Reason number one: To me he’s more than just Wolverine.
Reason number two: I never called him Wolvie.
Jubilee did, once. He’d just come in from another trip to find his past, and probably do a little work for Professor Xavier on the side, and she waylaid him at the door, getting there before I could. Which didn’t make me very happy, even though she’s the closest thing I have to a best friend here, her and Kitty. She didn’t make him very happy, either, when she jumped on him, pawing at his hair. He shook her off, like a dog shedding water, but she just grinned, cracked her gum, and asked him what Wolvie had brought her.
Logan didn’t hit her or anything, because no matter how tough he acts, he doesn’t go around just hitting kids for no reason, but he gave her a look—his patented look, eyes narrowed, brows drawn together, mouth shut tight—and flexed his hands, into and out of fists, and all the while she just grinned at him and blew tiny little bubbles. He’s never been able to intimidate her, but he never stops trying. I like persistence in a man.
Instead of staring at her, like he did one time and ten minutes later she still hadn’t backed down, he turned to me and held out his arms. I guess he looked forward to our normal greeting just as much as I did, because he squeezed me until my back popped, and then didn’t set me down on the floor for another minute or two. When he let go, and I stepped away, but not too far because it always felt good to be near him, he immediately dug around in his bag, and brought out a wrapped package—the paper was worn, tearing at the edges, and covered in two layers of tape, but it was a proper gift; it even had a little bow on top.
“Thanks, Logan,” I said and smiled, bigger than I would for anyone else. It wasn’t much, but what can you give a guy who either buys or takes whatever he wants, from beer to motorcycles? Not a whole lot, especially not when you only just finished your third year of college and you can’t really go work a job because you have life-sucking skin. So a smile was the best I could do, sometimes. But he never seemed to mind.
He bumped the package against my arm, and I took the hint. I struggled to open it, and for a moment it looked like the tape would win, but in the end, the corner tore, and I pulled the paper off, leaving me with a plain brown box. Logan hadn’t taped the lid down, so I pulled it off easily, tucked it under the box itself, and looked down at my gift.
The box only held three papers. I frowned, confused, and pulled them out to get a better look. The first one was a gift certificate for PetCo and the second had the name and phone number of a veterinary clinic, along with a date and directions on how to get there from the mansion, or at least that’s what it looked like.
My hands clutched the papers convulsively; unless I was supposed to take Hank in for his annual check-up—and I’m pretty sure he’d want to examine himself before showing up at the vet with blue fur and super intelligence—I was betting Logan had bought me some sort of pet. And since Hank is the only person I could touch with any sort of peace of mind, I didn’t know why no one thought of it sooner.
The last piece of paper was a business card, for the local Humane Society.
I looked up at Logan, and found him watching me, his face curiously open. He was nervous, I’d almost bet on it, even if I really wasn’t sure he got nervous. I’m pretty good at guessing how he feels, and I think that’s because I’d had him in my head so many times, even if the last hadn’t been for a year and a half. He wasn’t something I could forget—wasn’t something I’d let myself forget.
“I figured we’d go pick one out tomorrow,” he said. “Whatever you want, and if they don’t have anything you like, we’ll keep trying. If you want.”
Of course I wanted. A pet, with fur—a safety net—something to hold. I hugged him again, hard, and whispered a thank you in his ear. He smiled, slow across his lips, and draped his arm over my shoulders, hitched his bag higher on his.
Jubilee must have watched our exchange, and mentally stewed at being ignored, because she looked ready to spit nails—or fireworks; if she did, I bet they’d all be green. And that’s ok, because she could have anyone she wanted; she’d already worked her way through Bobby, Pietro, Sam, and John, before he left, and I couldn’t even keep track of the rest, and really didn’t want to do so. She could touch them, any of them here, anyone anywhere she wanted to touch.
So if Logan liked me a little bit more, that’s fair. Jubilee and I were friends, but Logan was my friend, too, and I’d known him longer; known him more, deeper. Thoughts and all. And I’d never had a crush on Jubilee, not that I had a crush on Logan anymore, so it was only normal that I was happy when Logan paid more attention to me. Happier.
Ok, not much of a crush on him anymore.
Reason number three: I actually like that swill he calls beer.
Reason number four: I prefer his motorcycle to anyone else’s car.
We took one of the cars to the Humane Society, of course, even though I would have rather taken the bike, and I spent the whole trip trying to figure out why he was giving me a pet. It wasn’t my birthday or anything; we’d celebrated that four months back, when I’d turned twenty-one and could finally join him at his favorite local bar. Legally, I mean, because I’d been sneaking in there with him for years.
Logan paid for all my alcohol, and bought me dinner beforehand, and had brought a collection of lightweight cotton gloves back from some store in Los Angeles. Jubilee had been really, really impressed, and told me that everyone out there knew it was overpriced even for the excellent quality (that’s her word, excellent, and I can’t even think it without hearing her voice in my head), and she was amazed by his good taste. And jealous, at least by the look on her face, but so was Kitty, and half the other girls crowded in our room (though none of them crowded too close to my bed), and she seemed to forget all about her jealousy when Bobby grabbed her in the hallway and started to dance her down the stairs. He tripped her on his ice, and caught her in a dip. The he dropped her, but not too far, and she’d just laughed up at him and melted the icicles dangling from his fingers with a couple of well-placed blasts.
So it wasn’t my birthday, and it wasn’t Christmas, and we’d never exchanged presents for any other holiday, so I didn’t think that could be the reason. I’d asked him as I walked him to his room the day before, and kept trying to get an answer out of him while I watched him unpack (the whole five minutes it took to grab a couple things from his bag and then toss it in the corner of the room), but he wouldn’t give me a straight answer, not even a hint of one.
And then it was dinnertime, and the one thing we always do as a group is our bimonthly dinner. I didn’t know if Logan was just lucky, or if he timed his arrivals to match dinner night, but almost every time he came in, we either had it that night, or shortly after. Mostly Hank would cook, and that’s why we only did it twice a month, because he couldn’t drag himself away from his research for a whole afternoon any more than that, and he barbecued a lot, but sometimes someone else would get a craving for something besides spicy meat (or would get the urge to show off, either way), and would take over the kitchen. That night, Jean had cooked, and stood at the head of the table, watching over us as we sat down; she smiled at everyone, gently, and almost everyone returned her smile.
Logan sure did, which meant that I did not. I’d never really liked Jean, except for that brief week right after Magneto tried to use me to turn everyone into mutants, and Logan’s thoughts were thick and fresh and overwhelming and I really, really wanted to know how she’d taste, her mouth and more, and I really didn’t want to have those thoughts, ever, but even more I didn’t want to have them because Logan had them, and I didn’t want him to want her.
I wanted him to want me, but I’d just about given up on that, and had almost convinced myself that his friendship was just as good as the everything else that I wanted. I still wasn’t too fond of Jean, though, even after she’d sacrificed herself to save us up at Alkali Lake. I’d started to soften to her, then, because she did love Scott, and left him anyway, and that was a pretty decent thing to do, stupid but decent, and maybe her life wasn’t so perfect after all.
And then she came back.
So Jean Grey-Summers really was perfect: perfect body, perfect brain, perfect relationship, and even the perfect return. She could heal, she could read everyone’s thoughts, she could touch, and she could come back from the damn grave.
She called herself the Phoenix when she came back, but she worked with Professor Xavier and Scott until she was mostly Jean again, and returned to her place teaching and in the lab working alongside Hank. She even took that safe spot from me, because I’d spent a lot of time there, talking to Hank and not having to worry quite so much if some part of me was uncovered. As soon as Jean reclaimed her office, though, I stopped showing up so often, and eventually stopped even the extra science lessons, all together. Even though Hank was the only person who ever made me understand science.
So I wasn’t too happy when Jean smiled at Logan and he grinned back, but she sat next to Scott when she took her place, and Logan turned to talk to Storm when she asked him about his travels. He’d never say anything about what he learned about his past, at least not in public, but he’d tell the others strange things he’d seen across the country, and he always told me more of the story later, and that was just fine with me.
Between Jubilee and Bobby trying to one-up each other with their jokes and talk of pranks to come, and Logan talking to everyone else at the table, I didn’t have a chance to bug him about the gift anymore. After dinner he settled in to watch a game with some of the other guys, and that was that. No answers for me.
So I grabbed one of Logan’s beers and settled in for a long night of curiosity.
When we arrived at the Humane Society, Logan refused to answer my questions one last time. He opened the door for me, and ushered me inside. The workers were waiting for us, and immediately led me back to where they kept the animals.
It was horrible; they looked well-treated, and the cages were clean, but there were so many of them, and I wanted to take them all home. They whined and barked and purred as I moved past them, from the dog room into the cat room, and I swear I could hear my name a dozen times over. They all wanted to come home with me, and I wanted to let them.
I knew I couldn’t take them all, and after forty-five minutes of pacing back and forth and staring into the cages, I finally decided on a small black and gray kitten. It wasn’t very pretty, not at first sight, but it was quiet, and just sat at the door to the cage, watching my every movement. Neither of the other two kittens in the cage went near it, even though it was smaller than both of them.
“That one’s just about done here,” one of the workers said. She’d followed us back into the animal area, but had been smart enough not to try to strike up a conversation with Logan. “He’s been here since just after he was born, and he’s the odd one out of his littler. Even the other two left are friendlier than he is.”
“I’ll take him,” I said. And that was that. She pulled him out of the cage and handed him to me. I gathered him in both hands, and lifted him up until I could look directly into his face. “I’ll take you, sugar. You’re perfect.”
There was paperwork to fill out, but I didn’t really pay attention; something to sign that made sure I would take care of him, and that I’d get him fixed when he was old enough. They gave me a kitten sample box, but Logan took that, and I ignored everything except for my new pet, until the lady leaned in close. Her lipstick bled into the corners of her mouth, but her smile looked real, happy.
“We like to keep their names in our records,” she said. “Do you know what you’re going to call him yet?”
I clutched him against my chest, ran cotton-covered fingers along his fur; it stuck to my gloves in places, small chunks of black hair marring the slightly-dirty white. “Alcée,” I told her, and kissed the top of his head fast, just in case. “Al for short.”
Her smile wavered, but she locked it back into place pretty fast, and nodded as she wrote it down on the paperwork. “That’s an interesting name,” she said, and I could tell by the tone in her voice that she wanted to know more, probably wanted to know why.
I wasn’t going to tell her, though.
Logan guided me back out to the car, his hand pressed against the small of my back. He’d put a pet carrier in the back seat, though I’d been too busy trying to figure out why he was doing this to notice it; I put Al in the carrier, and crawled into the backseat to sit next to him and make sure he wasn’t too scared. After all, everything was new to him, and I knew how Logan drove.
Logan didn’t say anything to me, just let me stick my fingers into the carrier and whisper things to Al, about what we’d do when we got home and how excited I was to have him, but he tilted the rearview mirror down, and I caught his eyes in it more than once; every time I looked up, in fact.
Reason number five: I’m not married to a goody-two shoes. In fact, I'm not married, period.
I liked Scott, don’t get me wrong. It took me a long time to call him anything but Mr. Summers, even after I graduated and started going on some of the easier missions and was supposed to call him Cyclops. He was always so distant and controlled, like he had a dam against his emotions. Someone like that doesn’t really breed familiarity, and so he was always Mr. Summers, long after Ms. Munroe became Ororo and Storm, and Hank became—well, he’d always been Hank, and not Dr. McCoy, because he was the one I spent the most time with, while he tried to find a cure. He hadn’t, yet, but he was still Hank.
But I liked Scott, even then. He never treated me like a kid, or at least no more than any of the others did, and it was his idea to let me come on missions. It was his suggestion that Ororo teach me how to fly the jet, even though he couldn’t look at us the first few times we sat together in the pilot and copilot seats.
I understood that, though, because Logan was still pretty vocal in my head then, after the accidental touch of his finger to my temple when I hugged him one night in the kitchen, and he missed Jean, too. Made it hard for me to pretend nothing was different, nothing was wrong, even when Scott only showed up to teach sporadically, and it rained for a month straight. It hurt him to do anything normal without Jean there, and it hurt him more to see someone where she used to be; he couldn’t look at Hank in the med lab, either, or Emma Frost when she came and took over some of Jean’s classes, at Professor Xavier’s request.
We were sort of friends, Scott and I, because we were the only people who spent any time alone, or at least that I ever noticed. He didn’t want to deal with any size group, and I just didn’t always feel comfortable; it’s hard to fit in when you’re wearing four or five more layers than anyone else, and even then, you can’t really wrestle and joke around. So I spent a lot of time in the library, reading, and when Scott finally started leaving his room again, he’d always end up there, because it was so quiet. No television and no radio and none of the other students wanted to spend time there when they didn’t have to study.
At first neither of us would say anything, but then he suggested I try Walt Whitman’s poetry. Some of it I didn’t understand, but all of it I liked; it was so gentle on the surface, but it made my chest ache if I thought too much about the words. I asked him a question about one of the parts I didn’t quite get, and he explained it better than any literature teacher I’d had, ever. And that’s how it started.
After Jean came back, she took that away, too. I really doubt she told him to stop coming to the library to talk to me, but he was so excited to have her back, even when no one was sure if the Phoenix was going to kill us, or kill all the humans, or destroy the whole world just for fun. And the more she became Jean again, the more time he spent with her, and our meetings just fell to the wayside. Logically, I knew it was more his fault than hers, but it was easier to be mad at her.
When Logan gave me the kitten, it was only the third time he’d been back since Jean’s return, and I was afraid she’d take him away, too. And I wanted to warn him that maybe this time he shouldn’t flirt with her, not because it upset me, since I was completely over that silly old crush, I swear, but because the Phoenix had taken quite a shine to Scott and maybe it wouldn’t like Logan interfering.
I also wanted to ask him why he kept chasing after someone who’d been married for years (even if she was dead for some of it), when he could have anyone else. Half the female students had crushes on him, and even though that wasn’t legal, I’d bet the female teachers were split the same way, and only Jean and Ororo were involved with anyone. And not everyone living there was an underage student or a teacher, anyway.
I didn’t say any of that to him, though. When we reached the mansion, neither of us had said anything to each other at all, though I’d kept up a constant stream of chatter to Al, who had only meowed twice.
Logan helped me get the carrier out of the car, and he carried it and the kitten sample pack, while I hugged Al and stroked his head. I immediately took him upstairs to my room, and Logan followed me, close on my heels.
“Thanks again, sugar,” I said when he put the carrier under my bed, and the sample pack on the nightstand. “Are you going to the vet with me, too? Or are you taking off again?”
“Don’t know when I’m leaving,” Logan said, “but I’m going to the vet with you first. So let’s see what you picked out.” He held his hands out, and I put Al in them, and grinned when he immediately started to sniff and lick Logan’s fingers.
“He’s beautiful,” I told Logan, as if he couldn’t see for himself. “And his fur is so thick; if I’m careful, I bet I can touch him, when he’s older. As long as I don’t let him lick me if I’m not wearing my gloves.”
“Why did you pick out that name?” Logan asked. He sat down on the edge of the bed, and put Al down so he could explore the comforter. The kitten stayed close to Logan, though, and rubbed his head against Logan’s thigh when he stopped petting him. “Not because of that Gumbo, is it?”
“Remy?” I laughed, and sat down so that Al was trapped between us. “Why would you think that? It’s been two years since we broke up and he’s dated everyone else but Jubilee. No, it has nothing to do with him. I took a southern literature class my freshman year of college—trying to get back to my roots, without actually having to go back. There was one author, Kate Chopin, and I guess I identified with her female characters, maybe too much. They were pretty discontent. But one story, “The Storm,” it was about this man and this woman who get involved … sexually, when they really shouldn’t. He kind of fills this part of her that the rest of her life can’t touch.”
“And his name is Alcée.”
“Yeah. It’s silly, I know, but I wanted something meaningful. And Al is a good nickname for the kitten, easy to yell when he’s in trouble.” I forced a laugh.
“It’s a great name,” Logan assured me. He leaned back, resting his weight on one arm, and touched my hair with his free hand. I closed my eyes and leaned closer to his touch; his fingers caught a strand of white and slid along the length of it.
“Logan, as long as we’re asking questions, why did you do this? I mean, it’s not my birthday, and it’s really nice of you, no matter what, but I don’t have anything for you, so I kind of feel bad, especially since I don’t even know why.”
He moved his hand from my hair to my cheek, the fastest and lightest of touches, and pulled away before my skin could start sucking his life. I trusted him enough that I didn’t jerk away, but I kept my eyes closed, and ducked my head until some of my hair fell over my face, because if he could see me right now, he might not believe I wasn’t still a child, nursing an unattainable crush.
“Because it made you smile, Marie,” he said, and touched me again, my forehead this time. He brushed back my hair, and then stopped touching me altogether. “And I like making you smile.”
I smiled again at that, and his thumb brushed my lip, and lingered, and this time I did pull away, away and up, my eyes open, because he hadn’t stopped touching me. I realized he was wearing gloves now, though where they came from I had no idea, and I just blinked at him when he reached for me again, touched both cheeks, my mouth, my throat.
“I wasn’t going to do this,” he said, and his voice was low and thick and made my stomach clench and my body warm. “Not for a couple of years, but you keep smiling at me like that, and I just can’t convince myself it’s still a bad idea.”
“What is?” I asked. “I mean, what isn’t?”
He leaned closer, pushing Al up against my side, and ducked his head, pressed his lips against mine and pulled away before I could react, consciously or unconsciously. I blinked at him, and moved Al out from between us, mostly without thought, because he kept trying to nip at my fingers.
Logan pulled a small piece of fabric from his pocket; it was sheer, and looked like what you’d use to make a wedding veil, but with a tighter weave. It was softer, though, and more pliant, I realized when he draped it over my face, over my mouth, and then faster than I could think, kissed me again. This time his tongue touched my closed lips, and I parted them, because I wasn’t entirely innocent. I’d done this with Bobby, and a piece of cotton, and Remy had used silk, so thin it was translucent.
None of that felt anything like this, though; Logan slid an arm around me, pulling me against him, until I was nearly surrounded, by his scent and his body and he was so careful that I could almost forget to pay attention to where my clothes were, and where his bare skin was, because he’d take care of it, I was sure. His tongue dipped into my mouth, and I grabbed at his shoulders, needing something to ground myself before I disappeared into the heat and the feeling and the sheer need building in me.
“See?” he said when he pulled back, and I don’t think I imagined that his voice was just a bit shaky, and he hugged me just a little too tight. “Nothing bad is going to happen.” And I wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince me or himself.
“What were you waiting for?” I asked. I was pleased that my voice didn’t break, even though it shook and was just above a bare whisper.
“Stupid things,” Logan replied. He stroked my hair again, and pressed another, fast kiss to my lips. “For you to grow up. For everyone here to stop treating you like you were a child. For me to be good enough for you.”
“So why’d you stop waiting?”
“Because that first has happened, and probably happened before I was ready to see it,” he said. He punctuated his words with a long kiss, and he ran his fingers down my throat until they rested on my collar bone, just inside my shirt. “And that second, that’ll take some work.” Another kiss, and I was up against him, now, Al somewhere else on the bed completely. “And that last will never happen. But we’re friends, in spite of that, and I guess I hoped you’d never forget about your crush.”
“I never did,” I said, and placed the scrap of cloth over his mouth, so I could lean in and initiate another kiss. His hand curled around the back of my neck, pulled me closer, and one small part of my mind hoped that Kitty and Jubilee would stay far away for as long as they could, even though I really wasn’t too worried. Even if we got interrupted this time, there would be others.
Reason number six why Logan and Marie is a good, good thing: I love him.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Marvel and Fox. This story is for entertainment purposes only.
Written for: aliaspiral (I hope you enjoy it.)
Dedication: Cabell for the wonderful beta help and for making me want to write x-men stories in the first place.
Spoilers: First movie only.
Written for: aliaspiral (I hope you enjoy it.)
Dedication: Cabell for the wonderful beta help and for making me want to write x-men stories in the first place.
Spoilers: First movie only.