Title: A Simple Question
Rating: Mild PG
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Marvel & 20th Century
The man known as Logan sidestepped a gaggle of early teens racing through
the halls and headed for the kitchen. The mansion's original design did
not include housing dozens of kids, so the initial smaller kitchen had been
left intact while a commercial grade facility had been grafted onto one
end. This smaller room lead out onto the back terrace, which overlooked
gardens and the pool. Oh, not a good idea. Don't want to go near the
pool. The bench on the other side of the terrace beckoned, and he sprawled
on the stone surface with his usual boneless lack of grace and wondered
when it was exactly he'd lost control.
Things had been fine the first time he'd returned. Two months of digging
up buried army surplus at Alkali Lake had found him exactly zilch. The
Professor and the rest of the X-geeks had welcomed him back, not so subtly
tried to recruit him again, and let him park his carcass for a few weeks
until another lead showed up. Marie, or Rogue as everyone else called her,
had greeted him with a hug and an enthusiastic recital of what he'd missed
in the life of a teen mutant, and they'd fallen into a warm brother-sister
relationship that had felt amazingly comfortable. For over a year, every
time Logan returned from a trip or the infrequent mission he let himself be
talked into, he got more hugs, solicitous concern for his well being, and
full inclusion in her life. And that had been just great. Until last
No, don't think that, he told himself, forcing his mind to skitter away
from the subject. Bad Wolverine. Wolverine growled back and told him to
stick it. He stuck a cigar in his mouth instead and made another attempt
to think about cold and snow and anything else but Rogue.
It was perhaps inevitable that at that moment that he heard her voice,
along with her roommates Jubilee and Kitty, and their male counterparts
that never seemed to be far away. The six members of the senior class
seemed to be a unit; they never went anywhere without the others. Even
when the others went swimming (and judging by their attire that was where
they were headed) Rogue played towel and sunscreen girl with latex gloves,
participating from the sidelines with her sarcastic drawl and squirt gun in
fully active mode.
Logan wasn't sure if his stomach fell or his heart rose when Rogue
abandoned her friends and plopped herself down next to him on the bench,
but he made a valiant effort not to notice the way her tight leather pants
clung to her legs.
"So. You ever gonna talk to me again?" she questioned.
He inhaled slowly before he answered. Damn, she smelled good. "Yeah. I
just, uh, don't really know what to say."
"Oh." She mulled that one over for a moment. "Ya know, I wasn't really
expecting anyone to be wandering around."
"Kinda figured that." He opened his mouth, reconsidered, and then opened
it again. "What the hell were you doing skinny dipping at three a.m.,
She shrugged. "I don't own a suit. I can't go swimming anyway, not unless
everybody else gets quarantined to the other end of the pool. It's just
not worth it, you know?"
"And this was a special occasion because..."
Rogue smiled patiently. "Classes start next week. I won't be here.
Logan grunted and glanced at her, and then shifted uncomfortably. She
raised an eyebrow at his discomfiture, a smile flitting across her full
Logan scowled at her, but it had as little effect as it ever did. The
smile widened as she leaned back against the arm of the bench and tilted
her head to one side.
"How old do I have to be?"
"It's a simple question, Logan. Just answer it."
He swallowed, wondering again just when the hell he'd lost control of
himself and the situation in general. "Shit, Marie, I don't know." For a
moment he considered the incredibly attractive option of fleeing, but that
wouldn't help at all.
"Well, I've been thinking. I know you like what you saw," and she tapped
her temple to let him know it was useless to deny what her own memories
supplied. Not to mention the fact that the sight of her climbing out of
the pool, in a gloomy darkness that was no impediment to his enhanced
eyesight, had made him actually walk into the lamppost she'd turned off for
her clandestine swim. Focus, asshole, he told himself. Words coming out
of her mouth, don't think about all those wet curves and bare skin. FOCUS.
"Now," she continued, "I know you don't have any idea how old you are, but
ya look about thirty, maybe thirty-five. And I'm eighteen. But you only
remember the last fifteen, sixteen years, and I'm up to about a hundred or
so by now. So really, technically speaking, I'm too old for you."
Logan shook his head, not really sure he was following. She was too OLD
for him? A sideways peek at her showed the same arch expression on her
face when she'd baldly lied to him about his camper being 'cozy.'
"Ya know I had a crush on you, real bad, right?"
"He could feel the heat rising in his face. Dammit, big rough guys like
him did not blush. Dammit! "Yeah, I, uh, I knew that. Figured you got
over it." That's it, cough, clear the throat. No big deal.
"Mostly, yeah, I did. Occasional relapses, but I'm mostly over it."
Manfully, he suppressed the dumb grin that threatened, especially when her
cheeks went faintly pink like that. Please, God, somebody slap him quick.
"So, I was thinking. How old do I have to be before I'm not too young
He swallowed hard. "I don't know. Twenty-five?" he hazarded.
"I was thinking twenty-two. After I graduate from college."
She was negotiating? Logan couldn't stop the small laugh that escaped from
his chest. "That sounds reasonable."
"I kinda thought so. It's only four years. What's four years to a guy
He shrugged. "Or a gal with a hundred years of memories rattlin' around in
"Exactly. Good, then. It's settled." He grunted in agreement, and she
feigned interest in the distant landscape while her heels drummed against
"Although…" she continued, as if they hadn't just settled anything, "Jube
and Kitty and I have been talking about maybe taking a lot of summer
semester classes, so we could graduate early. Like, just before my
birthday. In February. That would be three and a half years."
"Um, yeah. Sounds like a plan."
"Good. We're good, then. Right?"
Rogue stood and adjusted her gloves. "See you at dinner?"
"See you then," he replied, making an attempt to pull his eyes away from
the hypnotic sway of her hips as she walked away.
He caught her glancing back at him, knew that she'd caught him staring, and
from her memories probably knew exactly what he was thinking. He was
thinking about how those leather pants would feel to his hands, or wrapped
around his hips. And then she winked at him; her full lips curving into a
smile that she by all rights shouldn't know how to smile for years yet.
Shit. Four years were going to be an eternity.