AN: I feel like this needs some sort of explanation, but I can't think of one. If you want one, let me know and I'm sure you'll get it. Or something like it.
Logan had heard the rumble of a particular motorcycle miles off, and he'd been waiting in the garage ever since, flexing his fingers to keep his claws tucked in under his skin.
The bike that pulled up was a combination of power and speed that Logan would have admired if circumstances had been different. As it was, he concerned himself not with the bike but who was on it: a tall man with disconcerting red and black eyes and brown hair, wearing a leather trench coat and a habitual smirk; and a woman, her hair auburn and wavy, with two prominent white streaks in the front.
Logan almost smiled at Rogue's appearance. Her hair was longer now, and she let it wave naturally instead of forcing it straight. The top half of it was pulled back, too, to keep it out of her face. With her hair out of her eyes, they looked less grey and more green. Of course, it helped that she no longer painted her lips purple or her skin unnaturally white. Still too much eye liner, Logan thought. But it wasn't terribly important; rather, the inward changes represented by her outward appearance meant so much more: she was more open, willing to accept what she was instead of hiding from it. She was breaking free from the mold that Mystique and Destiny had made for her, so Logan was proud and pleased despite the heavy eyeliner.
What displeased him was that she stepped off the bike with a laugh, obviously enjoying her company. Logan restrained a growl.
Gambit noticed him first, locking stares with him.
"Evenin', Wolvie," he drawled. Rogue turned towards Logan with a gasp as he stepped from the shadows. She clearly hadn't sensed him at all; he made a mental note to lecture her about being aware of her surroundings at all times.
"Up to your room, Stripes," he commanded without breaking eye contact with Gambit.
"What!" Rogue exclaimed in surprise. Gambit showed no emotion beside the smallest sliver of a frown, but it was gone before Logan could be sure it had been there, replaced by the ever present cocky grin.
"You heard me. Me and the Cajun're just gonna have a little… talk." Logan smiled ferociously, his hands twitching in anticipation.
"Oh no you ain't," Rogue rejoined. She made to move towards Logan, but Gambit put out a hand to stop her.
"Better do as he say, chère." Gambit kept his eyes on Logan. Rogue turned to him, wide-eyed and then incensed as she batted his hand away.
"Oh fine," she seethed through clenched teeth, "y'all can just have yo' little pissin' contest, but don't neither'a yah come cryin' to me when you get hurt." She crossed her arms over her chest and flew from the garage, glaring at Logan as she passed.
The rush of wind that accompanied her exit whipped around Logan's hair. He fought the urge to grimace; at least she hadn't had enough room to break the sound barrier in her flight. He pushed the thought away—he would deal with Rogue's anger later. After the dust settled, neither man moved for a full minute. Finally Gambit broke the silence.
"So, mon ami, I'm guessin' y'not here just to look at my bike." Gambit was still smiling, but there was a hard glint in his eyes that hadn't been there before Rogue had left.
"No," Logan agreed. "More interested in showing yah these." There was a familiar itching pain in his hands and a menacing snikt as Logan unsheathed his claws.
"That be a little hasty, non?" Gambit put up his hands palm up in a placating gesture. "No harm in takin' a belle femme out on the town, is there?"
"There is when I told you that 'belle femme' is off limits."
"So you admit she's a woman," Gambit stated rather than asked. Logan growled. "Cause see, way you treat her makes an homme think she's either a child or a soldier." He smirked to punctuate the analysis.
"That's none of yer business, bub." Logan growled again, a little louder this time.
"Is when she don't 'preciate it," Gambit countered, all pretense of a smile gone.
Logan narrowed his eyes even as Gambit reached for his playing cards. Just as Logan made to pounce, a loud BAMF and the smell of sulfur interrupted the almost-fight.
"Oh, uh, hi," Kurt offered nervously as he rubbed to back of his head. Then he noticed Wolverine's extended claws and Gambit's hand poised above a pocket of his trench coat. "Am I interrupting somezhing?"
Logan huffed and retracted his claws, relaxed his shoulders and straightened his legs.
"This is my last warning," Logan directed at Gambit, his voice low and threatening despite his relaxed stance. Gambit simply smiled sarcastically and gave a mocking half salute. Logan, unsatisfied but having lost the opportunity to send a clearer message, turned and headed out the garage.
"Oh, and Elf," he threw over his shoulder as he left, "no use trying to sneak out now that I've seen yah."
Logan followed Rogue's path to her room, his mind lost in the conversation he'd had almost a year ago when everything had changed.
"She gonna be okay?" Logan asked, not knowing if he truly wanted an answer or if he just needed something to distract him from the steady bleep of Rogue's heart monitor. She had no IV, because there was now no needle that could pierce her skin.
Professor Xavier massaged his temples.
"Her mind is still quite chaotic, but I think she is stable."
Logan bared his teeth.
"When I find Mystique, I'm gonna rip her—"
"Logan, please," Professor Xavier interrupted, "there will be plenty of time later to assign blame. Right now it is best to focus on Rogue's recovery."
Logan grunted, checking his wrath and sheathing the claws he did not remember extending. The professor sighed tiredly.
"How long're these powers gonna last?" Logan queried.
"I'm afraid they're permanent."
Logan stared at the professor openly.
"Ms. Danvers' entire mind seems to have transferred; thus, I believe her abilities will now permanently reside in Rogue."
Logan contemplated this information silently for a moment.
"Seems dangerous," Logan conjectured darkly, his gut twisting at the implications.
"It is," Professor Xavier confirmed. "Ms. Danvers—Carol—is quite resentful, outraged even, at what she views as imprisonment. I have surrounded her in a sort of psychic cage where she may no longer attack Rogue's mind, but if she ever escapes…"
"Then let's hope it never happens, Chuck."
"Yes," the professor murmured.
Logan said no more, his brain working on the things Professor Xavier had already told him and worrying about the pale girl who lay unconscious before him.
"Logan," Professor Xavier began again after several moments, "there is something else I think you should know." Logan looked at him curiously and the professor continued. "I have been in Rogue's mind before, but never so deeply as this," he gestured to Rogue's prone form as if to indicate the entire situation, "has required. Consequently I have uncovered some… startling information, thoughts that she would probably consider extremely private. Even though she may resent me for telling you, I feel as though enlightening you will help her. However, I do not wish to burden you without your consent. Do you understand?"
"If it'll help her, I'd rather know." He paused. "Are you sure you got no problem tellin' me?"
The professor smiled wryly, but his smile was tinged with sadness.
"It is true that I usually object to divulging a person's private thoughts, but in this situation I believe it is warranted."
"Thank you. I am not sure how to best phrase this, so forgive me if the delivery is too frank… but being in Rogue's inner mind has made it clear that she views you as her father."
Logan stiffened in surprise.
"What d'ya mean, Chuck?" Logan almost growled, covering his shock with misplaced anger.
"I'm sorry. I suppose I should have said father-figure." Logan did not respond. "She thinks of you as her teacher, her protector, her guardian, with a trust that most associate with paternal bonds."
Logan's eyes hardened, a sign Professor Xavier took as one of disapproval.
"I tell you this because for her to make a complete emotional recovery, she will need guidance and support, most especially from those closest to her. This includes all of us at the Institute, but her attachment to you runs deeper than her attachment to the rest of us, so I anticipate that she will have more expectations for you. I know it is unfair to ask it of you, but I am concerned that if you do not fulfill those expectations, she may lose forever the ability to trust this way."
Professor Xavier paused before continuing, his eyes alight with compassion and sympathy.
"Her mind, in relation to parental bonds, seems to simultaneously reject and crave them. However, I believe that the dichotomy has been fading because you are finally filling that role for her, a role which has been vacant most her life."
"So this ain't the first time Mystique's screwed her over," Logan concluded. He could feel the rage beginning to burn deep in his bones.
"Yes and no," Professor Xavier admitted. "Mystique is not the whole of it…" Professor Xavier's voice trailed off and he furrowed his brows. Logan's instincts went into overdrive and his sense of foreboding was almost palpable.
"Charles." It was a warning and plea both.
"Yes." Professor Xavier answered, pausing briefly as though organizing his thoughts. "In her mind I encountered an odd knot of memories. They are convoluted and broken off, inaccessible to Rogue or even me. There displacement suggests a traumatic experience that her mind has suppressed. That is to say, these memories are so embedded in her subconscious that I doubt they will ever surface again; Rogue is not likely to ever recollect them."
"What kind of trauma?"
"I cannot be sure. The memories are ill-formed, so I suspect them to be from her early childhood. The only indication of their contents is their label: Daddy."
Logan stopped looking at the professor and instead concentrated on Rogue's pale hand in his, unsure of what to say or feel, but too rough to let his confusion show.
"I had not thought Rogue had any memories of her life before Mystique adopted her when she was four. In all practical terms, she doesn't, as I seriously doubt these memories will ever reach her conscious mind." Professor Xavier stopped, waited to see if Logan would comment. He didn't, so the professor continued on.
"I had always wondered if there was a connection between her powers' manifestation and the situation in which they arose."
Logan silently connected the dots—Rogue's general stand-offish behavior, her fear of her mutation, and her inability to control it.
"You sayin' she's got some sort of complex about men because of those memories?"
Professor Xavier shook his head.
"I am saying it is a possibility only. I have little concrete proof. But, if her birth father abandoned her or abused her, she could have linked whatever psychological damage that caused to men in general. It would be consistent with her body's mutation as an offensive defense mechanism and would shed some light as to why it was Cody's touch that set it off." Professor Xavier frowned. "In fact, considering how deeply those memories are submerged, I fear they are indeed the root cause of Rogue's lack of control, regardless of whether or not Cody's being male was a factor."
"Then why's she still absorbin' everybody, and not just guys?"
"I do not know. It is an imperfect theory. Perhaps because Mystique only reinforced whatever disillusionment the incident caused Rogue, by the time her powers manifested her mind was convinced that closeness with anyone was a threat."
"So what do we do about it?"
"Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do. But that she has accepted you—that her subconscious has accepted you—as her father-figure gives me hope that someday, given enough time, she may overcome whatever damage it is those memories have caused and learn to control her powers." Professor Xavier looked Logan in the eye, the weariness in his face belied by his genuine smile.
"This is why I wished to share with you what I have learned, in hopes that your continued relationship with her will provide some of the security and nurture she has been starved of for most her life."
That conversation had led to many others, most prominent among them one that had centered on why Rogue had attached herself to him. Logan had been at a loss as to why anyone could trust him that much, but the Professor had actually accepted the idea, found justifications for it, quite readily.
"You have more in common with her than you think," Charles had told him before chuckling. "And forgive the expression, but you do an excellent impression of an angry mother bear."
The more Logan thought about it, the more he agreed with the idea that he and Rogue had a lot in common. They were both stubborn, proud, and lonely. Deeper than that, they both had mutations that gave them experiences they shouldn't have—Logan because he should have died many times over and Rogue because she had visceral memories of things she had never actually done. Their powers isolated them, so it wasn't surprising that they, lonely with misunderstanding, were drawn to each other.
Because Logan couldn't pretend that he also didn't consider his relationship with Rogue to be special. It was true that he was protective of all the students, especially the female ones, but Rogue was different. She was tough and brazen, but at the same time infinitely fragile. He'd felt anguish when she had almost lost her mind after the disastrous concert with Mystique and murderous rage when he discovered she'd been kidnapped by that self-serving Cajun thief.
Which brought him back to the problem at hand. Logan wanted to protect Rogue from Gambit because he felt the man couldn't be trusted. He had been on Magneto's payroll, had fought with the X-Men multiple times, and had taken Rogue to New Orleans under false pretenses. It was bad enough that Charles had offered the thief a place on the team and a room in the mansion, but it galled Logan to have him so close to Rogue. Because she seemed to trust him, like him even, against her better instincts.
He shook himself from his thoughts as he found his feet had stopped in front of Rogue's door. Perhaps it was too late to be having this conversation, but he didn't think waiting for morning would make it any better. Besides, Logan was never one to run from a difficult situation. He knocked on her door, not expecting it to open as immediately as it did. Rogue stood with one hand on the knob, her other hand fisted and resting on her cocked hip.
"Can Ah help you?"
"Didn't I tell you to stay away from him?" Logan questioned severely. Rogue snorted.
"This again!" She glared at Logan.
"He's dangerous, Rogue."
"So are you," she countered.
"At least I'm not a liar," Logan returned. Rogue's eyes widened with old hurt, and Logan steeled himself against the twinge of guilt that tried to overtake him. Rogue had been lied to all her life, so to throw it in her face that the boy she liked wasn't always honest was cruel. Necessary, but cruel.
She deflated and retreated into her room, sitting on the edge of her bed and dropping her hands into her lap. Logan leaned on the door frame, watching as she fiddled with her gloves, her eyes not meeting his.
"Look," she conceded quietly, "Ah know he ain't perfect, and Ah know he's probably not mah safest choice, but Ah'm not really a good choice either, am Ah?" She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, her voice softening forlornly.
Logan's eyebrow quirked in surprise. He hadn't expected Rogue to outright acknowledge the truth of what he'd told her a dozen times. He ignored her reasoning, though, knowing she meant that with her powers, no one in their right mind should be interested in her like that. It was an attitude that had blown out of proportion because of the incident with Carol, an attitude that he hated as much as he understood. Rogue deserved more than what life had given her.
"So maybe Remy's done some questionable things, but when Ah'm with him, Ah forget that Ah'm not normal," Rogue admitted quietly.
He thought back to what Gambit had said about him treating Rogue like a child, about how she didn't appreciate it. Maybe Gambit was right. Maybe it was time to let Rogue make her own decision, for good or for ill. No matter how much Logan wanted to make the choice for her, he couldn't, precisely because she wasn't a child. The woman before him wasn't incapable, wasn't ignorant to Gambit's faults. Besides, for reasons Logan could hardly fathom, Gambit gave Rogue hope, and though he disapproved of its source, Logan knew how much she needed it, was loathe to take it from her.
"Is that stupid?" Rogue asked after a moment. She looked up at him, the need for approval and acceptance clear in her eyes. "To want to be normal?"
Logan shrugged, pushing aside his misgivings. He would have to trust Rogue's judgment and hope she came out on top.
"Everyone wants it at least once. Though why you'd want it with that damn Cajun I'll never know."
Rogue laughed lightly and hugged herself.
"You didn't hurt him, did yah?"
"I will," Logan promised darkly, crossing his arms across his chest, "if you ever want me to."
"Thanks foh havin' my back, Logan."
"Just promise me one thing, Stripes."
Rogue looked at him expectantly.
Logan grunted in approval.
"Night," she answered.
Logan walked away from her room slightly mollified. Though he felt better knowing that Rogue wasn't totally blinded by Gambit's charms, he still didn't trust the thief, especially not with Rogue. But Gambit helped her to see the possibilities, so he would content himself with standing by, ready to pick up the pieces if they fell.
Well, maybe not completely on standby. He was more of a shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of a guy, after all.
He smiled predatorily, plotting all the ways he could antagonize Gambit without Rogue ever knowing, starting with one-on-one sparring sessions in the Danger Room.
At five a.m.
chère term of endearment derived from cher (expensive, precious, dear)
mon ami my friend
belle femme beautiful woman (or wife, interestingly enough)
homme man (but not husband)