Title: Fatal Caress, a sequel to Almost A Woman
Author: Melissa Flores
Email: mistyjox@hotmail.com
Fandom: X-Men: the Movie
Rating: PG-13, there's some bad language in this.
Summary: Contemplating on Logan's new attentions, Rogue is forced to make a decision.
Genre: Wolverine/Rogue
Archive: You got Almost a Woman archived? You can have this one. Everyone else, please ask.
Notes: Written because people wanted a sequel. I have a rough idea where I'm going with this, and I do know it's going to be a series. I have to finish some other fiction though in the Angel and Xena genres before I write the next story, but I figured my X-men site needed some more fic anyway. ;-)


I hear the ticking of the clock
I'm lying here
The room's pitch dark

I wonder where you are tonight
No answer on the telephone
And the night rolls by so very slow
Oh, I hope that it won't end though
Alone

'Till now
I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone

How did I get to alone?
How did I get to alone?

You don't know how I long I have wanted
To touch your lips and hold you tight
You don't know how long I have waited
And I was going to tell you tonight
But the secret is still my own
And my love for you is still unknown

Alone
by Heart


He's started watchin' me.

I can feel it, even though I'm trying my hardest not to even look in his direction, to treat him like every other boy I've had to discourage from their romantic urgin's.

Only three guys never got it. Never seemed to realize how much it hurt me to have to keep pushing them away...

Bobby. My best friend since the day I entered the Academy, with his sweet smile and his beautiful eyes, and his honest and sincere personality. He's seen what I can do and it doesn't matter to him. He's held me before, when I had broken down, and even when my eyes were watering and my form was raking with sobs, I was careful not to let any skin touch him. And he knew. I think that hurt him, in some bizarre way... like we're so close I could forget about that little thing I have where I can suck his life away.

And there's Remy the Gambit... Damn. He's so allurin'. He's got this bad boy look, and this bad boy accent and this bad boy thinkin' and he wants ME. Practically every girl my age in this school wants him and he wants me. Honestly, I think it's the challenge. I'll never let my guard down, I'll never let him hold me or kiss me, and Mr. New Orleans gets off on that I think. At least that's how it started. Now he's tellin' me he loves me. That I've gotten into his heart. He's got this honey accent and this earnest look, and I want to believe him. I do.

But I can't.

Professor Xavier is always tellin' us not to look at our "gifts" as a curse, but as a blessing. He's told me time and time again, that I'm key, that with my flyin' and touchin' and strength I make up a very good portion of the X-men. Jean tells me they'd be lost without me.

I'm Rogue, you know? And over the years, I've come to really make that name mine. All these personalities inside of me, make me a bit of a spitfire sometimes. Not that anyone complains. For some reason, it seems to fit, with these white bangs that I can't remember ever bein' without.

And when I look at myself in the mirror, when I see those bangs, I remember him. I liked to remember him. It had been so long since he had been gone, so long since he had held me, since I had almost killed him... twice... that I had held him, and comforted myself in his embrace. He was more than a man to me, he was more than Logan, and more than the Wolverine... he was inside me... I can still feel him, in my head... and I understood him... even though I don't think he ever really understood himself.

That was the only blessin'. Feeling him. On those lonely nights, I would reach out to him, and he would be there. As I grew, as I changed, the only thing that didn't was that he was still there. Inside of me, comforting me like he had for those fleeting days where he had been my anchor and my savior.

I never thought of it as silly... I never thought of it as a little school girl crush, though I knew that's what everyone else thought... what Jean and Storm and Scott thought... but it wasn't... It was need, it was intimacy, the only real intimacy I had ever had.

At nights, I would close my eyes, the dog tags that he had given me in my hands, and I would reach out to him... and he was always there... Months turned into years... and he was still there...

Until he began to fade.

I still don't know how he lasted as long as I did. Maybe it's 'cause I didn't want him to leave me, maybe because having him in my mind, just below my consciousness, was something I needed in me, like a blanket. It was proof that he existed... that what had happened was real... that there was someone like him out there... that he was still out there.

His feelings inside me were soft, quiet, and yet at times violent... and when they began to leave me I didn't fight it... I thought it was time to move on... to get past it... even if his tags always lay hidden under my uniform, even if at nights I still slept with my fingers wrapped around them.

And then he came back. He came back, and he hadn't changed one bit... I mean, I think he was still wearing the same clothes!

And I wasn't surprised... I felt him inside, getting ansty, his consciousness fading and not liking that one bit... he was like that...

Didn't give up easy. He never really did.

I don' t know why I was expectin' to see him. But I did. And there he was, next to me... and it was like nothing had changed.

And then he touched me.

And that fading caress...

It all lit up inside of me. Every emotion, every thought, the feel of him, inside me, who he was... who he wanted... what he wanted.

Logan wanted me.

Something changed. He didn't run. Not again. Instead he stayed. He stayed, and no one knew why. He kept to himself mostly. Didn't accept Jean's or Ororo's offer to teach, instead, just stayed.

The Professor didn't say anything about it. He just let him stay, without doing anything.

And knowin' that he was here, every second of every day... it scared the hell out of me.

And it was happening again.

I was in the rec room, reading this book that the doctor wanted me to check up on, since she wanted me to go for my degree and all, and suddenly I looked up and he was there, in the doorway. His eyes met mine, and he started forward, once, I think, but my eyes suddenly broke from his gaze, and I felt them riveted to my book.

My heart was heaving and my palms were sweating, and God, it was LOGAN. He was my first real friend... my first... crush... my first... love, even if he never knew it.

And he's here now... and he's watchin' me...

"Rogue?" My eyes lifted up to meet Jean's, and I gave a small smile of hello as I looked back down at the book in my hands.

"Hey."

"Hey. Do you mind if I sit down?"

I slowly shook my head no, and the older woman smiled, settling down beside me. "I was just curious to what you were reading?"

"Metaphysics," I responded slowly, my voice distracted as I tried to keep my eyes from moving to who I knew was in the doorway.

"Hmmm. Do you always read it upside down?"

"What?" Surprised, my eyes flitted down to my book, and realized that the book was, in fact, upside down. "Oh." Blushing, I quickly righted it, hoping he hadn't seen.

My eyes slid quickly to him, and the smirk on his face from the corner of my eyes told me he had.

I bit my lip.

"Hey." Jean's palm settled on my shoulder, and she squeezed softly. "You okay? You've been acting kind of... odd."

"Ah'm fine," I drawled, and winced. My accent was a dead give away. It always got thick when I got nervous, and it was clear Jean had picked up on it. Feeling my cheeks grow hot, I looked up to her and noticed her eyes narrowed slightly.

"Are you trying to read my mind again, Dr. Grey?" I whispered, my eyes flashing as I sat up.

"No! Rogue!" She grabbed my arm, and I had to bite my lip to keep from wrenching my hand away. If I pulled away too fast, I could hurt her, and I didn't want to do that. God... that's what I was... I hurt people. It was like it was my purpose...

"I'm sorry," she said quickly, looking around the living room as the others looked at us. "I didn't mean anything by it. You've never been this closed off before. We're worried, is all."

Taking a breath, I swallowed, trying to force down the anger that I felt. Again, I felt my gaze drift to Logan, who was leaning against the doorway still, his arms crossed, eyes on me, always on me.

"When he was here before... How did it feel when he looked at you, Jean?" I found myself asking. Her eyes flitted down, her telepathy allowing her to understand immediately what I was asking. "I know you love Scott, but... were you ever... tempted..."

She didn't say anything, her eyes never quite meeting mine as I continued speaking softly.

"Even if you knew you couldn't... ever ... did you ever want to?"

When her eyes finally met mine, they were moist, on her face was a grim smile. "Of course I did."

"How did you stop it?"

She cocked her head. "I didn't. He left before I had to make a decision."

"He ran."

"Yes he did." Jean stood, and leaned in her, breath close to my ear. "You know the only person he's paying any sort of attention to now is you. And something tells me he's not going to run again Rogue."

I closed my eyes, felt my heart heave inside of me, at the warning in her voice. She wanted me to love him, she wanted me to try... she knew... she knew how I felt...

Dammit... did NO ONE understand that wasn't possible?!

I pulled away, pushed her aside quickly and walked out of the room, never giving the haunting man in the doorway a second look.

As I turned the corner, the faces that I passed became blurs, my only goal was to get away from this... from feeling him in me... from wanting to touch him... from wanting to take what I had always wanted since the moment I had seen him...

I barely heard someone calling my name, and didn't notice the hands circling my waist until I was pulled close, swung from my moment into his embrace.

"Rogue, darlin'. What's the big rush?" came an amused voice. "For a second there I thought you were ignorin' me." I blinked, and found myself looking up into the smiling face of Remy.

"Remy... Ah.. can't-" I pressed my palms against his chest, trying to free myself, when he saw my eyes. The tears must have made them look brilliantly wet, because he froze, his smiling face suddenly that of worried concern.

"Rogue darlin' what is it?" His hand slid to my arms, and his grip held me tight. "What's wrong? What happened to you?"

"Nothing."

His grip held her firm, and his hands slid to her shoulders. "Rogue. You're crying."

"I'm not."

"Marie."

My body froze, and Remy sensed it, his eyes looking back to the gruff voice. "What the hell are you doin' here?"

"Remy-"

"Get your hands off her," Logan replied calmly, striding forward, his eyes meeting mine.

"Logan-"

"Like hell." Gambit's eyes ripped from his form to look back to me. "Did he do this to ya, love? Give me the word and -"

"No." The voice came out as a yell, and I shuddered, finally pushing Remy away from me.

Logan's fists were clenched, and when I saw the dangerous stance, I slowly shook my head. Logan must have seen the expression, because he swallowed, the hard form faltering just a bit, until he stared at Gambit, who pretty much just stared right back.

There was a slice cracking through the air and suddenly the blades that I knew were in his fists slid through.

I hadn't heard that sound in five years, but even now, I knew exactly what it meant.

"Logan. No."

"What, you think he can take me with a set of claws?" Remy said, sliding a pack of cards from his pocket.

Logan merely stared at them, and suddenly smiled. "Cards? You're fighting with cards?"

"More than that, wolf boy."

I felt like I was in the middle of some cheap soap opera. All that was left now was some talkin' little doll to come running up to me.

Anger suddenly rose in me, and I snapped, "You boys gonna start pullin' out and measurin' soon?"

Remy's eyes widened, and Logan's narrowed, for a second he looked amused, but he got the point. The knives slid back in.

"We need to talk, Marie," he said in a fierce whisper, ignoring Remy completely. His eyes bore into mine, and for a second, I felt him, in me. I remembered the way he held me, the promise to protect me, the way I had to pull his torn body away from mine up on the Statue of Liberty when my eyes opened and I realized what had happened.

All those thoughts, all those memories, those feelings the fear, the panic, the affection slid through my body as I remembered his caress... it suddenly seemed like it all happened yesterday.

And I shared them with him.

I felt myself nod suddenly. Remy stiffened next to me, turned to me, and I only bit my lip, shaking my head. "Remy... Please..."

He swallowed, his eyes inspecting my face, and his shoulders slumped slightly.

"Are you sure?" he asked gently.

"Ah'm sure," I responded, unable to keep the accent out of my voice. "He's a friend, Remy."

He pursed his lips in silent thought, and I could see the wheels turning in his head. He didn't like what was happening. Remy liked to be in control of things. He liked to be ahead. He never even considered Bobby real competition cause Bobby was a boy to him.

Funny how they thought like that. Bobby was a year older than I was. Yet to them I was a woman and he was a boy. Amazin' what a few curves and a bolt of white hair would do.

Even now I wonder what I'm going to look like when I'm forty.

"It's okay, Remy."

"Yeah, Remy," Logan said, a sneer on his face, put on for the mere purpose of irritating my friend. "Get out of here."

I inwardly groaned when the taller man stiffened and turned back. Gambit had his dangerous face on, all stone cold and passive.

His hands reached into his pocket and I prayed he wasn't going for his cards. Lord, could he go nuts with those little bombs he charged.

"The Wolverine, right?" he asked, standing in front of me. "I heard about you. I heard about your-"

"Remy." I pressed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, and got him to look back at me. My face was pleading with him not to start anything, and thankfully, his face suddenly softened. Glaring back at Logan, he turned back and leaned forward, whispering in my ear. "Be careful. You know where I am if you need me, darlin'."

I closed my eyes, and nodded, thanking him with a look, crossing my arms as I waited for him to edge around Logan, both staring at each other, both daring the other to make a move.

I watched, my fists clenched, prepared to pull them apart if I had to. Damn. This was ridiculous. Didn't they get it? There was nothing to fight for.

Finally, Gambit slid around him, and walked away, his tall, straight body never looking back.

My attention was suddenly taken by Logan when he leaned forward, his face inches from mine when he said in an even voice. "You've been avoiding me."

It was a statement, left no room for argument, and feelin' like the kid I was when I first met this brute of a man, I felt my eyes floating down to my feet, unable to say a word, my heart beatin' wildly.

"And you're not talking to me," he continued, crossings his arms, looking up and down the empty hallway to make sure we were alone. "Tell me why."

I looked up, my eyes suddenly dark and even. "You haven't said a word to anyone about why you're here."

He leaned back, leaning against the wall evenly.

"I thought it was obvious."

His eyes bore into mine, and I found myself taking a step back, leaning against the other side of the corridor, three feet away.

His eyes continued to mesmerize mine. So dark, so intense, so full of familiarity and warmth and. need.

Something inside me broke, and I felt my eyes suddenly flash, my body tense, and suddenly everything went limp.

"Dammit." He cocked his head at the exclamation, and I swallowed. "What's going through your head, Logan?" I whispered, shaking my head. "You barely know me."

The edge of my voice broke, and his face softened. He pulled away from the wall, and walked toward me, placing his palms on the wall on either side of me.

God, Logan. I remember those eyes. I remember that touch. and I remember the pain I caused you. I can feel it coursin' through me. Why can't you understand that?

His face within inches of mine, his eyes staring into mine, a tender expression that I hardly saw on the Wolverine.

"I know you, Marie."

"Don't call me that," I snapped.

"What?"

Placing my palms on his chest, I pushed him away with a strength that surprised him. He flew back, landing with a thud on the other side.

"Don't call me that," I said again, my hand suddenly trembling, my vision suddenly blurry. "I'm not Marie. I don't know if I ever was."

He looked unsure for a minute, and poor Logan actually looked at me for the first time as if he didn't know me.

God. That hurt. That hurt so much. But my face was still, and I only gazed at him, daring him to challenge me.

"You're still in there," he said after a minute.

"No, you're still in here," I almost shouted, my hand to my head, trying to shake the memories out. God, they used to be so comforting.and now all they did was remind me of what I couldn't have.

He stared at me, and suddenly his mouth drifted downwards, his voice a slow, husky growl.

"You've given up too easy."

"Given up?

"Yeah." He came forward, grabbed my shoulders, anger clear in his voice. "You don't think I know how you feel? You're dyin' inside Rogue. You're the type of woman that needs love." I closed my eyes, not wanting to hear it. "LOOK AT ME." My eyes were open when he shook me, his voice angry and hard, so intense. "That needs to be touched and held and made love to. That likes to be kissed and likes to kiss back. You need that. You need love. You're going empty inside without it."

There was a sudden stillness in my heart, as I denied none of it. Damn, Logan. You can't help me now.

I was Rogue. the pillar, the spitfire. the loner. My body was still, and my eyes were cold as I passively said. "And what? You, Logan? You're my savior?

"You know me," he whispered. "You know what I am."

"I thought I did," I answered back shakily.

"You still do."

"I knew the man who ran away from me. Who barely knew me and promised to take me of me when I was a scared little girl who didn't know any better. I knew the man who stayed away for five damn years, and then suddenly decides that he's going to be the one to unlock me? Don't flatter yourself, Logan."

He winced, and suddenly pulled back, his face so unsure as he gazed into mine, seeing the cold expression.

He was quiet for a moment, then, "Don't do this. Don't push me away. You need-"

God. Logan.

I felt my heart heave, the urge to reach out, to hold him to me. He was my anchor, he was inside me. he was a part of me and I loved him. And God. I would only kill him. I would only kill him.

"No, Logan. You think I need you. I don't. The world's moved on and so have I. We have nothing."

I was hurting him. I felt my insides wrench and suddenly my face changed, trying to soften the angry blows, not wanting to hurt him. That was the last thing I wanted. He was everything to me.

"Logan," I whispered, my eyes moist, a tear slipping from my face. "I'm glad you're back but if you're staying for me, don't. It'll never happen."

I slipped free, felt his hand on my covered arm, trying to stop me.

"Rogue-"

I felt a sob wrench itself from my throat and in my panic, snatched my hand back. "Don't you realize how much you're ripping me apart?"

He let go when he saw my face, and I merely turned around, running from him, running from the words that had begun to echo in my mind.

It was in his voice, his voice that was ringing inside my head, his consciousness that liked to slip up, flow through my veins, growling at me in that voice of his.

I could hear it, feel the words clearly.

"You running again?"

I closed my eyes, and wiped at my eyes, and finally lost control, answering the voice in my head with a snap, even if it took every fiber in my body, even if I felt my heart wrench, cry against the decision. I wasn't hurting him. I wasn't going to hurt him. Not him.

"Damn straight."

Damn straight.


You Don't Know What Love Is
Written by: ( Steve Bogard/Mary Green ) (BMI)
Sung by Lonestar

You say I'm abrasive, too possessive
It's too soon, too much
Won't wait around, slow it down
But I'm burning up
What can I do to get through to you
I know that you're the one
Cause there's no controlling this emotion
It's bigger than us

You don't know what love is
If you think that I can fight this feeling
Keep my true heart from revealing everything inside
And you don't know what love is
If you hear me say you're mine forever
Till our two hearts beat together
And think you can resist
You don't know what love is

It's soft and gentle, sentimental
Can't you feel it too
There's no denying or compromising
It's perfectly true
It's over powering, it's all around me
When I'm around you

You don't know what love is
If you think that I can fight this feeling
Keep my true heart from revealing everything inside
And you don't know what love is
If you hear me say you're mine forever
Till our two hearts beat together
And think you can resist
You don't know what love is


I was a damn fool.

And she was right. I was an idiot for thinking I could make a difference, that it would be me that would take her away from her pain, from her emptiness.

It was beyond me.

But damn. I had to be able to. I had to try.

Every night since I've gotten here, I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can't think without her having some place in my mind.

My little Marie. My little Rogue.

The others don't see it. And it pisses me off. To them she's the way she is and that's it. It's over. There's nothing they can do.

Bull shit.

You see someone in pain, someone you care about, and you do something about it. It's in her eyes, in her face.

I've been watching her. That's what I've been doing. That's all I've been doing. To hell with what people say. I had my purpose.

And I knew what hers was.

She was their super mutant. Their infallible little sexy untouchable. Oh sure, she had friends, but they knew what she was capable of, and they stayed away.

It pissed me off so much I had a nice, long talk with the professor about it.

Okay, so it was less than a talk and mostly me yelling and clawing at the air and trying to get him out of my mind.

He's one powerful asshole, that professor. Scary to think what would happen if he ever used that 'gift' of his for the other side.

"You think we're using her," was his calm answer when I had yelled and stomped in and he had finally calmed me down long enough for me talk without my claws.

"Damn straight I think you're using her."

He was quiet for a moment, hands clasped together, looking up me with no hint of fear in his voice. "You've been on the outside, have you not?"

"Yes."

"And?"

"It's a shit hole."

"Quite." He cocked his head, studying me. "Rogue is a very powerful mutant, Logan. And a very lonely one. She's not quite sure who she is. what she is. and she's quite certain that her future is very bleak. She also has developed a bit of a volatile side, thanks to her numerous. connections."

"And?"

"And that's dangerous for her. Logan if we let Rogue out on her own, she's vulnerable."

"I know that," I snapped.

"Do you?" His eyes bore into mine, dark and soft and intense at the same time. "A mutant like her would be very high priced in the brotherhood. Someone with an evil mind could take her, not let go. mess with her head, so to speak. And she'd be one of the most dangerous foes we would have to face."

I glared, not understanding, not wanting to understand. "Give me a straight answer," I finally snapped, crossing my arms. "She's twenty two years old."

"Oh I beg to differ. I'm afraid she's much wiser than that. You should know Logan, in here." He tapped the side of head gently. "Is what really matters. And she needs to deal with that before she makes any decisions. about anyone. Or else she could become very dangerous, not only to herself, but to us."

"Not Rogue."

"Yes, Rogue. I know why you're here. You'll only be hurting her, Logan." He wheeled himself forward, until his body was inches from mine. "I'm allowing you to stay because you're quite possibly the only person who has connected with her that she loves."

"Loves?" I repeated, somehow struck by the wording.

"Yes. Loves. You're very dear to her, Logan. And she needs that."

"She needs someone to figure out how she can control her powers."

"She needs a friend, Logan," he finally snapped, his voice crisp, teeming with authority. "Not a lover. Keep that in mind. You'll only be hurting her if you try."

I hadn't believed him then.

I forgot how much he knew about all of us.

And damn, I paid the price.

I had hurt her. I had seen the look in her eyes, and it was like she had taken my hand, ripped the claws out and impaled me with them.

Damn.

It was silent that night. Everyone was asleep and the mansion was dark as I slid the duffel bag over my shoulder and walked silently through the halls.

I was going to have to walk to town.

I was running again. But this time, I had reason. I had hurt the woman I had promised to protect. I had seared her heart and in turn, my own.

Cause she was inside me. She knew me.

And I didn't know her. I didn't know her at all.

She was right. She wasn't Marie anymore. Maybe she never was. She was always Rogue, deep down inside. In here, even the old timers, Scott and Ororo and the beautiful Jean treated her as a comrade, half-afraid of her, of what she could do, wanting to get close, and knowing they couldn't.

Sure they loved her. But no one knew her.

Then why did I feel like I did? Why did I look at her and feel this tug in my heart, this familiarity that was in me when our eyes met?

It wasn't like anything I had felt before.

Hell it was kinda freaky.

A familiar scent drifted to my nose, and my steps faltered. I closed my eyes, feeling my heart drop and my body tense.

God. She was close.

I sniffed again, and found myself turning myself in the direction of the scent, walking on legs that seemed to move on their own, in a mind that had one objective.

Seeing her one last time.

I found myself at a doorway, and I turned the knob, looking up and down the hallway before slipping inside, closing the door behind me and looking toward the bed.

She was dressed in a white gown. Her hair tumbled around her, the white streaks visible, framing her face like a halo.

I just stared at her.

Damn, she got beautiful.

She was always a good-looking kid, but. Damn.

Something was wrong. Her body suddenly jerked and my body tensed when a soft moan of anguish escaped her lips. Dropping my bag I came forward, around the side, looking at her face.

Her expression was contorted, and it looked like she was going through hell.

I looked down, reached out a hand to shake her awake, and then stopped myself seconds before my hands touched her bare skin.

Damn.

I reached for her blanket, bunched under her, when I saw her hands and froze.

She was clutching my dog tags.

Suddenly I shuddered, couldn't stand, and found myself sinking down, kneeling beside the bed.

"Rogue." I whispered, taking the bit of blanket I could, covering my hand and gently shaking her.

She only twisted her body, trying to get away.

"Rogue," I said gruffly again, shaking harder.

There was a cry, and suddenly her eyes shot open, her hand shot out. I leaned back as fast as I could, knowing what her touch could do, pulling the blanket with me and blocking the hand with my own, the thin sheet separating us.

She froze, and I could feel her trembling. My eyes slowly drifted to her now open ones, saw her blinking, sitting up, and then freeze when she recognized me.

"You were having nightmares," I said slowly. She stared at me, as if unsure and then looked at our hands, and quickly pulled away.

"Yeah," she answered shakily, running her hands through her hair.

I leaned against the bed, looking at her with a solemn expression on my face. "Do you have them a lot?"

She shrugged, managing a grim smile. "On and off. " Her eyes flickered to mine. "You know they're yours."

Mine. She was having my nightmares. Of my memories.

DAMN.

"I'm sorry." I whispered gruffly, found I could think of nothing else to say.

"Don't be. It was my way of keeping you in me." I felt my heart heave inside me, and I noticed that she began to study me, her gaze roving over my clothes, and resting at the bag I had thrown haphazardly aside.

She froze.

"You were leavin'." It wasn't a question. There was a small insecurity, a trace of panic, and I swallowed, looking away, not wanting to face the accusation in her eyes.

"Well you me that if I was staying for you-"

"Were you?" She was never one to mince words, and damn, her honesty drove me crazy.

I couldn't look at her when I grumbled, "Yeah."

There was silence, and the tension from before reentered, as she became more and more alert. When I finally met her eyes, they were darker, knowing... so mature and wise, and my poor little Rogue knew so much... Damn. There was so much sadness there, so much hurt. I wanted to take it all away, and I couldn't even touch her.

I hated this.

She licked her lips, and cleared her throat as she whispered, as if the darkness of the night seemed so sacred to her she didn't want to break it by speaking louder. "About before. I'm sorry." There was a drawl that caught on the end of her words, but it was quiet, meaningful. Sincere.

Her eyes were moist, trimmed with tears, and I had to shove my hands in my pockets to keep from touching them.

I found myself smiling at the grim reality. Damn.

"Yeah. So am I." The fists came out, and I looked at them, feeling my claws at attention just under the skin. For a second I fought the urge to skin them out. The pain as the skin ripped would have focused me. I was tense inside. I felt everything changing, and it was all because of her. It was frightening.

I don't like being helpless. I don't like having something run away from me and every time I'm with her that's exactly what happens. I was speaking from the heart, and in my mind there was no dry sarcasm, no biting humor.

Because it was Rogue... and damn, that scared me to death. I looked up, met her eyes, and felt a surge go through me. "I should have talked to you." The words came from my mouth before I knew what I was saying. "I didn't know what to say. When I left before... you were a kid... but you know... I never felt the way ... I wanted to protect you. And to care that way about someone that I just met..." I bit the sentence off and growled at myself, hearing the sentence tremble. Fuck. This wasn't me. Hell, kid. What did you do to me?

"And then I came back and you had changed into this... amazing person. You had become everything that I ever..."

Movement made me stop, and when I finally looked back up, I saw she was sitting up, and when she reached out a hand, it was gloved.

I was quiet as I watched it's descent to my face. I closed my eyes when I felt the tender caress, felt a shudder go through me as I wished so desperately to feel her skin, her warm skin touching my face...

I had held her once. And it had nearly killed me.

My face turned, against my will, leaning into her hand, the look on her face so tender, so full of understanding and her eyes so wet with feeling and emotion-

My lips pressed against her palm, feeling the smooth satin against my mouth. My hand rose and kept her palm against my mouth, reveling in the caress, knowing this was as good as I was going to get, knowing it would never be enough.

She pulled away with that strength that she had... "Logan." Her voice was strained, tortured, and it ripped me apart. "Logan," she tried again. "I can be your friend," she whispered, leaning forward, tears sliding down her face. My hand bolted for a piece of her stray sheet and I wiped it away as carefully as I could. Her sentence faltered, and she sighed raggedly, leaning back, her chest heaving. "I can love you," she continued. "I do love you, and I can talk to you, but as a friend."

"That's not enough," I snapped gruffly. "Not for me. Not for you."

She was quiet, and suddenly she smiled, a tired smile that should have never been on the face of a twenty-two-year-old girl. "You know what you're doin'? With you're crazy talk about stuff that kin never happen? You makin' me feel like the old one."

A small smile flitted across my face as I reached up and fingered the white strands that hung loosely around her face, seeming almost to shine in the moonlight.

"Maybe you are." She smiled, and then fell quiet.

I didn't say anything. I knew I didn't have to. Her face cast downwards, and for a second I couldn't see her expression, but when she finally shuddered, looked up, I knew the battle was at least halfway over. It was in her eyes, in her face, and in her words.

"I need you," was the intense whisper. "I've always needed you."

I could have smiled like an idiot. But I didn't. The moment was too sacred for that. And I never have sacred moments. They only happened with her. So instead I just stared into her eyes, knowing the pain in her heart, feeling it all too well.

It was a tortured soul I was offering. It was a tainted past... one that even I didn't know. It was a life of a man who killed with knives, a freak of nature who's only "gift" was that of being a beast. He was cruel. And in my whole life, I had managed only one thing I had that was even close to worth keeping, worth fighting for, worth dying for.

I sure as hell wasn't going to lose it.

"You'll always have me." And my dry sarcasm kicked in. "Come on, someone needs to spice up these geeks.

She chuckled, and then grew silent.

"I'm not making any promises.

"You don't have to."

"You'll stay here." It wasn't a question, but the insecurity behind it made my chest wrench.

"Yes." My eyes suddenly turned to my forgotten bag, and leaning forward, I reached inside, pulling out the weathered old blanket I had kept for years. Her eyes were curious as I shrugged off my jacket, kicked off my shoes, and then suddenly froze when I floated the blanket over her body.

God, she was so small.

The bed sunk down when I lay down on it, and still she didn't move as I arranged my body to cradle hers, the thin sheet still allowing me to feel the heat between our bodies.

When my arms slid around her, pulling her against me, she was still, and suddenly she shuddered, and turned, burying her face in my chest, her gloved hand slipping around my waist.

"Thank you," was the shaky whisper.

I only slid a hand to her hair, gently running my fingers through the silky strands, able to pick up the white ones even in this darkness as they spilled over my chest.

"Don't mention it," I whispered, pulling her trembling body tighter against me.

She was breathing evenly, the dark woman who I had once called kid, who had twice almost killed me, who I had once stabbed with my claws, taking comfort, solace in my arms.

Her hand slipped in her sleep, and I felt the movement against me, and closed my eyes.

In all my life, what I can remember of it, I've always had this idea that I've done something wrong. That I'm paying for something that I did. That I deserved what was done with me, and every time I'm wounded, everytime the knives rip through my fists and I feel the metal wrench inside of me, I'm only paying a fraction of what I owe the world.

I'm still not sure why it's her that makes me think I might have a chance to repay it. I'm not sure why the kid from five years ago suddenly is the woman of my dreams. I'm not sure what makes her think I could love her the way I want to and not pay the price, or why I believe that myself. I'm not sure what makes me think we'll find a way to make this work.

But I do know one thing. There's one thing I'm absolutely sure of, and the beast inside me has its claws around it and won't let go. It'll never let go, because I'm sure.

My absolution was in her fatal caress.