In Sickness and in Health

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, except for Anna, and as a rambunctious three-year old, I'm not even sure I own her. See Stan Lee, Fox, Brian Singer, etc. if you want the real deal.

Marie looked up from the picnic she'd arranged by the lake to see the man she'd been waiting for walking across the expansive lawn. Of course, as soon as Anna saw him, she was off and running as fast as her little, three-year old legs could carry her. Marie followed more slowly, the picnic forgotten. She watched as Anna collided with his leg with her customary thump and held on as he continued to walk, taking her along for the ride.

Even Anna's giggles couldn't bring a smile to her face, though, as Marie took in her husband's attire. He was dressed in his uniform, ready for battle.

"Who is it this time?" she asked.

"Magneto." was his gruff reply.

"Dammit, Logan. I'm going with you."

He chuckled low. "No you're not darlin'. Don't want you risking injury now. Besides," he added, pointing to her slightly rounded belly, "you wouldn't be able to zip up the uniform."

Marie hated feeling this powerless. She loved being pregnant, but she worried terribly whenever Logan went on a mission without her. It had been hard at 23 with Anna, and it was even harder now. He thought he was indestructible. Her skin had proven on more than one occasion how wrong that assumption was.

"Just promise me you'll stay away from Magneto. Play with Sabretooth and Mystique all you like, but don't take him on."

"You know I can't promise that, darlin'. What if someone gets hurt or needs help?"

"Ok, just don't go looking for trouble. Don't fight him unless you have to." She let the worry creep into her voice as she started to cry. Damn, she hated these blasted hormones. She was starting to cry at the slightest provocation. It made her feel weak.

At her mother's tears, Anna looked up, confused. Thinking something must be the matter, she started to cry too. Logan picked her up, giving her a quick hug and settling her on his shoulders. Then, he leaned forward and hugged Marie. "I promise, darlin'. Sabretooth'll probably keep me plenty busy."

Grabbing her gloved hand in his, he said, "C'mon. Walk me back to the mansion."

Marie nodded and leaned against him. Anna started to pull on his hair. She loved being on her daddy's shoulders. She always clung to the two small points in his hair like handle bars, tugging his head right and left to point him where she wanted to go. Logan indulged her for a few minutes, weaving crazily across the lawn, then he heard the growl of a motorcycle quickly approaching.

"That'll be Scooter. He was in town when the call came. That's why I had a chance to say goodb..."

Marie put a hand over his mouth, cutting off his sentence. She hated it when he said goodbye before a mission. She knew it was superstitious of her, but she couldn't help it.

"I'll see you tonight," she said, reaching out to take Anna from his arms, then pulling her scarf across her face, she rose on her tip- toes and kissed him.

"Tonight," Logan answered, then ran off. Scott finally arrived a minute later, running after Logan. Minutes later, Marie watched as the Blackbird took off, praying that everyone would be safe. She set Anna down and they returned to their picnic spot, eating lunch by themselves.


Marie was startled awake by the knock on her door. She hadn't meant to fall asleep. She'd wanted to stay up and wait for Logan, but the pregnancy was making her more tired than usual. Rising from the chair and shutting off the TV, which was now displaying static, she stumbled through the darkened room to the door. Who could be up at this hour?, her sleep clogged mind tried to figure out. It couldn't be Logan; he wouldn't knock.

She opened the door to see the tear-streaked face of her best friend. Jubilee's uniform was torn and bloody in places, and she slumped, as if bearing some burden too heavy for her to hold.

Marie stepped back as if she'd been punched. Her heart froze. Her tightened throat would only allow her to whisper, "No."

Noticing Marie's reaction, Jubilee held out her hands, "No, no, no, Rogue. He's not dead. He's just... you have to come to the Med Lab."

Marie was relieved and struck with terror within a second of each other. He wasn't dead, but he wasn't hunky dory either. Jubilee wouldn't be acting this way unless it was really, really bad.

Surprised at her presence of mind, Marie asked, "Anna?"

"I'll watch her, Rogue. You've got to go to the Med Lab, now."

Marie hurried down the hall on shaky legs, using the elevator ride to try to calm her nerves. No matter how bad it was, this was Logan. He'll be all right. He always is.

Exiting the elevator, she saw the blood. It wasn't just a few drops here and there. This was an unbroken trail of blood poured along the floor from the hangar bay to the med lab. She froze, unable to take another step. There couldn't be that much blood in the human body. How could someone lose that much and still be alive?

"Rogue." Scott's voice took her by surprise. She hadn't even noticed him standing there, in the hallway outside the med lab. In fact, almost the whole team was standing there, besides Jean, Hank, and Logan. "Rogue, he's asking for you. It's... it's bad Rogue."

She nodded, forcing herself to move down the hallway, one step and then another. When she reached the med lab, she triggered the door and stepped inside. She had thought the hallway was bad. There was even more blood in here, splashed on the floor, spattered on Hank and Jean, covering the body on the operating table. The body, for that's all it could be, glistened with blood. There wasn't an inch of undamaged skin in sight.

Hank was frantically pulling out drawers, opening cupboards, and collecting and preparing the surgical instruments. Jean was leaning over the body, whispering something about how they didn't have time and they couldn't wait.

When the soaked head turned and the pain-filled hazel eyes looked into hers, she knew, and the tears poured from her eyes, blurring her vision. It was Logan lying there, horribly injured.

"Marie," he whispered, holding out a hand weakly.

She ran to him, wanting to touch him, to comfort him, but it wasn't only her deadly skin that stood in her way now. She didn't want to hurt him.

"Oh, Logan," she said through her sobs.

"I had to, Marie... I love you."

Marie's grief and pain turned immediately to anger. "Oh no you don't. Don't say that like you mean goodbye. You're not getting away from me that easy, Mister. I'm not close to being done with you yet, so you let Jean and Hank do their jobs and you hold on, you hear me? You hold on. You promised, remember? You promised you wouldn't leave me again."

"I'll... try, darlin'."

"No, don't try, just do it."

"Rogue," Jean interrupted. "We have to start the operation."

"Jean, why isn't he healing?"

"The damage is so extensive his healing factor's been overloaded. It doesn't seem to be working right now... Rogue, I can explain this later. For now, you really have to go."

Marie nodded and started to back away. "I'll be right outside, sugah, ok?"

The last thing she saw was Logan nodding and closing his eyes, then the med lab door shut in her face.


Marie turned from the closed door to look upon the faces of her friends and teammates. Finding the weary face of the team leader, she asked, "How, Scott? How did it happen?"

Cyclops walked over, joining her at the door. He slouched against the wall, the weight of command obviously pressing on him more than usual today. He pursed his lips, and she could tell he was trying to decide how much to tell her.

"I need to know, Scott," she said, trying to hold back the tears to convince him she could handle it.

He sighed and began. "Magneto was trying to steal some plutonium. We still don't know what he wanted with it, but we had to stop him.

"When we arrived at the installation, we ran into Sabretooth almost immediately. Logan attacked, of course, yelling at us to go on without him. He'd fought Sabretooth before, and we all figured he could handle it, so we continued our search for the reactor, splitting into three groups.

"My group found the reactor first. We also found Magneto. As we entered the reactor room, St. John's flamethrower flew out of his hands and my visor was yanked off. I was able to close my eyes in time, but that took us out of the action.

"Jean called for backup, but the rest of the Brotherhood were keeping our other teams busy. Jean tried to telekinetically freeze Magneto while Jubilee fired her paffs, but even though he couldn't move, he started willing metal pieces off the walls of the reactor room and attacking us with them.

"The whirlwind of metal shards forced us back into another room, and while we were pinned down, he started to shake the ceiling, trying to bring it down on us. We were trapped, Rogue. Magneto wasn't playing around. He was going to kill us.

"I don't know where Logan came from. He must've heard Jean's distress call. Anyway, Magneto's attack suddenly stopped, and we made it out of there right before the ceiling crashed down.

"When Jean gave me back my visor, I could see six metal points poking from Magneto's chest. Logan sheathed his claws, allowing Magneto to drop. It was obvious that the man was mortally wounded, but with the last of his powers, he turned on Logan.

"It was so fast, Rogue. If I'd known what he was going to do, I would've blasted him, but it was just too fast. One second, Logan's walking towards us, the next he's writhing on the floor, metal and blood pouring from his body. I fired at Magneto but it was already too late.

"Logan doesn't have the adamantium anymore. Magneto ripped it out of him."

Scott bowed his head like a confessed sinner awaiting punishment. Marie knew that he was waiting for her to say something, but she couldn't, feeling the tears welling up. It was worse than she could have possibly imagined. She knew the damage that Magneto's powers could do. How could Logan possibly survive something like that?


Hours passed. A chair appeared and someone urged her to sit. A mop and bucket were produced and someone cleaned the red-streaked floor to a metal shine. People touched her shoulder, squeezed her hands, whispered cliched expressions in sympathetic voices. Marie took hardly any notice of it. Instead she focused on praying to whoever was out there that Logan would be spared. She promised to give up everything she had if only he was ok.

Three hours into the operation, Jean appeared, rushing out of the Med Lab, tubing and IV equipment in hand. Silently, she looked at Kitty. Kitty nodded and followed her into the map room.

Marie jumped from her chair, running after them, desperate to get any news from Jean on Logan's condition, but the door was locked.

"What's going on?" she yelled at the barrier.

"Rogue," Scott's voice behind her, his hand on her shoulder turning her around. "They're running out of Logan's blood type. Jean's taking volunteers. Some of the students will be coming down soon, too."

"My blood..." she started.

"Isn't the right type."


Finally twelve hours after the surgery had begun, Dr. Jean Summers emerged from the Med Lab, her surgical scrubs rumpled and bloody. Marie immediately rose from her chair.

"He's still alive, Rogue, but he's badly injured. The next 24 hours are crucial."

"I want to see him."

"We're not done bandaging him. Give us time to get him settled and clean up, then..."

"I want to see him," Rogue interrupted, pushing past the exhausted woman.

The smell of blood assaulted her senses as she entered the room. Blood was puddled on the floor and bloody sponges and instruments were strewn on the tables. Logan lay in the midst of the chaos, wrapped like a mummy in white gauze, but at least he wasn't covered in blood anymore.

Hank was bent over Logan's newly shaved head and face, starting to bandage the stitched wounds revealed there. If Logan's head was any indication, the damage wasn't as extensive as she'd initially thought. The ugly wounds still covered a good portion of the surface, but there were several unaffected patches. The blood had lead her to believe that his skin was so badly damaged it couldn't be stitched back together.

Marie walked to the head of the table, watching Hank start his bandaging, when she noticed something odd about Logan's appearance.

"Hank, why is the right side of Logan's face drooping like that?"

Jean came up behind her and started to explain. "He lost a lot of blood, Rogue. We tried to stop it, and we were eventually successful, but we had to give him a lot of transfusions. Part of Logan's healing factor is in the platelets and white blood cells in his blood. The new blood didn't have those special properties, and any healing he had been doing stopped all together."

"Jean, that doesn't explain..." Marie started to say, but Jean held up a hand and continued her speech.

"When the blood clotted, a clot broke off and was swept into his blood stream. This clot..."

Exasperated and more and more anxious every second, Marie interrupted. "Give me the Reader's Digest version."

Jean sighed and said. "He's had a stroke, Rogue... a pretty bad one."


Marie collapsed to her suddenly weak knees. Logan'd had a stroke. No, Jean had to be wrong. That didn't happen to vital men like Logan. It happened to old men in nursing homes who had lived their lives. Men who didn't have a wife, young daughter, and new son on the way.

Grandpa Morgan'd had a stroke when Marie was just seven. Momma had taken her to visit a couple of times, but he'd acted different and walked with a funny limp. A couple of times, he'd forgotten that they were even there. That couldn't happen to Logan!

"Rogue," that was Jean's voice. She felt Hank's strong hands lifting her up and helping her into a chair. All she could do was stare at Logan's still form on the bed before her as Hank returned to wrapping his wounded face and head. This couldn't be happening.

"Marie," Jean said.

That caught her attention. No one called her Marie but Logan. To everyone else, she had always been Rogue. She turned to look at the other woman's weary face.

"I won't lie to you," Jean continued. "This is a serious complication."

Jean looked so grim, but Marie felt a whisper of hope. "What about his healing factor? It's slowed down, but when it comes back, he'll be as good as new, right?"

"I honestly don't know. Normal humans are born with a set amount of brain cells. Once those cells die, they can't regenerate."

"But Logan's a mutant. He heals."

"I don't want to give you false hope, Rogue. We can't be certain that he can heal brain damage. You have to be prepared for the worst."

"I don't want to. I want to hope for the best."

"We all do, but Logan is going to need your help. You have to be prepared."

Marie nodded, trying to prepare herself to hear some harsh realities. "What do I need to know?"

"Logan has had a left-hemisphere stroke. He is exhibiting right hemiplegia, or paralysis on the right side of the body, because of it. You already noticed signs of that on his face, the way the right side seems to droop."

Marie was crying now, and Jean paused, walking to the supply cabinet to get her some tissues. Marie could tell she was uncertain if she should continue, "Don't stop, Jean. I have to know."

"Ok... He might have memory problems, especially with his short term memory. Also, he will probably develop aphasia, since the left side of the brain controls speech and language. This problem can be highly specific, affecting one or more language skills. His ability to talk might be impaired, but he might still be able to write, read, or understand speech. There is no way of knowing what's affected until he wakes up."

"He won't be able to talk?" Marie asked in a small voice. It was unimaginable. Logan was always so strong, so healthy. This couldn't be happening to him, to them. "When will he wake up?"

"He's still under sedation from the surgery, and his body will be demanding sleep to start his recovery. He probably won't wake up until late tonight or tomorrow morning. You should go get some sleep now, while he's resting."

The idea was ludicrous. "I can't sleep. I can't leave him."

Jean sighed, and looked around, obviously wanting to shoo Marie out of the Med Lab, if only for a little while. "What about Anna? Maybe you could go see her?"

'Anna!' Marie thought. "What time is it?" she asked.

Jean looked at her watch. "Almost noon."

In her worry over Logan, she hadn't noticed how much time had passed. Anna needed her. Logan would want her to go.

Pushing herself out of the chair, she shuffled over to his still body. She leaned over and kissed his bandaged brow, promising to return quickly, then she left the Med Lab to find their daughter.


"Anna-banana," Jubilee said in a teasing voice, "look who's here."

"Mommy!" Anna squealed running to her mother's arms, her hazel eyes sparkling under the wavy, dark brown hair. Everyone said she had her father's coloring and her mother's features, but as she ran across the room, all Marie saw was the Logan in her. It made her want to cry all over again.

"Hey, Anna," Marie said, giving her daughter a tight squeeze.

"Mommy, you're squishing me."

Marie half-smiled. "Sorry, sugah. I'm just real glad to see you."

"Where have you been all day, Mommy? Where's Daddy?"

"Daddy went on a mission, remember?" Anna nodded and Marie continued. "Well, Daddy got hurt, and Aunt Jean and Uncle Hank are making him better."

"But that was yesterday. Daddy's all better today," Anna replied, knowing how quickly her father could heal.

"No, sugah. Daddy got hurt real bad."

"Did you kiss it better?" Anna asked, confused as to why her father wasn't all right. He'd been hurt before in her short three years, but he'd always recovered almost immediately.

"Yeah, baby. But it's still gonna take some time to heal."

"I'll draw him a picture."

"I think that's a real good idea, honey. You draw him a picture, and I'll take it to him."

Remy colored with Anna while Jubilee came over and sat by Marie. "Have you gotten any sleep, Rogue?"

"I can't, Jubes. I close my eyes, and all I can see is the blood. He's hurt so bad, Jubes. Jean doesn't think he'll recover."

"Then he'll get better just to prove her wrong. You know how Logan loves to do the unexpected."

"I just can't help thinking that this time yesterday, he was fine, life was great. How can everything change so quickly?"

"Life'll be good again. You'll make it through, Rogue."



Marie was awakened by Anna's cries in the adjoining room. Even though she had checked on Logan throughout the rest of the day, taping Anna's picture to one of the IV trees, she had finally been persuaded to go to her own room to sleep that night. Hank, who had taken the night shift, assured her that he would contact her if Logan started to wake up, but that he probably wouldn't until the next morning.

"Anna, what's wrong?" Marie asked, switching on the light.

"Where's Daddy?" Anna whined.

"He's hurt, sugah. I told you that."

"But I need Daddy."

Marie sat down on her daughter's bed, pulling her into a sideways hug and stroking her cheek with a bare hand. It had been a gift from God that Anna was immune to her deadly skin. She hadn't shown signs of any other mutation, but she had the mutant gene and would probably manifest in her teens.

"Why do you need Daddy, honey? Can't I help?"

"You can't growl," Anna replied.


"When I have a bad dream, Daddy comes and growls all the monsters away."

Marie couldn't help but laugh at that mental image, then she started to cry when she thought of Logan now.

"What, Mommy?" Anna asked, noticing her mother's tears.

"Mommy's just a little worried about Daddy, honey." Marie replied, wiping her eyes. Then in a stronger voice, she said, "But don't you worry. He'll be ok. Now, let's scare some monsters."

"But you can't growl."

"What makes you think your momma can't growl?" Marie said. Pulling up the faded remains of Logan's personality that she'd absorbed a couple of times over the years, she let out a deep, rumbling growl.

Anna's face brightened with surprise and delight. "You can do it, Mommy!"

"Yes, now, what does Daddy do first?"

"Well, he sniffs around to find the monsters. They always hide in the closet first."

Marie took some quick whiffs and said, "Yep, they're in there now. What does Daddy do when he finds them?"

"He opens the door and growls and says, 'You better get outta there, monsters, 'cause I'm Anna's daddy, and I'll hurt you good if you don't.'"

Marie was really laughing now. "And what do the monsters do?"

"Then run and hide under the bed, 'cause Daddy can be real scary."

Marie followed her daughter's instructions and then asked, "What does Daddy do now?"

"Then he picks up the bed and drops it on 'em, and growls at 'em to go away before he gets really mad."

So that's the thumping sound she'd heard those late nights when Logan'd got up to check on Anna. She didn't really want to attempt bed-lifting when she was four months pregnant.

"Do you think Mommy could just growl at the monsters to scare them away?"

Anna thought about it for a moment. "Only if you growl really scary."

Marie tried and her efforts seemed to satisfy Anna. "Where do the monsters go after that?"

"Well, then they run outside with all the other monsters. Daddy growls and says they better stay out there if they're smart, and he shuts the window."

Marie completed the ritual and then tucked her daughter back into bed, kissing her forehead.

"Mommy, can I see Daddy tomorrow?"

"We'll see, sugah."


The ringing of the telephone woke her at 5 a.m. Still only half awake, she answered it.

"Rogue," Hank said, "he's waking up."

Marie dropped the phone and ran, stopping at Kitty's door on the way only long enough to ask her to watch Anna.

She was running so fast, she almost ran into the doors of the med lab before they had a chance to detect her presence.

Hank looked up and said, "He's not awake yet, but he's starting to move around."

Remembering what Jean had told her yesterday, she went to Logan's left side, and stroked one of the few small patches of undamaged skin she found there with a gloved hand.

"Logan, open your eyes, sugah. Wake up and open your eyes for me."

Logan moaned and she watched as his eyelids started to flutter. He finally managed to get both eyes open, but the right eyelid drooped, almost closed. When he focused on her face, recognition flashed in his eyes, and Marie could feel the tears forming in her own.

"Welcome back, sugah. I missed you."

"Mah... Mar..." he slurred, trying and failing to say her name.


"It's ok, sugah, I'm here," she said, stroking his arm. His speech was so garbled that she could barely recognize her name. Jean had predicted this, but Marie was far from prepared for facing the reality. She turned and rubbed at her eyes, not wanting him to see her cry.

Jean came rushing into the med lab hurrying up to stand next to Marie. Seeing his open eyes, she said, "Logan?"

"Whuuuh... haapnnnd?" he asked.

"Logan, you were injured on a mission," Jean said in a calm voice. "Do you remember?"

Logan took a moment to think and then shook his head no, wincing at the pain of the movement.

"Logan, you've been badly injured. Try not to move," Jean said, turning to adjust the controls on the IV stand. "There. I've adjusted your morphine drip. That should help take the edge off the pain."

"Wwwhhyyyy, ccaaa... caann..."

Marie watched Jean close her eyes, obviously using her telepathy to catch his meaning. "You can't speak very well because you've had a complication, Logan. During the surgery, you suffered a brain infarction, setting off an ischemic cascade. We were able to stop further damage from occurring by administering neuroprotective agents, but..."

Seeing his confusion and growing annoyance, Marie cut her off. "Logan, sugah, you had a... a... well, you had a stroke, but you're gonna get better. We'll work really hard and do everything we can. You will get better."

Marie saw the shock and disbelief in his face, an echo of her own expression the day before.

"Logan," Jean said, "as your doctor, I think you should know that there is a possibility you might not recover completely..."

"Don't tell him that!" Marie interrupted. "Logan, we're gonna get through this. It'll be ok. You'll see. You'll be back on your feet in no time."

"Rogue, I don't think you should be sugar-coating this. There are serious..."

"GGEEEEOOOU," Logan said in exasperation.

Both women turned to him, their argument forgotten for the moment.

"What did you say, sugah?" Marie asked, leaning closer.

Logan closed his eyes to concentrate and then slowly said, "Geeeeeet... ouuuut."

"You want us to leave?" Marie asked, incredulous.

"Logan," Jean began again, "we need to discuss your condition. It is imperative that we explore treatment options..."

As Jean prattled on, Marie looked into her husband's eyes. They were pleading to her to follow his wishes, and she suddenly understood. He needed some time alone to absorb what was going on. While he was unconscious she'd been able to mull over the implications, but the diagnosis was new to him.

"I'll be back in two hours," Marie said, leaning down to lightly kiss her husband's bandaged cheek. "Jean, let's go," Marie said, grabbing the other woman and pulling her out of the room.

"Rogue, I can't leave. Who will take care..."

"Hank can watch over him for another hour or two," Marie replied, turning to face the other woman in the hallway as the door to the Med Lab closed. "Having us arguing over him wasn't doing Logan any good. He needs time to think about what's going on."

"That's just the point, Rogue. We need to do tests to see how the stroke has affected his comprehension and memory."

"We were upsetting him, Jean. The tests can wait an hour."

"We were upsetting him because we were arguing. If we discuss treatment options and mutually decide on a strategy, we will be able to proceed much more efficiently."

"He wasn't ready, Jean."

"No one is ever ready when the news is this bad, Rogue. You just have to face it."

The door at the end of the hallway swished open and the two women turned to see the Professor exiting Cerebro.

"Ah, Rogue, Jean, how is Logan this morning?"

"He's awake," Marie said, trying to focus on the positive.

"He's already showing neural deficits," Jean added, in a quiet voice.

"I see... When is the last time either of you has eaten?"

Marie couldn't remember. She'd been offered food a couple of times during the surgery, but she'd had no interest in eating. She'd either been with Anna or Logan for the rest of the day yesterday.

Could it have been that long? That couldn't be good for the baby.

When the Professor asked, "Would you care to join me for breakfast?", she nodded and followed Jean and him to the elevator.


Minutes later, they were all seated at the small preparation table in the kitchen.

The professor looked up from his oatmeal to say, "Rogue, I want you to know that any treatment Logan needs, he will get. Whatever course of action you two decide to pursue, I will support you wholeheartedly."

"Thank you, Professor. I just... I don't want to make the decision without Logan."

"How is Anna taking this?"

"I don't think she understands how bad things are. I tell her that Logan's injured, and she thinks he'll heal in a couple of hours."

"That's the way it's always been in the past. Perhaps if she went to visit Logan?"

"No. He just woke up, and with all the bandages. I don't think he'd want her to see him that way. Maybe in a when the stitches come out."

"Rogue," Jean said in a calm voice. She didn't want to upset her any more, but she felt she could help. "I've had some experience with this sort of thing in my residency. It's always easiest if the kids come sooner rather than later. Right now, he looks bad, but without the bandages, he'll look much worse. There will be a lot of scarring."

Marie started to sob, pulling her napkin up to her face to catch the tears. She hadn't considered that. Everything was moving so quickly. Logan was injured horrendously, then he had brain damage, now he'd be scarred for life?!?

"I'm just..." Jean continued, trying to comfort the other woman. "I'm just saying it might be easier if Anna knows about this sooner. Logan can't hide from her forever."

"Jean, do you think... the scarring... will it..." Marie hiccuped through her sobbing.

"When his healing factor comes back, it will take time, but the scarring will most likely disappear completely."

That statement caused Marie to cry even harder, this time in relief.

"I just..." Marie said when she regained control of herself. "I just can't take any more of this. Do you have any good news for me, Jean?"

"Yes," Jean said, surprising Marie with the quickness of her response. "His speech is better than I'd expected."

"What? I could barely make it out."

"Yes, but at least he was trying to form the correct words. Sometimes with aphasia, the patient will say completely understandable words, but will mix up their meanings, leading to incomprehensible speaking." Seeing Marie's confused expression she added, "Like if I were to say to you, 'Bicycle wings bread run get.' instead of saying 'Please pass me the milk.'"

"You mean it could've been that bad?"

"Yes. I won't know until we do further testing, but in Logan's case it seems that he just has problems moving the speech-related muscles to talk properly. That can be aided with physical therapy. Also, and most importantly, he seems to comprehend what we are saying to him. He can understand speech."


After breakfast, Marie took a walk outside around the lake. Dawn was just breaking when she reached the place that she and Anna had picnicked the other day. If only Logan had stayed with them instead of going out on that mission, he'd be fine now. She sat on the dew- damp grass for a few minutes, wishing that the day had gone the way they'd planned it.

She remembered Scott's description of the battle and figured that if Logan hadn't been there, Scott, Jean, St. John, and Jubilee would have died, maybe even the whole team. She didn't know what she felt about that. Deciding she didn't like thinking about it anymore, she got up and headed back to the mansion and their room.

Upon entering, she found Kitty burping little Bobby, Jr. in the rocking chair. Peeking into Anna's room, she saw her daughter was still blissfully asleep.

"Thanks for doing this, Kit. I know you've got your hands full with B.J. there, but your door was on the way, and I was so frantic."

"No prob, girl. We're all worried about Logan. How's he doing?"

"He's awake, but... it's just..." she sighed, "It's going to take a while.... Dammit, Kit, I feel so helpless."

Kitty rose, cradling B.J. in her left arm so she could hug Rogue with the right. Rogue clung to her friend, crying out all the rage and helplessness that had built up over the past couple of days, holding back nothing. She realized she was babbling between hitching breaths, but she didn't have the strength to stop herself anymore, just letting it all come out. Kitty for her part, patted her friend's back and made comforting noises, like you would to a crying baby.

Marie didn't know how much time had passed by the time the tears dried up and she was able to breathe normally again.

"I'm sorry to dump all of this on you, Kitty."

"It's ok, Rogue. Listen, I'll watch Anna. Why don't you go down and talk to Logan now that he's had some time to himself?"

Marie nodded and, after washing her tear-streaked face in the bathroom, headed back for the Med Lab. She was so preoccupied, she didn't notice the sound of a door opening and closing or the quick, light footsteps behind her.


"Logan, sugah, Jean thinks that Anna should see you now."


"Logan, I know you don't want her to see you like this, but it's going to take time to heal. She's already asking for you. I can't keep her away forever."


"I didn't catch that, sugah."


Marie heard the Med Lab doors whoosh open and assumed that Jean had returned. She steeled herself to hear the more of the woman's therapy arguments. Couldn't she understand that she and Logan needed time to discuss it and decide together? Instead of Jean's voice, though, she heard a small, uncertain voice say, "Mommy?"

Rogue spun around to see her daughter, still in her Winnie-the-Pooh pajamas, standing at the entrance. When she'd turned, she'd moved her body back and it no longer blocked Logan's face.

She saw the shock register on her daughter's face as she gasped and whispered, "Daddy?"


"What are you doing here, sugah?"

That question must've come out harsher than she'd intended, because Anna flinched like she'd been struck.

"You were crying, Mommy." Anna answered in a higher pitched voice than she usually affected. "You woke me up, and I heard you were gonna see Daddy, and I wanted to see Daddy, too, so I followed you... Did I do bad?"

Marie glanced back at Logan, but he had closed his eyes and turned his head away.

"No, baby. It's just that Daddy's not feeling well right now." Marie said, walking over to her daughter and crouching down to give her a hug. "Daddy's really tired, and he's not well enough for visitors yet."

"Why is he in funny clothes?" Anna asked.

"Those are bandages, honey, like band-aids, only bigger."

"Like you put on my owwie?" Anna asked, holding up her index finger, which had a teddy-bear-patterned band-aid around it.

"Yes, just like that."

"Daddy has a lot of owwies."

"Yes, sweetheart, but he's getting better."

Anna looked around the Med Lab, and spotting a chair, made a bee-line towards it. Marie grasped her intentions right away as Anna started to push it towards the bed. She walked over and grabbed the chair.

"Anna, Daddy doesn't want to visit now."

"Is he mad at me?"

"No, of course not."

"Then why doesn't he want to talk to me?"

"He's not mad," Marie reassured her daughter. "He just can't talk very well right now."

Anna took a second to think about that. "Uncle Remy doesn't talk good, but he still does it."

Logan's barked laughter surprised both of them. "Aa-nna." he said, moving his left hand slightly to signal her to come to him.

Marie helped Anna push the chair up to his side, then Anna climbed up on it. She threw herself on him, giving him a big hug. Logan half- smiled, half-grimaced in pain at the sign of affection. Marie immediately tried to pull her back.

"Anna, you've got to be gentle with Daddy, ok?"

"Ok. Hi, Daddy."


Anna looked around at the tubes and wires attached to various places on his body. There was even a tube up his nose. "What is all this stuff?"

"It helps make Daddy better," Marie answered.

"Does it hurt?"


"Good." She looked around at the machines circling the bed, and saw her drawing taped to the IV tree. "My picture! Do you like it Daddy?"

Logan nodded, and Anna reached over to point out the different images. The drawing captured their immediate family smiling in front of the mansion. Anna had added smiling trees, birds, bushes, and sun to the snow covered scenery. "That's you, and that's Mommy. She's holding Mike. That's me, and that's my dog, Charley."

"Anna," Marie said, with a sigh. "We've already told you we haven't named the baby yet, and you're not getting a dog."

"Yeah, but that's not now," she said, indicating the drawing. "It's at Christmas. That's why Mike's not still in your tummy."

Marie rolled her eyes at Logan. Anna could be so stubborn when she wanted something.

"I'll draw you more pictures," Anna told Logan, her eyes bright with excitement. "Then you don't have to look at this stuff anymore," she said, indicating the drab machinery.

Logan nodded and Marie said, "That's a really good idea, sugah."

The Med Lab doors whooshed open and Kitty rushed in, still holding B.J. Seeing Anna at her father's bedside, she said, "I'm sorry, Rogue. I went to check on her after you left. She must've sneaked out."

"It's ok, Kit... Anna, why don't you go with Aunt Kitty and start on those drawings?"

"Ok." Anna started to lean over Logan.

"Careful, sweety," Marie warned.

Anna was careful not to touch his injuries more than necessary as she leaned over and planted a kiss on the tip of his nose, which was poking out amidst the bandages on his face.

"I love you, Daddy."

"Llluuvv oooo," Logan replied as his daughter climbed down and left.

As soon as they were alone, Marie apologized. "I'm so sorry, Logan. I didn't know she was awake. If I'd known she was following me, I would've sent her back."

"Iiiss o-kkaaay."

"Really?" Marie asked in surprise. When Logan nodded, she said, "Ok."


The worst part of every day was when she tried to sleep in their bed, alone. She missed the warmth of Logan's body beside her or spooned against her back. She'd tried to arrange pillows in the bed to simulate his presence, but it wasn't close to the same. Every night, she'd lie awake until the early hours of the morning, finally succumbing to sleep out of sheer exhaustion.

The best part of every day was taking Anna to see Logan. During their private visits, without Anna, he was more down. She tried to bring up the subject of therapy, but he either changed it or told her he didn't want to talk about it right then. He was always so upbeat during Anna's visits, though, and Marie loved to catch the occasional smile on his face. She limited their chats to about an hour since she didn't want to overtire Logan and since Anna's attention span would wane if they stayed longer, but that hour was wonderful.

The Med Lab equipment had been turned into an art gallery during that time. Almost every available inch was covered with one of Anna's masterpieces. Whenever Jean or Hank wanted to check the readouts, they had to move one or two pictures to do it.

One early afternoon, almost a week and a half after Logan's injury, when Marie had just brought Anna for a visit, Jean called her over.

"Rogue, the professor would like to talk with us."

"Umm, ok. Anna?"

"Hank can watch her."

Marie strode back to Logan's bedside. "Anna, I'm going to go have a talk with Aunt Jean. You stay here with Hank and Daddy, ok? Tell Daddy what we did this morning."

"Ok!" Anna said, excited and already starting in on her play-by-play.

Once they were out of the Med Lab and walking down the hall, Marie asked, "What's up, Jean?"

"The professor's found a potential physical therapist for Logan. He wants you to meet her."

Marie stopped mid-stride. "Logan won't like this."

"He's not getting better on his own, Rogue. He needs this help."

"But he is getting better, Jean. His speech..."

"Is exactly the same. You're just used to hearing it now." Jean sighed, trying to find the words to make her understand. "He's falling into a depression, Rogue. He only speaks to you and Anna. He won't acknowledge Hank at all, and he makes me use my telepathy to understand what he wants. He refuses to see any of his friends and when you aren't there, he just lies around and stares at Anna's drawings or sleeps all the time."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?"

"I wasn't sure before. It's become apparent, though, that your visits are the only time he tries to do anything. I'm worried about him, Rogue. He needs professional help if he's going to progress."

Marie nodded. "Ok, I'll meet her."


"Rogue, allow me to introduce Helen Cooper."

Marie was surprised to say the least. She had always imagined physical therapists to be large, burly men. This blond woman was hardly taller than she was, and although she did have some muscle, she could hardly be expected to assist a man as big as Logan.

Helen, noticing Marie's appraising look, said, "It doesn't take a lot of strength to do physical therapy." Then in a softer voice, almost as if she was divulging a secret, she said, "I make the patients do all the work, anyway."

Marie was surprised to find that she immediately liked the woman. After her mutation had manifested and her experiences on the run, she was slow to warm up to anyone. In fact, the only other person she'd felt such an immediate kinship to was Logan.

Helen presented her credentials to the small group. She was a speech/language and physical therapist, and most of her experience was with brain damaged patients. She wasn't a mutant but said she had treated more than her fair share.

"Those vigilante mobs have given me more business than I care for," she'd confided. "Personally, I'd rather be out of work."

When the interview was over, the professor mentally conversed with Jean and Marie, while continuing small talk with Helen.

~She seems very proficient and experienced,~ Jean thought.

~I like her,~ Marie added. ~Logan won't take well to anyone, but he might warm up to her after a while.~

~Then it's settled.~ The professor thought, then aloud, he said, "Helen, we would like to hire you. Can you start tomorrow?"

"That's fine. Now, what can you tell me about Logan?"

"He's had a left-hemisphere stroke, leading to aphasia and right hemiplegia..." Jean began before she was interrupted by Helen.

"No offense, Dr. Summers, but I can get all of that from the medical file. What can you tell me about *him*?"

"Well," Jean thought for a moment. "He's a fighter. He's stubborn, difficult..."

Before Marie could jump in to defend her husband, Helen spoke up. "Those are wonderful traits for a person with the recovery he's facing. I'm sure we'll get along great."


The next morning, Helen entered the Med Lab alone. She had instructed everyone to stay away during their sessions, since that would help both of them focus and prevent Logan from becoming self-conscious.

Once Hank saw her, he excused himself and went to his office, shutting the door. Helen had worked with several mutants in her time, but it was still going to take a while to get used to the appearance of the blue-furred, hulking doctor. His demeanor was so gentle that she'd immediately liked him, but she was still doing double-takes when she saw him out of the corner of her eye.

She'd met the medical staff and most of Logan's friends yesterday, as the professor gave her a tour of the campus. This morning, she was finally meeting her partner. She didn't like to refer to them as patients. If they were going to succeed, they needed the teamwork only a partnership would provide.

She saw Logan turn to look at her when he heard the door open and then immediately turn away, trying to ignore her. 'So, we're playing that game,' she thought.

"Hello, Logan. I'm Helen. I'm here to help you get well."


"I was thinking that we could work on speech therapy for now, and then add the physical therapy once the stitches come out and you have more movement."


Holding up a book in front of his face, she said, "I'd like you to read the top line of this page."

No response.

"Of course, I could just sit around reading magazines and eating chocolates all day, but I don't think the professor would pay me for that."

Not even a twitch.

Changing tactics, Helen said, "Who drew all these lovely pictures? I bet it was your daughter. I met her yesterday, you know. Darling child. Too bad you won't get to see her today."

That got a response, all right. Logan had turned and was glaring at her now.

'Ah ha!' Helen thought. 'A motivator.'

"You know, while I'm in here, no one can come to visit. Just you and I, and I'm not leaving until we make some progress. It'd be sad if Anna had to miss a visit. She looks forward to them so much, you know."

Logan had started growling mid-way through her speech. Concentrating, he spat out, "Bit-ckk."

Helen smiled. "Good for a first attempt. We're going to have to work on your 'ch' sounds, though, won't we?"


After their first session, in which Helen taught Logan the finer points of swearing, she left to find Jean.

"Why hasn't he been moved back to his normal room?"

"His right side is paralyzed," Jean explained, as if to a child. "He can't walk; he can't maneuver a wheelchair; he can barely sit up."

"I checked him. He can still feel sensation on the right side of his body. He should've started physical therapy immediately to reprogram his brain."

"He was resistant to even the idea of therapy. Besides, the stitches aren't even out yet."

"When do they come out?"

"In two days."

"Ok, that's moving day. I'll let Rogue know."

Jean stood speechless in the hallway, watching Helen purposefully stride away.


Two days later, it was finally time for the stitches to come out. Marie was nervous about what she would see. She didn't want to break down crying in front of Logan and upset him. She didn't want him to think that their relationship would be any different because of what had happened. After meditating that morning to calm her nerves, as Logan had taught her, she made her way down to the Med Lab.

As it turned out, she shouldn't have worried, at least about crying. As Jean and Hank cut away the bandages, they revealed tender skin dotted with numerous small wounds and larger surgical scars, where repairs to the underlying tissues had to be made. As she saw the wounds covering his legs, his arms, his chest, back, and head, she understood the agony he must have endured, and she felt a white hot rage begin to consume her.

Erik. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to tear him to pieces, like he'd done to Logan. She wanted to touch him, to suck out his personality and torture him in her head for eternity. She wanted to make him pay, but she couldn't. He was already dead.

Her impotence and frustration only increased her anger. She tried to keep a mask on her emotions, but it took over an hour to remove all the stitches and by then, the mask had started to slip. She excused herself, telling Logan she would see him later, and hoping that he didn't see the emotions ripping through her.

She had to get away. She had to hurt someone. As soon as the Med Lab door shut, she broke off in a run for the gym.

As soon as she entered, she attacked the punching bag, hitting and kicking it until she could hardly catch her breath. She'd barely noticed when Scott walked over from the weight machine to hold the bag for her as she beat on it.

Stopping only when she couldn't keeping standing any longer, she plopped to the floor, puffing. Scott sat down beside her, but she just kept glaring at the bag, wishing it was Erik, wishing she could tear it in two.

"You want to tell me what just happened?" Scott asked when she'd caught her breath.


"Wait... Jean mentioned... the stitches came out today, didn't they?"

"I should've been there. I'm the only one that can deal with Magneto. If I had been there, Logan wouldn't... wouldn't..."

"It's not your fault, Rogue. I've had the same feelings. If I had acted sooner... If I had shot before Magneto could attack... I didn't. We can't go back, Rogue. Ultimately, what happened to Logan is Magneto's fault. He's dead, and now we have to live with the consequences."

"Yeah, but you got to kill him. I just... after what... I want to see him suffer."

"I only killed him because he didn't give me another option. I wish I hadn't needed to... Listen, I've discussed this with the professor, and it really helped. Maybe you..."

"Yeah, rightt. Erik was the professor's best friend. How can I go tell him I wish the bastard had suffered more? I mean. He went to the freakin' funeral for heaven's sake. How can I talk to him?"

"He understands, Rogue. He doesn't agree with what Magneto did."

"I still have his memories, you know."


"Erik's memories. The personalities go away in time, but the memories stay. How can someone who went through what he did... live through what they did to him... how could he do that to Logan? I don't understand!"

"I don't either. I just know that we will get through this. Logan needs you now."

"That's another thing. What if... What if Logan..."

She couldn't bring herself to say it. Over the past two weeks, she hadn't even allowed herself to think it. What if Logan didn't recover? What if he was never the same?

Scott seemed to understand. "I don't know, Rogue, but even if Logan doesn't..." her hitched breath cut him off and he saw the tears on her face. "You haven't lost him. No matter what happens in the future, Logan is still Logan, and he still loves you and Anna."

Rogue could only nod as the tears fell.


An hour after the stitches had come out and Marie had left, Helen entered the Med Lab. Grasping the sheet and pulling it away to reveal his pajama bottoms she said, "Rise and shine. It's moving day."

She immediately got out the harness and started attaching it around Logan's waist and legs.


"No more Med Lab for you. You're going back to your room."

"Buh I caaahn..."

"No buts." Helen said, pulling on his right arm as he pushed against the table with his left to get him into a sitting position. "Meet your new set of wheels."

Logan looked down at the wheelchair before him, and tried to shake his head, but Helen was already turning him so that his legs dangled over the edge of the bed.

"Ok," she said, gripping the harness around his waist. "Hold on to the bed with your left hand and try to land on your good leg when we push off. Ready?"


Helen stopped. "What?"

Logan mumbled something that was too hurried and garbled to understand.

"You'll have to repeat that."

"Geeet... Jeeee-an."

Helen backed away. "No."

Logan, bracing himself up by his weak left arm now that her support was gone, looked at her dumbfounded. "Whuuuh?"

"No. Jean won't be using her telepathy to translate for you any more. We had a nice discussion and decided it was best to let you talk on your own."

Logan just stared at her. "Whuuh?"

"You heard me. Now are you ready to move?"

"Nnnoo." He tried to explain his reasons again, and this time she caught a word that sounded like "chair" and another that was unmistakably "weak."

"Oh, I see. You don't want everyone to see you in a wheelchair. You think it makes you look weak in their eyes."

Logan nodded, relieved that she understood. He started to lean back down to a prone position on the bed when Helen grabbed his harness and eased him back up. "Let me ask you one question. Do you think Professor Xavier is weak?"

Confusion filled his features as he answered, "Nnnoo."

"He uses a wheelchair, but it doesn't make you think any less of him, does it? He uses it because he needs it. Right now, you need to use this chair. You're not staying in here and a chair is a lot more dignified than dragging yourself along the floor to your room, don't you think?"


Helen smiled. "Ah, you've been practicing. Gold star for you. Now on three, you're leaving this bed."

She tightened her grip on the harness and made sure he was in the proper position. When everything was ready she said, "One... two... three!"


Together, they finally wrangled Logan into the wheelchair.

"There," Helen said. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Logan just glared up at her, still trying to catch his breath. He hadn't tried to move that much on his own in two weeks, and the effort required was much more than he'd expected. His body just wasn't obeying his commands like it used to, and he was already getting frustrated.

"Ok, ready to move out? Let's go."

Logan stuck his good foot out to stop their progression. "Nnno."

"What now?" Helen asked. Most people would be annoyed by now at Logan's stubbornness. Helen was used to this sort of thing, and just calmly waited for the answer.

"Shhhit," Logan said.

"Yes, Logan, I'm very impressed with the dramatic progress in your cursing ability. Now can we go?"

"Nnnoo," Logan said, then screwing up his face in concentration, he said, "Shhhiirrt."

"Ah, don't want to go out there bare-chested, huh? I'll have you know the senior girls are offering quite a bit of dough if I parade you around shirtless. Oh, well, I guess my trip to Vegas will have to wait."


Marie made it back to their suite just in time. Helen'd said she'd be bringing Logan home at around this time, and Marie wanted to speak with Anna before she did. She wanted to prepare her for Logan's appearance.

After washing her tear-streaked face, the last reminder of her break- down in the gym, she went back into the main room, where Anna was sitting on the floor.

"Anna, you know how we said that Daddy has a lot of owwies?"

"Yes," Anna answered, looking up from her Sesame Street puzzle.

"Well, the bandages came off today, and Daddy's going to look a little different from what you're used to."


"Well, you can see the owwies now. I just don't want you to be surprised. They look like they hurt, but they don't much anymore, and Daddy's going to be just fine."

"Ok," Anna said, shrugging and going back to her puzzle.

A few minutes later, the door opened and Logan was wheeled in. He looked exhausted, the effort of sitting up on the trip from the Med Lab to their room taking its toll. Anna looked up and froze, shocked. She stared at Logan, speechless, as he was wheeled past her into their bedroom and helped onto the bed.

This was exactly what Marie had been dreading. She knew Logan looked terrible, but she'd hoped that Anna wouldn't comment on it and make him uncomfortable. She watched in dread as Anna opened her mouth and said, "Daddy. You're not fuzzy anymore."

Ok. That wasn't what she'd been expecting at all. Indeed Logan's scalp and muttonchops had been shaved for the surgery, and even though there was whisker-length growth, he was still a lot less hairy than he used to be. Marie hadn't even thought to mention it.

"No, sugah," Marie said, through giggles. "They had to shave Daddy to make him better."

Anna walked into their bedroom, and after looking Logan up and down, proclaimed. "I like you better fuzzy, Daddy."

"So do I," Marie agreed, sitting down on the bed beside her husband. "You're just going to have to grow it back."

For his part, Logan gave them both a weary, lop-sided grin.


Helen spent the next few hours showing Marie how to use the harness to help Logan into a sitting position on the bed or into the wheelchair. Safety bars had been added to the bathroom walls during the time Logan was gone. Helen instructed them on their use, encouraging Marie to ensure Logan kept a grip on a bar with his good hand at all times.

By the time they'd finally finished with him, Logan was more exhausted than he'd ever been in his remembered life. There'd been times when he'd had to stay awake 48 hours on the road, times when he'd hiked all day through the forest, and he'd never felt so completely worn out. It was only five at night and he was ready for sleep.

"Now remember," Helen told Marie at the door, "my beeper's always on, so call if you need any help, even at three in the morning. I know this'll be a tough transition, but you can do it. Logan's probably so tired he'll just sleep the rest of the night, anyway."

He couldn't argue with that.

"Logan." Helen called. "Get some rest while you can. Tomorrow, we start in the gym."

The woman was a sadist, pure and simple. There was no other explanation for why she loved to torture him so. Still, he had a good sixteen hours or so before she'd be back, and he planned to use every minute of it. Settling back in his familiar bed that smelled of Marie, he tried to forget about his impending doom and relax. Marie surprised him by coming back in and lying down beside him, snuggling up close with her head on his chest.

"I've missed you so much, sugah."

"Luuuvv... yoooou... darrrllnn."


The next few weeks passed in a blur. Practicing his speech for hours in the mirror, slowly shaping his mouth until the sounds were right. Helen introducing him to one new torture device after another down in the gym, all in the name of physical therapy.

On the good side, the scars were almost completely gone, and his hair, although still a little short, had grown back in nicely. Jean had theorized that his healing factor was coming back.

That morning, they'd done new CT scans, and Jean and Hank were busy analyzing the results. The initial findings weren't encouraging. There was more activity in his right hemisphere, but no apparent regeneration in the left. Jean had said to wait until they could analyze all the data and that if they came back negative not to worry. She'd said it would take a while before they could be absolutely sure that he wouldn't heal, and that the brain injury might take longer for his healing factor to deal with. Despite Jean's reassurances, he could see his disappointment mirrored in Marie's face. He couldn't bear to see her hope fading like that. He had to get away and think.

Before all of this, he'd go out to the woods, but he couldn't get the chair that far, so he'd settled for his second favorite thinking spot: the roof. He'd taken the elevator to the top floor and then, sitting on the steps and using his good leg, he'd scooted his way up the stairs. Now, looking out over the green, manicured lawns towards the forest, hearing the kids play far below him, he wondered what the rest of his life would be like.

He'd always wondered what he'd done to deserve Marie, but now, it was worse. He was a burden to her. He tried hard in therapy, Helen pushing him all the way, but he wasn't making enough progress. Sure, she always acted impressed, said he was recovering faster than anyone she'd ever seen, but it was probably a line she used on all her patients.

What if this was as good as it gets? What if he'd never be able to get out a sentence without stuttering or slurring his words? What if he was never able to walk again without a walker or crutches? What possible good could he do here? He wasn't on the team anymore, and he wasn't a teacher. When it came down to it, he was living off the professor's charity, and that grated at him more than anything else.

He was so consumed by his thoughts that he didn't notice her until she'd walked right up next to him. Sitting down as he was on the sloped roof, Anna's face was just a little above eye level.

"Hi, Daddy."

He'd never considered the roof to be the slightest bit dangerous, but now, with Anna standing beside him, balanced on the loose, sloping tiles, he was suddenly terrified.

"Ann-na... Gget baak."

"Whatcha doin'?"

"Annn-na... Go nnsside."

He must've been too harsh in trying to spit that out because Anna's face fell and the tears glistened at the corners of her eyes.

"I did bad, didn't I? I saw your chair and wanted ta see whatcha were doing. I didn't want to do bad."

Dammit. There wasn't time to explain to her that he wasn't mad, especially with how slow he was speaking. He just wanted her off that roof and now.

"Juss... go," he forced out.

She turned and started to walk back to the stairs. He'd never be sure why it happened. Maybe her tears made it hard to see, or maybe those shingles were loose from the wind storm they'd had last week. Whatever it was, something caused Anna to lose her footing.

He heard her startled squeak as her small body slammed into the roof, then he saw her, skidding past him towards the edge. He reached out for her, but his reflexes were a half-second too slow.

He wouldn't give up that easily. Pushing off, he slid down the roof towards her, kicking and grabbing at the shingles to gain on her. He finally grabbed her hand with his good, left hand as they reached the edge. Of course, he'd been trying so hard to catch up that even after he'd reached her, he just kept sliding. He felt the roof's surface fall away from him, and he reached back with his free hand to grab for the gutter, but he was too slow. He realized even before it happened that he would miss by inches.


Without conscious forethought, acting on the pure, panic-induced instinct to save his daughter, Logan released three, nine-inch, razor- sharp bone claws from his right hand and embedded them in the rusted gutter at the roof's edge, stopping their fall. He had Anna's arm tightly gripped in his left hand, but his weaker right arm was already starting to burn from the strain of holding them up.

Anna was screaming and squirming in his grasp. He tried to call to her, to tell her to hold on, but her yelling mixed with his stuttering made the message indecipherable. Then, his claws started to slip.


They say a mother can distinguish her baby's cry from any other child within days after birth, and Marie was no different. Anna's panicked shrieking tore through her soul like a knife, and she was running through the kitchen and out the door before she had consciously registered that something was wrong.

Following the crying sounds, and mimicking everyone else on the lawn, she looked up to see Logan and Anna hanging seven stories in the air. Her heart stopped for a second, and then started beating itself out of her chest. She was inside again and running up the stairs to the roof before anyone realized she had even been out there.


Marie wasn't the only one who'd heard the screams. Scott and Ororo came running from the front of the mansion where they'd been teaching soccer. They were expecting a battle, thinking someone was attacking the mansion. When they saw Logan and Anna suspended precariously from the edge of the roof, they were stunned.

Scott immediately went into full, fearless-leader mode "Storm, can you create a wind draft and blow them back on the roof?"

"It doesn't work like that. They could be blown off the roof instead of back onto it."

Scott went through the abilities of his team members. Only Jean's gifts might be of use, and she was no where to be seen. He called to her through their mental link, telling her to come as soon as possible, and then started evaluating the students' powers in case one of them might be able to help.

When Logan slipped an inch and Anna screamed harder, he knew they had to act now, but Jean was nowhere in sight.

The roof's door opened, and he thought that Jean must've gone directly there. Of course, when the figure emerged onto the shingles, he realized how wrong he was. It was a five and a half months pregnant Rogue starting to slowly scoot down the slope to her endangered family.


"Logan, hang on, sugah. I'm here."

Marie!?! Panic overtook him. With her pregnant belly, her center of gravity was thrown off. What if she came close to the edge and fell over?

"NNNOO! Mar-ee, ggo bbakk."

"No." Marie said in a tone that made it clear she'd allow no more arguments. Sitting down on the roof before him and planting her feet wide to give her leverage, she reached out both hands and commanded, "Hand Anna up to me."

He slowly raised his left hand up and over his head. The movement loosened his claws even more from the worn and rusted gutter, but he didn't fall. Anna was still crying, and Marie tried to calm her.

"Sugah, Mommy's right here. Come to Mommy. Shhh, stop wiggling. Give me your hand. It'll be ok... I've got her, Logan. Logan, let go. Logan, I can't pull her up if you don't let go."

It was one of the hardest things he'd ever have to do, letting go of Anna when her feet were still dangling over the side of the roof, but if there was anyone he trusted completely in the whole world it was Marie, and he finally forced himself to release his grip.

He watched with fear and then relief as Anna was pulled up to the relative safety of the roof. Marie started to scoot back up the incline to get Anna inside. "I'll be back for you in a second, sugah."

"Ddon' bbothrr," Logan said, unsheathing the claws on his left hand and embedding them in the wooden edge of the roof just as his other claws slipped from their hold in the storm drain. His right arm was numb by now from the effort of holding his and Anna's combined body weight. Still, he was able to move it just enough to give the claws a good hold so he could move his left arm again. Wiggling and shimmying, he finally pulled himself up far enough to get his knees on the roof's surface. After that, it was much easier to climb up to the door and back into the stairway where Marie and Anna were waiting.

Once he was finally on a safe surface, he allowed himself to collapse, sucking in air in an attempt to catch his breath.

"What happened? Why were you up there? How did you get on the edge like that?" Marie was asking.

"I fell, Mommy," Anna said, still shaking a little in her mother's arms. "Daddy saved me."

"But what were you doing up there in the first place?"

"Daddy was up there."

Marie turned to look at Logan, her face questioning. He shook his head. Still trying to catch his breath, he puffed, "Wwuz... think- nn."

"Rogue? Logan? You guys ok?" That was Scott's voice calling from the flight below.

"Ya, we're fine. Just had a scare." Marie answered. Then, looking at his bloody but already healing hands, she asked, "*Bone* claws?"

Logan shook his head. "Dunn-no."

"Should we go get Jean to look at them?" Marie asked, uncertain.

Logan shook his head. "Ttoo ttirrdd."

She nodded. He seemed to already be healing. They could wait until he'd gotten a chance to rest. She helped Logan back down the stairs to his chair, and they went back to their suite.


A knock on the door drew Marie's attention away from Elmo dancing around on the television. It was one of Anna's favorite videos, and it was keeping her distracted and relatively quiet while Logan napped in the other room.

When she opened the door, she found Jean, Helen, and Hank with huge grins on their faces.

"Rogue, we have some news," Jean said, almost euphorically. "Where's Logan?"

"He's resting."

"He's gonna want to wake up for this," Helen added. "It's big news, Rogue."

Their excitement was almost contagious, and she felt herself starting to smile as well, even though she didn't have a clue what she was smiling about. "Ok, um, take a seat. I'll go get him."

Logan rolled out of the bedroom a few minutes later, followed by Marie. His hair was even wilder than usual, and he was still blurry eyed from his nap.

"Wuzz up?"

"Logan, your progress in therapy has been amazing," Helen started, "and today with the roof incident. Well, you shouldn't have been able to do that."

"Hhadd tto."

"No, you don't understand. I mean you should be physically incapable of the strength and speed necessary to do that. I brought it up to Jean and Hank."

"We were reviewing your CT results when she entered," Henry added. "Upon further examination, we have determined that not only has your right hemisphere synapses increased in number, but your left hemisphere has started to regenerate."

Logan looked at him like he was speaking Portuguese, his sleep-fogged mind still not completely cleared. When Marie whooped and reached down, hugging him so tight his lungs started begging for oxygen, he got the impression that whatever Big Blue had said was good news.

"Logan, you're healing, sugah! You'll be gonna be good as new!"

Once the truth sunk in, Logan was surprised at his feelings. This was what they'd been hoping for. He should feel relief, thankfulness, happiness, something. The truth was that it didn't change anything. He had found out what was truly important to him while hanging from that roof earlier today. Even if he never got better, he still had Marie, Anna, and a new son on the way. They were all that mattered. He wanted to explain all of this to Marie, but his speech was still too slow. He could wait.

"LLuvv yooo... ddarrlnn," he said instead. That was enough for now.

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