Title: The Magic of Belief
Author: Elizabeth
Email: uhmidont@theglobe.com
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Rating: R (for sexual content and language)
Keywords: X-men movie fic, post-movie, Logan POV, Logan/Rogue
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the universe this story is set in.
Archive: My site (http://ficorama.cjb.net)--and the x- menmoviefanfic list site and Kielle's site if they're interested. Anyone else, please ask.
Thanks: To Molly and Kate for all their encouragement.

"The students are mostly runaways; frightened, alone -- some with gifts so extreme they've become a danger to themselves and to those around them, like your friend Rogue--incapable of physical human contact, probably for the rest of her life."--Charles Xavier (X-Men: The Movie)

I suppose that a few people--I'm thinking two here, Scott and Xavier, always thought that I would come back. I suppose they also thought I would come back for Rogue. They're romantic guys. They like causes and believing and whatever else it is that believers establish to believe in. Scott loves Jean and being an X-Man in a way that mostly nauseates me and the Professor loves his causes so much that I'll bet there's not room for much else. He spoke to me about Magneto once, and just briefly. I think it was something along the lines of how "Erik" helped him create a few things around the school. I knew what had happened. Xavier dreamed and dreamed and dreamed some more and Erik left because no one wants to be just the corner of a dream. I'll bet Xavier misses Erik though. I'll bet he dreams of saving Magneto from himself. He seems like that kind of guy.

I didn't come back for Rogue. She didn't even enter into my decision. When I left, I felt as if I'd lived up to my promise to her. I'd kept her safe. When I left, she wasn't thinking only about survival. She'd started to think about living. I'd say that's pretty damn good.

I thought about Marie sometimes when I was gone. Once in a while I'd call her. At first, she'd run for the phone. She was living in some sort of dorm thing at the time, and I guess they only had one phone for her floor or something. I'd call the school and always get put on hold. Then Xavier would come on the line and say something very smooth and polite and act like he was interested in what I was doing. Maybe he was. I would mutter something back and he would ask if I wanted to speak to Rogue and I would say "Yeah. I want to talk to Marie." I could almost hear him smile and he'd say, "One moment please."

Then there would be silence for a while and a female voice would say "Hello?" I would ask for Marie and get "Who?" You'd think that after a while I'd learn to ask for Rogue. I suppose I didn't want to. Then there would be more silence while whoever answered the phone went to get her. Then after a minute or two, I would hear her running down the hall--I'd hear the slap of her shoes against the floor-- and then there'd be a slightly breathless "Hello?"

I would ask her how she was doing and she would say "Fine, fine" in an impatient tone and then ask me where I was. Sometimes I told her, although sometimes I made up places. I sensed that she wanted to think of me as always moving and I didn't want to let her down. She was easy to please--I'd always shied away from keeping in touch with anyone before because there were always expectations. Demands. Usually they were tied up in wishes that I had no interest in fulfilling. But she just wanted to know that I was somewhere and she liked that I wandered. Before she was Rogue she was a girl who wanted to see the world and I could understand that.

So I'd tell her a little bit about where I was. The weather--the color of the sky, the way the place smelled, if I'd seen anything interesting. Once I was driving across Kansas and I saw a tornado moving across the sky. It was far away but it triggered a memory of some book about Oz and I pulled over and called her. She knew the book I was talking about and asked what color the tornado was. No "be careful" or anything like that. Maybe because it was she had a part of me inside her--I don't know. I just know that she was easy to keep in touch with, and that's why I did.

After a while she didn't run for the phone as much. Sometimes she wasn't there when I called, although when I did speak to her again she would remember the date of my last call and tell me that she was sorry she missed it. She started to talk a little bit about herself and at first I thought I wouldn't care. But I did. I liked hearing about her classes, which she felt were "too hard," and I liked hearing about the regular teenage things she did on the weekends. When Bobby asked her to go to some big dance and she told me all about her dress I even fed the phone extra quarters so I could keep listening to her. I liked hearing how happy she was. I was pretty damn proud of myself. Which was stupid--after all, she was the one who pulled her life together--but it was how I felt.

She finished high school and I figured that would be the end of the phone calls. I called her just before she left for college and asked her if she was all packed up. There was silence for a moment. I didn't think anything of it. Sometimes when she was all talked out we'd stay on the line for a minute or two and I'd just listen to her breathe. I still remember the way she'd gasped and made a terrible wheezing noise when I slid my claws into her one night a long time ago, and just hearing her breathe has always made me feel calm and not so worried about all the things I might have done a long time ago and that I can only sort of remember.

"I've got a number at college," she finally said. She let out a little sigh and I think that was the only time she was ever nervous talking to me. I don't know if it was because she was afraid that I wouldn't want to talk to her anymore or merely because she'd sort of asked me for something. It was hard for her to do that--to ask for things.

"I'm heading back to Canada for a while" I told her. "So maybe I'll give you a weather report. What's your number?"

She recited a number and I scratched it into the metal stand below the phone with a claw. The guy who was waiting to use the phone at the time ran off when I did that.

It took me a while to scare up a pen to copy her number down with, but I did and I didn't lose the piece of paper with her number on it. I called her a couple of times and things were just the same only now I didn't have to go through the rigmarole of "chatting" with Xavier before I talked to her.

I lost her phone number during her sophomore year of college. I was in Alaska and I got in a fight in a bar outside a military base. I got knocked out and when I woke up it was six months later and I could smell the stink of military doctors and generals and other assorted military personnel all over me--chipped beef and polyester uniforms and "yes" men. I spent another eight months trying to figure out what had been done to me and then I gave up and went to New York. I wanted answers and it was pretty obvious that I was never going to be able to find them, and at that point I was willing to let someone else look inside my head if only so I could be told what I couldn't remember.

I didn't even think Marie would be at Xavier's. For all I knew, she was still at college. But she was there--I saw her, just briefly and out of the corner of my eye, when I arrived. When I was sitting in Xavier's office waiting for him, I noticed that he had a bunch of letters on his desk. Several of them were about her. The first one was from the university she'd gone to, confirming her withdrawal. Another letter revealed that she'd been asked to leave. The school didn't know she was a mutant, but they did after a cafeteria worker went to tap her on her shoulder because she'd forgotten to have her id card scanned when she went to the dining hall. The worker's hand slipped and brushed against Marie's neck and the worker split his skull open when he fell on the floor after someone pulled him away from her. I noticed that she'd signed her withdrawal letter to the university as Rogue.

Xavier came in and I put the letters back down on the desk and looked at him. "You know about Rogue?" he said, and I shrugged.

"How is she?"

"Fine." He gestured at his desk. "The incident in question happened six months ago. She's managed to work through it fairly well. What brings you back here?"

I told him a little about what had happened to me and didn't ask any more questions about Marie. I figured she was ok--Xavier was pretty savvy about mutant stuff, after all. He took a look inside my mind and came out white-faced. He started to tell me what had happened but I stopped listening when he said that it looked like all the military had done was test me and watch me and then wipe my mind so I would forget all about them. I thought I'd accepted that a lot of me was created by the government; that they feel they own me, but I guess I haven't. Whenever I think about it, all I want to do is hurt. Anyone, anything. I got mad and slashed up Xavier's office pretty good and knocked him and his wheelchair over and old one-eye himself came in to try to subdue me. Good ole stick-up-his-ass Scott. I was glad to see him, in a way. Then they sent Jean in because I'd knocked Scott out and she managed to give me some sort of sedative.

I think Xavier thought that seeing Jean was what calmed me down. I saw the look he shot her as the floor was rising up to meet my face. But it wasn't Jean at all. I'd heard footsteps running down the hall as Jean came over to me with her hand curved out like she was going to touch my face. Those footsteps made me think about Marie and how her voice would always smile when she said "Logan! You called!" It was the first good memory that had come back to me in a long time and for a moment, I felt ok. I was able to stand still. And then, like I said, I hit the floor.

I talked to Marie later. I woke up in the med lab and she was sitting beside the table they'd strapped me to. She was reading a book and wrapping a strand of her hair around her gloved finger but she turned to me the second I opened my eyes.

We talked for a little while--about nothing really, which I'm sure disappointed Scott, who emerged lurking from the shadows a few minutes later (like I couldn't smell him--all wounded pride and fearless leader routine) and cleared his throat. Marie stood up and told me she'd see me later.

I shrugged and nodded because she was still easy to talk to and the thought of seeing her later wasn't bothering me. Scott started talking and I managed to slice through the straps they'd use to hold me down so they could run me through tests or whatever they thought they were going to do.

I will give Scott some credit--he didn't even bat an eye when I got up and started to walk out of the lab. He just said, "Jean will be here in a minute to talk to you" and left the room.

I stayed because Scott had left and because I wanted to see Jean. She came in almost right away, which led me to believe that she'd been waiting in the hall while Scott made his big speech. She asked me how I was and flushed a little when I said, "Fine, now that I've seen you."

I looked at her and smiled a little as she nervously smoothed a lock of hair that didn't need smoothing; making sure it was tucked back behind her ear. She cleared her throat and started fiddling with all her medical gizmos. "Why did you come back?"

Her face was still a little flushed and she pretended that she was fascinated by the wall right beside my head. She smelled delicious and I liked that.

"Don't you know?" I whispered. "I came back because of you."

Her eyes went wide and startled for a moment--just a moment-- and if things were really different or I was someone different or she was someone different she might have believed me. Maybe I would have meant what I said. Maybe. Then she laughed and looked into my eyes.

"No, you didn't."

I smiled because she'd caught me in my lie and because I'd forgotten that Jean didn't take any crap. She ran all her little tests and I made sure to make her laugh a little more--I knew that Scott was probably nearby, listening and glowering. He knows how lucky he is to have Jean, but I still felt like reminding him.

That was my big return. No drama, really, other than my "little display" in Xavier's office (his words). I ran into Marie the next day and she smiled and told me she'd heard I'd "trashed the Professor's office." I got the feeling she wished she could do that.

So I asked her what was going on and she looked at the floor and mumbled something about deciding college wasn't right for her and that Xavier had told her that she could work at the school and join the X-Men and what a great opportunity it was. We both knew that she was having a hard time believing what she was saying. But I didn't press her because I figured that it was her problem to sort out and I had enough problems of my own.

Xavier told me that he'd find out what he could about my past and he said that I was welcome to stay. He launched into a big speech about how I could be a part of something great and make a difference and I could feel myself slipping into a rage--for all his big talk, he was just trying to recruit me. The only difference between him and the military was that they didn't ask (I don't think). It wasn't a very big difference to me. I muttered something and felt the claws under my hands itch, ready to slide out and spit out all the words I didn't feel like saying, and he dropped the whole thing.

I did fall into a routine of sorts and it wasn't all that bad. I had no desire to strap on leather and save the world, but I didn't mind fixing things or helping students think of ways to irritate Scott. Marie and I usually met every day after she finished teaching. She mostly got moved around to help out Storm or Jean with their classes and sometimes when I would walk by the classrooms I would see her looking out the window and I didn't like the way it made me feel--she looked like all the memories I had of being helpless and trapped and part of something I didn't want to be involved in. But in spite of that I still didn't mind talking to her. I liked talking to her. She didn't ask for anything at all and I could handle that.

And then I went to dinner one night--Xavier is big on "community" so everyone eats together--and I was glaring at some kid who looked like he was thinking about sitting with me when I saw Marie come into the room. She was with one of the newer X-Men and she was laughing. The kid she was with is named Gambit or Gamblor or Gimlet or something like that and he has the fakest accent I've ever heard. When I met him he said something like "Ah, zis is ze Volverine--the one with the claws, yes?" and I managed--just barely-- not to laugh at him.

Anyway, for whatever reason, every female in the school adores the guy. He can even make Jean blush and I stopped trying to get her to do so after I saw that for the first time. It felt like something had been taken away from me, though I couldn't have explained what it was even if I wanted to. And it seemed that Marie liked him too because when he leaned over towards her that night, her face turned a bright red (no delicate Jean-like flushes for her) and I could hear her laugh. She seemed pretty happy and although I was surprised that it was the fake accent man that made her so I was just relieved to see that she'd managed to find someone or something that made her smile.

And then I noticed something. Gambit reached towards her--like he was going to take her hand or something--and he stopped. He acted like he was reaching for something to her side- for a dish of whatever creamed vegetables they were serving, maybe-- but it was obvious that he wasn't. I don't know if he was afraid to touch her or thought that he couldn't or what, the fact is that he didn't. He didn't do anything to her and I saw. I saw her smile falter and I heard her laugher stop and even though she acted like everything was fine and stayed with him and sat next to him, I saw the way she pushed her food around slowly and kept looking at her gloved hands. I kept eating and tried to push what I was thinking out of my mind.

I couldn't.

I noticed other things later. No one really touched her. Ever. When I'd first gotten back, we were talking one day and I brushed my fingers over the sleeve of her shirt (a nothing gesture, really)--and she'd stared at me with wide and shocked eyes. I'd forgotten about that moment, or maybe I just didn't want to think about what her look meant. Once I remembered it though, it was a different story and every time I closed my eyes I saw her startled face.

I told myself that she wasn't alone, that she was always with someone wherever she went--that everyone liked her. All those things were true. All those things were real and I saw them. But I also saw that she always seemed a little separate, a little alone. I tried not to think about it, I really did. I kept noticing anyway.

The truth is, everyone in the school accepted her--but only partly. It was like she was encased in some kind of bubble. I asked Xavier about it and he looked at me like I was crazy and said "Rogue is making a life for herself, Logan. How does that make you feel?"

I knew exactly what he was saying. He was saying that I was feeling things that I shouldn't. He was saying that I was some fucked-up-who-knows-how-old guy who just wanted to get in the untouchable's girl's pants. And maybe there was some truth to that. Marie had gotten beautiful--not Jean beautiful, but a wild kind of beautiful. Her hair was always crazy and she was always wrapped from head to toe in dark colors and she walked like she wanted to blend right into the walls. She didn't. Her eyes were so alive and her mouth always trembled a little, like it was waiting to smile or to laugh or like it was waiting for someone to touch it.

She once sat with me and complained about her eyebrows. Eyebrows, for god's sake. I told her she was crazy. I couldn't stop staring at them after she talked about them, though. She thought they looked funny. I'd never noticed how perfect they were till that conversation.

I thought about the girl she'd been and the woman she'd turned into and how those eyes of hers showed all of that. And I wanted her. But I wasn't going to do anything about it. She wasn't like any of the women I'd known or thought I remembered knowing. She didn't want to watch me fight; she didn't want to watch me make people bleed. I didn't know what she wanted from me and I wasn't going to ask. I didn't want to make any more promises. Ever. Not even to her.

I didn't answer Charles's question because I didn't think it deserved a response. Feelings are always tied to believing and I didn't want either of those things fucking up my life.

A couple of days after the whole Gambit thing and my "talk" with Xavier I saw Marie. I'd just finished fixing a broken lock and I passed her in the hallway. She was going to her office and I walked with her and told her about the lock. One of the kids had decided to try and test out their powers on it, and it was, in Ororo's words, "sort of melted."

She laughed when I said that and pushed her office door open. I followed her inside and she looked back at me and I could see the upward curve of her mouth, just barely, through the curtain of her hair. "Sort of, huh?"

I reached out and pushed her hair back so I could see her eyes. She drew back and I heard her let out a little gasp and all my suspicions were confirmed. I wanted to walk away and not say anything else to her but I stayed. I kept thinking about how the way she whirled into my life and forced me to feel things for the first time in years. I kept thinking about the look on her face when Gambit let his hand fall away from her. I kept thinking about what her life was like, about how all she had was being alone wrapped up in Xavier's dream of what reality should be.

"I..." I couldn't tell her what I was thinking because I didn't want to tell her what I was thinking. I watched her take a deep breath and then she filled in the pause that had fallen between us by telling me that she knew the kid who'd melted the lock. I watched her talk and she had a little half-smile on her face and I thought that keeping that smile on her face would be a promise I might want to try to make, that maybe it would be one I'd want to keep.

That thought scared the hell out of me and I started walking towards the door. Fear isn't something I'm used to--but it's only because of what I am, not because of who I am. What does the Wolverine have to fear? I fall and I rise. I bleed and I heal. But I was afraid in that moment--all of me was. I wanted my past; I wanted answers just for me, just about me. I didn't want anything else and the fear I felt at that moment came because I realized what a liar I am, because I realized how greedy I am. I wanted to find out about myself and I wanted Marie too.

"I guess I'll see you later" she said and she looked at my hand, which was on the doorknob, and gave me a brilliant and utterly sad smile.

I suddenly remembered how I felt when I woke up in Alaska. The sky was blue and beautiful and I got up as fast as I could and looked down at myself. I didn't look any different at all. I looked exactly the same but the air around me smelled of a new season and when I looked down at my hands all I could see was all the metal the government had slid inside them and I realized my life wasn't my own, that I was always going to be at the mercy of what I am.

I guess it was then that I knew that I was going to do something. She was trying to help me out. She had problems of her own--big problems, problems that I was only seeing part of, and yet there she was, trying to help me. She knew I hated hearing about other people's problems. She knew that I didn't want to offer her anything. And she was ok with it.

"No one's touching you," I said and I felt sick and exhilarated when I said those words. "But you can touch me."

I always liked the feeling I got right before a fight--I liked standing there, watching my opponent circle around me. I liked smelling the fear and anger and adrenaline and I liked the way it made me felt, I liked the way it made me feel alive. And when I said those words to her, I felt that rush fall over me.

She didn't say anything. Until then, I'd never really seen Marie at a loss for words. Sometimes she'd get talked out and have to rest for a second before she started chattering again. Sometimes she'd have to wait a moment or two to collect her thoughts if I made her mad. But I'd never seen her speechless. I had to smile at that.

Those eyebrows of hers arched up and she chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. "Are you sure?" she finally said.

Her accent is a lot fainter now--her time in New York has mellowed it, softened it--but it still comes out once in a while. There's something about the lilt of all those rolling vowels. When I went back in Canada after I'd first met her, I once met a guy in a bar who was from Mississippi. He was an idiot, but I listened to his dumb stories for over an hour just because I liked the sound of his voice.

Sometimes when I look back I think I've always known that she would be in my life.

"Yes." I told her.

She swallowed and her hands fluttered up into the air and then back down by her sides. "I don't know what to do."

God, she sounded so young. So young and so hopeful and so Marie. "I trust you."

I meant it. I wasn't worried about her.

She smiled at and if I wasn't sure of my motives before, I was then. I didn't let her touch me because of compassion or kindness or even pity. I let her touch me because I wanted her to. Because I'd thought about it, because I wanted it, because everyone else was too stupid to think of it and I was glad that I'd thought of it first.

She looked around for a minute and then she looked down at her hands. I could see she was thinking that she couldn't do it. I could tell that she was hearing whatever she'd been told about herself and whatever she'd started thinking about herself when she first discovered her power.

So I grabbed her hands. I grabbed her hands and I just held them.

She didn't try to pull away and after a minute or two she looked right at me. There were tears in her eyes and I wasn't even afraid of them.

"Thank you" she said.

I felt bad about that. But then she moved her hands a little, just resting them on my arms, and I stopped worrying about it.

At first, her touches were nothing. We would meet in her office and she would take my hands and wrap her gloved ones around them and stare at our entwined fingers. She poked at my knuckles and traced the lines on my palms and asked me what her gloves felt like on my skin. I managed to choke out "Smooth."

At first, she would only touch me for seconds. Her gloved hands would skate around my fingers. If she was feeling daring, she might explore my wrists or the skin on my forearm. I would go to Xavier's stupid meetings on the status of whatever project he was worried about and I would hate him and everyone else in the room for making Marie so afraid of herself. Sometimes Xavier would glance at me and I still don't know if he knew what I was thinking.

After a while she got more daring. She got tired of my arms and touched my ears, the back of my neck, my chin, my throat. She would rest her fingers on my temples and slide them over my closed eyelids and down my face. Once her gloved hand traced up over my throat and then rested against my mouth for just a second and I curled my hands into fists and thought about snow and the way the camper I used to own would get so cold in the winter that my breath would literally freeze when it came out of my mouth and rain down onto the floor. I longed to be that cold and alone again.

Her touches got better and worse and I started hollering at everyone. She would put her hands in my hair and rest her face against it and I had to start biting my tongue so I wouldn't grab her and touch her. I wanted to touch her. I wanted to touch her so badly that I was dreaming about it like some idiot kid. But dreaming of her was better than the nightmares about rows of laughing faces dressed in uniforms and it was still just dreaming. I still wanted to pretend that her touching me was all about her and not about me at all.

She was afraid to do much more than touch my arms or my face and I was thankful for that. She seemed a little happier and I was thankful for that too. I didn't see her looking out of the windows every time I walked by her classroom. When the younger kids would run to her like they were going to hug her and then stop in confusion at the last second, scared because they'd heard all about her powers, she'd just smile at them. When Gambit flirted with her by paying her outrageous compliments in his dumb-ass accent, she laughed and when he would reach out towards her and then look resigned and sad she would tease him. I didn't like that much but I made up for it by occasionally picking a fight with him and imaging him spitted on the end of my claws, screaming and confessing that he was really from Hoboken or somewhere like that.

She and I would meet in the office Xavier had given her and I would sit on her desk and watch those gloved hands of hers lift up towards me and I couldn't believe that people were afraid of her. That they didn't want her touch. Idiots.

For a while, she was fascinated by my sideburns. She would ask me questions about them. Had I always had them? Did I like them? She wanted to watch me shave, which startled me because it seemed so ordinary and stupid that it was like a miracle. I said that sure, she could, and we met in one of the med labs early on a Saturday morning and I shaved and she watched. She told me her father used to sing while he shaved and I asked her when she last talked to him. She looked at me for a long time and then she stood up and walked over to me.

"Let me help."

She gestured towards my razor and I gave it to her. I watched as she ran it down the last patch of foam on my face. It was dizzying to look in the mirror and watch her hand run down my face, to watch her as she bit her lip and concentrated. It was normal and real and it was anything but because she was wearing gloves and we were in a medical lab inside a school for mutants. When she was done she put the razor down and looked in the mirror, looked right at me. "I haven't talked to my father since the day I left home."

I could see everything she was thinking and I realized that I'd watched her so much that I could read the shadows in her eyes and that I'd memorized the skin on her face. I knew I felt something for her that was as close to love as I think I can feel. There were a lot of things I could have said to her but they'd probably been said before and the things that hadn't been said were those I wasn't ready to say. So I just splashed water on my face and said "Ok."

After that I still didn't touch her, but only because I wanted to so much. We both held back because it was a lot easier to keep on pretending and I think she was as scared as I was. When she was near me the smell of the air became richer and fuller and I knew what it meant and I would allow myself to rest my head against hers and dream a little.

It had only been a couple of weeks, and she'd lodged under my skin as firmly as all the metal the government grafted inside me. I didn't care though and that worried me more than anything else.

And then one day I was outside trying to fix one of the stupid little decorative spouts that Xavier had installed on the side of the big fountain by the back of the school. It was mindless work and it was a fairly nice day and Marie was outside too--she was over towards the other end of the grounds, but once in a while she'd look over at me and I could feel her smile at me.

I saw Scott and Jean and Xavier walking towards me and I didn't feel the need to needle Scott at all. I heard a laugh and I looked up to see Scott grinning at me and Jean looking puzzled. "Logan," she said, "are you whistling?"

I stared at her for a moment. Scott started laughing again. "You should see the look on your face!" he said.

I didn't even know I could whistle and it was kind of a shock to find out I could. Jean was smiling at me, and it was a very nice and almost tender looking smile, and I would have been able to get some pleasure out of that and wipe the smirk off Scott's face with a comment or two. But I happened to look over at Xavier and the look on his face--it wasn't a happy one. It wasn't angry precisely; it was just sort of sad. The look on his face said he knew I'd been lying to myself and that he was calling me on it. That he was expecting me to do "the right thing."

Marie and I met in her office that afternoon and instead of touching me she told me that Xavier knew what we'd been doing and that he didn't think it was a good idea. He told her that he was worried that things would happen that she wouldn't mean to happen. That maybe I would start things without thinking. That maybe we would forget that Marie had a lot of power. That maybe she was forgetting that she was Rogue too.

She told me all this and her face was bright, bright red and she was ashamed. I don't think Xavier had shamed her on purpose--in fact, I knew he hadn't. For all that I don't like about him, he's not all that bad. I think he genuinely cares for Rogue. I just don't think he ever sees Marie.

She was ashamed and I knew that she was going to fall right back into her old life. She was going to be safe and secure and alone. And she wasn't going to be touching me anymore.

I could have let it go and maybe I should have. We could have ended things there and eventually it would have been like nothing had happened and the feel of her hands would be a memory to me and touch would be something she couldn't recall.

I took a deep breath and watched her. Every nerve in her body was stretched taut. I could smell it and behind all her fear was sadness and I finally broke and touched her. Her body was rigid and pliant--yielding and frightened--all at once. She my name like it was a question and I liked the sound of it. I pushed her up against the wall of her office and remembered all my dreams of her.

She hadn't been touched in years. I could tell because she gasped and moaned and pushed against me from the slightest touch of my hands. I could smell her starting to come and I couldn't get enough air into my lungs, I couldn't get enough of what we were doing. She hadn't been touched in years and I was so glad that I was the one touching her that I was almost crazy with it.

I wanted to pull her inside me and push inside her until I didn't know where I ended and she began. And so I moved one of my hands away from her body and pulled one of hands up, pushed her glove down a little. I pressed my hands against her body and put my mouth against the soft flesh on the inside of her wrist as she came and I felt her body shiver under me and her mind pull at mine. I knew I'd fucked up and I didn't care a bit.

I don't know how we kept what we were doing a secret. I can't imagine we did, although Xavier didn't say anything and neither did anyone else. Why? I don't know. Fear? Envy? Anger? Denial? Who knows? Mutant emotions are every bit as complex as human ones and I can barely understand what I feel, much less what anyone else does.

We started meeting in my room because there was no point in pretending that I was trying to do her a favor anymore. She was still sharing a room with one of the younger girls--space was tight at the school--but I had my own room because my nightmares were loud and noisy and I'm not the kind of person you assign a roommate to.

I would meet her in the hallway outside my room and we would try to talk and I still have no idea what we said to each other. I would stare at her hands and sometimes if I was really impatient I would grab one of them and trail my fingers down her wrist, feeling the warmth of her skin through the fabric of her gloves. She still dressed in dark clothes and acted like she wanted to hide from the world but her eyes were full of all the knowledge we'd given each other and I wanted to learn more.

Inside my room I never noticed anything but her. Her hair as it swung over me when she knelt over me, running her gloved hands down my torso. Her eyes smiling down at me as she unzipped my jeans. Her mouth hovering above my neck as she wrapped her gloved hand around me and the sound of her breathing as she felt my body arch up towards her.

The feeling over her hair on my hands, under my hands, trailing over my throat and down my chest. Her shoulder over her shirt. Her breasts over her bra. Her legs over her jeans. Her shoulders under the curtain of her hair, the taste of her skin almost reaching me, the scent of her filling me.

There was more and I started filling up all the empty spaces in my mind with pictures of her, pictures of us. Watching her gloved hands slide a condom onto me--the way she fumbled with the package, the way she pushed her hair to one side as she lowered her mouth to me. The way she smiled when I realized what she was going to do and the way I wrapped my hands around her gloved wrists as I came inside a condom, feeling the heat of her mouth all around me.

Watching her face as my hands moved up her arms, over her shoulders, down her chest, over her stomach. When I touched her, her gloved hands would slide up over my arms and around my back and I would feel the warmth of her hands through her gloves. The way she said my name with wonder and joy--I'd never heard my name sound like that before. It's a memory I'm glad to have.

The time I was working on one of the Professor's gadgets, swearing because I'd bashed my finger with a hammer, and she walked by the room and I went after her and dragged her into a closet and touched her until all I could smell and hear and think about was her and how much she wanted me. When she came she bit my shoulder through my shirt and I remembered hearing her voice on the phone years ago, telling me that she was glad I called. I finally understood how Scott felt about Jean and it didn't scare me at all.

And then waking up one morning and not knowing where I was, still trapped in the fragments of a bad dream about something that I don't ever want to remember. She was asleep on the far side of the bed, curled up into herself, folding her gloved hands upon themselves just in case. I got out of the bed so fast I almost fell to the floor. I found my shirt and slid my arms into it; terrified because things had changed and I had let them.

She woke up and pushed one hand out, reaching. When her hand didn't touch anything she sat up and pushed her hair out of face. She looked right at me and there wasn't any disappointment or anger on her face.

"I didn't mean to fall asleep," she said

I felt something fall free inside me and it was like that long ago day when I'd woken up naked and alone in the middle of Canada and realized that I didn't know anything--how I'd gotten there, who I was, who I'd been. That moment was a beginning of sorts and I knew another beginning had opened up before me.

I went back to bed. My claws slid out, just a little, as I lay down and she watched me with unblinking eyes. After a moment she got up and I knew she'd walk out and probably never come back. I watched her stand up and I could smell the soft sleepy scent of her and I didn't want her to go. In the end, it was that simple. I didn't want her to go. So I said, "Stay."

I don't know if I've ever said that word before but I'm positive that even if I had, the only time I ever meant it was with her.

She came back and wrapped her arms around me and I smelled her and me--us--and I touched her again and when she came she screamed so loudly that I'm sure the whole world heard and I knew she'd made a choice, that she loved me. I held her afterwards and I wrapped my hands in that crazy hair of hers and looked into her eyes and made promises. I meant every single one of them.

So I won't be leaving Xavier's school anytime soon. I won't be leaving and if one day I have to I've bound her to me so tightly that she'll come with me. But I want her with me and I'm ok with that. Xavier doesn't like to look at me now and when he does I see anger in his eyes. He thinks that I've betrayed the X-Men code or some bullshit like that. Maybe I have, and you know what? I don't give a goddamn. In the end, if his predicted war comes, she might die. I don't want to live with her not knowing something. I don't want to live without me knowing something.

She was lying against my side the other day and her hands were resting on my stomach--the fabric of her gloves cool against my skin--and she told me that she thinks I've saved her. I shook my head and told her than she'd saved me. Truth is, I think we've saved each other. She would wither away in the gilded world of "safety" the X-Men want to create for her--and I would drown in whoever--whatever--I once was without her.

Some might say that I've done more harm than good. Some might say that I'm just a selfish freak who took the one thing that was good in my life and screwed it up. Well, fuck them. And fuck you too, if that's what you think.

We've just made each other real. I make her feel real. She makes me feel real. In the end, that's all anyone can ask for--feeling--no matter what you believe in.