The light of sunset felt good, its scarlet warmth filtering through the boughs of the massive trees that bordered the meadow. Sitting curled in a ball on the grass, Rogue tried to gather that warmth into herself, to let it work loose the knot of bad feelings in the pit of her stomach.
She was positive she wouldn’t sleep a moment that night, and possibly for days to come. The sensations of the day that crowded in when she closed her eyes were too much: the raging heat of fire, the breathtaking cold of plummeting through empty air. The terror and the anger. The first was hers; the second she had absorbed from John, in her singularly unpleasant effort to bring him under control at Bobby’s house. She wasn’t sure he had ever been her friend, but she was convinced now that she never wanted to be anywhere near him. There was something about him that took too much pleasure in anger.
And things just kept getting more upsetting.
Rogue’s gaze narrowed as it slid toward Magneto. The tall, elegant man was standing at the foot of the jet’s lowered ramp, talking to Logan and Jean and Ororo—and they were listening. A part of her wanted to run over to them, to pry them away and warn them. Erik Lehnsherr’s only use for words was to craft lies. Didn’t they understand that? Didn’t they remember what he’d done?
Logan remembered. His fists had remained clenched throughout the adults’ conference, poised to brandish his claws in the blink of an eye. A part of Rogue wanted very badly to see him skewer Magneto with those claws, and she knew it was because of the residue of Logan’s feelings that was still with her. What that part of her wanted him to do was exactly the thing he must have wanted to do, himself.
But instead he was listening—and if he was willing to hear Magneto out, there had to be a reason. She had to trust Logan, because he had promised to take care of her, and she knew he would. No one else had ever been so sure of a promise, because she felt what it meant to him. What she meant to him.
As she watched him, he broke off from the group of adults and began sauntering in her general direction. His face was grimly set, and Rogue felt a moment of genuine heartache for him. From her nasty little jaunt inside John’s mind, she knew he blamed Logan for the trouble that seemed to keep following him back to the school—yet it must have seemed equally to Logan that his every contact with the X-Men plunged him into a nightmare roller-coaster of danger and disaster. He had never asked for any of this.
It should have made Rogue wonder that he had come back, or that he stayed even now… but it didn’t.
Logan was coming toward her, and she felt suddenly nervous. She didn’t need to touch him to sense the cloud of frustration and concern hanging over him—and judging by the look on his face, a good portion of those sentiments were directed at her.
He stopped in front of her, head down like a wolf, brows lowered and lips tightened in a tense grimace. Planting his hands on his hips, he stared her directly in the eye. She swallowed hard and slowly clambered to her feet, nervously dusting off the seat of her jeans; his eyes remained fastened on hers, and she forgot to breathe.
Just when she thought she was going to pass out from lack of oxygen, he pointed a stern finger at her, like a hunter sighting a startled deer along the barrel of his rifle.
"You know… you should wear a seatbelt."
And there was a gleam in his eye as he said it.
The whipcord tension in Rogue suddenly snapped. She tittered, then she giggled, and finally the giggles gave way to whole-hearted, side-splitting, gasping-for-breath peals of laughter. She remembered the end of their first conversation, an instant before the auto crash that had sent both their worlds into a tailspin. At the time it had been no funnier than getting sucked out of a jet plane was. But in hindsight, after all the long brutal hours of danger and running and fighting they had just endured, it was hilarious.
Logan was smiling, just a little. It made Rogue want to throw her arms around his unbreakable ribs and hug him.
He cared. He was relieved and anxious and wanted to know she was really alright, and this was the only way he knew how to say it. The intent was all there in his voice underneath the grim tease. If she could laugh at his joke, he could know she was okay.
They were both okay, for now at least. Whatever lay ahead of them… Rogue glanced back toward Magneto once more, and discovered that she wasn’t so afraid now. Logan was with her, and he kept his promises, even in the little ways that meant nothing more than just making her feel better.
He took care of her, and he always would.
© 2003 Jordanna Morgan - send feedback