Ignoring the Obvious
by Scattered Logic
Authors Notes: Special thanks to Cormak and UKTara for encouraging me to play outside my normal fandom.
Who would have thought that a song entitled Bring Me the Disco King would be the thing to destroy three years of carefully orchestrated ignorance?
Logan decided later that it just proved how even the smallest of things could knock you flat on your ass.
"Hey, do me a favor? I need you to sign this." Rogue pulled a folded slip of paper from the pocket of her jeans as she walked into the media room and over to the sofa where Logan was sprawled comfortably.
"What is it?" Logan glanced up from Sports Center and eyed the paper warily. There was always some sort of petition being passed around at the college she attended and Marie had asked him to sign more than one of them.
"It's just something for my anthropology class. It says that you participated in a project."
"Did I participate in a project?" Logan arched an eyebrow.
It wasn't such an odd question. Once, without telling him in advance, she'd followed him around for twenty-two minutes, silently observing his every move and taking notes for what he later found out was a paper on "Societal Differences in Verbal Aggression." The dogging of his steps had continued until he'd finally swung around and snarled, "What the fuck are you doing, Marie? You're driving me up the wall." She'd only smiled, carefully made another note, and said, "Well, it took you long enough. I didn't think you'd last five minutes."
Rogue grinned at his reference. "No, you didn't participate. I thought I'd spare you this time. Now, if you'll just sign this..."
"You don't cheat, so why now?" Logan frowned. Cheating on a project wasn't like her.
"It's not really cheating." She rolled her eyes. "Like I said, I'm sparing you."
He gave her a skeptical look. "Uh huh, from what?"
Rogue wagged the slip of paper back and forth. "From listening to music that I know you'd hate. Sign on the dotted line and you won't have to endure it."
Logan took the paper from Rogue and scanned it. "Song Title: Bring Me the Disco King," he read aloud and grimaced. "I'm glad you decided to spare me, kid."
For an instant, Rogue's mouth tightened and then her expression was neutral again and she handed him a pen.
"Why was I supposed to listen to it?" Logan asked as he signed.
"Date it, too." Rogue craned her neck and pointed to a blank line below his signature. When he'd scrawled the date on it, she plucked the paper and pen from his hand. "Somebody that knows me really well was supposed to listen to it."
He just nodded at that. He knew her better than anyone, including Bobby--and the boy had dated Marie for a while. Since Logan had settled into the mansion, he and Marie had become good friends. He still smirked a little when he remembered overhearing Marie flatly tell Bobby that Logan was her best friend and that Bobby needed to stop being so damn jealous.
"Since I just signed off on it, what's the project?" Logan asked.
"The Personalization of Music in Today's Society," Rogue recited in a carefully off-hand tone.
If she hadn't tried so hard for a casual manner, Logan would have ignored it. He was good at ignoring things when it came to Marie. He ignored that she had grown to be a beautiful wom... girl. He ignored her occasionally flirtatious comments. He ignored the way her scent changed when he was physically close to her. And he always--always--ignored certain reactions that he had to her.
Logan had decided long ago that it wouldn't be wise to dwell on those things. There would come a day when he could stop ignoring, but right now ignorance made his life a great deal easier to bear.
However, when Marie deliberately made an effort to sound bored and her scent suddenly held strong notes of anxiety, Logan decided to pay attention.
"What does that have to do with me listening to a song?"
She glanced away from him. "It's my favorite song."
"Your favorite song ever?" he asked, curious.
"No, not ever." She gave a faint smile. "Just currently."
Rogue shrugged. "It just is." Her soft brown eyes turned back to him and she changed the subject with a mischievous smile. "So, what did you get me?"
He didn't even pretend not to understand what she was talking about. "You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out," he said with a mock glare. "For the past three years, on the day before your birthday, you've asked me that same question. Why do you do that? Do you think I'll tell you and spoil the surprise?"
She shook her head. "No, I know that you won't tell me."
"Then why do you always ask?"
Rogue laughed softly and moved toward the door without answering. Then she stopped behind him and leaned over the back of the sofa to whisper in his ear, "I do it to remind you that the next day is my birthday. I don't want you to forget to buy me a present."
"Mercenary little thing, aren't you?" he commented with a smile.
She straightened but remained behind him and there was a smile in her voice along with an increase in her drawl. "Yes, and I have no shame whatsoever when it comes to presents. Just remember that I'll be 20, Logan, not 12. I'll even give you a hint: jewelry is an excellent choice and I'm particularly fond of emeralds."
He snorted. "Keep dreamin', Marie."
Logan felt the fleeting touch of her gloved fingers brushing against his hair.
"I never stop," she murmured and he heard her leave the room.
Logan stared at the television screen and resolutely ignored the yearning that had threaded through her voice. He ignored the way his heartbeat had accelerated at the sound, and he ignored the urge to follow her and find out just what it felt like to kiss a woman through silk.
Maybe if Rogue had answered his question about the song, things would have remained unchanged, but she hadn't answered. The question had made her nervous and then she'd changed the subject. All of which made him wonder. Why wouldn't she tell him about her favorite song? He suspected it might be one of those sappy chick songs but the title made that seem unlikely. Maybe it was just an insipid little dance number and she was embarrassed by it.
The more he thought about it, the more curious he became. Just because he chose to ignore things didn't mean that he didn't want to know. Why hadn't Marie just answered the damn question? Thinking about that kept him awake far longer than he liked.
The next morning, it was easy enough to find which CD the song was on. Contrary to what some of the people at the mansion believed, he was computer literate and Google was efficient. He had to go into town anyway to exchange those little sapphire earrings he'd bought Marie for her birthday, so the quick side trip to a music store didn't take long.
Back in his room at the mansion, he put the CD into his small stereo, lowering the volume in case it really was one of those bass-thumping dance songs. It wasn't as if he needed to turn it up to hear it clearly anyway. He skipped over to that track and listened. Then, surprised, he listened to it again more closely.
It certainly wasn't what he expected. It wasn't his preferred style of music but it wasn't bad. There was an almost jazzy piano underscoring it and it was pretty enough. But it was also sad and more than a little angry. The melody and the way the guy sang the words conveyed all that plainly, but the dark imagery of the lyrics didn't make much sense and didn't tell a clear story. Logan thought it might be about regretting the past but nothing in the song was absolute. It might not even be about that at all.
He could twist parts of the song into something that could be personal to Marie. Hell, he could even twist parts of it around into something that could be personal to him.
One line in particular recalled the grim memory of Marie, his claws driven through her chest, choking on her own blood. Logan went cold, wondering if she'd had the same memory while listening to this.
Christ, why the fuck was this her favorite song?
Maybe he'd ask her tonight after she'd opened her birthday present. This wasn't something that he had to ignore. Maybe this wasn't even something that he should ignore.
Because there were so many students, every Sunday night was considered 'birthday night.' A celebratory dinner complete with birthday cake was held for everyone who'd celebrated a birthday in the past seven days. It didn't matter if you were a student or a member of the staff, your birthday dinner was held on Sunday. On your actual birthday, however, along with your regular meal, you got a card from Professor Xavier and a little cupcake with a single candle.
Logan watched, amused, as Marie closed her eyes and made a silent wish before blowing out the candle and devouring the cake with unabashed pleasure. She still had those southern manners that had been ingrained from birth, so she offered him half of it. He declined, leaning back to watch her. He enjoyed watching her eat. Marie wasn't one of those women who picked at their food and pushed it around their plate, she dug right in and now she'd managed to smear a bit of chocolate frosting at the corner of her mouth.
"Uh, you've got..." He gestured toward his own mouth to illustrate and then indulged himself by letting his eyes linger when her pink tongue flicked out to delicately lick the frosting away.
Rogue frowned slightly, lifting the napkin to her lips in confusion. "Did I miss some of it?"
"No, you got it." Logan immediately looked back at his own plate.
She reached across the table and tapped his arm with gloved finger to get his attention.
He smiled slightly. He liked that Marie didn't hesitate to touch him. Other people were always careful with her and she was always careful with them. But she relaxed around him in ways that she never relaxed around anybody else. He liked that she knew he trusted her.
"So, are you going to make me wait all night for my present?" she teased. "In another few hours it won't even be my birthday anymore."
He raised an eyebrow and gestured toward her empty dessert plate. "Well, I didn't want to interrupt. Are you sure you're finished with your chocolate frenzy?"
"I suppose," she answered and then her gaze turned speculative. "Unless you bought me candy. You know I love Godiva truffles."
"What is it with women and chocolate?" he asked, tossing his napkin onto the table and rising.
"Chocolate contains phenylethylamine. That's one of the chemicals that your brain releases during sex." Her tone was innocent but her mouth had curved into a wicked smile as she stood and looked up at him. "Unfortunately, those of us who aren't having sex have to sublimate."
Okay, that was definitely something to ignore.
"I'll go up and get your present," he said quickly. "You want to meet me in the garden?"
"Can we go back to your room and visit your mini fridge? You'll let me have a beer, right?" Rogue looked at him hopefully. "It is my birthday."
"Well," he dragged the word out a bit, pretending to consider. "Since it's your birthday..."
"Two beers?" She placed a hand on his arm and looked up at him through her lashes.
He grinned. "Don't push your luck, kid."
Rogue laughed with delight when she opened the black velvet box and gave him a quick hug before standing in front of his dresser mirror and putting on the earrings.
"Oh, Logan, thank you so much. They're beautiful." She turned to him, her hair held back from her face and so that he could see the little flashes of green fire sparkling at her earlobes each time she moved her head.
"They're not very big," he started but she interrupted him with a careless wave of her hand.
"They're perfect. This is the nicest birthday present anyone's ever given me." She tilted head to give him a better view.
"They look good on you, Marie," he said gruffly and ignored the way his chest had tightened at her words. "You don't have an early class tomorrow, do you?"
She looked puzzled. "No, tomorrow's Saturday. I don't have classes at all. Why?"
He dropped his empty beer bottle into the wastebasket, and pulled out two more bottles. "Because when you finish that one, you can have another."
Rogue quickly drained the remainder of her first beer and exchanged the empty bottle for the full one he held out to her.
He sat on the bed and then frowned slightly when it occurred to him what she'd said. "It's Friday night and it's your birthday. Why aren't you out celebrating with your friends?"
"I am celebrating with a friend," she said pointedly and sank down to sit cross-legged on the floor across from him. She held up her beer. "See? Alcohol and everything."
"You know what I mean. I know you're not dating Bobby anymore, but you stayed friendly with him. And what about Jubilee and Kitty?"
"Bobby had a date. Jubes and Kitty did invite me to go out, though. They wanted to get fake ID and take me to a male strip club." Rogue smiled wryly.
Logan choked on his beer but recovered quickly. "Uh, you didn't want to go?"
Rogue shook her head. "I know they meant well but I don't really need a bunch of nearly naked men gyrating around me to reinforce the concept of 'look but don't touch.' I kind of live that already."
He winced slightly and nodded.
Then her lips curved up into a sly smile. "Besides, if I want to ogle a half-naked man, I'll just go to the gym the next time you're there and wait for you to take off your shirt."
Logan's eyebrows shot up.
"Oh, don't look so surprised." She was smiling widely now and her eyes were gleaming. "There are plenty of women who'd pay good money to see that and you give quite an appealing show for free. Although, Scott's not bad, either."
Logan closed his eyes briefly. Ignore, ignore, ignore. He opened his eyes and checked her beer. She'd downed about half of the second one, she should be feeling relaxed enough to give him a straight answer.
Time to ask her about that song.
"Why was somebody close to you supposed to listen to your favorite song?"
Her flirtatious expression faltered when he changed the subject and for a second she looked...tired. Then her mouth quirked into her familiar smile and she gave a rueful shrug of her shoulders.
"It was just an exercise to see whether people personalize their favorite song to the point that even their closest friends can't tell why it's their favorite."
"I'd say the answer to that question is yes," he said firmly.
"What makes you so sure?" She looked up at him curiously.
"I listened to it today and I can't tell why that's your favorite song."
Her mouth dropped open. "You listened to it? Why?"
He shrugged, feeling a bit uncomfortable. "You wouldn't tell me why it was your favorite. I wondered about it. What's it about? I couldn't figure out what the lyrics meant."
"I don't really know." Rogue shrugged.
"You don't know," Logan echoed. "How can it be your favorite song if you don't know what it's about?"
Rogue looked down at the beer in her hand and ran a finger over the condensation on the side of the bottle, examining the way the water darkened the tip of her glove.
"What does it matter, Logan?" she said finally. "It was just a project. You don't usually pay that much attention to my class projects."
"Don't change the subject," he chided.
Her head jerked up and her eyes flashed. Then she lowered her head and sighed.
"I don't know what the writer meant when he wrote it, but I think it's about how you can't get away from your past, no matter how hard you try."
"And you identify with that?" Logan persisted.
"Is it because of the stuff you've got in your head? The stuff from me and Magneto?"
"No." She frowned. "It's because some people hold onto my past so tightly. It's like they're afraid to turn it loose. I feel like they don't see me. They don't see that I'm not the little girl that I used to be. They're so tangled up in the memory of me that they don't see that I'm right in front of them. I've started to wonder if there's any point in trying to be seen." Rogue stole a glance up at him. "Or maybe they see, but they choose to ignore."
Logan knew that they were suddenly treading on very dangerous ground and damned if he wasn't the one who'd steered them there.
He knew he should just say that now he knew why it was her favorite song and let it go. But her comment about wondering if there was any point in trying and the anger he'd heard in that song wouldn't allow it.
Three years, he thought as he scrubbed at his face with one hand. He supposed it was a miracle that he managed to last this long.
"Sometimes it's best to ignore things, Marie," he said carefully. "At least for a while."
Her eyes flew up to meet his. He could see her trying to work it out in her mind, trying to decide if they were talking about the same thing. He knew the instant that she decided to call him on it.
"Best for you? Or best for me?" she asked. There was a defiant little tilt to her head that just summed up every last thing about Marie and he had to smile.
"You're not going to cut me any slack here, are you?" he asked wryly.
"I've done that for a long time, Logan. Maybe too long. To be honest, I let you ignore things," she admitted.
He nodded a bit. She'd never pushed before today. Sometimes, he'd wondered about that, too.
"It was safer not to take the risk," she continued softly. "You're my best friend and I don't want to screw that up but I think we could have more. I'm just not sure what you think."
Damn, he hated this type of conversation but it was necessary now. "You're still so young," he said gently. "You deserve to look around and see what your options are, see what guys are out there that you might want to be with."
He watched her fingers tighten around her beer.
"I want to be with you," she said quietly. "I'm sure of that."
Logan met her eyes squarely and his voice went low and hard. "Are you? If we hook up, I won't be playing a game. You can't be with me and still explore those other options. I don't share. Ever. You'd have to be certain it's what you want. Until then, I have to ignore things. Do you understand?"
He expected her to hesitate, to look doubtful or even intimidated--anything except the serene smile that came over her face.
"I understand." Her smile widened slightly. "But you don't have to ignore things anymore."
He softened his tone. "You shouldn't make this decision right now, Marie. You should take some time and think about it."
"What do I have to do for you to believe me?" she asked, still with that same calm smile.
Logan frowned and Rogue shook her head, her expression clearly bemused by his resistance. She set her beer aside, rose up to her knees in front of him and looked into his eyes.
"How long do I have to think about it before you're convinced? How many men do I have to date for you to be satisfied that I've 'explored other options?' Give me a number so that I can get it over with. Is it necessary that I have sex with them or will just foolin' around a little do?"
The thought of Marie with another man was something that Logan never allowed himself to think about in depth. It had been bad enough to stand by and watch her tentative romance with Bobby. The mere thought of another man touching her was enough to make him want to shred anything male that came within a hundred yards of her.
"That isn't funny," he said sharply.
"No, it isn't," she shot back, "and if you don't mind, I'd rather skip all that. I want to be with you."
He opened his mouth to speak, but she just placed a gloved finger over his lips to stop him.
"I'm not saying that I'm ready to sleep with you tonight or tomorrow or even next week." She looked at him steadily, without the slightest hint of embarrassment. There was no blushing or stammering or shyly downcast gaze. "I'd rather we went sort of slow with that." Her smile turned rueful. "Physical intimacy with me can't be like it is with other women. It may not be enough to satisfy you in the long run. That's something you need to think about."
Logan huffed out a laugh. He didn't have to think
about it. He'd made that decision three years ago. He took her by the arms,
pulling her forward to look into his eyes.
"Don't worry, darlin'. That's not going to be a problem."
Her eyes darkened. "Then stop ignoring things," she whispered.
For the first time in three years, Logan allowed his control to slip. He pulled Marie up to sit on the bed beside him and silently tugged the scarf from around her neck. Sliding the edge up over her mouth, he leaned toward her and watched as her eyes fluttered closed. He brushed his mouth against hers softly and she shivered, her lips parting in encouragement. His tongue slid into her mouth to tease against hers through the silk and her fingers clenched in fabric of his shirt.
His restraint rapidly eroding, Logan broke the kiss, looking down at her flushed face and listening to her rapid heartbeat.
"Marie?" he said softly.
"Hmm?" Her eyes were still closed and he grinned at the soft sound she made.
Her eyes slowly opened and she gave a brilliant smile. "Yes, it is. It's a very happy birthday."