Learning To Touch
Chapter 1
E. Vangie

It was late on a Saturday night when Logan finally returned to the X-Men's mansion but even so, Rogue was there to meet him, almost as if she'd been waiting. "Oh, Logan, I knew you'd be back, I knew it! But all the same, I was so worried!" she gushed as he stepped through the front door and into the cavernous foyer. Her warm welcome wrung a grudging smile from his lips though he came home soul weary and heart heavy.

Home. Logan examined the word. Well, yes, he guessed that was about right although it felt strange to apply the word to the huge mansion/school. But it held people of his own kind and he supposed that made it as much home as any place could be.

People like the bright-eyed girl advancing eagerly but carefully towards him. Her body language proclaimed that she would have liked to throw herself into his arms, but that she felt she could not, would not dare. It nearly broke his heart to see her eager emotions warring with her fear- it was so obvious in her careful approach.

"Come here, kid." he said roughly and pulled her into the warm embrace she so obviously longed for. She gasped happily as the old leather jacket he wore enveloped her as he pressed her against his chest. It was cold from the freezing night outside but Logan, as always seemed hot as a furnace.

Carefully, she turned her face into his thin black T-shirt, (he never bothered to wear anything even remotely wintry in deference to the cold weather) so that her face wouldn't brush his bare neck. How she longed to bury her face in his warm, scratchy throat, to give him the hot, delicious kisses she had been saving only for him!

But that would not be safe. Not now, and perhaps not ever. "But at least he's not afraid to hug me, to touch me at least that much!" Rogue thought and happiness burst over her in waves as she felt his warm arms around her. So what if clothing separated them, he hugged her! It was more, much more, than the others, any of them, would or could do.

Logan, for his part, was experiencing with some surprise a deep feeling of nostalgia mixed even with a little hope for the future- the first he had felt in months. He hadn't realized how much he missed this pretty, soft little girl he held close in his arms. He buried his face in her flowing auburn hair (which was safe) and breathed in the fresh scent of her youth and innocence.

She was so delicate, so fragile. He felt a strong protectiveness for her, like an older brother might for his youngest, favorite sister. After all, they had found each other first, before the other X-men had rescued them. It formed a bond between them. Though he knew Rogue could drain him with a touch, she felt as though she might break in his arms. He hugged her fiercely to him once more, then reluctantly drew back.

Rogue was reluctant to end the moment. How long had it been since she had been touched? All the others were afraid, only Logan with his rough affection would take her unhesitatingly into his arms. Such strong arms! She felt so safe in them. "But look at you!" He was looking her over with a critical but approving eye. "I've only been gone 6 months but you've gotten all..." words failed him for a minute but his hands described an hourglass in the air and he added lamely, "Well, you've really filled out... er, you've been growing like a weed, I guess," he hastily corrected. Rogue blushed and smiled. "I'm glad you noticed, Logan, I'm all grown up. Not a little girl any more."

She was so glad she just happened to have her oldest, tightest sweater on. She had been going to throw it away but now, she would keep it forever because it made Logan notice her in *that* way! She was determined to make him notice more, but she didn't know what else to do or say.

"Did you find out any more, you know, about your past while you were gone, Logan?" she asked. Immediately, his face fell and a dark scowl passed swiftly over his features. "'Fraid not, Darlin'." he answered shortly. "A few more pieces of the puzzle maybe, but not enough to really make a difference."

Rogue was horrified, she had ruined the moment and made Logan upset but in the next minute, he seemed to make a visible effort to shrug off his dark emotions. He sighed heavily and soon only a deep melancholy was left on his features. A sadness she longed to soothe away with kisses, but she could not. The frustration of it nearly made her weep. It was all so unfair! Her heart reached out to him in a way her hands never could. "Well, enough o' that," he said abruptly. "Tell me how things are going around here. Anybody make any big breakthroughs in their research or anything?"

It was a casual question and he had been mostly thinking of Jean, but Rogue's face lit up. It was just the sort of opening she had been hoping for. "Oh yes, Logan, I did. Well, sort of, ya know." "You?" he asked puzzled, "What research have you been working on, Darlin'?" "Well, it's not research, exactly, but the professor has been working with me to help me control my, um, powers, I guess. So every day I'm performing mental exercises and he says he feels I'm getting so much better but the only problem is no one is willing, or, um, able to touch, I mean help me." The last came out in a rush and Rogue stared down at the tips of her battered tennis shoes and didn't dare say anymore.

"You poor kid," Logan whispered softly, "They won't help you, is that it?" Rogue looked up and her eyes glistened with unshed tears. "No, it's not quite like that, Logan." she insisted, bravely. "I mean, obviously the other kids can't help; their powers aren't mature. And the professor and Jean can't help 'cause they're telepaths and it might screw them up. Scott and Storm are both afraid they'd fry me as a defensive reflex if I started to, you know, drain them. So I pretty much just work on my own.

The Prof. wants me to practice on animals but I just couldn't, they have no defenses. I'd rather be fried than kill something, you know?" She was studying the floor so fiercely as she said this that she almost missed his next remark. "I'll help you," he said quietly.

"You'll what?" she was almost afraid to hope, but he said it again, more loudly. "I'll help you, Rogue. I'm not afraid." "You're not? But, I mean, I almost drained you twice! That doesn't scare you?" "Hell, no! I bounced back before, didn't I? I'm one tough son of a bitch, Darlin'. Just tell me when and where and I'll be there, no sweat."

"Oh Logan!" Her eyes were shining, "Oh thank you, you don't know how happy you've made me! I work with the prof. everyday at 2 o'clock in his study. Oh, I have to go and tell him! Thank you so much Logan, I just wish I could kiss you!" Her eyes burned hungrily into his and he was a little surprised at the intensity of her gaze.

"Well maybe soon you can." he said Lamely, not knowing what else to say. Rogue blushed a little at this. She couldn't believe she'd been so forward! Fumbling for something to say to change the subject, she hesitantly asked, "You, um, going to bed now, Logan?" "Thought I might. It's pretty late and I'm pretty beat from driving so far. But I'll see you tomorrow at 2, OK?" "In the prof.'s study, yes. Logan, thank you again, you don't know how much this means to me."

Their eyes locked for an instant and an electric spark seemed to jump between them. Slowly, she moved away, heading to her room.

Logan stood and watched her go, trailing one gloved hand on the banister as she climbed the curving stairs. He had an idea that he *did* know how much it meant to Rogue. She had clung to him so hungrily, almost desperately when he hugged her. How hard must it be not to touch or be touched, even casually? He found he couldn't imagine it, it must be Hell. Slowly, he trudged to his room.

CHAPTERS:   1   2

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