By D. M. Evans

Disclaimer- nope, don't own 'em. Marvel owns the X-Men and A& E owns Cold Case Files.

Rating - PG-13

Summary - Logan takes the time to think on his and Rogue's last mission.

Author's Note #1 This is based on the X-men novelization by Rusch and Smith which gives an alternative meeting of Wolverine and Rogue, which isn't as splashy or as sexy as a half-naked Logan in a cage match. However, it's much scarier and real and it became something I wanted to investigate.

Author's Note #2 - Thanks to SJ for the beta

"Logan, hurry!"

He smirked at Rogue as he sauntered into the room, beer in hand. She watched him over the back of the couch. Bobby was beside her, glaring at him. Logan ignored the boy. It was the kindest thing he could do. If Bobby had been jealous of Logan before things turned so bad...before his Jean died, it was nothing compared to what was in the boy's eyes now. The jealousy warred with a worse emotion, defeat. Bobby knew he had already lost Marie. It was all over but the tears.

Logan almost wished it wasn't so. He knew what the kid had already lost. Bobby's family has turned their backs on him, betrayed him. His best friend, John, was still missing in action. Everyone knew what most likely had happened, that the boy had been lured in by Magento's promises of power but no one mentioned it. They were all still raw with the damage Stryker's men had done to the Mansion, and Jean's sacrifice. No, don't think about it.

"You're going to miss it," Rogue said, giving him a perturbed look.

"Not a chance." Logan tossed himself into a bean bag chair. Damn, the thing was uncomfortable. The kids made it look so inviting as they lounged in it. He willed one of them to get up and want to switch chairs in front of the TV with him. No one moved. Peter and Kitty sat side by side on the love seat. Jubliee sprawled on a chair. None of the adults were around outside of him. Logan thought it was a pity. They should have been here to see this, to see the outcome of Marie's bravery and good heart.

"The vcr's on right?" Kitty asked, and Marie bobbed her head.

A hush fell over the room as the opening commentary for A&E's Cold Case Files came on. The only sounds were the crunching of popcorn and slurping of soda, which Logan found somehow perverse given they weren't watching a horror flick. The terrible things on the documentary were real.

Logan's mind wandered back over the last several months as it became obvious the case they were interested in wasn't going to be the first up. Jean had been gone only a week - he for his part wanted out because there wasn't room enough in the mansion for his pain and Scott's - when Marie had come to him with something she wanted to do. At first he refused to help, deciding it was too dangerous for her. Infuriated she had turned to the Professor, who was no more inclined to agree to it.

Finally, she put them both in a room to talk it out. She was insistent on doing the right thing. Rogue argued that with Logan along, she'd be safe enough. She reasoned that even without him she would be okay. After all, she could kill with a touch if she wasn't careful. That had sobered both men. The Professor was forced to agree that what she wanted to do needed doing or other young girls would lose their lives. It became clear to Logan that Rogue was feeling the strain of not helping, those potential deaths weighing on her. He saw it as an opportunity to get out of New York, away from the painful memories of losing Jean. It hadn't mattered to him that chances were Jean would never love him like he did her. The pain was the same as if she had.

Bobby had wanted to come along, or he wanted Logan to stay behind. Everyone understood why. Jean had been right. Rogue was taken with him, despite her friendship with Bobby. The boy had been smart in not trusting her heart to grow fonder with absence. But it was decided that Bobby had to stay behind. Even Bobby knew the truth, what Rogue and Wolverine were going to do was very dangerous, lives might even be lost and Bobby wasn't a killer. Yet.

Logan knew the boy could be. Being able to coat someone in ice could easily be fatal. No one wanted Bobby to become a killer, including Logan. He rather liked the boy. He half hoped his own unremembered youth was as more or less happy as Bobby's was. Logan knew that some day Bobby might be called upon to kill in the war everyone feared was on the horizon; he just didn't want to rush that day. Leave the killing to him. He was good at it, as Bobby had unfortunately seen the day Stryker's men stormed the school.

So it was just him and Marie, heading back to Canada to put her plan into action. They had left New York with him thinking of her like a kid sister. Something changed during the trip. Maybe it was the very adult thing she was doing. Maybe it was some kind of transference of his damaged feelings for Jean. Maybe it was just one of life's jokes, but those brotherly feelings began to morph into something deeper and far less brotherly. He started seeing her as a young woman instead of kid.

Logan tried hard to squelch those feelings, but he was fairly sure Rogue knew. Bobby certainly seemed to sense them when they returned from their successful trip. He kept telling himself it was wrong. He shouldn't be falling in love with Rogue. She was a kid, barely legal and he was...hell, he had no idea how old he was. Maybe in his thirties, maybe in his eighties if Jean was right and his regenerative powers kept him from aging. Whatever it was, he was a full grown adult and Marie wasn't. He felt like a pedophile even though he hadn't acted on his feelings. He half thought he'd belong on the show they were watching if he had given in.

Give it time, he told himself. She'd grow out of her crush, and he'd find someone more appropriate to give his heart to. Give it time, and she'd be old enough. It was harder to do than he'd ever dreamed possible.

"Shh, it's gonna to start." Rogue bounced excitedly as the narrator started talking about Hank Boyd.

Logan remembered the first time he saw the man, the first time he had seen Rogue. The stink of her had curled his nose hairs; unwashed, homeless, drifting from place to place using the very risky method of hitching with truckers. Hank had been one of them. That night in the truck stop, when he first say her, Rogue had been trying to get someone else to step in, take her off Hank's hands. Wolverine had watched with calloused distraction as the drama unfolded. Finally her skin had touched Hank's and down he went. In his way, Hank introduced Marie and Logan.

What Logan hadn't guessed at was all the dark secrets Rogue kept inside. He knew she had memories of the first boy she kissed; that she had Logan's memories, too, what little of them there were. It had to be like going insane, and he pitied her like no one before her. When Rogue finally confessed the whole ugliness to Logan and the Professor, Logan's first instinct was to wrap her up and keep her safe, to banish the thoughts of stopping this man from her mind. But he knew she was right; Hank had to be stopped. The man was a serial killer, one of the hundreds roaming the country according to Cold Case Files, which was chilling enough.

Rogue knew Hank was about to kill her like he had killed other hitchhiking young ladies. Of course, the death might be a release after the brutal rapes Hank would put them through first. Rogue felt the guilt of not trying to stop him before this. She had told herself, she confided to Logan as they headed north, that there wasn't anything she could do about it. How could she stand up in court and accuse him? Hank hadn't attacked her, and how would she know of the girls he had killed?

Logan had to content himself - once they crossed Hank's trucking route, finding him in one of the faceless truck stops along the way - with the fact that Rogue could in fact handle herself. Hank didn't use a gun. He liked the use his hands to squeeze the life out of his victims. If he so much as laid a finger on Rogue, it might be the last thing he ever did, especially if Logan had to leave his seat from where he surreptitiously watched Rogue work.

She was like a pro. Hank didn't even see her coming. She brushed a finger over the back of his neck reaching for sugar on the counter top. When Hank went down, it looked like a seizure. Rogue could barely keep herself from running out, looking guilty. Logan saw the tears standing in her eyes. He led her out quietly, letting her weep against him in the truck loaned to him by the Professor.

Hank had killed once again in the months since Rogue last crossed his path. She knew exactly where the poor girl was buried, and Logan knew she blamed herself for the death. He tried to tell her there was nothing she could have done differently. She didn't seem to believe him but didn't protest much either, just subsiding into a dismal quiet.

They followed the Professor's suggestion and called a tip hotline from a pay phone. Rogue pretended to be a girl Hank had picked up much more recently than the actual encounter. She told the police that he tried to attack her, bragged about his last kill and where she and the others were buried. To Logan, this took too long; it was too risky. What if the police didn't believe her and look into it? He was tempted to just go and kill Hank and be done with it. Rogue would have none of that.

Much to Logan's surprise, the tip was taken seriously. The last victim was found quickly, and in time to get DNA evidence, which the narrator of the show was now detailing. He didn't need to see the show to know Hank had been caught and awaiting trial for three murders. The only fear Logan had now was the man's tales of a girl who stole his thoughts. What if Hank got off as a psycho as he claimed Rogue had gotten into his mind? It certainly sounded crazy. Logan figured he'd even the score in that case.

"I can't believe they caught him," Rogue breathed quietly.

"I'm proud of you," Bobby said, squeezing her gloved hand.

"As are we all."

The kids whirled around to see the Professor in the door way. Logan was far less surprised. He had heard the wheelchair even before he caught the older man's scent. Xavier smiled gently at Rogue.

"It took great courage to put yourself in that man's path. We're all very proud of you," Xavier said.

Rogue beamed. Logan smiled faintly. He liked seeing her so happy. It was easy for her to get down, isolated as she was by her mutation. "Thanks, Professor," she said in that sugary accent that Logan was kicking himself for finding so sexy.

"It's an excellent example of how one person can make a big difference," Xavier continued. "I hope you'll allow me to use it in future lectures on that theme."

Logan watched Rogue's smile grow.

"You bet!" She looked over at Logan.

He saluted her with his beer. "You done good, kiddo."

Her smile warmed even more. Bobby's glare deepened, and Logan couldn't contain his smirk. He pulled out his cigar, lit it and breathed in a blast of icy air. He looked at the icicle hanging from the tobacco then gave Bobby a fish eye.

Bobby mirrored his earlier smirk. "No smoking in the Mansion."

"Yes, please do take that outside, Logan," Xavier said, scowling.

Logan got up, heading for the door.

"You'll miss how it ends," Rogue protested.

Logan patted her on the shoulder as he continued on his way. "I know how it ends. The good guys win thanks to you."

Maybe he shouldn't have cut out but it was easier this way. Let her savor her moment, don't cloud it with all the emotional junk. He didn't want to deal with that just yet. Someday he would have to but he wasn't ready. He knew she wasn't either. No, this was the best way. He had done the right thing.

Logan sliced off the wet, cold end of his cigar with a claw, lit up and daydreamed about their road trip, that closeness, the warmth even through the fear. Tomorrow was for dealing. Tonight was for just being. He was content with that.