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Translation
Archive:  Please ask first.  I’ll letcha, no problem... but feed my ego by letting me know you want it.  I might even write more that way.
Disclaimers: As usual.     
Notes:  Thanks to my betas, as always.  Also, I should mention that I’m not really crazy about a Logan/Rogue pairing (I still think she’s too young, folks.  It’s probably a felony), but this hit me at 3am one morning and wouldn’t let me get back to sleep until I had mapped it out.  


     She was a good fighter.

     Logan noticed that right off.

     But of course he would.

     She moved beautifully in the practice area, each move fluid and perfect.  She was a work of art.

     Logan didn’t think she’d survive a real battle.  Her moves were too perfect.  Too flawless.  She had been taught perfectly, but there was no room for variation in her technique.  She would excel in sanctioned matches, but fights in real life didn’t go by rules.  And she was obviously used to rules.

     He prowled along the perimeter of the practice area, part of his mind watching the students as they sparred, and another part trying to remember the woman’s name.  She was a teacher here, fairly new, within the last few months.  She had been introduced to him, but he had paid about as much attention to that as he did to most of the school administration details.  Which was very little, outside of the self defense and martial arts classes he taught.

     He still swore he didn’t know what had come over him to accept _that_ job.  Him!  A teacher!  It still made him laugh.

     But he knew why he had done it, and he even let himself be honest about it... but only to himself.

     He had taken the job because he had wanted to stay.

     They got to him.  The geeks got to him.  He had tried to fight it, tried to leave, but here he was.

     Teaching.

     Logan repaced his route, hooking an ankle around Bobby’s as he went by.  The kid fell flat on his face in the middle of showing off to Rogue.  He glared at Logan, checking his nose for blood.  “If you’d been paying attention to what you were doing, you wouldn’t have a sore nose,” Logan growled and went on.

     He couldn’t remember the woman’s name, or her mutation, and nothing about her jarred any recollections either.  He paused by the gymnastic area long enough to pick up a fistful of chalk dust.  He stood behind the woman, studying her as she went through her kata, then stepped up to her and threw a punch.

     She blocked it strongly, without missing a beat.

     He blew the chalk dust into her eyes.

     She stumbled back, pawing at her face, and Logan swept her feet out from under her.  She landed hard, and he was on her even faster, claws out and at  her throat.  “You’da  been dead if I’d been serious, darlin’.”

     “That was a dirty trick,” she snarled.

     “Wouldn’t make you any less dead.”  He stood up and walked away, leaving her sprawled on the floor.

     He heard the motions of her throwing something, and he whirled, lashing out with his claws, and shredded the sneaker she had thrown at him.  He heard Jubilee squawk -- it had been her sneaker.  He grinned.  “You’re learning.”

     “Do you teach all your students this way?” she asked icily.

     Logan peeled remnants of sneaker off of his claws and handed them to Jubilee, who gazed at the shreds tragically.  “No.  They have to learn the basics first.  _You_ are past that.  Be here tomorrow afternoon.  You can help me teach the beginners.”

     She stood, trying to look dignified while rubbing her eyes.  “I have my own classes to teach.”

     “That’s fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with _my_ classes.”

     She gaped at him.  “You really _are_ a son of a bitch, aren’t you?  I thought they were all exaggerating.”

     He grinned and shook a finger warningly.  “Watch your mouth.  There are children present.”

     She looked around wildly, and Jubilee shrieked, diving for her other sneaker.  “No!  Throw someone _else’s_ this time!”

     *

     He asked Rogue about her, later, because to ask anyone else would be admitting to them that he didn’t know.  And because he _could_ ask Rogue, and even if she teased him about it, it wouldn’t matter.  Because it was Rogue.

     And besides, it gave him an excuse to talk to her.

     He really didn’t need an excuse.  She would drop every and anything to talk to him.  But he found himself wanting excuses and looking for them.

     Because Rogue was the reason he stayed.

     So he found her after dinner and asked if she’d take a walk with him, and it was hard not to smirk when she abandoned Bobby in an eyeblink.  When he asked her about the teacher, she rolled her eyes at him.  “Honestly, Logan!  Don’t you have enough of the female population goin’ faint about you as it is?”

     He wished her accent hadn’t faded so much in the years since he had met her.  He found himself missing it, and would occasionally tease her until she got angry, because anger brought the drawl back.  And he would grin at her then, until her anger melted into laughter, which was as beautiful as her accent, and so he would win twice over.

     He could tease her now, about her being jealous.  But he didn’t dare.  Because she might actually say that she wasn’t jealous.  And might say it seriously enough that he’d be forced to believe her.

     “Nah,” he said lightly.  “Can I help it if the women flock to me?”

     She punched his shoulder.  “My, aren’t we bein’ arrogant today?”

     “Just today?  To hear Cyke talk--”

     “Behave,” she warned, but her eyes danced.

     “That’s no fun,” he grumbled, and won another of those beautiful laughs from her.

     “Her name’s Kim McWharter.”

     He had been lost in her laughter.  “Who?”

     Rogue frowned at him and rapped his forehead with her gloved knuckles.  “Hello?  The teacher you were askin’ about?”
     “Just checking to see if you were paying attention, darlin’.”

     “Uh huh.”  She didn’t believe him for a minute.  “Anyway, she teaches music.”

     “_Music_?”

     Rogue shrugged.  “A few of the students had been taking lessons before they came here.  And we decided we needed someone here who could encourage that.”  Logan hid a grin at the “we”, which had made its way into Rogue’s speech whenever she talked about the school’s teaching staff, ever since she had started teaching herself.  “Besides,” she said in a softer tone, “the kids need something to soothe, and for some of them, that’s music.  Kim plays several instruments, and there’s her mutation.”

     “Which is?”

     “She can control emotions through her music, which has been very helpful when we get distraught children.  All we need is her in the background unobtrusively playing, and the tension  level almost vanishes.  Her code name’s Chimes.”

     “More of those silly names,” he grumbled, as he always did.

     “Of course, Wolverine,” she answered, as she always did.  Her eyes narrowed at him.   “You aren’t dumpin’ me for her now, are you?”

     “Never,” he said, intending to make it a joke, but instead, it came out soft and serious, and she looked away quickly.

     They walked in silence for a few moments longer, then Rogue murmured about having papers to grade and... well, she didn’t quite flee, but came damn near close to it.

     *

     It put Logan into a foul mood for days.  It was miserable, being in a foul mood when he was supposed to be teaching kids.  Being in a foul mood was supposed to be savored, preferably by taking it out on the people around him.  Preferably  Scott.  Yes, Scott would have been a perfect outlet.

     He didn’t see Scott for the next several days.  Didn’t even scent him.

     Knowing Jean, she probably came up with some scheme for getting Scott away from the mansion until his mood eased.  If nothing else, it saved her from having to patch the two of them back together when he did decide that pounding Cyke would definitely make him feel better, even if it didn’t solve problems.

     Jean was entirely too good for One Eye.

     So he didn’t have the preferred target for his anger, and Jean really lashed into him when he barked at one student and made her cry.  He had thought _he_ was angry... but it was nothing compared to Jean.

     He would have rather faced Sabretooth again.  Any day.  Bar none.

     But it still didn’t help his mood any.

     Rogue avoided him.

     He made it easier for Rogue, by avoiding her.

     Jean was waiting for him one day after he had released his last class.  They flew out of the gym with even more haste than usual, and the instant the last kid had fled out the door, Jean marched in, hands on her hips.

     “I did _not_ yell at any of ‘em today,” he snarled before she had the chance to say anything.

     “No, and that’s because a good half dozen of your students are in the infirmary faking headaches, stomach aches, and the whooping cough to get out of your classes.”  She tilted her head and let out an exasperated sigh.  “Didn’t you even notice there weren’t as many students to yell at?”

     “I didn’t yell,” he muttered.

     “Logan?”

     He looked at her.

     “Whatever it is -- and I don’t want to know -- whatever it is, fix it.  Or go take another trip.  The students are all on edge, everyone else is ready to drop  you out of the Blackbird, and I want my husband back.  So just fix it!”  She turned on her heel and stalked out.

     He decapitated a punching bag.

     It didn’t make him feel any better.

     “So you going to talk to her, or what?”

     Logan spun around, growling.  Chimes was sitting on top of a stack of mats, her head pillowed on her fist.  He hadn’t been paying enough attention to realize she was still there.  “I just talked to her.  She just _yelled_ at me.  What, you didn’t get enough entertainment the first time?”

     “Not Jean, you idiot,” she said, her tone with an echo of Jean’s exasperation.  “Rogue.”

     He had been about to light into her for the “idiot” comment, but Rogue’s name stopped him flat.  “Why would I want to talk to her?”  It sounded lame even to his own ears.

     “Give me a break.”  She hopped off the mats and began picking up the remains of the punching bag.  “You are so much in love with her, that I’m surprised the whole school hasn’t figured it out.  I don’t know why they’d care, or why you’re so worried about them finding out, but I guess you’re lucky the telepaths are so scrupulous with the stay-out-unless-invited ethic.”
     Logan realized he was staring at her, his mouth open.  He closed it.  “What gives you the idea I’m in love with her?”

     “I’ve seen your eyes when you look at her,” she said softly.  “Your face doesn’t give anything away, but your eyes do.”

     “Y’know, I’m suddenly thinkin’ this is none of your business.”

     “’Suddenly’ nothing.  And it is my business when you start taking it out on our students.”

     “’_Our_’ ?  My classes, my students, darlin’,” he snarled.

     Chimes stood up, her eyes flashing anger for the first time.  “They became ‘our’ students when you ordered me to help teach, and even more so when you started sulking so much that you began ignoring them except to roar at them.”

     “I wasn’t ignoring them, and I wasn’t roaring,” he roared.

     She cocked her head at him, one eyebrow raised pointedly.  “Did. You. Talk. To. Rogue.”

     “She doesn’t want to talk to me.”

     “Did she tell you that?”

     “She hasn’t talked to me!”

     “It’s a two-way street, Logan.  Takes two people to have a conversation.”  She handed him a broom and dustpan.  “Here.  Clean up your mess.  I’ll be right back.”

     “What makes you think I’m going to stay?” he challenged.

     Chimes let out a long-suffering sigh.  “Because you want to yell at me some more.”

     “Damn straight, I do.”

     “Fine.  If you wait until I come back, I’ll let you yell at me, and I won’t even interrupt.  Maybe you’ll vent out enough so that our students will feel safe enough to come back to class.”

     “My students,” he felt he had to grumble.

     “Whatever.”  She left.

     Logan chucked the broom across the room, then kicked the dust pan over to join it, just out of General Principles.  How dare she?  That was the problem with everyone in this place.  They all felt the need to butt in and meddle, in the name of trying to help.  Help!  All it was helping him do was to decide to pack up and leave again.  Anything would be better than this.  In fact, why wait?  He could pack and be out of here in --

     Chimes strode back in, dragging Rogue behind her.  She pulled Rogue in front of her and gave her a little push towards Logan.  “Talk!”

     They stared at each other mutely.

     “It’s very easy to do,” Chimes urged.  “You open your mouth, engage the vocal chords....”

     Logan did so.  “Back off, Chimes!”

     “You see?  The last thing he wants to do is talk to me.”  Rogue made a dash for the door.

     Chimes caught her by her gloved wrist and hauled her back.  “Siddown, both of you!”

     Rogue sat.

     Chimes glared at Logan and pointed to the floor in front of Rogue.

     Logan growled.

     Rogue looked at him with pleading eyes.

     Logan sat.

     “Now.”  Chimes sat next to them, where she could look at both of them.  “Since you two seem to know how to talk, the problem must be in the translation.  So I’ll interpret.”

     “This is stupid,” Logan growled.

     Chimes looked at Rogue.  “He’s afraid of looking stupid in front of you.”

     “Well, _that’s_ stupid,” Rogue said.

     Chimes turned to Logan.  “The only way you look stupid to her is when you avoid her because you’re afraid of looking stupid.  She cares about you, and she’d rather you be honest with her.”

     “Which is pretty hard to do when I can’t find her.”

     “What he really means, Rogue, is that he cares about you, too, and wants the same honesty.  And he wants to know why you were avoiding him.”

     “Hell, I know why she’s avoiding me.”

     “You do?” Rogue looked startled.

     Chimes looked at Logan.  “Enlighten her.”

     He snorted.  “Well, there’s the age difference.”

     Rogue threw her hands into the air.  “Would you stop thinking of me as that kid you found in your trailer?  I grew up, Logan.”

     “I noticed.”

     “Excuse me?” Chimes waved her hand to catch their attention.  “Could I say something here?”

     “No,” they both snarled.

     “Tough.  Logan, you remember back fewer years than she’s been alive, so age shouldn’t really be an issue here.  Don’t stop to think about that now.  Just let it rattle around in that brain of yours.”

     “Yeah, but --”

     “Think about it later, Logan.  Next argument?”

     “She shouldn’t be hangin’ around someone like me anyways.  There are better people for her out there.”

     “He thinks he’s too wild and vicious for you.”

     “Oh, Logan,” Rogue sighed.  “Sugah, I wouldn’t have you any other way.  ‘Cause that’s who you _are_.  I wouldn’t like you if you were anyone else.”

     “If that’s so, why were you avoidin’ me?”

     Rogue watched her fingers twining around each other and didn’t say anything.

     Chimes looked at Logan.  “What’s she’s saying right now is that the reason is extremely important to her, but she’s terrified you won’t see it that way and might laugh it off.”

     “You can tell me anything, darlin’,” Logan said.

     “No translation necessary,” Chimes said rather smugly.

     Rogue still didn’t look up.  “Because Ah’m -- because it’s dangerous, Logan.  _Ah’m_ dangerous.”  Her accent had come back in a rush with her anxiety.

     “She’s afraid she’ll hurt you.”

     “I’ve been through that before.”

     “_He’s_ not afraid.”

     “It’s not jus’ that,” Rogue said.  “It’s not fair to him.”

     “Ah,” Chime said in sudden understanding.  “Logan, she thinks that since you can’t touch her, a relationship wouldn’t be fair to you.  And that eventually, you’ll get tired of not being able to touch her and dump her for a woman whose pants you can get into.”

     “Hell, Marie, love ain’t just touchin’.”

     “No translation necessary,” Chimes said.

     “’N we can get creative about the touchin’, too,” he added with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

     “We’re not going there,” Chimes said quickly, holding up her hand in warning.  “You’re on your own for that discussion.  And if we’ve managed to get to that topic, you probably don’t have any more need for me.  Now what have we learned from all this?”

     “That you can’t mind your own business?” Logan growled, but the usual bite was gone from his voice.

     “And aren’t you glad I can’t?” Chimes picked up one of Rogue’s hand and one of Logan’s and laced their fingers together.  “No, we learned that it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, if you don’t _tell_ them.”  She dropped a kiss on their interlocked hands.  “Be well.”

     She stopped at the door and looked back at them.  Their other hands were intertwined now too, their heads bent together as they murmured to each other.  _If only I could take my own advice._  Her gaze focused on Logan.  She was proud of herself, and what she’d done, and that neither of them had heard her own heart breaking.

     They did not notice her leaving.

     And they never knew she had packed and left until she didn’t show up for her classes the next day.

     And they never knew why.


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