Title: Rituals
Author: Terri
E-mail: xgrrl26@yahoo.com
Rating: R
Disclaimer: I don't own them, but by now they probably own me......
Feedback: Please!  Pretty please?  Good, bad, and ugly welcome......
Summary: Logan gets to like having some rituals in his life.
Comments:  I'm in a craptastic mood, so no comments.  I was thinking of another one from Rogue's POV - what do you all think?


I usedta not really like havin' a routine, havin' the same things happen over and over.  I always thought it was borin', and plus, people start to expect things that way.  I mean, if you show up to have dinner with someone every night, pretty soon they start to expect that.  And then you're not doin' it 'cause you wanna, you're doin' it so you don't disappoint the other person, and that's not a good thing.  I like havin' my choice about mostly everythin', and routines and expectations ain't conductive to that at all.

But, like most things in my life, that changed when I met Marie.  She don't call 'em routines, though, she calls 'em rituals, which sounds a little more impressive and less borin'.  It all started with phone calls.  When I left, I got to thinkin' that maybe I should just call, you know, once in a while, 'cause even though I knew she'd be just fine on her own, maybe checkin' in to be sure wouldn't be such a bad thing.  After all, Chuck and the x-geeks - they didn't do such a bang-up job when Magneto got a hold of her, I was the one who hadta save her.  Maybe callin' there to check in with her - and just her, not Chuck, and sure as hell not Scooter - would be a good idea.  You know, for her own safety.  After all, I did promise to take care of the girl. 

So I called her on a Tuesday night, pretty late back where she was.  I forgot that first time that I was two time zones away.  But she answered the phone herself, almost like she knew it would be me on the other end.  She does stuff like that a lot, actually, and I'm pretty sure it's 'cause she's got me up in her head.  Anyway, we got to talkin', and I made sure that she was, you know, not bein' chased by any evil mutants at the moment, and then I told her I hadta go.  People get a little pissed when you spend any more than ten minutes on the only payphone in thirty kilometers.  Right before I hung up, she said she was real glad I called and that I could call again anytime.  I said sure.

Two weeks later, it was Tuesday night again, and I got to thinkin' 'bout Marie.  It had been a whole fourteen days and you never know what kinda shit can happen in that kinda time period, so I thought maybe another check-in call was in order.  I honestly wasn't payin' attention to the fact that I called on a Tuesday again, and at around the same time. 

Marie answered again, and said she was glad to hear from me right off.  We got to talkin' a little longer 'cause I'd picked up one of those pre-paid cell phone deals somewhere along the way.  You know, in case of emergency or in case somethin' did happen and she needed to reach me.  I gave her the number and said I'd leave it on, but not to call unless she was in real trouble.  I mean, I'm out here diggin' up my past, and I don't need phone calls 'bout what should she wear to school or that kinda crap.  She took down the number and agreed not to call unless it was some kinda big thing.  She asked how I was doin' and we talked a little more and she said I could call anytime right before she hung up. 

Well, I'm drivin' around, pokin' and proddin' in some of the places Chuck flagged for me, and turnin' up exactly shit.  Another coupla weeks go by, and sure enough, I'm findin' myself pullin' over to the side of the road and givin' Marie a call at the same time, on Tuesday.  I swear, I didn't even notice that time, not at all.  She answered right off, and this time, I could tell somethin' was wrong.  Her voice was pretty sad, not happy like it was when I called before.  She kinda didn't wanna say what was wrong, but she can't really keep anythin' from me when I ask, and she eventually ended up tellin' me 'bout this little trick some of those high school mutie classmates pulled on her.  They set this new kid - Remy - to askin' her out, and when she said yes, they all laughed and made fun of her.  When she got to the part about them callin' her 'freak' I kinda lost it, and the interior of the truck got a nice claw-mark addition to its décor. 

I think she realized I was kinda pissed, and she tried to play it off, sayin' it was almost a week ago now and that Scooter and Jeannie had reprimanded the kids involved and let her move into her own room.  She said that some of the little jackasses even apologized.  Well, I could tell she wasn't feelin' any better about it regardless, so I wasn't either.  I asked her why she didn't call right away when it happened, and she said she could handle it.  Then she broke down cryin'. 

Of course, I offered to come right back and rip each and every one of 'em several new orifices, but she said no, to finish what I went out there for.  She said she knew how important it was to me and all, and that she'd be fine.  It was just kids' stuff, not nothin' life-threatenin'.  Which is true, but it still bugged me pretty good - the thought of her stuck back there all by herself with no one to really look out for her, to make sure the other kids were treatin' her OK.  She just talked me down, though, and by the time we were hangin' up she sounded better, at least.  She said to call anytime and this time she thanked me for lettin' her talk a little 'bout what was on her mind. 

The next time, I'd had Marie weighin' on my mind quite a bit, so I didn't wait two weeks, just one, just until the next Tuesday night.  She sounded a little surprised when she answered but she made a big deal outta sayin' how she was really just fine and feelin' much better and how I shouldn't worry myself about her when I'm in the middle of doin' all this big important stuff.  Well, that right there told me that it *was* still botherin' her, and maybe the little assholes were still bein' mean to her.  I told her she couldn't hide shit from me and that I wanted to know the real deal.  She didn't go into details or nothin' but she did admit it was still botherin' her a little.  She said she'd just hafta get used to it, and that she understood why she was kinda a freak, even in a school fulla freaks. 

I think that was our longest phone call.  Somehow, I got off on a tangent about how she was, like, the epitome of normal when it comes to how a person is and that just 'cause of her skin it didn't make her a bad person or freaky or anythin'.  I ranted and raved and swore at the kids who teased her for a good hour before it all got outta my system.  I dunno if she felt better or what, but she sounded better after that.  I told her I'd call again, and that I'd be home soon, and that she should, just, you know, keep her chin up and not let those little fuckheads get to her.

Before you knew it, I was callin' her every damn Tuesday to talk for an hour or so. I honestly never did notice.  I mean, she never said anythin' like 'talk to you next Tuesday' and I never said anythin' like 'I'll call again in a week' when we hung up.  It just sorted itself out that way.  It only kinda, sorta dawned on me on the last Tuesday phone call, when I told her I was comin' back to Westchester and that I'd be there in a week.  She said that was appropriate that'd be on a Tuesday, and that tickled somethin' in the back of my head, but I didn't fully realize that I'd gotten into the Tuesday phone call ritual with Marie until much later on. 

'Course, as soon as I got back, there were new rituals.  The first one we got into was the Saturday mornin' ritual.  I think it started right off, that first Saturday that I came back.  She still had a week until graduation, and she said that when I had a chance, she wanted some time alone with me to talk about somethin' important.  I said let's go to breakfast on Saturday, and there you go.  That right there was the start of another ritual. 

That first Saturday, we sat down and she ordered just about damn near everythin' on the menu.  Made me worry that she hadn't been eatin' or somethin' at the x-geeks' even though she looked healthy enough.  She kinda played that off, but eventually admitted it was the first time she'd been out to eat in over a year, the first time since she left Mississippi, and she wanted to pack in as much food as possible while she could.  I don't mind tellin' ya, that made me a little sad.  All the other kids went out sometimes, and I wondered why she didn't go.  Well, somewhere between the western omelette and the Belgian waffle, she let it spill that she didn't have a lotta money and that what she had made, she was savin' for college.

I got a little mad at that, which wasn't the best reaction.  I got off into this little rant about how she shoulda told me she needed money and how it looked bad on me that I wasn't takin' care of her.  I realized right after the words were out that I was bein' kinda shitty, but before I opened my mouth to apologize, she said that's kinda what she wanted to get me alone to talk about.  Here, it turns out that she got into this really good college to study art, which she's damn good at, but that her scholarships and loans didn't cover it all.  She said that the Professor offered her free room and board at the mansion while she went to school, but that as a rule, he didn't pay for student's tuition.  Then, with the most nervous look I've ever seen on her, she asks me if she could borrow a little money to help her pay for tuition and books and shit.  She was gettin' teary when she asked and I could tell she was embarrassed just to hafta ask for that.  I knew it musta meant a lot for her to do it.  

I asked her how much she thought she needed, and she said about $5,000 a year was what she thought.  Could be less, could be more, she'd have a better idea once she got a semester or two behind her.  She said she'd worked it all out so that she could get through pretty quick - a lot quicker than four years.  She said she'd go every summer and take more classes than she was really supposedta durin' the normal school year.  She said she'd be done in two and a half years, and she'd start payin' me the money back, with interest, right away.  She was actually startin' to go into how much I should charge her in interest, talkin' 'bout CDs and the fed and all this shit, when I finally got my head outta my ass and said somethin'.

"Marie, I can make $5,000 in a good week, it's no problem.  You don't hafta pay interest or nothin' and you don't hafta pay me back.  I'll give you the money."  I thought that'd make her feel better and she did look relieved.  But she looked pretty sad too.  I figured it was 'cause of what I'd said before, so I tried apologizin' for goin' off, but for some reason that made her even sadder.  She stopped eatin' her chocolate chip pancakes, and started sayin' all this stuff about how she knew it was wrong and it made her a bad person, but that she needed to ask me to take care of her a little and help her out anyway.  She said I'd done so much already that she should never ask me for another thing and she wouldn't, except college was really, really important to her and she wanted to learn art and be an artist one day.  She said it was the only thing she was good at and she felt like she hadta give it a try even if she couldn't really afford it and even if she hadta ask for help from me and the Professor.  Then she said that she'd learned a lot since she'd been at the mansion and that one of the things she learned was not to be proud - that when you're livin' in somebody else's house, on their dime, that you hafta take what you can get and try to get by. 

It kinda hit me in the face then that it wasn't just her gettin' teased and her not fittin' in with the rest of the x-geeks.  She felt like she was livin' on their charity, and that shamed her, but she'd put up with it outta survival.  I understand how that feels, and I hated - *hated* - that she was feelin' that way.   I shoulda realized that she didn't have jack shit in the world and that other kids, other people at the mansion had a lot more than her.  I shoulda realized that wouldn't be good for her, that she'd feel even more separate from them.  Here she is - isolatin' mutation, scary people in her head, and poor as dirt on toppa all that.  The other little muties - they could pay to go out and get ice cream or breakfast or some shit, but she hadta save her money for college 'cause she didn't have a family to fall back on and she was gonna go to school insteada bein' on the team.  Fuck. 

She got pretty quiet after she was done talkin' and it took me a coupla minutes to figure out what I wanted to say and how to get it out right.  Finally, I said that if she was gonna go to school that she might wanna live closer to the school than Westchester.  I don't think she followed me at all at first.  I said that she could probably find a place in the city and that I was plannin' on stayin' in the city a while too.  For 'bout two and a half years.  She started to catch on then.  I said yeah, I might go on a mission or two for Chuck, if the pay's right, but I didn't come back to join the team, so why live in Westchester?  I said that when I picked her up in the first place, I was thinkin' 'bout keepin' her around and that's how it should be now. 

She said a lotta stuff about it bein' expensive and whatever, but I said we'd work that out.  I didn't want her stayin' in that mansion and havin' to be like some kinda outta place step kid.  She shouldn't hafta live like that, and I know I couldn't take seein' her like that too much longer than the few minutes I already did at breakfast.  After a while, she stopped makin' objections and started talkin' about this other program, up in Boston, one that she liked better than the one in New York but that was gonna be too expensive if she hadta pay her own room and board.  Well, I said - why not go there then?  We're gonna hafta pay room and board anyhow and no place could be more expensive than New York City.  She kept sayin' no, it was too late, but then she said she hadn't actually, technically told the Boston school no yet and maybe she could see if they'd still take her.  Pretty soon she was talkin' all about Boston and what kinda apartment we'd get and where.  I knew she was gonna do it then.

We moved out the next Saturday, and we stopped for breakfast before leavin' New York.  She'd found a little one bedroom apartment on the internet.  It was about 40 minutes from her school and was expensive as hell, but real near the T line and actually pretty cheap for the neighborhood.  I didn't really say nothin' 'bout it bein' just one bedroom and neither did she.  Chuck and the x- geeks sure did, though.  In fact, that was the main topic of conversation.  Logan, what are you doin' with her, she's young.  Logan, don't lead her on like that, it's wrong.  Logan, you're takin' advantage of her.  Yeah, whatever. 

When we sat down to breakfast, she ordered a lotta food again, but a little less than that first time.  Pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits, home fries.   She didn't say much, so I knew she was thinkin' 'bout somethin'.  I can still remember the exact words she said to me:

"I talked to Jean before we left."


"Yeah.  She said I'm taking advantage of you, you know, by having you support me and all.  She said that it wasn't fair to ask you to help put me through school and - "

"Aw, fuck that."

"I know, I know, but I think she's got a little point there, and I just want to make sure that - "

"That I'm not gonna expect somethin' back from you 'cause of what I'm doin, right?  You wanna make sure that I'm not gonna expect sex outta you in exchange for helpin' you out, right?"  I knew what the x-geeks thought of me and it wasn't hard to guess what Jeannie mighta said.  I was a little pissed that Marie would even wonder 'bout that, and I let the anger come out in my words.  In the next second after I was finished, when Marie got this absolutely mortified and shocked look on her face, though, I could tell I'd fucked up.

"No!  Why would - why would I ever think *that*?"


"You've never, ever given me that idea.  Not even a little bit, not at all."

""Well, ah, good, 'cause - "

"I mean, if you wanted to have sex with me, you wouldn't have to go through all this.  You could pretty much just ask."  That's the point at which, once again, Marie had done somethin' to change my whole world.  I'd never really considered the possibility of sex with her. Not that I wanted to have sex with her or that I didn't - it just wasn't something that never seriously entered my brain at all.  But now it did.  Now it did.  And it sounded pretty good - Marie, livin' with me, there to have sex with me whenever I wanted to.  Mine, mine, mine.  I started gettin' all kindsa mental pictures 'bout how nice she'd be in bed - maybe a little bit shy, maybe a little hesitant 'cause of her skin, but I started thinkin' 'bout how she's just be really, really *nice* to be with that way.  And especially 'bout how she could be all mine - I'd be the only guy ever to have her.  I liked that idea a lot.

"OK, then."

"Good.  I'm glad we got that cleared up.  I can't imagine why you'd think that I'd think that."

"No, I meant OK then, I'd like to ask for that."  Her eyes got pretty big and for a second I thought I'd heard her wrong or somethin' before.  But then her eyes got really soft.

"OK.  But can we finish breakfast first?"  And that's how the Saturday morning breakfast ritual was cemented.  Ever since that Saturday, we get up, eat, and go back to the car and go at it like rabbits in heat.  That first time, we did it right there, in the far corner of the parking lot of the Perkins.  I'm kinda ashamed to say that I didn't try to make her first time special or at least in a bed, but I didn't wanna wait.  And I don't think she did either.  Later, a coupla Saturdays down the road, she said it was our special Saturday ritual and I told her I could stand developin' a helluva lot more rituals if they were all gonna go like that.

Once we started livin' together, a lotta other rituals did get goin'.  I think my favorite is the Sunday ritual.  You get the whole nine yards durin' football season, but most of it works on non- football Sundays too.  First thing is - we sleep in.  I'm usually up early, but I stay in bed with Marie, lettin' her sleep until she wakes up.  It's usually somewhere around nine, but sometimes she's slept as late as eleven.  She's real busy durin' the week, and I work a lotta nights - bouncin' for Southie bars and whatnot.  So Sunday's our day to rest. 

When she gets up, we go out to the livin' room and she puts on ESPN for me.  Then she goes into the kitchen and makes breakfast.  Usually eggs, bacon, and toast.  Not the big Saturday breakfast, but, you know, somethin' that'll stick to your ribs.  Then we eat in fronta the TV, usually durin' NFL Countdown.  I clean up and then we watch the rest of the pre-game stuff together and drink some coffee.  Sometimes she reads the paper while she's watchin' TV.  She don't like football as much as me.

When the first game starts, she starts gettin' together some kinda Sunday dinner.  Sometimes it ain't fancy - maybe just some chili in the crock pot or some pot roast in the oven.  Since I cook most nights durin' the week and have supper ready for her when she gets home, she likes to do the cookin' on Sunday.  It's kinda nice, and it makes me feel sorta manly - I'm watchin' football while my woman's makin' me some grub in the kitchen. 

When she's got dinner goin', she'll usually curl up with me on the couch to watch the rest of the first half.  Most of the time, I'll start kissin' and touchin' her a little, and usually, we end up doin' it right there on the couch before the half.  At first, when we started havin' sex, it was a little tricky.  Not 'cause of her skin, but 'cause of all the emotions.  She's *really* emotional in bed, and that made me uncomfortable for the first coupla months.  I just wasn't used to it, and to be honest, it scared the bejesus outta me.  All this love, all this tenderness - I had no idea what the hell to do with that.  After a while, I got used to it and just tried to open myself up to her and let some of those emotions in.  Now, I've been tryin' to find little ways to give emotions like that back to her insteada just suckin' 'em up.

Anyway, back to Sundays.  She usually snoozes after sex, durin' halftime, and I wake her up around the fourth quarter to check on whatever dinner is.  We eat somewhere in the first half of the second game, and then I clean up.  I usually snooze a little durin' the second half, but Marie has standin' instructions to wake me up for Sunday Night Football. 

She don't watch the night game - she heads to the bedroom to do her beauty routine.  Lemme tell ya, that's a routine for sure - there's no way it's pleasant enough to be a ritual.  I've only seen parts of it, but I've seen her with goop in her hair, some kinda mud all over her face, and little strips of cotton attached by hot wax to her upper lips.  It's just not natural, what women do.  The last straw for me was when she used Nair on certain parts.  That stuff smells horrible, and I just couldn't stand it.  I ended up throwin' open every window in the apartment.  Now, she shuts the bedroom door and the bathroom one too and uses the connectin' door between 'em to get her things done.  I just leave her alone durin' that. 

She's usually all done by the half, and if it's a good game, she'll come out and watch the rest of it with me.  Usually, it ain't, so she just climbs in bed.  If she gets in naked, I put some clothes on, if she's covered up, I go naked - I let her pick.  We have a lotta sex and then try to get a little sleep before she hasta get up for classes in the mornin'.  It's a good ritual. 

In fact, there's only one ritual I like better - but that's not one we do often.  Maybe just a dozen or so times in the past few years.  It's the after-mission ritual, and Chuck would probably have a conniption if he knew about it. 

The first time I came back after a mission Chuck asked me to sit in on, my uniform was trashed and I'd taken some pretty good punishment.  I healed, of course, but Marie could tell it had been bad.  She just led me right into the bathroom and stripped my clothes off, then ran a nice, warm bath for me to get into.  Now, normally, I'm a shower kinda guy.  Baths remind me of rubber duckies and other pansy-ass shit.  But it looked pretty invitin' and Marie said she'd wash me. 

Well, this was back when all the emotional stuff was still freakin' me out pretty good, and as she started washin' me - really lovin', really gentle - I got kinda squirmy and I wanted outta the tub.  Marie got this look in her eye - part searchin', part I dunno what - and she started touchin' me, you know, sexually, while I was in the tub.  And not tender, not gentle - just real hard and real fast, real focused on givin' me a release.  That convinced me to stay put. 

I don't think I ever came quite that hard before.  And when I was catchin' my breath, Marie started washin' me again, gentle like before, and somehow, it wasn't so bad.  It wasn't botherin' me as much.  She washed every little part of me - behind my ears, between my toes, back of my neck - and then told me to get on the bed. 

Despite the sex I still had a lotta pent-up energy in there, and I was gettin' a little growly.  Marie told me to relax, and to flip over onto my stomach.  I did, feelin' kinda weird about it, but willin' to go along a little bit.  As I was mentally calculatin' how long before I could flip back over and jump on Marie, I felt her hands spread some warm oil all over me.  She was wearin' her softest gloves and it dawned on me that this was her way of tryin' to relax me.  She took her time, massagin' me real slow and real deep.  It felt good.  I felt like I was floatin', just completely relaxed and taken care of.  Somehow, she knew or remembered from lookin' at my uniform, all the places I'd been hurt and she paid special attention to those, even though they were well healed-over.  Somethin' about that touched me real deep. 

When she was done with that side, she flipped me over onto my back, and did the same thing on my front.  But when she reached my hips, she reached over for a condom and then gave me the best oral sex I've ever had in my whole life.  I didn't let her finish the massage after that - I hadta have her.  She was real good with me - very gentle and let me kinda go as hard or as soft as I needed to.  That first time, I was kinda ashamed at how growly and rough I'd been, but she curled up right next to me in bed, just like always, like it was OK.

The next mornin', there were bruises all over her and then I *really* felt like shit.  She just said a lotta stuff 'bout how she wanted to give me whatever I needed and that she knows I wouldn't hurt her, not really.  I was still pretty worried, but she kissed me and started makin' out with me and before I knew it we were havin' some nice, gentle sex.  I made sure she was satisfied a coupla times over.  She skipped her classes that day, and I spent the rest of the day just bein' nice, lettin' her hold me, kissin' her and doin' stuff for her. 

And that became the standard after-mission ritual.  Now, every time I come back and hear that bath water runnin', I get excited.  I still get a little rougher than I like with her sometimes, but somethin' in me needsta take her that way and make sure she's mine.  It's animal, I know.  And most of the time, I think she really, really gets that, really understands.  She does have me in her head, after all.  But now that she's almost done with school, she's mentioned a coupla times, real casual, that once she graduates, she's hopin' I won't go on missions anymore.  She says it's 'cause she gets scared for me and 'cause she doesn't like me to make money by gettin' hurt.  I told her that's all I know, and besides, it's what I do good.  I wonder if she's askin' me to stop 'cause I am a little too rough with her sometimes. 

I started thinkin' a little about all these rituals we have together now and thinkin' 'bout how most of 'em, Marie started.  She starts 'em and keeps 'em goin' and manages to make 'em seem special and somethin' to be looked forward to insteada somethin' that's tyin' me down.  I actually *like* knowin' what I'll be doin' every Sunday.  I've been thinkin' a lot 'bout that and 'bout what to do to make some nice things for Marie too.  In a way, a lotta the givin' in this relationship is comin' from her, and I know it can't be that way all the time.  I mean, if you think about it, sure, I give stuff - money, protection, I saved her life a coupla times and almost gave mine in the process.  But she gives all the love in this thing here.  And not only that, she found a way to do it that doesn't make me feel threatened by it or freaked out.  Well, not any more.  I still haven't said the words, you know.  I still haven't said I love her out loud. 

The fact is - and I'd never admit this to anyone, not even Marie - the fact is that I don't wanna lose what I got.  All that love from her, all the things she does for me and all the things we do together - I don't wanna lose it.  I need it.  I want it.  I don't ever want it to go away.  And I know that for now, while I'm supportin' her money-wise and lookin' out for her in the big, bad world, it's easy for her to think to herself - sure, he's kinda shitty sometimes, but he's doin' a lot for me.  When she's on her own two feet, when she sees that she don't need me to get by, she's not gonna put up with me not sayin' the 'I love you's and doin' stuff just for her once in a while.  She's gonna take a good look around and say to herself - hey, I got a lot to offer and why am I wastin' it on some asshole who puts bruises on me in bed and sits on the couch like a lump watchin' football all day?  Now, I'm still pretty close to bein' her hero, but mark my words, all that'll change soon enough if I don't do somethin' about it. 

So I've been thinkin' 'bout makin' a little ritual of my own.  Somethin' Marie would like, somethin' that would be givin' stuff to her, not just takin' all the time.  Nothin' that'd ask for her to change who she is or do somethin' she don't want 'cause God knows she don't ask those things of me.  I thought of a lotta ideas - OK, most of 'em revolved around sex - but it took a while to hit on a good one.  Today's the day I'm gonna roll it out.  Today's the day I'm gonna try it out on her and see how she likes it.

"Hey, darlin', do you know what today is?"

"Um, Friday?"

"Yeah, but other than that - other than Friday."  I ain't pullin' this off as smooth as I thought. 

"It's the twenty-ninth?"

"Uh, yeah, but it's another thing too."  Oh yeah, very good, Logan.  You almost don't sound like a total jackass.  Might as well just come right out with it.  "It's the day I'm takin' you to the museum.  You know, the one with the paintin's, not the one with the dinosaurs.  You and me, we're spendin' the afternoon there."

"The museum?  Why?"  I can tell she likes it already - she's smilin' and her eyes get to sparklin' a little.

"Well, 'cause I know you like it and 'cause the third Friday of every month, they have people who go around and give ya a tour of one of the, uh, collections?  Yeah, collections - they give you a tour for free of one of the collections.  I know you really like that shit, so I thought we'd start goin'."


"Yeah."  It's a sealed deal.  She does like it, and I can tell that she's a little surprised that I thought of it.  "Grab some stuff and we'll hop on the T."  Wait a sec - she's not gettin' her coat or anythin', she's comin' over here.  Aha - she wanted to kiss me, on the facial hair.  Nice. 

"Thanks, Logan.  That's really good of you.  I know museums aren't your thing."

"Yeah.  C'mon.  Let's get goin'."  I think that maybe soon I can say it.  I sure felt like sayin' the words right there, with her in my arms, lookin' up at me so soft, so full of love.  She says it all the time.  Maybe I can say it soon.  Maybe that'll be another new ritual I can make for us, sayin' it every day.  Maybe soon.


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