"Time takes away the grief of men." - Desiderius Erasmus
Quaint and idyllic. There was no other way to describe the house, which Logan had stopped the car near. He had wound down the car window, having parked on the opposite side of the road to observe the physical address that had been indicated on Rogue's letter. White wooden slats framed an equally picturesque porch, hemmed with graceful honeysuckle, which cast a delicate scent into the air. But Logan had not just arrived. Since pulling up the car by the roadside, he had sat there for almost an hour, holding the letter in his hand, going over his many thoughts. The peaceful air was only occasionally permeated by a soft rumbling of a passing vehicle, mixed with a distant dog's yaps and the excited shrieks of playing children in a nearby garden. Slowly, Logan turned his eyes back towards the house, exhaling a low sigh. He had come here for Marie, and there was no way he could allow himself to back out of the task he had assigned to himself. He had promised Marie he would deliver this letter, and he couldn't break that promise.
A warm comfortable glow of afternoon sunlight filtered into Priscilla D'Ancanto's kitchen, partially split by the horizontal blinds and casting golden strips of light across the floor tiles. With her dark, curled locks tied back from her face, she proceeded to complete a successful day of bakery, preparing a homemade pie for her and her husband's dinner. However, their days hadn't always been this calm since their daughter's disappearance. Despite everything that had happened, they didn't want to lose her to any authorities, but realised they had to accept Marie's decision. It had been a difficult fourteen months to live without her presence in the household, but they were finally beginning to resume a routine to what could be called a normal, everyday life. Priscilla was just sliding the pie into the oven when she heard the musical chime of the doorbell over the sounds emanating from the small radio on the kitchen worktop.
"Just a minute!" she called loudly from the kitchen, quickly shutting the oven door. She wiped her hands clean on her apron, which she took off to drape over one of the kitchen chairs. The doorbell rang once more, earning an irritated tut from Priscilla as she strode out of the kitchen, muttering under her breath about impatient people these days, and how this had better not be a salesman. Reaching the front door, she unlocked the catch, pulling it open to find a most unlikely figure stood out on the porch.
She stared openly for a moment, eyes taking in the burly appearance of a large, tall man, clad in worn leather and denim, who was stood to one side with a hand in his tight jean pockets. The other was in the process of pulling a cigar from his lips, breathing out the furls of smoke as he watched the road.
"Can I help you?" she asked quickly, finding a desire to back away when the man quickly looked round at her, lowering his cigar down. A fierce mane of dark brown hair swept back from his face, which was framed with thick muttonchops. Her only excuse for not slamming the door shut was when his eyes met hers, for they were void of hostility and looked deeply solemn and dejected. It was then she realised she was staring back at her with the same assessing scrutiny, a man who was willing to take his time to analyse an individual with great attention.
"Are you Priscilla D'Ancanto?" he then asked, voice so typical for his hefty, rough appearance; for his tones were deep, low and ultimately mesmerising.
Priscilla hesitated, as if weighing up her options before she decided there was nothing wrong with being honest for the moment. "Yes, I am," she held her chin a little higher, as though he may attack if he detected fear on her.
"Right," he murmured quietly, propping his cigar back into his mouth as a hand lifted the loose opening of his leather jacket to pull something out of an inside pocket. "I got somethin' for you," he explained as he did this, then producing a slightly crumpled envelope and passed it towards her.
She took it slowly, frowning a little as she glanced downward. There was no name on the envelope. "Oh, right. Thank you," she said, peering towards him inquisitively when he remained stood at the door with apparently no plan on departing just yet. "Who are you?" she then asked in a dignified voice, deciding she had a right to know just who this dangerous looking man was and why he was on her doorstep.
"Logan," was his simple answer, now nodding towards the letter, clearly wanting her to open it. "Read that, it'll make sense. I promise."
Proceeding to open the envelope, Priscilla spoke as she began to tug out the neatly folded letter inside. "And who is it from?" She didn't need the answer to that question, and Logan knew that, for her eyes widened as she saw the delicate handwriting of her Marie. "Oh!" she said in a breathy gasp, immediately feeling her eyes sting with overwhelming tears. She gazed up at Logan, clutching the letter protectively. "You know my daughter?"
"Yeah.." he replied quietly, almost hesitantly. "Look, you gotta read the letter."
Swallowing to quell her rising breaths, she nodded her head, "Would you like to come in? I can make you a coffee or - ?"
"I'm fine, honestly," he grunted, and after stubbing out his cigar, he obligingly stepped into the house, peering around the hallway. He felt distinctly out of place.
"Well, come through," Priscilla said hurriedly, waving her head in the direction of the kitchen, shutting the door behind him. "This is the first time I've heard from Marie in so long. Owen and I have been going frantic. No phone calls, no letter, no emails. We knew she left hurriedly, but was it any excuse for leaving us in this state?" she said in a rush of breath as she bustled into the kitchen, indicating one of the chairs at the kitchen table for Logan to sit in.
Slowly sinking into the seat, Logan remained silent, eyes roaming the kitchen and noticing the tantalising scent of steak and mushroom pie. Priscilla pulled out a chair besides him, having opened the letter fully and smoothed it out to read with an anxious but excited expression. Logan said nothing, as though he would spoil the words Rogue wanted to say. He remained thin-lipped, eyes now staring at his clasped hands on the kitchen table, listening to her as she progressed down the piece of paper with a frantic sweeping motion of her eyes. He glanced towards her out of the corner of his eye at one point to see her attention fixated on the paper, in time to catch a silent, 'X-Men?' be motioned bemusedly from her lips. Logan quickly formed a deep frown, tightening his hands together as he stared down at them with such intensity.
He was on edge listening to her read the letter, her soft breathing rate so loud to him in the silent kitchen. Then, it was permeated by a strangled intake of breath that sounded like her very lungs had just been crushed. Logan closed his eyes tightly, for he knew which part of the letter she had reached. He lowered his head slowly, fingers gripping each hand so tightly his knuckles were turning white.
"She's dead?" came Priscilla's uneven tones, her breaths noticeably erratic. "Marie's dead?" Logan slowly lifted his head, peering towards her before he managed a diminutive nod of his head. It seemed this physical confirmation pushed her over the edge, for the wavering tears in her voice broke through in heartbroken sobs as she dropped the letter, throwing trembling hands over her face as she let out a wail of mingled refutation and despair.
Logan's eyes roamed the letter as it fell down onto the surface of the table, turning his eyes from it as he forced himself to remain composed. But the sounds of inconsolable weeping from Marie's mother were impossible to ignore and remain impassive to. "I'm sorry," he said weakly, his voice hoarse. He didn't even know what he was apologising for; it just felt like the only thing he could say at the moment. Was he apologising for being the one breaking the news? For being the one Marie had spent her last moments with? For not urging Marie to contact her family to amend the disputes before it was too late?
But Priscilla didn't seem to have noticed, shaking her head slowly to herself. Logan exhaled a low sigh, looking down at the tabletop. Her cries continued to echo about the room, blocking out the jaunty song left playing on the nearby radio. However, Logan started when her hand launched out to grab hold of his fist, fixing a tight grip as she desperately curled her fingers about his. Logan's head snapped upward at the touch, staring at her hand before he looked up to see her tear-streaked face watching him. "You were with her.." she whispered quietly, squeezing his hand. "It's clear you have done so much.. f-for her.." Logan nodded his head weakly, now turning his hand so he could properly hold hers and offer reassurance he didn't feel. "She loved you," Priscilla murmured with a shaky sob, closing her eyes as fresh tears leaked. "After everything that had happened, running away.. from her own family.." she wiped at her face with her other hand, though all tear-stains were soon replaced. "We should have tried harder to accept her.. not let her run away.."
"It would still have happened," said Logan softly. "Don't think what happened here led to her death. It didn't."
"Was she.." she muttered, sniffing quietly, "Was she happy?"
Logan nodded his head slowly, "She was at her happiest when she was with me," he felt it would be foolish to try and be modest.
A watery smile for weakly on Priscilla's lips, nodding her head slowly as she gazed towards him. "That's the important thing," she said softly, sighing as she tried to wipe free her tears again. "I.. I need to ring Owen.. get him home from work.." she muttered distractedly, standing to her feet quickly.
Logan gently released her hand as she stood, watching her grab the phone off the wall and shakily key-in the number. He remained silent now, refraining from giving out his opinion. He didn't want to intrude on the family now. These parents had lost their only daughter, he now felt like an outsider.
"O-Owen, can you come home? Now," she said, her voice beginning to lose it's weak control as she gave a few sobs. "I'll tell you when you get home. Just be quick, honestly, I can't tell you this over the phone. Just come home, now. Ok.." Priscilla sighed softly as she returned the phone to its holder, turning to see Logan on his feet. "You're leaving?"
Logan straightened the shoulders of his jacket as he nodded his head a little. "I just came to deliver the letter.. I don't wanna get in the way."
"You're doing no such thing!" cried Priscilla, taking Logan by the shoulders and forcing him back into the seat. "Owen will want to meet you. You have every right to be here after what you did for our Marie."
"Well.." said Logan weakly, finding no argument to respond with so just weakly nodded his head. Priscilla let out a shaky sigh as she lowered back down into her chair, closing her eyes for a moment. Logan watched as she then glanced down towards the letter, taking it in her hands and beginning to re-read it with less anticipation since she already knew of the contents, but this time it was like she was combing through her daughter's last contact and savouring every ink mark on the paper. Logan fell silent as he did this, eyes finding a knot on the wooden surface of the table to stare at unseeingly for the next twenty minutes until there was the clearly sounds of the keys being jangled in the front door.
Owen D'Ancanto rushed into the kitchen; worry clearly etched into his face as he saw his distressed wife and a brooding Logan sat at the table. "Cilla?" he said weakly as she rose to her feet, rushing over to meet him with a tight embrace that set off her tears once more.
"It's Marie," she moaned into his shoulder, clinging onto his shirt tightly. "She got sick, Owen. She died."
Logan couldn't bear to witness another response to this news, and kept his gaze on the table as he heard the same gasp escape from Marie's father. The same one that sounded like a person's very insides had been torn out. Closing his eyes to sooth his stinging eyes, Logan stood to his feet, the scrape of the chair signalling Owen's attention as he stared inquisitively over to the man who stood in his kitchen.
"T-This is Logan," said Priscilla as she lifted her head to peer through watery eyes. "He took care of her."
Logan hesitated awkwardly before he moved across the kitchen, moving towards the parting pair to nod his head silently to Owen. "She meant a lot to me," he said softly, shoving his hands in his pockets as he watched Marie's father, unable to stop himself from feeling uncomfortable as he stood before the grieving parents.
"Thank you," said Owen quietly, moving a hand towards Logan. Logan glanced towards the offered palm, then grunting as he pulled his hand free from his pocket to meet a firm, genuine shake with the other male.
"She's already been buried," Logan proceeded to explain. "She died just over a week ago. Her headstone is currently in the mansion's grounds.. Professor Xavier wouldn't hesitate to welcome you up there, give you a room to stay in and stuff." He gestured towards the letter Priscilla continued to hold, who then passed it onto her husband for him to read. "The address is on there.." he made another small nod, then straightening.
Glancing from the letter, Owen spoke, "Might we see you there when we come up?" he asked quietly.
Logan remained silent for a moment, for he had still not concluded if he would ever return to the mansion. As he glanced between their shared expressions of grief, he nodded his head. "I will, yeah." He bowed his head, continuing to slowly nod to himself as he turned, beginning to make his way out of the kitchen and down the hallway. Proceeding to let himself out, he glanced back to see a grateful nod being issued by Owen as he held onto his crying wife. Logan returned it, watching as the man turned to help his wife down into a seat. Feeling a strange warmth of content filling him, Logan closed the front door, turning to look out onto the quiet, sunny road.
It felt like he had just closed the door on that chapter, ending his mindless torment upon meeting her parents and having someone else who understood how much it hurt to lose Marie. He proceeded down the steps from the porch; his grieving heart alleviated somewhat. Taking in a great breath of the Mississippi air, he allowed the gentle scents of the surrounding honeysuckle to enter his senses and with a reminiscent smile, realised that it was the same scent shared by his beloved Marie.
And that really is the end! Thank you to everyone who has sat down to read this story, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Now, if ever, is the time to leave a review! I also made a video partner to this story, which can be viewed on YouTube. Search for 'In The End Rogue Logan' and it's by Sketty24.