Andy met the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with in a no good bar in a no good part of town. That was something his mama held against her.
She was sitting in one corner, decked out in skin tight denim and a white wife beater under a short leather jacket pulled low enough to show that she wasn't wearing a bra, daintily sipping cheap whiskey, the plastic jug variety, and ignoring every single guy that gave her the once, twice, please-look-at-me-thrice, come-on-you-snooty-bitch-fourth over. Andy was the persistent fucker that carried on even after don't-call-the-police-eighth. She found that amusing.
The sex made his knees buckle, she wanted hard, she wanted rough and the marks she left on him made his mama think he'd been mugged and beaten.
When she thought he was sleeping she cried herself to sleep.
She looked amused. "I know. You told me." He had seen her in the corner again, about two weeks later, the sex was a distorted memory now and the bruises had faded. He wanted to feel his knees buckle again.
"You never did tell me your name." She shrugged delicately, Andy thought that maybe, years, and years ago, she had been a delicate kind of girl. Not the kind you pick up in a bar and finger in the parking lot.
"What's the point? Do we need names?" Guess not. He asked her to come out back with him, after all, now she was the kind of girl you didn't take home, but she shook her head and left with another guy. Big brute with mutton chops and a dead naked chick tattooed on his back.
Three days later, she turned up again, in a different corner this time with a black eye and finger marks all over her pretty little neck.
"Why'd you leave with him? He looked like the nasty type," he asked her curiously, motioning for the bartender to refill her whiskey jug.
She shrugged and gave him such a sad smile that his breath caught in his throat. Another glimpse of the girl she used to be, that girl wouldn't be drinking whiskey, that girl wouldn't have a mark on her. "Sometimes the meanest, scariest looking guy is the one who surprises you. I was wrong this time."
He frowned. Resisted the urge to order her some lemonade or a glass of coke. "Have you ever been right?"
She quivered, like a leaf deciding whether it will fall off the branch, then shot him a sultry smile stolen off a cheap I'll-do-it-without-condoms-for-extra Hooker. His dick hardened. "Want to get out of here?" This time she asked. This time they did it in the backseat of his car. She didn't care that passers by could see them but he kind of did.
"I think we need names now," he mumbled hopefully as he tried to surreptitiously block the window while she put her clothes back on.
She hesitated then shrugged lightly, "Rogue."
A bunch of teenagers whistled their appreciation; she winked and blew them a kiss. "Fuckers," he swore, giving them the finger. She frowned deeply. "What kind of na- where you going?"
She huffed and lent down to zip up her boots, red ones with huge heels that would make strippers think twice and made him have to tiptoe to kiss her. "Had fun Andy. Got to go now."
"Wait," he called after her, hangdog expression on his face, "when can I see-" then he stopped. Because Rogue wasn't that kind of girl, but once, she had been.
He went to the bar everyday after that, searched a whole bunch of other bars too. Finally found her in one near the town border - the Jukebox - listening to some god-awful karaoke and being felt up by the town's postman, Marty.
"What do you want Andy?" she asked, full lips turned into a little scowl. Once scowls had been foreign on her face.
"I - I …" what was he doing anyway? "I was wondering if you …" her eyes had wondered. He looked over his shoulder and saw a rough looking fella in a leather jacket, a dangerous look on his face, his short blond hair in a messy up do reminiscent of early Elvis. "Want to go out with me. Dinner?" She shot him a sigh and slid out of the booth. "Or - or a movie?"
She huffed out a pitying laugh and sauntered closer to him. "Do I look like the kind of girl that goes out on dates?" Then she made her way, bold as brass, over to the dangerous guy and left with him a sentence later. A really short sentence.
Next day she was back in his bar, cigarette hanging from her lip as she took a seat next to him. "Do you smoke?" she asked, holding out a box. He shook his head.
"What happened with Blondie?" he asked, hoping he didn't sound jealous.
She grimaced and took a deep drag. She hadn't been the type to smoke. "A complete fake. Should have noticed it as soon as I saw how shiny the leather was. Just a regular Joe playing bad boy over the weekend."
"What's so wrong with Regular Joes," he asked sullenly. He was a Regular Joe. He drove a truck for a local Delivery Company.
She took another deep drag and watched him with big brown eyes that shouldn't have been witness to all the things she'd done. "… Nothing, I suppose … Why'd you ask me out?" She looked curious really, as if she couldn't figure him out.
"If you want to fuck you can just ask me." He winced. Once, she hadn't sworn. "Not like you need to woo me to get me to give up my so called virtue."
"I know. But I want to. Humour me will you?"
Her eyes narrowed as she watched him, cigarette dangling obscenely from dainty fingers more suited to poem writing or Bible turning. "Okay," she finally said.
He took her to see a romantic movie that had gotten good reviews that made her grimace and fidget, but when the girl's lover died, she went silent and her eyes got kind of wet. He wanted to ask but he knew that now she wasn't the type to answer.
"Well, want to do it again?" he asked her hopefully as they left the Cinema in silence.
She scoffed. "You want to do that again. Did you really enjoy that?"
"Yeah," he said softly.
The sneer on her lips diminished a little. "Yeah well I don't. Go meet some nice girl in a Library Andy; I don't think your parents will approve of me."
Two months passed and he gave up on her, thought she left town or maybe killed herself. She kind of looked the type. Except when he went back to the bar she was sitting in the corner again, stinking drunk and maudlin, babbling about some guy while being pawed at by another. He was a skinny looking youngster just this side of legal so Andy didn't get anything more then a few swearwords when he dragged her out of there and took her home. After all, he didn't know where she lived.
He'd already seen all of her and besides she wasn't the type of girl to care so he got her changed into a pair of his softest sweats and a new t-shirt and bundled her into bed.
"Logan?" she asked, little-girl-lost look on her sex hardened face. It didn't look out of place at all, and Andy knew that this was the girl she really was, underneath it all.
"Who's Logan?" he asked jealously, picturing him to be another one of her bad boy types who were into strangulation and Satan worship, or something.
"Logan," she repeated, "where's Logan?"
He huffed and tried to push her under the covers, "I don't know Rogue." Probably vandalising a Church or burning down an orphanage. "Come on, go to sleep."
"Where's Logan?" she asked again, voice tinted with hysteria.
"He's not here."
"Is he - is he coming back?"
God he hoped not. "Yeah sure."
"Soon?" She sounded so young, so hopeful that Andy smoothed her dishevelled Emo-phase brown and white hair and gave her a nod.
"Yep, real soon. You go to bed now; he'll be here when you wake up."
He stayed awake the night just in case this Logan character turned up while he was asleep and sold him off to a white slave trader or something. But he never showed.
The next morning was awkward; she wouldn't meet his eyes and asked if he had anything to drink as soon as she woke up. He gave her a glass of orange juice and didn't move even after she raised a brow at him.
"So, do I have to worry about this Logan guy coming after me for taking his girl home? Just I'd rather be prepared." Maybe he should invest in a guard dog. A big mean one. And a gun.
She tensed, looking years younger without all that makeup and tight clothes. Looked real pretty Andy thought. Naturally pretty, like one of them girls in those old oil paintings. "Nah." Figured, just another mean piece of shit she'd fucked for thrills. Or just another Regular Joe playing dress up. Ken doll pretending to be Action Man.
"Why not," he dug, wanting to hear her say it. Wanting to tell her that Ken doll had Barbie and Action Man had no one. She could be his Barbie.
She clenched her jaw and sucked down the orange juice as if it was a tequila shot. Hard and fast, without any salt or lime, that was the kind of girl she was now. "He's dead."
His eyes widened in surprise then in anger, "did he hurt you? Did he?"
She looked up at him in wonder, "I didn't kill him Andy … he - he died ages ago. Years ago."
"Oh," his anger deflated. Jealousy inflated. "Is he the reason you're like this?" Crying at night, fucking weirdoes who look like they're on bail from Maximum prison. For killing and eating their mothers. Acting like a girl she isn't.
She shrugged, avoiding the topic and jumped off the stool. "Well, thanks Andy, but I got to leave now -"
"Stay," he said hurriedly, feeling a lot better now that he knew that there was no homicidal boyfriend - or dead boyfriend - for him deal with. Or be dealt by. "I'll buy you breakfast, then you can leave." She looked like she wanted to argue. "It's the least you can do for me … after all, I took care of you and all - you threw up in my potted plant." She fought a smile and agreed reluctantly.
Somehow he managed to convince her to stay for lunch too, then dinner and then for the night. Three weeks later, she was still there and happened to open the door when his mum came over.
"What do you want?" she asked the surprised old woman, yawning and ignoring the way the woman gawked at her practically see through wife beater and the frankly amazing breasts underneath them. Andy didn't think his mum felt that way though.
"Who are you?" Helen shot back from down her nose.
Rogue looked amused, which he was thankful for because she really wasn't a morning person. "I'm Rogue."
"I'm Helena Douglas."
Rogue chuckled and stifled another yawn, "charmed Helena."
Which was when Andy ambled in in nothing but his y-fronts and a satisfied smile.
"Andrew!" his mother shrieked, freezing him in his tracks like a deer in headlights.
"She looks like bad news."
Andy fidgeted in his seat under his mother's scrutiny, "she's - she's not-"
"Really? Where did you meet her?" Oh hell. "And don't lie to me young man, Marty told me everything." Well, he could tell her a few things about happily married Marty too.
"I'm sorry Mama, but I love her. And I - I want … I want to marry her." But did she want to marry him?
Helen lost it of course; she had a good inkling that the only thing her son would get off that bar fly was STDs, not children, not a future.
She shrugged and said 'sure' when he asked her to marry him. When he gave her his credit card and told her to go crazy - but not too crazy - she only shrugged again and said that she wanted something small. Said she was okay with whatever he decided.
So he took a picture of her, one of her sitting on the kitchen table with a bottle of Molson in her hand and a far away look on her face and memorised her sizes. The people at the Bridal store cooed over how sweet he was and sold him a ridiculously expensive dress in pure white, as bright as untouched snow, which they swore would suit her. The ring he got in gold, with their initials engraved on the outside and 'forever yours' on the inside. She smiled perfunctorily when she saw them and tried to touch the dress with grubby hands.
"Wash them first!" he yelped, remembering how much lighter his credit card had felt after that first swipe.
"Why aren't you ready yet?" he asked in exasperation. The guests were already at the Church, and the chauffeur - his buddy Roger - was hooting his horn every ten seconds and annoying his neighbours. Rogue, wearing the same clothes he had carried her home in, sat on the bed staring at the dress. She hadn't even touched it. "Rogue?"
She shrugged nervously and lifted a bottle of Molson to her lips. She loved Molson, he hated it. Panic seared through him and he knelt down in front of her, pulling a pillow under his knee first so that the hired tux wouldn't get dirty. "What's wrong? You nervous?"
"I - I can't do this." She said softly.
His eyes widened, "What!" he yelled, jumping to his feet. "No - no, this is just nerves-"
"I thought I could but I can't -" her lip trembled and once again, she showed him the girl he had only seen a handful of times before. The one who got teary at chick flicks and cried for a dead man.
"Why not?" he demanded. "And why now, damn it Rogue the wedding is today! Everyone is waiting - my mother is waiting!" It had taken a lot to convince Helen to bury the hatchet and come.
A sob tore out of her, "I- I can't. I'm sor - sorry Andy. You've been so good to me - so good, but I can't. I wish I could."
"Why not?" he gritted out. "Is it someone else?" Because that was the kind of girl Rogue was now.
She faltered then nodded slowly.
"Fuck!" he screamed, understanding now why men wanted to hurt her. "Who is it, who is it huh?"
She hesitated and looked down at the white dress, "Logan."
"I … what? You said he was dead!"
He finally got to hear about the girl she had once been. A small town Southern girl whose mother taught her to play the piano and whose father called her 'bubbles,' who had a huge crush on her next door neighbour David, and dreamt of marrying him on a beach in Hawaii, or something exotic like that.
She told him about getting her first kiss and being chased out of town for being a Mutant. She told him about eight months on the road, sleeping on park benches and having to deal with man after man who thought 'no' really meant 'yes' or 'hurt me'
And then about Laughlin and a cage fighter who couldn't go down, who almost left her in the middle of nowhere but then ended up saving her life over and over.
She told him about a teenage crush she hadn't had the finesse to hide and boyfriend who made her ice roses but who froze a whole fountain for another girl. She told him about waiting in a line and feeling the needle go in and going back home to find that people had died and that touch didn't change things for her, because he'd realised he loved another.
She told him about months and months of loneliness and then that sudden decision to throw herself at Logan even though she knew he wouldn't touch her either. But he did.
And it was good. No, no, hard at first actually, because there was a lot to sort out, people to win over, and then there was the fact that they were ever so mismatched. Him the jaded bar fighter, older then the hills, whose idea of commitment was letting you leave a spare toothbrush at his place. And her, the Southern Belle, who'd been raised to believe in sex after marriage and being treated like the young miss you really were. Who took to spit shining his room and colour coding his entire wardrobe while he was out.
They fought, fought so often and so hard that sometimes people intervened for her sake, he was a big man and hardly looked as if he needed their protection. But they never broke up, not once, not even when things got so bad that she ran away and hid in Minnesota, nursing her smushed pride and suspicion with Diet Coke and Jelly babies before she made her way home with her tail in-between her legs a week later. Then found out that Logan had lit out as soon as he found out she had left and was scouring the continent for her.
Their reunion had left her wobbly and feeling all … sideways, after that, she'd had no uncertainties about Logan's love for her. Because in-between the swearing and the shouting - and the threats - he had been wobbly too. He had fallen to his knees and wrapped his arms around her waist and begged, ordered, begged, commanded, begged her to never leave him again.
"I'm - I'm nothing without you," he had gasped into her stomach, eyes suspiciously wet. And she had promised, never again would she leave him, no matter what. Because she - she was nothing without him too.
He was invincible. Unstoppable. So, even though they led dangerous lives she never worried that he'd be hurt, not permanently, because he healed from anything. Not the Government's Cure though.
And without his mutation, without his healing, the adamantium in him began to poison him. Kill him. The fever was so high that he became delirious, going in and out of consciousness, calling for her when he remembered who she was.
She stayed with him the entire time and kept telling him that she loved him, told him to hang on just a little longer because eventually his healing factor would kick in. Right?
On February the 17th at 18:07, he passed away. He never came out of the fever. They never said goodbye.
Andy looked at the girl who was staring up at the ceiling, her big brown eyes steadily trickling with tears.
"I never meant to hurt you," she said hoarsely. "I just … I tried to move on." Andy remembered the rough looking men. "But they weren't like him, then - then you said-" Regular Joe.
"But that didn't work out either," he finished for her. She sighed wearily and nodded. "Is it ever going to work?"
She shrugged but Andy knew the answer was 'no.'
"You leaving?" he asked, because after this he didn't think he could stand it if she stayed. She nodded as if he head was too heavy to hold up.
"These things. You can return them right?"
"Yeah." He sniffed and covered the dress with the quilt. He didn't want to see it now. "Don't worry about it."
She nodded again and got to her feet, put down the bottle of Molsons and searched the cupboard for her shoes. Found the red heels he had hidden in the back and tugged them on. "Where are you going to go?" he asked.
"North, I think. I - I feel like going up to Laughlin again," she said with a sad smile. A goodbye smile.
"You need money?"
She shook her head, "thank you Andy. I bet you're wishing you listened to me when I told you to go meet a nice girl in a Library."
"No. I'm glad I didn't." She looked surprised at that.
He stopped her before she closed the door behind her. "Rogue!" She turned. "You know why it never works, it's because you're not being you."
"Me?" she asks, head tilted to one side in confusion.
"Yeah, the - the Southern Miss who plays the piano and colour codes socks."
She nodded slowly, her eyes lighting up as if she finally gets it. "I'm being Rogue," she says softly. He doesn't understand, didn't he just tell her to be Rogue and not this other girl. She flashes him a brilliant smile, "thanks Andy. You're going to make some nice girl real happy."
"But not the ones I meet in bars," he says wistfully.
She nods, "even them Andy. Just - just not me. Goodbye Andy."
He watched her walk away then phoned Helen to tell her that the wedding wasn't happening. She was furious of course and he got a lot of I-told-you-sos. Eventually, he would meet a nice girl - not in a Library though, she was walking her poodle actually and it bit him. He had considered suing until he looked up, ignored the pain - and his desire to faint - and saw her.
He never did see Rogue again, never even found out what became of her, and even though some part of him thought that she probably offed herself - because that was the kind of girl she was now, another really hoped she'd met a nice guy who could make her forget about Logan.
But he knew it was too much to hope for. Because she wasn't that kind of girl.