I almost didn't finish typing this up today. I'm almost out of breath lol.

I'm going to miss writing this, but I love being able to click that 'yes' next to the 'complete' button.

This chapter is dedicated to Terri, one of the masters of writing on this site. Although she does not write anymore, and will probably never see this--she provided many hours of enjoyable reading and inspired this fic. Thank you…

Oh, and by the way: Marie is about seventeen/eighteen now. In case you were wondering. ;-)

Heal Over: Chapter Eight

One Year Later.

Logan stacked the last of the boxes inside the cedar cabinet with it's fellows. Seven cartons of hot chocolate in all. It should last them 'til next month, but perhaps he should have gotten more.

Marie had done well this trip into town. She had smiled shyly at the cashier in the grocery store, had whispered 'fine' when the waitress at the diner asked how they were doing today. Logan was proud of her.

Footfalls on the floor behind him-wooden boards they swept every day but always seemed a little dusty. Marie placed two plastic bags on the table.

"Those the last of 'em?"

She nodded, dug through one of the sacks for a few minutes before surfacing with a long, brown container. Logan grinned. Their priorities were certainly straightened out: cocoa for her, tobacco for him. Marie passed him the cigars, and continued to unpack the groceries.


The axe struck the piece of wood, cutting in two with one clean, easy stroke. The cabin had a heating system, but it failed more often than it worked. But that was okay; there was a fireplace in both the living room and the bedroom. He actually preferred those to a furnace or a thermostat whose source of heat you couldn't see. There was a deep pleasure in a corporeal fire--in it's scent, in the heat that stretched across the floorboards, in the primitive knowledge that he was keeping his girl warm.

Another log on the chopping block, another swing of the axe. Splinters flew everywhere, across dirt and patchy grass.

They already had a fair supply of firewood, stacked high against the cabin's wall. But Logan busied himself chopping more so he could listen for Marie, out on one of her walks. He could hear the rustle her legs made in the grass, the snap of twigs only a quarter mile into the woods. They'd been at the cabin fro six months, and she hadn't gotten lost yet. She always returned just when Logan's patience was close to snapping, when he was a second from going to retrieve her. Smiling, bearing wild roses, a pretty stone, blackberries. Their cabin was always heavy with the smell of flowers.

Logan wanted to give Marie her freedom. He was proud of her for taking the initiative to explore on her own. But he never went inside when she was out. Never let go of the relentless anxiety that gnawed at him when she was out of his sight, even for a moment. She would never protest if he demanded to go with her, would happily accept his company. But Logan knew some part of her enjoyed being on her own, free, so he rarely asked. He busied himself in the yard--waiting for his name, for a scream. For a hint the girl had run into poison ivy, into another animal or any of the worse threats his mind could conjure.

It hadn't happened yet.

Marie returned more quickly today than usual, flitting through the grass. Yellow t-shirt and blue jeans over tan skin. Her arms wrapped around Logan enthusiastically. She never seemed to mind if his skin was sweaty.

"Let's go fishing." Imploring voice, smiling up at him hopefully.

He smirked. Along with the cabin and a small piece of land, the deed he had signed (under a false name) included a rusty motorboat. It wasn't really fishing she wanted. Marie loved going out on the lake, if only to play with the fishing pole--casting it out and reeling it in every few minutes--and nap while being rocked by the waves. But if they wanted actual perch or bass for dinner, Logan had to catch and clean them when the girl wasn't near. If she was, Marie kicked up a fuss. And every fish was placed gently back in the water, free.

He set the axe down--the firewood could be stacked later.

"Alright. C'mon."


He thought every day about going back to Westchester. Killing Xavier. Sometimes he fantasized about specific ways to murder him. Decapitation, a bashed in skull, smothering with a pillow. He went so far as to plan where he could keep Marie safely as he did it, how he'd get around the telepaths and all the rest of the school's mutants. It'd have to be well though out, sneaky. But usually his daydreams leaned toward a general desire for revenge, to keep The Professor from harming anyone else.

But the recent news, and the information a few of his contacts slipped him of what was going on down in the states made Logan wonder if action on his part was really necessary.

There had been attacks on mutants all across the country. The Mutant registration Act was up for review again.

Six labs had been raided--some by the Xmen, but most by The Brotherhood and other pro-mutant groups.

The suppressor chip was advertised to go on the market in four months.

Senator Kelly was assassinated--found in his campaign office, strung up and coated with slime.

And now, the radio announced that a bomb had gone off in a Westchester school. One wing burned down, four dead. It was four students, but Logan had a feeling any day now they'd be listing the headmaster's name as a casualty.

It seemed that the war Xavier feared had arrived. But it was okay. It wasn't going to touch them. They were safe, up here in the mountains.

Logan heard the flush of a toilet, the bathroom sink running as Marie finished up in the bathroom. He hurriedly pressed the plastic button on the radio, switched to a random station. When she came out a jingle was blasting from the speakers. Apparently all kittens loved kit'n'kaboodle chow and they should switch brands today.

He never spoke to her about Xavier, or the school. There was no need.


Logan inhaled deeply, kept the cigar's smoke inside his mouth for a minute before releasing--letting it tickle out, over his lips and into the evening. He sat on the cabin's porch, in a rocking chair bought months ago during a trip into town.

They didn't have a view that would send a realtor or anyone else into fits of ecstasy. The chopping block, the rusty pickup and a sandy trail that could only be called a road if you closed your eyes and imagined it as such. No other decoration. They could barely see the sky, let alone a sunset. Just a strip of pinkened clouds-the rest was blocked off by Canadian trees that stretched into eternity.

He liked it that way.

Marie stepped outside--pink cotton shorts and a tank top. She crawled up in Logan's lap, snuggling in. He pressed the orange tip of the cigar against the armrest until it turned dark. He didn't want to blow smoke in the girl's face. The wood bore many similar scorch marks.

His right arm encircled Marie's waist, his left fell a bit lower-ever so lightly cupping the rounded flesh below her hips.

The hum of cicadas in the air. The lazy creak of the rocking chair. All around him the scent of wood and soil and Marie.

Logan rubbed the girl's arms, not wanting her to catch a chill though the air was warm with summer. His fingers brushed over the raised lump on her arm and he found himself wondering...bit no. He had no idea how to remove the chip even if he were willing to cut into her skin to get it out. He pushed the thought out of his mind.

"Baby, watcha want for dinner?" Logan asked, though he wasn't really hungry. Taking a nap in this chair was incredibly tempting, especially with the girl as such a sweet, warm blanket.

"Hot chocolate."

"What else?"

"Hot chocolate."

"What else, Marie?"

"Hot chocolate with marshmallows."

"Marie."

She sighed against his neck. His lips quirked.

"Chicken," she told him, resigned.


Logan had a deal with the bar down the mountain. The owner got The Wolverine four nights a week, and a five percent bonus cut of his winnings. The King Of The Cage took enough hits to keep the line of competitors full, and Marie was allowed to stay in the back office during the fights. It was a good deal, and kept them living--if not in the lap of luxury (which Logan never cared for anyway), at least comfortably.

The odor of sweat and blood and excitement. The wire cage rattling from the pressure of the fighters' bodies and the roaring of the crowd. Screams. Flesh on flesh. Music--that of the audience's jeers and a jukebox who's song only Logan's ears could pick up. Tim Mcgraw.

His opponent--the last of the night--had short hair and perhaps fifty scars scattered across his dark skin. He looked like he could juggle five grown men easily, while standing on one leg. Logan gave him ten more minutes out of courtesy and a punch to the jaw that sent the man sprawling into deep dreams.

A slender hand with a four leaf clover tattoo reached through the wire, offering him a shot of something. Tequila, by the smell. Logan plucked it from the fingers, threw it down his throat with a much-practised ease. Nice.

He dropped the glass to the cage's mat. It would be swept up later, along with The Wolverine's challengers.

He crossed the grimy bar floor--feeling a few general pats on his back along with the more frequent glares of those who'd bet against him. The light was dim. Bodies pressed all around but they would thin out soon, with the end of tonight's fights. He'd be taking home two hundred dollars, a pretty fair amount.

"Hey there." A woman stepped into his path. Asian, with high heals and a confident smile. Sweet smell, light perfume. Logan recognized that hand that was held out to stop him--the one who'd bought him the tequila. She stepped close.

"I've been watching you all night."

"Have you?"

"Uh-huh." Small flash of a diamond inside a red mouth. She had a tongue piercing. That was interesting. "You're so...forceful."

That hand reached up daringly. A blue fingernail tapped his chest. "Potent. You that way outside a cage?"

"Yes."

Her studded tongue darted out, licked her lower lip. It wasn't the only part of her that became wet.

"You wanna show me?" the woman purred.

"No." Logan said, stepping politely around her. Perhaps Marie and he would stop at Sonic on the way home. She liked their root beer floats.


Logan stood, straddling the chair and Marie's legs. He tapped her chin, urging her head back further.

"Little more, baby."

The pipes in their bathroom had burst last week. He'd fixed the toilet, but they had to wash themselves at the kitchen sink until the parts he'd ordered for the shower

came in.

He didn't mind so much.

Logan had placed a towel over the edge of the counter so the back of Marie's neck wouldn't get sore. He did his best but the faucet didn't quite stretch far enough, so he cupped water in his hands to for her hair. He teased the suds through the brown strands, massaged her scalp.

Her face upraised. Pink lips half open and eyes half closed, openly enjoying his ministrations. And perhaps Logan used a bit more shampoo than necessary, to prolong the operation. But no one was measuring.

He was wondering whether a second dollop of conditioner could be excused when he felt her hands. Delicate, small. Slipping beneath the edge of his denim button-down shirt, caressing the rigid muscles found there. Playfully tickling, innocently stroking. The air stuttered in his throat and his stomach clenched. He wondered if Marie knew the effect that kind of gentle touching had on him. He decided yeah, yeah, her hair could use another conditioning. Had to be thorough, after all.

"All done, baby." Tender, subtle aroma of strawberries.

Marie got to her feet but tugged on his arm. She insisted Logan switch places with her, though usually a quick dunk would suffice for his shorter hair. He aquisited, humoring the girl.

Her legs were not strong or long enough to straddle his lap standing so she stood between his knees.

Oh.

Jesus.

He was gonna smell fruity, but a swim in the lake later would fix that, return his sense of manliness. Why the fuck had they not done this before?

Marie leaning in, her stomach to his chest. Her chest dangerously level with his eyes and where were all these new thought in his head coming from? Little furrow between her brows as she concentrated. Wanting to do the job well. Fingertips kneading, stimulating, and Logan had to squeeze his eyes shut tight.

How could something be so relaxing and and the same time so...so....

Why was she taking her hands away?

His eyes flew open.

"All done," Marie declared, mimicking him so adorably he wanted to grab her, crush her body against him. She stepped back.

Logan dropped his hands--which he thought had been balled up but, funnily enough, had been gripping her hips the whole time.

That was odd.


The cashier was staring a little too hard at Marie. Little prick.

It was a new kid, probably the owner's son. Trying to save up for an ipod or computer or whatever else kids wanted now. He had curly orange hair and skin full to busting with pimples and adolescent hormones. Logan barred his teeth, growled. Considered punching the boy but decided that might be a teeny bit of an overreaction. The cashier became appropriately focused on their groceries again.

Marie wasn't paying them any attention. She'd wandered from Logan's side--just to the end of the counter. Pretty sundress rippling against the back of her knees. She was thin, but healthy. Rather nice-looking, actually, he thought. It was no wondered the boy had stared--not that it excused him.

The girl was staring at the swivel rack of books. Generic novels that cost about five dollars and were worth a lot less. But she was studying them and though Logan could not see her facial expression, he registered the spikes of curiosity in her scent.

He wondered if she could read.

He hadn't really thought about before. It would make sense, if she hadn't been taken by Them too young. The X-gene usually reared up around puberty, so she might. She might. If so, it would give him a better idea of how long her stay in the lab had been--something he could bring out in his mind when he felt like torturing himself.

Marie was always close-mouthed when he brought up anything before the time of when he found her, the lab or what They'd done. He didn't know her age or last name...of course, he didn't know his either. And there was a cruel symmetry in that Logan was ashamed to enjoy. She never responded verbally--always staring at him with wide (sometimes wet) eyes and a haunted expression. As if she couldn't understand what he was saying. Logan figured his interest wasn't worth putting that look on her face--what did he know about therapy? Marie would talk about it when she was ready.

But it couldn't hurt to...

"You want one of those, baby?"

Her shoulders lifted in a shrug without twisting to look at him. Then a moment later, he saw her head nod. Just once, hesitantly.

She made no move to choose a book herself. There was something profoundly...lost...in her stance. She stared at those texts as if trying to seize something too far away from her. A child who'd accidentally let go of a balloon and was desperately trying to grasp the string that's already blown out of reach.

Logan stepped forward, skimmed his eyes down the rack. He reached around Marie's body, took any book that didn't seem to involve self help or vampires or swooning maidens. There weren't many.

He tossed them on the counter. They were possibly the most interesting customers the cashier would have that day...not exactly an awe-inspiring feat, but still.

Marie didn't say a word. Not in the parking lot, and not on the drive home. But every now and then she would turn in her seat, peek through the glass to the bed of the pickup, making sure the bag of books was still there.

::::::::::

That night she sat in the armchair (which might have been red, once upon a time before age had bled the color out). A collection of poems lay in her lap. The others were stacked on the floor, close by. Marie stroked the cover tentatively, studying it with her palms as much as her eyes. She did not touch it as she had the other items she'd given her, including the vase--which stood on the fireplace mantle, lillies overspilling it's rim. This gift, Marie treated with infinitely more uncertainty.

Logan watched her from the kitchen as he rinsed of the potatoes for dinner, cut them into strips.

She didn't open the book. Not for a long time.


Logan kissed her.

Not a spectacularly unprecedented event in itself. He did it quite frequently, casually. The girl never flinched, never responded with alarm She seemed to revel in the closeness, accepted them as she did with the rest of his touches, as if they were the most natural thing in the world for him to do. Logan guessed the experience of a man's lips on her's had never been spoiled for her in the lab. That whatever They had done to her, kissing had not been a part of it.

He didn't know whether to feel grateful or relieved.

This time, however, was not simple affection. Not a quick brush of his mouth over hers.

He molded his lip's over Marie's, moved them slowly, as thoroughly as he washed her hair. Gently, unrushed. Her eyes grew bright as she pressed herself close, revelling in the attention.

The tip of Logan's tongue slid over the girl's lower lip, and that was new. Inside the damp, sweet tissue of her mouth.

Marie's eyes fluttered a little wider. She gave him a look--iwhat are you doing?/i Not uncomfortable, just mildly curious.

He pulled away--residual moisture on both their mouths. Smiled, brushed a strand of white hair behind her ear. Rolled over to his own pillow. She snuggled, dragged herself half-onto his chest.

Rain fell in sheets outside. The thick oak of the cabin absorbed the sound, turning it into a lulling whisper, easy to doze off to.


A white cotton shirt. Large, softened with much wear. It reached the waistband of his jeans, but halfway down her thighs when she wore it. Logan's shirts had stopped being his exclusive property long ago. She commandeered them, only switched to the nightgowns he'd bought her when the shirts stopped smelling like him.

It didn't really bother him. His clothes smelling like Marie was rather pleasant, actually.

Logan had his hand under that shirt now as he skimmed his lips over her forehead, her cheek, her lips. His palm ran over her sternum, her belly. Dragged his fingers down Marie's side and she squirmed, giggled. Ticklish.

She arched a little, made a sweet hybrid noise--a cross between a purr and a gasp.

Logan withdrew his hand before his body could take over.


The logs were almost burned out in the bedroom fireplace. What wood was not ash already or quarter-size embers was moldy-white chunks. Those would fall apart with a simple prod of the iron poker. That was okay. He could relight it later. It wasn't cold in the room yet. He was plenty warm, and making sure the girl was too.

Logan buried his face against her skin. Tender, fleshy mounds. He nuzzled her breasts, her stomach. So smooth. A thick rumble in his throat, a tremor that went down his spine.

She whimpered, wriggled beneath a kind of pleasure she'd never been taught to understand. Logan lavished attention on her breasts, her collar. His lips moved against her skin, an untranslatable language. So smooth. So soft. Marie. He grazed her with the edges of his teeth, but needed only to look at that half-crescent scar to rid himself of his usual urge to bite.

Marie's breath was quick, hitching. When his tongue encircled a pert nipple the girl jerked--first upward, into his mouth, then away. Too much.

Logan stopped at that first sign of real tension. He kissed along the line of her jaw, then her forehead. Stroked her arm soothingly until the girl's heartbeat evened. He waited 'til her face was peaceful, her eyes closed, before getting up. He walked around the bed to the metal bin where they kept the night's logs. He chose a few, settled them inside the fireplace even though his body said he didn't need any more heat. He did not want the girl to catch a chill in the middle of the night.


The first time he touched her below the waist--in a way that was neither to clean or tend medically--came a week later. And it was decidedly nonclinical.

Logan eased her into this with small steps, never wanting to rush her through something her body and her mind was unprepared for. He always balked at the idea of frightening her.

His hand had been running up and down the inside of her legs for several minutes now. Gently--but with enough pressure to keep her from falling asleep with the strokes. Tickling the underside of her knee, up her thigh, down again. Logan kept his expression open, reassuring.

Her body was relaxed, and Logan's might have seemed that way too, if you weren't paying attention.

She watched his hands, his body, his face, as alertly as he monitored her. Her legs flexed under his palms like a cat being petted. Marie's scent carried a touch of arousal--like something a painter added after the picture was finished. She couldn't recognize that feeling, but Logan wanted to spread it. When her leg's opened--a body's animal, reflexivee request--he let his hand drift up.

He pressed his lips down on hers, then smoothed them over her cheekbones. She gave a little gasp, quick and shallow.

His fingers ran over the flesh between her thighs--not pressing hard, just running over the soft folds. Marie's eyes locked onto his, searching for answers, for comfort, and he gave it to her. Kissing, murmuring. His fingertips slid under the cloth, happily discovered the dampness there. Tender skin, like thick petals.

Marie bucked a little, crushed herself instinctively against his chest. Logan's knuckle pressed testingly to her entrance and a she shuddered. A line of anxiety shot through the mounting arousal in her scent. She trembled--not wanting him to stop, not ready for him to continue.

Logan removed his hand. She made a sound that was simultaneously protesting and relieved at the absence of his touch. He tugged her (his) shirt down, rubbed her stomach over the flannel. It took a long time to settle her down, to still the girl's semi-frantic movements.

"Logan," Marie implored. He wasn't sure what she was asking for..

"Sshhhhh."

He petted, nuzzled the girl until she ceased shivering, and for awhile after that. She nestled into the curve of his arm, his chest. Logan quietly coaxed her into sleep. Never mind the shaking of his own frame.


Logan pushed into her slowly, centimeters--no, millimeters at a time. Careful, feeling the girl's body stiffen, then yield. Over and over. Beautiful, incomparable heat and a wonderful slickness he had to do his best to not think closely about lest he lose himself. Logan caressed her hair, pushing it out of her face. Comforting, trying to tell her this wasn't bad, this wasn't wrong. That he'd never treat her any differently.

She shook her head, gave a low whine--not scared, but close, and Logan withdrew. He laid himself beside her on the covers calmly. Ignoring the painful clenching of his stomach muscles, how tightly they seemed woven. The flesh below his waist was stiff, agonizing. A thousand needles digging in.

"It's alright, baby. Ssshh. Ssshh....Marie. Yes, that's alright. Go to sleep, sweetie. It's okay."


Marie looked up at him. Brown eyes worried, but trusting. If not tranquil, at least willing to let him in. Do as he wish, as long as he didn't harm her. Logan kissed her tenderly, assuring. Promising. Eased himself forward, wanting to caress away that expression of endurance, hoping pleasure would take it's place. Wanting to make this better for the girl than himself.

Rigid inner muscles, wet. Stretching.

The Wolverine inside him, slamming against the cage Logan had placed him in.

Pressing deeper, deeper. Sinking. When he could push no further, Logan did not pull out. He forced himself to freeze, let her body get acclimated. Her legs squeezed against his hips.

"There....There, baby. So good...Uhhh..."

Sweat racing across his shoulders, his back. He rubbed his cheek against hers, inhaled her aroma gently.

"Logan. Logan. Logan."

He flexed his hips, rotated them. This elicited a gasp, a pleasing mumble from her and he did it again. Tension pooling in his waist, building from such simple, tiny motions. Marie. She felt so good.

Feminine hands stroking his stomach now. Marie's head lifted and she kissed him, sweetly.

She still tasted like hot chocolate.

The thought undid Logan and he came, emptying himself inside her. Fighting not to pump crazily, holding onto consciousness. A grey haze came over his eyes, like smoke. He groaned, clamped his lips down on hers.


Marie on his lap, holding her close. Teasing her gently with his body. He pulled her down, thrust upwards gently. His palms everywhere, using every soft trick he'd ever known and discovering a few others.

Her face, twisted up against rising sensation. Fighting against a loss of control, terrified of a fall she sensed coming closer. Bucking, shaking. Burrowing herself against him. So fucking pretty.

"It's okay, baby. Just let go. It's okay. Safe. I'm here, I gotcha. Let go, sweetie. Nothing ever gonna hurt ya. Marie, Marie. It's okay."

He coaxed his girl to the edge, and she toppled over it. iCatch me./i With a soft cry of his name and something that might of been fear but was lost in waves of other feelings. A rush of moisture and her trembling limbs, all softness.

Logan kissed her eyelids, her cheek, her jaw. Told Marie she'd done so well, that he was so proud of her, that she was the most beautiful creature in the whole world. And something else he'd never said before and would repeat to no one else.

Until they fell asleep.

As always, I really appreciate the unbelievably awesome reviewers on here. I'd like to thank you by name but it would take up way too much space. You're all fantastic, and let it suffice that if you reviewed, I'm talking to you. Thanks so much, and I'd really love to hear what you think about this final chapter. Please?