Title: Will You Accept The Charges?|
Summary: Sequel to Diebin's "Return To Sender." Logan calls Rogue collect to apologize.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to someone else. I am not someone else. Therefore, they do not belong to me.
Dedication and Thanks: To Diebie, for lettin' me play with her toys, even though I almost broke them last time. ;) And to Jengrrl, for the lovely beta. :)
Author's Notes: Even though I am the evil creature who whispered in Die's ear and urged her to make "Return To Sender" angsty as hell, I couldn't handle it. I found myself driving down the freeway in my car, wondering if the damage was fixable. LOL And since Die is the sweetest person ever, she let me give it a shot. All hail Diebin. She is a goddess. ;)
Logan sat on the edge of his bed, a paper dangling from his fingers. The feminine scrawl on the page was unfamiliar...and damning. The words danced on the page as he wondered what the hell he was going to do.
Storm had written him a letter.
After running a shaky hand through his hair, he focused his eyes and read the words once more, pain and guilt warring for dominance in his bruised heart.
"Logan," it began simply. "It's not my place to be writing this letter, but I hate seeing my friends in pain, so I'm doing it anyway. Do you have any idea how much you hurt Rogue with that invitation you returned?"
Logan closed his eyes and shook his head. She certainly didn't beat around the bush, but did Ororo have any idea how much receiving that damned ivory envelope had hurt him? Of course not. No one did, not even Marie.
He continued reading. "It was uncalled for, Logan. I hate putting it so bluntly, but that's all it was. Rogue has been wandering around here depressed for the last three weeks, and I'm tired of it. I know you probably won't do this, but I wish you'd pick up the phone and apologize to her. Call collect if you have to, Logan. It takes so little time and effort to say you're sorry, and it's the right thing to do."
It was signed only with her name, and icy coolness laced every word. Logan grimaced, unsure of his next move. He knew she was right; he should have just burned the damn invitation before lashing out at Marie with such malice, but he hadn't been thinking clearly at the time. He had that little old woman from the post office in his face, giving him lectures on etiquette, when all he wanted to do was send the invitation back before he did something stupid.
Like open it.
Or call Marie. He was sure he would have had a good excuse for himself; he could have called to find out who the guy was, or to demand to know if it was really what she wanted. But Logan knew, deep down, that a call to her could end only with him on his knees, begging her not to do it. Pleading with her to wait for him.
His grimace turned into a scowl, and Logan crumpled the letter into a ball, then threw it at the waste basket. It hit the rim and bounced off, rolling to a stop near his left foot. He kicked it.
So, it looked like he was going to be calling Marie anyway.
Rubbing the back of his neck, he snatched the receiver from its cradle, vowing that, whatever else he did, two things were off limits - hurting Marie again and begging her to love him.
Rogue was out of breath by the time she reached the telephone. She'd been sure someone else was going to answer it, so she'd kept her seat in the library, trying to concentrate on her book. But then the phone reached its seventh ring, and she made a mad dash for the hallway, grumbling. It figured that no one else would be around when she was trying to get some work done.
"Hello?" she gasped, rolling her eyes at how out-of-breath she sounded.
A recorded voice answered her. "Hello, you have a collect call from--" It paused.
"Logan," a gruff voice supplied.
The blood drained from Rogue's face, and her hand tightened on the receiver as the voice droned on. "Will you accept the charges? At the tone, please clearly state 'yes' or 'no.'"
"Y-Yes, of course," she stuttered after the shrill beep, her heart pounding. Logan had called. Oh God, was he in trouble? She couldn't think of any other reason why he would be calling on a Wednesday afternoon. She waited until she heard the line click, then ventured, "Logan?"
"Yeah, it's me." His voice was quiet with just a hint of a defeat, and it hurt to hear. It hurt more than she thought it would.
Rogue had thought a million times about what she'd do if he called, what she'd say. She could play it cool, follow his lead, and act like whatever he did was just of passing interest to her, nothing more. Or she could just tell him the truth. Lay it all on the table, confess how much she cared about him, wanted to be with him. After all, what did she have to lose?
She hadn't counted on that wounded, unhappy voice of his.
Suddenly, she didn't know what to say. "What are... How are you?" She gritted her teeth and shook her head, wishing that she had said anything but what had just come out of her mouth. Talk about stilted politeness.
She could almost picture the arched eyebrow, but all he said in answer was, "I'm doing good," and he sounded even more beaten than before. "Listen, uh... I wanted to say I'm sorry. About the invitation."
Oh God. She should have known, should have seen it coming. Logan could beat the living hell out of a man and merely shrug afterwards, but he'd always been more careful with her, almost gentle. She should have known that he would feel guilty. "No, I'm sorry, Logan," she protested vehemently. "It... It was horrible of me, I see that now. You must have been so..." she trailed off, unsure about verbally acknowledging the pain wrapped around his voice. "I just didn't know you still felt... I'm sorry." In the end, it was inadequate...but it was all she had.
"Not your fault," he said simply. Then there was silence, broken only by a small huff, as if he'd cleared his throat. "So, you've been pretty busy with planning it, eh?"
Rogue's brow furrowed slightly. "Oh, the--" She caught herself just in time. For some reason, it didn't seem right to say it out loud. "Not really. I mean, Ororo's the maid of honor, so she's been doin' most of the work." She wrapped the telephone cord around her gloved finger, and imagined the skin beneath it turning mottled shades of blue and purple. "Hey, I'm startin' college in a few weeks," she informed him brightly, eager to get away from the topic of Jean and Scott's wedding.
This time when he spoke, Rogue thought she heard a smile. "That's great, Marie." Then the smile turned into a tiny laugh. "Look at you," he mumbled softly. "Moving off, starting a whole new life."
"Well, I'm not goin' anywhere, Logan," she corrected. "I'm still gonna be livin' here, at the school."
It was a long moment before he answered. "Oh."
Rogue took a deep breath. If she didn't say something, then she'd lose her chance. Logan would hang up, and he might never... "Look, Logan," she began, heart pounding. Could he hear it on the other end of the line? "I wish you'd come back," she confessed. "I really... I want to see you."
Another long moment of silence stretched over the connection. "I don't think I can, Marie."
She felt sick. "Busy, huh?"
"No, I just... I don't think it's a good idea, is all." And his voice was even deeper, fuller, than before. The melancholy that permeated it was almost tangible, and Rogue closed her eyes against the knowledge that Logan was hurting that much...over Jean. Over someone who was, quite simply, not her.
"Okay, um..." Her throat tightened, and she blinked back tears. She was horrified to hear herself whisper, "Please?"
"Marie..." He sounded sad, so damn sad. "The groom might get hacked off if he saw the way I look at his girl," he explained quietly.
Pain shot through Rogue and settled in her stomach. "Oh... I--I guess you're right... Okay."
Neither of them said anything then, and it occurred to Rogue that maybe the hush had fallen because Logan was like her, too miserable to speak. She didn't blame him; she knew better than anyone what it was to love someone you couldn't have.
"Look, I gotta go." Hoarse words, at once hesitant and hurried.
Rogue's shoulders slumped. She'd said as much to him as her fear and wounded pride would allow. It seemed like it was always that way; she crawled out on limb after emotional limb, but they never could bear the weight of what she felt, what she needed from the strong, aloof man named Logan. In the end, there was nothing left to say. "All right."
"You take care, Marie," he said, and she thought she heard his voice waver a little. "And...congratulations. On school and...and the wedding."
His last words stopped her cold. "The wedding?"
"Yeah." He sounded almost angry now, upset. "Something wrong? Can't I at least congratulate you about it?"
Rogue drew in an unsteady breath. "Sure, but... I guess I just didn't think it was customary to congratulate a bridesmaid."
"Bridesmaid?" Nothing. No inflection, no emotion, just the word, and she knew it was a question.
What the hell was wrong with him? "Well, I already told you that Ororo was the maid of honor, and Jean can only have one, so... She asked me to be a bridesmaid." She moved her hand over the back of a chair, and she sank into it. "Logan, are you okay?"
There was a sharp exhale of breath, a cross between a sigh and growl. "I... Marie, I--God, I thought..."
"Thought what?" Her eyes narrowed, then widened as comprehension dawned. "Wait a minute, you thought it was my wedding?"
"I just assumed..."
"It's Jean and Scott, of course." It would have been funny if it weren't so damn ridiculous. "Logan, who the hell would I be marryin'?"
"I dunno." Quiet, and Rogue wondered if she imagined that his voice was less pained than before.
Still, it didn't quite make sense. "Wait a minute... If you thought I was the one gettin' married, why were you..." Her words trailed away to nothingness, and she trembled. "Oh," was all she could think to say, and it came out in a shocked whisper. "Oh."
"Marie..." He sounded regretful and elated and scared and smug, and none of those things belonged together. But he said her name and she heard it all, and she knew what he was going to say next, and she couldn't let him take any of it back.
So she stopped him. "Logan?"
"Yeah?" It was a word, nothing more. Not an endearment or a confession, but the way he said it, tenderly, like it was only for her, made it feel like both.
"I know I already asked you this, but..." Relief and wonder made her bold. "Will you come back as soon as you can? I want..."
This time, he stopped her from speaking. "Yeah, I think I can manage that." He sounded choked up again, but the pain that had been throbbing in his words before was gone, and Rogue shook.
"Soon?" God, they had so much to say, because they'd said nothing so far, and there were a million secret things inside... And she could say them all to him, because she knew now that he wanted to hear them.
"Real soon, Marie."