(Author's Note: If you've read this one before, I've added a bit to the end.)
The last person I wanted to find me while I was crying over my boyfriend dumping me was Logan. Of course, he was the first one to hunt me down. Sometimes I have the worst luck. He found me huddled under a tree, my eyes full of tears and my nose red because I'd been crying for so long. That isn't an image I want him to have of me.
"What's wrong, kid?" he asked as he sat down beside me on the rough ground.
I glared at him and wiped my eyes with my sleeve. Why did he have to call me that now, of all times? "Go away, Logan," I said.
The infuriating man next to me just raised his eyebrow at me. Usually, I think that's one of his sexiest expressions, but I was too miserable and pissed off just then to appreciate it. There was no way I was going to cry on his shoulder, especially not after everything Bobby had just said to me. If that fucking little boy wanted to think what he did, so be it. I wasn't going to change myself for him. He wasn't important enough.
"Okay. Want to go get a beer?" he asked.
Have I mentioned how much I love Logan? I don't love him in the romantic way, of course. Not since I got over that crush I had when we first met…all right, I've still got the crush, but I'm working on getting past it. I really am. The reason I love Logan, just as friends, mind you, is that he knows me so well and doesn't give a shit about stupid little things like age limits for alcohol consumption.
"Yeah. A beer sounds good," I told him. I jumped to my feet quickly so that he wouldn't be able to offer me a hand up after he was standing. There was no need to get physical or anything.
"Can we take the bikes?" I asked, always eager for a ride on the motorcycle he got for my eighteenth birthday just a few weeks prior.
"I think I'll drive this time. You look like you're going to need more than the legal limit tonight," he said. He grabbed my gloved hand and dragged me back to the mansion's garage. Within moments, I was strapped into the passenger side of the sweet red Jag that had been Scott and Jean's present.
"Logan, my legal limit is zero, remember?" I managed to say as he got into the driver's side. "Seatbelt," I added automatically.
Giving me a dirty look, he buckled up and said, "You know what I meant. Feel like telling me what's going on yet?"
"No," I replied, turning to look out the window as he carefully maneuvered my shining beauty of a car out of the garage and into the mansion's long drive.
"Fine," Logan said. I didn't even begin to hope he was giving up that easily, of course. I knew what the beer was for. I would be strong, though, I promised myself. I wouldn't give in to the alcohol and spill my guts.
Two hours later, Logan held back my hair as I puked up the onion rings I had unwisely decided to have with my drinks. All seven of them, five of which ended up being hard liquor. I couldn't remember feeling more miserable. I also couldn't remember loving Logan more. There was a friend for you, I thought. The best ones always hold your hair when the liquor wins out in the battle between alcohol and grease.
By that time, enough of that alcohol had made it into my system that I was feeling a little overly friendly. I still hadn't told Logan about breaking up with Bobby, though, so my drunk ass was pretty proud of itself. Of course, this being my life, that pride was about to get shot down in a major way.
Logan wiped my mouth with a paper towel after the last bout of vomit and stroked my hair. I leaned back against him and sighed. The tiny bathroom in the dingy bar didn't leave much room for maneuvering, but that was all right. I felt too weak after my ordeal to move much for a few minutes, anyway. I was perfectly comfortable until Logan dragged me back onto my feet.
"C'mon," he said. "Let's have another one."
"Aren't we finished yet?" I asked. I squinted up at him through sore eyes.
"Are you ready to tell me what's wrong?"
"Well, then, I guess you're ready for another round," he said, helping me out of the bathroom and back to the booth we'd been occupying for the past hour. He signaled our waitress to bring us each another drink.
"How long until you're drunk?" I asked him. I should have known, since I have a lot of random memories from Logan scattered around in my head, but I was too fuzzy at that point to bring any of them into focus.
"It'll take a lot more than tonight to get me drunk," Logan told me. He smiled while I glared.
"It looks like I might have to borrow some of your healing if I'm going to survive tonight," I muttered. I accepted the shot glass the waitress handed me with a grunt that I swear made Logan swell up with pride. I didn't even try to guess what it was before I tossed it back and tried to feel the burn of the liquor sliding down my throat. By that point I was so numb that there was no burn, just an increase in the blur that was blocking out so much of Logan's handsome face.
"Maybe another time," he said as he popped the top on the new bottle and began to guzzle it.
"Bastard," I said affectionately.
With three more drinks down the hatch and depression setting in again, I gave in. There are times when I hate Logan. Usually it happens when he's got some pretty little thing all wrapped around him, or when he flirts with Jean even though she and Scott are married now. I suppose I'll have to add "when Logan gets me drunk so I'll tell him all my dark secrets" to the list.
"Bobby dumped me," I told him, staring morosely at my beer.
Logan's eyebrow shot up again at that one. "Why'd he do a dumbass thing like that?" he asked. I gave him full points for being intelligent after that question, of course.
I shrugged. This was the part I really didn't want to get into. "I don't know," I said, concentrating on the ice swirling around in my glass.
Logan snorted. "Yeah, right, kid. Pull the other one," he said.
My head snapped up. "Stop. Calling. Me. A. Kid."
His eyes narrowed at that. "Compared to me, probably half the people on the continent are kids. What does it matter?"
I met him glare for glare. "It matters, all right?"
He looked away. "All right. So, Marie, what did Shit-For-Brains say when he broke up with you that had you bawling in the backyard?"
At that moment, I resented the fact that I had ever told Logan my real name. There's safety in people not being able to use such a thing against you. That name brings up memories of a happy childhood, the first stirrings of love that turned so wrong; all were memories I'd rather never revisit.
I felt my mouth tighten. "He said I'm not much of a woman, okay? He said I'm more interested in things the guys are interested in, like motorcycles and cars and sports, that dating me is like dating one of the guys. He said I…" I couldn't continue with my recitation at that point.
"What did he say, Marie?" Logan asked, taking my hand from across the table. I could tell that he was angry. He was using his dangerous, "I'd like to split someone open with my bare claws" voice. Somehow, that reassured me.
"He said I don't even look like a girl, or act like one, with my clothes greasy half the time and 'cause…" Again, I couldn't go on.
"What, Marie?" Again, that gently angry urging, like he knew that whatever I was about to say would put him over the edge. Maybe I knew it, too, and that's why I was so reluctant to say it.
"Because I wouldn't go all the way. He said no real guy would want a girl like me. I guess he's right," I finished, choking on the words.
Across from me, Logan growled. His fingers tightened around mine. Bills were thrown on the table, and then I was being pulled towards the door. My unsteady stomach threatened another revolt, but I was, thankfully, able to keep everything down as Logan led me towards the Jag. Before I could reach for the door, he turned me around and slammed me up against it. All I could do was stare up at him stupidly. Maybe it was just the booze, I thought, but there was something off about the way Logan was reacting to all this. He should have bought me another drink, took me home, and then proceeded to pound the shit out of Bobby. At least, that's what I assumed would happen once I finally gave in and told him the details of our breakup. I didn't expect to find him pressing me up against the passenger side of my own car, his lips close to my ear as he leaned in.
"We're going to get a few things straight, Marie," he said softly. I shivered as his breath caressed my ear. Where was this coming from?
"You are exactly the kind of girl a real guy wants. You've got curves no sane man would turn down, one of the most kissable mouths I've ever seen, and a face angels would kill for. You're smart, funny, and you know about cars and sports, which trust me, can turn a guy on pretty quick. So if I ever see you crying because some idiot who probably can't get it up for anything but another guy told you differently again, you're in trouble, darlin'," Logan practically growled at me.
He pulled back just enough to stare into my shocked eyes for a moment. I honestly thought that I imagined the dark lust I saw in that look-until he pulled the thin scarf that I was wearing up over my mouth and kissed me, hard and fast, with our bodies still pressed tightly together. Even in my alcohol-induced fog, I could tell that he was interested, at least physically.
Logan pulled away without warning, leaving me leaning against the car trying to control my shaking legs. My heart was pounding as I got up the nerve to look him in the eye again. We could have stood there for hours. I honestly don't know how long it was. Finally, he said, "Get in the car, Marie."
Never have I obeyed anyone as quickly as I did him, even though I had to fumble a little with the door handle before I finally managed to open it. I collapsed into my seat, not even caring about the damn seatbelt, although I sure jumped when he reached across to buckle it for me.
I can admit that I enjoyed that kiss far more than I ever enjoyed anything I let Bobby do without going back into the adolescent-crush stage, can't I?
The drive home was quiet. I didn't know what to say to Logan after our little interlude against the Jag, so I watched the scenery and tried to pretend that it wasn't swaying to its own beat. He turned the radio on and blasted some rock station the whole way. I let myself drift away onto the music until we were pulling into the garage.
I tried to get out of the car before Logan, but, not as affected by the binge we'd just shared as I was, he was opening my door before I could do more than unbuckle and scramble to find the handle. I took a deep breath before I accepted the hand he offered to help me out.
When he pulled me out, I somehow ended up standing a little too close to him. Maybe it was my drunken self doing it, maybe it was him, I really didn't know. I also didn't care. There was something about his eyes that both drew me in and frightened me, so I stumbled back a step and ran into the car. He just sighed and guided me to the side so he could shut the door.
Logan led me upstairs and to my room, all without saying a word. In my dizzy mind, I was hoping that he would just forget about what happened and leave me there with no more words between us. Instead, he went into my bathroom, grabbed a bottle of aspirin and a glass of water, and made me take the damn pills. Then he helped me into bed, fully clothed, and pulled the blanket up over me. He leaned in, and for the second time that night I felt his warm breath on my skin.
"Remember, Marie, it's girls like you who excite guys like me," he said, running his lips over mine quickly enough that my mutation didn't start to pull him in. Leaving me with that goodnight kiss to remember, he slipped out of my room and closed the door.
I lay here right now, with my eyes closed, and wonder if it all really happened. Could I have dreamed it? If I hadn't, what am I going to do about it? Am I really brave enough to take on the Wolverine? I think that tomorrow is soon enough to find out the answers to those questions.
I didn't start today with any specific homicidal thoughts. Sure, with the kids running around this place, screeching and screaming at each other, most mornings made me want to growl and pace and intimidate them into just a few…damn…seconds…of quiet. Just a few. That's all I ask. Not that I get it, but that's what I want. I don't actually want to kill any of them.
Of course, once they graduate from this place they're not really kids anymore, right? So I still don't want to kill any of the kids. I want to kill one young man in particular, though. I'm practically seeing through a red haze as thick as Scooter's pretty crystal visor right now.
When I saw Marie earlier, curled up in a ball and crying her eyes out, I knew that I was going to be busting heads. She wasn't crying like her favorite pet had died or her car broke down, in grief or frustration. I know a lot of females cry for either of those reasons, a lot, but Marie never has, and she wasn't then either. I could smell the anger, self-loathing and disappointment radiating from her along with the wet, salty scent of her tears. It was what had drawn me from the garage down to the small stand of trees circling the lake.
Taking Marie out to that bar hadn't done much good for my temper, although I think she needed it more than she wanted to admit. When she started to really open up about why she was crying it took all of my willpower not to shred every piece of furniture in that stupid place. Then before I knew it I pulled her out the door, pressed her up against her own car and kissed her.
Maybe that makes me a bastard. But by the time I pulled away, Marie didn't look like she was going to cry anymore. Instead, she looked dazed and beautiful, and I realized every word I had just said to her was true. Girls like her were a huge turn-on for me. I like them bold and a little brassy at the right moments, which Marie is growing into in spades. I like that I don't have to dumb down my conversations about in internal workings of cars or the plays during the last hockey game with her. Hell, Marie joins me most nights when there's a good game on. The only times she's missed a game was when she had a date with Popsicle. I guess now she'll have plenty of time for watching hockey, which suits just fine.
However, knowing what that little shit did to Marie doesn't suit me at all. In fact, as I stalk down the dark halls tracking the combined scent of too-sweet perfume and ice, all I can think about is rearranging his face just a little. I want to take away that smug smirk I'm sure he wore when he was telling Marie how worthless he thought she was. Worthless. Hah! She's worth more than that asshole will ever be, both in combat and in life. I can tell he already has another piece just waiting for him, and I know just who it is and what I'll see when I find them. Yeah, I've seen them whispering too each other the last few weeks, heads close together, bodies just barely touching. I figured that one way or the other Popsicle was going to break things off with Marie. I just didn't think he'd be such an ass about it. Maybe he thought she'd never tell. Too bad for him that I know how to make Marie talk.
It doesn't take me long. They're obviously done hiding. Instead, they decided snuggle up in the rec room and have a heavy make-out session. Amateur. If he wants to get into that girl's pants, he'd have more luck finding a nice secluded place with less chance that someone might sneak up on him. Kitty's a little skittish like that.
"Popsicle, I need a word with you. Now," I say, dropping a heavy hand onto his cold shoulder. I squeeze unmercifully as I pull him away from the mousy brown-haired girl. I will probably never understand why the hell he would want to give up Marie for her, but I'll thank my lucky stars anyway.
Bobby actually has the nerve to sneer at me. "What do you want, Wolverine?" he asks as he tries to shake off the hand I still have clamped on his shoulder.
"You and I are going to have a little talk. Kitty, you might as well go on upstairs. Bobby-boy isn't going to be much use to anyone tonight," I say, not even looking at the girl. I start dragging Bobby out of the room.
"I'm not going anywhere with you!" The little punk actually tries to stand up to me. It would be cute from one of the girls, but the guys around here usually know better than to challenge me.
I shove him against a wall and lean in close, allowing him to see the rage in my eyes by the dim light from the kitchen just beyond us.
"If you know what's good for you, Popsicle, you won't try to fight this." I growl in satisfaction when he drops his eyes.
I barely notice Kitty ghosting past us as I pull Bobby into the elevator. The girl is terrified. She should be. After the elevator has started up, I open a hidden panel and press a few buttons in a certain sequence only I know. Only then do I let go of the boy's shoulder and shake out my hand, covered in ice.
"So I guess Rogue went and cried to you, huh?" he asked sullenly.
I stared down at him, raising an eyebrow at the way he thrust his jaw forward. "Boy, she didn't have to. I've been smelling you and your little slut, what you've been doing, for the past few weeks. I wasn't sure you'd have the balls to actually call things off before you went and had sex with Kitty, but somehow you managed to man up enough. I don't give enough of a fuck about you to care except—" and here I slam a hand into the wall next to his head. He flinches, which makes me growl in satisfaction. "—that you decided to be such an ass to Rogue when you broke up with her that you deserve the beating you're about to get. I figured you should know why you're about to get that beating, and why you won't say a damn word about it to anyone. Because if your little friends, especially your new little girlfriend, found out exactly what you said to my girl, your life here would become very, very uncomfortable."
He's scared now and doesn't try to open his big mouth, which is smarter than I gave him credit for. I press a few more buttons and close the panel. The elevator descends.
Hours later we take the elevator back up, all the way to the level where our bedrooms are. I clap a hand on his back to push him out into the hall. He stumbles, moans low under his breath and leans against the far wall. Even in the dark I can tell that he is glaring at me through the two black and blue circles around his pretty-boy blue eyes. They match the split and swollen lip beneath them. As he moves he holds one arm close to his side. I probably didn't break it. Might only be a hairline fracture. He limps to his door, making me grin savagely. I did my best to make sure that the bruises covering his skin from shoulder to shins would be reminders of how you're not supposed to treat a girl for a good few weeks at least.
Just as Bobby is about to open his door, I stalk over to him and lean down again. His glare turns into terror.
"Just one more thing," I whisper harshly, low enough to any potential eavesdroppers won't hear. "I wanted to say thanks. Guys like me can wait a lifetime to get a girl like Rogue. You just made my job easier."
I grin at him and walk down the hall to my own door, just to the left of Marie's.