Briana had been going stir crazy the past couple of days, stuck in the bed, unable to move her leg. Angela had spent some time with her, making an attempt not to leave Briana alone all the time, but Briana knew it was more out of Angie's feeling of duty as a doctor than out of any desire to spend time with her cousin.
The person Briana wanted most there was Craig, but according to Angela, he'd already gone back to New York City, saying he'd stayed away from his job long enough. Briana didn't even want to admit how much it had hurt that he'd left without telling her good-bye.
Even when Briana had been telling Craig that she was engaged to someone else, she'd wanted in her heart to stay there, in New York, and marry Craig instead of Howard. She'd always known that she didn't really love Howard the way she should a husband, but before Craig it hadn't meant anything to her. She was getting married because it was time for her to, and Howard fit the bill as the kind of man she should marry. Love didn't enter into the equation.
Then, Briana had fallen in love with Craig, but now he wouldn't have anything to do with her, and Briana knew that was no one's fault but her own. She laid in the bed, waiting for her leg to be healed enough to allow her to go back to England and hopefully forget how to feel again.
*** *** ***
Tristan walked out on the roof and sat down beside Logan. "Hey," Logan said softly.
"I've been looking for you," Tristan told her.
"I've been up here."
Tristan put his arm around her and pulled her head over to rest on his shoulder. "Talk to me."
"Logan, there is something bothering you. Ever since we returned from the battle against the Dark One, you've been distant during the day, and then at night you hold me like I'm going to disappear before you wake up. Tell me what's wrong."
"You said the Dark One hasn't been defeated for good," Logan said.
"I don't think he is," Tristan replied.
"I keep expecting you to tell me that you're going to leave. Every moment I spend with you, I care about you more, and I'm afraid that when you do leave I won't be able to let you go."
Tristan pulled Logan into his lap and kissed her gently on the lips. "I'm not going anywhere," he told her. "I don't know where the Dark One is now, but I know it's going to be awhile before he fully recovers from that battle. No one's ever been able to hurt him the way you did, Logan."
Logan looked up at him, and the hope in her eyes made Tristan's heart thump harder in his chest. "You're not going to leave me?"
Tristan shook his head. "No. I love you." He smiled and kissed her forehead. "You're stuck with me," he said, mimicking what she had said to him when they'd first gotten together.
Logan smiled. "I'm happy to hear that."
Tristan held Logan tightly to him, content just to have her in his arms.
*** *** ***
Marie watched from the control room as her brother tore through everything the computer threw at him in the Danger Room. She'd never seen Ric like that before, with so much pent up anger. She watched until the program ended, and then when down to the Danger Room.
"Hi," Ric replied, out of breath.
Marie gave him a weak smile. "So what did those holograms ever do to you?"
Ric got a towel from is bag in the corner of the room and wiped the sweat of his face. "Nothing, but after a while they all started looking like the Dark Angel."
Marie shook her head. "Somehow, I don't think that's healthy."
"He doesn't deserve Logan."
"Tristan's not really that bad of a guy, Ric," Marie said.
Ric looked at her sharply. "Don't tell me you like them together."
"I don't," Marie told him, "but not because I don't think Tristan's good enough for her."
"I don't want to get into it."
Ric knew better than to try to push his sister into telling him anything. "I was hoping after we fought the Dark One, Tristan would just go home and I'd have another chance with Logan."
"I don't think that's going to happen," Marie said. "Logan told me that Tristan said he's not leaving."
"I know," Ric said. "He's smarter than I was; he's not leaving her." Ric sighed. "Logan's so amazing. She always had this way of making me feel like I was something better than just me."
Marie sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall. "Sit down here and talk to me about it. You need to let this out."
Ric sat down beside his sister. "I took her for granted, 'Rie," Ric said. "She was the best thing that ever happened to me, and somehow I thought I could survive without her. I thought this would be easier on my own, that everything that's going on inside me right now would be easier to handle if I didn't have Logan, if I was alone. I was so wrong."
Marie frowned. "What's going on with you, Ric?" she asked. "You haven't let anyone in, even me."
"I still can hear Zach, inside my head," Ric said. "He's messed up, Marie, and wants me to be just Renegade again. That's why I didn't change my codename back to Red Thief when I came back to the X-Men. He's a part of me—Renegade's a part of me. I'm holding it back, trying to make my personality the one that's dominant, but I'm not always sure I can stay in control. I'm afraid I'm going to lose it, Marie—that one day it's going to be too much, and I'll become what I was with the New Brotherhood."
"Ric…why haven't you said any of this to anyone before?" Marie asked. "At least you should talk to Mom. She's been through what you're going through, she can help you."
"Mom? Marie, she could barely help herself for years, what makes you think she'll be to do anything for me? She can't even teach me to control these powers the way she did. I'm all alone in this."
"You're never alone," Marie said, hugging her brother. "No matter what happens, I'm here for you. Even if it comes down to you or everyone else on the X-Men, Ric, I'll always choose you. You're family, and that means more to me than anything."
"I know, Marie, but there's nothing you can do for me here." Ric pulled away from his sister and stood up. "This is one battle I'm going to have to fight for myself."
Marie stared at the doors to the Danger Room for a long time after Ric had already walked out.
*** *** ***
"All ready to leave, Briana?" Angela asked.
"Yes," Briana replied, balancing the best she could on her crutches. "And I'm sure you're glad to see me go."
"Nah," Warren said. "We'll miss you."
Briana shook her head. "No you won't. Especially you, Warren. After all, you still swear I tried to kill you, even thought all I was doing was cutting tomatoes." Warren's mouth fell a little a Briana laughed. "I'm not as stupid as the two of you think I am. But don't worry, it will be quite some time before I find my way back to New York—if I ever do again."
"Keep in touch, Briana," Angie said. "You are my cousin after all, and I like to know how you're doing."
"I'll write," Briana said with a nod. A horn honked outside. "That's probably my cab."
"Are you sure you don't want a ride to the airport?" Warren asked.
"No. I'll be fine."
Warren nodded, and he and Nathan helped Briana carry her bags out to the cab. Briana was just about to get in the car, when she heard someone call from behind her. She turned around, unable to trust her ears.
"What are you doing here?" Briana asked.
"I wanted to tell you good-bye."
Briana had lamented that he'd never told her good-bye, but now that he had, she wasn't sure if her heart could handle the sound. "You came all the way in from New York City to tell me good-bye?"
Craig shook his head. "Actually, I'm having dinner with my sister tonight, but I figured while I was here I might as well put a definite ending on things between us."
The aching inside Briana grew. "I don't want things between us to be over," she said. "I want to be with you."
"You have your fiancé," Craig said. "Go marry Howard."
"I don't want to marry Howard."
"Then don't. Just don't be with me, either."
Briana forced herself not to cry. She was stronger than that. "Good-bye, Craig."
Only after Briana's cab was far out of sight did Craig let himself feel the pain losing her had caused. In the short time he'd known her, she'd made him feel more than any other woman had before, but now he knew everything had been a lie.
Craig walked back into the mansion feeling empty.
*** *** ***
Okay, so it's not the best ending in the world, but I'm stopping it there for now. I tried to think of someway to end on a happy note, but with this particular story I couldn't figure out a way to do that. So that's it for the second in my New X-Men Chronicles series. Let me know if you want a part three!