Logan copes. Or possibly not.

Warning: Character death. Or rather, Character Is Dead Before This Story Starts. This is sort of a companion-piece to my other story, 'Blood'. It's not a sequel, prequel, or anything like that - it's sort of the not-exactly-reverse of that story. Inspired by a song of the same title by Bob Dylan. Wolverine/Rogue, as always.

Disclaimer: Not mine, and chances are they never will be.

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I'm okay, mosta the time. Focused. I deal. I handle things. It's what I've always done. I can always cope, wherever I am, with whatever I'm given. It's more than just the healing thing and the claws. I think it's sorta because I can still remember the time I woke up in the snow, naked, only past I knew was in some lab, bein' fucked around with by bastard doctors and army guys. I've been through it, and I survived, and I know I always will. I'll live. Do what you like, I'll live. I hold on to that memory, of how it felt to have nothing at all. It's the only memory I've really held onto. I don't even think about the good stuff. I don't even notice she's gone.

Fuck.

No, no, I do okay. In fact, I do pretty well, now. I don't worry, ya see, I'm not afraida the consequences. What else can they do, that I haven't already had worse? I live in the moment. And I've arranged my life so that I don't have the kinda moral obligations that hold you down and bring you grief. The X-geeks leave me alone now. They get that I don't wanna talk to 'em about anythin', and that nothin' they could say would make a goddamn bit of difference. That's okay with me. Last conversation I had with one of 'em was with Jeannie. Didn't go well.

"...So you gonna check it for me or not?"

"I just don't think you should be doing this, Logan. It's not healthy - you're not dealing with the process of grief. You've got to -"

"Fine. Fuck off, then."

"Logan, please, you -"

"Fuck. Off. Jeannie."

Then I hung up. That's it for 'em. I'm not gonna see 'em again. Last reminder I had, gone. It's better that way. I can do okay on my own, much better than if I was held down with caring about someone, tryin' ta think about doin' the "right thing", or whatever. 'Cause I did that, and it didn't fuckin' work out, and now I'm done with it.

There's a war comin', so they say. Fuck 'em all. I can survive. I've been fightin' wars all my life. The worst thing is, it wasn't a fight or anything even remotely as risky that - no. I don't think about her. Much. You can fight all your life, and all it takes is one chance, one step across the wrong road, at the wrong time, in fronta the wrong truck, and - BAM, that's it, game over.

Oh god. It hurts just to think about it. But I don't think about it, if I can help it.

The X-geeks never quite got it, though. They think there's somethin' wrong with how I do things. Cyke said I shoulda come to the memorial or somethin', said goodbye, so I know it's over. I nearly laughed in his face, and then I nearly clawed him. It's not fuckin' over. It never will be. But I'm not fuckin' explainin' it to 'em. It's none of their business, and if I don't talk to them then I don't havta hate 'em for not gettin' it. I shouldn't do that, 'cause it's not their fault, I don't havta hate 'em. I just don't wanna be around 'em, they're fuckin' idiots. I don't want their fuckin' pity. 'Cause they don't know it all, much though Chuck likes to think he does. We hadn't told them about - Christ. It was our secret, just then. The baby. Our baby, my baby, that Marie was gonna have. I really can't think about that, or I'll start to tear the place up again.

We were gonna tell 'em soon 'cause we wanted ta know whether that was why her skin had switched off for me, whether they thought it'd stay off permanently now, and whether she'd be able to touch the kid. She hadn't begun to show yet; she was just startin' to get sick in the mornings. God, all the dreams I had. I lost the both of 'em. More than that, though. It was like suddenly my life was right, when she told me she was pregnant. It was like it all fell into place, and those years before, that I can't even remember, they just didn't matter any more. Nothing did, nothing but her and the kid. And then when we realized we could touch, and I kissed her for the first time with nothing in between. She said that was the best gift she'd ever been given. We didn't know... I thought it couldn't get any better. Don't think it ever did, come to think of it. I was right. She gave me that - she gave me my life. And then some total stranger took it away again. Not for any reason, not like the government fuckers that had me. It was an accident, that's all. Some idiot asleep at the wheel. That's all.

I gotta stop thinkin' about that. Can't lose it like that again.

Chuck, he thinks I'm livin' some kinda delusion, I can tell, and I hate the look he gets when he sees me. I don't delude myself. Okay, I dream sometimes, but I know it's just a dream. If I think about it too much it makes me sick. So I don't.

It seems like a long time ago, the time we were together. Not sure I'd even recognize her now - I don't have photos or anything. Brown hair, white streak, brown eyes, neat little figure - I can remember the basics, but not the details or anythin'. I mean, I spent a lotta time studyin' her up real close, a lotta time just lookin' at her, but I can't remember what she actually looked like, you know? It's like I remember all the little things, like the bit where her neck curved into her shoulder, and the little mole just above the curve of her hip that made her skin look even paler, and how her hand looked tucked in mine, but I can't get an overall image. Her smell, though, I remember that. I catch it sometimes, still, back at the cabin. Mostly it don't take the floor out from under me anymore.

I think sometimes maybe it'd be better if I'd never picked her up, or if I'd never come back like I promised. Then I wouldn't havta be thinkin' of her, it'd be easier. Maybe if she'd died on the Statue, before I'd got a chance to really know her. I mean, if she was gonna die sometime, why not then? Or maybe if I'd died then - she was about the only one who had a chance of killing me. Then she wouldn'ta been there, on that road, that day. She might be alive now. Chances are Chuck'd've gotten her killed some other way, though, on some damn stupid crusade.

You know what? Fuck it. You can't change the past. I shrug it off. I go on.

It's not as if I'll never smile again. I smile. I smiled when I killed that fucker Magneto yesterday. Put a claw right through his skull. Bastard never saw me comin'. He was last on my bad list, of people who hurt her. They're all dead now, not that it matters. Don't make a damn difference.

Whatever Chuck likes ta think, mosta the time I'm actually not thinkin' about her, rememberin' what it was like to kiss her, how she smiled up at me when I touched her hair. I don't spend all my time thinkin' about the plans we'd had, and the plans I hadn't told her about yet, which were mostly about takin' her and the baby up to the cabin this winter, and not comin' out ever again, 'cause that was all the people I'd ever need, right there. I don't think about the way her eyes softened when I told her I loved her the first time, and how the blood and the breath just leaked outta her when I held her that last time, and I couldn't do a goddamn thing 'cause at last, at fuckin' last, we'd got her skin switched off... Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I don't think about it. I can't.

I think, if I had the chance to have her back, I'd say "No". 'Cause I can live without the gut-wrenchin' agony of watchin' her die, you know? And it's not like it wouldn't happen. That's how things in my life turn out, I gotta face it. And I don't think I could live, waitin' for the other shoe to drop like that, knowin' some day it'd happen. So, no, I don't wanna do that again, thank you very much.

It's a bit like that was a dream, and this is reality. Sometimes I think maybe it wasn't real, maybe she was never with me at all. My memories were Swiss-cheesed once, it's not impossible. You can't think like that, though. You start wonderin' which memories are real, and which mighta been just put there, you'll never work it out. I know what reality is, and I stick with that. It's not too hard. I'm halfway content, mosta the time. I know what I'm doin', where I'm goin', and I'm not unwindin' and runnin' to a standstill like I've had the engine taken outta me. The pain isn't always so intense that I think I'm gonna explode, or implode, or just fuckin' break. There are times when I don't pretend that she's at home waitin' for me, and that the last two years, eight months, two weeks, three days, seven hours and forty-odd minutes were just in my head. I don't care that I'm never gonna see her again. I swear.

Most of the time.

END.