Title: The Things I Deserve|
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Summary: Jake just couldn't keep his mouth shut.God bless his soul! Sequel to the Red Shoe Diaries fics ("As You Desire Me" and "Midnight Confessions").
Category: Logan/Rogue romance
Disclaimer: None of this crap is mine. I beat Marvel, Bryan Singer, and Zalman King up and took their toys. I'm thinkin' about not givin' 'em back, too. So there!
Dedication: For everyone who cried "Sequel!" (especially Die, Mira, and Chris). And for Teresa, who gave me the idea that maybe Jake should do a little meddling. :)
Rogue never paid much attention to mail call. She wasn't like Kitty, who had a family that actually still kept in touch, or Jubes, who had pen pals all over the globe and coming out her ears. She never got mail. Ever.
That's why she was so shocked when Scott Summers handed her a long white envelope addressed by name only to "Marie." There was no one left who called her that but Logan, and it was highly unlikely that he'd be writing anytime soon.
It had been a month, but her memories of that last night with him were seared into her brain; she was sure she'd never forget. The way he smelled, the way he touched her.But, above all else, she remembered the haunted look in his eyes afterward, when he led her to her room and gently kissed the top of her head.
She'd known what he was going to do. She'd stared up into his tired face, and she'd known what was coming, if not why.
An hour later, as she lay awake in bed, she heard the soft scrape of paper against hardwood, and she shut her eyes against it.
She hadn't wanted to be right.
She imagined that he stood outside her door for a while, unable to simply walk away. It gave her hope. What would he do if she yanked the door open and threw her arms around him? How would he react? Would he run away then? Or was there something in her power she could do to make him stay?
She never found out, because by the time she'd dragged herself from her misery and her bed, he was gone.
Funny. It had taken her half an hour to go from child to woman in Logan's arms. Thirty minutes. Such a short span of time to gain and lose everything.
She refused to run after him, and she refused to cry. If he had wanted either, he would have stayed. So she hid his farewell note in her underwear drawer and said nothing, simply endured the questions and the conjectures, and finally the suspicious and sympathetic stares. She refused to bend. If she did, she would break, of that much she was certain.
She stared at the envelope in her shaking hands and wondered if she should even open it. But curiosity kills, and she walked quietly to her room and sat down to read.
"Marie.You don't know me, but my name is Jake. You wrote me a letter a few months ago, and there's something I think you should see."
She burst into his office, a piece of paper fluttering in one gloved fist, and Charles Xavier didn't need to be a telepath to know that Rogue was incensed. Fury lined her face, making her look as if she'd seen far more years than just her seventeen.
"Find him, Professor," she choked, coming to a halt in front of his desk. "I need to talk to him. Now."
He also didn't need psychic ability to know of whom she spoke.
He'd been expecting this sort of demand from her; he had, in fact, expected it a month earlier, the day Scott had come to tell him that Logan was gone. He had found it odd that she didn't question him, didn't inquire to see what, if anything, he knew. It was almost as if she knew precisely why Logan had disappeared.
No, it was exactly as if she knew.
"Why now, Rogue, after all these weeks?" was all he said, folding his hands carefully in his lap. If she wanted him to know, she would tell him. If not, then it was probably none of his business.
She hesitated, then sighed. "I need to talk to him. There are thing.I didn't know."
He nodded gravely. That was all the explanation he needed, and all he was going to get, he suspected. "I'll see what I can do, Rogue." He wheeled around his desk and toward the door, stopping when he heard her tiny voice, too young to belong to a woman with a soul so old.
"Professor? Thank you."
Logan almost didn't answer the knock on his door. He knew no one in town, and only someone looking for trouble would be banging on his door at three in the morning.
But then he smelled something faintly feminine.and remembered the couple next door. He'd seen the woman's bruised and battered face on more than one occasion. She never made a sound during the abuse, but he had smelled the fear and pain wafting through the paper-thin walls of the apartment building. Damned if he knew why she stayed, but that was none of his concern. What was his concern was the fact that she might be huddled outside his door, waiting for help. And damned if he was going to sit by and let her bastard of a husband kill her just because the toad thought it part of his marital rights.
Maybe if his mind hadn't been fogged with sleep, he would have known who was on the other side of the door, would have recognized the scent. But his mind was foggy, and he didn't even stop to consider who else might have been outside his door. After all, if danger waited, he could dispatch it easily enough, so there was no need to worry.
He was wrong.
He yanked the door open and found himself staring down into the eyes that filled his dreams, his heart.
"Marie," he whispered, not at all believing she was really there, standing in the hallway outside his tiny apartment. No, it was just his foolish mind playing tricks on him, making him see the things he wanted but could never have.
"Logan." Her voice was angry, and he knew then that she was real.
Shit. He forced himself to growl at her. "What the hell are you doing here, kid?"
She took a deep, shaky breath, then looked at the floor beneath her feet. "You told me once that I should follow my instincts. Well, that's what I'm doin', Logan. Followin' my instincts. And this," she added, holding a paper aloft.
Holy shit, motherfucking hell, Jesus Christ on a cracker.
Shit, shit, shit.
"Where'd you get that?" he demanded hoarsely, instantly recognizing the cheap motel stationery and tortured scrawl. "Where the fuck did you get that, Marie?"
"From a friend," was all she said, and her voice was icy. She craned her neck, looking over his shoulder. "Are you gonna let me in, or do you have some kinda hot date in there?"
For a few moments, Logan waged a battle, head against heart. In the end, it was a war his head could never hope to win, and he stepped aside, letting her in.
Rogue was shaking as she breezed past Logan and into his tiny, dimly-lit apartment. All she wanted to do was throw her arms around his neck and hold him until he knew how exactly how she felt, and never wanted to walk away from her again. But she'd practiced her approach, if not her exact words; she knew in her gut that if she cried and wept and wailed, then he wouldn't hear a word she said. He would see her pain and know that he'd been the cause of it, and it would serve only to strengthen his insane convictions.
She knew this, and so she reached inside herself and tapped into the one emotion she could show him, the one that might make him see.
"Nice place," she offered flatly, and he raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Fine," she shrugged. "Forget small talk, then."
"We both know you didn't come here to check out my new digs, Marie." He looked calm and collected as he flipped on the overhead light switch, but she could see the tension in his muscles. He was not calm; he was as torn up inside as she was.
"You're right, Logan. I didn't come here for a pleasant chat. I came here to ask you about this." She threw his crumpled letter on the stained coffee table, and he stared at it as if it were a living, venomous thing.
"You never did say where you got that."
She nearly laughed at the dread in his tone. She wanted to ask him how it felt, knowing that she was privy to his most intimate thoughts. It was how she'd always felt with him. "Damn, I gotta tell ya, Logan.It's good to see the shoe on the other foot."
"What're you talking about, Marie?" Now he was faking boredom, going so far as to manufacture a yawn for her benefit.
She cocked an eyebrow, unconsciously imitating him, and smirked. He was obviously forgetting that she knew him like no one else. If he wanted to play hardball, then she was more than up for it. "Bored already, Logan? But we haven't even gotten started yet." She reached down without looking and picked his letter back up. Then she started to read aloud. "'Her skin.I'd seen it in so many dreams, bare and silvered by moonlight. I'm not going to lie; I wanted nothing more than to taste it, to feel her naked flesh sliding against mine--'"
He sucked in a harsh breath, and the sound made her fall quiet. "Still bored, Logan?"
He stalked over and snatched the paper from her. "It ain't right, kid, you reading this."
"Why?" she demanded. "Because it's personal? Or because it's about me?" He said nothing in answer as he crumpled the letter and tossed it in the wastebasket near the stove. "Which is it, Logan?"
His eyes were tired and sad. "Go on back to school, kid."
"Kid?" She narrowed her eyes and approached him slowly. "Kid? Funny thing, Logan." Her voice dropped to a purr. "You weren't calling me 'kid' when you were fucking me."
Before she even finished speaking, Logan's hand was locked like a vise around her upper arm. "Don't say that," he growled. "Don't ever say that again."
"Why not?" It was little more than a whisper. "In the letter, you said you loved me. Is it true?"
He released her so abruptly that she nearly stumbled. "Doesn't matter, Marie." He turned away and shuffled through a desk drawer. He came up with a cigar and a lighter. "Nothing matters now except you getting back home."
Things weren't going at all like she'd planned. She'd never imagined that he'd be so.cold. He wasn't composed or relaxed, just. detached. "Coward," she mumbled at his back.
Silence. "I did it to protect you, Marie. I know you don't believe me, but this is for the best."
Something inside her broke, and she lashed out, hitting his shoulder with an open-handed slap. "That's bullshit, Logan!" He spun to face her again, his eyes wide with disbelief. "Don't try and make this my fault, you hear me? I'm not the one runnin'!"
His throat worked, and she could tell that he was carefully reigning in his emotions. She didn't want that; she wanted him to show something, and she didn't care what. Rage, fear, love.She'd take anything, just to know she wasn't screaming at a brick wall.
"Why are you doing this, Marie? Why are you making things harder?"
Her eyes blazed. "You're the one who's making this--"
"Dammit, Marie!" he yelled. "I'm trying not to hurt you!"
That did it. "It is too fuckin' late for that! Don't you get it? Nothin' could hurt more than you walkin' out after.after we." She swallowed, blinking wildly. She would not cry. She wouldn't.
The fight drained out of him, and he stood, his cigar dangling, forgotten, from his fingers. "What do you want from me, Marie?" he asked, knowing the answer.
"I want you to try, Logan. I want to be worth that much, at least."
He couldn't stop himself from taking a single step toward her. "You are, Marie. You're.You deserve so much, and I can't--"
She laughed distantly. "Don't talk to me about the things I deserve, Logan. I know what they are. I deserve to have a chance, Logan. I deserve a shot at bein' happy." Her eyes fell to the floor. "You deserve the same."
They said nothing for long minutes, then Logan sighed. "I'm trying to do the right thing here, Marie."
She laughed for real then. "Keep tellin' yourself that, Logan. But I know what's really goin' on. You're scared. And there's a big difference between bein' noble and bein' scared shitless."
"Dammit, Marie.What can I say to you?" he asked painfully. "What can I say to make you understand?"
"Nothing," she replied, smiling softly. "Not a damn thing." She took a last look around, and a last look at him. "I'll be goin' now."
He watched as she walked past him, barely brushing his arm with hers. Then she stopped, and he turned. Her eyes met his as she reached for the metal chain around her neck.
The agony that had been scratching at him threatened to break free. "No," he said reflexively, and she stopped, her hands at the back of her neck. "Don't, Marie.Just keep 'em, okay?"
She looked him dead in the eye. "No." The chain came apart between her fingers, and pain spread through Logan 's stomach as she gathered the tags in her palm. "I'm leavin', Logan, for good. You have my heart, and I guess that's always gonna be the case."
"Marie, put 'em back on." His desperation was breaking through, but she continued as if he hadn't spoken.
"But I can't let you keep any more of me than what you already have, and as long as I wear these tags, then you have a part of me." She didn't look as lost as he felt. She looked determined. "That ends right now, Logan."
"Marie." His eyes were stinging, and his claws ached to slide through flesh. She couldn't do this, not now, not when he.
"Take 'em, Logan."
Her voice was gentle, and it cut through him. "No."
She turned her palm downward to drop the chain, and his hand closed hers into a fist around the metal. He was shaking, suffering..Couldn't she see it? Couldn't she see that she was killing him with her quiet resolve? "Put it back on, Marie."
"Put the damn tags back on!" His voice cracked, and he could feel his control slipping, his vision blurring. She wasn't going to do this. He couldn't let her.
She stared at his devastated face for a long moment, then shook her head. "If you aren't willin' to be with me, Logan, let me go."
Fucking shit. He could feel the hot burning in his throat as pain overwhelmed him, lashing at his already bleeding heart. "I can't, Marie!"
"No!" he choked. "It's.It's all I have left," he admitted, closing his eyes against his tears. "Knowing that you wear those tags.It's all I have."
Instead of melting her resolve, his words wounded and angered her. "You can't do this to me, Logan!" she yelled, her own tears threatening to strangle her. "You can't run out on me and expect me to still hang on!" Her face crumpled, and she cried out. "It's not fair," she sobbed, wrenching her hand out of his and throwing the tags at his chest. "It's not fair, damn you!"
The metal hit the wall of his chest and bounced to the floor. He stood, unmoving, unseeing....Unaware.
She was right.
In the end, what he wanted was to know that Marie loved him, no matter what, that she still clung to him even though he was gone. It was his greatest fantasy and his biggest fear - having Marie love him.
And she had loved him. But he had broken her, through his own selfishness and stupidity; he'd stripped away the soft, warm layers of her heart and exposed its core.
And then he'd shown her what pain was.
She wanted nothing more to do with him.
He didn't blame her.
"I'm sorry," he rasped as spasms of the purest sorrow he'd ever felt twisted him. He had to get her out of there before he fell, before she bore witness to his collapse. He didn't want her to see him hit the floor. "So sorry, Marie."
Then it was too late, because the next thing he knew he was on his knees.
A harsh voice deep inside his head screamed for him to get up, to shake off the pain and at least try to look like a man, but it was eclipsed by the roaring in his ears, by the sound of his own heart pounding. He was dying, and he knew it. He had to be. No one could hurt this badly and live, healing factor be damned.
Through his sobs, he heard her soft voice murmuring to him, felt her gloved hands running tenderly through his hair. It made him cry harder, because he'd never given her anything good, and she'd given him everything, was still giving, even though he'd thrown it all back in her face.
He focused on her tearful voice, on her gentle fingers.
".never getting' rid of me, Logan, I don't care what you say, or how often. I love you, and that's forever. It doesn't stop, Logan., even if you want it to like all hell on fire.That's part of the deal."
He lay there with his head in her lap, gasping, barely feeling the rough carpeting beneath his bare shoulder. All he could feel was Marie.
And then he knew. He finally understood that she was telling him the truth, that nothing he could do or say would make her forsake him. But beyond that, he saw that he didn't have to worry about it, because loving her was enough reason to make her happy, and he could. He had the power to make Marie happy...just by being Logan.
He didn't have to run.
He was going to fuck up from time to time, simply because he was Logan and he tended to do that on occasion. But it didn't mean that he had to live alone.
It didn't mean he had to walk away.
"I know," she whispered soothingly. "I know.It's all right."
I love you.
Don't leave me.
I love you.
I'll bet you never thought you'd hear from me again, but here I am. I took your advice, by the way, and that's sort of why I'm writing.
It worked out, after all.
Every time I mention writing to tell you thanks, Logan growls at me and reminds me that he's still considering tracking you down and kicking your ass for forwarding me his letter. But I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. I'll keep him in line.
It's sort of strange, but I never realized what was really going on with him and his running. I was being self-centered, I guess, because it turns out that it had very little to do with me. Nothing I could say or do could stop it, like a force of nature, you know? What Logan really needed was to realize within himself that running away didn't have to be a way of life, and that sometimes it's okay to stay.
And he has stayed. Regardless of Logan's growling and bellyaching, I have you to thank for that. If you hadn't sent me that letter, I never would have known how he felt.and I never would have gone after him and dragged his ass back home.
He's reading over my shoulder, and he wanted me to tell you that my version of events differs slightly from his. But we're not going into all that right now.
I guess I just wanted to say thank you.
One more thing - I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for.
All my best,