Temptation Bound: Part Three
by Ransom

Title: Temptation Bound: Part Three
Author: Ransom
Rating: NC-17 overall. This part is PG-13 for lots of bad words.
Pairing: Logan/Marie
Summary: AU. Another take on how Logan and Marie get together.
Archive: If you have the others, you can take this one.
Disclaimer: I donít own them and I donít make any money off of them.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Warning: Future installments of this story are going to contain references to an underage girl and a grown man having a sexual relationship. If this squicks you, please do not read.
Notes: Thanks to Magaera for the beta!
Date Completed: May 19th, 2003


~*~

Temptation Bound: Part Three

~*~

Logan woke to the soothing sound of the alarm clock shrieking in his ear.  He groped for it without opening his eyes and pushed any button his fingers came across until it stopped.  "Get up if you want yer donuts," he snarled before sandwiching his head between his pillows and trying his damnedest to go back to sleep.

Marie was relatively quiet as she dressed and slipped out of the room, but it seemed like she was back again almost immediately.  He heard the click of the TV coming to life, and then Katie Couric's voice.  Christ.  He couldn't deal with Katie Couric this early in the morning.  All that perkiness.  And her smile reminded him of The Joker from that Batman movie.  Nice legs, though.  But not nice enough to justify the hour of the day.

Finally, he couldn't take it anymore.  He lifted a pillow and cracked an eye.  The kid was propped up on her bed, munching away.  

"Hey."  Marie looked at him, one cheek full of donut.  "Why don't you go find somethin' to do?  Come back in a couple hours."  

She began to reluctantly scoot off the bed, swallowed, and then asked, "Can I go read in the camper?"

"Whatever.  Keys are over there."  He waved a hand toward the dresser that also served as the TV stand.  

A few seconds later, the TV clicked off, and she closed the door quietly behind her.

~*~

Two more hours of sleep made a big difference, and his shower was much more pleasant with the bathroom door open.  After making sure he'd secured the chain on the door, he ambled happily around the room, naked as a jaybird, digging through his bag for clean clothes, paying a cursory visit to his razor.  The solitude was a relief.

Before long, though, his stomach spoke up and reminded him it was time for breakfast.  A nice greasy one, with extra toast.  Maybe Marie wanted something, too.  

On the dresser, next to his wallet, he found a jelly donut, carefully wrapped in a paper napkin.  And just in case he couldn't figure out why it was there, Marie had written his name on the napkin.  With that sparkly pen of hers, he assumed, because the ink was an obnoxious shade of pink.  There was a little smiley face next to his name and everything.  No question, it was Logan's Donut.  

He picked it up and sniffed it.  Blueberry.  Huh.  He'd obviously given her the impression that he liked jelly donuts as much as she did, but the truth was that all that sugar didn't appeal to him at all; he wasn't big on pastries in the morning.  He wrapped it back up in the napkin and chucked it in the trashcan next to the dresser on his way out the door.

~*~

He stuck his head in the camper and found her curled up on the couch, reading her book. It crossed his mind that she might be a little sore at him for kicking her out of the room, but it was too late to do anything about it now.

"Breakfast?"

She looked down at her wrist, checking an imaginary watch.

He grinned at her.  "Okay.  Lunch?"

She smiled back at him, and he knew everything was okay between them.  "Sounds good."

~*~

"Mornin', hon."

The waitress at the greasy spoon was the standard issue for a place of that type--he was convinced that they were all bred in a central location and distributed across the country as needed.  She gave them the table he requested, off in a corner, behind the waitress station.

Marie seemed a little more excited than was necessary, until he remembered that this was the first time they'd eaten in a restaurant together.  Until now they'd prepared their meals themselves.  Well, *he'd* prepared them.  Marie didn't have many cooking skills.

He was brought of out his contemplation of their eating habits by a question.  

"Did you have fun?"

"What?"  He stared at her, totally lost.

"Last night.  Did you have fun?" She opened up her calendar and crossed off another day with her sparkly pen, then looked up at him, waiting for an answer.

It took him a second to register that she was asking a sincere question.  He stifled a laugh.  "Uh huh."  And that was all he was going to say about *that*.  The waitress made a mercifully well-timed appearance at their table, saving him from elaborating.

The kid surprised him with the size of the breakfast she ordered.  A Belgian waffle, scrambled eggs, toast, hash browns, fruit juice.  He sipped his coffee and raised an eyebrow at her after the waitress trudged away with their order. Despite the fact that he was a man who generally kept his observations to himself, he'd recently found himself voicing them when the mood struck.  Maybe because he had someone to listen to them.    

"I'd have figured you'd still be full of donuts."  

"Donut," she corrected.  "I only had one.  You were right, about the jellies going fast.  There were only two left."

He was already tucking into his fried eggs and bacon when the math caught up with him.  His fork slowed, then stopped completely.  He set it down and looked at her across the table.  She was cutting her waffle into precisely sized pieces, using the little squares on it as a guide.

His attention caught her attention.  "What?"

"Nothing.  Just thinking."  

He picked up his fork again, but the thoughts didn't go away.  He thought about how excited she'd been about something as simple and stupid as jelly donuts--so excited that she'd left him a note to wake her up in time to have some.  He thought about how, when she'd discovered there were only two, she'd still set one aside for him.  

Mostly, though, he thought about how he'd thrown it in the trash without a second thought.

~*~

Logan finished first, excused himself, and made his way toward the pay phone, in the hallway by the bathrooms.  He dialed a number from memory, and was pleased when the female voice he was expecting answered.

"Yeah.  It's Logan," he informed her.

"Logan.  It's nice to hear from you," said The Voice.  And she sounded like she meant it.  The Voice was warm, with a touch of whiskey, and always sounded like he was the only person in the world she cared to talk to at the moment.  He loved The Voice.  Had a bit of a crush on her, actually.

Hearing The Voice always sent a flutter through his stomach, straight to his crotch, and he sincerely hoped he'd never, ever meet the owner, because he already knew what he wanted her to look like, and chances were slim she'd live up to the fantasy.  He'd once picked up a woman in a bar simply because she sounded a little bit like The Voice, and he'd found that irresistibly attractive.

He sometimes wondered how many guys there were out there like him, doing someone else's dirty work just so they could hear that voice on a regular basis.

"Were the fish biting?"

"Damn straight, darlin'."

She laughed, a sound that made his spine tingle.  He really had it bad, and he was grateful no one but him knew it.  Sadly, their conversation was short.  Now that he'd verified his identity and location, she gave him an address, which he didn't bother to write down, and then there wasn't much else to say.

"Call me again, Logan," she purred.  Jesus.  If she kept saying his name like that, he was going to need some alone time in the john after he got off the phone.

"You know I will."  Sometimes talking to her was the highlight of his day.

"Goodbye."  A tinge of amusement.  She had to know what she was doing to him.

"Yeah.  Bye."  He shook his head as he returned the handset to its cradle.  Hard to believe, sometimes, that a grown man could get so worked up over a woman's voice.  He was living proof that it was possible.

Marie was done with her breakfast when he returned to the table.  He slowed down enough to grab the check.  "C'mon.  I'll drop you off, and then I gotta go somewhere."

~*~

The address The Voice had given him was a hardware store, and the guy behind the counter was expecting him.  A short conversation about fishing took place, and Logan left with an envelope shoved in the back pocket of his jeans.

He opened it in the truck.  A single sheet of paper with a few vital statistics, and three photos.  The same person had prepared the envelope, as always.  He wondered, not for the first time, if they did that on purpose, if they didn't want to give him any more scents than necessary.  Which always led him to wonder how many people there knew who he was and how to get in touch with him.    

Yeah, he was a little paranoid.  Even unkillable guys had to look out for number one.

~*~

When he got back to the room, Marie was watching TV again, hair wet, just out of the shower.  She didn't look very happy to see him, probably expecting to be banished to the camper again.  He found that rather amusing, that they were traveling together, yet seemed so disinclined to each other's company.  

The beds were made and his towel had been picked up, so that meant the maid had been and gone.  He casually made his way over to the dresser and leaned against it, crossing his arms over his chest.  He glanced down at the trashcan, noting with relief that it was empty.  Hopefully, it had been that way when he'd dropped Marie off.  No point in her knowing about the donut.

That matter resolved to his satisfaction, he moved on to more important things.

"Listen, I'm gonna be gone 'til later tonight."  

Chances were slim it would be overnight, so he didn't even mention that possibility.  There were three things Logan knew he was really, really good at: carpentry, oral sex, and convincing people to tell him what he needed to know.  That third skill was going to make this job a breeze.

"Okaaay," she said slowly.  She was curious, and he didn't really blame her.  She could tell this wasn't the same as his little excursion last night.

"I'll leave you some money for food or whatever.  Get another pizza.  Stay in the room.  Got it?"

She tilted her head, obviously intrigued by his instructions.  She opened her mouth to speak.

"Don't ask me where I'm going," he snapped, before she could get a single word out.  Then he remembered the thing about the donut, and felt a little guilty for being so curt with her. "Business.  That's all you need to know."

She nodded.  "Okay."

~*~

Later that night, his mission accomplished, he walked into a bar on the outskirts of town, set a small wooden box on the bar, and received another envelope in exchange--this one full of cash.  The bartender, who happened to be the same guy from the hardware store, offered him a beer, but he declined.  The less he gave people to remember about him, the happier he was.  He pocketed the envelope and left.

Marie was asleep when he got back to the room.  He lifted a foot and planted it on the edge of the bed, bounced her up and down.  "Wake up.  Movin' out."  

She sat up and blinked at him sleepily.  "Now?"

"Yep."  He didn't like to stick around after a job.  "I'm gonna check out and hitch up the camper.  Be ready to go when I get back."

She grumbled something in reply, but he shut the door behind him, cutting her off.

~*~

It went on like that for another two weeks.  They'd travel a little, then he'd do a little work.  She seemed to enjoy their days in the towns the stopped in, if for no other reason than it meant restaurant food and cable TV.

After a few motel stays, he noticed that it felt strange to sleep outside, where he wasn't within earshot of her, falling asleep to the sound of her soft breathing.

~*~

"You're a day late, Logan," said The Voice.

"Aw, it's sweet of you to notice."  He knew they noticed, and they probably knew he did it on purpose.  Being predictable made him nervous, and he'd made it clear from the get-go that if they didn't like it, they could fuck right the hell off.

This time the destination was familiar, and so was Jorge, who was at his usual corner table.  He stayed there as much as possible; he may have looked human up top, but from the waist down was a completely different story.

They exchanged greetings while Logan waited for his beer, and when the waitress brought it over, the way she looked at Jorge made it obvious that they were sleeping together.  Logan's thoughts briefly turned to what type of equipment a guy like Jorge had down below, but he quickly steered them back to less disconcerting territory.

Once they'd dispensed with the pleasantries, Jorge slid the envelope across the table.  Logan opened it immediately, as there was no need to play games with Jorge.  He knew why Logan was there. They went way back, and had worked together a number of times, not all of them initiated by The Voice.  

Three photos again, and a sheet of paper with what they thought he'd need to know to get the job done.  He shuffled through the pictures, and nearly fell out of his chair.  All three of them were fairly recent photos of the girl who was currently watching a Jim Carrey movie in a motel room he'd paid for.  

"She looks young," was all he said.  He set the photos down on the table as if they didn't interest him that much, careful to keep his face expressionless.  He pretended to study the fact file.  "Jesus.  She's a kid."

Jorge said nothing.  That was his job.

Logan tried to be casual about it, but the fact that he was asking at all would be a dead giveaway.  "Where'd this come from?"

Jorge was silent for a second in his surprise.  They both knew that asking questions was against the rules, and they both knew that Logan was a stickler for the rules.  Those rules, anyway.  But Logan let him think it through, confident that Jorge would eventually come to the conclusion that it was in his best interest to answer the question.  Which he did.

"Creed."

Logan grimaced before he could stop himself.  "Should have fucking known."  He looked at the photos again, spreading them out on the tabletop with a finger.  "I don't even wanna know why he's looking for her."  

Jorge nodded and sipped at his drink.  "Good.  He'd cut your nuts off just for asking."

Logan snorted.  He had little fear of Victor Creed.  The guy was a gigantic pain in the ass, but not even that pile of fur had been able to inflict any lasting damage on him.  He picked the paper and the photos up and shoved them in the envelope, slid it back across the table.  "Not interested."

Jorge's eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline.  "You sure?"  This was very unusual, and he wasn't even trying to pretend it wasn't. "Not like you to turn down a job."

Logan knew that everyone had the option of turning down a job, but he never did.  Never.

Until now.

"Yeah.  I ain't about to spend my time huntin' down Creed's jailbait.  That sick fuck can do whatever he wants in his spare time, but I'm staying out of it."

Jorge nodded, but reminded him, "It's a large sum of money."

"Don't care.  I don't do that kind of work.  No kids."  Which wasn't a rule he'd had until just now, but if anyone wanted to check, they'd notice that he'd never been offered a job that involved kids, so that story would probably stick.  Hopefully, it would stick long enough for him to figure out what to do next.

"Hmm."  Jorge tapped his fingers on the table next to his drink, thinking.  "Perhaps order did not come from Creed, but through Creed," he suggested.

Interesting.  He was trying to tell him that the situation wasn't what he thought it was.  That he even mentioned it was just as surprising to Logan as Logan's questions had probably been to Jorge.  The fact that they'd both breached etiquette was a good sign, though.  It told Logan it was possible that Jorge just might forget to mention that he'd asked questions he shouldn't have asked.  

He threw a couple bucks down on the table.  "Don't care.  I'm out."

"I will relay that to all interested parties," Jorge said.  Which went without saying.  Logan knew that as soon as he pulled out of the parking lot, Jorge'd be on the phone, reporting this interesting development.    

He got up and walked out, wondering what The Voice was going to make of this.

~*~

Later on, Logan couldn't even remember driving back to the motel.  He was that pissed.

"Wake up."  He grabbed her shoulder through the blanket and shook her.  Her eyes fluttered open.  "Up. Now.  Wake the fuck up, Marie."

She squinted at him, sleepy eyes trying to adjust to the light.  "What's wrong?"

He paced in the small space between the beds.  "When were you planning to tell me that Creed's looking for you?"

"Creed?" she repeated, trying to follow along.

"Victor Creed? Big shaggy psychopath?"  She started to come out the brain fuzz, her eyes widening as understanding began to dawn.  "Sabretooth?"

Instant terror.  Her eyes darted to the door as if she expected him to come busting through it.  "Is he-is he here?"

"No.  Not yet.  Get up."

She didn't move, which surprised him.  He was used to people listening to him when he used that tone of voice.  Her own voice shook a little when she asked, "Are you taking me to him?"

That was a good question.  "No."  He turned toward his bag and began to toss his belongings into it.  "Get your stuff.  We're leaving."

~*~

In the truck there was silence.  Marie stared bleakly out the window.  Logan was deep in his thoughts, trying to figure out what should happen next.

Creed wanted her, and Logan's natural reaction to that bit of information was smug satisfaction.  He had something Creed wanted, and he was, coincidentally, one of the few people in the world who could keep him from having it.  Just the thought of how much that would piss the shithead off cheered him.  

And he had no doubt that Creed would eventually discover she was with him.  Hell, it was possible he already knew.  Maybe he'd hoped that he would turn her in for the money.  It *was* a lot of money.  Enough to make him spend a fair amount of time considering his options, anyway.

He'd spent the past few weeks operating under the assumption that this was a temporary situation.  It still could be.  He didn't really owe her anything.  He could just let her off at the next gas station and wish her good luck.  Someone else would bring her in sooner or later.  On her own, she had little chance of avoiding that.

With him, her chances improved considerably.  

Too bad he wasn't sure he wanted to help her.

As much as he relished the thought of throwing a big, huge monkeywrench into that fuck Creed's plans, he was equally apprehensive.  Once he decided to help her, changing his mind would be nothing short of disastrous for her.  

Tired of thinking about it, he decided it was time to drag some information out of her.  "How'd you get mixed up with that guy anyway?" he asked.  

He wasn't at all prepared for her response.

She turned and met his eyes.  "He killed my parents."

"Aw, shit."  No wonder she'd reacted that way when he mentioned Creed.  "How'd you get away?"  

"I used my skin."  

She closed her eyes, and for a few seconds everything about her changed.  Her body got taller, curvier. . .and bluer.  Then, with a shimmer, she was back, looking like she always did.

Mystique.  "Goddamnit."  He brought his hand down on the steering wheel, hard.  "God-fucking-dammit."  

He pulled off the road, skidding to a stop on the gravel shoulder.  Up until now he'd tried to tell himself that maybe it was personal, maybe Creed had an interest in the girl, but he knew that wasn't it.  If they were paying people like Logan to look for her, she was probably important for a reason other than Sabretooth's twisted personal life.  This latest bit of information proved it.  If Mystique had been involved with the Creed thing, the girl was definitely important.  Those two were never up to any good, and they didn't work cheap.

This was bad.  Once they knew he knew they wanted her, it changed the situation, and not in his favor.  From now on, he wasn't merely traveling with her by sheer coincidence; from now on, he was hiding her from them.  Having both Creed and Mystique out for his ass was going to be seriously inconvenient, and make the rest of this trip a lot more work than he had bargained for.

He poked a finger at her.  "You're mixed up with some really bad people, kid.  Worse than me."

If he'd been worried he was going to scare her, he would have been wrong.  She leaned toward him, and he retreated a little, much to his own surprise.

"You think I don't know that?  When strangers break into your house in the middle of the night, kill your parents, and haul you away in a body bag, they probably aren't taking you out for milk and cookies."

He slumped back against his door and ran his hand through his hair.  "Shit."

"Yeah," she agreed.  Not quite so defiant now, but she'd showed him it was there.  

"Do you know why?" he asked, after a minute.

She shook her head and turned away from him, staring out into the dreary field beside the road.  She tilted her head a little more, and her hair fell across her cheek, obscuring her face.  She was done talking.

He sighed and put the truck back in gear, but didn't pull out onto the road.  He looked at the gray expanse of highway disappearing into the horizon in his side mirror.  Creed was out there, somewhere, looking for this girl.

The question was, was Logan going to let him have her?

~*~

The miles whipped by, and he thought about what to do next.  That thing about Mystique might come in handy, if the kid could actually use it.  If she could change her appearance, it would help considerably.  Creed'd sniff her out in a minute, but it'd at least make it impossible for just about anyone else to spot her.

She'd only changed her form briefly, but she evidently knew at least a little bit about how Mystique's mutation worked, and if she could apply that knowledge. . .she had told him that she absorbed the thoughts of the people she--

Jesus fucking Christ.  He was an idiot.

The fact that it took him so long to think of it worried him more than a little.  He wasn't the kind of guy who made mistakes like this.  But when the thought came to him, he once again steered the truck off the road, where it lurched to a halt.  Marie, taken by surprise, jerked in her seatbelt.  One arm flailed out and hit the dash with a thump as she tried to brace herself.

She turned confused eyes on him, and then confusion became fear, when she saw the look on his face.  He got that reaction a lot.  

"I'm gonna give you one chance to be straight with me.  You keep shit from me after this, you're out, you got it?  On your own.  So you better think real hard about what you say next, because without me, you don't have a chance in hell.  I kick you out of this truck, Creed'll snatch you up so fast, you won't even see him coming.  You understand me?"

She nodded and twisted her hands in her lap.  "What do you want to know?"

"I wanna know how in holy fuck I'm supposed to believe that you just happened to find *me*, and that I just happen to know the people who tried to kill you."

She looked away.  "I don't know."

He fought the urge to shake her.  "Did you hear me when I told you I'd boot your ass outta this truck if you didn't stop bullshitting me?"

When she looked at him again, the defiance was back, just a little.  "Yes, I did.  And I can't explain it.  But I did--I did kind of recognize you.  I think Raven--Mystique--I think Mystique knew you, right?"

"Yeah, she did."  And that was what was bothering him.  That she'd known who he was when they met.  He'd been duped.  

He hated being duped.  

"You should have told me," he said.

She shrugged.  "What was I going to say?  'Hello, mysterious stranger.  You don't know me, but I kind of know you, and I'm being chased by some people who might kill us both if they find me'?"

"It would have been a start."

"Would you have taken me in?"

Now it was his turn to look away.  And that was all the answer she needed.  

"I didn't think so."

Stung by her disappointment in him, he struggled to pick up the thread of the conversation, to remember why he was angry.  "You could have gotten us both killed.  I was walking around with a target on my back.  You were just gonna let me swing in the breeze, and if they had gotten to me, you'd be dead."

"I'm dead either way," she said quietly.

Her cold logic took him aback.  And also bought her a little respect.  She was right--for all she knew, she was dead either way.  That she could be so ruthless was a little surprising, and changed things a little.  Maybe. . .

"You're right," he said.  "But if there's anything else, I want you to tell me now.  I understand why you were keeping secrets, but that one could have gotten you killed.  So now's the time.  I want to know what happened, everything you can remember."

She took a deep breath.  "Okay."

~*~

She didn't elaborate much, just gave him the facts as she knew them.  Her voice was even as she relayed her tale, like she was reciting baseball stats.  Then she waited for him to say something.  

He didn't, though.  He stared through the windshield and processed what she'd told him, tried to figure out why she was so important that someone had paid Creed and Mystique to collect her.

A few minutes later, she surprised him with a question of her own.

"How do you know Victor?"  The way she referred to him by his first name caught Logan's attention.  Must be Mystique's influence, he decided.

"We used to. . .work together," he said.

"Doing what?"

"None of your business."  She was already terrified enough, without knowing about all *that*.

"I thought we were being honest."

"You were.  I get to be however I want to be."

"That's not very fair."

"Nope."  And he didn't really care.

~*~

She was restless in the passenger seat, dozing and waking, shifting.  She had her sweatshirt balled up and was using it as a pillow between her head and window.  It didn't look very comfortable, but he decided that was the least of her worries right now.

The miles inched by, Logan obsessively checking the trip odometer.  One hundred, two hundred.  He told himself they could stop when it hit five hundred, but five hundred came and went, and he didn't stop.  He was too busy planning, thinking.  First he needed to buy some time, make sure that Creed wasn't trailing them.

Decide what to do with her.

Getting rid of her--and soon--would be the easiest thing to do.  And he was under no obligation to do anything more for her than he already had.  She was just another person, like countless others he'd located in exchange for pleasantly large sums of money.  She was just a person.  

She was just a girl.  

A girl who liked jelly donuts and sparkly pens and the longest showers he'd ever witnessed.  A girl who thought his company wasn't half bad, except when he insisted on controlling the TV remote.

A noise from Marie brought him out of his thoughts.  She was twitching.  No, she was crying.  Crying in her sleep.  Talking about what had happened to her had made it fresh for her again, he suspected.  She half-roused, eyes fluttering open, and then curled up in a ball against the door.  He could hear her sniffing, a hitching breath now and then.

His eyes darted from her to the road to her, and he thought about how small she was, and how young.  An orphan.  And the only person she had on her side right now was a borderline psychopath mutant hit-man who was anything but loving and nurturing.  Which seemed like a pretty crappy deal to him.  She was too young to shoulder all this.  Too young to feel like it was just her against the world.  

It wasn't so hot at any age, actually.

Later, when he thought back on it, that was the moment when it all changed.  When he made his decision.  He wouldn't always do his best to stick to it, and there was still plenty he had to learn, but he knew, in his gut, right then, that he would keep her with him.  

"Hey."  He reached over and grabbed her upper arm.  It felt fragile and delicate under his hand, and when he pulled her toward him it was like moving a bag of leaves.  Nearly weightless, no resistance.  It occurred to him that he hadn't really touched her before this, even accidentally, and that he wasn't so sure how she would react.

He got a quick glimpse of her face, tear-streaked and drawn, before he pulled her down next to him.  She folded into him without hesitation, and he was surprised by the reaction it provoked in him, which he filed away for later analyzing.  

She curled on her side, facing the back of the seat, and buried her face in the fold of his hip, damp cheek pressed on the top of his thigh.  One bony arm reached across his stomach and held on tight.  He settled his hand on the back of her head and stroked her hair as she held onto him and cried.

It was the two of them now, he knew.  She wasn't just a hitchhiker anymore.  

The miles continued to add up as the sky lit up with a new day.  Logan drove, and soon Marie slept.

End Part Three


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