Chapter 25: Journey's Start

Logan rolled his cigar in his mouth; he flicked the end with his tongue, and then rolled it around again. His eyes squinting into slivers, he glowered across the precisely sculptured bushes. He could feel a pair of sapphire eyes burning anxiously into his face. He sighed a deep growl, darting his hazel orbs into her direction. "What," he grumbled.

She tilted her head to the side, wrapped her arms into a defiant fold, and shook her head. "Just light it, already."

Logan lowered the cigar, twiddled it between his thumb and middle finger, and contemplated her proposal. Yes, he wanted to actually smoke the damn thing. He was nearly on the verge of establishing a twitch over his desire. It had been five days since his last cigar. He wanted it. Badly. Yet, instead, he tucked it away into the inside pocket of his leather jacket. Ever since he caught Rogue smoking cigarettes, he had vowed to himself not to indulge in his own poisonous habit – at least not when she was around. And lately, she was always around.

Rogue released a gust of air, her lips vibrating in exaggeration, and she rolled her eyes, but said nothing. She knew he was being stubborn, but she thought it a ridiculous show of over-protection, especially considering she had only gone through a brief smoking phase after absorbing a mutant's powers who puffed like a chimney. Apparently, though, her confession that she enjoyed it had pushed Logan into his "father" role.

They stood in silence for awhile before Rogue grew weary of it, and finally decided to approach the conversation she wanted to have with him. "You're leaving."

Logan lowered his eyes to meet hers. "Just for awhile."

Rogue nodded stiffly, accepting the truth. Logan would never rest until he knew who he was. He had unearthed many secrets about the Weapon X program, but still had not discovered his birth identity. It was important to him. Thus, it was important to her. "I'm going," she stated firmly.

Logan shook his head. "Oh, no, kid. You need to stay here. I can't have …"

"I'm going," she intervened. "I'm not the girl you found stowed away in your trailer."

Logan grinned slightly at the memory of their first encounter. His instincts were to toss her to the curb, which he had initially done. Yet, he hadn't gotten more than a couple yards before something deep down stirred inside him and he had pressed down on his brakes. From the very beginning, there was some invisible pull on him. He had immediately grown protective of the young girl. She was, also, the only one he let his guard down with, allowing her to see the more gentle side.

"I know, kid. But you still can't go."

"Why not? I can help you."


"Oh, stop playing the lone wolf!" Rogue's blue eyes began to darken into emeralds as her mood shifted. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not a kid anymore. And I have more powers. But even if we don't run into trouble, I can still be useful as a friend. Someone to just … just … be there with."

Logan had to admit that her powers had become increasingly beneficial. It had been discovered during a mission that if Rogue fully drained another mutant to their death, she obtained their powers not only momentarily like she always did, but permanently. The mutant she had killed with her flesh was a woman with the ability to fly, and who possessed incredible strength. Yet, there had been a negative side, too. Rogue now, also, had the other woman's essence stuck inside her mind. For the first few weeks, Rogue had been mentally tormented. It had taken grueling mind exercises with the professor in order for Rogue to establish some relevance of peace.

The experience had, also, changed Rogue. She was more outspoken, less afraid, had moments of extreme anger, was prone to mood swings, and had blossomed into a woman. Once in a while, Logan would catch himself staring at her as she moved around a room, entranced by her solid presence and the waves of emotions that fell off her. At times, she seemed ancient and beautifully mystical. Preserved for all time. In those moments, Logan felt a twinge of … something … stir inside him as a shadow of a forgotten dream would tingle over him.

In that second, he knew he would miss her. He did want her to come with him. He slowly nodded, then turned to head back inside. That was all Rogue needed. She followed him off the patio.

Within an hour they found each other in the expansive garage that housed multiple vehicles. Logan had glanced wistfully at Scott's motorcycle a few times, but knew they couldn't make such a trip with it. He briefly considered a sporty car, but settled with a four-door sedan. He knew Rogue would appreciate having the extra space.

They loaded the truck up with their few bags without a word then climbed into the front seats.

They remained in comfortable silence for the first four hours before Rogue's stomach gurgled and she peered up at him eagerly.

Logan felt annoyance. If she weren't here, then I could just push through. Do my thing. My way. Then he glanced her way and he instantly softened. Rogue had that affect on him.

At the next exit, Logan pulled off in search of a local diner.

End Chapter 25