'Mmm,' she made the noise she makes when she's just waking, and he stiffened and rolled his neck—damn uncomfortable in that chair—stretched out.

'How ya feelin'?' his voice low and gravelly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

She stretched, yawned, pried open her lids, and she looked pretty good, all mussed and warmed from sleep. Slow, peeping smile. 'Not too bad,' and then she frowned, seemed to register his presence on the chair. 'You sleep there all night?'

Shit, had forgotten how that looked. He stood, rolled out the kinks. 'Sat down, fell asleep,' he half-explained.

She frowned slightly, kidded lightly, 'You thought I might hurl on you or something?'

He gave a bit of a chuckle, and moved away, got himself a drink of water, brought one out for her. 'How much you remember?'

'All of it.' She paused, then with a wicked grin, 'So you turned down drunken sex with me, huh? Ah, well—totally your loss.' She gulped down the water, thanked him. 'We'll have to get you to come out with us next time. You're no fun at all when you're sober.'

Yeah. Sober. 'No hangover? After all those drinks Jubilee said you tried?' She smelled fine, still the traces of alcohol maybe, but a lot more coming off of him.

'Only one of each,' she justified, smiling. 'Five drinks over the course of five hours.' She shrugged, 'And then you gave me water and Tylenol last night. I wasn't fall-down drunk, just delightfully—'

'Pissed,' he supplied.

'I was gonna say tipsy.' She was so normal.

He got up to move around the room, do something. Do nothing. 'You should eat something.'

It came out gruffer than he intended, and the delay in her response told him she had noticed. 'Umm, I have some crackers up on the shelf if you wanna toss—' He tossed, a bit too hard and with a bit too much preoccupation, and when he turned, he saw her arrested expression, knew she saw that he was not normal this morning.

'I'm just—I'm gonna take a shower, ok?' Didn't wait for her response.

Fuck, he was fucking this up, and he'd almost gotten away with it. He'd been very good at hiding it, all day yesterday. Well, classes helped, work helped, and…her going out with friends helped. He just—Jesus, he needed some more time, just a little more time to get past this and back to normal. Just needed to get past all reminders of birthdays, of age, of last night without her before he—

He could get back to normal. It wasn't like she had just turned legal, or something. She was 21 for crying out loud, which was a lot older than she'd been when they started out. He was definitely overreacting: so 21 was a pivotal age, but…

The longer he had her, the more he realized that this was a big fucking deal for him. And she was young, far too young to be dealing with it, committing to it now. And 21 was growing up, and she'd eventually—

Shit. He slammed the water off, his thoughts off, rubbed himself dry. Fuck.

This was the same as the day before, as-as the year before. He just needed to get past it, get through this fucking day, and the next, take the ribbing and the tales of Rogue's first bar hopping for what it was, this day, this week, and just…just forget.

Threw on his jeans again, decided not to shave, walked out, bare chest to go throw on another shirt and out the door as soon as possible, 'til he was sure he could be civil and normal, not driving-her-away again.

But she was bent over the trash can, throwing away the cracker wrapper, and shit, when she heard him, she turned around slowly, the empty bottle of scotch in her hands.

On her face, he could read only confusion. 'Did you drink all this?'

He held her gaze. 'Yeah.' And he wasn't gonna hide it. He saw no point.

She looked puzzled, but something in his eyes must have betrayed him, because she frowned, brow drawn together, like she was trying to work things out, and then, 'When?' really bewildered.

She would know, there was no other time. 'Last night.' And fuck, he could almost see her brain working, gaze dropping down to the bottle, and then back up to him, like, 'So you wouldn't come out drinking with me and my friends on my birthday, but you drank an entire bottle of scotch at home by yourself?' All hurt and trying hard not to be, and if he wasn't quick, she'd do a calculation and realize he hadn't been around the whole time for all those other birthdays either—not since they'd been together.

Shit, and he couldn't take it, that expression on her face, and he really couldn't explain and be normal—yet. Just wanted to get a fucking shirt and his shoes and everything, so he could get outta here.

'Are you mad at me or somethin'?' The tone was very neutral.

Yeah, he just needed to get the hell outta here as soon as he could.

'No.' Couldn't help slamming his clothes and drawers around pretty rough, and trying not to, but the way he knew she was just looking at him back there made it hard to calm down.

Then, even more tentatively, 'Did—did something hap--?'


'Oo-kay,' she replied in that tone that said she had no idea what was up with him, but it was clearly not her fault.

And Fuck, fuck, fuck, it wasn't her fault, just—he needed to get away—and he sucked in a breath, threw on an undershirt, found a shirt and concentrated fiercely on buttoning…took a bracing breath, calming down, calming down as he sat to slip on his socks.

'You know,' she began in a low voice, a careful voice, unsure of him, but thankfully not mad, 'it strikes me that we've never really celebrated your birthday.'

Oh, Christ, that was all he fucking needed, a non-birthday from his non-past with an indeterminate number of fucking candles on the cake, but all of them, any number you could pick, fuckin' highlighting how much older he was than her, and what the fuck was she doing with him, and any guess not-even-fucking close to his actual age! Old man, and oh, yes, Jean and Chuck and fucking Scott grinning and smilin' Happy Birthday, too!

'I don't NEED a fucking birthday!' Hadn't meant to snarl that so fiercely, but he was just gonna grab his boots and apologize later.

'Nobody needs a birthday, Logan,' she returned quietly, and WHERE were his FUCKING BOOTS?

He whirled around. 'Well, I don't want one, either!' Calm, calm the fuck down, just, stare at the floor for a second, pull yourself together and find your boots, and you can go, and just—just deal with this later. Hope—he catches her eyein' him a bit warily –hope she'll be understanding or-or forgiving. Later. Later.

Where the HELL were his boots?

'Yesterday wasn't my birthday.' The words real low, but he heard them—might not've without his sensitive hearing, but he…paused, pivoted round to her. Like a confession. She'd flopped on the bed, giving him room, he guessed, playing with the bedspread, but she looked up, smiled briefly. 'Well, not my real one anyway.'

He was—well, what-what age did that make her--? 'W-when?'

She shrugged but in a way that he could see that this was a big deal to her, and—he was gonna have to try to listen and not-not fuck it up. 'Few months ago.' She was too nonchalant, something beneath it, and she had picked the worst time to—he'd never known how to be there for her, and he was…not at his best now.

He just stood there, frozen, unable to decide what he should do, as she swallowed, smiled that vulnerable smile, 'Yesterday was,' she regarded her hands briefly, before meeting his eyes, a bittersweet emotion in hers, 'the day you picked me up in your trailer.'


How many—five, five years ago, and he'd never put it together. Five years of this-is-what-it-meant, and—he'd never kept track of dates, but had no one else, either? Or, maybe they had, played along? They'd allowed her to be Rogue, after all, though the name was starting to suit her.

But…that was the day she picked? Her expression, so full of sadness…and-and meaning. He was sure he was missing something, that she was looking for more from him. And he had no idea what to do about it, except to ask, 'Why?'

'New name,' she murmured, eyeing him from beneath her lashes—a bit of a cover. 'New life.' She should never have needed one, and there was something so pitiful in the fact that she'd started hers over with him. Something extremely painful in the idea that she not only didn't mind, but…but cherished it a little.

He'd felt helpless with her many times, with no clear idea of what to do, but sometimes, if he waited—that was the right thing, and she'd…she'd show him what she needed, show him what to do. He hoped this was one of those times.

'So I was thinking,' and he breathed a sigh of relief—it was one of those times, 'seein' as how I really have two, you won't have to get drunk by yourself on both my birthdays.' She shot him that speaking gaze. 'Will you?'

That was it? That was all she was asking? It was so little. 'No,' he promised, found it easy to, and she smiled, a relieved, tiny one, like she was trying not to show how much it meant. See, this was why he had to leave for-for just a while; couldn't take how understanding she was being about this.

But she rose and stood in front of him, studying him, but with that hint of something in her still, behind it, and maybe—maybe she still needed more from him. He touched her cheek—sometimes she liked that—traced the white in her hair—sometimes he needed that.

'I was also thinking,' she continued tentatively, 'that, since we're not celebrating things on the proper day anyway, and you're getting' me gifts, and I'm gettin' none for you, that—' she took a half step closer, and he wanted her to know that was ok—'that on my birthday, I could get you a-a present. Just a 'Thanks for picking me up in your trailer' gift.'

Aw, shit.

'That'd be ok,' he managed to say, didn't know whether to be touched or dismayed; and that pretty much summed up all his interactions with her. But his acceptance was right, that pleased her, and that was all that mattered.

'Ok,' she returned, with that warmth that told him she liked it better than ok, and then, because she knew him, too, she was backing off a step with a less intimate expression, an understanding one that was letting him go. 'You'll be ok?' She was giving him permission to go, letting him know she wasn't mad.

'Yeah,' and he had to leave, but he wanted to give her something, too, or tell her, not let her think that he didn't care. He cupped a hand behind her neck and pulled her into him, and she was willing, hopeful, even sickeningly, a little grateful. He—he didn't deserve that.

'Happy birthday,' he mumbled, even though it was a little corny and he'd said it yesterday, and he'd learned, what's more, it wasn't her birthday anyway. But she smiled that kind of melty smile, and he kissed her softly, then more firmly, and when he drew back, she had that sparkle in her eye again. Good.

'Happy Thanks-for-picking-me-up-in-your-trailer Day,' she teased softly, gauging his mood, and the smell of her wrapped around him, and if—any other time, and he might have been tempted, even though that wasn't what she was doing. 'Belated, of course,' she tossed off. So they were making up holidays now?

'You'll never find that on a card,' he kinda growled, and she was shaking with laughter suddenly—she did that sometimes, just found him funny for no reason he could see, and it didn't bother him much.

'Oh, Logan,' she died down, then just hugged him tightly round the middle, and she felt good, all womanly curves and soft and Marie around him. 'Thank you,' she gave him a squeeze, 'for picking me up in your trailer.'

'Goddamn stupid to get in my trailer,' he gruffed, and she chuckled again.

'Best decision of my life, sugar,' and she turned a face up to him that was older than when they'd started and clear-eyed and, not full of indecision and yearning, but of understanding warmth and fun. And Christ, if she thought that—still, after all this time, who was he to dissuade her?

But he felt obliged—she had been goddamn stupid: 'Just…don't be getting in any other trailers.' And she could take that any way she liked.

She was suppressing a laugh and a grin, but she nodded, and he disentangled them, found his boots. He didn't need to leave as much, but…he still needed to leave. Really glad it'd be alright when he came back, though; really grateful she made it so easy to say goodbye.

'October 28th,' she called out just as he was leaving.


'October 28th,' she repeated, looking him up and down. 'That should give you a whole nine months to get used to it.'

A whole nine months. She was planning on still being here for a whole nine months. Well, so was he, and…maybe he just needed to trust her a bit more, because she'd made this alright, and maybe she knew what she was doing. She wasn't 16 anymore.

'October 28th,' he promised, and he promised himself that when he came back, he'd make it up to her.