Disclaimer: i do not own this couple (though i wouldn't mind having him every once in awhile *wink*wink*), however the idea of them coming together like this is purely mine. enjoy!

She could still remember the first time she had ever seen him. He was the personification of human perfection, and yet standing there in that fighting cage he had reminded her of a locked up animal. It didn't make sense to her at the time, why he reminded her of a wild beast…not until the man with the knife had threatened him. Then it all made perfect sense. He was a beast—an incredibly handsome, dangerous beast.

And yet, even as he effortlessly sliced the bartender's shotgun in half, she was not afraid of him. He was callous and harsh, and definitely dangerous, but the moment he looked at her and made the decision to not hurt those who had threatened him was the moment she knew she could trust him.

After that, all he ever did was prove that she was right.

First, there was Liberty Island, and the entire series of events leading up to it. He was never angry with her for sapping his powers the night she startled him so much he stabbed her through the chest. He even came to her afterwards, checking that she was all right. He came for her when she left the school, knowing without knowing what she was thinking. He promised he would take care of her—promised like it was important to him, not to her. When she should have died in Magneto's stupid mutant-creating contraption, he was the one that got himself up there to help her, and he nearly killed himself saving her. She could still see the blood leaking out of his uniform: it scared her more than Magneto telling her she would die had.

Then, when he went looking for his past, he finally proved that he trusted her too by leaving his dog tags with her: he would be back, at the very least for them. That's what he said, anyway. She knew it was just his way of promising her he'd be back without sounding too sentimental.

When the school was attacked later, she knew better than to let him stay by himself. Regenerative powers or not, he was sure to get himself hurt. Then again, after what happened at Bobby's, maybe he shouldn't have gone with them. She had no desire to ever see him get shot in the head again. While it proved that the man was virtually indestructible, it was another terrifying memory she did not want to have. It wasn't the last, she knew, but it was definitely one of the more vivid ones.

She also knew—with gut-wrenching clarity—that he was in love with Jean Grey. She did not despise the beautiful red-head because of it, but even she would admit to being a little jealous. That jealousy quickly disappeared after Alkali Lake, however, despite his sadness being further proof of his love. He, unlike Scott, took what little comfort he could from friendly company, and that was enough for her. It was one of the hardest things she had ever done, watching him mourn without being able to properly comfort him. And then, just when she thought she had found the solution to her problem with life (the whole not being able to touch people thing was not something she was okay with), Jean had to come back from the dead crazy and crush his heart into even smaller pieces. She thought things had finally quieted down, so the cure was something she simply couldn't pass up, and because she was wrong he had suffered through his worst heartbreak yet without her.

She made sure to not run off on him after that.

Slowly, very slowly, he came back from the sad, despairing place he had disappeared to after Jean's (actual) death. Slowly he began smiling again; slowly he started to laugh at her jokes again; slowly he started to crack his own crude jokes again. It took several years, but eventually he was almost his old self again. He was, oddly enough, more affectionate with her. It was a shock at first, how he would wrap his arm around her shoulders for seemingly no reason whatsoever or mess with her eternally white bangs. She started to like it, and even though she was a grown woman now she felt like a fourteen year old with a crush again. She had always known he held a special place in her heart, but she never thought it was that place, the one for…well, the One.

It was terrifying.

Surely he could hear her heart race whenever he touched her: he, with all his extra-sensitive animalistic senses, had to be able to hear it. He did not act like it, however, so if he could hear her she did not know about it.

She knew he cared about her. She had known that since she first touched him, had felt it in her head even as the holes in her chest miraculously healed. But the man before her now was far different from the man who checked up on her the day after she borrowed his powers and nearly killed him, just as she was a different woman than the girl with the inhuman ability to sap the life force from other people. His feelings could be entirely different now, nearly ten years later.

That was the problem. His feelings could have changed, in either direction. Though, judging by how often he touched her and how often they hung out, he clearly still liked her as a friend at the very least.

Her parents, like her, had aged since she and he had first met. They had grown old. She was loathe to admit how terrified of long-distance phone calls she was, knowing that someday one of them would call her to tell her they were the only one left. He may not like not knowing his past, but at least without a past there was no one to mourn. No one you care about can die if you don't know anyone.

She knew that day would come, but she didn't think it would come today. It was her mother on the phone. It usually was, but usually she was happy to talk to her only daughter. Today her sobs preceded her words, and Marie knew instantly that something was horribly, awfully wrong. A heart attack. Her father had not survived. Her mother was still at the hospital, and planned on calling her retired sister when they hung up. Marie could finish teaching the week if she wanted, only two days, and then come down. Her mother sobbed through the phone call, and Marie was shocked to discover upon hanging up the phone that her face was wet. She slid to the ground next to her phone. This was not possible. It couldn't be possible.

Vaguely she heard someone enter the room and speak, but she did not respond. She was too lost, too confused, to realize they were even speaking to her, even though they distinctly said her name. She did not notice that it had gotten dark until he arrived in her room, walking straight to her and picking her hands off the floor.

"Marie?" he said. His voice she heard, and her eyes focused for the first time in hours. Her face was streaked with silent tears, an image that broke his heart. He had to swallow before speaking again: the lump in his throat had expanded like a puffer fish upon seeing her distraught features. "Marie, what happened?"

Her brows connected, and finally he saw gears working behind her eyes. "I…" She looked towards the phone, then back at him, finally seeing him. "I think my dad died." No tears threatened to break free. Nothing. The only emotion on her face was shock. He knew she must be right. He had heard her muttering in her sleep, begging her parents to not die and leave her. She didn't know he knew how much she worried about this eventuality, and he didn't think it would matter.

So he did the only thing he could think of and picked her small body up off the floor. She seemed to instinctively curl around him, wrapping her arms around his neck and cuddling her face into his collar. Within moments he felt his shirt grow damp with tears and he kicked the door shut on the way to her bed. The students did not need to see their professor like this. It was bad enough young Sarah had been the one to find Marie, pale and unresponsive—others did not need a similar image.

He bent to set her on the bed, but she clutched him tighter. He sighed and carried her into bed with him. Moments after he had himself settled, he noticed that she was actually crying. This wasn't the numb leaking she had been doing earlier; this was real, emotional crying. He awkwardly stroked her hair and held her tightly, giving her the only comfort he knew how to give. She sobbed for a good long while before finally speaking.

"Mom said it was a heart attack," she said softly. He didn't respond. He didn't know what to say. So he held her tighter. It hurt him to see her so distraught. He was supposed to be taking care of her, but there were some things even he couldn't stop from happening.

They sat in silence for a while longer, him holding her close and she clutching at the only sure thing in her life.

His watch beeped. He had an alarm set for two a.m., so he would force himself to go to bed if he hadn't yet. "It's late, Marie," he started, but her soft voice interrupted him.

"Please don't leave me," she muttered into his chest. Her grip tightened a bit.

Without thinking, he kissed her forehead. "I'm not going to leave you, Marie," he promised, and her grip relaxed slightly. "But we should try to get some sleep."

She didn't move at first, and just as he decided he would pick her up and place her in a sleeping position she spoke again. "I'm afraid to sleep," she muttered, her voice so quiet he wasn't entirely sure he heard her.

He tilted her chin up, forcing her to look at him. Her eyes were full of tears, causing his gut to clench. "Hey, I'll be right here," he promised again. "I said I'd take care of you, didn't I?"

A small smile appeared for a moment before disappearing again. "That was a long time ago," she said weakly.

"So?" he said, confused. He had meant forever then, and he still meant forever now.

"I'm not the little girl you picked up on the highway anymore," she said, her voice drowning in sadness even as she sat up and began to scoot off his lap. He stopped her and forced her to look at him.

"No, you're not. You…" He searched for words that did not come easily to him. He was not sentimental. Ever. And yet he was for her. She stared at him with rapt attention, listening intently for the rest of his sentence. "Marie, you are a beautiful, grown woman now." She blushed and lowered her gaze but did not move. "I kinda like it," he admitted playfully. Her eyes darted back to his.

"What do you mean?" she asked suspiciously.

He shook his head. He should not be telling her how much she affected him the night of her father's death. The prime object of his thoughts should be told the truth on a good day, not a bad one. "Never mind. Let's try to sleep, okay?"

She nodded suspiciously, and this time he let her crawl carefully off of his lap. She snuggled her way under the covers and, trying to be a gentleman, he lay on top of them before wrapping one arm around her waist. She wiggled closer to him, and his awareness of how close they were increased hundredfold. He wanted so much more, but he would have to wait. She deserved his patience.

"Promise you won't leave?" she asked quietly.

"I promise," he said steadily. Now that he was comfortable, he could feel his own tiredness seeping through him.

"If you get cold, you can come under the covers, if you want," she said without facing him. He smiled.

"I know," he said, and that night they kept each other's nightmares away.

The funeral was a miserable affair for her, but he was there with her, always nearby, and that made it slightly easier. He was her sturdy rock, and whenever she felt herself crumbling all she had to do was hold his hand or sneak her arm in his and his unlimited strength would seep into her.

For the next month or so things went roughly back to normal, however she knew now that whenever she had a nightmare crawling into his bed was the only cure, and he was perfectly okay with that. By the end of the month he had started coming to her too, his expression harried and his body soaked with sweat, his knuckles red where his claws had come out.

One night, after a particularly vivid dream in which her mother died before her helpless eyes, she lay in his bed trying to think of anything to distract her. The easiest subject was, of course, the man whose arm lay draped over her stomach again. She knew this was no longer the average friendship, this cuddling late at night after nightmares relationship they had. What else could it be, though? She thought, unintentionally, of the night her father died, and of how he had comforted her. Suddenly she remembered what he had said, that confusing statement about how he liked the "beautiful, grown woman" she had become.

"Logan?" she said softly.

"Mm?" he responded, his breath tickling her neck. It sent shivers down her spine when he did that, and she suspected he knew that and positioned his face just for that reason.

"Do you remember what you said to me the night…the night my father died? About…who I've become?" she asked hesitantly. The words did not hurt to say as much anymore, but her throat still went dry. Or perhaps that was her nerves over-reacting to the question.

"Mm-hm," he said sleepily.

"What did you mean?" He was sleepy enough that she might actually get an honest answer out of him.

"I meant you were beautiful," he said, his words slurred a bit from being half-asleep.

She blushed and was grateful for the darkness around them. "What did you really mean?" she said. They both knew he often said one thing and meant another.

He sighed. "I meant I love you," he said honestly.

His body instantly tensed and his heavy, not-on-guard breathing disappeared. She knew he was awake now. He had not meant to say it.

She wiggled under his tight grip in order to see him. She may not have the night vision of a wolverine, but she could still see the panic in his face. Her shock, however, overrode any concern for his unmerited panic. "Do you mean that?" she asked, her voice tightly controlled.

He swallowed. "I do," he said, sounding braver than he felt. Unlike with Jean, he had no idea what she was feeling. Not in terms of him or males in general. After she started dating Bobby he never allowed himself to assume with her.

She smiled, the first real smile he had seen since her dad died. "Good," she muttered, and snuggled face-first towards him.

"Wait," he said, pulling back. She was still smiling. "You don't get out of it that easily, Rogue. What do you mean, 'good?'"

Her smile became impish and she didn't answer. Suddenly, he knew. It seemed so painfully obvious he could not believe he hadn't notice before. Many years ago he had seen it, but so much had happened he had forgotten what it looked like.

She loved him too.

He smiled, a truly happy smile rather than his usual mischievous grin, and she blushed and looked away. He pulled her chin back up and slowly, very slowly, he lowered his lips onto hers. She felt warm, soft, and before he could stop himself he was on top of her, his lips pressing desperately upon hers, those lips he had dreamt about so often in the last couple years. She did not stop him and instead pulled him closer. The primal urges within him welled, encouraged by her eagerness, but he shoved them down, his heart pounding so hard that it seemed to force the retreat without his help.

"Say it, Marie," he asked, breaking contact. She blushed.

"You promise you won't leave me?" she asked self-consciously. Frustration rose in him, but again, his heart's desire to hear the words from her mouth quelled all other emotions.

"I promise, Marie, I promise a thousand times. Say it."

She hesitated for only a moment before whispering, "I love you, Logan." Her eyes barely reconnected with his before his lips were on hers once more, one of his hands pulling her hips firmly against him while the other kept him propped over her. One of her legs seemed to unconsciously slide up his, arousing his need for her further. His lips moved to her neck and marked her as his, each one leaving her gasping for more. Her hands started pulling his shirt up—his pulled her into a sitting position before yanking her tank off. Her hair swung freely in the air as her arms slid back to his bare shoulders, causing her bed head to look even sexier to him. She wore no bra, and he openly gazed at the topless beauty before him.

"Marie…" he whispered huskily before his lips crashed onto hers once more, the force of their reconnection sending them back onto the bed. His hands were everywhere: on her hips, her stomach, her breasts, her arms. He could not get enough of the feel of her skin, so beautiful and touchable now that the stupid so-called "cure" had given her the ability to shut her powers off. Her hands where everywhere too: his ribs, his abs, his shoulders, his arms. She had seen and even felt his muscles before, but not like this. Then she was touching his waistline, then she was tugging on his pants…

"Wait!" he said roughly, harsher than he intended. She immediately put her hands around his neck again. He was breathing heavily: it was taking all of his self-restraint to make sure this was right and okay. He wanted it—needed it, even—but he didn't matter. She did.

"I…that is…" His eyes were screwed shut against her intoxicating body. It was bad enough she was still touching him, tempting him. He needed to focus. He needed to restrain himself. He took a deep breath. "I love you, Marie, but I don't want you to feel pressured into doing this." I want you to want it as badly as I do, he thought, but did not say.

She didn't say anything, and eventually he opened his eyes to gauge her expression. He did not expect what he saw, which was a very mischievous smile on her lips. His mischievous smile.

"Logan, I would have stopped you if I wasn't okay with any of this," she said, her voice sounding teasing. She pulled him towards her and kissed him gently but with desire. Then, that devilish smirk of his on her face, she said teasingly, "But if you don't get on with it, I might have to go find Bobby…"

He growled, intense emotion filling his entire being. His lips slammed onto hers again, and this time he let his weight rest on her. His mouth moved down her neck and he sucked until she cried out in pain. "You are mine," he growled, unable to stop himself.

He could hear the smirk in her voice. "Prove it."

He growled again before his hands slid to the waistline of her pants. "Are you sure you're okay with this?" he asked, his voice straining against his desires.

"I'm positive," she said, and she wriggled out of her pants.

Blown away by the glorious body before him, he fumbled removing his own pajama bottoms. He settled back over her, barely touching her and yet already loving the feel of being naked with her. "I trust you, Logan," she said. She meant that she loved him.

"I know you do," he replied. He meant that he loved her too.

Then, in an explosion of heavenly feelings, he proved to her that she was his, just as she proved to him that he was hers.