Oh, so sheís madly in love with a furry guy with claws and weíre insane?" Jubilee commented. "Ow!" she said a moment later when Rogueís pillow hit her squarely in the chest. "I hope you know, youíre not getting this back."

Rogue reached over to Jubileeís bed and snatched her pillow. "Thatís okay. I got yours now."

"Bitch."

"Hussy."

"Such love in this room," Kitty commented.

"Aw, come on, Kit, you know the only time any emotion even close to love came into this roomóaside from Rogueís constant Ďyearning-for-Loganí spellsówas when that big Russian kid came in here looking to borrow a book and you about fell over yourself," Jubilee said.

Kitty turned bright red. "I did not!"

Rogue hugged Jubileeís pillow to her chest. "Hey, cut her some slack, Jubes," Rogue said. "You know Kitty canít help but be attracted to big, shiny things."

"Hey!" Kitty exclaimed. "You guys are pure evil!"

"You better believe it," Jubilee said. "Muahaha!"

Rogue looked over at the digital clock on the table between her and Jubileeís bed. "Itís getting late, yíall and weíve all got class in the morniní. We should get to sleep."

Jubilee groaned. "Oh yeah, no fun allowed for the modern mutated college student."

Kitty shrugged. "Hey, I donít know about you guys, but I kinda like the fact that the Professor has it set up so we can stay at the mansion and take distance learning classes from a local college."

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "You would."

Kitty reached over and phased her arm though Jubilee. "Ah! That feels freaky!" Jubilee exclaimed.

Kitty giggled. "Thatís the point."

Rogue got up and grabbed her nightclothes. "Well, I donít know what yíall plan to do, but Iím goiní to bed."

"You gonna dream about Logan?" Jubilee asked with a smirk.

Rogue gave her friend a weak smile as she thought about the nightmares that had haunted her ever since the first time sheíd touched Wolverine. "Yeah, Jubes, I probably am." With that, she went into the bathroom and shut the door.

*** *** ***

Logan had been back at the mansion for a two months, and Rogue stopped following him around quite as much, allowing herself to get used to the idea that maybe he was going to stick around for a while this time.

Exactly three months after he got back, Rogue found herself sitting on the couch with her friends, watching a movie, mimicking almost to the letter what she had been doing when Logan first returned. She was even wearing the same shirt.

"Whatís this movie called again?" St. John asked.

"Where the Heart Is," Jubilee replied.

St. John groaned. "Ack, the title even sounds like a sappy chick flick. How did I get roped into watching this? And whatís with that woman that names all her kids after snack foods?"

"Hey, man, thatís Ashley Judd," Bobby said. "Donít go dissiní Ashley Judd. Sheís hot. Besides, I still like the part where the guy called one of her kids ĎTwinkie.í"

"Oh jeez, here we go again," Jubilee groaned.

"What? I just think it would be really cool to have a kid named Twinkie!"

"Bobby Drake, not only will you never find a woman that will allow you to name a child Twinkie, but you will never find a woman to have a child with you. Period," Jubilee said.

"Oh yeah," Bobby said with a grin. He turned to Rogue, taking her hands in his and doing his best to look as serious as possible. "Fair Rogue, would you do me the honor of having my lovechild?"

"Ah! I am not giviní birth to a Twinkie!"

"Well thatís nice to know."

Rogue looked up to see who had said that and noticed that Logan standing in the doorway. Mortified, she turned bright red. "Uh, I, umóthereís an explanation to that!"

Logan grinned. "I figured as much. Címere, Kid, I need to talk to you."

Rogue felt like something cold had reached in and grabbed her stomach as she walked over to Logan and noticed he had a bag slung over his shoulder. "You runniní again?" she asked, her voice soft and cracking.

"I have some stuff to take care of up north."

Rogue forced herself not to cry. She had been strong the first time Logan had left, and she was going to be this time, even though after all the time sheíd gotten to spend with him over the past few months it was killing her even more than before. "What, got season tickets to the Canadiens or somethiní?" she joked.

Logan smiled at her. "I wish. Look, Iíll be back real soon, I promise."

"You better."

He tapped the dogtags around her neck with his finger. "Youíre gonna take care of these for me, right?"

"I always do."

Rogue stepped forward and hugged him. "And you take care of yourself."

Logan chuckled, and Marie swooned from the way the sound rumbled in his chest. "You got it, Kid."

"Write me this time, okay Logan?" Marie said as she pulled away.

"Iíll try."

"Please?"

"I gotta go, Kid. Bye Marie."

"Bye Logan."

Rogue stared at the closed door long after Wolverine was already gone.

*** *** ***

Rogue walked back to the couch fighting tears. She sat down next to Bobby, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her head down to rest on him. "Hey, Rogue, you okay?" he asked.

She couldnít keep herself from crying any longer.

Jubilee paused the movie and all eyes were on Rogue. "What happened?" Jubilee asked.

"LoganÖleftÖagainÖ"Rogue replied between sobs.

Bobby softly petted her hair. "Shh, itís okay, Rogue. Heíll come back."

Kitty placed her hand comfortingly on Rogueís leg. "Yeah, itíll be okay, really. Logan wonít stay away long."

Rogue sniffed. "I know, but heís been gone for like a minute, and I miss him already."

"Iím really sorry, Rogue," St. John muttered, unsure of what else to say or do.

"Ainít your fault," Rogue said. "Hey, if itís all right with yíall, Iím gonna go upstairs."

"Alright, Girl. You need anything, you let us know, okay?" Jubilee said.

Rogue nodded. "I will. Thanks."

She walked up to her room, avoiding even looking at anyone, then threw herself down on her bed and cried in a way she hadnít since the first time Logan left.

*** *** ***

"Man, this has been going on for a month now. Iím really getting worried about her," Jubilee whispered to her friends after Rogue sulked out of the room after yet another fruitless mail call.

"Why does she think heís going to write her this time?" Bobby asked. "He didnít the last time."

"Because she asked him to," Kitty answered. "But if you ask Rogue, she isnít even thinking about it and could care less if he writes or not."

"Which is exactly why she runs out of here like sheís about to cry every time they pass out the mail," Jubilee said, rolling her eyes.

"HmmÖDenialónot good," St. John said.

"More like saving face, I think," Kitty said. "She wants to believe that Logan will be there for her, but rationally she knows heís unreliable, so she acts like it doesnít bother her in order to keep us from looking badly on her."

"Why thank you for the insight there, Dr. Laura," Jubilee muttered.

Kitty just stuck her tongue out at her.

"Maybe one of you girls should go talk to Rogue," Bobby suggested.

Jubilee shrugged. "Tried that. She just acts like nothingís wrong and then shuts off from the conversation completely, turning on the radio or television or something."

"I canít believe he does this to her!" Bobby exclaimed, slamming his fist into the table. The others turned to look at him, surprised by his uncharacteristic display of anger. "Sheís obviously crazy about him, and he doesnít even care! He just strings her along until he gets bored here and runs off. I mean, if he doesnít want her, he could at least have the decency to tell her, instead of just allowing those notions of how whatever they have can someday grow into love stay in her head!"

"Maybe he doesnít realize she cares for him as deeply as she does," Kitty said, trying, as always, to be positive.

"How can he not notice?" Bobby asked. "Damn, she might as well be wearing a neon sign that says ĎI worship the ground Wolverine walks on!í"

"Well, in his defense, I donít think heís exactly the most observant person in the world when it comes to things like that," Kitty said. "And he hasnít spent quite as much time with Rogue as we have, either."

Bobby sighed. "Thatís my point, Katherine."

"Sheís young," Kitty said. "Heís her first serious crush, and Rogue is the Princess of Angst. Eventually, sheíll get tired of wallowing in the pain he causes her and move on to pursue a more realistic relationship."

"I wish sheíd hurry up on that last part," Bobby grumbled.

Kitty put her hand on his shoulder. "Look, Drake, I know how crazy about Rogue you are, but what she really needs out of you right now is friendship. Her being able to control her powers has thrown her for more of a loop than you realize, and Logan coming back and then running off again hasnít helped to clear her head any. So just chill out for a whileóno pun intendedóand let her figure out whatís best for her on her own."

"I will," Bobby said. "I just keep wishing sheíll just turn to me and tell me that Iím whatís best for her."

Kitty looked up as a new person entered the room. She sighed. "I know exactly what you mean, Bobby."

"Uh-oh, itís Peter. Well, thatís it folks, weíve lost Kitty," St. John said.

Jubilee snickered. "Yep. Lost her in the maze that is his rippling pectorals. Hey Kit, I think thatís drool on your chin."

Kitty glared at her. "Leave me alone. I canít help that Iím in the presence of a god!"

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Oh whatever. And if youíre so nuts about him, why donít you just go talk to him?"

Kitty paled at the suggestion. "I canít do that! What if he doesnít want to talk to me?"

"Probably wouldnít even see you, since you come up to what, his kneecaps?" St. John said. Jubilee kicked him under the table. "Ow!"

"Behave, Johnny." Jubilee turned back over to Kitty. "Really, just go up and say hi. Thereís no real risk in that. I mean, he does know who you are and all."

Some color began to return to Kittyís face in the form of a blush. "IÖI would make an idiot of myself, I know I would!"

Jubilee put her arm around Kitty. "Aw, Címon, Girl, you make an idiot of yourself in front of us all the time and we still love you!"

Kitty laughed a little. "Somehow, I find that comforting."

"Does that mean youíre gonna talk to him?"

"Nope."

Jubilee sighed. "Youíre worse than Rogue."

Kitty turned around to continue her wistful gazing.

*** *** ***

I used to think maybe you loved me, now baby Iím sure
And I just canít wait till the day when you knock on my door
Now every time I go for the mailbox, gotta hold myself down
ĎCause I just canít wait till you write me youíre cominí around

Rogue turned over in her bed and pulled a pillow over her head, trying to tune out Jubilee who, in her unexplained obsession with eighties music, was singing loudly along with a CD sheíd just burned.

Now I'm walking on sunshine
I'm walking on sunshine
I'm walking on sunshine
And don't it feel good
Hey! All right now
And don't it feel good
Hey! Yeah!

Rogue let out a muffled whimper into the pillow, doing her best to convince herself that it was the cheeriness of the song at a time when she wanted to be anything but cheery that was annoying her, not that she was actually becoming jealous of whomever it was who was going to get a letter that told her the man of her dreams was coming home.

I used to think maybe you loved me, now I know that it's true
And I don't wanna spend my whole life just a waitin' for you
Now don't want you back for the weekend, not back for a day
I said baby I just want you back and I want you to stay
I'm walkin' on sunshine
I'm walkin' on sunshine

I'm walkin' on sunshine And don't it feel goodÖ

"Ah!" Rogue sat up. "Could ya turn that crap off?!"

Jubilee turned around, looking offended. "Katrina and the Waves is not crap!"

"That evil song is!"

Jubilee cocked an eyebrow. "Donít tell me that reminded you of Logan."

Rogue flopped back on the bed. "Everything reminds me of Logan."

"Now thatís just sad."

"Tell me about it."

Jubilee sat down on the edge of her own bed. "You canít keep doing this."

"Doing what?"

"Brooding over that asshole."

Rogue glared at her. "Logan is not an asshole."

Jubilee snorted. "Coulda fooled me."

Rogue crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. "You donít know Ďim like I do, Jubes."

"Maybe not, but I do know that heís must be a self-centered prick for making my best friend cry."

"Iím not cryiní."

"Not right now."

Rogue sat back up and drew her knees up to her chin. "You donít understand. Loganís a part of me. Literally. I canít just push that all away. And whether he treats me the way he probably should, or even realizes that I care about him as much as I do or not, I donít care. Iím williní to suffer for an eternity if it means I get to spend even a moment with him."

Jubilee sighed. "You need help."

Rogue looked down and forced back tears. "I know."

"Look, how about me aní you aní Kitty go out on the town tonight? Itís Saturday, so we donít have any classes tomorrow and a girlsí night out could be just what you need."

Rogue sighed. "IÖI donít knowÖI think Iíd rather just stay home andÖ"

"And what? Brood? Stare at his dogtags and wish you were holding him instead? Watch sappy romantic comedies and drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerryís Cherry Garcia? What Rogue? Whatís a better way to spend your night?"

"I like Phish Food," Rogue said. "Youíre the one that likes Cherry Garcia."

Jubilee smiled. "Right. So come on, go out with us. There is fun out there that doesnít involve Logan."

"Maybe."

"You know there is. We used to have it all the time before he came back here and crushed your heart yet again."

Rogue sighed again. "I know." She looked up. "All right, Iíll go with yíall."

Jubilee grinned. "Great! Weíll leave, say, seven-thirtyish?"

"Fine. Iíll try to be ready."

Jubilee shook her head. "No. Try not. Do or kick your ass, I will. There is no try."

Rogue laughed. "All right then, Yoda-lee."

"Youíll be ready to go then?"

"Yep."

"Cool. Iím gonna go warn Kitty that sheíll be clubbiní, Ďkay?"

"Sure."

"And stop the angst-fest! Youíre gonna have fun tonight whether you like it or not!"

Rogue gave her a mock-salute. "Yes, Master!"

Jubilee gave an exaggerated grin before going off to find Kitty.

*** *** ***

He pushed me 'round, now I'm drawin' the line
He lived his life, now I'm gonna go live mine
I'm sick of wastin' my time

Well now, I've been good for way too long
Found my red dress, and I'm gonna throw it on
'Bout to get too far gone

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more of my twelve-ounce nutrition
One more helpin' of what I've been havin'
I'm takin' my turn on the sin wagon

On a mission to make somethin' happen
Feel like Delilah lookin' for Sampson
Do a little mattress dancin'
That's right, I said mattress dancin'

Jubilee covered her ears and whimpered. "Why didnít anyone warn me it was country and western night?" she cried.

Kitty giggled. "I figured you knew. It is the third Saturday of the month."

"So thatís why this is usually our stay at home and eat pizza while torturing Johnny and Bobby night?" Jubilee asked, looking as pitiful as possible.

"Yup," Kitty replied.

"Letís go home," Jubilee whined. "This musicófor lack of a better wordóis torture!"

"Itís the Dixie Chicks," Rogue told her.

"Like I said: Torture."

Rogue took hold of Jubileeís arm and started dragging her towards the dance floor. "You said you wanted me to come out and have a good time, and now here we are. Besides, we already paid the cover charge."

"Which was entirely too much. I mean, why should we have to shell out the big bucks just because we fall in the category of Ďover eighteen, under twenty-one?í" Jubilee asked, resuming the rant she had begun before she realized she was being assaulted with country music.

"I guess they figure they have to do something to have us make up for the fact that weíll be forced to drink Cokes all night," Kitty said, following the other two.

Jubilee planted her feet firmly on the ground right before they reached the dance floor. "Uh-uh, Roguie. I am not danciní to this."

"Oh, címon Jubes. Iíll teach ya how to two-step!"

Jubilee glared at her. "I shoulda known youíd like this, Miss Mississippi."

"Well Ah guess Ah jusí canít hide mah roots," Rogue said, exaggerating her accent.

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Oh, Brother."

"Hey, itís the fastest way to get me to stop thinkiní about LoganÖ"

Jubilee shook her head. "The things I do for youÖ"

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more of what I've been missin'
I don't know where I'll be crashin'
But I'm arrivin' on a sin wagon

When it's my turn to march up to glory
I'm gonna have one hell of a story
That's if he forgives me
Oh Lord, please forgive me

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition
Need a little bit more of that sweet salvation
They may take me with my feet draggin'
But I'll fly away on a sin wagon

*** *** ***

All the eyes in the club were on Rogue that night, and she had to admit she was loving it. Sheíd dance with one guy until she wore him out, then sheíd move on to someone else. And when it was time for the club to close, she didnít want to go.

Rogue was giggling as she, Kitty, and Jubilee walked out to their car. "Wow, I canít believe I had such a good time!" she exclaimed. "And I didnít even think about Logan once!"

Jubilee and Kitty broke out into a round of applause.

"And how many guys hit on you exactly tonight?" Jubilee asked.

"I lost count."

"I still canít believe you actually gave some of them your phone number."

Rogue laughed. "Nah, I gave them Jennyís number."

Kitty was confused. "Huh? Whoís Jenny?"

"867-5309."

Kittyís expression was blank. "I still donít get it."

Jubilee and Rogue looked at each other and broke into song:

"Jenny I got your number

I need to make you mine

Jenny, donít change your number.

Eight six seven five three oh nine!"

Kitty shook her head. "Oh God."

"I got it!"

"I got it!"

"I got your number on the wall!"

"I got it!"

"I got it!"

"For a good time"

"For a good time call!"

"Please! No more!" Kitty yelled.

Rogue and Jubilee stopped singing and began to laugh hysterically. "And you thought my love for eighties music would never come in handy," Jubilee said, slinging her arm around Rogueís shoulder.

Rogue smiled at her. "Well Gal, you wonít hear me sayiní this often, but I was wrong."

*** *** ***

As the months rolled by, Rogue found that she was actually able to push thoughts of Logan out of her mind for long periods of timeódays even. She still wore his tags, but she didnít constantly dwell on their heavy feeling around her neck, and she often forgot they were there completely. When she did think of Logan now, she found that she could smile, knowing that he had promised heíd come back and eventually, he would.

"Chips?"

"Check."

"Pretzels?"

"Check."

"Popcorn?"

"Check."

"Artificially flavored cheese snack?"

"Check."

"Coke?"

"Check."

"Twinkies?"

"Oh gawd, Jubes, do we have to have Twinkies?"

"Itís movie night, Rogue. Of course we have to have Twinkies!"

Rogue sighed. "But I never want to see another Twinkie as long as I live! Bobby keeps putting them in my room, in my purse, and anywhere else he thinks I might be surprised to find a Twinkie!"

Jubilee snickered. "Aw, you know you donít mind, Twinkie Mama!"

"Would you stop calliní me that!"

"So do we have Twinkies or not?"

Rogue groaned. "Yeah, weíve got Twinkies."

"Good," Jubilee said with her normal, mischievous grin. "Then we should be set."

Rogue slumped back onto the couch, content just to be able to spend time with the people who she cared about the most.

All was right with the world.

*** *** ***

"Hey, MarieóKid, wake up."

Marie slowly opened her eyes, then bolted up. "Logan! What are you doing here?" she hissed.

"Shh," Logan scolded her in a harsh whisper. "Youíll wake up your roommates."

Marie brought her voice down, then asked again. "What are you doing here?"

"Iím back."

"I noticed that. I mean, what are you doing hereóin my room."

"I didnít want to wait until tomorrow to see you. I missed ya."

Marie rolled her eyes. "Really? Coulda fooled me."

Logan looked almost guilty. "Look Marie, Iím sorry I didnít write you, itís just that Iím not very good at that sorta thing."

Marie sighed. "Thatís all right, really. Itís not like I sat around waiting to hear from you or anything."

"I didnít think ya would."

"Logan, Iím glad youíre home, but Iím really tired. Can I go back to sleep and talk to ya in the morniní?"

"Sure Kid."

Marie laid back down. "Night, Logan."

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. "Night, Marie."

"Night, Logan."

He crept out of her room without ever waking Jubilee or Kitty.

*** *** ***

Marie woke up in a good mood that, at first, she couldnít quite explain. Then she rememberedóLogan. He was back. Her lips curled up in a smile for a moment, and then down into a frown. What if it had been a dream? Sheíd had plenty of dreams where Logan came home, but none of them had seemed quite as vivid as what had happened the night before. Still, she had to go out and make sure as quickly as possible.

Marie climbed out of bed and began rummaging through her closet, trying to find something to wear. Suddenly, with the prospect of being able to see Logan looming over her, nothing seemed to be good enough. She finally gave up and settled for jeans and a form-fitting T-shirt.

She was putting on her make-up when Jubilee woke up. "Where you goiní?" she asked groggily.

"Downstairs."

"Youíre puttiní on make-up to go downstairs?"

Rogue blushed. "Loganís back."

Jubilee flopped down on her bed. "And how do we spell pitiful? R-O-G-U-E." She got quiet for a second then rolled over to face Rogue. "How do you know heís back?"

"He came in here last night," Rogue explained.

"I didnít hear him."

"He was real quiet."

"Sure you didnít dream it?"

Rogue sighed. "Yeah, Iím sure. Look, I gotta go try to find him. See ya later."

Jubilee closed her eyes again. "Have fun. Hope heís really back."

"No you donít."

Jubilee smiled. "Okay, maybe I donít. But he makes you happy sometimes."

"Yeah, he does. Sometimes."

*** *** ***

After searching the mansion, Marie was beginning to worry. What if he hadnít come back, if it had been just a dream? What if he had come back, but then turned around and left again? Could she handle that? Sheíd thought sheíd been learning how to get along without him, but now, thinking how she might have had him again but then lost him so quickly, she wasnít sure.

"Hey, Kid."

Marie stopped short and felt her breath still. That was himóhis voice. He was back. She forced herself to calm down before she turned around to face him. "Hey, Logan," she said, trying to pass the greeting off as nonchalant.

"Sorry that I woke ya up last night. I didnít realize how late I was gettiní back, and I didnít want to have to wait until this morniní to let you know Iím here."

Rogue shrugged. "Thatís all right. It didnít bother me that ya woke me up."

"Still weariní my tags, I see."

"Yeah. Ya told me to wear Ďem, didnít ya?"

Logan was put slightly aback by her aloof attitude. "Told ya to take care of Ďem. You donít have to wear Ďem if ya donít wanna."

Rogue shrugged again.

"Donít I even get a hug?" Logan asked, her cold greeting unnerving him. Had he missed something since heíd left last?

Marie tentatively approached him and wrapped her arms around him. He pulled her closer, and she melted. "I missed you, Kid," he murmured into her hair.

Marie rested her head on his shoulder. "I missed you, too," she said, her voice almost a sigh.

Logan pulled away. "What have you been up to?í

"Oh, the usual. School mainly. You?"

"The usual. Cage fightiní mainly."

Marie giggled. "You havenít stopped doiní that yet?"

"Nah, itís good money. And itís not like Iím gonna get hurt or anything."

Marie rolled her eyes. "Of course not. Nothiní can touch ĎThe King of the CageóThe Wolverine.í"

"Watch it, Kid," Logan said, his smile playful.

"Or what?"

"Iíll have to punish you."

"Iím scared."

Wolverine growled, then grabbed her and started to tickle her mercilessly. Marie struggled for a few moments, laughing, until she finally shouted. "All right, All right! You win! Cage fightiní is a perfectly respectable profession and youíre great at it!"

Logan chuckled and let her go. "Now I wouldnít go as far as to call it Ďrespectable.í"

"I was only placatiní ya anyway."

"I figured."

Marie smiled at Logan, hoping more than anything that maybe this time heíd be back for good.

*** *** ***

Marie was on her way to the dining hall when Logan stopped her. "Hey, Kid, why donít you skip dinner here and come out with me instead."

Marie stopped and looked at him. "I donít knowÖI mean, I canít exactly just wander off fromÖ"

"I already cleared it with Chuck."

Marie frowned. "Iím hungry."

"Iíll feed you."

Marie sighed. "Let me get my jacket."

"Meet me in the garage in five minutes."

Marie glanced back towards the dining hall one last time before running upstairs.

*** *** ***

Rogue almost ran into Jubilee and Kitty on her way to her room. "Woah, Girl, slow down there!" Jubilee said as Rogue came to a halt. "Where ya goiní in such a hurry?"

"Out."

"Out? Outís that way," Jubilee said, pointing to the direction of the front entrance to the mansion. "Besides, itís dinner time."

"Iím skippiní dinner. I just need to get something from the room."

"What do you mean youíre skipping dinner?" Kitty asked. "Youíre not developing some type of eating disorder are you? Those are practically and epidemic among girls our age, you know."

Rogue snorted. "Me? Eating disorder? Not hardly. Iím going to eat somewhere else."

"Alone?" Jubilee asked skeptically.

"Um, probably not."

"You goiní with Logan?"

"Dammit, Jubes, leave me alone about him, okay!"

Jubilee held her hands up in front of her. "Hey, donít get bitchy on me. I just asked if youíre goiní with the guy or not."

"Yeah, Iím goiní with him. Now if you donít mind, Iím in a hurry."

Rogue was just about to run off when Bobby and St. John came down the hall. "Evening, Ladies," Bobby said. He looked over at Jubilee. "And you."

She stuck her tongue out. Bobby laughed and said, "Well, maybe I was wrong. That was quite lady-like of you."

"Go to Hell, Drake."

Bobby shook his head. "No thanks, Iíd melt."

Rogue was about to use their banter as cover to sneak past them, when St. John noticed her. "Where are you going, Rogue?" he asked.

"Uh, my room."

"Skipping dinner?"

"Sheís going out with Wolverine," Jubilee said.

Bobby whipped his head around to look at Rogue. "Is she serious?" he asked.

"Yeah. Got a problem with it?"

"Actually, yes, I do," Bobby said. "The last time he left he left you in tears and then he didnít even bother to write you the whole time he was gone. You were devastated, and now that youíve just started getting over it youíre gonna let him do it to you all over again."

Rogue planted her fists on her hips. "Loganís my friend. I can go out with him if I want."

"Friend? Yeah, right. Youíre just dying to give him a chance to get back in your life and break your heart all over again so you can go back to being poor, pitiful, untouchable Rogue."

Rogueís jaw dropped. "How dare you! Youíre just jealous because I care about Logan more than I ever will about you." She pushed past Kitty and Jubilee and went into her room, slamming the door.

"Real smooth there, Bobby," St. John said once Rogue was gone.

"Yeah, like she needed something to upset her more," Kitty added.

Bobby ran his hand through his hair. "IÖI didnít mean it, really. It just came out. Should I go talk to her and try to patch things up?"

Jubilee shook her head. "I wouldnít. Sheís not going to be in the mood to listen to you right now. Iíd give her a little time to cool down."

Bobby looked back at the closed door. "Yeah, youíre probably right." He started walking towards the dining hall and the others silently followed.

*** *** ***

Logan was leaning up against Scottís motorcycle, smoking a cigar when Marie got down to the garage.

"Youíre late."

"Sorry. I got ambushed."

Logan tossed her a helmet. "Get on."

Marie nodded and put on the helmet. Sheíd never ridden a motorcycle before, but she had enough of Loganís memories that she figured she could even drive the thing if she needed to. "Where we goiní?"

"A place in town."

"Do I get any more of a description than that?"

"Nope."

"You said thereís food, right?"

"You really are hungry, ainít ya, Kid?"

"I missed lunch lookiní for you."

Logan looked surprised for a second, but soon fell back into his apathetic stance. "Iíll feed ya. Just get on the bike."

Marie climbed on the motorcycle behind Wolverine. "Iím glad youíre back, Logan," she said before he started the engine.

"Yeah, Kid, so am I."

*** *** ***

He took her to a bar. It was dark and smoky, but the food was surprisingly good and it reminded her of the first time theyíd met. "Can I at least have somethiní else to drink?" Rogue after theyíd eaten.

"Youíre stickiní with water."

Marie sighed. "I want a beer."

"Youíre too young."

"Itís your personality that wants one, Logan."

"Donít pull that on me. Youíre nineteen. You donít need to be drinkiní."

"Iím not a kid."

"Yes you are."

Marie rested her chin in her hands and sulked. "So why did you bring me here anyway? I could sit around and not drink at the mansion."

Logan frowned. "I wanted to spend a little time with ya. Talk to ya some, see how youíve been."

"We couldíve done that at the mansion, too."

"That place makes me feel trapped, Marie."

"Why?"

"I donít know, just the whole atmosphere. Makes me feel like Iím in a cage."

Marie gave him a wry smile. "And all this time I thought you liked cages."

"Not that kind."

"There are people there that care about you, Logan. People that honestly want you around and who donít like it when youíre gone. People who you mean something to. You wonít find that in any of those other cages."

Defiance shone in his eyes. "Maybe I donít need that."

Rogue met his gaze. "Maybe you do."

Marie was the first one to break the silence that followed. "If it makes you feel so trapped, Logan, then why do you come back?"

He let the question roll off him. "Make sure you guys donít get to use to not haviní me around. Keep Scooter on his toes some, too."

Marie bristled at his answer, wishing more than anything that heíd said he came back for her. "Gotta make sure youíre takiní care of those tags, too," Logan added after a moment. Marie relaxed and smiled at him.

"So why did you go up to Canada this time?" Marie asked.

"Had some stuff I had to do."

"The Professor uncovered more leads?"

"Yeah."

"Any luck."

"Not really."

"Tell me about it?"

Logan took a drink from his beer. "Itís nothiní you need to know, Kid."

"But I want to know, Logan," Marie said.

"Well you donít need to!"

His tone was sharper than he meant for it to be, and he could see the tears forming in Marieís eyes. He reached out across the table, but didnít actually touch her. "Look, Iím sorry Marie, I didnít mean for that to sound the way it did."

Marie stood up from the booth. "It doesnít matter!" she yelled. "You donít want to let me know anything about you! You donít even care about me!"

She ran out of the bar, leaving Logan alone at the booth, stunned.

*** *** ***

Marie was waking outside the bar towards she didnít even know where. All she knew was she wanted away from Logan. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and the cool night air was chilling them on her face.

"KidÖ" Loganís hand clamped down on her shoulder and Marie wrenched herself free.

"I didnít want you to follow me."

"Well I couldnít exactly just let ya come out here by yourself. Itís cold and dark and we ainít exactly in the best part of town."

Marie sank down on the curb at the edge of the parking lot and began to sob. Logan sat beside her. "Whatís wrong, Marie?"

"You donít know?"

"No, I donít."

Marie looked up at him and the sight of her tear-streaked face made him wince. "You donít care about me," she said softly.

"Thatís what you said back in the bar, but I donít know why you think that," Logan said. "It isnít true."

Marie started crying harder. "Youíre always leaviní me and when ya do, ya canít even write or call or anythiní to let me know you still existóthat you know I exist. And you donít even come back for me. You come back for your damn dogtags!" To emphasize her point she took them off and threw them on the ground.

Logan stared at the tags, dumbfounded. "MarieÖI had no idea. IímÖIím sorry."

Marie looked up at him. She knew an apology from the Wolverine didnít come easily. He looked into her eyes. They were timid, expecting. He picked up the dogtags and put them back in her hand. "I do care about you," he said. "And I donít just come back for these. I come back for you, too. Youíre the best thing that ever happened to me, Marie. Whenever things seem too dark, like Iím not gonna make it, I think of you, your smile, and I know Iím gonna be all right."

Soft tears fell from her eyes, and Logan wiped them away. "You said youíd protect me, Logan," she said. "How can you protect me when youíre always gone?"

Logan wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. "Iím never gonna stop protectiní you, Marie. Even when Iím gone, Iíd always come back if you needed me. But youíre safe at Xavierís. There are plenty of people there tímake sure youíre safe."

Marie relished the warmth and strength of him so close to her. "But none of them are you, Logan."

Logan kissed the top of her head. "I know, Darliní, but sometimes less than what you want has to be enough."

*** *** ***

Marie lay on her bed, trying her best to concentrate so she could study for the final exam in calculus she had coming up. Jubilee came bursting into the room, holding five large shopping bags in one hand and dragging Kitty behind her with the other. "Rogue! Emergency! Kitís finally got a date with Peter! Ya gotta help me dress her!"

"Itís really not that big of a dealÖ" Kitty protested. "I mean weíre only going to the movies, and itís not like what Iím wearing is going to make that much of a differenceÖ"

"Ah! No wonder youíre single!" Jubilee exclaimed. "The clothes make all the difference!"

"Iím sure anything I pick from what we bought together today will be fineÖ" Kitty said.

"Of course anything will be Ďfine!í You need more than simply Ďfine.í You need perfect."

Rogue closed her calculus book with a sigh. "Be quick about it, yíall. I have finals the day after tomorrow, and thereís no way Iím even gonna pull a ĎDí on my calc exam unless I do some serious studying."

"This wonít take long. Kitty, show Rogue all the outfits."

Kitty sighed. "But JubileeÖ"

"I donít want to hear any whining! Only I get to whine in this room! Now start trying on clothes!"

Rogue flopped back on her bed and waited for Kitty to change, knowing it would be a while before she got a chance to study more.

*** *** ***

Two hours and countless outfits later, Jubilee decided that Kitty should definitely wear the first one sheíd tried on. "Are yíall done now?" Rogue asked once the dress had been decided upon.

"Sure! I just have to get her all ready now," Jubilee said. "Donít mind usÖjust go back to your studying."

"I was planning on it."

"Good. Now come on Kitty. Time to find you a pair of shoes."

"You didnít buy her shoes, too?" Rogue asked, half-sarcastically.

"Nah, I have plenty of shoes to go around."

"You have plenty of dresses to go around, too."

Jubilee looked at Rogue as if sheíd just swallowed a bug. "You canít wear a borrowed dress on your first date with the man of your dreams. Itís bad luck!"

"Oh please. You made that up."

"I did not! Jeez, didnít they teach you anything in Mississippi?"

"Obviously they didnít teach me calculus," Rogue grumbled.

"Well, the dress thing is more important to remember than calculus," Jubilee said.

"Somehow I doubt itíll help me graduate from college."

"Well it should. Come on, Kit. Time to dress your feet."

Rogue turned her concentration back on her studying. About five minutes later, she heard Jubilee ask, "Hey Rogue, what about these?"

Rogue looked up and saw Jubileeís hand sticking out from the closet, dangling a pair of shoes. "They look fine to me," Rogue said.

"I donít like open-toed shoes," Kitty said.

"Why not?" Jubilee asked.

"I have ugly toes."

"Please, you do not."

"Do, too. Iím not wearing them."

Jubilee gave an exaggerated sigh. "Fine. Nothing open-toed." She resumed her digging. "How about these?"

"They could work," Kitty said.

"Rogue? What do you think?" Jubilee asked.

"Theyíre fine," Rogue said without looking up.

"So you donít think the red will clash with the blue?" Jubilee said.

"Uh-uh."

"Rogue, the shoes are white."

Rogue groaned. "Any shoes you pick will be fine, Jubilee. You are the mansionís resident fashion expert after all."

"But I need a second opinion!"

"And I need to pass calculus!"

"Fine. But if Kittyís date is a bomb, itís your fault!"

"Huh? My dateís gonna be a bomb?"

"Of course not, Hun. Just trying to put Rogue on a guilt trip."

Rogue shut her book and started shoving her stuff into a bookbag. "Well, it isnít working. As a matter of fact, Iím going downstairs so you guys can figure this out without driving me insane. Good luck tonight, Kit. Be sure to tell me all the juicy details." She grabbed the bookbag and left the room.

Jubilee put her hands on her hips. "Well arenít some people just no fun."

*** *** ***

Rogue went down to the library, figuring that might be at least one place where no one would bother her. Twenty minutes later, she found out she was wrong.

"Hey, Rogue," Bobby Drake said as he walked in and sat down across from her at the table. "Whatcha doiní?"

"Tryiní to up my chances of passing my calculus finals from Ďnone whatsoeverí to Ďslight,í" Rogue said without looking up.

"Iím majoring in accounting," Bobby said. "Maybe I could help you."

"Alright, whatís the answer to this question?" Rogue asked, pointing to one of the problems in her textbook.

Bobby grimaced. "Okay, they donít teach you stuff quite like that in accounting. Why in the world are you taking this class anyway? I thought you were going for a degree in education, not engineering."

"I am. But my adviser is evil and told me this would be a good class to have under my belt."

"Do you need it to graduate?"

"No, but Iíd like to stay on the Deanís List if I could, and the only way thatís gonna happen is if I ace this exam."

"All right. I wonít bother you then," Bobby said, tapping his fingers on the table.

Rogue tried to ignore him, but it became increasingly more difficult. "Bobby, could you maybeÖ" she started.

"Sure, no problem," Bobby said, getting up and moving to the other side of the room. He absentmindedly took a book off the shelf and pretended to be reading it, but Rogue could tell he was paying a lot more attention to her than to Jane Austenís Sense and Sensibility.

With Bobby watching her, and it made it next to impossible for Rogue to concentrate. Finally, she got up and left, mumbling some excuse about leaving something important in her room.

*** *** ***

Once out in the hallway, Marie ran into Logan. "Hey, Kid where you headed?" Logan asked.

"Some place where I can get some frigginí peace and quiet," Marie said.

"Whatís wrong?"

"Oh, I just have to study for my calculus finalówhich is the day after tomorrowóand Jubileeís in our room playing fashion consultant for Kitty, and Bobbyís in the library checking me out," Marie explained.

"Do you want me to take ya somewhere where you can be away from all of them?"

"Promise you wonít start annoying me, too?"

"I canít promise it," Logan said. "But Iíll do my best."

"Thatíll have to do," Marie replied.

Logan smiled. "Then letís go."

*** *** ***

"Thanks for getting me out of there, Logan," Marie said, once they were in a car and on the highway.

"No problem, Kid. You looked like ya needed it."

"I did. This exam has me at the end of my rope."

"Iím sure youíll do fine," Logan said. "Youíre smart, Marie."

"Thanks, Logan."

Marie suddenly reached down and grabbed the volume knob on the radio, turning up so it was blaring even with the windows rolled down. Logan grinned at the delighted look on her face. "This is my favorite song!" she exclaimed. "They hardly ever play it."

Thereís a soft rain tappin' on your window
There's a cool breeze blowin' off the bay
And a warm flame dancin' with our shadows
To music playin' far away
I never meant to stay an hour
I thought that I was passing through
Another town along the highway
I never meant to fall for you
But I can't speak for you Maria
I only know the way I feel
When I sleep with you, Maria
There's nothing left for dreams to steal
On a Bible by the mirror
The only treasures that we hold
The only secrets that we're keepin'
A watch, a chain, a cross of gold

Marie sang along with the radio. Logan chuckled in amusement at the way she managed to be slightly off key and still sing well.

"You do realize your name is Marie and not Maria, donít ya," Logan teased.

"Close enough," Marie said before resuming her singing.

When the sunlight brings the mornin'
I can't tell you what I'll do
But I've a mind to take you with me
And I've got a heart to stay with you

When I sleep with you, Maria
There's nothing left for dreams to steal
On a Bible by the mirror
The only treasures that we hold
The only secrets that we're keepin'
A watch, a chain, a cross of gold

When I sleep with you, Maria
There's nothin' left for dreams to steal

The song ended and Marie pouted a little. Logan had to admit, she was cute. And with the windows rolled down and the wind blowing her hair around her face she looked, well, beautiful. "Sheís gonna make some man very lucky someday," Logan thought.

Then another thought hit Logan. What if he was that man? He shook it away as quickly as it came. Marie was too young, too innocent, for someone like him. Still, part of him wanted that, a woman as unlike him as Marie was. But he knew he couldnít. It wouldnít be fair to her. In the end, heíd only hurt her.

Logan focused forward and continued to drive.

*** *** ***

Logan brought Marie to a secluded spot by a lake. "Itís quiet here," he told her. "No one ever comes around. I go here to think sometimes."

Marie smiled, taking in the beautiful scenery. "Thank you, Logan. I think Iíll be able to concentrate here."

"Do you want me to leave you alone for awhile?"

"No, thatís okay. I donít mind having you around."

Logan smiled. "All right. Iíll try not to bother ya then."

Marie sat down with her books by a tree and Logan sat a little ways down from her. He watched Marie as she leaned over her work, her hair falling forward, the sun hitting the white and making it shimmer. She brushed her hair behind her ear, and Logan could see her face, perfect like that of a porcelain doll. Her lips were parted slightly and her features were set in determination. Her beauty made Loganís breath catch.

Logan wanted his thoughts to move away from the disturbing turn they had taken, but there was nothing he could do to stop them. Marie was breathtaking. She frowned and erased a problem. She started scribbling vigorously, stared at her work, then frowned and erased again.

"Haviní problems, Darliní?"

Marie looked up and her big, brown eyes pierced right through him. "I canít figure out how to do this," she said.

"Let me take a look at it."

Marie laughed. "I donít know how much help youíd be, Logan."

Wolverine looked at her with mock offense. "Hey, I might just be smarter than I look."

"All right, Big Guy, come take a look at this."

Logan walked over and sat down next to Marie. He took the book from her and asked, "Which one?"

"Number eighteen in the review section."

He read over the problem for a few seconds, then took the paper and pencil from beside Marie. He brushed against her as he leaned over and she gave a small gasp at his close proximity. Logan tried not to concentrate on how warm and soft she felt.

He worked the problem out, then showed Marie the answer heíd got. "This right, Kid?"

She looked at his results, then flipped to the back of the book to double-check. "Yeah, it is. HowÖhow did you know that?"

Logan shrugged. "Donít know. That happens sometimes. I do things that I donít remember learniní how to do."

"Maybe you were a calculus professor once," Marie said with a giggle.

"Somehow I doubt that."

"No, really, I could totally see that," Marie said, laughing harder.

"Hey, I figure out the problem for ya and all you can do is laugh at me? Do you want me to show you how I did it or not?"

Marie composed herself. "Sure, Logan. Thanks."

Logan gave her a nod and started his explanation.

*** *** ***

Logan opened his bedroom door to an ecstatic Marie. "Guess what?" she asked with a huge grin.

"You just won the Stanley Cup Finals?"

She hit him on the shoulder. "No! I passed my calculus exam." She held up a piece of paper. "SeeóI got an ĎAí!"

Logan pulled her into a hug. "Iím proud of ya, Kid."

"I couldnít have done it without you, Logan."

"Sure you could have."

"Nope. You saved me this time."

"Isnít that my job?"

Marie giggled. "Yup."

"So what do you say we go somewhere and celebrate?"

"Will you buy me a beer?" Marie asked.

"What is it with you and tryiní to talk me into gettiní ya drunk?"

"Like I said before, itís your personality."

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

"LoganÖ"

"Do you want to go out at all?"

Marie pouted. "Fine, but when I finally turn twenty-one, youíre taking me drinking with you."

Logan smiled. "If you really think you can keep up with me, itís a deal. Now how about we just go get a pizza or something?"

"Sounds good to me," Marie replied. "Letís go."

Logan wrapped his arm around her waist and they walked out together.

*** *** ***

Marie stared down at her plate. "You know what goes well with pizzaÖ"

"Marie, no."

"Why not?"

"You ainít legal."

"I am in some countries."

"Not in the States."

"When did you care about legality anyway?"

"Eat your pizza."

"LoganÖ"

"Look, Marie, Iíve already corrupted you enough with all my memories in your head. Iím not gonna take away anymore of your innocence than I have to."

"Logan, it wouldnít exactly be my first beer. Besides, you already said youíd take me drinking when I turn twenty-one."

Logan ran his hand through his already-ruffled hair. The thoughts heíd had about her the day heíd took her out to study came back to him again and he had a sudden fear that he would do something to take away the naiveté he so admired in her. "Look, Marie, what you do when youíre not around me is one thing, but Iím not going to encourage you to do things you shouldnít when I am around."

Marie gave him a confused look. "Since when?"

"Look, Kid some things just ainít right, okay?" Logan yelled.

"Are we still talking about beer? Because Iím twenty now, and I donít see how one drink now as opposed to next year is really all that big of a deal. Besides, you look a little flushed."

"Can we talk about something else?"

"Logan, whatís wrong with you? Youíre actiní really strangelyÖEven for you."

"I justÖI just want to talk about something else."

Marie considered pushing the issue, trying to figure out what really had Logan so worked up, but decided against it. "Fine, Logan. So how was your day?"

*** *** ***

Marie still expected Logan to leave this time. She braced herself for it, spending time with him when she could, but not letting him get too close. She wouldnít let him catch her off guard this time.

Time went by, first weeks, then months, and Logan didnít leave.

So Marie let her guard down. She let herself be comfortable around him. He still didnít leave.

She spent her twenty-first birthday with him. With her finally legal, he gave into her constant pleas to let her drink.

It didnít take long for Logan to have a very drunk Marie on his hands.

She giggled as Logan carried her up to her room. "You know I can walk," Marie told him as they entered the mansion.

"All right, Darliní, whatever you say," Logan said as he put her down on the ground.

Marie immediately fell to the ground. She looked up at him. "Okay, maybe not."

"I didnít think you could," Logan said as he picked her back up.

Marie nuzzled up against him as he carried her up towards her room. "Why donít you ever tell me what youíve found in Canada?" she asked as they started up the stairs.

"I havenít found much."

"I know, but youíve found something. Why donít you ever tell me?"

Logan sighed. "Ya donít need tíknow."

"Thatís what you always say. What do you mean by that?"

Logan pushed one of the white streaks in her hair out of her eyes. "Iíve already saddled you with enough of my burden, Marie, what my memories and nightmares. I donít need to give you any more."

"Youíre always sayiní stuff like that. Why do you worry so much that youíre gonna corrupt me?"

Logan grimaced, trying to ignore the fact that Marie had as of late been the star of more than one of his fantasiesóa fact that disturbed him as much as it intrigued him. "Somethiní else you donít need to know, Marie."

Before Marie could say anything else, they were at her door. He opened it and carried her in, lying her down on her bed. He took off her jacket and boots and covered her with a blanket. "Sleep tight, Kid, Ďcause youíre gonna have one hell of a hangover in the morniní."

Marie smiled as her eyes closed. "Thatís all right. It was worth it to get to spend time with you like this."

"Iíll remind you of that in the morniní. Night, Marie."

"Night Logan." She rolled over on her side. "I love you."

Logan stared down at her, his eyes wide open. "What?"

"I love you. And I mean it, too. Not just the alcohol talkiní."

Logan tried to think of something to say but soon realized he didnít have to. Her breathing told him she was already asleep.

By the time the sun came up the next morning, Logan had run again.

*** *** ***

Late the following afternoon, Rogue went to Loganís room. The door was unlocked and she was surprised to find he wasnít there. She looked towards his closet and found that some of his clothes and duffel bag were gone, too. With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, Marie ran from the room and down to the garage. Loganís motorcycleóthe one heíd bought when Scott had said if he took his one more time heíd find a way to kill himówas gone. Marie sank to her knees and sobbed. Heíd left and he hadnít even told her good-bye.

She clung to the dogtags she wore around her neck and wished it would all go away, that she would wake up back in her bed in Mississippi to find that everythingóthat Loganówas just a dream. She wanted the pain she was feeling to somehow cease to be real.

"Rogue?"

Marie didnít look up when she heard her name called. She knew that voice, and she didnít want to talk.

"Rogue, why are you on the floor of the garage?"

"Youíre the telepath, you tell me," Rogue said, trying to hide the pain in her voice with sarcasm.

Jean knelt down in front of her. "I know youíre hurting right now, Rogue, but heíll come back. He always does."

"That doesnít matter anymore," Rogue said. "I donít care if he comes back. I donít even want him to come back. I never wanted him to leave!"

Jean looked at Rogue the way an adult would a child who lost a beloved toy. "Youíre just upset now. Youíll be so busy with your life soon enough, and youíll barely even notice the time go by before Loganís back again."

Rogue looked into Jeanís eyes, her expression almost pleading. "Donít you understand? I lose whatever life Iíve built every time Logan leaves! He comes back, makes me whole, and then he breaks me again so Iím left alone to pick up the pieces! God, Jean, why?!" Rogue began to sob again.

Jean could feel the pain and betrayal radiating off Rogue. Sheíd always known that Rogue felt something other than friendship for Logan, but it wasnít until that moment that she realized just how deep those feelings ran. "Iím sorry, Rogue. Iím sorry for how much this hurts you."

"Why?" Rogue asked again. "Why does he do this to me?"

"I donít know. I guess itís just his way."

"He wouldnít do this if you were the one who loved him! Heíd never leave you!"

"I donít think Logan would be able to commit to me anymore than he would to anyone else."

"How do you know? Iíve seen the way he looks at you."

"I know because Iíve see the way he looks at me, too," Jean said. "And that isnít commitment in his eyes."

"Why do you say that?" Rogue asked.

"Because it isnít the way Scott looks at me."

"How do you know how Scott looks at you when heís weariní those glasses all the time?"

Jean laughed a little. "Believe me, Rogue, I know."

Rogue tried to suppress her tears, but instead they came out as a whimper. "I want him to love me, Jean. I want him to love me the way Scott loves you!"

"I know, Sweetie, but sometimes things in life donít work out the way we want them to." Jean pulled Rogue over to her and hugged the younger girl.

"I canít believe he just left! He didnít even tell me good-bye."

Jean frowned. "Now that isnít like him. Are you sure he didnít at least leave you a note or anything?"

Rogue shook her head. "He didnít. I just found out heís gone. I went to his room and I came down here andÖ" She pulled away from Jean, pointed to the empty place where Loganís motorcycle shouldíve been, and began her weeping again.

"Iím so sorry, Rogue. I donít know what would make Logan do that. Iím sure he didnít mean anything by it. You know how he is."

"I donít know why he would either, IÖ" Rogue stopped short as the hazy memories of the night before became clearer. She turned ashen as she remembered telling Logan she loved him. She stood up, her movements stiff, almost mechanical. "I have to go," she told Jean.

"What is it?" Jean asked as she got up.

"I just have to go," Rogue said, too embarrassed of the drunken admission sheíd made to Wolverine to tell anyone what sheíd said. "Thanks for talkiní to me, Jean."

Puzzled, Jean watched Rogue as the girl walked out of the garage.

*** *** ***

Rogue wandered through the mansion and up to her room, barely noticing the people and things she almost bumped into. Logan had run again, and this time, she knew why. Sheíd told him the truth and he hadnít wanted to hear it. She couldnít shake the feeling that he wasnít ever coming back.

It hurt almost as much as the knowledge that Logan really didnít love her.

She went into her room and curled up on her bed. She didnít even notice Kitty sitting at the computer.

"Rogue? Are you okay? You look a little pale," Kitty said.

Rogue didnít respond. "Rogue? You in there? Say something, youíre making me nervous."

Silence. Kitty walked over to the bed. "Rogue? Are you okay? Please, answer me."

Rogue looked up and noticed Kitty for the first time. "Oh, hi Kitty. I thought you were meeting Peter for dinner."

Kitty frowned. "That isnít for another couple of hours. Rogue, whatís wrong with you?"

"Where are yíall going?"

"Huh? Who? Going where?"

"You and Peter?"

"A restaurant downtown. Really, Rogue, you donít look so good. And youíre acting, well, strange."

"Thatís nice. Iím gonna take a nap, all right?"

"Rogue? Talk to me! Whatís wrong?"

"Nothingís wrong with me. I donít want to talk." Rogue rolled over and closed her eyes.

Kitty went downstairs and found Scott and Jean talking. "Um, I hate to bother you guys, but Iím worried about Rogue."

Jean frowned, thinking back on the conversation sheíd had with Rogue in the garage and the strange way Rogue had walked away. "Why?"

"She just came upstairs, and I can tell somethingís wrong with her, but she keep insisting sheís fine and asking me about my date with Peter instead. I donít know, she seems a little dazed to me."

"Dammit," Scott muttered. "Why does he do this? Does he even stop to think about the effect his actions have on others? And he calls me a dickÖ"

"Would someone please tell me whatís going on?" Kitty asked.

"Loganís gone again," Jean explained. "Apparently Rogueís taking it even harder than she has in the past."

"She really didnít think that he was going to leave this time," Kitty said.

"You know, if I ever get my hands on himÖ" Scott began.

"Really, Honey, killing Logan isnít going to do any good for anyone," Jean said.

"Sure would make me feel better," Scott replied.

"Where is Rogue now?" Jean asked.

"When I left her she was taking a nap," Kitty said.

Jean nodded. "Thatís probably whatís best for her now. Iíll talk to her when she wakes up."

"Do you think sheíll be all right?" Kitty asked.

Jean put a reassuring hand on Kittyís shoulder. "Donít worry. Iím sure everything will turn out just fine."

*** *** ***

Rogue woke up a few hours later. She paused as she looked up and saw Jean Grey sitting beside her bed. "Jean, what are you doing in here?"

"Kitty said you seemed really upset and I came in to check on you."

"Oh."

"How are you feeling now?"

"Terrible."

"Rogue, when you left the garage earlier, you looked like you had suddenly remembered something you didnít want to know. Whatís wrong."

Rogue sighed, figuring she might as well get it out. "I know why Logan left."

"Why?"

Rogue started to cry a little. "I told him I loved him and I guess he doesnít want to be around me anymore."

Jean wanted to hunt Logan down and slap him upside the head for being an idiot and making Rogue feel as awful as she did. She brushed a few stray pieces of white hair away from Rogueís eyes. "Iím sure he still wants to be around you. He probably just needed some time to himself to think about how you voicing your feelings changed things between the two of you. Heíll be back."

Rogue cried harder. "Why does he have this effect on me?" she asked. "Why, Jean?! I donít even want to care! It hurts so much, but I canít stop!"

"Youíre in love. Being in love isnít always easy."

"How do you know? You have Scott. Heís like, perfect."

"Trust me, Scott is not perfect," Jean said with a wry grin. "And we didnít exactly just fall into a happy little fairy-tale romance the moment we met, either. It took a long time for Scott and I to realize just what we have together."

"What do you mean?" Rogue asked. "I always figured for you two it was love at first sight."

Jean chuckled. "Oh it was. It was just also uncertainty at first sight, too. Scott didnít think I could ever feel for him what he felt for me and vice-versa. We spent the longest time skating around the issue of a relationship."

"But why? Itís so obvious you two are meant to be."

"Yeah, well, that wasn't so clear to us back then. But everything turned out okay in the end, and Iím sure it will with you, too."

"Not with Logan it wonít."

"Rogue, I know you donít want to hear this, but there are other men out there besides Logan."

"I knowÖbut LoganísÖspecial."

"Thatís a nice way putting it."

Rogue giggled, then frowned again. "There might be other guys out there, but whoís out there for me? Bobby?"

"You could always give it a shot."

"I donít know, Jean. I like Bobby, but Iím just not sure how much. Maybe if Iíd never met LoganÖ"

"You donít have to meet the man of your dreams anytime soon, Rogue. Youíre only twenty-oneóyou have plenty of time for that."

"But you knew Scott by the time you were twenty-one." Rogue pointed out.

"Thatís true," Jean said, "But most people donít meet the person theyíll spend the rest of their life with this young. Look at the Professor. God only knows how old he is, and heís still single."

Rogue giggled again. "Thanks Jean."

"For what?"

"For talking to me. For making me feel better. I think youíve made the pain of losing Loganóagainóa little more bearable."

"Glad I could help."

"Are you going to come downstairs or are you going to rest a while longer?" Jean asked.

"I think Iím just going to stay up here. I have a lot in my head I need to sort out."

"I understand. If you need me, donít hesitate to call me," Jean said, tapping her temple with her finger.

Rogue smiled as she got the message. "Sure thing, Doctor. As long as you donít mind me poking around up there."

"Of course not." She leaned down and gave Rogue a hug. "Itíll be okay, I promise."

"I know," Rogue replied. "If thereís one thing Iíve learned about life all ready itís it always hurtsóbut it always gets better."

*** *** ***

Rogue stayed in bed for a long time that evening, staring up at the ceiling and thinking. For the first couple hours she just sobbed, clutching Loganís dogtags and cried out all the pain heíd put inside her. She yearned for him and wished with all her heart that he would love her the way she loved him. The thought that the knowledge of her love for him pushed him away made her sick, and the fact that this time she was what drove Logan away made her feel like she couldnít hold on anymore.

As the evening drew on, Rogue stopped crying and she started to feel some of her strength returning. Maybe Jean was right. Maybe she didnít need Logan. She was young and there were plenty of people out there she could fall in love with that wouldnít treat her the way Logan did. Somewhere, she knew there was a man who would love her, who would be with her and stand beside her no matter what.

But then again, why give up before youíd even given it a real chance.

Rogue sat up in her bed feeling more refreshed and alive that she had in a long time. With a renewed sense of purpose, she sat up and tore Loganís dogtags from her neck. She threw them on her bed then went to her closet where she snatched up a bag and started packing. She took an inventory of her clothes and decided it wasnít what she needed. She grabbed a few outfits from Jubileeís closet, knowing her friend wouldnít mind.

She strode out of her room with a goal in mind.

*** *** ***

Jean saw Rogue come downstairs with a bag slung over her shoulder. "Where are you going?" Jean asked.

"I need to do something," Rogue replied.

"Rogue, are you sure about that?"

"Itís okay, Jean. I already talked to the Professor. He knows where Iím goiní."

Jean frowned, obviously unsure. "Where are you going?"

"Thatís personal."

"Be careful."

"I will be."

Rogue gave the older woman a hug. "Iíll be back soon, Jean."

"I know. And donít be too hard on Logan, okay?"

Rogue chuckled. "TelepathsÖ"

Jean laughed back. "Hey, it doesnít take a telepath to figure out where youíre headed."

*** *** ***

Well I play an old guitar from nine Ďtill half past one
I'm just tryin' to make a livin' watching everybody else havin' fun
Well I don't miss much if it happens on a dancehall floor
Mercy look what just walked through that door

Well hello T-R-O-U-B-L-E
Tell me what in the world
You doin' A-L-O-N-E
Yeah say hey good L double O-K-I-N-G
Well I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Almost ever chin in the bar hit the floor when a young woman, scantily clad enough to make Lady Godiva blush, walked in. Her long brown hair tumbled around her shoulders with ivory streaks falling in front of her face. Her big brown eyes were dark and made it clear that she was there for more than a drink and idle conversation.

I was a little bitty baby when my papa hit the skids
Mama had a time tryin' to raise nine kids
She told me not to stare cause it was impolite
She did the best she could to try to raise me right

Cause mama never told me 'bout nothin' like Y-O-U
Bet your mama musta been another good lookin' honey too
Hey good L double O-K-I-N-G
Well I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

From across the bar, Wolverineís nose wrinkled as he took in a familiar scent. He looked up and did a double take as he recognized the woman who had just walked in. "Marie?!" he exclaimed in surprise as he stood up, causing the woman who was sitting in his lap to fall to the ground. She got up and dusted herself off with a "humph!" going off to find someone else to flirt with.

Logan made a beeline to Rogue, pushing anybody who stood in front of him out of his way. He grabbed Rogue by the arm. "What the hell are ya doiní here, Marie?" he growled.

Rogue met his eye defiantly. "What does it matter to you?" She narrowed her gaze. "And the nameís Rogue."

"Fine. What the hell are ya doiní here, Rogue."

"I came to see you, Logan," she purred.

Wolverine frowned. "Why?"

"So I can give you a message. Donít even bother coming back to the mansion. Just stay up here with your seedy bars and skanky bar hoes." She gestured to the woman who had fallen off Loganís lap. "If you act like a chickenshit and run off just Ďcause somethiní gets you spooked a little then you donít need to be there in the first place. And you definitely donít need to be around me."

"MarieÖRogueÖI didnít leave Ďcause I couldnít handle what you said the other night. I just needed to clear my head."

"Donít give me that, Logan. All youíve been doiní since the moment we met is runniní, and here you are, runniní again."

"Iíve never run from anything in my life, Kid."

"You run from everything, Wolverine. Or at least everything that matters."

Logan looked down. "Where are my dogtags?"

Rogue glared at him. "You told me to take care of them. You never said I had to wear them."

Logan glared back. "Get outta here, Marie. This ainít no place for someone like you."

Marie gave him a devilish smile. "I donít know, Logan, I think this place suits me just fine. Reminds me of where we first met. Itís even got a cage."

"Thatís why Iím here, Kid. Tífight. Action starts in fifteen minutes and I want you outta here."

Marie crossed her arms. "I donít think so. Iíll think Iíll stay right here."

"Look, I donít know what kinda game youíre tryiní to play, but it ainít cute. You said you had somethiní to say to me and you said it. Now get out."

"Funny, I donít remember you haviní the authority to tell me where I can and canít go."

"I promised Iíd protect you."

"I donít need youíre fucking protection anymore, Wolverine."

Rogue sauntered over to the bar and ordered a beer, making sure to hang over the edge enough to give the bartender a good view of her cleavage. Wolverine stood behind her and watched, a low growl rumbling deep in his chest. Rogue sat down on a barstool, spun around to face Logan, took a swig of her beer, then winked.

Wolverine narrowed his eyes in response then stalked over towards the cage. He could tell it was going to be a long nightÖ

Well a sweet talkin', sexy walkin', honky tonkin' baby
The men are gonna love ya and the woman gonna hate ya
Remindin' them of everything they're never gonna be
May be the beginning of a world war three

Cause the world ain't ready for nothing like Y-O-U
I bet your mama musta been another good lookin' mama too
Hey say hey good L double O-K-I-N-G
Well I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

I said hey
I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

*** *** ***

Wolverine delivered a punch and his opponent staggered backwards. He paced around the cage some, all the while watching Rogue from the corner of his eye. She was flirting with some guy Logan knew he could tear apart without even blinking. The guy put his hand on Rogueís leg, and she moved in closer, lowering her eyelashes seductively. Wolverine was contemplating just how many ways he could disembowel Rogueís new little "friend," when a sharp punch to the jaw brought him back to reality.

Wolverine whipped around, snarling, as the other man went down, clutching his now broken hand. Wolverine kicked his opponent as he went down, and the man fell to the floor, coughing up a little blood. Wolverine growled as he cracked his neck, knowing that fight was over.

He looked back to see that Rogue was now in that guyís lap. Wolverine grinned ferally. He still wasnít sure what game she was playing, but he decided he was willing to be one of the playersÖ

*** *** ***

"Dance with me, Darliní," Logan demanded as he walked up to Rogue.

Rogue smiled. "Iíd rather dance with Fred here."

"Uh, itís FrankÖ" the guy said timidly.

Rogue rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

"Iím sure Fred wouldnít mind."

"ItísÖitís Frank."

Wolverine snarled and Frank cowered in fear. "Never mind..." Frank said in a meek voice.

"Youíre danciní with me." Wolverine said.

Rogue stood up. "Fine. But Iím pickiní the song."

"You got it."

Rogue sauntered over to the jukebox and looked over the selections. She reached into Loganís pocket and got out a coin, responding to Loganís gasp with a wink. She put the coin into the jukebox, pushed a couple of buttons, and the song began.

Well you're the real tough cookie with the long history
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me
That's okay, letís see how you do it
Put up your dukes, letís get down to it!

Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Fire away!

Wolverine pulled Rogue against him as they moved on to the dance floor. "Did ya really come here just to tell me to get out of your life?" Logan asked.

Rogue did her best to look innocent. "Of course. Why wouldnít I have?"

"In that dress? All I could think when I looked up and saw ya in that thing was Ďoh hell.í"

"What makes you think I wore it for you, Sugah?"

"Who else would you have worn it for? Fred?"

"I think his name was Frank."

You come on with a "come on," you don't fight fair
But that's okay, see if I care!
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again!

Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Fire away!

"Well, whoever you wore it for, it looks damn good on ya, Darliní." Logan moved closer and whispered in her ear. "Bet it would look even better off ya."

Rogueís heart leapt into her throat. "WhatÖwhat did you say."

"You heard me, Darliní. Címon. Leave with me tonight. I want you, Marie."

Marie started to wonder if maybe sheíd gotten in over her head. Sheíd wanted Logan to notice, to realize what heíd turned away, but thisÖShe hadnít expected this. "Logan, I donít know, I meanÖ" she started, her voice faltering.

Logan grabbed her arms and pulled her to his lips, kissing her with enough passion to make Marie go limp. "Címon, Darliní. You know you want to. Itíll be all right."

Marie simply nodded yes.

Well you're the real tough cookie with the long history
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me
Before I put another notch in my lipstick case
You better make sure you put me in my place

Hit me with your best shot!
Come on, hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Fire away!

Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Fire away!

*** *** ***

Rogue woke in a panic the next morning, unsure of where she was. She tried to sit up, but found that something heavy was holding her to the bed. She realized that is was an arm draped around her waist and then it became clear as to where she wasówith Logan! Marie smiled in delight as she moved closer to him. Finally, she had the man of her dreams!

She felt Logan stirring behind her. He kissed her hair. "Morniní Marie," he said, the sleepy-husky sound of his voice making Marie shiver.

"Morniní Logan. Sleep okay?" she asked, realizing that she didnít quite know what she was supposed to say in her current situation.

Loganís kisses trailed from her hair, down the side of her face, and across her shoulder. "Slept great, Darliní. Didnít even have any nightmares. For the little time we were sleepiní that is."

Marie blushed as she thought over the previous night. Never in her wildest dreams had she ever thought anything like that could ever happen between her and Logan. But it had, and here she was, wrapped up in his arms. She wanted to tell him she loved himósober this timeóbut she was too afraid of scaring him off again.

Logan stopped for a moment, then rolled Marie over so she was facing him. He looked into her eyes and frowned. "You okay, Marie?"

"Of course, Logan! Why wouldnít I be?"

Logan stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Last night. Youíre okay with what happened with us?"

"What happened last night that I might not be okay with."

"We had sex, Marie."

Marie laughed. "I sorta noticed that, Logan. I just donít see why Iíd have a problem with it." She frowned. "Unless you have a problem with it."

Logan pulled her to him so her head was resting on her chest. "Last night was great, Darliní. Meant a lot to me."

Marie smiled at him and suddenly the words just tumbled out before she could stop them. "I love you, Logan."

He blinked back, looking surprised, but then leaned down and kissed her forehead when he noticed her wince. "I know, Marie. And itís all rightóreally."

It wasnít quite the answer Rogue had wanted, but she figured it was better than, "UhÖthatís niceÖlook at the time," or something similar.

She decided to change the subject. "You donít have anything to eat, do you?"

Logan grinned, remembering back to when heíd first met her. "Well, about all they have at this place is stale doughnuts and weak coffee. But thereís a little place down the road that makes breakfast all right. No beef jerky though, Iím sorryÖ"

Rogue giggled. "Thatíll do. Iím not quite hungry enough this time to actually eat beef jerky."

"Now thereís absolutely nothing wrong with beef jerky."

"Sure, when youíve got teeth as sharp as yours!"

"I didnít see you haviní any problems with it."

"Youíd be amazed what you can pull off when youíre starving."

"So are you starviní nowóor could you wait a little while?"

"Depends. What you have in mind to distract me from my hunger."

Logan grinned and moved over her, and Rogue knew her stomach wouldn't distract her again for quite some time.

*** *** ***

Neither Logan nor Marie said anything for a long time as they sat together at breakfast. Marie picked at her eggs, suddenly too nervous to eat. She looked over at Logan and noticed he seemed distracted, too. What if now, in the light of day and out in the real world, he was seeing things differently. What if he thought the night before was a mistake?

"Ainítcha gonna eat, Darliní?" Logan asked.

Marie looked up at the sound of his voice. "Yeah." She took a bite of toast, but didnít attempt to eat anything else.

Logan frowned. "Whatís wrong?"

Marie forced herself to look into his eyes. "Are you going to send me back home now?"

Loganís brow furrowed. "What makes you say that?"

Marie looked back down and shrugged. "Well, you left after I told you I loÖafter I said that stuff when I was drunk, and I just thought maybe youíd want me gone now that weíveÖ"

The feel of Logan taking her hand made Marie stopped short. "MarieÖDarliníÖdonít think what happened between us was just a one night stand. I know I panicked and left before when ya said you loved me, but that doesnít mean I donít care about ya. When you said that, it just took me by surprise and made me have to sort out a few things, thatís all. But last night meant something to me. Donít think it didnít. I couldnít stand to think Iíd hurt you like that."

Hope gleamed in Marieís eyes. "Does that mean I can stay here with you for a little while, Logan?"

"Yeah, Darliní, it does."

"Logan, IÖ"

"Eat your eggs, Marie."

Marie just smiled and finished her breakfast.

*** *** ***

Logan watched as Marie sat on his bed, painting her toes some girlie shade of pink. "Donít spill that Pepto-Bismol lookiní stuff on my sheetsÖ"

Marie rolled her eyes. "The colorís called cupcake, Logan."

Logan grinned. "Sorry. I shouldíve known that."

"Has anyone ever told you how annoying you are?"

"Sure, you do every day. But then again, youíre still sleepiní in my bed, so you must just be makiní it up."

"No, youíre just sexy and damn good in bed, so I figure that outweighs all your annoying qualities."

"Well, Iím glad I can be forgiven."

Marie giggled.

Logan smiled at her. "Youíre cute."

"Thanks."

"Really. Sitting there, painting your toes like thatÖyouíre adorable."

"Then why were you picking on me about it?" Marie asked, paying more attention to her feet than to Wolverine.

"Because itís fun."

"Gee, thanks. Iím glad to know that tormenting me amuses you."

"Doing other things to you amuses me, too," Logan said, wagging his eyebrows up and down.

Marie sighed. "Youíre incorrigible."

"And you want me anyway."

"I do? Why?"

"I think this goes back to the whole me being Ďsexy and damn good in bedí thing."

Marie sighed. "Oh, yeahÖ"

Logan came over and sat on the bed with her. "The paint job does look nice, though. Good color for you."

"Thanks."

"Hey, Marie?"

"Yeah?"

"Iíve liked haviní ya here with me. Itís the first time in a long time that I havenít been lonely at all. You make me happy."

Marie looked away from her toes. "Thank you, Logan. That means a lot to me."

He reached out and held her face. "And you mean a lot to me, Marie."

She blushed. "IÖIÖI donít want to smear the polish."

Logan chuckled. "All right, Darliní. We wonít then."

"Logan?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you really like having me around?"

"Of course I do. If I didnít I wouldíve left that first night, two weeks ago."

"Are you going to leave?"

"When?"

"Ever."

"I donít know."

Marie focused back on her toes again, feeling a stab of pain in her stomach that Logan didnít just automatically tell her that no, of course heíd never leave her. She tried to focus on the fact he hadnít told her that he was definitely leaving either, but still, it hurt.

"MarieÖMarie, look at meÖ"

She forced her gaze upwards.

"Marie, Iím not the sort of guy who can make any promises about his future. I donít know whatís gonna happen tomorrow, or the day after that. Hell, I donít even know whatís gonna happen five minutes from now, but I can tell you that I will never leave you completely Marie, no matter what."

"I know that, Logan. I guess what Iím really askiní is, are you gonna run again?"

"Why do you have to ask stuff like that?" Logan asked as he got off the bed and started pacing. "Isnít right now good enough for you? Why do you have to ruin a perfectly good moment by dwelliní on the bad things that could happen?"

Marie put the top back on her nail polish and set it on the dresser. "Iím not Ďdwelling on the bad things that could happen,í Logan. Iím just worried. Things have been good these past couple of weeks, and Iím happy with you, but I never know where things stand, whether or not youíre gonna be there when I turn around. Yesterday when I woke up and you were in the other room, I panicked. I thought youíd left me again, and I didnít know what to do. How can I live with uncertainty like that hanging over me all the time?"

Logan stopped, facing away from her. "IÖI donít know, Darliní."

Marie got up, careful not to smear her toes, and walked over to Logan. She ran her hand tentatively down his shoulder blade, then wrapped her slender arms around his waist. "Logan, pleaseÖI donít want things between us to be hard on you, but I donít want them to hard on me, either. And youíre rightÖwhat we have now is great and Iím enjoying it more than I ever have anything else, but I donít want this to be all there is for us. I love you."

Logan turned around, wanting to say something, but found all his words lost in her deep brown eyes. He leaned in and kissed her, savoring the taste of her mouth, the feel of her body molding to his, and wanting to give her so much more than he could. He led her over to the bed and loved her in the way that often felt like the only way he knew how.

*** *** ***

Logan held Marie late into the night, watching the peaceful expression on her face as she slept. He kept playing their earlier conversation in his head and remembering the way sheíd clung to him as theyíd made love. He brushed a lock of moonlit hair away from her face. She loved himówanted him to be there for her, and be the kind of man women like her dreamed about. Logan knew heíd never be anything but a disappointment to her, and that thought tore him apart.

I never meant to stay an hour
I thought that I was passing through
Another town along the highway
I never meant to fall for you

The song Logan had heard before, back in New York with Marie played through his head now. It seemed so fitting now, as Logan thought about how heíd ended up with her. He certainly hadnít been looking for anything like this when heíd gone into that bar in Laughlin City, and not even when heíd agreed to stay in Westchester until Professor Xavier figured out what Magneto wanted. But here she was, and somehow sheíd found a way into his heart.

"I donít deserve you, Baby," he murmured, pressing a small kiss into her temple. He started thinking about what had made him leave her back in New York in the first place. She thought that he was afraid of her love, but that wasnít it at all. It was the knowledge that he would someday hurt her and there was no way to avoid it.

He thought back to where it had began for him, back in the bar when Rogue had walked in, dressed to kill. Sheíd reeked of trouble, and Logan had loved it. He hadnít thought of what would happen the next morning, or any day afterwards. All that had mattered to him was heíd wanted her and sheíd wanted him.

When I sleep with you, Maria
There's nothing left for dreams to steal

Then, the next morning, he hadnít wanted to leave. Heíd loved the feel of her in his arms, the shy smile sheíd worn, the way sheíd blushed when she said she loved him. She was so innocent, so pureóso in love.

"She doesnít need to be mixed up with a man like meÖ"

Logan winced at the thought. Heíd known that from the start, but heíd let himself fall into her arms. Part of him wanted to take her away with him, somewhere where they could really be together, away from everyone and everything else, and he could be happy. But he knew that wasnít what Marie needed. She needed someone who could give her what she needed, the kind of love she deserved. "Someone like that Bobby kid thatís so wild about her," Logan thought.

He took Marie into his arms and rolled her over on his chest. She whimpered a little, but quickly nestled into him. He held her tightly, not sure of what he was going to do, but knowing whatever it was, it would be what was best for Marie.

When the sunlight brings the mornin'
I can't tell you what I'll do
But I've a mind to take you with me
And I've got a heart to stay with you

*** *** ***

Marie woke up the next morning to a cold, empty bed. "Logan?" she called. No answer. "Logan?"

Still no answer and she panicked. "Logan!"

The silence tore at her stomach as she bolted up. She looked beside her where Logan slept and saw a piece of paper on his pillow. Her heart sank as she realized what it was.

Marieó

I donít know quite how to say this to make you understand, but leaving was what I had to do. If I stayed with you, it just wouldnít be right. Like you said last night, you could never be sure with me, and that isnít fair to you. You want a man who can give his promise of commitment, and no matter how badly I want to, I canít. Iím not leaving because I donít love you, but Iím because I do. I love you as much as Iíve ever loved anyone, Darliní, which is why I have to step back. Youíre the kind of woman who deserves a man who can give her a home, a family, and I can never do that. You need to find someone else, someone who can do what I canít. I know this is breaking your heart, and I hate that I had to leave this way, but itís what I had to do. Someday youíll realize that, too.

Iíll always be with you, Marie, and someday, Iíll see you again. Hopefully by then youíll have found what you need.

óLogan

Rogue balled the letter up and threw it at the wall with all her strength. How could he do this to her? Didnít he know that she didnít care about a home, or a family, or any of those things? She only wanted him, dammit!

She turned around and started punching her pillow, hot tears stinging her eyes. Sheíd always been afraid heíd leave again but still, in the back of her mind, sheíd never believed that Logan would actually be capable of doing that to heróafter all, heíd sworn to take care of her. But heíd done it. Heíd caused her the greatest pain sheíd ever known, and all under the guise of protecting her. God, how it hurt.

Rogue lay in the bed for the next few hours, just staring up at the ceiling and letting the tears flow. All too soon, however, she knew she had to get up. It was time for her to return to the mansion, rejected and alone.

*** *** ***

"Rogue!" Jubilee exclaimed as the door opened and her friend walked in.

Rogue walked over to her bed and slung her bag down. "Hey, Jubilee. Hey, Kitty."

"Where have you been?" Kitty asked, looking up from her magazine.

"I took a spontaneous vacation."

"To where?" Jubilee asked.

"Nowhere important."

"Rogue, somethingís wrong," Kitty said. "What is it?"

"Iíd rather not talk about it." Rogue took some clothes out of her bag and handed them to Jubilee. "Here, I borrowed these from you."

Jubilee took the clothes from Rogue. "UmÖthanksÖ" She looked up at Rogueís neck and noticed something was missing. "Where are Wolverineís dogtags?"

"I took them off."

"Why?"

"They were chaffing."

"Riiight," Jubilee said. "Rogue, whatís going on?"

Rogue sat down on her bed and buried her face in her hands. "Iím an idiot."

Kitty came up behind her and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "No you arenít. Rogue, please, tell us whatís going on. Weíve been worried about you."

"Yeah, you just disappeared for two weeks," Jubilee said. "Weíre your best friends. You canít keep us out like this."

When Rogue looked up, tears were streaming from her cheeks. "I went up to Canada to see Logan," she said. "I didnít want to sit back and let him walk away this time. And, well, we got together for a little while. It was wonderful, being with him, holding him, looking him in the eyes and knowing he was mine. But heÖheÖhe left."

Jubileeís face twitched with anger. "That bastard!" She jumped up and started pacing. "How could he do that to you! What, did he think youíd be good for a quick roll in the hay and then he could break your heart like he has a million times before?! What a fucking bastard!"

"It wasnít like that, Jubilee. That isnít what Logan meant to do at all."

"But itís what he did!"

Rogue looked down again. "He said he it was because he didnít want to hurt me."

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Oh please. Why do guys always do that? ĎIím hurting you so I wonít hurt you.í Is logic completely lost on them?"

"I know it doesnít make any sense," Rogue said, "But I guess he really thought it would be better like this. Logan would never do anything to hurt meÖ"

"You really believe that?" Jubilee asked. "Dammit, Rogue, thatís all Loganís been doing since the beginning. Heís never been here when you needed him, and all he ever does is leave you jus as soon as heís won your trust again!"

"Youíre wrong!" Rogue said. "Logan has been there for me! He was there for me on top of the Statue of Liberty! He saved my life that night, Jubilee!"

"Yeah, well, what has he done for you since then besides continuously rip out your heart and spit on all that love you have for him?"

Rogue jumped up, almost causing Kitty, who had been watching the debate between Rogue and Jubilee with her eyes wide, to topple over. "You donít understand anything! Logan loves me! Heís just gone through things that you could never even dream of, Jubilation. He hasnít been able to get over that."

"So that gives him the right to take advantage of you."

"He didnít take advantage of me! I went to him, Jubilee! I know what kind of man he is; I set myself up for this!"

"You can say you know what kind of man he is," Jubilee said "but I donít think you do. You have this naïve belief that one of these days Loganís just going to decide the two of you are some sort of soul mates and turn away from the only way of life heís ever know so he can settle down with you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Rogue, but that ainít gonna happen!"

"I am not naïve!" Rogue yelled. "I know exactly what Iím getting into with Logan! Dammit, Jubilee, Iíve had a hard enough time recently without you acting like a total bitch."

"Rogue, look, I know what Iím saying is harsh, but Iím telling you like a friend. This whole thing with Logan is tearing you apart. Somethingís gotta give!"

"Iím fine, Jubilee!"

"No youíre not! You mope around the mansion all the timeóyouíre only happy when Loganís hereóand then you run off to God knows where just to find him?! You donít think about anyone but yourself and your own self-pity!"

"That is not true!"

"Oh no? Why donít you go ask Bobby!"

"What does Bobby have to do with this?"

"He loves you!"

"Since when were you in the ĎSupporters of Bobby Drakeí club?" Rogue asked.

Jubilee sighed. "Iím not, Iím just saying it isnít fair to him when youíre all starry-eyed over a guy thatís never going to give you what you want and you wonít even give poor Bobby a real chance!"

"Whether or not I choose to give Bobby a chance with me is none of your business."

"Yes it is! Iím your friend, Rogue! I care about you!"

"Itís my life, Jubilee! If you were a real friend, youíd stay the hell out!" Rogue stormed out of the room, slamming the door as hard as she could behind her and making the whole room shake.

Jubilee sighed as she threw herself back on her bed and just stared up at the ceiling. Kitty opened her mouth to say something, but decided better of it and went back to her part of the room to read the rest of her magazine.

*** *** ***

Rogue climbed up to the roof of the mansion to watch the stars. The night sky was beautiful, and she couldnít help but hope, wherever Logan was, he could see it, too. The emptiness his absence was causing her was a million times greater than it ever had been before, and her chest felt so tight that she wasnít sure how she was still breathing.

Tears were rolling down her face, but Rogue wasnít even aware that she was crying. All she could think about was how wonderful being with Logan had been and what a fool sheíd been to think it was going to last. She knew that one of the reasons that she had gotten so angry at Jubilee was that Jubilee had hit a nerve, since, at least partway, she had been right.

"Um, Rogue, do you mind if I come out here and sit with you?" Bobby asked timidly.

"Of course not, Bobby," Rogue said as she wiped her eyes that she suddenly realized were wet. "Have a seat."

"Kitty told me you got in a fight with Jubilee."

Rogue nodded. "Yeah, she was trying to tell me how to run my life again."

"She was just trying to help you out." Bobby noticed Rogue get a little angry at his defense of Jubilee and quickly added, "But she really shouldíve just left you alone. Especially since you obviously looked pretty bummed out."

"Bummed out, huh?" Rogue said with a small smile. "Thatís a mild evaluation."

"What happened Rogue?"

"You donít want to hear it."

"Yes I do."

"Bobby, I know how you feel about me, andÖ"

"That doesnít change my desire to be there for you no matter what the problem is," Bobby finished for her. "Sure, Iím crazy about you, Rogue, and Iím not exactly so fond of Logan. Iíve never made any secrets about that. But if you need someone to listen to your troublesóeven if theyíre how much heís broken your heart and how in love with him you areóthen Iím here to listen. I donít want to let my feelings interfere with our friendship."

Rogue smiled. "Youíre a great guy, Bobby Drake."

"Yeah, so Iíve been told. Of course, itís usually right before the girl ruffles my hair and tells me she loves meóin a brother-sister sort of way."

"Iím sorry, Bobby."

"Donít be Rogue. Iíve come to accept my lot in life as the unloved clown of the mansion. Besides, we arenít talking about me here."

"I know. Itís just so hard to say what I think these days."

"Well, why donít you just explain to me what happened," Bobby said.

Rogue took a deep breath. "Okay, here goes. If you donít want to hear anything Iím telling you, feel free to tell me, all right?"

"All right."

"See, on my twenty-first birthday, I had a bit too much to drink and let it slip to Logan that I loved him."

"Didnít he know?"

Rogue shrugged. "I guess not. Or maybe he was just trying to pretend it didnít make a difference how I felt about him." Rogue saw Bobby wince at her obvious reference to the earlier part of their conversation. "Anyway, I told him and he bolted. It hurt so badly, and I just knew that I couldnít let Logan get away this time.

"So I packed up and followed him to Canada. I talked to the Professor before I left and he told me it was all right, and let me know where I could find Logan, and I was off. I went to this bar where he was fighting, and well, I guess I seduced him." Rogue stopped short as she suddenly broke into a fit of giggles.

"Whatís so funny?" Bobby asked.

"Oh, just looking back and reminding myself that I really did that," Rogue replied. "I mean, I showed up in this seedy bar in backwater Canada and put on this whole little seductress routine for Logan. I even wore one of Jubileeís dresses."

Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Wish Iíd seen that. Well, you in Jubileeís dressónot you going after Logan."

"I figured."

"So did you get him?"

"Yeah, I did. And for two weeks everything was great. I had the time of my life, and I think Logan liked being with me, too. But I always had lingering doubts, you know? I guess it was from all the times heíd left in the past. But I kept telling myself not to worry about it. We hadnít been a couple before, so things were different. He wouldnít leave me this time. But then I told him I was afraid heíd leave, and that I wanted to know for certain if he was staying. I woke up the next morning alone."

"He didnít even say anything to you before he left?" Bobby asked.

"Well, he left me a note."

Bobby tried to suppress his quickly rising anger. He took a deep breath and wrapped his arm around Rogue. "IímÖIím sorry. I canít believe any man would be stupid enough to let you go like that."

"He said that he loves me, but I deserve someone elseósomeone who can give me something better than he can."

"Finally, something Logan and I agree on," Bobby thought. "Maybe heís right. Maybe you will find someone better."

"There isnít anyone better. I love him with all my heart."

"I know."

Rogue looked up at Bobby, her big, tear-filled eyes breaking his heart. "Is it me, Bobby? Am I not good enough to keep Logan? Is there something wrong with me?"

Bobby had never wanted to hurt anyone more than he wanted to hurt Logan right then. He pulled her to him. "No, Rogue. Please, donít think anything like that. Thereís obviously something wrong with him, not you. Youíre perfect."

"I think I may have just asked for a biased opinion," Rogue said.

Bobby chuckled. "Maybe. But no matter whatever happens, Iíll always love you."

"I know."

The two of them sat under the stars in silence, Rogue thankful for companionship and Bobby clinging to the little bit of time in which Rogue was actually in his arms.

*** *** ***

Rogue returned to her room later in the night to find Jubilee still up, watching television. "Um, whereís Kitty?" Rogue asked.

"I think sheís staying in Peterís room tonight."

"Iím surprised she hasnít moved in there yet."

"I donít think sheís quite ready for that level of commitment."

"Yeah."

Rogue went over to her closet, pulled out a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and started changing for bed. The tension level in the room was high, and she regretted fighting with Jubilee the way she had earlier. "So, what are you watching?"

"Letterman."

"Anybody good on?"

"That Hugh Jackman guy you like so much was on earlier."

"And I missed it?"

"I taped it for you," Jubilee said, never once turning away from the television.

"Thanks," Rogue said, feeling even worse for their earlier argument. She smiled a little. "I still say he looks like Logan."

"Oh come on. You see Loganís face in your mashed potatoes."

"He does! Add some sideburns and theyíd look exactly alike."

"Okay, get me a picture of Hugh Jackman, Iíll draw on a hairstyle reminiscent of former President Martin VanBuren and weíll see."

"Done," Rogue said, pulling out a magazine with him on the cover. She handed Jubilee the magazine and a black magic marker.

Jubilee rolled her eyes, but drew her artistic masterpiece anyway. She regarded the picture for a moment, then burst into a fit of laughter. "Oh my God, he does!"

Rogue started laughing, too. "I told you."

Jubilee sat up and looked at her best friend. "Iím sorry for fighting with you earlier."

"Iím sorry, too," Rogue said.

"I just really worry about you, Rogue. And I know I shouldnítóyour life and allóbut I canít help it. I love ya, you know?"

"I know, Jubes, and I love ya, too. This is just something I need to work out myself, okay?"

Jubilee nodded. "Okay, I understand. But remember, if you ever need anything, Iím here for you."

"I know. And trust me, if I ever need help, youíll be the first to know."

*** *** ***

Logan had never felt so lonely in his life. He lay alone on the bed in his hotel room, watching a roach scurry across his floor. He hadnít slept in days. Every time he closed his eyes he saw Marie. He knew that wherever she was she was hurting, and that thought only seemed to amplify his own pain.

Heís never wanted it to be that way. Logan hoped she knew that and could understand why leaving was for the best. After all, she had wanted to know when it would all end, and now, well, she knew.

He figured she had probably returned to the mansion and he wanted to go there, even for a moment, just to see her and know she was all right. But he couldnít. Logan knew the moment he looked into her eyes it would be all over for him and heíd just go right back to ruining her life.

Logan regretted ever going into the bar in Laughlin City, regretted ever letting a small, scared girl hitch a ride in his truck. She wouldíve been okay if theyíd never met, right? Surely the X-Men wouldíve found her, saved her from Magneto, without his help. And then he never wouldíve been able to hurt her, never been able to give her the flashes of memories that haunted his dreams, never wouldíve made her cry.

Never wouldíve broken her heart.

It was that thought that hit Logan the hardest. She had given him her love so completely, and he had thrown it back in her face. "It was for her own good," he kept reminding himself. "It was for her own good."

He knew that Rogue would find happiness without him, and that, in the end, her life would be better because he wasnít a part of it. The small amount of pain he had caused her now would save her from much more heartache in the future. He told himself that over and over again.

It was the only way he could live with himself.

Now the only problem was, how was he going to get by without her?

*** *** ***

Rogue spent the few months avoiding all questions concerning Logan and just where she had disappeared to for two weeks. She did her best to always remain smiling and happy, trying to keep peopleóJubilee in particularófrom worrying about her. She kept Wolverineís dogtags in a box, and forced herself to keep him out of her mind. She told herself that he was an addiction, and no matter how hard it hurt, loving him was a habit she had to break.

This time she knew he was gone for good.

Rogue spent much of her time socializing with the other people in the mansion and trying to keep her mind off things by never letting herself be alone long enough for the thoughts of Logan to come creeping back. As her college studies wound to a close, the Professor offered a position at the school as a teacher at the school, which she happily accepted.

After becoming Xavierís School for the Giftedís newest social studies teacher, Rogue tearfully moved out of the room sheíd shared with Kitty and Jubilee since sheíd first arrived, and into the teacherís wing. She loved both her roommates like sisters, but she knew it was time for her to grow up a little more and move on. Besides, she knew it probably wouldnít be too long until Jubilee and Kitty moved upstairs themselves.

Rogue carried the last box to her new room, then sat down and took a look around, surveying her surroundings. The room was nice and spacious, and she hadnít realized how much sheíd missed her privacy until she had it back.

Someone knocked at the door. "Come in!" Rogue called.

Jean Grey-Summers walked into the room. She smiled at Rogue. "Hey. Just wanted to stop by and tell you welcome to the neighborhood."

Rogue chuckled. "Thanks."

"And if you need anything at all, Scott and I are just across the hall. Donít hesitate to ask us."

"All right."

"I really think youíre going to make a wonderful teacher," Jean told her. "I have a lot of confidence in your abilities, and I know, no matter what road you take, youíll always be successful."

Jeanís compliment made Rogue beam. "Thank you, Jean. It means a lot to me to hear you say that. I look up to you, you know. I have since I first got here. You have so much poise and grace and youíre always in control. I wish I could handle things the way you do."

"Donít sell yourself short," Jean said. "Youíre a rather impressive person yourself."

Rogue gave Jean a hug. "Iím glad to know you think that."

Jean hugged the younger woman back. "You better get some sleep. You have your first class in the morning, and trust me, youíre going to need all the rest you can get."

*** *** ***

Ten minutes into her first class and Rogue could see what Jean had meant about her needing rest. It was the first class at Xavierís for her students, too, and they had not yet quite adjusted to life at their new school. They were talking non-stop, giving mini power demonstrations, etc. One boy was actually even literally climbing the walls.

"Uh, please, could you be quiet and sit down," Rogue called again with her already sore throat. "We need to start class."

If anyone heard her, they certainly didnít acknowledge the fact she had spoken, and Rogue was becoming so exasperated she was almost to the point of tears. She wished for a moment that she had some impressive powerólike flight. Maybe if she was able to do somersaults in the air the class would pay attention to her.

"Hey! Didnít you hear the lady!" A voice suddenly boomed in the room. "I believe she told you heathens to be quiet. Think you can do that for her or am I going to have to make you?"

The sound of the newcomer jarred the students out of their revelry, and they all sat down in their seats. Rogue looked up across the room at Bobby Drake, who had the sternest expression on his face that she had ever seen him wear. "Thank you," she mouthed.

Bobby gave her a quick wink, then quickly frowned again. "Now it just isnít polite to treat your teacher that way. Miss Rogue is a really nice lady and she deserves your attention. Iím going to go, and you are all going to behave. If you donít, then youíll find out exactly how cold a deep freeze is. Got it?"

The class nodded.

"Good. See ya around, Rogue," Bobby said, leaving the classroom. Rogue gave him a nod goodbye, then turned back to her now-attentive class, ready to teach.

*** *** ***

Rogue caught up with Bobby during the lunch break. "I wanted to say thanks again for handling my class the way you did. I was about at my limit, and I donít think I couldíve gotten loud enough to be heard over them."

"Oh it was no problem. I walked by the classroom and saw you were having trouble and knew I couldnít exactly leave you to the wolves like that."

"Well Iím glad you walked by when you did. One question though."

"Shoot."

"Howíd you manage to look so mean? I didnít think you had it in you, Drake."

Bobby shrugged. "I did my best impersonation of my father."

Rogue raised an eyebrow. "Mustíve been fun growing up in your house."

"Oh it was a regular laugh riot. Hey, wanna grab a bite to eat with me?"

"I donít knowÖI really should get back to the classroom. I want plenty of time to prepare for my after-lunch class."

"Oh come on. You still owe me for that time you stood me up right after you got here."

"I told you I did meet you! And you told me to leave the mansion!"

"I did nothing of the sort!"

"Letís not rehash five-year-old arguments, okay?"

"Then eat lunch with me and weíll call it even."

Rogue sighed. "Fine, Bobby, you win. Letís go."

*** *** ***

"Thanks again for saving me in there," Rogue said as she sat down with Bobby to eat lunch.

"Youíre welcome," Bobby said. "Although I think you probably couldíve calmed them down on your own if youíd gotten a little louder."

Rogue shook her head. "I donít think so. Iím just not that mean."

"Ha! You can be plenty mean when you want to be. Trust me on that one. Youíve ripped into me enough."

Rogue laughed. "Yeah, well, itís easy to yell at you."

Bobby smiled. "You wound my pride."

"What pride?"

"The pride I used to have until you killed it, you mean, mean woman!"

"Iíve killed your pride, huh? Well, looks like my mission is complete."

"I knew it! You are out to get me!"

"But of course!"

After he and Rogue shared a laugh, Bobby asked, "So how did your classes go after the little upset in the morning?"

"Oh, fairly well. My first class was well behaved after you came in and shut them up, and I didnít have too bad of trouble with any of the ones after that. All though I do feel bad for Ms. Munroe after remembering how me, you, Jubilee, and St. John used to act up in her class."

"Hey, Kitty was in on that, too," Bobby pointed out.

"Yeah, but she was good at looking like teacherís pet as soon as Storm turned around."

"Very true. She could keep a straight face while the rest of us couldnít keep from snickering."

"What about you?" Rogue asked. "Youíre keeping the books for the mansion now, arenít you?"

"Yeah. Man, the Professorís got a lot of money. I swear, he could run a small country."

"Look around you. He practically is."

"Very true."

"Have you given any thought to teaching? You obviously have the ability to get control of a classroom."

"Actually, Professor Xavier suggested I teach a class on personal bookkeeping to some of the older kids, and I think Iím going to take him up on the offer."

"I might have to sit in on that one," Rogue said. "I canít balance a checkbook for anything."

"You know, I could always give you private lessonsÖ" Bobby said with a wink.

Rogue blushed. "Iíll think about it."

"So how many classes do you have today?" Bobby asked.

"Five. One U.S. history, one world history, two American government, and one geography."

"Which was the class this morning."

"That was the geography. I can already tell that class is going to give me trouble. The kids are rowdy and I hate the subject. Maps bore me."

"Yeah, same here, but Iím sure youíll do fine. Just work that charm of yours on the class and youíll have them eating out of your hand."

Rogue gave him a puzzled look. "What charm? I donít think I have any."

"Oh trust me, Rogue, itís there."

"What makes you so sure?"

"Because you charmed me from the moment you walked into Ms. Munroeís class."

"BobbyÖ"

"I know, I know, you donít want to hear it, but itís trueóthough I got used to my love for you being unrequited a long time ago."

"Jubilee said once that it isnít fair of me not to give you a Ďreal chanceí with me. Do you feel the same way?" Rogue asked.

Bobby took a deep breath, trying to think of the best way to answer. "No," he said after a moment. "I donít feel that way. What wouldnít be fair would be you getting together with me just because it was something I wanted. You wouldnít be happy, and in the end, neither would I."

Rogue nodded. "Iím glad you understand that."

"Yeah."

They ate the rest of their meal in silence.

*** *** ***

Rogue collapsed on her bed after her first day at work. Sheíd never thought that teaching could take so much out of a person. She started to say something to Kitty and Jubilee, but then remembered she was alone now. "Thatís going to take some getting used to," Rogue thought.

It had been a long day, and Rogue found that all she wanted to do was relax. She got up and started changing out of her clothes and into something comfortable. She climbed back into bed and turned on the television, deciding to see what was on before she went to sleep.

She lay alone, the only sounds in the room those coming from the TV, and she suddenly felt lonelier that she had in a long time. She missed her roommates, the constant sound of their voices had always made the room seem less empty. But most of all, in the silence, she missed Logan. She thought back to those two short weeks sheíd spent with him in Canada, and the way it had felt to be in his arms.

The thoughts of Logan made Marie feel cold, and she pulled the blankets around her tightly. She hadnít let herself cry for Logan since the first night she came back, but now she couldnít help but let the tears flow. She was desperate for him, even just a part of him. She opened her bedside table drawer and pulled out the small wooden box where she kept Wolverineís tags. She took them out and clutched the cold metal to her chest.

She cried herself to sleep that night, still holding the dogtags close to her heart.

*** *** ***

Rogue sat up late one night in her classroom, grading the stack of tests she had given to her American government classes that day. Scott had laughed when sheíd told him that she tried to get test back to her students the day after theyíd taken them and had told her that sheíd grow out of that soon enough. Sheíd been surprised that Scott, the mansionís official overachiever, had had such an attitude, but now she realized how easily it was to get overwhelmed with grading and that this was probably too hard of a task for even him to perform.

Rogueís eyes started to blur as they darted from the tests to the answer key, and she wished more than anything that sheíd just given in and made the test on one of those Scantron sheets. Sheíd much rather have a machine grading these things for her.

"Burning the midnight oil?"

Rogue looked up. "Bobby! Hey! Come in here and talk to me."

Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Since when did you want my company."

"Since I got so bored that Iíd talk to a brick wall if I thought it would respond."

"Gee, thanks."

"Come on, have a seat. You can help me grade these damn things."

"Wow. I get to grade papers. Iím so honored," Bobby said as he pulled a chair up to Rogueís desk.

"I can tell. You sound thrilled."

"Oh, I am, really," He took a test and Rogue turned the answer key so he could see it to. "So what was the test on anyway?"

"The early political theories that contributed to the Declaration of Independence and, eventually, the Constitution as well."

"Um, sounds, um, exciting."

"Youíd like it if I was the one teaching it to you."

"Oh, I donít doubt that. You could stand up here and talk about knitting for hours and Iíd be enthralled."

"Would you be paying attention to a word I was saying?"

"No."

"Well, at least youíre honest."

Bobby and Rogue graded her papers together, with the only conversation for a while occurring when heíd ask her how to score a confusing answer. When they were through, Rogue slumped back in her chair in relief. "Finally!" she said. "Thanks for helping me with that. I was about to go crazy trying to get them done."

"What, have you had them for a month or something?" Bobby asked.

"No, they turned them in today, I just donít like to make my students wait for their test grades."

"Wow. Youíre more of an overachiever that Scott."

"Oh shut up."

"Make me."

Rogue reached up and put her hand over his mouth. Bobby leaned in and kissed it. Rogue pulled her hand away and looked away, blushing.

"IímÖIím sorry, Rogue. I shouldnít have done that."

"No, itís okay. It just surprised me, thatís all."

Rogue looked up, and the sight of her flushed face took Bobbyís breath away. He reached out and cupped her chin in his hand, and she didnít move. He pulled her face closer, until finally their lips met. Rogue stiffened at first, then relaxed into the kiss. Bobby moved his hands to her back to support her, then gently lifted her up and put her in his lap. Rogue tangled her hands in his hair.

Rogueís thoughts were in a blur. All she could think was how good it felt to be pressed up against another warm body, to have someone elseís hands and lips on her. She moaned against his mouth and pushed herself closer to him. Rogue could feel his body responding.

Bobby stood up, bringing Rogue with him. She wrapped her legs around his hips and he held on to her with one arm behind her back while he swiped all the papers theyíd work so hard to grade on to the floor. He lowered them both down on to the now-cleared desk, never once breaking the kiss.

Their hands were a flurry of motion, and it wasnít long until both of their shirts ended up on the ground. Bobbyís mouth began to trail from Rogueís lips down her neck and she ran her hands along his back.

Suddenly, the full impact of what she was doing hit Rogue, and she pushed up on Bobbyís chest. "WaitÖBobbyÖwe need to stop."

He pulled up and looked down at her. "Whatís wrong?"

"We canít do this. Itís too sudden," Rogue said.

"Sudden? Rogue, Iíve been wanting this for five yearsÖ"

Rogue pushed him off her and sat up, covering her nearly-bare chest with her arms. "I know, but itís too sudden for me. Iím not ready to jump into a relationship at this level."

Bobby nodded. "I understand."

"So youíre not mad at me?"

"No. Iím disappointed, but Iím not mad at you. Iím not going to be upset with you because youíre not ready for something like that." He took her face in his hands, forcing her to look into his eyes. "I love you, Rogue, and yes, I want to sleep with you. No point in denying that. But if youíre not ready for that now and want to wait, or even if you never want to with me, thatís fine. I donít want to pressure you into something youíre just going to regret."

Rogueís eyes filled up with tears. "Thank you, Bobby."

Bobby walked over and got Rogueís shirt, handed it to her, and wiped the tears from her eyes. "Go on and go to bed. Iíll stay and clean up this mess here."

"Thank you," Rogue said softly. She slipped her shirt back on, then gave Bobby a light kiss before running out of the room.

Bobby watched her go, wondering what would happen now.

*** *** ***

As soon as her last class was over the next day, Rogue ran up to her old room. "Jubilee, thank God youíre in," she said as her best friend opened the door.

"Um, Rogue, are you okay?" Jubilee asked.

"Is anyone else here?"

"Uh, just KittyÖ"

"Good. I need to talk to her, too." Rogue pushed her way into the room and sat down on the couch where her bed used to be. "I have a slight problem."

Kitty and Jubilee both sat across from Rogue on Jubileeís bed. "What is it?" Kitty asked.

"I almost had sex with Bobby."

"Yeah, Iíd have to say that would be a problem," Jubilee said.

"When?" Kitty asked.

"Last night. I was grading papers, and he helped me. We were just talking and the next thing I know we were lying on my desk, ripping each otherís clothes off."

"Dang, Girl, I didnít know that grading got you teachers so hot and botheredÖ" Jubilee said.

Rogue frowned. "Ha ha. This is serious!"

"So what do you plan to do about it?" Kitty asked.

"I donít know. I made him stop last nightÖI just wasnít ready for something like that with him."

"Do you think youíd ever be ready?" Kitty asked.

Rogue sighed. "MaybeÖI donít know. Iím so confused!" She buried her face in her hands.

"Well, did you like what was happening between you two up to the point where you stopped?" Jubilee asked.

"Yes, but I donít know if I liked it because it was Bobby or just because I wasnít alone."

"Well, maybe you should talk to Bobby about it," Kitty suggested. "You might find you really like him, and maybe you guys could be happy together."

"I think Kittyís right," Jubilee said. "Bobby could be good for you, Rogue."

"You guys really think so?" Rogue asked.

Jubilee and Kitty both nodded. "Yeah, we do," Jubilee said.

"I just donít know if Iím ready for a relationship. I mean, I just lost LoganÖ"

"Rogue, you need to get over Logan," Jubilee said. "Heís gone. Maybe Bobby could be just what you need to get on with your life."

Rogue looked up. "I just donít know. Do yíall really think Bobby would be right for me?"

"Of course!" Kitty said. "Heís sweet, funny, cuteÖwhat more could you need?"

"Fuzzy sideburns and adamantium claws," Rogue thought dryly. "I canít think of anything," she said.

"You really should pursue this thing with Bobby," Jubilee said. "Even if you just start out with something smallóa dinner date maybe."

"YeahÖ" Rogue said. "Dinner couldnít hurt."

"So go talk to him," Jubilee said.

"Yeah, go talk to Bobby," Kitty urged. "You two really would make the perfect couple."

Rogue stood up. "Okay, Iíll go talk to him. Maybe it could work with us."

"Iím sure it will," Kitty said.

"Thanks, yíall," Rogue said, leaving to find Bobby.

*** *** ***

Rogue felt like she was hyperventilating as soon as she knocked on Bobbyís door. What was she going to say? Sheíd felt so confident when she was talking to Kitty and Jubilee, but nowÖnow she wasnít so sure.

"Yes?"

Rogue looked up, startled, and then realized Bobbyís roommate, St. John, had answered the door. "Um, is Bobby there?"

"Yeah. Iíll get him for ya. Hey, Robert, girl for you at the door!"

Bobby stepped out a moment later. He was wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, and Rogue could tell from his wet hair that heíd just recently gotten out of the shower. "Uh, hey, Rogue."

"Hey, Bobby."

"Iíll, um, leave you two alone," St. John said, slipping back into the room.

"So, what brings you here?" Bobby asked.

"I wanted to talk." Rogue paused, then added quickly. "About last night."

"Rogue, look, Iím sorry about that. Things got carried away, I didnít mean for that to happen. Donít be upset with me."

"No! I mean, Iím not upset with you at all. Actually, I was thinking maybe we could do something tonight. But you donít look like you were exactly prepared to go anywhereÖ"

"Uh, I can get ready real quick, I swear," Bobby said. "What did you have in mind?"

"Dinner maybe? Outside the mansion?"

"Sounds good. Meet you in half an hour and weíll decide where to go from there?"

"Great. Iíll meet you in the foyer atÖ" Rogue looked down at her watch. "Five thirty?"

"Iíll be there."

Rogue smiled. "Okay. See you then."

Bobby smiled back. "See you then."

*** *** ***

Rogue glanced at herself in the mirror, searching for any imperfection she may have left uncovered. "Donít be stupid, Girl," she chided herself. "Bobbyíll like ya no matter what you look like. After all, heís seen ya at your worst and still kept on loving you."

She took a deep breath as she went to her closet and pulled out her jacket. She slipped it on and put her hand into the pocket. She felt a crumpled piece of paper in and took it out. She unfolded it, and as her eyes glanced over the first few words, she felt her heart stop.

Marieó

I donít know quite how to say this to make you understand, but leavingÖ

Rogue crumpled the paper again and threw it to ground as if it were on fire. Why had she picked the jacket sheíd worn on her trip home from Canada? She hadnít worn it since sheíd gotten back, and she had plenty of other ones to choose from.

Rogue frowned. Maybe it was a sign. But what kind of sign? Was it a sign that she shouldnít go out with Bobby because she wasnít over Logan enough yet, or a sign that she should go out with Bobby because Logan was all wrong for her. She bounced the two possibilities around in her head for a moment before deciding that trying to read into signs was a waste of her time.

She put the jacket on and left the room. The letter remained in a ball on the floor.

*** *** ***

Bobby looked across the table at Rogue. He couldnít believe he was there, with heróon a real date. After so many years of waiting, he was so close to having the woman of his dreams. He reached out and took Rogueís hand. She just smiled at him and didnít pull away.

"I'm glad you wanted to come out with me tonight," Bobby said.

"Me, too," Rogue said. "I'm having a good time with you."

"Rogue, I need to ask you something," Bobby said, pulling his hand away. "Itís serious."

"OkayÖask away."

"Where do I stand with you?"

"Iíve been asking myself the same question."

"And?"

Rogue looked away in order to avoid his gaze. "I donít know. I mean, itís so soonÖafterÖafter Logan."

"Rogue, Loganís gone."

"I know! Itís just, well, I donít know if I can open myself up to someone like that again." She looked up and a single tear rolled down her cheek. "Iím still hurtiní, Bobby."

"But Iím not going to hurt you the way he did. Rogue, Iíve loved you for five years and not once have those feelings wavered," Bobby said. "What do I have to do to prove my loyalty to you."

"Please, Bobby, Iím tryingÖI just donít know yet, okay?"

Bobby gave her the best smile he could muster. "Iíll give you as much time as you need, Rogue. No pressure."

"Iíll try not to make you wait too long."

*** *** ***

Rogue and Bobby parked the car in the mansionís parking lot and then walked together towards the door in the garage. "Still donít have a permit to park your car inside, huh?" Rogue said teasingly.

"Nah, I guess the Professor just doesnít think my car is as valuable as his Rolls-Royce."

"Imagine that." Rogue stopped short. "Whatís that sound?"

Bobby listened for a moment, then said. "I think someone left the radio on down here."

"Probably Scott," Rogue said. "He comes down here to work on his motorcycle, and then Jean does that mind-thingy to call him inside and he forgets to turn it off."

"And heís supposed to be the together one of the team."

"Hey, compared to the rest of usÖ"

"Very true." Bobby gave her a charming grin. "Well, since we have the music anyway, care to dance?"

"I donít knowÖIím not much of a dancer."

"Oh, come on. Iíve seen you dance plenty of times. Remember the time that Jubilee dared you to dance on the table in the cafeteria?"

Rogue turned bright red. "I canít believe you remember that!"

"Rogue, I believe that image is forever burned into my mind. Along with the look on Scottís face when he walked in and your sweater hit him in the face."

"I had a shirt on under it!"

"I know that. All though I donít think he realizes that at firstÖ"

Rogue shook her head. "Canít I just put that behind me?"

"Not with the Polaroids still floating out there somewhere. Now come on, dance with me. A songís just starting."

"Itís slow."

"Even better." Bobby pulled Rogue to him and she quickly gave in.

Girl, I know you're hurting
Right now you feel like
You could never love again
Now all I ask is for a chance
To prove that I love you

Rogue rested her head on Bobbyís shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist. He put one hand on the small of her back and the other in her hair. She sighed against him, so grateful to feel loved, wanted.

From the first day that I saw your smiling face
Honey, I knew that we would be together forever
Ooh and I asked you out, you said no
But I found out
Darling, that you'd been hurt
You felt that you'd never love again
I deserve a try, honey, just once
Give me a chance and I'll prove this all wrong
You walked in you were so quick to judge
But honey, he's nothing like me

Bobby kissed the top of Rogueís hair and pulled her closer to him. He could feel her tears soaking through his shirt and Bobby wanted nothing more than to erase all the pain Logan had caused her. He couldnít fathom how any man could receive Rogueís unconditional love and then just throw it away. He swore that if he ever truly made her his, heíd never hurt her the way Logan had. Never.

I'll never break your heart
I'll never make you cry
I'd rather die, then live without you
I'll give you all of me
Honey that's no lie
I'll never break your heart
I'll never make you cry
I'd rather die, then live without you
I'll give you all of me
Honey that's no lie

Rogue was surprised at how warm she felt next to Bobby. His skin had always been cold to the touch in the past, but tonight, it wasnít. She remembered it hadnít been the night before either, in her classroom. But Rogue didnít want to think about that. She didnít want to think about anything. All she wanted to do was feel.

As time goes by you will get to know me
A little more better
Girl that's the way love goes baby, baby
I know you are afraid to let
Your feelings show (feelings show)
And I understand
But girl it's time to let go
Girl it's time to let go(girl it's time to let go)

Bobby looked down to see Rogue staring up at him, tears in her eyes. He kissed them away, feeling her shiver in his arms. "I love you," he said. Rogue nodded, unable to speak. Bobby leaned down and captured her lips in a kiss.

I'll never break your heart
No way (no way)no how
I'll make you cry
Oh, need me
Honey no way
I'll do you right(no how)
I say no how

As she kissed Bobby, Rogue pushed away all her lingering doubts. "To Hell with Logan," she thought. "I can and will live my life without him and be perfectly happy." She put her all into the embrace, meeting Bobby passion for passion.

I would never do that to you girl
Ooh, just give me a chance
To prove you how much I love you
I would give you the world
If you're my girl...

As the song ended, Bobby and Rogue moved their kiss from the garage into the mansion. It was late enough that most of the morning people were already in bed, but still early enough that most of the night owls were still out, but neither Rogue nor Bobby cared if they ran into anyone or not. They staggered up the stairsónever once taking their hands off each otheróand when they reached Rogueís room, they toppled in, shutting the door behind them.

*** *** ***

It didnít take long for Bobby and Rogue to be known as a couple around the mansion. Jubilee and Kitty were happy for their friend, feeling like she had finally chosen what was best for her. She never mentioned Logan anymore, never wore his dogtags, and always had a smile in public.

Bobby was devoted to her, gave her everything she could ever need or want, and everyone said they were perfect for each other, and wanted to know why it had taken so long for them to finally get together. Rogue decided that someone like Bobby mustíve been what Logan thought was the kind of man she deserved.

Nevertheless, when Rogue was alone, she couldnít always ignore the lingering emptiness she felt inside. She didnít just miss Loganóshe missed what he made her feel. Bobby just couldnít light her on fire the way Wolverine had.

But as she lay next to Bobby, watching him sleep in what had become their bedroom, Rogue knew she couldnít hold that against him. She doubted any man would be able to affect her the way Logan had. The love she had with Bobby was the kind two people could build a life together with, and she wasn't about to throw it away for a memory.

Rogue smiled as she ran her hand through Bobbyís hair. She had the kind of life many people dreamed of. Sure, the mansion wasnít exactly a quaint house with a white picket fence, and she couldnít bake an apple pie to save her life, but she heard day in and day out that she and Bobby made the perfect American couple. She knew it would only be a matter of time before he proposed and it would be a storybook wedding.

Rogue lay back down in the bed, though sleep didnít come for quite some time.

*** *** ***

Something wasnít right about the day. It reminded Rogue of one summer sheíd spent in Biloxi as a child with her grandmother. A hurricane had come through, and all day there had been the unsettling "calm before the storm." Rogue felt that now, as if something was coming.

She found out just before sunset just what that "something" was.

Rogue was sitting on the couch in the main room with Kitty watching the news when she heard the sound of a motorcycle. Rogue froze.

"What is it?" Kitty asked.

"I hear a motorcycle. Loganís here."

"Rogue, the sound of a motorcycle does not automatically mean Logan. Scott has a motorcycle, and so do a few of the students. It could be any one of them."

"No, Kitty. Thatís Loganís motorcycle. Trust me."

"I donít know, Rogue, after what you said happened between you guys the last time you saw him, it just doesnít seem like heíd come back here."

"Kitty, it has been a while. Maybe heís figured Iíve moved onówhich I haveóand doesnít feel the need to hide out anymore."

"Possibly, but I still donít see how you can be so positive that itísÖ"

"Hey, Darliní."

Rogue bolted up and turned around and Kitty grew completely silent. Rogue walked over to Logan and slapped him hard, ignoring how badly his adamantium-laced bones made her hand sting. "I am not your ĎDarliníí," she growled at him before she sauntered up stairs.

Kitty stared for a moment longer until she realized Logan was looking at her. She turned back to the news.

Wolverine slumped off to find the Professor.

*** *** ***

Marie sat in a chair beside the window in her room, crying. How could he do this to her? After leaving her alone to live her life and get past all the pain heíd caused her, why did Logan have to come back ? Wouldnít it be easier for him just to keep up with his loner lifestyle? What kept calling him back to the mansion?

Marie looked down at the palm of the hand sheíd used to slap Logan, and realized it was probably going to bruise. But she didnít care. It had been worth it just to cause him even a brief second of pain after all heíd put her through.

"Rogue? Rogue, sweetheart, are you in here?" Bobby asked as he came quietly into their room.

"Iím over by the window," Rogue called out to him, her emotional state betrayed by her voice.

Bobby ran over to her. "Are you all right?"

She shook her head. "No."

Bobby got her a tissue from the bedside table. He handed it to her, then crouched down beside her chair. "What happened? Why are you crying?"

Rogue couldnít answer him. All she could do was cry harder.

"PleaseÖtell meÖ" Bobby begged. He hated seeing her in pain, especially when he didnít know why.

"Logan," she said between sobs. "Heís back."

Bobbyís blood ran colder than usual. "Logan? Wolverine?"

Rogue nodded.

Bobby didnít know what to say. He wanted to ask her if she still loved Logan, but was afraid that he couldnít handle the answer if it wasnít the one he wanted to hear. "AreÖare you going to be okay?" he asked in a rush.

"I think so. Itís just seeing him again brought so much rushing to the surface and I guess I just couldnít handle it."

"What can I do to help you?"

Rogueís whole body was shaking with the force of her sobs. "Hold me, Bobby. Please, I just need to be held."

Bobby pulled her down from the chair and into his lap on the floor and held her close.

*** *** ***

"Hey, you!"

Jubilee heard someone calling down the hall. She turned around and saw Wolverine standing a few feet away from her. "Me?"

"Do you see anyone else around?"

"Um, no, but at this place that doesnít necessarily mean no one else is here," Jubilee said.

"Donít get smart on me, Kid," Logan growled. "Are you that girl that used to wear yellow all the time? Rogueís friend?"

"My name is Jubilation Lee. Jubilee to all my friends, and Ms. Lee to you. And yes, Iím that girl."

"All right, Ms. Lee, can you answer a question for me?"

Jubilee crossed her arms in front of her. "Depends. Ask me the question and Iíll tell you if Iíve got an answer."

"You have any idea why Rogue woulda slapped me when I came back?" Logan asked.

"She slapped him?!" Jubilee thought. "Go Rogue!" "Jeez, if you canít figure that one out youíre dumber than you look," she told Wolverine.

"Whatís that supposed to mean?"

Jubilee sighed. "Men. I never understood why everyone else doesnít realize they were born simply to be love-slaves for all the much more highly advanced women. Anyway, let me try to explain it to youóin small words so your dumb ass can understand. You hurt Rogue. Rogue cryólong time. Rogue get over you. Rogue love Bobby now. You come back. You piss Rogue off. Comprende?"

"Thanks, Tarzan, I think I got it."

"Glad to be of service," Jubilee said sarcastically. "Now if you donít mind, Iíll be going now."

"Wait, one more question. And you donít have to answer me like Iím brain dead this time."

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "As long as you donít ask another question that makes you sound brain dead, I wonít."

"How serious are Rogue and Bobby?"

"Very. Theyíve been together for ten months, sharing a room for eight, and I happen to know that Bobbyís going to pop the question very soonóand when he does, Rogueís gonna say yes. So donít you dare mess things up for her. Youíve fucked with that girl enough. Itís time for you to get your kicks elsewhere."

"I was never just getting my Ďkicksí with her."

"Yeah, whatever, Buster. You werenít here every time you broke Rogue into a million teeny-tiny little pieces and she had to be glued back together. I was, and plenty of times I was the one holding the bottle of Elmerís. Rogue doesnít deserve going through something like that again."

"I know," Logan said. "And I want to make it up to her somehow, and at least get her friendship back. I know now I didnít do right by her."

"Yeah, well, great observation, but itís a little too late. Now if you donít mind, I have better things to do with my time."

Jubilee walked away, leaving Logan speechless.

*** *** ***

It was well after whatever hours societyís norms deemed "decent," and Logan was lying on his bed alone, smoking a cigar. He heard a faint tap and sat up. Was someone knocking on his door?

He listened intently until he heard the sound again. This time he was certain it was the door. He frowned as he went to answer it, wondering who could be disturbing him this late, and not even bothering to put on a shirt to cover his bare chest.

He caught her scent before heíd even opened the door all the way. "Marie?"

She was holding out his dogtags. "I believe these belong to you."

Logan felt a lump grow in his throat as he took them from her small, trembling hands and placed them around his neck. Heíd missed the feel of them hanging against his chest when heís first given them away, but now, he wanted them off more than anything else in the world, for he knew that having them meant heíd lost Marie.

"MarieÖIÖ"

"Donít say it Logan. I donít want to hear anything from you anymore. Everything you ever said to me was a lie."

"No! Marie, that ainít true! I never lied to you, Darliní, I just couldnít always keep my promises."

"I told you Logan, Iím not your ĎDarliníí."

Logan looked down at the ground. "I know."

Marie could feel her resolve slipping. She had come planning to be strong and give Wolverine his dogtags back, cutting off the last of her ties to him, but she certainly hadnít planned on him answering the door shirtless. She guessed she shouldíve known, since that was how he liked to sleep, but she just hadnít entered that factor into the equation, and it made quite a big difference. For some reason, the sight of Loganís chest had always made her weak in the knees.

"Well, thatís why I came, so I might as well go now," Marie said.

"No, wait. Stay," Logan said, his head darting up so his eyes could meet hers.

"I canít. Logan, Bobby and I areÖ"

"I know," Logan said. "But I donít mean like that. I want you to stay and talk to me. Fill me in on what Iíve missed."

Marie shook her head. "Iím sorry, Logan, but Iím not telling you what you missed. Youíre going to figure that out on your own."

Rogue walked away, moving her hips in a way that made sure Logan knew exactly what heíd been missing.

*** *** ***

Rogue leaned against the inside of the door to her bedroom, trying to catch her breath. She was amazed at the level of control sheíd just managed to maintain. As soon as Logan had opened the door sheíd wanted to throw everything from the life sheíd built since Logan to the wayside and jump Wolverine right then and there. But she hadnít. Sheíd stayed strong.

She was shaking when she climbed back into bed with Bobby. He hadnít moved since sheíd gotten up, and Rogue was grateful for the fact that he was such a heavy sleeper. She moved close to him, reminding herself over and over again just how lucky she was to have all that she did, and that she shouldnít see Logan as anything more than a past fling who she just happened to have amazing chemistry with.

Rogue let out a deep breath. Why did Logan have a habit of coming back just when he could mess things up the most? Why couldnít he just stay out of her life the way heíd promised in the letter?

Why couldnít life just let her be happy?

*** *** ***

Ororo Munroe walked into Rogueís classroom to find the younger woman sitting alone at her desk in the room, looking like death warmed over. Her hair was much more unkempt that usual, her skin pale, and her eyes were lined by dark circles.

"Goddess, Child, what has happened to you?" Storm asked as she came into the room. As she got closer, she noticed Rogue had been crying.

"I didnít sleep well last night," Rogue said. "And Wolverineís return has me on edge."

"You lookÖrough," Storm said, not sure of what the most diplomatic word to use would be in order to describe Rogueís current physical appearance.

"Yeah, Iím sure I do," Rogue said. "I broke down in front of my class today."

Storm looked horrified. "Whatever pushed you to do that?"

"Oh, I donít know. Logan, I guess. Heís always reeked havoc on my emotions."

"I thought you would be over him by now."

Rogue gave a humorless laugh. "Yeah, so did I."

"Are you going to be all right? Do you need someone to take over your classes for a while?"

Rogue shook her head. "No. Iíll be fine. Tomorrowís Saturday. Iíll be able to rest, and maybe I can go somewhere and get out of the mansion for a while."

"That sounds like a good idea. You do look like you could use some time away from here."

"Yeah, Iím sure do."

"You and Bobby could possibly spend the weekend away."

"Maybe. Iíll talk to him about it."

"I am sure you will be fine."

Rogue nodded. She knew sheíd be fine, tooóeventually.

*** *** ***

Rogue decided to take Stormís advice and go away for the weekend. She and Bobby rented a room at a nearby Bed and Breakfast, and Rogue did all she could to relax and keep her mind off the fact that when she got home Sunday night, Logan would be there. Every time she let her thoughts wander, however, his face was the dominant image in her mind.

"Hon, are you okay?"

Rogue looked up, her expression slightly startled. "Huh? Were you trying to talk to me, Bobby?"

"Yeah, I called your name a couple of times, and you didnít respond. Are you feeling all right?"

"I was just lost in thought," Rogue explained.

"Youíve been worrying me ever since he got back," Bobby said. "Youíve seemed soÖdistant."

"Iím sorry," Rogue said. "Logan coming back just threw me for a loop, thatís all."

"Youíre not still in love with him, are you?" Bobby asked, deciding he had to know the answer.

Rogue was surprised at how quickly the little voice in her head screamed, "Yes!" "No," she told Bobby. "I got over him a long time ago."

"Are you sure?"

"Why would you ask a question like that?"

Bobby let out a deep breath. "Because you havenít been acting like youíre over him."

Rogue looked down at her hands and Bobby braced himself for the worst. Rogue walked over and knelt in front of him, and Bobby looked up, searching for any signs of hope in her eyes. She put her hand on his cheek, making him smile weakly.

"Bobby, I love you," Rogue told him. "Anything I had with Logan is in the past now. Iím sorry that Iíve been acting strangely ever since he came home, but I just wasnít expecting it, and having him around put a lot of stress on me. But thereís no reason to worry. Youíre who I want to be with now."

Bobby took her hands in his. "Do you mean that, Rogue? I need to know now, am I really the man you want to be with?"

"Yes."

"Forever?"

"Yeah."

"Thereís something Iíve wanted to give you for a while, and Iíve been waiting for the perfect moment, but I figure now is as good a time as any." Bobby walked over to his suitcase and started rummaging for something. Rogue stood up, watching him intently. He came over and knelt down on one knee in front of her. Rogue couldnít decide if the feeling in her stomach was butterflies or dread.

Bobby opened the box and Rogue stared down at the ring. "Will you marry me?"

Rogue nodded numbly. "Yes."

Bobby stood up and slipped the ring on her finger. Rogue smiled at him. "I love you," he said as he leaned down to kiss her.

Rogue began to cry and she told herself they were tears of joy.

*** *** ***

Rogue wore her most realistic smile as Kitty and Jubilee squealed over her engagement ring.

"You are so lucky," Jubilee said.

"You really are," Kitty said. "You and Bobby are like the perfect couple."

"I was thinking more of the diamond," Jubilee said. "That thingís huge! How did Drake afford that?"

"He said heís been saving up for a while. And the Professor gave him some money for it, I think," Rogue said.

"Iím going to cry!" Kitty said as she jumped up and hugged Rogue. She sat back down wiping her eyes. "Iím so happy for both you and Bobby."

"Yíall are going to be my bridesmaids, right?" Rogue asked.

"Of course!" Jubilee said. "And, um, who gets to be your maid or honor?"

"Iíll let the two of you fight that out," Rogue said. "Iím not making the decision that could start World War III."

"We could do like they did on Friends where each of us agrees to be the maid of honor for one of the others," Kitty said.

"That could work," Rogue said, "But whoís going to volunteer to be Jubileeís?"

"UhÖyou?"

Jubilee thought for a second, then her eyes got wide. "Hey! Are you guys insinuating that Iíll never get married?"

Rogue and Kitty both looked down at the ground, shuffling their feet. "Well, youíve never exactly had a boyfriend for more than a couple of monthsÖ" Kitty said.

"Thatís just because I havenít found anyone good enough for me yet," Jubilee said.

"Thatís because thereís no one good enough for the Great Jubilee," Rogue said with a giggle.

Jubilee lounged back on the couch. "Probably not. So I guess Iíll just have to settle with marrying some old rich guy whoís about to die and get all his money."

"Youíre terrible!" Kitty said.

"Yeah, but someday Iíll be rich and terrible. Youíll just be married to some guy who would probably crush you if he rolled over in his sleep."

Kitty blushed. "I can always phase and get out."

"What if he crushes you before you have the chance to wake up and phase."

"Donít scare me like that, Jubilee!"

Rogue stood up. "Well, as amusing as the two of you are, Iím supposed to meet Bobby so we can tell the Professor togetherónot that he probably doesnít already know."

"All right," Jubilee said.

"And congratulations again!" Kitty added.

Rogue nodded. "Thanks."

*** *** ***

Rogue looked down at her watch and noticed she was late for her meeting with Bobby and the Professor. She thought about contacting Xavier telepathically and letting him know she was on her way, but decided against it. It would be a miracle if Bobby was even there yet.

The fact she was rushing combined with her mind wandering as she contemplated just exactly how she was going to keep her doubts shielded from Professor Xavier, kept Rogue from paying attention to where she was going. She stumbled backwards as she ran right into something warm and hard.

"Hey, watch it there, Marie," the obstacle grumbled.

Marie looked up right into Loganís soul-piercing hazel eyes. "Damn my luck," Rogue thought. "Sometimes I feel like my life is controlled by some angst-loving sadist." "Um, hi Logan."

"Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

"I have an appointment. Now if you donít mindÖ"

"Whatís that on your hand?"

"My, arenít you subtle."

"Subtlety has never done a damn thing for me," Logan said. "Now whatís on your finger?"

"In civilized circles they call it an engagement ring. Some men buy them for women they love."

"So youíre gettiní married."

"Yes. Iíve found a man who deserves me and can give me the kind of life I should have."

Logan winced at the paraphrase of what heíd told her when he left. "Youíre still bitter that I left?"

"Bitter? Bitter! Logan, I wish I was just bitter. I hate you. No, I beyond hate you. There isnít a word to describe what I feel for you now. Iím not bitter. Fuck bitter. And while youíre at it, fuck you, too."

Rogue tried to walk away, but Logan grabbed her arm. "MarieÖ"

"Let go of me, Logan."

"Marie, pleaseÖ"

"Iím not Marie! Marie doesnít exist anymore. Just Rogue."

"Donít do this."

Rogue grabbed her arm away from him. "Do what Logan? Walk away from you like you did from me? Live my life on my own the same way you have a million times before? What do you not want me to do? Because if you think Iím going to stand here and act like I actually give a damn about you, youíre dead wrong. If youíve taught me anything, itís how to stop caring, and thatís what Iím going to do now. So just tuck your tail between your legs and run off to where ever it is you go to lick your wounds because I donít want you in my life anymore!"

"Marie, you canít push me out of your life like this."

"I canít? Why the hell not? Does it only work when you push yourself out?"

"I came back to try to make amends with you."

"Make amends with me? A little late for that, Wolverine."

"It canít be. Just because we canít be lovers, Marie, canít mean Iíve lost you completely."

Rogue laughed. "Youíre clueless. You lost me completely the moment you ran off in the middle of the night to save me from you, or whatever you were trying to do. You killed any feelings I ever had for you, so just leave me the hell alone."

Loganís only response was to grab her and kiss her. The moment his lips were on her, all Marieís conscious thoughts flew out the window, and she was kissing back.

"WhatÖwhat was that for?" she asked as he pulled away

"Proviní you still have feelings for me."

Marie tried to collect herself. "Just because I responded to you kissing me does not mean I have feelings for you."

"Proves youíre attracted tíme."

"Well, duh. Iím a woman and Iím breathing, after all. But I donít want to be with you, if thatís what youíre getting at. Besides, I think I distinctly remember you leaving me."

"I made a mistake."

Rogue rolled her eyes. "Nice observation."

"Iíve missed you, Marie."

"And Iíve missed you, too! Let me throw away everything I have so you can break my heart again!"

"There ainít any need for sarcasm."

"Look, Logan, you told me to find a man who could give me the kind of life you decided I should have. Well, I did that, and now here you are telling me to throw it all away. Make up your damn mind!"

"I have. And I was wrong before. I love you."

"Well, guess what. Itís too late."

Rogue walked away with a feeling of vindication.

*** *** ***

"Did the Professor seem to be acting a little strangely about our engagement to you?" Bobby called to Rogue through the bathroom door.

Rogue took her toothbrush out of her mouth. "No."

"Hmm. I guess Iím just nervous or something then," Bobby said.

Rogue rinsed out her mouth. "Yeah, thatís probably it." She left out the fact that the Professor had pulled her aside afterwards and told her to follow her heart, even if it didnít seem to be leading her down the safest path.

"I know itís probably silly, but I canít help worrying now that Wolverineís here."

Rogue walked out of the bathroom. "Worrying about what?í

"Well, us."

"There isnít any reason to worry about us," Rogue said, trying to ignore how her knees grew week at the thought of how Logan had kissed her in the hall earlier.

"I know, I guess itís just a typical, involuntary reaction to the ex-lover of the woman youíre going to marry showing up. Besides, knowing Logan heíll probably be gone in a few days anyway."

Rogue masked how badly Bobbyís words had stung. "Yeah, probably."

Bobby moved closer to Rogue, running his fingers through the white streaks in her hair then wrapping his arms loosely around her waist. "Promise me something."

"What?"

"That youíll always love me."

"Iíll always love you as much as I do right now."

Apparently that answer satisfied Bobby, because he pulled Rogue into a kiss and she didnít have to think for a while.

*** *** ***

Scott was carrying the trash out to the dumpsters behind the mansion when he found Rogue crouched next to a wall, smoking a cigarette, seemingly lost in her own world. He threw the garbage away before approaching her.

"I didnít know you smoked."

Rogue jumped about a mile in the air. "Um, I donít."

"So what are you doing out here hiding behind the dumpsters smoking a cigarette?"

"Okay, fine. I donít smokeóusually."

"Thatís a nasty habit, you know."

Rogue sighed. "I know, I just needed something to calm my nerves, and apparently your wife doesnít just Ďdispense Valium as if it were candy.í"

"So this whole Logan thing has you pretty shaken up, I take it."

"What Logan thing?"

"The Logan being back at the mansion thing."

"Oh, that Logan thing. Why would I care about that?"

"You know, Iím not as dull-witted as most of you think."

"Iím just in denial, okay?"

"Denial is not a good state to be in."

"Actually, Iíve found that the State of Denial is quite lovely this time of year. Almost as beautiful as the State of Confusion."

"RogueÖ"

"Look, Scott, Iím fine, all right? Or at least I will be. I just wasnít planning on Logan ever coming back, and now here he is trying to mess everything up for me. But Iíll have my head back on straight soon enough, and then everything will be peachy." Rogue took a drag off her cigarette.

"Do you want to go back to Logan?"

"I swear, the next person who asks me that is going to find themselves in a freaking coma."

"Iím just worried about you. Logan tends to drive you to unhealthy behaviors."

"Gee, you think? Scott, I appreciate your concern, but Iím fine, really. Iím engaged to Bobby, Iím not going to go back to Logan, and Iím happy with that."

"You donít look happy."

"Thatís because youíve destroyed my bubble."

"Destroyed your bubble?"

"Yes. The bubble I formed around myself when I came out here that was going to protect me from all the bad things for just a few minutes whilst I poisoned myself with tar, nicotine, and whatever else might be in this thing that could kill me." She flicked her cigarette. "But you had to come out here with your seriousness and pop my pretty little bubble."

"RogueÖ"

"I know, I know, Iím being overly-sarcastic. Look, just let me initiate the onslaught of lung cancer in peace, and I promise you, as soon as things get to be too hard for me to handle Iíll come cry on your shoulder."

Scott gave her a dry smile. "Iíll hold you to that."

Rogue smiled back. "Beat it, Summers."

Scott started to walk away, but stopped for a moment and called back to her. "Those thingsíll kill you."

Rogue just grinned. "Then more power to Ďem."

*** *** ***

Rogue had spent all day with Bobby picking out china patterns, and it had been all she could do to keep from screaming. Rogue knew things were beginning to get to be officially too much for her. Here she was planning the ideal wedding and the ideal life with Bobby when every time she turned around she came face to face with Logan. She knew that marrying Bobby was the right thing to do, but she wanted Logan more than sheíd ever wanted anything else in her life.

So she sat alone on the couch in the rec room drinking tequila straight from the bottle. She knew Bobby would be upstairs wondering where she was, but she didnít care. All she wanted was to get so drunk she forgot who she was.

Logan walked into the room to find Marie, more than slightly inebriated. "What the hell are you doing?"

Marie looked up slowly. "Drinkiní tequila. Want some?"

"No. Give me that." He tried to take the bottle, but she jerked it away from him.

"If you donít want any, why are ya takiní it?"

"íCause you donít want any either."

"Yes I do."

"Youíve had enough."

"Uh-uh. Iím still able títhink some."

"Marie, why are you doing this?"

"Doiní what?"

"Sitting here all alone gettiní pissed."

"Iím not alone. Youíre here."

Logan knew better that to argue with a drunk woman, especially one who was drunk on tequila. "Okay, fine. Whyíd ya get drunk."

"Because."

Wolverine gave a low, frustrated growl. "Because why, Marie?"

"Because I felt like it! Good enough reason for ya, Logan?"

"No."

"Fuck off."

"MarieÖ"

"Itís Rogue, dammit! Now fuck off!"

"You need to go to bed."

"No."

"MarieÖ"

"ROGUE!"

"Fine. Rogue. You need to go to bed. Youíre gonna be miserable in the morniní as it is."

"How will that be different from every other morniní since you left me?"

"Please, donít do that."

"Youíre always sayiní that, Logan. What exactly am I not supposed to be doing?"

"Rubbiní in the fact I hurt ya."

"But itís so fun!" Marie exclaimed. "I love seeiní that hurt look in your eyes. Reminds me of what I see every time I look in the mirror."

"Go to bed, Rogue."

"Fine," Marie said, tightening her grip on her bottle of tequila, "But Iím taking Señor Cuervo with me!" She stood up, but immediately fell forward, dropping the bottle so it smashed on the ground. Logan reached out and caught her. She looked up at him. "Oops."

"I donít think youíre gonna be able to make it back up to your room."

Marie started to giggle.

"Whatís so damned funny?"

"I forgot how strong your arms are. Bobbyís sorta scrawny."

"Yeah, I bet he is. Címon, Marie, Iím gonna try tíget ya upstairs."

Logan tried to help Marie walk, but she was uncooperative, and they ended up toppling over together on to the couch. "Ow," she said from under him. "Youíre squashiní me."

"Sorry." Logan stood up. He started to reach down to help Marie get off the couch, but slipped in the spilt tequila and landed back on top of her, this time bracing himself on his arms so he wouldnít crush her.

Marie smiled up at him. "Well hello there, Handsome."

"Marie, come on, Darliní, I gotta get you upstairs. Youíre almost a married womanóthis ainít right."

"You said Ďalmost.í So Iím not married yet, and this isnít wrong."

"Yes, it is." He tried to get up, but she wrapped her legs around him and pulled him back down. "Marie, let go of me."

"You donít really mean that," she cooed. "I can feel how much you want me." She reached down and grabbed hold of the bulge that was forming at his crotch.

Logan moved her hand away. "Look, I want you, yeah, but not like this. Youíre engaged and well, more than a little drunk. This is somethiní youíre gonna regret in the morning. Right along with drinking however much you did from that bottle of José Cuervo that just bit the dust."

Marie reached up and stroked his sideburns, and Logan couldnít help but nuzzle against her hand. "I could never regret making love to youÖ"

"MarieÖ" Logan croaked, his resolve breaking.

She put her other hand behind his head and lowered him down to kiss her. He crushed himself to her lips, ravishing her mouth. He no longer cared what kind of ring she was wearing or how much sheíd been drinking.

That is, until he realized she had passed out.

"Dammit." Logan pushed himself up and stood over Marieís unconscious form. He extended his claws for a moment, letting the pain bring him back to reality, then retracted them and picked Marie up. He tried to wrap her arms around his neck so sheíd be easier to carry, but she kept slipping. "Dammit," he cursed again as he realized she was out so soundly that she wasnít going to be anything but dead weight.

He carried her out of the rec room and up the stairs, cursing every time he hit her head or legs on the wall or banister. He reached the hall that both his and Marieís rooms were on and started to bring her back to her own room, but decided that Bobby Drake wouldnít exactly appreciate Logan of all people delivering his wife-to-be to him, drunk and passed out.

Logan brought her to his own room instead.

He laid down in the bed with her, wrapping her arms around her and wishing they could be there together under better circumstances.

*** *** ***

Rogue woke up the next morning in excruciating pain, not remembering where she was or how she got there. She forced her eyes open, despite the fact that the light coming in from the windows was blinding, and took in her surroundings. "Oh shit," she said as she realized she was in Loganís roomóalthough he was nowhere to be found.

"How the hell did I get in here?" she wondered aloud. She looked under the covers and saw she was fully dressed, which made her relax a little, but she was still uncertain of what exactly had happened. She remembered sitting on the couch downstairsódowning a bottle of tequilaóbut after that everything was blank.

Rogue looked on the beside table and noticed a bottle of aspirin, a glass of water, and a piece of paper. She figured Logan had left the aspirin for her, since he certainly wouldnít need it himself, and took a couple. She then picked up the piece of paper. There, scrawled in Loganís handwriting, was simply the word "sorry." Rogue rolled over on her back and stared up at the ceiling, feeling empty. He was gone again.

About half an hour, a few more aspirins, and a couple of mad dashes to the bathroom with her hand over her mouth later, Rogue made her way out of bed. She found her shoes by the dresser, put them on, and left the room. However, no sooner was she out the door than did Bobby walk up the stairs. He looked at her, looked at the room she was coming out of, and narrowed his eyes in anger.

"BobbyÖthis isnít what it looks like!" Rogue said quickly.

"Really? Explain what it is then, because itís looking pretty bad."

"IÖI donít know!" Rogue said, wishing more than ever that she could remember what had happened the night before.

"What do you mean you donít know?"

"I mean I donít know! I was drunk!"

"Drunk?! What, so drunk you thought it would be fun to hop into the sack with Logan once more for old timeís sake?"

"No!" Rogue said, cursing the pounding in her head. "I didnít do anything like that with Logan."

"Then why were you in his room?"

"I donít remember."

"So how do you know you two didnít sleep together?"

"Please, Bobby, donít yell at me."

"How do you know you didnít sleep with him?!"

"I just do!"

"Dammit, Rogue, I knew this was going to happen. I knew from the moment that Wolverine waltzed back into this mansion that you were going to cheat on me with him."

"But I didnít!" Rogue was crying by now.

"Funny, I donít believe you."

"Please, you have to. I didnítÖI didnít do anything."

"Somehow that isnít very convincing. You know, I was worried sick when you didnít come to bed last night. I went to sleep, figuring you were probably just up late talking to Jubilee or something, but then when I woke up and you still werenít there, I thought something had happened to you. I never once thought that you might be right down the hall, screwing another man."

"But I wasnít!" Rogue said, adamant about her innocence. "I donít know how I ended up in Loganís room, but I do know I didnít have sex with him."

"Whatever, Rogue. Youíve been looking for a way out of this engagement ever since it began."

Rogue looked up at him, shocked at his words. "You didnít think I knew that, did you?" Bobby asked. "Baby, Iím not as clueless as you think I am. I could read the signs as plain as anyone else, I just didnít want to accept what I was seeing with my own eyes. I clung to the hope that it was a passing thingópremarital jitters and all that. But I can see now what it really was. Well, you wanted your outóyour ticket to freedom and a second chance with Logan. Looks like you have it now. Donít expect me to be waiting to welcome you back with open arms the moment Logan stomps on your heart again."

Rogue wanted to tell Bobby it was too late, that Logan was already gone, but she couldnít find the words. Instead she sat down against the wall, pulling her knees up to her chin and sobbing. Bobby walked into their room and slammed the door.

The last time Rogue had felt as lost as she did then was when the door being shut in her face was her parentsí.

*** *** ***

Logan came down the hall to find Rogue still in tears. He ran over and knelt in front of her. "Hey, what happened?" he asked, his face and voice both filled with concern.

Rogue looked up in surprise. "Logan! Youíre still here!"

"Yeah, of course I am. Whyíd you think I wasnít?"

"Because when I woke up youíd left that note that said Ďsorry.í I figured that was your way of letting me know youíd left again."

Logan smiled at her and held her tear-streaked face in his hands. "No, I didnít mean sorry because Iíd left. I meant sorry because of last night and the fact that you were probably in a hell of a lot of pain when you woke up. Is that why you were cryiní?"

Rogue shook her head. "Bobby just called it off with me?"

Loganís expression became unreadable. "Why?"

"He saw me coming out of your room and assumed Iíd slept with you." She looked into his eyes. "I didnítÖdid I?"

Logan shook his head. "No." He put his hands down at his sides. "We came close, but you passed out."

"Oh."

"Why was I in your bed then?"

"Actually, I brought you there because I was afraid Bobby would get mad at you if I brought you passed out to your room in the middle of the night. I didnít think about how heíd react if he found out youíd been in my room."

"Well, thereís irony for ya," Rogue said, making a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob.

"Do you want me to talk to him for you?" Logan asked. "Maybe I could convince him that nothing happened and get him to take you back." He couldnít believe he was saying that, but if it would make Marie happy, then he would gladly do it.

Marie shook her head. "No, I donít want you to do that. Bobby said Iíve been looking for a way out ever since we got engaged, and well, in a lot of ways heís right."

"Why have you been doing that?" Logan asked.

"Because Iím still in love with you," Marie admitted.

Loganís only response was to kiss her.

*** *** **

Bobby slumped into a chair as soon as he got into the bedroom. What had just happened? Had he just lost the woman he loved?

Bobby thought over what had been said in the hallway. She had been adamant about not sleeping with Wolverine, maybe he had jumped to conclusions. Then again, sheíd been coming out of his room after being gone all nightÖ

Bobby sighed as he got out of the chair. Maybe he should at least listen to what she had to say. Why throw away what he had with Rogue based on circumstantial evidence?

He opened the door and looked out into the hallway. He saw that Rogue was still sitting by Loganís door, only now, she was in his arms. Bobby slammed the door, knowing that now, it really was over.

*** *** ***

Rogue pulled away from Logan when she heard a door slam. She looked down the hallway. "I think Bobby saw us," she said.

"Is that a problem?" Logan asked.

"Well, about ten minutes ago he was my fiancé," Rogue replied.

"You told me youíre still in love with me," Logan said, kissing her up and down her jaw line. "Come back to me, Darliní."

It was all Marie could do to keep from moaning at Loganís touch. She couldnít remember a time when heíd seemed sexier. "YouíllÖyouíll hurt me again," she said, trying to keep focused.

"No I wonít, Baby," he said, lifting her off the ground and into his arms. "Youíre gonna have to trust me."

"But how can I?" Marie asked as he started carrying her into his bedroom.

"Easy. Just love me." Logan put her down on his bed and took off her shoes and jeans.

"LoganÖIím tired and my head hurts."

"I know, Darliní," Logan replied, pulling the covers up over her. "Get some rest. Weíll talk more when you feel better."

Marie nodded, already drifting off to sleep.

Logan left her alone, shutting the door almost silently behind him.

*** *** ***

Bobby knew heíd have to face the world eventually, so after a few hours of sulking he resolved to go downstairs. Maybe he could go out and find a bar and get drunker than heíd ever been before. Why not just sit back and let his life become a country song?

He was on his way to the front door when he walked past one of the mansionís many dens and saw Wolverine inside the room, sitting on the couch and smoking a cigar. To Bobby, he seemed to be radiating arrogance, and the young mutant had never felt angrier in his life.

"Youíre not supposed to be smoking in here."

Logan looked up at Bobby standing in the doorway. "What do you want, Kid?" he growled.

"Besides getting the chance to spit on your grave? Not much."

Logan growled. "I ainít in the mood for this now."

"Oh, thatís right, you have had a bad day, what getting the woman you love stolen by the man thatís walked all over her a million times before. Oh, wait, that was me. Never mind."

"I didnít steal her from you."

Bobby glared at Logan defiantly. "What would you call it then?"

"If anything, she went tíme williníly."

"Why? Why after everything youíve done to her would she run back into your arms like this?"

"I donít have an answer for that."

"You know, donít you?"

"Know what?"

"That you donít deserve her."

"Yeah, I know that."

"Then why are you doing this? Why couldnít you have just stayed away? I couldíve made her happy."

"Obviously not, since it sure didnít take her long to go back tíme."

Bobby fought to keep himself in check, knowing that Wolverine could make very short work of him. "She wonít stay with you."

"What makes you say that?"

"Sooner or later sheís going to realize what a bastard you are."

"And let me guess, when she does sheíll go runniní back to you."

Bobby shook his head. "Probably not. But itís still enough to know that one of these days, youíre going to lose her, too, and then youíll be just as miserable as I am."

"You can wait for that to happen all you want, Drake, but Rogueís never gonna leave me."

"You say that now, but one of these days, youíre going to push her too far."

Logan stood up. "Thatís a real nice prediction there, Kid, but right now I got a beautiful woman asleep in my bed and I think itís about time I went back up to her." He snuffed out his cigar out on the palm of his hand, put what was left of it his pocket, and pushed his way past Bobby.

Bobby left the mansion even more determined to find a way to drown his troubles than he had been before.

*** *** ***

Marie woke a few hours later to find herself wrapped up in Loganís arms. "I thought you left the room," she said.

Logan kissed the top of her head. "Good to see you, too."

"I didnít mean it like that. I just didnít expect you to be here when I woke up."

"I know."

Rogue reached up and placed her hand on his chest, only to catch sight of her engagement ring. "I guess I should probably give this back," she said, slipping it off her finger.

"You do want to give it back, donítcha?" Logan asked.

"Yes. I want to be with you."

Logan took the ring from her and set it on the bedside table. "Well, you got me, Darliní."

"Logan, I want you to answer something for me, and I donít want anything but the absolute truth. I have to know where I stand this time."

"What do you mean?"

"How long until you leave this time?"

"I ainít leaviní, Marie."

"You really mean that?"

"Yeah, I do. Iíve been miserable ever since I walked out of your life. I canít loose you again."

"Iím giving up a lot to be with you, Logan," Marie told him. "I do want to get married some day and start a family. I couldíve had that with Bobby. Donít make me regret walking away."

"I wonít, Marie. Iím here for you, I promise." He wrapped his arms around her, urging her to move closer.

Marie moved into the embrace. "I missed you."

"You wonít ever have to miss me again, Darliní."

*** *** ***

"Iím sorry, Rogue, I just canít support you in this."

"Jubilee! Youíre my best friend!"

Jubilee sighed. "I know, but Iím sick of it. Iím tired of sitting by and watching you do this to yourself over and over again. And what you did to BobbyÖ"

"I explained to you what happened."

"I donít care what happened, Rogue, the bottom line is you hurt him."

"I didnít mean to hurt him!"

"But you did. You turned your back on him as soon as Logan came back."

"No! Jubilee, please, it wasnít like that! My relationship with Bobby wouldíve ended whether or not Logan came back. I didnít love him enough to marry him!"

"Fine time to decide that, after the engagement. Why didnít you say no when he proposed then?"

"Because I didnít know!" Rogue exclaimed. "I was confused when he asked and I thought I was doing the right thing."

"Well, you werenít!"

"I know that now."

The two women just stared at each other for a moment until Rogue finally broke the silence and said. "Jubilee, please, donít do this to me. I canít lose your friendship over this. You mean too much to me."

"Look, Iím not going to stop being your friend. You mean a lot to me, too. Itís just, well, Iím not going to be there for you like Iíve been in the past. Iím not going to be in favor of this relationship youíre in now in any way shape or form, and Iím not going to be there for you when Logan leaves again."

"Logan isnít leaving again."

"Riiight. And Iím going to sprout wings and start flying around the mansion."

"He isnít. He promised me he wouldnít."

"Oh come on Rogue. We both know that a promise from Wolverine is worth less than Monopoly money."

"I believe him this time."

"You know, youíd think with the life youíve lead youíd be at least a little bit jaded by now, but no. Youíre still nothing but a naïve little Southern Belle."

"I donít need this from you, Jubilation."

"Yeah, well Bobby Drake didnít need you taking away everything he wanted in life."

"Well you know what, I donít live my life for Bobby Drake. I care about him, and Iím sorry heís hurting, but Iím not going to be miserable just so he can live in his little dream world."

"It used to be your dream world, too, Rogue."

"No, it wasnít. You donít get it, Jubilee. I loved Bobby, yeah, and we had a nice little relationship while it lasted, but there was something missing. A spark that just wasnít there for me. Itís there with Logan."

"Big deal. So he lights your fire or whatever," Jubilee said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "Whatís so important about that anyway?"

"Everything! The feelings I have for Logan, they make me want to live. When Iím with him, nothing else matters but the fact that weíre together, and I know that no matter what, Iíll be all right in the end. Why canít you just be my friend and accept that I love this man?"

"Because he isnít right for you!"

"That isnít your decision!"

"Heíll hurt you again!"

"Maybe he will." Rogue said, giving Jubilee a look that let her know she wasnít giving in, "But that doesnít matter. "Being without Logan hurts. So why should I pass up a chance to be with him and be happy, even if itís only for a little while."

"Because if you were with Bobby then maybe your happiness wouldnít have to end."

"Have you not listened to a single word Iíve said?" Rogue asked, throwing her hands up in despair.

"Yes, I have, but none of what youíre saying makes any sense to me."

"Then donít try to understand it. Just accept it as the way things are."

"RogueÖ"

"Iím not discussing this any more, Jubilee. Either you are my friend or you arenít. You canít put boundaries like this on a friendship."

"And I canít stand here and watch you throw your life away for Logan."

"Then I guess you wonít have to."

Rogue walked away.

*** *** ***

"Here for the rest of your stuff?" Bobby asked as he opened the door for Rogue.

"Yeah." She took her engagement ring out of her pocket and handed it to him. "This is yours."

Bobby took it from her. "Gee, thanks."

"What do I have left here?" Rogue asked.

"Hmm. Let me see," Bobby said, walking over to the closet. He opened it up. "Well, this is probably yours," he said, throwing out a dress. "Yeah, this, too." He pulled out what was left of Rogueís clothes one by one and threw them across the room at her.

"Bobby? Whatís wrong with you?"

"Whatís wrong with me? Nothing, Babe, just getting your clothes out for you. Youíve been slowly moving out of here for a week. I figured I might as well speed up the process a little. Would it be easier if I threw everything out into the hallway?"

"Why are you suddenly acting this way?" Rogue asked.

Ever since after the initial break-up, Bobby had been reasonably amicable towards her, not pleading with her to stay or even yelling at her for leaving him. Heíd been helpful when sheíd come over the last few times to get her things to move over to Loganís room. Rogue had been afraid the other shoe would drop from the moment she noticed that Bobby was taking things relatively well, and now it appeared that it had dropped hard enough to put a hole in the floor.

"íWhy are you acting this way?í she asks." Bobby threw his hands up in the air. "What, you canít figure it out. For the past week youíve been flaunting your relationship with Logan, hanging all over him, smiling lovingly every time he walks in the room, and basically ripping into pieces whatever you left me with when you stomped all over my life. And everyoneís been saying how nice it is of me to let you go, not to make things difficult for you.

"Well, why the hell should I not make things difficult for you? Youíve made things pretty damn difficult for me. Did you stop and consider my feelings when you got drunk out of your mind and somehow found your way into Loganís bed? Why should I try to keep from causing you any extra pain now?"

"Bobby, I didnít mean to hurt you! And for the last time, nothing happened with Logan that night!"

"You know what, Rogue, I donít give a damn anymore whether you slept with Logan or not. Itís no longer my problem who or what you fuck." He threw a couple more articles of clothing at her. "Get the hell out!"

Rogue gathered up what she could of what Bobby had thrown at her and ran out of the room.

*** *** ***

Marie moved past Logan as soon as he opened the door, tossed the pile of clothes she was carrying on the ground, and threw herself on the bed.

"Uh, this is probably going to sound like a dumb question," Logan said. "But are you okay?"

"No."

"Thatís the answer I was expecting." He sat down beside her on the bed and lifted her head so it was resting in her lap. "Wanna tell me whatís wrong?" he asked, petting her hair and shoulder.

"Iíve been having what has to rank up there as one of the three worst days of my life, right after when I discovered I was a mutant and lost everyone I cared about, and when I was kidnapped and almost killed by Magneto."

"What happened?"

Marie sniffled, and Logan looked down to see she was crying. "Oh, well, first I got in this huge fight with Jubilee because apparently she isnít Ďwilling to supportí my relationship with you."

"What business is it of hers?"

"None, but she thinks she can force me to correct everything she sees as a mistake."

"Is she still your friend?"

"I have no idea. Right now I donít even want to have to deal with her."

"So whatís with the huge pile of clothes?"

"Oh those are from the other fun part of my wonderful day. Apparently, Bobbyís tired of being nice to me about all of this. He flipped out on me today when I went to get the rest of my stuff from ouróhisóroom."

"Iím sorry, Darliní. I never meant to cause all these problems for ya."

"I know, Logan. And Iím not blaming you for any of this. Itís just that Jubilee and Bobby have been close to me for a long time, and I hate to think Iíve lost them."

"You didnít think that Bobby was actually going to be fine with you leaving him did you?" Logan asked.

"No, well, I guess not. Itís just that heís been okay the past few days, and I didnít expect him to go ballistic on me and start throwing clothes at my head."

"He threw clothes at you?"

"Yeah. They alternated with the insults."

"What made him finally decide he was angry?"

"Apparently he was sick of watching us together and pretending nothing was wrong for my sake."

"So he decided to take the exact opposite approach?"

"Looks like it."

"Are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah." Marie sat up. "Logan, can we go out tonight? I donít want to be here right now."

"Sure, Darliní, where do you want to go?"

"I donít care. Just any place but here."

*** *** ***

Marie looked around the restaurant Logan had taken her to. "Wow," she said. "No cigarette smoke, no bar flies, no unidentifiable, unpleasant smells. This is quite a change for you, Logan."

"What, I canít take you some place decent now and then?"

"Iím not complaining. Just a little surprised."

"Would you rather go some place else?"

"No, this is good."

"You look really nice tonight, Darliní."

"Now thatís gotta be just flattery. After the day Iíve had thereís no way I can look anything but haggard."

Logan grinned. "You always look beautiful to me."

"The Wolverine a smooth-talker. Who woulda figured?"

"Smart mouth."

"When have I not been?"

"Well, let me think. Not any time since you met me." He laughed. "I can still remember you lookiní up at me and askiní me Ďwhat kind of name is Wolverine.í"

Marie laughed, too. "I didnít think it was any better of a name than Rogue."

He took her hands in his. "Yeah, well, when weíre together weíre just Logan and Marie."

Marie smiled. "I like there being someone I can still be Marie with. Sometimes itís hard to be Rogue."

"Iíll bet." Logan reached into his pocket and pulled out his dogtags. "Here. I want you to have these back."

Marie took them from him and slipped them over her head, smiling at their familiar and reassuring feel around her neck. "You know, Iím glad to be wearing them again."

"They look good on you."

"You just like it being this obvious that Iím yours."

Logan shrugged. "Yeah, wellÖ"

"I like being yours, you know."

"I know."

"What is it made of anyway?" Marie asked, fingering the chain.

"What makes you ask that?"

"Well, um, see I was really mad at you once, so I threw them at my wall and they made this pretty nasty little hole."

Logan chuckled. "Itís adamantium, Darliní."

"That stuff thatís all over you bones?"

"One and the same."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Wow. No wonder youíre unbreakable."

"Yeah, no wonder."

*** *** ***

Marie walked into the mansion with Logan to their room feeling more content than she remembered ever feeling before. Even with everything that had happened to her that day, just being with Logan somehow made her feel like all was right with the universe. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder as they walked to their room, and she couldnít believe that only a couple of weeks ago she had been going to marry another man.

As soon as they got inside, Logan grabbed Marie before she could switch on the lights. "Yíknow," he began, kissing her down her neck and across the top of her shoulder with every word, "IÖmustÖbeÖthe luckiestÖmanÖinÖtheÖworld."

Marie giggled. "Iím a pretty lucky woman myself."

"I think weíre both about to get luckier," Logan growled against her ear.

"Oh? What makes you say that?"

Logan hoisted her up into his arms and carried her over to the bed. Marie sighed in contentment. She knew then what true bliss was.

*** *** ***

Rogue watched as her class filled out of the door. "Donít forget to read the chapter on the fall of the Mesopotamian Empire!" she called after them, doubting any of them paid her a bit of attention.

One of her students peeked her head into the door. "Hey, Miss Rogue, your boyfriend is coming down the hallway. May I just say he is one mighty fine lookiní man."

Rogue giggled. "Yeah, I know. Now get on to your next class. And donít forget your reading assignment. Just because homework isnít written doesnít mean itís nonexistent."

The student gave her a thumbs up sign and said "You got it!" before darting out the door.

Logan walked in a moment later. "Well, if it isnít the mighty fine lookiní man himself," Rogue said with a smirk.

Logan raised an eyebrow. "Huh?"

"Thatís what one of my students just called you."

"Iím flattered."

"So what brings you down here."

"Havenít seen you all day since you were gone before I woke up," Logan said. "Oh, and to tell you that a pipe burst above us and our room got flooded."

Rogue turned pale. "What? Please tell me this is your version of a joke."

"Wish I could. Donít worry, nothing was ruined. Everythingís a little damp, the carpetís soggy, and there are these really loud fans everywhere drying it all out, but other than that itís fine."

"Where are we sleeping tonight?"

"The Professor set us up in one of the guestrooms. He said we can stay there until ours dries out."

"Is there anything in our room that I can salvage for the time being, or is it all wet?"

"I went through your clothes, found the driest, and brought them over to the other room."

"You are so wonderful."

"I know."

"So where is this other room?"

"Iíll meet you after your last class and we can walk there together."

"All right, that works. My next class should be walking through the door any minute now, so Iíll see you then, okay?"

"Sure thing, Darliní." Logan leaned across her desk and kissed her. "Love you."

"Love you, too."

*** *** ***

"So exactly how bad is our room?" Marie asked once sheíd settled into the guestroom.

"Let me put it this way," Logan said. "Every time you walk on the carpet you hear a squishy sound and water flies up and hits you in the face."

"Did you just say Ďsquishyí?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

She burst out laughing. "Thatís funny."

"How is that funny? Thatís the sort of sound it makes. Squishy."

Marie laughed harder.

"Hey, this is serious, you know. The carpet might have to be replaced."

"Why do you care? It isnít your money."

"Good point."

"Say it again."

"MarieÖ"

"Please?"

"Squishy," Logan muttered under his breath.

"Youíre so cute."

"Glad you think so."

"So how long will our carpet be squishy?" Marie asked, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle.

"Iím never going to live that down, am I?"

"Not as long as Iím around."

"So I guess Iíll be hearing it for a while, since I certainly donít plan on making it so youíre not around any time soon."

"I should hope not!"

Logan smiled at her. "So you like the word squishy, huh?"

"Itís so cute when you say it!"

"You know, I donít think anyone but you has ever referred to me or anything I do as Ďcute.í"

"Thatís because with you, Ďcuteí is an understatement."

Logan raised an eyebrow. "Understatement?"

"Yep. Greek god-like gorgeous fits you a bit better."

"Okay, now thatís an overstatement."

Marie shook her head. "Nope. You are the sexiest man I have ever seen."

"Donít get out much?"

She lightly hit him on the arm. "LoganÖ"

Logan took her by the hands and lightly pulled. "Címere."

Marie smiled and let him pull her into his lap. She snuggled up against his chest. "I like it here," she said.

"I like you beiní here."

"So never stop holding me, okay."

Logan hugged her to him tighter. "You got yourself a deal, Darliní."

*** *** ***

The next day Marie went alone up to the squishy-floored room to survey the damage and make sure Logan didnít forget anything she needed.

She was only in there for a couple of moments when the telephone rang. She picked up the receiver.

"Logan?" the voice at the other end of the line asked before Marie even had a chance to say hello.

"No, this is Rogue. Whoís calling?"

"Can you get me Logan?" the strange woman asked. Marie noted that she had a very definite Asian accent, most likely Japanese.

"He isnít here, but I can get him to call you back if youíll leave your name and number."

"My name is Mariko Yashida, and Logan knows my number. Tell him he must call. It is urgent."

There was a click and the other woman was gone.

Marie hung up the phone.

*** *** ***

Logan got home late that evening to find Marie waiting up for him. "Hey Baby," he said. He leaned over and tried to kiss her, but Marie moved away.

"Whatís wrong?"

"Whoís Mariko Yashida?"

All the color drained from Loganís face. "Where the hell did you hear about her?"

"She called you earlier."

"Did she say what she wanted?"

"No. Just that it was urgent."

"Dammit." He went over to the phone, practically pushing Marie out of the way to get to it. He dialed the numbed quickly and from memory. The ensuing conversation was in Japanese, which prevented Marie from understanding anything but the inflection in Loganís voice. That alone, however, was enough to make her sit on the edge of the bed and glare at the back of his head the whole time he was talking to Mariko.

"I have to go," Logan said as soon as he hung up the phone.

"What!?" Marie yelled, jumping up. "You canít go!"

"I have to."

"Where? For how long?"

"I canít tell you."

"No! Logan, you promised you wouldnít do this again."

"Iím sorry. I didnít know at the time that something like this was going to happen."

"So what, some woman calls and all the promises you made to me go out the window? What, am I just your girl at this port?"

"Marie, dammit, you know you mean more to me than that! Now I donít have time for this shit right now, so donít pull it."

"Logan, I donít think Iím the one acting irrationally here. You say you love me, that you want to be with me, and you wonít ever leave me, then the next thing I know youíre going off and you wonít even tell me where to."

"Itís just better if you donít know where I am."

"Canít you at least tell me how long youíll be gone?"

"No."

"You promised you wouldnít leave again."

"Look, Darliní, Iím sorry I have to break my promise to you, but this is real important. Mari needs me to help her out."

MariÖ It sickened Marie how much like her own the name he called her was. "Well then go to Mari," she spat. "I donít give a damn anymore."

"Marie, please donít. I need to know youíre gonna be here for me when I get back."

"When will that be?"

"I donít know."

"Can you answer me one question then?"

"Maybe. What is it?"

"Is she an old flame?"

"MarieÖ"

"Answer the fucking question Logan!" Marie yelled, suddenly so angry she was shaking.

"Yes. I loved her once."

"Great. Now I feel so much better about you leaving."

"You asked, Marie."

"Youíre an asshole."

"Iíve never denied that."

"Just get out. If youíd rather be with her than me, then fine, go. I donít care anymore."

"Marie, it isnít that I want to be with her more than you! I love you! Itís just I have to help her. I canít turn my back on her."

"Why not? Youíve turned your back on me plenty of times."

"Not when it really counted."

"Why donít you let me be the judge of that?"

"Marie, I donít have time for this. I have to be on the next plane outta Westchester." Logan went over to the closet and grabbed out a bag that was already packed, thanks to the disaster upstairs that had made him move all his stuff.

"I wonít be gone forever," Logan said. Marie was sitting back on the bed, her face hidden by her hands. Logan knew she was crying. He reached his hand out, almost touching her. "MarieÖ"

"Go."

"Marie, please."

She looked up and ripped his dogtags from her neck, throwing them at his feet. "Get the hell out!"

Logan gave her one last look before leaving.

As soon as he was gone, Marie slumped from the bed to the floor. She grabbed the dogtags and clutched them tightly, crying the way she had years ago when Logan loving her had been nothing but a dream.

*** *** ***

When Marie woke up alone the next morning, she found herself grateful that she wasnít in Loganís room. She wouldnít have been able to stand being alone with so many memories.

She got ready for class almost mechanically. She couldnít believe this had happened to her again, that sheíd let Logan in only to have him leave her the same way he had before.

Marie sat down on the bed and tried to access any of Loganís memories that might have had something to do with Mariko. She couldnít find anything clear, but that really didnít surprise her. It had been so long since she had last absorbed him on the Statue of Liberty, and many of his memories had started to fade. Besides, Marie had no way of knowing when Logan had met Mariko. For all she knew, it couldíve been after heíd fallen in with the X-Men

But he had said heíd be coming back. And he hadnít said it was over between them or that he was going to be with Mariko. Marie picked his dogtags up from her pillow and put them back around her neck. She could cling to the hope that he would come home to her soon.

Rogue tucked his dogtags into her shirt and walked out into the hall, ready to face her day with forced optimism.

*** *** ***

Over the next couple of days, Rogue noticed that everyone around her seemed to be walking on eggshells every time they spoke to her. Logan and his current whereabouts was never the topic of conversation, and many people avoided having a very in depth discussion with her about anything at all. She knew that they thought Logan had left because of her, or that their relationship had ended and Rogue was broken hearted ,and she wasnít particularly in the mood to sit down and set them straight. Besides, she didnít even know where she stood with Logan. What if he fell back in love with Mariko Yashida and never came back at all? What if he came back only to tell Rogue it was over for good this time?

Rogue found herself restless at night. She wanted them to be finished laying the new carpet in her room upstairs. The fear of being alone with Loganís memories had been replaced with the desire to be near anything that could keep her believing heíd come home to her.

Logan had been gone a month, and he hadnít even called. That didnít really surprise Rogue. Heíd never called before, and she hadnít expected that to change now. Sheíd moved back into their room, and she couldnít decide how being there made her feel. She decided to drown out the silence with background noise from the television or radio so she wouldnít have to think.

Soon, almost all conversations had dwindled down to pity-filled looks, and Rogue felt as if sheíd been reverted to the untouchable girl whoíd arrived at the mansion so many years ago. Her friends never came around anymore; she ate all her meals alone. If it werenít for her classes, and Jeanís continued understandingówhich Rogue attributed to the fact that her powers allowed her to know what Rogue was truly feelingóshe wouldíve had almost no contact with other people at all.

It was during the third month of solitude that Rogue realized sheíd given everything away for Logan, and now she didnít even have him.

It was then that the emptiness came.

*** *** **

"You should tell Rogue."

"Kitty, I havenít talked to her in months, and this isnít exactly something you can just walk up to someone and say."

"Sure it is. She has a right to know."

"You tell her then."

"No, Jubilee, you need to."

"Youíve seen how Rogueís been acting ever since Wolverine left her high and dryóagain. For all I know, she wants him back and sheíll flip out on me when I tell her."

Rogue stopped short when she heard the conversation between Kitty and Jubilee. She knew she shouldnít be listening since it was obviously not something she was meant to hear, but she couldnít bring herself to walk away either.

"She probably should. You basically killed the friendship over a choice she made that really wasnít any of your business and then hooked up with her ex and didnít even bother to tell her. Wait, make that not only kept from telling her, but actively worked to hide it from her as well."

"My ex?," Rogue thought. "Jubilee and Bobby?! Well, I guess I shouldíve known that was a possibility after the way she reacted to me hurting him."

"Youíre one to talk, Kit. Whenís the last time you sat down and shared some quality time with Rogue?"

"Weíre not talking about me here. Besides, you have to admit that Rogue hasnít been the easiest person to get close to these days. Sheís been so distant."

"Yeah, because being close to anyone has meant being surrounded by pity loosely veiled by Ďfriendlyí smiles, and youíve been the queen of it. Anyone would distance themselves from that, Katherine."

"Yeah, probably because sheís gone back to her old routine of sitting around and pining for Logan as if getting himóand keeping himóis actually an obtainable goal for her. Youíd think she wouldíve grown up by now," Jubilee said.

"And talking about people behind their backs and sneaking around with a guy are two incredibly mature behaviors," Rogue thought sardonically.

"Donít be so harsh on her, Jubilee," Kitty said. "Look at her situation. She has the perfect relationship with Bobby, one based on real love, but she makes the mistake of throwing it all away for the physical attraction she has with Logan. She confuses lust for love, but Loganóof courseóknows the truth. He gets what he wants from her, gets bored, and then leaves her alone and brokenhearted. Once the dust settles, and she starts to see things clearly again, Rogue realizes that sheís lost the love of her life and her best chance at happiness. How else could you expect her to react?"

Rogue gaped in shock at Kittyís words. "Is that really what they think?"

"Yeah, I know. Itís just hard to put up with her and her fantasy world sometimes."

Rogue had heard enough. She stormed into the room, glaring at her two supposed friends. "I canít believe yíall!" she yelled. "Iím the one living in a fantasy world? From what I just heard it sounds like the two of you are the delusional ones here. For one thing, I donít want Bobby back in any way, shape, or form. That relationship was never meant to be. Jubilee, if you can give him something I never could, then great, Iím happy for the both of you.

"And as far as Logan is concerned, weíre not broken up. He had something he had to take care of and he left. Yes, when he left we were arguing and things arenít exactly the best theyíve ever been between us right now, but itís nothing bad enough to throw me into the depths of despair as everyone seems to think. And if you people think that Logan and I arenít sincerely in love, then fine. Youíre wrong, and I thought that people who once called me their best friend would know me better than that, but apparently that isnít the case.

"And as of now, I donít particularly care what you think about how what I feel for Logan, Bobby, or anyone else for that matter. You can take your opinion of me and my love life and shove it. Iím an adult, in a relationship with another adult and thatís no oneís business but mine and Loganís. If you want to sit here and pick apart everything in my life and put intentions that Iíve never even taken into consideration on my every action, then fine, go right ahead. Ever since Logan left everyoneís been deciding how I feel, keeping away from me because of it, and then dubbing me closed-off and emotionally unstable. Well, thatís just fine. I donít give a damn about any of you anymore."

Rogue walked away, leaving both Kitty and Jubilee dumbfounded.

*** *** ***

It was four months before Logan came home. Rogue was sitting on the couch in the living room talking to Jean when he came in, and he didnít even bother to stop as he walked past.

Jean and Rogue exchanged surprised looks, and Rogue quickly got up and ran after him. She caught up with him at the top of the stairs. "Logan!"

He stopped and turned around with obvious reluctance. "What is it, Marie? I ainít exactly in the mood to talk right now."

Rogue glared at him. "After running out on me for four months you better be in the mood to talk."

"Later."

"No, Logan. Thereís no later. Thereís here and thereís now."

"Fine, what do you want to know?"

"Did you fuck her?"

"What?"

"You heard me."

"Is that all you think about?"

"Well, seeing as before you got that phone call I was the woman you professed undying love to, but you ran off as soon as she crooked her finger at you, Iíd have to say, yeah, thatís pretty high on my list of concerns."

"I was only helping her."

"For four months?!"

"She needed a lot of help!"

"Youíre the one who needs help."

"Look, MarieóDarliníóI still love you, okay? Marikoís just an old friend that needed me."

"Then why couldnít you call me or write or anything while you were with her? Why did you do to me what you promised youíd never do again?"

"Iím sorry. Itís just that there are some things in my life you canít be part of. If youíre going to be with me, youíre gonna have to understand that."

Marieís expression went cold. "Okay, Logan. I understand that."

"You all right?"

"Perfectly fine."

"Iím goiní to our room to unpack and get some rest. Meet me up there in a little while, okay?"

"No problem, Logan."

Rogue walked back down the stairs to finish talking to Jean.

*** *** ***

Logan was sleeping when Marie came into the room. She climbed on the bed with him, leaning over him. His eyes opened, and when he saw her he started to say something, but she put her finger to his lips to silence him.

"Shh. Donít say anything. Just make love to me."

Logan rolled her over, more than happy to give her what sheíd asked for.

*** *** ***

I don't wanna lose you,
I don't wanna use you
Just to have somebody by my side
And I don't wanna hate you
I don't wanna take you
But I don't wanna be the one to cry
That don't really matter to anyone, anymore
But like a fool I keep losing my place
And I keep seeing you walk through that door

Logan woke up slowly, trying to figure out exactly what he was hearing. Music? He looked over at the clock. Three twenty-seven A.M. Why in the world would he be hearing music? Then he heard another sound, softer, more delicate than the song. Crying. He reached out and realized Marieís side of the bed was empty.

But there's a danger in loving somebody too much
And its sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust
There's a reason why people don't stay where they are
Baby sometimes love just ain't enough

He sat up and looked around the room and found her sitting by the window. She was wearing headphones, and he realized that was where the music was coming from. She had them turned up louder than what was probably good for her ears, and with Loganís heightened senses he was able to hear the song fairly well. He got out of bed and walked towards her.

Now I could never change you
I don't wanna blame you
Baby you don't have to take the fall
Yes I may have hurt you
But I did not desert you
Maybe I just want to have it all
It makes a sound like thunder
It makes me feel like rain
And like a fool who will never see the truth
I keep thinking something's gonna change

"Marie?"

Loganís voice and his hand on her shoulder made Marie jump. She slipped the headphones off her ears and down around her neck with the song still playing.

"Logan, you startled me."

Logan crouched down beside her. "Why arenít you in bed?" he asked, his voice so tender and full of concern that Marie thought the pain inside her was going to make her explode.

"I couldnít sleep."

But there's a danger in loving somebody too much
And its sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust
There's a reason why people don't stay where they are
Baby sometimes love just ain't enough

And there's no way home
When it's late at night and you're all alone
Are there things that you wanted to say
Do you feel me beside you in your bed
There beside you where I used to lay

"Come on back to bed, Darliní. Itís cold over there without you."

Marie nodded. Logan took the headphones from around her neck and turned off her CD player. He then stood up, took her by the hand, and led her back to bed.

Marie moved close to Logan, wrapping her arms around him and burying her head against his shoulder. "I love you," she said. "No matter what happens, donít ever forget I love you."

Logan kissed her forehead. "I wonít, Darliní. I promise you, thatís one thing Iíll never forget."

And there's a danger in loving somebody too much
And it's sad when you know it's your heart they can't touch
There's a reason why people don't stay who they are
Cause baby sometimes love just ain't enough
Baby sometimes love just ain't enough

*** *** ***

Logan woke up a few hours later to find the bed without Marie again. He looked around the room and saw she wasnít in there. He frowned as he realized most of her things were gone as well.

He got out of bed and went over to the closet. Her half was empty. Panic hit Logan. He got dressed as quickly as he could and ran out to try to find Marie.

He found her downstairs sitting on the couch. "I was wondering when you were gonna wake up," she said.

"Marie, what the hell is going on?"

She stood up and walked over to him. "Iím leaving, Logan."

Logan didnít quite now how to process what she had just said. "Leaving? Leaving me?"

Marie nodded. "Yes."

"But you canít."

"I have to."

"Why?" Logan heard himself ask the question although he knew the answer. He knew exactly why Marie was leaving and he wished he could go back and change everything heíd ever done to hurt her. He couldnít believe heíd been blind enough not to realize how much heíd been pushing her away.

"Because I canít live like this anymore, Logan. I canít live with you. Since I was seventeen years old Iíve never known where I stand with you, if youíre even going to be in my life from one day to the next. I love you more than Iíve ever loved anyone, probably more than I ever will love anyone, but Iíve cried more tears of pain over this relationship than I have tears of joy. This just isnít good for me, Logan. I need to find a new way to liveóa way to live without you."

"Marie, please, stay. Iíll change, Iíll let you in my life. Please, Baby, donít do this to me. Donít leave me."

Marie unhooked his dogtags and put them in his hand, mimicking what he had done the first time he had left her. "Youíre gonna have to take care of these yourself now."

"NoÖMarie. Marie, I donít want you to leave. I donít want to lose you."

"Sometimes less than what you want has to be enough."

Rogue walked away from him and away from the mansion, forcing herself not to look back.

Logan stared at the closed door, holding his dog tags as he heard Marieís car drive away.

*** *** ***

And If I'm not over you by the time I get to Georgia
Then I guess I'll be Alabama bound
There was a time when I'd do anything for ya
But this time, baby, I won't turn around

I always wanted to get married, and I thought you were the one
But you never, ever asked me, and I was tired of hangin' on
You know a girl can only be let down so many times before she runs
And now this little bitty town's only got room for one of us, yeah

You always said I'd never leave, and if I did I wouldn't go far
So I know how I must look, with my tank 'a gas and beat up heart
Well baby, I'm gone for good, you can count on that
Yeah, I'm gonna keep headin' west 'til I'm too far gone to come back, yeah

And If I'm not over you by the time I get to Georgia
Then I guess I'll be Alabama bound
There was a time when I'd do anything for ya
But this time, baby, I won't turn around

I only got ten miles to go before I cross the state line
I can feel my hands shakin'
'Cause they usually turn the wheel around about this time
I heard that same ol' voice inside, I had to drown it out
So I found me a radio station playin' something fast
And I turned it up real loud

And If I'm not over you by the time I get to Georgia
Then I guess I'll be Alabama bound
There was a time when I'd do anything for ya
But this time, baby, I won't turn around

There was a time when I'd do anything for ya
But this time, baby, oh I won't turn around, yeah
No, I won't turn around

If I'm not over you by Georgia, then I'll head to Alabama
Roll on to Mississippi, or maybe
Lou'siana
I'll drive all the way to California
Oh, I won't turn around
No, I won't turn around
No, I won't turn around
No, I won't turn around
I won't, I won't turn around, no I won't turn around

*** *** ***

Soundtrack:

Song: "How Long Gone"
Artist: Brooks and Dunn
Album: If You See Her

Song: "Walking on Sunshine"
Artist: Katrina and the Waves
Album: Edge of the Land

Song: "Sin Wagon"
Artist: Dixie Chicks
Album: Fly

Song: "Maria"
Artist: George Strait
Album: One Step at a Time

Song: "T-R-O-U-B-L-E"
Artist: Travis Tritt
Album: T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Song: "Hit Me with your Best Shot"
Artist: Pat Benatar
Album: Crimes of Passion

Song: "I'll Never Break your Heart"
Artist: Backstreet Boys
Album: Backstreet Boys

Song: "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough"
Artist: Patty Smyth and Don Henley
Album: Patty Smyth

Song: "Georgia"
Artist: Carolyn Dawn Johnson
Album: "Georgia" CD-Single