Eighteen Cities in Twenty-One Days

Title: Eighteen Cities in Twenty-One Days
Author: Terri
Email: xgrrl26@yahoo.com
Rating: R for language and violence, some sexual inneuendo.
Summary: Sequel to Eighteen Letters and One Phone Call. Logan and Marie hit the road, and we get a glimpse of their trip from them and the people they run into along the way.
Series: Eighteen #2
Disclaimer: Jake, Mary Louise, Professor Heller, Betty, Bob, the general, Moonbeam Charisma, Jim, Jeremy, Rick and Louann are mine, all mine. Everyone else is not. The places are all real, but a lot of creative licencse has been taken.
Archive: Ask, and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Please! Pretty please?
Comments: Thanks to all who encouraged me so much! And to all the fabulous writers on the list who have kept me addicted to this couple


Westchester, New York - September 20th

It's like, so totally romantic, you know? Wolverine came back today, and he went straight for her. Total B-line right to her room, like he knew where she was and everything. Maybe he sniffed her out. How weird that he can smell her like that - like, what if she gets all bad-smelling or sweaty or something? Ew. But still, it's so very. Kitty and I stuck our heads out into the hall and watched him stalk right up to her door. And she must totally have Wolvie-radar, because she opened the door before he even knocked. God, are these two meant to be together, or what?

She got this freakin' huge smile on her face when she saw him, and, damn, I've never seen the girl look so happy. The scary thing is that he smiled back too, just a little. It did NOT look natural on him, no way. Anyway, she just leans on the door frame, real seductive, and says "hey" in that little drawl of hers. He says hey back, all gruff and manly and everything. The she just steps back inside the room and he throws his duffel bag in and closes the door behind him.

I thought for damn sure they went right at it. I know her skin totally sucks, but, damn, he's a man of the world and everything, right? I bet he totally knows how to get around that and still make her scream his name. But when I saw Roguey at lunch later, she just said they had some talking to do, and that they were gonna see the Professor after lunch. I told her, shit, girl, that man is good for more than talking to! She totally blushed bright red and was all like, "It's not like that." Yeah, right. Tell yourself another one, chica.

Then he came and sat down beside her with, like a mountain of food on his plate. So much food I thought he might break the china, you know? Now, either he worked up an appetite up there in her room and she's lying like a rug, or he's got one hell of a metabolism. Anyhow, she gives him this little sideways glance, and there's that freakin' huge Rogue smile again. He didn't smile back this time - maybe one per lifetime is his quota - but she didn't seem offended by that. I guess not - I mean, have you seen his body? Shit, he could offend the hell out of me before I'd kick him out of my bed!

Anyhow, he's shoveling down the grub, and she's kinda stealing little glances at him and picking at her food. I totally couldn't stand the sexual tension, and I had to say something. So I asked what they were gonna talk to the Prof about. He gave me a look, and OK, it was a little scary, but I figured Rogue wouldn't let him gut me or anything. I'm her bestest friend, right? So she - I swear to God! - put her hand on his thigh, and said that she'd talk to me after she talked to the Professor, and not to worry about it. Then she looked at him and smiled a little, and he went back to attacking the food. I made some excuse and totally bailed. Not that he scared me or anything. I wanted to give them some thigh-squeezing privacy, you know?

Well, my bud Rogue was true to her word. She came to talk to Kitty and me later that day. She totally looked sad, and I wondered if the Prof kicked the Wolvmeister out for nailing her or something. Then she said, real soft, that she was leaving the school for a while, and that she'd miss us and write when she gets a chance. Shit! I totally didn't see that coming. I mean, why would the Prof kick her out? It's not her fault she can't keep her hands off Wolvie's bod! I told her so, and she laughed pretty hard, and said it's totally not that. She said she just wanted to get away for a while, and that she was gonna hit the road with Wolvie. Only she calls him "Logan." How very swoon-worthy!

Kitty and I totally jumped for joy and started rounding up our condoms. Because, I mean, damn, all alone on the road with him? Shit, all kinds of condom use was gonna be necessary! Interstate condom use, even. Roguey got all bright red and flustered, and said no to the condom-o-rama. She said they were taking her jeep, and that it'd be crowded enough with all her paint and canvases, and that she wasn't gonna need them. Kitty and I tried to convince her, but she wouldn't budge. We totally snuck one in her pocket anyhow.

We said goodbye and all, and she left an hour or so later, Wolvmeister in tow, in her cute little jeep. It was real sad, but there was one good thing - I guess the Wolvster gave back Mr. Summers' bike. Which is all good because everyone in this mansion is sick of hearing him bitch and moan about how much he misses that damn thing. I think he has something new to have a stick up his ass about, though, because Rogue wouldn't tell anyone where they were headed. I think the Prof knows. He knows everything, right? Maybe it's just their business, that's all. I just hope she'll be OK, and I hope she gets over her weird shyness thing and gets a little while she's out there. After all, a girl has needs, right?


Quakertown, Pennsylvania - September 21st
Jake, Quakertown Hunter Supply

Ya know, you see a hell of a lot of things in a small town. Not many people would think that. They tend to think you gotta go to the big city to see anything worthwhile. But there's all kinds of interesting stuff to see, pretty much no matter where you are. Take the couple that came into my store today, for example.

They weren't from around here, you could tell that right off. Pretty young thing with the biggest brown eyes you've ever seen comes in with this real rough lookin' cowboy. Man had mutton chops like I haven't seen in years, one hell of a big-ass belt buckle, and itchin' for a fight looked like his natural expression. At first I thought they were brother and sister or cousins or some kinda kin, but after a few minutes, I caught the way he was checking on her, and I realized - uh-uh. Now, my wife and my preacher always say it's not Christian to judge a book by it's cover, but this guy had to be bad news, and I didn't want ta imagine how a sweet little thing like her got hooked up with him.

But I generally keep to myself. What other people do is their business, that's one thing livin' in a small town teaches ya, for sure. So I just let the both of 'em browse to their hearts' content. Finally he comes up to the counter and asks to see a couple of the knives on display. I show him what I got, and, I don't mind sayin' so myself, I carry quality merchandise. He looks it all over, and, while he's checking it out, I take a look over at her. She's sorting through the gloves, apparently lookin' for something in particular. Not many women come into a hunting supply store, but I know the look a woman gets when she's shoppin' for something. Been married twenty-eight years, after all. Bound to learn a thing or two about the habits of the opposite sex.

And then I noticed that she's wearing gloves now even though we're having a pretty good run of an Indian Summer this week. That's not a good sign. Might be wearin' them to cover bruises or something, and with this guy, I can see how that could happen. Come to think on it, she's pretty much covered head to toe. Something definitely wrong about that. Now, like I said, I keep to my own, but bustin' up on little girls gets my goat.

So I asked the guy where he's from, careful to wait until he hands the knives back. He just kinda grunts at me, and asks to see a different knife, one in the back of the display. I ask him if the girl is his sister as I go to get it, and he gives me a hard look. The kinda look that probably a lot of guys saw right before they saw stars. Now, I used to be a rough-and-tumbler back in the day, but there's no way this old body can go toe to toe with a big young buck like him. On the other hand, I kinda felt sorry for the girl and wanted to help her if I could. So I hand over the knife, against my better judgment, and call out to her to ask if there's anything I can help her with.

She turns around and smiles, and heads over to the counter carrying a pair of very nice leather gloves. She sidles right up beside him like she doesn't have a care in the world and says "I'll take these" in the sweetest little southern accent you've ever heard. She's close enough so I can see there's no bruises on her face or neck, and I think maybe I had it wrong. But maybe not, so I say sure, darlin' and is there anything else I can get for you?

Well, she looks over at him, and then I know I had it all wrong, 'cause he looks back at her and he looks like a completely different person. Oh, he still looked like a certified bad-ass, but his body relaxed, and there was a warmth in his eyes. He looked kinda human, not so much like an asshole. And I started thinkin' that maybe he was helping her like I wanted to. Hell, the girl kind of gets that response out of ya. That, and maybe my preacher and my wife know what the hell they're talking about every once in a while.

He says he'll take the knife, and points out a few other supplies. The gloves she picked are expensive, very fine leather, but he just pays for it all. With cash. She thanks him for the gloves and the way he grunts back at her a little tells me that whatever her deal is, he's not the cause of it. I seen a lot of human nature, and a lot of people who are into weapons and hunting are into other things too. He wasn't one of those people. I can just tell.

Anyway, they leave and I see that they're in a little jeep with New York plates. Didn't figure them for New Yorkers. The out-of-towners we get here don't usually come from any farther away than Philadelphia. I wish them luck, you know, whatever they're doing. They made for a damn interesting afternoon, at least.


Erie, Pennsylvania - September 22nd
Marie's Journal

Well, we've been on the road a couple days now, and I wanted to start this journal. The Professor recommended it, said it might help keep me grounded and help me sort things out. I don't think the Professor liked the idea of me leaving with Logan too much. He's just looking out for me, I know, but it's my decision, and, not to be mean or anything, but he doesn't have all that great a track record at keeping me safe. Logan does.

And speaking of Logan, oh Lord. I just know he must've found out some pretty disturbing things while he was gone. He's been more growly and sulky than usual, even for him. And he acts a little different toward me, even. When he first got home, he was glad to see me, I could tell, and it's not like he's not glad to have me with him, but every time he looks at me there's this sad look underneath, and I just wish I knew what it meant. It's almost like he did something wrong or hurt me somehow and now he doesn't know how to make up for it. I tried telling him a couple times that whatever he found, he was still the same Logan to me. I don't think he believes that.

It was a little sad to leave. Even though I really didn't live there all that long, the mansion felt like home to me. We packed light, and I took more art supplies than clothes, I think. I tried not to take too many of the things I hadn't bought with my own money, even if the Professor said not to worry about it. Scott and Jean caught me before I left and gave me $1,000, they said as a belated birthday present. I didn't want to take it, but Jean insisted, and Scott said that it was always good to have a nest egg. I know he meant - if Logan dumps you on the side of the road somewhere - but I said thank you anyway.

Jubes and Kitty - it was harder to leave them than I thought. Being an only child and all, I never had any sisters, and I guess they're as close as I'll ever get. I have to admit, the way they acted when Logan came back was a little embarrassing. Like I was off on some big sex-fest or something. I know they think I'm totally digging him because I wear the tags all the time, but it's really not like that. I don't think I could explain our relationship if I tried, and they don't really understand that it's more about me being with him because it's safest than it is about us being together. Even after what happened with Sabretooth, they just kind of don't get it. They think it's some kind of cool adventure, getting kidnapped and waiting to be rescued. It's not really like that at all.

I do feel better with Logan, though. Not many people get to have that, someone who just completely looks out for them. I know I'm lucky. He's very cautious, and wants to make sure that we lose Sabretooth, or whoever from the Brotherhood might be following or watching. He had me dye the white out of my hair so I'm less recognizable, and he convinced me to keep the clothing to a minimum. It's also why we're in Erie - he's buying some tickets for the ferry to Canada to throw anyone following off our trail. It'll look like we crossed over here, but we're not really going over for a while yet. He won't tell me exactly where we're going, he just said I'd see about a dozen towns in about two weeks, and then we'd be in Canada, which sounds good to me. I trust him to figure it all out.

So far, we stopped in this tiny town in eastern Pennsylvania. We picked up some supplies - Logan asked if I wanted to learn to use a gun, and I said no, I felt more comfortable with a knife. I have no idea where the hell that came from, it just popped right out. He didn't even comment, just bought a couple knives and some other stuff and said he'd show me. I wonder how he ever learned to fight with a knife since he has the claws - I mean, you'd just use those if you had them handy, right? But I'm looking forward to it. I want to be able to defend myself if something does happen. I asked him to teach me some hand to hand too, and he said he would. That, I don't doubt he's the best ever at. I've seen him fight.

I got some good gloves too. That reminds me of something weird. When we got in the Jeep and drove out of Westchester, one of the first things he said to me was to take the gloves off. I figured he just wanted me to be comfortable, or maybe he remembered how I wrote that I like to go around with them off when I'm in my own room. So I figured OK, good. But when we stopped for gas and to pee, I started putting them back on, and he said to leave them off. I started to argue about it, but he wasn't having it. He said just try it, you can put them on next stop if you don't like it. So I did and I swear to God I was just about hyperventilating the whole time. I can't imagine what made him ask me to do that. I mean, he should know better than anyone how much I can hurt someone - I've almost killed him twice.

Well, I made it through going to the bathroom, then I ran back to the Jeep and put my gloves on in record time. I was almost hysterical. I think he was disappointed. He didn't make a fuss about me leaving them on at the next stop. I tried explaining that it wasn't all about me being comfortable, or not hurting other people on accident, or whatever, it was that I was risking having someone in my head permanently if I touched them. I'd have to live with them forever, and who knows who I could end up touching. I don't think I explained it right, because he just looked as down as I've seen him and all he said was "gotcha" then "sorry, kid." I said it was fine and not to worry, and I made sure to tell him what I just said wasn't some comment on having him in my head, that I liked having him with me. He didn't seem to buy that. I think he feels bad about it, but he saved my life, and I honestly do like having him up there. It's helped me more than I could explain. I need someone up there that I don't hate (Magneto) and who doesn't hate me for almost killing him with my first kiss.

Things were a little odd between us for a few hours, but by the time we stopped for the night, it was OK again. I think he would've stayed in a real seedy motel - I saw him checking a few out, but he picked a moderately nice one. One bed, which we both slept in, and let me tell you, that was an adventure. Not that I minded sleeping with him, but there was a high potential for death by claw or poison skin. Not very conducive to a good night's sleep, ordinarily. He didn't say anything, I think he just assumed we'd share. And after the glove incident, I didn't feel like I could argue with him about it without making him feel bad, and he was mostly covered in long thermal underwear anyway, so I just hopped in and ignored it. Actually, it turned out to be really easy to fall asleep. He's like some kind of human furnace when it comes to body heat and I was all warm and cozy even though I wasn't touching him. No nightmares for either of us, and a sound sleep was had by all. I can only imagine what Jubes and Kitty would think!

Well, enough for now. More tomorrow, from who knows where. This, unlike being kidnapped, is kind of a cool adventure.


South Bend, Indiana - September 23rd
Mary Louise, Student Guide, University of Notre Dame

Professor Heller,
As a psychology major, I have found giving guided tours around the University an excellent observational exercise. I conducted one of my most interesting tours to date this afternoon, and was inspired to use this experience as the focus of my elective paper for Psychology 379, Human Behavior. Wanting to document the experience while it is still fresh in my mind, I decided to turn in this summary statement and a preliminary draft immediately. It is my hope that you will agree to review my draft and consult with me on revisions prior to the deadline of October 1st. Thank you for your consideration.

Generally, university tours are made up of prospective students and their parents, alumni who have returned to campus after an absence of some length, or tourists, mostly Catholics or football fans, who have always wanted to visit the University. Today's tour included a pair of each type, and one pair that was not readily identifiable with any of the previously mentioned categories. Marie, one component of the "odd" pair, was a young woman of approximately college age. Initially, she appeared timid and quite shy, and I immediately noticed some anomalous behavior - she rapidly folded her hands over one another repeatedly. The other component of the "odd" pair, a thirtyish man called Logan, radiated openly hostile body language, also an anomaly, given that a tour is normally a light-hearted, pleasant undertaking.

Initially, I hypothesized that Marie was interested in attending Notre Dame, perhaps choosing between Our Lady and Saint Mary's, and perhaps Logan was a relative. However, when asked, she said that she was not considering attending this institution. Her companion, Logan, increased the hostility level of his body language in response to the question, and put a protective hand on her shoulder. I altered my hypothesis, thinking that perhaps Logan and Marie were involved sexually, and that she wanted to attend, but he was in a controlling or dominating role in the relationship. This would not be unusual given the age difference.

The tour began, as always, at the Administration Building, with commentary focusing on its history and the golden done featuring the statue of Mary at the top. It was during the walk from the Administration Building that I noticed more anomalous behavior. Tour guides walk backwards, which provides the intended benefit of allowing the tour group to hear the guide speak as the tour progresses, and the incidental benefit of permitting visual observation of the tour group for purposes of behavioral analysis. As I answered a question from one of the alumni in the group, I noticed Logan continuously checking our surroundings, as though he expected a threat from some direction. This paranoid behavior seemed unremarkable to Marie, who clearly caught him engaging in these surveillance checks periodically but refrained from comment and showed no change in expression. I theorized that perhaps this was common behavior for him, and that she co-dependently enabled his paranoid thoughts and actions. This would be consistent with the controlling relationship I hypothesized earlier.

However, as we reached Stonehenge (the War/Peace Memorial), Marie linked her arm with Logan's and this seemed to produce a diminishment of his earlier paranoid behavior. It was at this point that I also overheard the following exchange:

Marie: You're not having any fun.
Logan: Yes I am.
Marie: This is too out in the open for you, I can tell.
Logan: It's fine.......You're doing good.
Marie: Thanks. It's not so hard.

Based on this exchange, I hypothesized that Marie perhaps had some physical or psychological affliction. For example, agoraphobia, or obessive compulsive disorder. That would explain her timidity, perhaps her constant preoccupation with her hands, and Logan's behavior as well. As we progressed to the library, the physical contact between the couple increased, and Logan's surveilling behavior seemed to decrease proportionately. It was as though by maintaining a physical "hold" on her, he felt less concerned with external threats.

This behavior continued as we reached the stadium, and continued to South Quad. Upon mention of St. Mary's Lake, Marie exchanged a glance with Logan that could be described as mischeivous. Logan asked to be pointed to the lake at the end of the tour, and I complied, showing them to the trail opposite the Grotto. At this point, I thought it may be instructive to continue to observe their behavior unbeknowst to them. I followed them along the lake trail at a distance.

I must note that I believe Logan was aware of my presence, somewhat ameliorating the desired effect. I observed their conversation, which is recounted below, to the best of my recollection and hastily scribbled notes:

Logan: Did your mom really want you to come here?
Marie: At one point. They were Catholic, one of the few Catholic families in our part of Mississippi, and my dad was a rabid football fan, so this was like their mecca.
Logan: They changed their mind?
Marie: They did when they found out about me.
Logan: Shit, sorry.
Marie: Don't worry about it. And thanks for taking me. I know it's not your thing.
Logan: Never really been big on school. At least not that I know of.
Marie: And there's a subject you don't want to talk about.
Logan: Look -
Marie: Never mind, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be all glib about it. Do you want to go to the art museum next?
Logan: Sure. Do all colleges have museums?
Marie: Some of them. This is supposed to be a good one.
Logan: You would've done real good in art here, kid.
Marie: Thanks, sugar.

They continued in silence along the lake for a few moments. As they neared the clearing opposite the grotto, they halted, and this exchange took place:

Marie: Something's wrong.
Logan: No, everything's fine.
Marie: Do you think we're being followed?
Logan: No.
Marie: Then what? Are we in trouble?
Logan: No.
Marie: Logan.....
Logan: I'm sorry about last night.
Marie: It wasn't your fault.
Logan: It's the second time. I'll sleep in the Jeep tonight.
Marie: Please don't. It was an accident, I wasn't hurt at all.
Logan: You could've been.
Marie: And I could've hurt you too.
Logan: It's not the same.
Marie: Why not?
Logan: You wouldn't have meant to.
Marie: Just like you didn't mean to. Hence, accident.
Logan (suddenly very angry): Dammit, kid, you just don't understand. You don't understand.
Marie (angry too): Then explain it to me.
Logan: You don't want to know, believe me, you wouldn't -
Marie: That's such bullshit, Logan. You're full of it. You're not scared to tell me because I'll hate you, you're scared to tell me because I won't. You won't get to punish yourself.
Logan: Dammit, Marie, there are things you can't even imagine -
Marie: I wouldn't make a bet on that, Logan. I've got a magnet (?), oh, in my head, remember? Do you think his past is full of happy fluffy bunny things? Christ!
Logan: What do you want me to say?
Marie: That you know I love you no matter what. And I want you to start acting like it too.
Logan: Marie -
Marie: And I want you to sleep in bed with me, not in the Jeep.
Logan: Marie -
Marie: Wait, I'm not done yet. I also want to go see the museum and finish having a pleasant day before we have to get on the road again. Because something tells me I'm heading for a lot of hours of the silent treatment from you. So let's pretend this whole conversation just never happened, and let's go see the museum. When we get back to the Jeep you can sulk all you want.
Logan: OK.
Marie: OK to what part?
Logan: That last part.
Marie: And the other parts?
Logan: I'll think about it.
Marie (very surprised): Really?
Logan: Yeah.
Marie: Really? You promise?
Logan: Yeah, I promise, kid. Now where the hell is the museum?

At this point, Marie hugged him. This seemed to end their discussion. She once again linked her arm with his and they headed for the museum. Unfortunately, further observation was cut short when I lost them near LaFortune Student Center.

This exchange presents many intriguing possible pathologies - post-traumatic stress syndrome, severe paranoia, delusional behavior, even schizophrenia. I am unsure how to class Marie's comments regarding a magnet in her head. I would like to discuss all of these further before completing a final version of this paper. Please contact me to set an appointment at your convenience.


Jefferson City, Missouri - September 24th
Betty, Perkins Family Restaurant

There's all this talk today about mutants this and mutants that. And you know, we get one or two in here occasionally. I wait on 'em the same as anyone else. I'm careful, sure, 'cause you never know, you know? But they ain't necessarily bad. Just like most folks, you have your good ones and your not so good ones.

So it ain't just because I could tell she was a mutant that I gave her a hard time. I mean, she passed pretty good and all, but I caught her eyes. They flickered yellow every now and then. Can't hide that. But like I was sayin', it wasn't 'cause of that.

She came in a little before midnight and sat up at the counter, all nice and polite-like, and started askin' questions. Now, I worked enough truck stops and no-tell motels to know when someone's pokin' about for information, and she sure was. Askin' about a nice young normal couple that had been in this morning.

Sure, I remembered 'em. Hard to miss, they were. Ordered a shitload of food, real young girl, older guy, looked all lovey-dovey. The girl was havin' a real good time, laughing and gigglin' and all. And he definitely looked amused by her. I wondered if they'd been together long. She was real young, but they sure acted like it. You know, carryin' on just like some old married couple.

I overheard 'em talkin off and on as I waited their table. Heard her tease him about how sleepin' in a warm bed with her turned out to be much better than sleepin' in some old rusty Jeep. Guess they musta had a fight or some such nonsense and maybe she was gonna put him out if he didn't behave. Saw her stab a piece of pancake off his plate and saw him get her back by takin' one of her sausages. She just laughed when he did it, and he looked for all the world like he was wrapped around that little girl's finger when she laughed like that.

But anyhow, this mutant askin' about them - I could tell she was up to no good, even though she said the girl was her sister. See, she tried to spin some tall tale about how the guy kidnapped her and was draggin' her across the country against her will. Believe me, honey, I seen enough of that situation to be able to spot one a mile away, and this wasn't it.

So I told her, real nice like, that sure, I seen 'em, in fact I waited on 'em. She asked if they said anything about where they were goin', and right then, I knew I pegged this filthy little mutant liar right. If she really was the girl's sister and it was goin' down like she said, the first thing outta her mouth woulda been whether the girl was all right. So I spun a little tall tale of my own. Told her I overheard 'em say they were headed straight down to Mexico, and how they wouldn't be stoppin' too much after they left here. Told her that the girl looked OK, in case she was worried, and I think she caught herself a little when I said it.

After she got all she was gonna, she left. Didn't even leave a tip, that one. Goes to show ya my momma, who, god rest her soul, waitressed all her life, was right - good tippers are good people, bad tippers are bad people. And that nice young normal couple tipped real good.


Tulsa, Oklahoma - September 25th
Marie's Journal

Well, I meant to write a little every day, but that's just not working out. We've been on the move and driving a lot. Logan's done most of the driving. Tonight we're in Tulsa, which I've never been to before. Come to think of it, that's true of almost every place we've been.
We got settled in at a Motel 6, and Logan went out "to check on a few things." I think he means to go find a bar fight, but he doesn't want to tell me. He hasn't let me pay for a single thing, even though I've got almost $2,600, counting Scott's money. All Logan does when I offer to pay for something is tease me out of it - he says I should keep my money because he's not planning on ruining his bad-ass reputation by being seen buying art stuff.

We had a little fight a couple states back. He fell asleep while I was up painting, and, a few minutes after I got into bed with him, he shot up and the claws came out. He didn't get me, not even a scratch, but he freaked. I know I might sound like I'm channeling Jubes here, but I honestly think it's because he didn't fall asleep with me already in the bed. It's almost like if he knows I'm in there with him before he falls asleep, he remembers it in his dreams. A couple times during the night, before the claw incident, he'd woken up a little and he just kind of squeezed me or put a hand on me somewhere, then went back to sleep.

He didn't really get back to sleep after that - I woke up to find him sitting in a chair and looking out the window. And he was pissy for the next whole day almost, but he wouldn't talk about the claw incident when I tried to bring it up. So I decided what the hell, we're passing through South Bend, let's go see Notre Dame and at least I can do some sightseeing while he's "working out his issues" as the Professor would say. Well, we finally had it out a little there.

I don't know if I've always had a hot streak, or if I got it from him or what, but I just kind of got fed up and laid it out right there. I told him flat out that I loved him no matter what and that I wanted him to stop being all sulky and just enjoy the rest of the day. And - this surprised the hell out of me, believe me - he said OK, just like that, nice as you please. It shocked me a little, that he'd do that. I didn't think I'd have that much influence over him. He's as stubborn a person as any I've ever met and that he'd change his behavior like that just floored me. I mean, I knew he cared and all - you don't risk your life for someone otherwise - but it's one thing to fight the bad guys for someone and it's a whole other thing to actually change yourself just to give someone what they want from you. It scared me a little, but it also reminded me to be careful with him, you know? He's all rough and tough, but I think if I did anything to him, he might get hurt. That's a lot of responsibility, and it made me wonder if he feels like that about me. Like it's important to be careful.

Well, by the time we pulled over to get a motel, he was better, but he was still planning on spending the night in the Jeep. So I said if he was going to, I was going to too. After several rounds of Jeep/bed/Jeep, he finally agreed to stay in the bed with me. I have to admit I fought a little dirty on that one - I said that I wanted him there in case something happened, or in case I had a nightmare, which is true, but which I really shouldn't use to manipulate him. Even if it's for his own good.

I could tell he wasn't going to be getting any sleep, though, so, after about an hour of us both lying in the dark totally awake, I rolled over and snuggled up against his back. I think he was a little surprised, because before I'd always stayed on my own side of the bed, at least while I was awake. But I just scooted down his body a little and laid my head right between his shoulder blades, put both arms around his waist, and told him to go to sleep, dammit. He said "When did you get so bossy, kid?" but I think somehow it was the right move, because I could feel his body relax a little, and he eventually did fall asleep.

Jubes and Kitty would have a field day with that, I know. And I'll admit - but only here - that I really liked being snuggly with him like that. I could hear him breathing and his heartbeat, and he was really, really warm, and God, it felt so good to hold him. However, and I know this would disappoint the heck out of my ex-roomates, I don't think I'm really ready to do much more than that. I mean, it's not that I don't want to, but I am only 18, and I've never done more than kiss. Even if there are ways to get around my skin, touching of any kind is a really big deal to me. Plus, I'm still working through all this Magneto/Sabretooth stuff, he's got his own deal to work through, and we're basically on the lam right now. But I know when I am ready, I'd really, really like for it to be with him.

I don't have any clue what he thinks about that subject, and I'm not really sure I want to think about it too much. He's the one who initiated the sleeping-together thing, and that is definitely not a big brother/kid sister kind of thing. On the other hand, he does always call me "kid" (although, isn't that what Bogie always called Bacall?) and I know that in his head, I'm not on the God-she's-a-hottie-gotta-nail-her-pant-pant list like Jean is. I'm more on the protect-with-your-life list, which may or may not have hottie potential. But since we're basically stuck with each other for the duration, I guess I'll have time to figure it out.

What else? Oh yeah, the gloves thing. I made a deal. I'd try going without them once in a while, but only when he's in close proximity to me (not on trips to the ladies' room, for example) so that he can make sure no one gets close enough for an accident. I've done it four times so far, and it's getting easier each time. I don't know why it's so important to him, though - maybe it's because the gloves make us notable and he's trying to keep us on the down-low? He won't really talk about it.

Oh well, enough for now. I've got to get some painting in tonight. I've been working on one of the mansion, my first real landscape. I'd like to send it back to the Professor as kind of a thank you for all he's done for me.


Amarillo, Texas - September 26th
Bob, Wonderland Resort

I'm not a native Texan. No, sir. I was born and raised in New Hampshire. Steadfast New Englander. Moved here about three years ago, bought the first campground I came across despite knowing exactly zero about running one, and proceeded to hunker down for a good midlife crisis. Well, how else do you explain leaving a lucrative law practice to become owner and manager of a few cabins and some RV parking facilities?

Maybe I'm still a little shaken up by what happened because I'm not a rough-hewn Texas hunk of man. Maybe the natives are a little more used to what happened around here tonight. Maybe as a "refined" New Englander, I'm a little squeamish about fistfights and blood. And believe me, in my life, this one ranked as the mother of all fist fights, no doubt about it.

It started out simple enough. Nice young girl rented one of the cabins, only for one night. I asked if she was staying alone - and get your mind out of the gutter, I only asked because young girls like that might not mix well with some of the other residents around here. Really. Latent Catholic school girl fantasies had absolutely nothing to do with it, even on a subconscious level, I swear.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) she wasn't alone. Her companion, a large, muscular, and rather hairy man, was exactly the kind of man that even a transplanted yankee like me knows to stay away from. But she was nice enough, and they paid cash, so I gave them the key to cabin number eight.

All was quiet on the western front (or does cabin eight face east?) for a few hours. Right around ten, usually the time I pack it in and get some respite from the hectic day to day doings of a small out of the way campground, this guy comes in. And I use the term "guy" loosely. He looked like a walking bearskin rug. I knew he must have been a mutant - normal people don't grow that big, and they usually don't grow black claws either. Yes, I'm a bright one. Seven years of higher education.

Anyway, he shows me a picture of the young girl - only in this picture she'd dyed her hair white in the front - and asks if she's here. Well, you can see my ethical dilemma. If I tell him she is, he is most likely not here to discuss the finer points of, well, anything really. And if I tell him she's not here, he may find her any way, and I may lose several rather key internal organs as a result. Finally realizing that, as much as I may want to help a damsel in distress, I have had a much longer and more fulfilling relationship with said internal organs, I directed him to cabin eight. Now, I'm not completely without heart, so I called the cabin to warn her and Mr. Hairy of Mr. Bearskin Rug's approach.

I got no answer, and I thought for a moment that they'd stepped out, and that my ethical dilemma was about to be neatly resolved by the whims of fate. No such luck. Bearskin (I think we all know him well enough by now to proceed on a first name basis) ripped the door right off it's hinges. I couldn't really tell what was happening for the split second he was inside the cabin, but he was quickly and quite forcibly ejected back out through the open doorway, presumably by Mr. Hairy. In fact, our friend Bearskin's trajectory was halted very unceremoniously by a large part of cabin six.

He seemed to shrug it off quite readily, and as he rose and shook his head, I noticed that all was not quite normal with Mr. Hairy either. He twitched his hands and produced six metal knives of some sort, almost claws, that appeared to protrude from inside his arms or hands. Ladies and gentleman, we have double the mutants for your evening entertainment.

At this point, had I been a gambling man, I would have gone with Mr. Hairy (let's just call him Claw from now on, shall we?). However, I was soon to learn that I underestimated Bearskin's capacity for bodily punishment. Claw rushed him, sinking the metal blades clean through Bearskin's lower torso. When he withdrew them, Bearskin staggered a bit before retaliating with a roundhouse punch to Claw's jaw. Hmmm. Claw's jaw, that rhymes.

It was at this rather disturbing yet ultimately quite preliminary point in the fight that I noticed the girl running toward my office. I motioned her inside, and assumed that she was looking to hide from Bearskin. And perhaps that she would shower me with a demonstration of gratitude for it later. However, before I quite realized what she was up to, she'd retrieved my rifle from beneath my desk. Now, you may be asking yourself why I didn't just threaten Bearskin with said rifle when he entered. I'd like to give you some thoroughly logical and rational explanation for that, but the unflattering facts are that I was so scared of him I nearly crapped my pants.

So, the girl - I think we'll call her Mary; that's a good Catholic name, isn't it? - runs out with the rifle to help out her friend Claw. He's so busy with Bearskin, though, that she can't get a clean shot. They're trading blows left and right, any one of which would have been lethal to a normal human; I've handled enough medical malpractice cases to know a little about what the human body can withstand. They fought dirty too - at one point, Bearskin bit off Claw's ear, and Claw returned the favor by hacking off a few fingers on Bearskin's left hand. This upped the gore factor considerably, and some of those who had stuck their head out of the cabin or RV to watch the fight lost their lunch right outside their doorstep. Bearskin and Claw just kept right on going, though, completely unfazed by their respective appendage losses.

Well, after a few more minutes of this, Claw noticed Mary. He looked for a moment like he was about to come after her, but then he just yelled for her to run. She shook her head at him and moved around to put Bearskin between herself and Claw. Bearskin noticed her too, but seemed woefully unconcerned about her positioning herself to shoot him. He turned his attention back to Claw, and, with what I must admit was a truly graceful bob and weave, he threw Claw off balance and sent him reeling into cabin five. Cabin five stands about two hundred yards from the spot they were fighting in.

That took Claw out of the action for the moment, leaving Bearskin free to focus on Mary. She, in a display of what had to have been either incredible courage or incredible stupidity, stood her ground. She even had the unmitigated nerve to tell Bearskin to leave before he got hurt. Bearskin declined her offer, and, I don't really question his decision there. I mean, even I could see that her arms were shaking pretty badly while she was trying to aim the rifle at him.

When he closed to within about ten feet, however, she suddenly became very still and a split-second later, she pulled the trigger. I still don't know if she was genuinely scared and managed to gather herself or if it was some ruse to draw him in closer. Either way, it worked. She damn near blew his fool head off, as the locals would say. It was almost a point blank shot. Bearskin was down for the count.

Well, Claw somehow recovered from being thrown halfway across the campground well enough to make it over to her. He took a good look at Bearskin, and then took the rifle out of her hands. I have to say, she seemed remarkably calm for just having splattered Bearskin's brains all over the campground. Without a word between them, they headed for what was left of cabin eight, loaded their things in their Jeep, including my rifle, and high-tailed it out of Dodge before the law showed up. You see, I am beginning to pick up on these local expressions.

As the responsible proprietor of the campground, I took it upon myself to provide law enforcement officials with a complete account of the evening's activities. The county coroner called in and requested that we place the remains of Bearskin in a cool, dry place, safe from any roaming animals, until the coroner's truck could get out to the campground. I persuaded the officers present to carry out that request; I wasn't eager to decorate the already abused body of dear, departed Bearskin with my own vomit. To tell you the truth, I was also a little uneasy about hosting what was left of him for a few hours, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why.

Well, I was fully able to put my finger on it come midnight, when the county coroner finally made it out. Bearskin was gone. No sign of him anywhere. I don't mind telling you, I'm a lawyer at heart. I'm a man who believes in facts, science, and deduction. I don't believe in superstition or mojo or whatever you want to call it. But I really have no logical explanation for what happened. As the locals would say, damndest thing I ever saw.


Santa Fe, New Mexico - September 27th
Logan/Xavier phone call

"Hello, Xavier's Museum of the Strange and Unusual, curator speaking."

"I need to talk to the Professor."

"Wolverine? Is that you?"

"Yeah. Put him on."

"How's Rogue? Are you two having fun? Are - "

"Jubilee, right?"


"Put the Professor on."

"But - "


"Geez, you're no fun. I'll get him. Tell Rogue I said 'howdy, chica!' And tell her I told her to take care!"


"Hello, Logan. I thought you might be calling. I trust all is well with you and Rogue?"

"You knew Sabretooth came after us?"

"Yes. Unfortunately, not in time to warn you."

"For a telepath, you're damn slow on the uptake sometimes, Chuck."

"Logan, I do not believe that he followed you to Texas. From what I can gather, Magneto put Mystique on your trail, and she is currently in Mexico searching for you."

"Where in Mexico?"

"Ciduad Juarez. I do not believe she is a threat to you at this time. I believe that Sabretooth chanced across your path while he was on a search of his own. You see, I believe he is headed for Los Alamos, New Mexico."

"Fuck. I'm calling from near there."

"Yes, I know."

"He's still alive, then?"

"Yes, it appears that his healing factor is even more effective than we originally thought."

"Why Los Alamos?"

"He believes that there is a general working there that was integral in his past. As Rogue may have told you, his experiences with - "

"Yeah. Listen, what's the general's name?"

"Logan, I would strongly caution you against going after him. It would draw attention to yourself and Rogue and could result in -"

"What's his name, Chuck?"

"He may not have had any involvement directly with your - "

"His name. Now."

"Logan, I will give you his name on one condition."

"Which is?"

"That you give me your word that you will not pursue him right now."

"No can do, Chuck, but I still want that name."

"And I'm afraid I can't give it to you."

"Not can't. Won't."

"You may behave as you choose on your own, Logan, but Rogue is your responsibility now. Do you suppose the government would be interested in a mutant who could kill with a touch? What kind of experiments do you suppose would be planned for her?"

"You know how to cut right to the chase, dontcha, Chuck?"

"I suppose so."


Los Alamos, Mew Mexico - September 28th
Marie's Journal

Oh God, oh God, oh God. I am so scared. I can't go to sleep and I'm stuck here for a while, so I guess I'll try to calm myself down by writing this. Oh God, I don't know what else to do.

We got attacked by Sabretooth in Texas, and, I swear to God I thought I killed him. I mean, I shot him in the head! What's it going to take? But no, he's still alive. I fucking hate him so much.

He's out there somewhere right now. God, please don't let him find us. Logan isn't even conscious, and I can't fight him all by myself. Please, God.

I knew we shouldn't have followed him, but Logan said that he was tracking some general who knew something about the experiments they did to him. Logan figured that Sabretooth wanted the general, and he wanted the general, so, ergo, we follow Sabretooth to get to the general. Well, not we. Logan left me in Santa Fe - he just up and LEFT me after calling and talking to the Professor. He told me that all the shit I'd seen in his nightmares would get done to me if I tried to follow him, that if they ever got their hands on me, he wouldn't be able to save me, he wouldn't even try it would be so hopeless. And then he told me to call Scott to pick me up and to get my ass the hell back to Westchester. But I listen to orders just about as well as he does. God, he is so fucking stubborn sometimes! And he should've known that I'd up and follow him after he left me, I mean - has he met me? Does he know me at all? Christ!

I should've known something was definitely up when Logan didn't catch on to me following him. He stole a dirt bike and I followed in the Jeep, obvious as could be. I should have known something was way off. Shit, shit, shit. I wish he'd let me talk to him, talk him out of this, but he gets all fucking obsessive when it comes to his past and shit. Damn him.

He found Sabretooth, all right, and the general. He lived way out in the desert. Sabretooth was waiting for the general outside his house and Logan was watching the both of them. And I was watching Logan. They went in the house, Sabretooth after the general, Logan after Sabretooth, and I started praying that they wouldn't start trying to kill each other at least until after they talked to the general. Pretty soon, I heard screams like a fucking banshee start coming from that house, but I knew it wasn't Logan or Sabretooth. It was the general. I got this real sick feeling, and I remember thinking thank God he's old and all alone, thank God he doesn't have a family in there with him. Because deep down I knew that wouldn't matter to either one of them, not now.

I don't know if they got all their answers or what, because about a half hour in, a bunch of black four-door sport utilities pulled up in the driveway all at once. I knew they were fucked, but I couldn't think of a way to warn them. All I knew was that I couldn't let them get their hands on Logan again, I just couldn't, and I had to think of something, I had to do something.

I waited until they were all in the house, all but one left outside to guard the door. I crept down the hillside, snuck up behind him, and I knifed him right in the lung, just like Logan showed me, so he couldn't make a sound to warn the others. God, please don't let him be dead. I don't want to have killed him too, please.

OK. OK. Just calm down. I want to tell the story in case I don't get out of here. At least someone will know. OK. I snuck in the house and they were all so preoccupied - Logan and Sabretooth were putting up a hell of a fight, and they were using stun guns, not guns with ammo. That scared me, bad. It meant they wanted to take them alive.

I found the kitchen and I remembered chemistry class, and I got some baking soda and some vinegar and some bleach and some ammonia and some liquor and a lighter. God, I have never been so glad for a little chemistry knowledge in my life. I was getting all ready to make some kind of distraction and hope for the best when I heard Logan cry out - not in anger, in pain. I made it out there just in time to see Logan twist and break off a needle in his arm before some government guy could shoot all the stuff in. It must've hurt like hell because I've never heard him yell like that, not even in his nightmares. Logan dropped like a stone to the floor and he was out.

Well, finally somebody noticed me, and this big guy started coming for me. He didn't even have a stun gun. Sabretooth was keeping most of the rest of them busy, still, and I guess they thought one little kid wasn't a threat. And I really wasn't. I just kind of stood there, frozen, and he was so close to me all of a sudden. I jumped when he reached out for me and I think that startled him just a little, just enough to let me reach for the knife. He didn't expect that. I swept his legs out from under him and I shoved the knife in his neck as hard as I could. Everything seemed to go in slow motion then, and I couldn't hear sound any more at all. There was so much blood. God, there was so much blood so fast. He fell, and I, oh God, I don't know how I did that. Oh God, I'm so sorry.

I just, I just didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to do. Sabretooth had taken a lot of them out and all I could think about was getting out of there, getting Logan out of there. I made my way over to him, and, God, I don't know where I got the strength, but I started dragging him out. I was almost out of the door when I heard Sabretooth yell and then everything got really quiet. I knew that couldn't be good for me, either way, and I started to panic a little. I mean, I could barely move Logan and either Sabretooth or a bunch of pissed off government agents were going to come through the door any second.

When I saw it was Sabretooth, though, I was almost relieved, and that's just sick. I mean, all I could think was at least Logan wasn't going to get tortured again. Sabretooth might kill me outright, and Logan too, but at least no more experiments. He staggered toward us and I thought for sure it was all over. I wasn't brave and I couldn't think of anything to do to save myself or Logan. I was just panicking. I started to hyperventilate and cry a little. I wish I could've been brave. I know Jean or Storm would never cry and panic like that. Oh God.

Sabretooth came within a foot or two of me, and then, all of a sudden, he just collapsed and fell over. He fell right on Logan. I couldn't figure it out, but then I saw the needle in his back. Someone must've got him before he took them out. If there was ever an act of God or stroke of luck, that was it.

I just sat there for a few seconds, then I realized that, eventually, someone was going to be coming. So I dragged Logan across the yard and out to the Jeep. God, that must've taken an hour, and I know I scraped him across every rock and twig. But I didn't care. I just wanted to get him out of there, and maybe it would wake him up. It didn't, but I'm still not too worried because the government men wanted him alive. And because he's hard to kill.

So I got him and me into the Jeep and I tried to just calm down and think. I needed to get Logan to a safe place. I took a chance, and drove down past the house, and no one had come yet. That was good. But Sabretooth was gone. That was bad. I tried to just clear my head and think.

I don't know if I did the right thing, but here's what I came up with. I drove the Jeep to a Denny's parking lot just a few miles from the general's house. If I was them trying to catch me, I'd think that I probably left town in a hurry and wanted to get as much distance as possible from Los Alamos. I don't think they saw my Jeep - but they might think I wouldn't know that for sure and that I'd try to steal a car or something.

I called on Magneto and Logan and every bit of training or knowledge I'd absorbed at the mansion and what came back to me was not to act like they would assume. So here I am still in Los Alamos, still in the Jeep. I reclined Logan's seat, and covered him with a drop cloth, so it looks like luggage or stuff, not a person under there. I had blood all over me, so I wiped it off on the drop cloth some and took some paint, slapped it all over my clothes, lots of different colors. I got out the cell phone and pretended to be talking on it off and on and then writing in my journal.

Hiding in plain sight. I think Logan taught me that.


Sedona, Arizona - September 29 - 30
Moonbeam Charisma, La Fuente Gallery

I can tell mutants by their aura. It's a skill, really. A little practice, a little meditation, a prayer to the right gods and goddesses, and you can have it down cold in no time. I can also tell when someone's in trouble by their aura, and this poor frightened thing was both. She was also, however, quite the little artist, and I'm nothing if not a shrewd businesswoman. Don't let the hippie, flower-child name and new age practices fool you.

She brought in two paintings, one beautifully rendered but somewhat traditional landscape featuring a stately mansion. That one I rejected outright. She looked a little down, but, come on, that's just not the kind of thing my clientele goes for. The second one, though, that one screamed into my soul. It was this impassioned swirl of color that just took your breath away. She called it Los Alamos, but asked me to rename it before selling it to anyone. I asked her why, but she just shook her head. Ah, well, artists.

She said she'd be in touch, and that she hoped it would sell soon. I asked her how long she'd been in town - she said just since yesterday. Now, I'm not really one to lend a helping hand, as it were, but the poor little thing looked so lost, and, if she could paint another one like Los Alamos, it might be mutually beneficial to build a relationship. So I chatted her up a little, and she didn't really say much, but she did mention that she was travelling with someone who was not feeling well. That, my dear, I can help you with.

I gave her some healing crystals and some special native american blend tea. She seemed so grateful, and that worried me for a minute. But then I thought, well, one hardly expects gallery owners to be good samaritans, and perhaps she's just a little startled. When I saw tears crawl down her face, though, I realized she was in some kind of real trouble, not just starving-artist, no one understands me kind of trouble.

The poor thing, I let her cry it out in my office. It took nearly two hours before she got herself back together. She thanked me repeatedly, but I just told her to be sure she sends all her work my way. I let it slip to her that I knew she was a mutant, but that I wouldn't tell anyone. And if she didn't want to use her real name - I mean, honestly, Rogue? That's so bourgeois, really - I understood. She seemed kind of relieved, and I wished her and her friend good luck as she left.

I didn't mind her that much, really, and she had promise. These relationships take a little tending to, after all. They don't call them temperamental artists for nothing, you know.


Flagstaff, Arizona - October 1
Marie/Remy phone call



"Ah, chere, we all worried 'bout you. Are you all right?"

"Yes and no. Look, Remy, I need to ask you a few direct questions, and I need honest answers. Do you understand?"


"Does the professor know what happened at Los Alamos?"


"What did he say?"

"Dat de general Sabretooth was lookin' for was dead. Dat Logan got away."

"Oh God. Were there any more casualties?"

"Oui, twenty-four dead, everyone dat was on the mission, I guess."

"Oh, God. Is it in the papers?"

"Non, kept tres quiet, chere. De Professor only know t'rough some back channels."

"Is the government after us?"

"What us, chere? Jus' Logan dat's involved."

"Not really."

"Merde. Chere - "

"Are they after us?"

"Oui et non. Dey lookin' but dey don' have nothin' to go on. Dey only sure Sabretooth was involved."

"Where are they looking?"

"Mexico. Dey caught Sabretooth's trail at Tijuana."

"Listen, Remy, I need a favor."

"But of course, chere."

"I mean it, it's a big favor."


"OK. I need you to arrange for a room at a hotel in Las Vegas, about ten days from now."

"Which hotel?"

"I don't know which ones are there, you pick one."

"De Bellagio. You like it chere, it's full of priceless art."

"Thieves' paradise, huh?"

"Oui, but you know I repent of dem old ways for you, chere."

"Yeah, right. Can you arrange for a room? Under Storm's name? I'll need it for six nights."

"Oui, Rogue, under Ororo for October 11th. Six nights. Got it."

"Don't tell anyone, Remy, please. And don't show up there. There's too much going on right now, and you'd be putting me in danger."

"But chere - "

"Look, if you can't do it, I'll understand, but I need to know one way or another, and now."

"Oui, I'll do it."

"Do you promise?"

"Only you worry about getting' promises outta a t'ief, chere."

"But do you promise?"



"Where are you, chere?"

"In California."

"You be dere until you go to Las Vegas?"

"I don't know."

"Chere, why you askin' me dis? I thought you didn't like Remy no more."

"Because you answered the phone."

"Ah, well, good fortune for dis t'ief, den, no? I get a second chance avec la belle femme."

"I appreciate it, Remy."

"For you chere, it is no problem at all."

"I have to go. Don't say anything to anyone."

"Oui, chere. You be careful, non?"

"I will. And Remy - merci."


Williams, Arizona - October 2-3
Marie's journal - Logan

I know it's wrong to be reading your diary. I'm sorry. My voice ain't back yet, and I was looking for paper to write on.

I want to explain some things. I'm still pretty out of it, so this might not make no sense. You're not here, and I don't know when you're coming back. Or if. I want to explain some things.

You shouldnta come after me. I didn't want you to see that. You could get you killed. I don't want that. Do you understand? I don't want that.

You don't understand you think things about me but you don't know it all. I am a killer, always was. They made me one. I know things I did you don't know. If you knew I wouldn't be Logan to you anymore not like you think me I can't tell you that's why.

You send me poems and pictures and stuff like you mean it but you can't because I know things I did and you're not like me you have me in there but you're not like me. No. You smile and laugh and smile and you're not like me. But I want you to mean it and that's bad because you don't deserve that it's bad enough I'm in there it's bad I'm sorry. I want you to like it I want you to sleep close and I want you to paint and I want you to tease and smile. I can't have though because I'm not who you think your Logan. I'm not who you think.


Dear Logan,

I'm putting this right where you'll find it, on the pillow next to you. I'm sorry I had to go out for a while, but don't think I'd ever go out and not come back. I had to go out again this morning, and if you're reading this, you just woke up before I got back, that's all. I didn't want to wake you when I came in last night.

I don't mind you reading my journal, and I guess I should explain some things too. Let me start with some of the survival issues:

1. You were poisoned or something by the government people at the general's house. I don't know how much you remember, but that was about five days ago. I think your healing factor is clearing it out, but it's slow going. You need to rest, so just lay there and read this and don't get out of bed.

2. I had to go out because we're going to need more money than I have to get to Canada safely. I've been picking up day labor yesterday and today, and I dropped off some paintings that I hope will sell and bring in some money soon. I used all of your money and most of mine to buy a different car. I was afraid to keep the Jeep after Los Alamos.

3. I asked Remy (don't get mad yet) to arrange for a hotel room in vegas for us. Don't worry, I didn't tell him where we were, and I asked him to make the reservation for a date when we won't really be there. I'll explain the whole Vegas thing when I get back. But we're going to need to start driving out there tonight. It's not that far, but you can't go very long in the car at once, and I want to make a stop to pick up some more day labor if I can. So get some rest now.

OK. I really wanted to tell you all the rest of this in person, and I'm half-hoping that you won't wake up until I get home. But here goes: I know you. You think that because the government got a hold of you, did all kinds of vicious experiments, then forced you to do some very, very bad things, that I won't see you the same. I know we've never really talked about this, but I got a lot from you when you touched me, Logan. Every back alley brawl, every hooker and stripper, every stolen car. More than that, I got thoughts, emotions, desires.

You don't think I know you, but I do. You've killed but you're not a killer. You've hurt people, but not out of malice or because you enjoyed it. You beat the brains out of a hundred men in the cage and you picked up a scared little girl on the side of the road and never made her think she was in danger for a second. The core of who you are, everything that makes you Logan to me, is so clean and good that sometimes I can't even stand it. I feel like you're this beautiful, amazing, bright presence in my life that I didn't deserve, ever. That's who you are to me, that's Logan to me.

I've meant every word I've ever written or spoken to you, and every present I've ever given you was because it was meant for you. I smile and laugh and paint and love life because you made it OK for me to do that. None of that will change, not because of your past, or mine. It is who you are for me, and who I've become because of you. Logan, you can tell me what you found or not, you can believe what I'm telling you now or not, and you can run away from me or stay, but you will always be my home.



Kingman, Arizona - October 4-5
Jim, Mohave County Parks Department

This is the second day I've found her out there at sunrise. They say there are ghosts out in the desert, and, she's not a ghost, exactly, but she doesn't seem quite real, either. Both days, she somehow got all the way out in the middle of the park. I've never seen a car, and it's a hell of a trip from the park entrance over rough terrain on foot. I don't know how she could possibly lug a canvas, stand, and paint on foot either.

The first day, I saw her on my morning patrol, and I tried talking to her. I hailed her from about a hundred feet off, and she didn't react at all. In fact, I parked my Jeep, walked right up close to her, and had to tap her shoulder before she noticed me. That made her jump, and I felt sorry about that. Moreso when I saw the dark circles under her eyes. She was just about the oldest young woman I've ever seen.

I explained that I was a park ranger and I offered help if she was lost or something. She just said that she was painting, and did I mind? Well, there's no law against painting, and the park is public land, so I told her no, I didn't mind. I asked what she was painting, and she just gestured to it and asked what it looked like to me.

Now, I'm about as far from an art critic as it gets so I really had no earthly idea. It looked like one of those abstract things that I wouldn't know from a hole in the ground. I told her as much, in a nice way, and she just smiled and went back to painting. I got the distinct impression that she wanted to be alone - you don't come out to the middle of nowhere for togetherness - so I went on with the rest of my morning patrol.

When I came back around eight she was gone, but her stuff was still there. At first I thought she'd wandered off somewhere and gotten lost. Bill and I searched pretty much every nook and cranny of the park and didn't find her. Now, people aren't supposed to leave things at the park or litter, but for some reason, I just didn't have the heart to move her painting. Bill thought I was either half nuts or half in love with the girl, and maybe he was right on both counts.

I looked for her first thing this morning, and right there she was, painting again. Overnight, all kinds of sand and stuff had gotten stuck to the painting, but she didn't seem to mind. Maybe she left it out on purpose, I don't know. This time, I didn't really say much to her, just watched her paint a while. I wasn't sure she knew I was there until she asked, "Well, what do you think?"

I didn't answer that one. I had about a thousand questions of my own for her. But none of them came out, and, before I knew it she was saying that she appreciated us looking out for her, but that she did her best work alone. I tipped my hat to her and got back in the Jeep. I watched her a while from the ridge, feeling a little guilty about it, but not really able to stop myself.

Finally, around 7:30, she stopped painting. She stood back and looked at her work for a while, then she started gathering up her things. I wasn't sure what to do, but I wanted to do something to make some kind of connection with her before she left. So I went back down, and offered her a ride back to the park entrance. She shook her head a little, and told me to go on ahead without her. I really didn't want to, but she said it so confidently I couldn't really argue with it either. So I left, in the Jeep, and finished morning patrol.

Somehow, I don't think she'll be back tomorrow. Maybe because she finished the painting, whatever it was, or maybe because I had watched her, I don't know. But I do know first thing tomorrow, I'll go looking for her.


Las Vegas, Nevada - October 6
Jeremy, Concierge, Bellagio Hotel

I met the man of my dreams yesterday. I don't know his name but he has this sexy as hell French accent, and God, I could get used to hearing that accent all over my name. He's rich, too, or at least he has some disposable income because he gave me three hundred dollars to let him know when some woman names Ororo checks in. I know, I know, that probably means he's straight, but I swear he was flirting with me a little. Really, I swear!

Long and lean, red hair, wraparound mirrored sunglasses - which he wore indoors, showing some style. God, luscious lips, nibble-able ears, there's just no end to his beauty. I know I'm gushing, but, damn. I saw him gambling in the casino last night, at the high stakes poker table. He won a little money, not a lot. Well, not a lot to him, I'm sure, but probably my annual salary. God, I would have given him back the three hundred just to sit next to him and watch him play poker.

I got to talk to him a little today, and I tried to flirt, but frankly, I'm not really that good at it. I just came out two years ago, and I'm still getting used to the whole scene. I called his room to tell him that the Ororo woman checked in. He thanked me (he actually said "merci" and I just about melted on the spot) and asked if she was alone. Now, I know what you're thinking, Straight Warning Signal, right there plain as day.

But come on, I had to hold out some hope. And the answer to his question could be good, at least for me. I told him that she came in with some real buff and ornery looking guy who looked a little hung over or still drunk or something, because he was leaning on her the whole time. He seemed unsuprised to hear it, and asked if she looked all right. I said sure, and gave him their room number. He asked if she wanted anything or said anything else, so I told him she said she was expecting someone to wire her money, and that she was expecting a package, both within the next few hours. I was supposed to let her know when they came in. He thanked me again, and I melted a little more.

OK, I admit that what I did next was wrong, just plain wrong, and more than a little obsessive. I hid in the hallway outside the woman's room and waited for him to come down. I wanted another look at him and I was curious. I mean, you never know, maybe she's his sister or something. He listened outside her door for a few minutes before knocking. She didn't open the door, but I heard her swear at him and tell him to go away. She must be some kind of certifiable lunatic because who shuts their door to that kind of man? Women, I'll never understand them.

He wasn't giving up, though, and that made me think maybe it was his sister or something because he could get another woman, man, or whatever else he wanted as quick as he could snap his fingers, I'm sure. He kept on talking to her through the door, saying he had to make sure she was safe and that everybody at home missed her. Sister, definitely. Finally, she opened up the door and let him in.

You know I had to eavesdrop a little, right? Just to make a positive confirmation of the sister thing. So I snuck over to the door really carefully, keeping a look out for other guests. I couldn't make out all of what they were saying, but it sounded like he wasn't too fond of her boyfriend. I didn't hear a peep out of Mr. Buff and Cranky, though. I wonder if he passed out or something. I wouldn't be surprised from how he looked in the lobby.

She was all mad about that, and said that she made decisions for her own life, not him, not Logan (another brother?), not the Professor. I guess she's in school or something - maybe she ran off to Vegas with her boyfriend to get hitched. Wouldn't be the first time. Well, the man of my dreams said she was making some piss-poor decisions and that she didn't owe anyone anything, especially not her life. She told him to fuck off, just like that. She said it was a mistake to ask for his help and that she shouldn't have trusted him.

I think that upset him a little (aw, I could think of a few ways to comfort him....) because he didn't say anything to that, really. She told him to just leave her alone, that she'd give him money for the hotel, and that she was fine on her own. He refused the money, but he said he'd leave her alone for a while if she promised not to run. That got him another fuck-you, but she finally did promise to stick around a while if he'd go. When I could hear him coming to the door, I ran like a shot for the elevator.

The rest of the afternoon went quickly. Now that I knew she was his sister, I felt free to daydream rampantly. Me and him in the steam room, that French accent tumbling from his lips, making him moan my name. Oh yeah, that's a good one. Or maybe he liked it a little rougher. Maybe in the parking garage, up against a wall? I could go for that one too. And as soon as my shift was over, I meant to find out if he had any ideas of his own.

I almost didn't notice when Ororo's money and package came in. They both arrived within, like, twenty minutes of each other. So I carried out my conciergely duties and called her to let her know. She said she'd be right down. When she came over to my desk a few minutes later, I half-expected my man to be following her, but he wasn't. I wonder if I should've called him to let him know her stuff came in? Oh well, I could call after she left. I bet he'd be grateful. Hmmm.

Anyway, I gave her the wire. It was addressed to Rogue, like she'd told me it would be, and it was from someone who called themselves Moonbeam Charisma. Honestly, couldn't they come up with less tacky fake names? And they say that gay men are flamboyant. She asked for the three thousand from Moonbeam in small bills, and took the package. Then she thanked me and gave me a ten and I felt a little guilty about that. But I took it anyway.

I was all excited to talk to my man again, so I called him right away. He was very appreciative of the call. I barely got off the phone with him when I saw her coming back over, carrying a big, flat, square package. She asked me to mail it to some art gallery in Sedona and said to bill the shipping to her room. She said to be sure to mark it fragile, and to be sure it got out today. I said no problem, and I let out a breath when she left. Whew. Close one.

My shift ended, and I decided I'd look for him again in the Casino tonight. Sure enough, I found him at the blackjack table around 11, and she was nowhere in sight. I said hi and asked if he remembered me, and he did. Aw. So I asked how his friend was, the woman, and he asked if I'd seen her lately. I hadn't, and he seemed a little disappointed. Trying for some conversation, I asked if she was OK. He said no, she wasn't, but she didn't know that and he couldn't convince her. He said she ran off even though she promised him she wouldn't. I asked if he was going after her, but he said no, he'd done enough of that. Just for a second, he looked like he might cry, and if that wasn't the nail in my coffin I don't know what would've been. I'm in love. He recovered right away, though and gave me this devastating sad smile. OK, maybe that was the nail in the coffin.

So I got up all my nerve and asked if I could buy him a drink. He said he'd buy me one. Boy oh boy. I don't know what to do, I'm so nervous. I mean, God, look at him, he could have anyone, and he's buying me a drink. Me. Even if it's just a one night thing, even if he really is straight and she's not his sister, I don't care. God, I just have to have him.


Tonopah, Nevada - October 7
Marie's Journal

I can't believe Remy. Well, OK, I take that back, I can, and I should've known better than to trust him at all, so I guess I really can't believe myself. He was waiting for me in Vegas. I guess I'm not as good a liar as I thought, either that or he's a lot more perceptive than I gave him credit for. He just about read me the riot act, trying to get me to go back to the Professor's and leave Logan. Even if I was inclined at all to do that, his attitude would have gotten my back up about it. He just assumes that I need taken care of. I felt like telling him - do you realize I killed two people, two soldiers, rescued Logan from the government AND Sabretooth, and made it this far by myself? I had to turn into super-Rogue, the woman who found a way to throw off everyone out to get her, the woman who found a way to make money to support us, who made a plan to get us to Canada. But I didn't say anything about it. Remy doesn't need to know any of that.

At least he didn't tell the Professor or anyone else where I was. He could be lying, but I don't think so. They would've been here in full force. And at least he picked a good hotel. He was right, I did like the Bellagio, and I wished I could've stayed longer to look at all the art there. Maybe one day I'll go back.

I do feel bad about promising not to run out on him. But he backed me into a corner and I didn't really have any choice.

Logan's doing better. He can walk and talk, mostly, but his motor skills are very slow still. He's improving steadily, so I'm not too worried. And it's a lot easier now that I don't have to drag or carry him everywhere. God, talk about a workout. I've developed muscles I never even knew I had.

How he's feeling emotionally, it's hard to tell. He still can't talk as well as normally, not that he's much of a talker anyway, so sometimes he writes things down. I know he's thinking about leaving me as soon as he's well enough to take care of himself. I'm actually a little surprised he hasn't tried yet. He blames himself for everything that's happened, and, yeah, he was the one who ran off after Sabretooth, but it was my decision to follow him. And he still can't wrap his mind around the idea that his past doesn't make me see him differently. He just won't accept that I don't hate him for it.

And I'm running out of ideas and time to try to get that point across. I talk to him all the time, try to tell him how much I care about him, try to reassure him that I'm OK. Even when we lay in bed at night and I know he's awake, sometimes I even talk to him in his sleep. I wish I knew how to make it all OK. I keep laying my emotions out and laying myself bare for him, and he won't believe it's real. I don't know what I'll do if he does leave me.

Maybe I'm not OK, I'll admit that. I'm not stupid enough to think you go through all that trauma without accumulating some serious baggage. But if I've learned anything since I left Mississippi, it's that I can deal with trauma. Killing those two men, that's the worst part of it. I regret it, I do. I don't know that I wouldn't have done the same thing all over again, but I regret that it had to be that way. I feel responsible, and I am. I didn't set everything in motion, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about what they would have done to Logan if they had been able to take him alive. I've seen their handiwork in enough of my nightmares. But it was still my choice, to take their lives. And I think it was murder, not self-defense. I think that's what God would think, but I think God understands why I did it too. And I don't think God condones what they were doing to mutants. He can't.


Reno, Nevada - October 8
Rick, Manager, Cheryl's Motel & Apartments

I bet this is gonna work. I bet this is gonna be the one. Because God, even though I'm a writer, you couldn't make shit like this up. I've been trying to sell a movie script for the past fifteen years, and, Goddamn it, I think this is the one.

These two, you could tell somethin' was hangin' over their heads from a mile away. They come in lookin' all used up, like they ran out of gas. And he looked a little sick, somethin' not right there, you know? But hey, I'm not picky when it comes to paying customers.

Well, a few hours after they check in, he steps out alone. I figure he's headin' out for a little action. I mean it isn't unusual for a man to look for a little on the side, and the girl he had with him looked a little too sweet to be doing probably half the things he wanted. He's just lookin' around the parking lot, like maybe he forgot where they parked that old Cherokee of theirs, and she comes out after him.

Now that's when I really started payin' attention, and takin' notes, 'cause there's nothin' like a good fight for entertainment and inspiration.

She's marching up to him like she's pissed as hell. He had to hear her comin', but he didn't turn around. She grabs his arm, and tries to turn him, but he won't budge. Well, I could've told her that wasn't gonna work. Shit, he's probably got a hundred pounds, all of it muscle, on her. After a few tries she gives up, and they both just stand there. She's still fumin', but I can't really read his expression.

Then, real quiet, he says, "I have to."

She tells him that's bullshit, and then he does turn around. For a minute, I thought he was gonna backhand her cute little ass into next week, but he just yells at her instead. "Dammit, kid, don't you understand? I'm no good to you."

"That's bullshit too. And you know it. You're the best thing in my life."

Now, nobody's ever said those words to me, so I can't be absolutely sure how I'd take it, but damn, I wouldn't have done what he did.

"That's a lie. Don't lie to me."

"We've never lied to each other, and I'm not lying now. I've told you over and over. Tell me what I need to say to convince you, Logan, tell me what I need to do."

"You don't know what you're talking about, you've got some little girl crush on me, that's all." He folded his arms over his chest, and he looked like he said it to just hurt her, but damn if it didn't look like it hurt him too.

"God, how can you say that?! Don't you know me at all?"

"No. No, I don't. And I don't want to. You've brought me nothin' but trouble, kid. And I want out." He turned away from her when he said it, and me, the lamppost, and every car in the parking lot coulda told you it wasn't true.

"Too bad. That's just too fucking bad, Logan. You don't get out."

"I do. It's not up to you, kid."

"So that's it? You're just leaving? What about your promise to me? You promised to take care of me." She was heading into ultra-pissed again.

"You've been the one takin' care of me, kid. You don't need no help."

"Well, I'm sure those words will console me the next time Sabretooth comes to town looking to rip my throat out."

"I'll take care of him. Just as soon as I'm a hundred percent, don't you worry." Whoever this Sabretooth guy was, I pitied his ass.

"Logan, please, don't do this. I'm begging."

"Kid - "

"I know you think you're being noble. I know this seems like some kind of perfect, elegiac end to everything. But life isn't like that, Logan. It isn't like the movies or some tragic novel. It keeps going after the credits roll, and do you want to know what'll happen if it ends this way? Do you?"

"Kid - "

"I will spend every day of the rest of my life with you in my head but not in my life. I will spend every day of the rest of my life feeling like I'm missing a part of me. I will spend every day of the rest of my life crying for a little bit because I remember what it was like to be with you. I won't laugh, and I won't smile, and I won't paint, and I won't go outside without my gloves. I won't be me anymore, not ever again."

"Goddammit, stop it." He turned on her fast, and grabbed her by the shoulders, shook her pretty hard, made all that long wavy hair fly around. "Stop it."

"No! No, if you're going to do this to me, I want you to know what it means. I want you to know it."

"Just let me go, Marie."

She got real calm then, and he took his hands off her.

"All right. Fine. I'll turn around and go back to the motel room if you can do one thing for me, Logan. Look at me, look me in the eyes and tell me I don't mean anything to you. Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't care what happens to me. Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't love me. Do it. Look at me and tell me."

His mouth twisted and he looked as fucking agonized as I've ever seen anybody. I honestly didn't think he was gonna do it until he grabbed her by the shoulders again and started saying the words. "You don't mean anything to me." She started shaking at that, but he held on to her. "I don't care......I don't care what happens to you." Her tears were coming down now. "I don't - dammit, Marie - I don't - I don't - " She was crying like a baby, sobbing now, and I was spellbound. I couldn't look away. I had to know if he could do it. "I don't - shit - I-I - " And she was just standing there, waiting for it. "Goddammit, Marie!"

He pushed her back, and she fell to a sitting position on the pavement, and, damn, she was crying so hard her whole body was shaking. He looked at her and muttered something I couldn't hear, then knelt down in front of her. I had a flash of running over there and kicking his ass for what he was doing, but I knew he'd probably end up kicking mine, and, besides, I had to see how this was gonna play out.

She still couldn't stop crying. After a while, he reached out and stroked her hair a little. She looked up at him with the biggest, brightest eyes you've ever seen, and tried to breathe a little more evenly and stop crying. He waited until it was down to just tears, and I had to strain to hear it, but he said, "No more bullshit, OK? Just....just the truth between us now, OK?" She nodded, and he said, "I need to know. I need to know, Marie."

She nodded again, and she reached down to take off her gloves. When she reached up to touch his face, he looked at her a little wild for a second, then his expression flashed to sad, then resigned. When her hand hit his cheek, something weird as hell happened, and she started shaking, not like crying shaking, but more like electroshock shaking. She let him go after just a few seconds, but I could see that she had blood coming out her nose and her ear when she rocked back on her heels.

He reached out to steady her right away, and, fuck if he didn't have tears in his eyes. His mouth hung wide open in shock or something, and she was just trying to hold on to consciousness. Fuck, I still don't know what the hell that was. Maybe she's one of them mutants or some shit, but damn. Whatever it was, I can work with it, and sci-fi and supernatural stories are hot as hell right now.

Anyway, he finally said, "You didn't...I'm OK. How? How did you do that?" She didn't answer, and I doubt she even heard the question. He seemed OK with skipping it, though, because he had a few more questions. "My God, that's you? You feel like that?" She did catch that and smiled a little at him for a second. Then, her head lolled back and her eyes closed. He seemed to catch on to the fact that his girlfriend was in bad shape then, because he picked her up and carried her back to their room.

I can think of a thousand backstories for them, but, hell, you can't write a better final scene than that. Hollywood, here I come.


Salmon, Idaho - October 9
Louann, Last Chance Pizza

I've always liked getting an early snow. Oh, I'll grant you, second week of October is plenty early, and maybe four inches is a little more than most folks would like this time of year, but I don't mind it. Makes everything over, makes it look clean again.

The snow clings to you when it's wet like this, and almost all my customers tonight have come in with more than a few flakes clinging to them. These two that just came in were no exception. Looked like a little bit of a May/December relationship, but, you know, there's nothing wrong with that. Love doesn't necessarily follow everyone else's rules, it follows it's own.

And they had love written all over them. It's in the little things. Like how he kept his arm around her waist, how he pulled out her chair and helped her sit down, how he brushed the melting snow out of her hair. With her, it was less what she did and more that she had the kind of face you couldn't hide anything on.

I've been married three times myself, and I know that only once it was love. That was Herbert, my second husband. I married Louis when I was too young to know what I was getting into, and mostly because he asked. I married Ken, and I've stayed married to him, because he's a good friend and he makes a good partner. But only with Herbert was it real, full-speed-ahead, fluttery-stomach, glow-all-over love. I'm not complaining, mind you. I know some people never get to love at all.

These two didn't have to worry about that, no sir. They had the look of people who've been together enough, who've been through enough, to know what they had. When you have something that good, and you know it, you're golden, and not even the snow can make you cold.


Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada - October 10
Marie and Logan, eavesdropped

"You comfy?"

"Oh, yeah. It's like sitting in a big warm chair. That also hugs me."

"I know you like that."



"No, it's OK. It's just a little weird, me being in your head for a change."

"You're fading pretty fast now."

"Is that good or bad?"

"I don't like it."

"You know, I wasn't sure it would work. I was going completely on instinct."

"I always tell you to follow your instincts."

"You're always right."

"Oh, I'm gonna remember you said that."

"Uh-oh. Too late to take it back, huh?"

"Oh yeah."

"Can I ask you something?"


"Did it hurt, when I did it?"

"No, it just felt....it just felt like you were rushing into me all at once. It didn't hurt, exactly. It was just kind of....overwhelming."

"I'm glad it didn't hurt."

"I'm glad it meant I got to touch you for a little while."

"You know, it just figures that I'd be unconscious for that."

"I didn't take advantage. I just touched your face. And your hands, and your neck, a little."

"Oh, I know you wouldn't take advantage. Maybe I can try it again sometime, if you're willing."

"I don't know about that, darlin', I thought I lost you there for a few minutes. You're still havin' headaches."

"I know, but still......"

"We'll figure somethin' out."


"You getting cold yet?"

"A little, but I'm almost done with the drawing."

"You're doin' pretty good with just a pencil and paper there. We'll get some art stuff for you before we go up."

"You're still not going to tell me where we're going, are you?"

"If I did, it wouldn't be a surprise, darlin'."

"Stubborn man."

"You love me for it."

"Well, yeah, but even so....."

"You didn't say what you were drawing."


"It looks like hair to me."

"It's your forehead. I like your temples. They're neat."

"You're weird."

"Yeah, but you love me for it."


The black bear watched from a distance as the man kissed the back of woman's head and he held her a little tighter in his arms. It's eyes flashed yellow, and it loped away.

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