A Simple Question


Rating: Mild PG
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Marvel & 20th Century Fox.
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The man known as Logan sidestepped a gaggle of early teens racing through the halls and headed for the kitchen. The mansion's original design did not include housing dozens of kids, so the initial smaller kitchen had been left intact while a commercial grade facility had been grafted onto one end. This smaller room lead out onto the back terrace, which overlooked gardens and the pool. Oh, not a good idea. Don't want to go near the pool. The bench on the other side of the terrace beckoned, and he sprawled on the stone surface with his usual boneless lack of grace and wondered when it was exactly he'd lost control.

Things had been fine the first time he'd returned. Two months of digging up buried army surplus at Alkali Lake had found him exactly zilch. The Professor and the rest of the X-geeks had welcomed him back, not so subtly tried to recruit him again, and let him park his carcass for a few weeks until another lead showed up. Marie, or Rogue as everyone else called her, had greeted him with a hug and an enthusiastic recital of what he'd missed in the life of a teen mutant, and they'd fallen into a warm brother-sister relationship that had felt amazingly comfortable. For over a year, every time Logan returned from a trip or the infrequent mission he let himself be talked into, he got more hugs, solicitous concern for his well being, and full inclusion in her life. And that had been just great. Until last week.

No, don't think that, he told himself, forcing his mind to skitter away from the subject. Bad Wolverine. Wolverine growled back and told him to stick it. He stuck a cigar in his mouth instead and made another attempt to think about cold and snow and anything else but Rogue.

It was perhaps inevitable that at that moment that he heard her voice, along with her roommates Jubilee and Kitty, and their male counterparts that never seemed to be far away. The six members of the senior class seemed to be a unit; they never went anywhere without the others. Even when the others went swimming (and judging by their attire that was where they were headed) Rogue played towel and sunscreen girl with latex gloves, participating from the sidelines with her sarcastic drawl and squirt gun in fully active mode.

Logan wasn't sure if his stomach fell or his heart rose when Rogue abandoned her friends and plopped herself down next to him on the bench, but he made a valiant effort not to notice the way her tight leather pants clung to her legs.

"So. You ever gonna talk to me again?" she questioned.

He inhaled slowly before he answered. Damn, she smelled good. "Yeah. I just, uh, don't really know what to say."

"Oh." She mulled that one over for a moment. "Ya know, I wasn't really expecting anyone to be wandering around."

"Kinda figured that." He opened his mouth, reconsidered, and then opened it again. "What the hell were you doing skinny dipping at three a.m., anyhow?"

She shrugged. "I don't own a suit. I can't go swimming anyway, not unless everybody else gets quarantined to the other end of the pool. It's just not worth it, you know?"

"And this was a special occasion because..."

Rogue smiled patiently. "Classes start next week. I won't be here. College, remember?"

Logan grunted and glanced at her, and then shifted uncomfortably. She raised an eyebrow at his discomfiture, a smile flitting across her full lips.

Logan scowled at her, but it had as little effect as it ever did. The smile widened as she leaned back against the arm of the bench and tilted her head to one side.

"How old do I have to be?"


"It's a simple question, Logan. Just answer it."

He swallowed, wondering again just when the hell he'd lost control of himself and the situation in general. "Shit, Marie, I don't know." For a moment he considered the incredibly attractive option of fleeing, but that wouldn't help at all.

"Well, I've been thinking. I know you like what you saw," and she tapped her temple to let him know it was useless to deny what her own memories supplied. Not to mention the fact that the sight of her climbing out of the pool, in a gloomy darkness that was no impediment to his enhanced eyesight, had made him actually walk into the lamppost she'd turned off for her clandestine swim. Focus, asshole, he told himself. Words coming out of her mouth, don't think about all those wet curves and bare skin. FOCUS.

"Now," she continued, "I know you don't have any idea how old you are, but ya look about thirty, maybe thirty-five. And I'm eighteen. But you only remember the last fifteen, sixteen years, and I'm up to about a hundred or so by now. So really, technically speaking, I'm too old for you."

Logan shook his head, not really sure he was following. She was too OLD for him? A sideways peek at her showed the same arch expression on her face when she'd baldly lied to him about his camper being 'cozy.'

"Ya know I had a crush on you, real bad, right?"

"He could feel the heat rising in his face. Dammit, big rough guys like him did not blush. Dammit! "Yeah, I, uh, I knew that. Figured you got over it." That's it, cough, clear the throat. No big deal.

"Mostly, yeah, I did. Occasional relapses, but I'm mostly over it." Manfully, he suppressed the dumb grin that threatened, especially when her cheeks went faintly pink like that. Please, God, somebody slap him quick.

"So, I was thinking. How old do I have to be before I'm not too young anymore?"

He swallowed hard. "I don't know. Twenty-five?" he hazarded.

"I was thinking twenty-two. After I graduate from college."

She was negotiating? Logan couldn't stop the small laugh that escaped from his chest. "That sounds reasonable."

"I kinda thought so. It's only four years. What's four years to a guy like you?"

He shrugged. "Or a gal with a hundred years of memories rattlin' around in her head?"

"Exactly. Good, then. It's settled." He grunted in agreement, and she feigned interest in the distant landscape while her heels drummed against the pavement.

"Although・・ she continued, as if they hadn・t just settled anything, ・Jube and Kitty and I have been talking about maybe taking a lot of summer semester classes, so we could graduate early. Like, just before my birthday. In February. That would be three and a half years."

"Um, yeah. Sounds like a plan."

"Good. We・re good, then. Right?"


Rogue stood and adjusted her gloves. "See you at dinner?"

"See you then," he replied, making an attempt to pull his eyes away from the hypnotic sway of her hips as she walked away.

He caught her glancing back at him, knew that she'd caught him staring, and from her memories probably knew exactly what he was thinking. He was thinking about how those leather pants would feel to his hands, or wrapped around his hips. And then she winked at him; her full lips curving into a smile that she by all rights shouldn't know how to smile for years yet.

Shit. Four years were going to be an eternity.



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