I'd like to thank each and every one of my readers. Whether you read the first paragraph and got bored or stuck around 'til this moment… Thank you. You've kept me going thus far. I'm amazed – to say the very least – at the response that I've gotten. So amazed that I've been diligently working on X2 to prevent an angry mob from breaking down my door. Unfortunately, I'm off for another vacation before the summer is through. But when I get back, we're going to get to part two! Until then, thank you for reading 'The Scent of a Storm!' Enjoy!
Logan packed all the clothes he'd been given into a backpack and headed down the hall to the staircase. After he'd regained his strength, Xavier had taken a look inside his mind and had come up with a location; an abandoned military compound at Alkali Lake, which happened to be somewhere in the Canadian Rockies. Logan wasn't exactly sure of what he might find there, but it was certainly worth a look if it was some connection to his past.
As he came down the stairs, he caught Marie's peppermint scent and his own scent clung to her as well – fresh grass. She was playing pinball with some of the other kids, and she looked truly happy. Logan smirked and continued to the door. He didn't want to pull her away from her friends for a sappy good-bye, and it wasn't really his style anyhow, so it seemed better to just leave. But no sooner had he made it out the first set of doors than her voice halted him. "Hey!"
He turned to face her and saw that she seemed a little put out. Perhaps she had wanted a sappy good-bye in front of her new friends. Logan knew better than to think that Marie actually had a real thing for him. While part of him had been transferred to Marie, it felt like part of her had also been transferred to him. He knew that she had a slight crush on him, but he knew a phase when he saw one. She did however, have a special affection towards him, but he didn't dare place it under the category of a daughter's love for her father. She was a teenager, and certainly the last thing she wanted was for her friend to be her father figure. He did, however, detect that she saw him as something of a big bad brother. That suited him just fine.
"You running again?" she asked in her heavy southern accent.
"No, not really," Logan replied easily. He adjusted the backpack, feeling even more awkward than he had on the train when talking to her. He must have inherited some of her shyness as well. "I have some things to take care of up north. I shouldn't be too long."
She stared at him expectantly. Though she didn't say thank you, he could see in her eyes that she was grateful. He touched the lock of white hair that fell in her face with a smirk. "I'm thinking of dying all of it white," she said with a shrug. His eyes snapped up to hers and she smirked. "Oh, relax. Actually, I think I'll leave it the way it is. I kind of like it."
Logan tried not to let the fact that she sounded like him shake him visibly. Instead, he smirked. "You don't need to tell me to relax, princess."
"I figured you'd hear about that from someone." She blushed, but laughed despite her embarrassment. "I don't want you to go," she said with a sad smile.
Though they both knew that he had to go, he knew what she meant. She didn't want him to leave and not come back. Nodding, he dug through a few of his pockets before remembering that it was around his neck. He took off his dog tag and took her gloved hand, carefully placing the chain in her opened palm. He closed her hand and held on a moment longer before letting go. "I'll be back for this," he said, looking into her eyes. "And your face better be the first one I see when I get back here."
He gave her a smile and turned to leave. "Thanks," he heard her whisper before the doors closed behind him.
The glare of the sun hit him as he stepped outside and he inhaled the fresh air around him, wondering for the first time how the hell he was supposed to get back to Canada. He caught a whiff of chrome and gasoline and turned around with a grin. Perched against the wall, begging to be taken on a real road trip, was Scott's bike.
He hopped on eagerly but before he could push the button to start it, a soft breeze carried Ororo's scent right to his lungs. In a bit of a daze, he turned and saw her leaning against the wall, studying at him like a cat might study a mouse. He winced. "So what's the verdict? You still hate me?"
"I never hated you," she said smoothly, looking him up and down. "I hated the things you said about me, but I put those feelings aside for the sake of the mission. I even waited until Jean was sure that you were going to be all right before I allowed myself to be mad at you again. Aren't I merciful?"
"I'm sure you've heard that I blew off a little steam on Rogue."
"I didn't get the details. Part of me really doesn't want them."
"The good news for you is that I've calmed down a little and I'm not quite as mad anymore."
"Oh, well that's…" He let the sentence hang in the air, not exactly sure of what it was.
"I'm sure by the time you find your way back I'll have forgiven you."
He raised his eyebrow with a cocky smirk. "What makes you so sure that I'm coming back?"
Her smile disappeared and she narrowed her eyes at him, though she seemed to be studying him in a less threatening way. "I think you will," she said after a moment. "You're not stupid. You know that you've found a home here with people who'll understand you. You have friends to come back to, a team to be a part of…"
"You'll have your punching bag back," he said hopefully. She pushed herself off of the wall and walked up to him. His heart quickened but he didn't dare show it. She stopped in front of him and he rose from the motorcycle so that he was looking down into her blue eyes. Her pulse was annoyingly calm, possibly half as slow as his.
"Damn straight I will," she said a smirk as cocky as his. She looked like she wanted to say more, but she bit her bottom lip at the last second. The movement drew his attention to her lips and Logan was fully aware of how close they were. Leaning down about an inch or two would close the gap between them…
Ororo smirked and leaned forward and gave him a peck on his chin. He rose an eyebrow at her and she shrugged. "You didn't even try," she said flatly. "I'm not reaching all the way up there. Meet me half way. What's wrong with you?"
Logan frowned before he understood exactly what she was talking about; she'd been waiting for him to kiss her! He bent down eagerly, only to have Ororo's hand cover his face and push it away. "Like hell," she said, taking a step back. "It's too late for that now. The moment is gone."
Logan rolled his eyes and sat back down on the bike, scowling at Ororo, who gave him a dazzling smile. "Can I ask you a serious question," he said suddenly. She nodded, crossing her arms and he continued. "How could you forgive me so quickly? I ought to be apologizing on my knees for some of the things I said about you." They fell silent, and Ororo raised a brow, prompting him to continue. "I said that I should, not that I was going to."
"How sweet. I think I just forgave you all over again," she said sourly. He smirked and she bit the inside of her cheek thoughtfully. "I guess I'm not quite as angry as I should be because you were right. We sure as hell aren't fanatics, but we do rely a little too heavily on the professor for information. And I agree that humanity, on some level, knows that what they're trying to do to us is wrong. They tend to think of the short term effects, but not everyone is like that. There are plenty of humans that fight for our cause and are ridiculed and scorned as badly as we are." Logan smirked victoriously and Ororo shook her head. "Don't give me that. You risked life and limb to save an entire city filled with people you never have and never will meet. People that you think are the reason behind our suffering. You could have walked out the door before Senator Kelly arrived. You could have drifted right past him and walked out when you saw him at the door, but you didn't because you wanted to help. I think I rubbed off on you too."
He nodded slowly, looking away from her. He certainly could have left before Kelly had come, but Ororo was the reason that he'd stayed. He certainly wouldn't tell her that. Ever. Aside from how smug she'd be, it seemed that admitting to that would just be too personal. "I think I'm okay with you rubbing off on me," he said instead.
She frowned and looked down, and Logan followed her gaze. She was staring at his knuckles, causing him to shift uncomfortably. She spoke suddenly, as though she'd been bottling this inside. "You asked me what humans did to me, and I told you that I'd overcome the trials of my past." She took a long breath before looking into his eyes. "They put me in a cage."
"That would be where the claustrophobia came from?"
She scowled, and Logan bit his tongue. Dammit. "I'll kill Jean," she muttered darkly. "Very slowly."
Logan smirked, but the expression wasn't genuine. Half a second before she'd uttered those words, a strange look had crossed her features. Disappointment, maybe? And before she'd admitted to her trial, her eyes had been searching. Had she expected him to respond differently to this news? He certainly wanted to apologize for what she had gone through, but he sure as hell wasn't going to do it on behalf of the human race. And he got the feeling that she'd be infuriated if he was at all sorry for her.
He wanted to ask if there had been some hidden meaning or test in what she'd told him, but it seemed that, once again, the moment was gone. She'd changed the subject, and Logan didn't want to press the matter. He decided that, if he remembered, he might ask her about it later, when the time was right. He wondered if the time would ever be right for such and inquiry, but decided that if it came, he'd know.
He started the motorcycle and looked back at Ororo, who'd taken a few steps back. "Are you sure you should be taking Scott's bike again?" she asked.
Logan shrugged, smirking. "He left the keys in. He has no one to blame but himself."
"I'll be sure to tell him that."
"And I'll be back for that kiss, babe."
"I bet you will." She winked at him. "But I hope you know that you're going to have to work for it."
"The work is half the fun!" He threw the bike in gear and rode off with a smile so wide that his cheeks hurt. He still wanted to see Marie first upon his return to the mansion, but he knew exactly who he wanted to see – and smell – after that. After even a few days, white hair and rain forest scents were sure to plague his dreams.
All the more reason to do what I need to do and make my way back home.