Disclaimer: I own nothing, I make no money.

Author's Note: Aww, it's coming to an end. I believe there will be just one chapter left after this. Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed and kept this story alive. Annnndddd, is it wrong to want 200 reviews to finish this story with? I'll admit it. Reviews give me that warm fuzzy feeling. There, I said it. So...think the goal is possible?

Secret Burdens

Chapter Twenty Two: Significant

"They are learning what this 'after' means. It is surprisingly natural and easy and universes away from where they started."

"So, what? Are you her boyfriend or something?" Bobby's question filled the room around them. He, Logan, Rogue, Kitty and Warren were all seated around the table for breakfast. Logan almost choked on his coffee.

"What?" Logan asked through the spluttering of his coffee. He wiped is mouth with his hand.

"You and Storm." Bobby answered nonchalantly. Rogue gave Bobby the most desperate look he had ever seen and Kitty was surprisingly quiet, pulling her own steaming mug of coffee to her lips.

Logan narrowed his eyes at the senior student, watching as Bobby continued cutting into his pancakes as though it was the most normal question he had ever asked Logan.

The silence around them was long and awkward. Warren looked between the two men, until Logan spoke.

"And what business is it of yours?" Logan tried to be as gruff and rude as he could sound, but the surprise of the conversation turn had caught him off guard, and he was too distracted to employ the usual intimidating response.

Bobby pursed his lips and Rogue kept boring her eyes into him, begging him to stop. "Just curious."

The silence continued for another few minutes until Kitty put her mug down and huffed. "Okay, Wolvie, seriously. What's going on with you two?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Logan offered as he took another sip of his coffee, smirking at the anxious stares in his direction.

This time it was Logan who got the receiving end of Rogue's desperate look.

"Look," this time it was Warren who broke in, "it's not out of some gossip-induced snooping. We're X-Men. And we all need to be aware of the inter-team dynamics. It's just important to know our teammates." Warren's look was firm and imperative when Logan turned his gaze to the man.

"Well," Logan offered, pushing from his own seat and moving to place his mug in the sink, "the 'inter-team dynamics' can go fuck themselves. I don't need to explain myself to anyone."

"Logan," Rogue spoke softly. And everyone bristled at the tension in the room.

Logan stopped, still midway between the kitchen and the hallway, and everyone still at the table had ceased their eating.

Logan sighed and ran his hand through his hair, looking back reluctantly at his teammates. "Look, I don't fucking know, okay? I don't know what any of this fucking means and I'm not about to spill my guts to some emotionally stunted teenagers, okay? So just eat your fucking pancakes and I'll see you in the Danger Room later."

Logan was already walking off before any of them could answer.

He was stopped by Peter's entrance into the kitchen. The two men stood facing each other, neither moving to let the other pass. Logan was pretty sure Peter had heard everything they had said in the kitchen. And he was two seconds from punching someone when Peter stepped aside quietly, his gaze anything but expectant, and the silent stare from his eye was a little unnerving to Logan.

But Logan kept walking, and Peter kept staring back at him, until Kitty interrupted his thoughts with "Peter! Want some waffles?"


"What are you doing?" Logan questioned forcefully.

Ororo stopped in her movements. She was awkwardly trying to pick up her crutches outside the greenhouse entrance. She looked up at him, one hand bracing herself against the glass wall, the other held to her side as she leaned down toward the bench where her crutches lay. There was almost a guilty look on her face.

Logan narrowed his eyes at her, caught the slow ebbing of white in her eyes, her hair tousled and wind-blown. There was the faint smell of ozone and rain on her, but the sky above them was dry and bright.

Logan almost growled, eyeing her suspiciously. "Were you flying?"

Ororo's guilty look vanished and she straightened up slowly, still holding a hand to her side but she pulled away from the greenhouse wall. "I am injured, Logan, not incapacitated."

Logan advanced toward her. "You'll pull your stitches, Storm. You just got walking. Don't be an idiot."

Ororo huffed and jutted her jaw out slightly. "Do not take that tone with me. I am the master of my own self. And I know my body well enough not to stress an injury."

Logan stopped just before her, his eyes angry on her own, his hands stuffed deep in his jacket pockets. "You're no use to anyone like this. Just get some rest, Storm."

She opened her mouth to retort, something heated and sharp ready on her tongue, but stopped when she saw the worried clench of his jaw, the guarded look just past the anger in his eyes. She sighed, her defensive stance loosening and she stepped into him.

Logan's breath caught at her sudden closeness, some of his irritation dissipating slightly and he watched as she raised one hand to his cheek, tracing the stubble along his jaw with smooth fingers. She was gazing at his lips.

Pulling one hand up to catch her wrist softly, Logan eyed her questioningly.

Ororo's gaze flicked up to his eyes. "I am not going anywhere, Logan. This I promise." Her voice was soothing and scared all at once, the memory of her gunshot wound still fresh in her mind, the pain still hot and searing in her recollection, the fear in his face as he held her, frail and bloody, still present when she closed her eyes to sleep at night. She nodded imperceptibly, her brows furrowed as her blue eyes searched his.

Logan swallowed tightly, his body tensing once more and he wanted nothing but to be angry at her for pushing too fast, too soon. He could smell the faint presence of blood on her fresh wound, not fully closed beneath the stitches. He ground his teeth.

The same night she woke she had already harassed Hank to bring all of her headmistress paperwork from her office to the med-lab and then to the recovery room the next day, claiming that Hank couldn't possibly be able to take care of her and the school in-between his questioning with the ACIC investigation. Hank had tried to dissuade her, saying that he had put in a request for leave, so he wasn't dealing with any duties from his ambassador role, and the meetings with Army officials concerning General Shrap were few. He could stay and focus on her and the students. But Ororo would have her way. And when Logan had approached Hank with barely contained fury, yelling something about "Why the fuck is she in her goddamn office, Hank?", the Beast had raised his hands in defense, stating he'd rather deal with Logan's reaction than Ororo's wrath. That was a week ago. Logan rolled his eyes at the memory.

Hank had also come to them about the consequences of his attack on Shrap. He couldn't be sure what measures the government would be taking but he was also aware they certainly didn't want to make an enemy of the X-Men, especially when it was one of their own rogue agents who sparked the fire. Logan had dismissed Hank's worry easily, but Hank was not so casual. The investigators were getting markedly different stories from several soldiers, and Hank was surprised to find not only Colonel Marks in their corner but also Lieutenant Colonel Dominguez. It made Hank hope for humanity once again. That did not cease the investigation however, and Hank needed Logan to understand the pressing severity of what this could mean for mutants in the future, and him in particular. Just the fact that strands of the cure were still in existence was evidence enough of the government's cautious watch of mutants. There was hardly trust blooming between both sides.

But after Hank's very serious, very imperative talk with Logan, Ororo had linked her hand with his and nodded to Hank. Logan had looked down at their joined hands and heard Ororo speak softly beside him. "We will meet the cost together." But Logan knew that was hardly the end of it. And he knew Ororo had her own talk waiting in the wings for him.

Looking at her now, Logan knew there'd be no stopping her. The woman was exasperatingly head-strong. Sighing, Logan unwrapped his hand from around her wrist and reached for the back of her neck, feeling the soft white tresses as they shifted between his fingers.

She was so demanding and forceful and stubborn. And he'd have her no other way. It was all mixed in there with her compassion, her selflessness, her unflinching loyalty. Sometimes it made him want to throttle her, but anything Ororo Munroe ever did she did with nothing less than all of her. She went full force. She never backed down. And that meant that whatever this was becoming between them, she was putting all of her self into it. He'd be getting Ororo full force. Unflinchingly. Demandingly. Forcefully. But all of her. She was all in this with him.

He braced his forehead against her own softly and breathed in the scent of her. His other hand came up to cradle her neck, holding her to him. The gesture was so surprisingly tender to Ororo that she had momentarily forgotten what they had each been so angry about just seconds ago. She reached her hands up to hold his in her hair, breathing quietly against him, her eyes shifting closed.

Logan sighed, their brows still together, and his own eyes closed. "I can't…" He swallowed quickly, his voice braking suddenly. It was easier to be angry with her than to feel this fear. "I can't lose you."

Ororo's eyes flickered open, her breath caught in her throat and she found her own voice lodged somewhere deep in the tangled mess of her heart. Her chest ached with his words. She pulled in a deep, shaky breath and leaned into him. "You will not." Her breath fanned his lips and she licked her own in anticipation.

Logan's grip tightened on her, his chest rising with heavy breaths and he pulled his face back just enough to watch her, their bodies still feeling the heat from each other. Ororo blinked and swallowed thickly, something thrilling lighting inside her at the way he was looking at her. Hungrily.

Logan's dark eyes flicked to her mouth a moment before he leaned in. His lips were tender and slow against hers at first, savoring every taste, this moment where he could hold her to him and feel her breathing against him. When she opened her mouth to him he pushed against her, bracing them both against the glass wall at her back. She moaned at the sudden swipe of his tongue and he was undone.

His mouth was suddenly greedy against hers, his chest pressed tightly to hers, something urgent and primal blazing inside him. Just the taste of her drove his senses mad.

Ororo's hands fisted in his hair, her own touch becoming needy and harsh. She nipped playfully at his lips when he pulled from her for a momentary breath. His groan shook them both and he moved his mouth to her neck, swiping his tongue along the tender skin. Ororo gasped softly at the wet heat of his mouth against her skin, her hands pulling against his hair and wrapping around his broad shoulders. Logan trailed a hand down her neck and across her collar bone, resting hesitantly but impatiently just above her breast. It wasn't until Ororo arched into him, her chest pushing closer, that he began to lose control, his palm sliding over her breast and cupping it, his touch forceful and needy. His thumb graced her skin and he groaned against her neck, his desire curling tightly in his chest. Ororo trembled against him violently, mewling softly at the feel of his mouth on her. She needed that mouth on her own. Needed his lips against hers in a way that scared her with its intensity. She pulled at his head frenziedly, trying to bring him back up to her eager mouth.

Logan bit down lightly against her neck, reveling in the low moan that vibrated through her. He shuddered against her, his body hot and coiled against her own keening one. Growling, Logan released her neck and found her mouth again in a forceful kiss, his tongue slick and fervent against her own, his body hungry as he pushed further into her. Her moan was lost somewhere between their frantic lips. Unconsciously, he bucked his hips into her, his body hard, his desire apparent. But when she moved to meet him with the natural twist of her own hips, something sharp twinged against her wound and she cried out painfully, pulling her mouth from Logan. His mind was clouded for a moment, still ravenous, before he registered the change and he pulled himself off her desperately, eyes wide and guilty. He stepped back, tried to control his breathing, his chest heaving with slowly ebbing need.

Ororo brought a hand to her wound quickly, her eyes squeezing shut against the sudden tears of pain. She reached her other hand for Logan and he was there again, pulling her into him and she clutched at his back as he wrapped his arms around her, holding her steady and she breathed and waited the sudden sharp pain out.

Several moments passed in silence, Logan hushing softly into her hair, Ororo's fingers curled tightly in the material of his shirt, before she started to pull away slowly and move to stand on her own. Logan stood steadily beside her, shame slowly blooming beneath his skin. He mentally kicked himself for running away with his desire. He looked at Ororo, and found her smirking up at him slyly. Logan raised a brow.

"And you were worried about flying." She shook her head, laughing softly. "I swear Logan, the things you do to me…You are more a danger than anything."

Logan was about to look away, almost mortified at his lack of self control before he caught the sultry teasing of her voice. He eyed her as she straightened up, pulling her hand from her side and she licked her lips unconsciously, still tasting him there. Logan pulled in a deep steadying breath and moved closer to her, shaking his head in disbelief. "Woman, you're wicked." He wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling into her neck, and she could feel his smile against her cheek. She sighed and held on tightly, trying not to wince at the slight trembles of after-pain.

"You make me so crazy sometimes." His whisper was warm and affectionate in her hair and Ororo could no more help the smile breaking across her face than the inexplicable pull of him. She released him reluctantly and moved to gather her crutches off the bench. Logan was quicker, picking them up and helping her adjust them in her hold. She would not let him help her walk however, and she suspected he knew that, judging by his quiet presence just a couple feet from her. They each began to make their way back to the mansion. "You know, the flying actually helps a bit."

Logan raised a brow in question, his hands returning to his pockets as he walked beside her.

"In the air, the wind takes all the weight of my body, and the pressure of my own weight is momentarily relieved on the muscles around the wound. In essence, it creates the same effect as lying down. It relieves stress on the healing area." Ororo put her crutches forward and continued hobbling next to Logan.

Logan grumbled softly in slight annoyance but understood he wouldn't be getting anywhere in the bed rest argument. Instead, he decided to bring something else to her attention. "You know, Bobby and the kids asked me earlier if I was your boyfriend."

Ororo stopped suddenly and held a hand to her mouth to keep the laughter from bubbling out. "They what?"

Logan stopped too, watching her in mild amusement. "What's so funny?"

"Just the fact that they would risk asking you instead of me." Ororo pulled herself back together, resuming her slow stride across the estate lawn.

Logan only shrugged in response, mulling the situation over in his mind.

"And what did you tell them?"

Logan blinked at her. "That it was none of their fucking business."

Ororo narrowed her eyes at him, pursing her lips at his language and he rolled his eyes in response, raising his hands in surrender. "What? It isn't. And I don't even know what you'd call me." He said the last part softly, almost hoping she didn't hear, because he was not one to get into the technicalities of all this. It just caused useless migraines.

"Well, what should I call my significant other?" she asked impishly.

Logan raised his brows at her. "'Significant'?" he repeated.

Ororo only raised one shoulder in a nonchalant shrug that spoke nothing of the trepidation blossoming inside her.

Logan's grin was wolfish.

And Ororo didn't think he could still make her stomach flutter so. "Yes, I would say 'significant'," she said smiling. "But they need not know that," she whispered conspiratorially. They had reached the outside patio and Ororo placed her clutches along the wood rail, stopping just before the wood steps.

Logan shook his head, smirking at her. He raised a finger to his lips in a shushing mockery.

Ororo returned the gesture, and then, her eyes gleaming devilishly, she crooked her finger in a "come hither" motion.

Logan stopped on his way up the wood stairs of the patio and stared at her. She bit her lip lightly and Logan was moving without realizing it, his mouth already pressing into hers before breaking away quickly, only to find her hand fisted in his shirt, keeping him to her.

His hooded gaze dropped to hers and his arms linked around her waist. "You'll be the death of me." His voice was a deep rumble, low and husky.

Ororo only beamed back, threading her fingers together behind his neck, and her laugh filled the air around them.