THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
Logan's taxi pulled up to the mansion gate, and he stepped
out and lit his cigar. "Thanks for the ride, bub,"
he told the driver as he handed the fare over. After the taxi
had driven off, he pulled out his smart key and opened the
gate, closing it behind him and walking towards the mansion
at a leisurely pace.
I gotta admit, I needed that break, he thought to
himself. It was nice seein' Tyger and Xi'an, even if it
was in the middle of a firefight. Xi'an grew up to be one
pretty woman. I gotta remember to send her regards to Sam,
Bobby, and Rahne like I promised.
He looked up at the stars. It's gonna be nice to sleep
in a familiar bed again, he admitted to himself. Time
was, I wouldn't care where I camped down for the night. Must
be gettin' old. Oh well, I've still got a few more scraps
left in me.
He walked up to the main entrance to the mansion and knocked.
No reason to spook whoever's home. I'm too tired to play
the silent shtick tonight, anyway. You'd think that after
all the years I've been traveling, I'd be immune to jet lag
The front door opened to reveal Will. Before Logan could
utter a word, he said "I'm sorry, but we don't want any
copies of The Watchtower," and closed the door
Logan counted to ten. Slowly. Then he knocked again.
Will opened the door a second time, glanced at Logan, then
looked over his shoulder. "Hey, Xavier! There's somebody
here from the Veterans' Association asking for a donation!"
"Which war?" Xavier called back.
"If I had to guess, I'd say Crimean."
"Let him in. We could use a charity case for tax purposes."
"All right, but he looks like trouble to me."
"Okay," Logan said firmly, "that's enough
with the comedy."
Will grinned. "Sorry, Logan. I'm just in a good mood
today." He opened the door all the way and let Logan
Logan glanced around the foyer as he entered. "You guys
have been busy. The place looks good." The hardwood floor
and carpets had been cleaned, and he could smell the ammonia
that had been used in the kitchen and ground floor bathroom.
"We thought that it made sense to clean now, while everybody
"No arguments from me."
"You hungry? I left a pot of soup on for you."
"I'm starving. What's the soup?"
"Beef noodle. Want a sandwich to go along with it?"
"I won't complain." He dropped his bag next to
the stairs. "I'll move it when I go up."
Will dished out a large bowl of soup for Logan, and added
a turkey and Swiss on rye a few minutes later. "You want
a brew to go along with that?" he asked as he put the
cold cuts back in the refrigerator.
"If there's a cold one."
Will grabbed a can from the refrigerator and tossed it to
Logan, then poured himself a glass of cranberry juice and
sat down. "Well, did you get a chance to relax?"
"Saw some old friends, got into a few scraps, gave better
than I got. Had a blast." He glanced in the direction
of Xavier's office. "Chuck working?"
"Actually, he says he caught up on his work yesterday.
Believe it or not, he got at least twelve hours of sleep last
Logan whistled. "Are you sure he ain't sick?"
"I think it was more like a reward for getting everything
"She finished cleaning upstairs just before you got
here, so she's taking a shower to get the dust out of her
He nodded. "How's she feeling?"
"Today's her second day without the bandages, and she
says she's fine. She hasn't done anything really strenuous,
though. We thought that Henry should have a look at her first."
"How about you?"
"I feel fine, but I really haven't been using my powers,
either. We've both been taking it easy."
Will shook his head. "It's been quiet. We've all been
getting our rest. I don't think any of us will be getting
back to routine until at least a few more people get back.
"Makes sense. It's hard enough to keep Drake's mind
on business when things are normal."
"He does have a tendency to drift, doesn't he?"
Rogue walked in, wearing a maroon sweatsuit and sneakers.
"Hi, Wolvie!" she said brightly as she toweled her
hair. "Enjoy your trip?"
"Yup," he grinned. "You look like you're feeling
"I feel great," she informed him. She pulled out
a chair and sat down. "My nurse here took good care of
"Nurse, huh?" He looked at Will. "Somehow,
I have trouble seeing him in a white skirt and flats."
"What I do in my off time is my own business,"
Will informed him primly as he stood up. "I'm going to
get some reading done, then I think I'll crash for the night.
Just leave the dishes in the sink, Logan. I'll get them in
"Oh, sure," Rogue pouted. "Just ignore me."
Will smiled at her fondly. "Never." He mussed her
hair playfully and left.
"He sure cheered up," Logan remarked.
"We both had a good time," Rogue confessed. "We
got a few things out in the open, and got a chance to relax."
Logan pushed his soup bowl away and lit a cigar. "How's
he doing? With his powers, I mean?"
"He hasn't been using them openly, at least not that
I know of. There was something, though..."
"It's something that I think I want to keep private."
"So it wasn't anything bad?"
"That's right. It was something wonderful."
Logan smiled. "You two had something big happen, I can
tell. You've both got The Look now." The various X-teams
had learned, over the years, to become acquainted with The
Look, a goofiness that was apparent in a couple in the early
stages of romantic love.
"Do we?" Rogue asked impishly.
"I'd expect some tongues to start wagging when everybody
gets back. Oh well, things have been dull on the personal
front around here lately, anyway." He picked up his bowl
and put it in the sink. "I'm hitting the shower, then
it's off to bed for me. See you tomorrow."
"Night," she told him.
After Logan had left, Rogue sat quietly for a few moments.
A low snort escaped her lips, which soon expanded into a giggle.
Within seconds, she was shaking with glee, rocking from side
to side in her chair and hugging herself tightly. She leaped
out of the chair and flew up to the ceiling, floating slowly
down to the floor and landing on one toe. She pirouetted gracefully,
curtseying to a world that was suddenly full of promise.
Logan got up at sunrise, as usual, and went through his morning
katas. Realizing that waking the others up early would not
be a wise idea, he decided to make his own breakfast. Taking
advantage of the fact that no one was awake to nag him about
his culinary habits, he made himself a massive ham steak and
several fried eggs, with strong black coffee and Texas toast.
Xavier entered just as he was starting to dig in. "I
take it that Will isn't up yet."
"How'd you guess?"
"I can't feel my arteries hardening from the next room
when he cooks."
"You want anything?"
"I think I'll wait until everybody's up."
"Suit yourself," Logan said as he downed another
mug. "By the way, you can chalk those two up for another
case of The Look."
"Really?" Xavier answered with a sly smile. "I've
been too busy to notice."
"Accordin' to Rogue, somethin' big happened."
"Any idea what?"
"She didn't say, and I didn't ask. I figure they're
both big enough to handle whatever it is."
"They both seem to be happy about it."
"Tell me about it. Did you know, he touched her last
night - with gloves on, of course - and she didn't even flinch?"
"Really?" Xavier's eyebrow arched up. "That
is interesting, from both of them."
"The fact that Rogue's becoming more comfortable with
physical contact is encouraging, but the idea that Will actually
took the initiative is just as important."
Logan nodded. "Hadn't thought of it that way. He's opening
up. Good for him. He talk any about what happened to him?"
"To me, no. To Rogue, probably."
"So long as he talks to somebody. That is a man
who's under a lot of pressure."
"That's right, you didn't know. Before his powers stabilized,
he had a panic attack. Rogue helped me pull him out of it."
"So he does run into problems."
"It was the reason he wanted everybody out of the mansion.
He probably would have just left himself, but he was too concerned
"He's okay now?"
"Seems to be."
"Good. They both went through the wringer."
"It was more like wash, rinse, and spin cycles,"
Will said as he walked in. "Did you get the paper, Logan?"
"I'll do it." He winked out, returning a few seconds
later with the paper in his hand. He tossed it to Logan. "You
were up first," he explained.
"Are you hungry?" Xavier asked him.
"Not really. I think I'm just going to get some exercise
"Do you want me to supervise a Danger Room session?"
"I think I'll just practice my swordsmanship, and I
can do that outside."
"Wait up," Logan told him. "Let me get my
practice sword, and I'll join in."
Logan hopped up the stairs two at a time, and heard Rogue's
door open as he reached the top. "Mornin'" he called.
"Morning," Rogue replied cheerfully. She came around
the corner, dressed in jeans and a yellow tank top, covered
by a blue shirt which was tied as a halter top.
"Will and me are doin' a sword practice. Want to watch?"
"Sure." She waited while Logan grabbed his practice
sword from the rack, then went downstairs with him. Will was
waiting in the kitchen, wearing his coat and holding his sword
loosely in his right hand. "Good morning, Rogue,"
he said with a smile.
"Hi," she replied. "Mind if I watch you two?"
"My dear, you can have the front row seat."
"What's with the coat?" Logan asked him.
"I like to stay as close as possible to combat conditions.
If I get used to working without it, then I might not have
the same range of movement later."
Logan considered that for a moment, then nodded in approval.
"Good idea. Let's get started."
They walked out the back door and took their places on the
lawn. "Do you want to do free-style or synchronized?"
"Let's do free-style. The only thing the clone method
ever taught me is that people who take that route are easy
"Mixing different styles usually works best," Will
agreed. He walked a few paces away from Logan, and they both
Rogue observed them as they moved, noticing some significant
differences in their styles. Logan fought in a manner that
reflected his personality. It concentrated on the attack,
and was highly aggressive, designed to overwhelm an enemy
and cut it down. Will, in contrast, used a defensive style,
which let an opponent get close. Rogue was puzzled by this
tactic, until she saw that Will held a long dagger in his
left hand, occasionally making a wide sweep with it which
would blind or disembowel the target.
"You are a nasty player," Logan told Will
after they were both finished.
He shrugged in reply. "Whatever does the job. When I
fight, I fight to win. Every second I spend engaged with an
enemy is a second I could be helping someone else. So I take
them down and take them fast."
"Will you fight to kill?" Rogue asked.
"If I think the situation demands it. Otherwise, I'd
try to cripple, aiming for hamstrings and tendons, or cutting
someone just above the eyes so that the blood blinds them."
"Taking them down, instead of taking them out,"
"Right. It's always possible to direct an enemy in a
way that'll work to your advantage. That's kind of hard to
do if they're dead."
"More manipulation?" Rogue asked.
"I think of it as letting my opponent do my work for
When they came back in, Xavier informed them that both Henry
and Bobby had called to say that they would be returning that
evening. Will frowned at that information, then went to the
kitchen and looked in the cabinets. "We'd better get
some shopping done," he informed them.
"Good idea," Xavier agreed. "Are you all up
for a trip to the supermarket?"
"I don't mind," Rogue said.
"Me neither," Logan agreed, "but it's gonna
be a pain with just three of us."
"We'll take out the back seat of the van," Will
shrugged. "That should give us enough room."
After Will and Logan had showered and changed, they were
on their way. "Who has the checks?" Will asked.
"I do," Rogue replied. The institute paid for groceries
and other staples with a corporate line of credit.
They pulled into the supermarket parking lot a few minutes
later. "Where's the list?" Logan asked as they walked
"I play it by ear," Will replied, pulling a cart
from the racks. "Just trail behind me. Let's start with
the salad course." They headed towards the produce section.
"You both might want to grab a bag."
Logan and Rogue looked at one another and shrugged. Logan
took two plastic bags from the roll, handing one to her.
"Do oranges sound good?" Will asked.
"I think they'll get eaten," Logan decided.
"Good. Catch." Will chose several oranges, then
negligently tossed them over his shoulder. Logan scrambled
wildly for a few seconds an he caught them in the bag. A few
seconds later, Rogue had to do the same for the pears.
"What is this," she asked as she laughed, "A
grocery run or a Danger Room session?"
"It's just my way of making shopping an aerobic activity,"
Will told her as he picked out several heads of lettuce.
Since Will would be doing most of the cooking, there was
little argument about what was needed. They were, therefore,
able to make their way through the store rather quickly.
"I think we should make something big for the weekend,
since everybody should be back by then," Will suggested.
"How about roast beef?"
"That's a little heavy," Rogue disagreed. "What
"Roast chicken, rice, stuffing, gravy, and celery?"
"That doesn't sound too bad," she mused. "Let's
go with it."
Logan, meanwhile, had made his way through the cookie and
snack aisle, tossing his favorite pork rinds and bags of chips
into his cart. He looked at the cookies and grabbed Bobby's
Oreos and Bishop's Nutter Butters. As he continued through
the aisles, he ran into Rogue. "Did you want any cookies?"
he asked her.
"No way," she said, shaking her head. "After
the way Will pampered me over the last few days, I have to
keep an eye on my weight."
"You seen him around here?"
"He's over by the baking aisle, looking at the cake
mixes. I think he's planning a big dessert for the weekend."
"So your diet's over before it begins," he said
with a chuckle.
"I have enough willpower to keep from eating too much,"
"I seem to remember one night with you and a half gallon
of peach ice cream."
"That was a special occasion!" she declared. "Mississippi
State had just lost to Kentucky, and I had to take Sam's chores
for a month. I think I was justified in being a little upset."
"Whatever you say, darlin'" Logan said as he moved
into the soda aisle. "Whatever you say."
They caught up with Will at the meat counter, where he was
haggling with the butcher over the price of soup bones. "You
almost done?" Logan asked him.
"I just have to get some things for soup," Will
replied. "Five pounds each of beef and chicken bones.
Should take just a few minutes. True to his word, they lined
up at the checkout counter five minutes later.
"This is all on one order," Rogue informed the
The teenager looked at the three bulging carts and sighed.
"Paper or plastic?"
"We'll be bagging it all," Will told her.
She exhaled in relief. "Thank you."
"We do what we can to help." He stuffed one paper
bag into another, and started filling it with groceries as
they came down the treadmill. Logan made his way around the
next aisle and joined him. By working together, they were
able to stay ahead of the cashier.
As they left the store, Logan glanced at the receipt. "We
got away cheap this time."
"That's what I was thinking," Rogue agreed.
"I got a lot of the meat in larger packs," Will
explained. "It's cheaper if we cut it up ourselves."
"Well, you've proved that you can handle a blade well
enough," Logan decided. "I guess you can manage
"Your confidence is inspiring," Will said sarcastically
as he placed the bags in the van. "What time is it, by
"Just after twelve," Rogue told him.
"Any objections to McBurgers?"
"Are you paying?"
Will shut the van door, then dug into a pocket and counted
his money. "No problem. Just don't order the whole menu."
Logan pulled the van out of the supermarket lot, and they
entered the drive-thru of the restaurant. "What do you
"I'll have a chicken sandwich and medium fries with
a root beer," Rogue said.
"Double cheeseburger, jumbo fries, and a large Coke
for me," Will added as he handed Logan the money.
"Right." Three minutes later, they were on their
way back to the institute.
"I'll put everything away," Will said when they
parked in front of the mansion, "but I could use a hand
getting it inside."
I think we can manage that," Logan replied.
They soon had all of the grocery bags in the kitchen. Will
started placing the groceries on the table, sorting them into
groups to make them easier to put away. In a surprisingly
short time, he had everything in its proper place, and was
taking a cleaver to the meat, cutting it into manageable portions
and placing the foil-wrapped packages in the freezer.
"That didn't take long," Rogue said as she walked
"It helps that no one's complained about my rearranging
things in here."
"We figured that since you do most of the cooking, you
had the right to arrange the kitchen the way that worked best
for you." She looked at his chef's coat, which had some
of the blood from the meat on it. "You look like Sweeny
"That makes sense. We're having cat pies for dinner."
Rogue blanched. "Please tell me you're kidding."
He grinned. "I am. We really are having chicken pot
"Is that what's in the oven?"
"No, that's the beef bones I bought. I have to roast
them before I can use them in stock."
"How long will that take?"
"About another hour and a half. Then I'll simmer them
overnight with some celery, carrots, and onions."
"What about the chicken stock?"
"That only takes four hours. It'll be done before dinner."
"What are you going to do with it? We're not having
"No, but it'll keep in the fridge for a week, and I
can use it in other recipes."
She nodded. "You all done?"
"Just finished," he said, removing his coat and
tossing it onto a chair. "Does anything else need to
be taken care of?"
"Just me," she said with a shy smile.
Will smiled in reply. "Oh, really?" He stepped
close to her. "And how can I take care of you, my dear?"
"I'm sure we can think of something," she purred
"Would you two like some time alone?" Logan asked
as he walked in.
"Maybe later," Will said casually. "Did you
want to review the intelligence files today?"
"Chuck said you caught us up on everythin'."
"We did, but you might catch something that we missed."
"That's okay. I think we can trust you."
"I just thought that a second check wouldn't hurt."
He shook his head. "Don't worry about me. I'm just a
big believer in redundancy. It's my way of making sure that
everybody can do any job. I try to avoid making anyone irreplaceable
in my businesses. If I lose that person, the whole structure
that I've built my financial success on could collapse. It
took me a while to hammer that point home to some of the executives.
I finally had to put a quote from Heinlein in all of the offices."
"What's it say?" Rogue asked.
"'Specialization is for insects.'"
Henry and Bobby, upon their return that evening, were greeted
warmly and then given time to relax. Henry brought out a large
tin of cookies which Edna, his mother, had made for the X-Men.
"Think it's fair that nobody else can have any?"
Bobby asked as he munched on a chocolate cookie with peanut
Will leaned back in his chair and looked towards the stairs.
"Hey, Bishop, do you want some cookies?" he yelled.
After a few seconds of confused silence from the others, he
turned back around, shrugging. "I guess he didn't hear
"He's in Washington!" Bobby exclaimed.
"That's not my fault," Will replied, taking another
"And what, oh guardian of our nutritional satisfaction,
has been designated for our evening repast?" Henry was
obviously back in top form.
"I decided to keep it simple for tonight. We're having
chicken pot pie and buttermilk biscuits."
Henry nodded in approval. "I spoke with my mother regarding
your culinary skills. She gave me some recipes to pass along
"I won't be accused of swiping McCoy family secrets,
"Not once you take the oath. I'll teach you the secret
"How are you two feeling?" Bobby asked.
"You first," Will shot back. "How's your head?"
"I've still got a slight headache. I had to wear sunglasses,
because I almost went snow blind my first day on the slopes.
It's not so bad now."
"Do you still need the sunglasses?"
"I think I'll be okay if I stay inside for the next
day or so. Besides, I was able to milk some sympathy out of
the snow bunnies."
"What did you tell them when they wanted to know how
you got hurt?"
"I said I was a photographer, and a high intensity flashbulb
went off in my face while I was installing it. That
line got me the phone numbers of four would-be models."
"And you tell me that I'm devious?" Will
asked Rogue. "At least my limit my scams to people I
know I'll never meet again."
"Hey," Bobby protested, "it was all in fun,
and they knew it too."
"I'm kidding, Bobby," Will told him with a grin.
"I'm just in a good mood today. Do you two have laundry
to run through?"
Henry shook his head. "With my mother hovering over
me? She even starched my white shirts. You could probably
draw blood with the collars."
"If you can still fit in them," Logan teased him.
"I've seen how much food she packs into you."
"Farm cooking," Henry shrugged. "Add to that
the fact that she became accustomed to feeding an adolescent
"I'll have my laundry down in about ten minutes, Will,"
Bobby said as he stood up. "I just have to unpack and
sort through everything."
"Take your time. I'll get to it after dinner."
Bobby nodded and went upstairs.
Will glanced at the clock. "I'd better put the pie in
the oven. Be right back."
Henry smiled indulgently as he watched Will head towards
the kitchen. "I suspect that that man would make a wonderful
"We'll get him a nice frilly apron for Christmas,"
"And I'm sure that he'll give you some nice bruises
in return," Rogue said sweetly.
"He's got the skills to do it," Logan admitted,
"but I'll still get the thing tied around his waist."
Will, meanwhile, had overheard the conversation, and crept
silently behind him. "Don't bet on it, Shorty,"
he said in a rumble which rivaled Logan's. "You might
end up being the one wearing the skirt... and I'll add a nice
pair of nylons to go with it."
"Nice impression," Henry complimented him.
After dinner was finished, Will put the serving dish in the
sink to soak overnight, then went up to his room to relax.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at his door.
Rogue opened the door and popped her head in before he could
say anything. "You doing anything important?" she
"Just inspecting the insides of my eyelids."
"Feel like going out?"
"Can I get some time to relax first?"
"Sure. What do you want to do?"
"That'll be your choice. This'll be your first night
out in a while, so I think you deserve to indulge."
"Why don't we just go out for ice cream?"
"All right. In half an hour, then?"
"See you then."
The free half-hour gave Rogue a chance to shower and freshen
up. She chose a bright red turtleneck and blue skirt, then
added a black vest, gloves, and hose, ending with a pair of
red pumps. Glancing at the collection of perfumes on her dresser,
she chose Erin Mist, the scent which Will had responded so
positively to back in Dublin.
She decided to meet Will at his door, and went down the hall,
where she encountered Logan at the stairs. "Nice outfit,"
he complimented her. Then he sniffed the air. "New perfume?"
"I got it back in Dublin. Will and I are going out for
a little while."
"Have a blast."
She smiled. "We're going out for dessert, not to a nightclub.
We shouldn't be out long." She gave him an amused look.
"You think you remember how to run everything?"
"I think I can dredge it out of my memory," he
replied dryly. "Go on, get out of here."
"Yes, sir," Rogue said, giving him a snappy
mock salute. She walked to the men's wing and knocked on Will's
"Come in," Will invited her. She entered, finding
that he was slipping into his shoes and putting on a grey
vest to go with his white shirt and royal blue slacks. "I'm
running a little late," he apologized.
"We're not on a timetable," she told him with a
shrug, as she closed the door behind her. "Don't worry
"I hate being late just on general principle."
He finished buttoning up his vest, then opened the drawer
of his night table and pulled out a shoulder holster, putting
it on. The holster was designed to fit over the wearer's back,
and wasn't visible once he put his jacket on. He pulled his
pistol out of the drawer and stuffed it into the holster.
"Do you really need that?" she asked him.
"Normally, I wouldn't carry it," he admitted, "but
I don't feel well enough to trust in my powers completely
yet. I'd like to carry some insurance, just as a precaution."
Noticing that Rogue looked unhappy about it, he sighed. "Look,
if you think, beyond a doubt, that you're in top form, I'll
leave it here. But I'm not going to take unnecessary risks
when we're both just off the inactive list."
Rogue thought about it for a moment, then nodded reluctantly.
"All right. But I want you to know that I don't like
"I don't like being this paranoid either," Will
agreed, "but I appear to be very good at it." He
put on a blue, three-buttoned linen jacket, then added a pair
of black gloves. "I forgot something," he said to
himself, frowning. He rolled his eyes and grabbed a belt from
his closet, putting it on. "Almost ready," he promised
her as he placed his wallet, pen, keys, and handkerchief into
his pockets. "All set," he said. He grabbed his
hat from the coat rack and opened the door, gesturing for
her to precede him. Smiling, she left his room and headed
for the stairs.
They waved to Bobby and Henry as they left the mansion. Once
they were outside, Will created a Door, and they walked through
it to appear in downtown Salem Center, at the wooded area
of a small park which was near the center of town.
"Why did you bring us here?" she asked him.
"The tree cover gives us an edge in case somebody sees
us. This way, we can say we were behind a tree and it'll be
They walked a few blocks down the street to the ice cream
parlor, which was, surprisingly, not very crowded. A waitress
walked over from the counter. "Counter seats or booth?"
she asked with a polite smile.
They looked at one another, then smiled. "Booth,"
they said together. The waitress nodded and led them to a
seat near the back which offered some privacy.
"Slow night?" Will asked.
"Report cards went out today," the waitress answered
with a grin. "A lot of our regulars will be staying home
for the next few days."
Will nodded. "I can relate. I was never the greatest
student." He glanced at the list of flavors on the wall,
then looked at Rogue. "What looks good to you?"
"I'll have a banana split with butter pecan, vanilla
fudge, and strawberry ice cream, with caramel topping."
"I'll have a regular sundae with hot tin roof and rocky
road, with hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, and peanut butter
cups," Will told the waitress. He glanced at the menu.
"And a large chocolate malt with two straws."
"All right," the waitress confirmed, writing down
the order. "Would you like water with that?"
"Yes, please," Will nodded, handing the menu back
"That'll be about five minutes," she told them
as she walked to the counter.
"Two straws?" Rogue asked with a smile.
"It seemed the thing to do," he shrugged.
"That's nice," she murmured, placing her elbows
on the table and leaning towards him.
Their order arrived quickly, and they found that they didn't
have much time for talking, as their sundaes were melting
quickly. They polished them off rather quickly, and attacked
the shake next, after following the obligatory ritual of blowing
the straw wrappers at one another.
Rogue felt like she was living in a movie from the Fifties
as she looked into Will's eyes from the opposite side of the
soda glass, and couldn't help giggling. "What's so funny?"
"I feel like I should be wearing a poodle skirt and
"I'll look into buying a car with tail fins."
"I am stuffed," Rogue declared as they walked
back to the park.
"Me too," Will confessed. "I think I'll be
scheduling some extra exercise sessions."
"I'll be right behind you. Can we sit down?" she
asked. "I could use a few minutes to rest."
"Are you okay?" he asked in a concerned voice as
they reclined in a nearby park bench.
"I'm fine," she assured him. "You've just
been pampering me so much lately that I'm getting a little
"But I like you that way," he told her with
a smile. "There are certain soft parts to you that I
find very intriguing."
"Lecher," she teased him. She swung her legs up
onto the bench and lay on her back, placing her head in Will's
"You're not going to go to sleep on me again, are you?"
"Nah. I just wanted to relax for a second." She
reached up and gently touched his cheek. "I like to be
able to relax around you."
Will caressed the underside of her chin, slowly moving his
hand down her neck. "I'm glad that you can relax
around me. I don't want you to think you have anything to
be uncomfortable about with me."
"Keep doing that," she purred.
"Making you comfortable?"
"Well, there's that... I meant what you're doing now."
She closed her eyes blissfully. "It feels good."
He flushed slightly. "Oh. Okay. Tell me when to stop."
He continued to stroke the hollow of her throat, slowly widening
the area covered by his light massage.
"Lower," she instructed him. He complied, covering
her collarbones and sternum.
"You're missing some spots."
"I am not going to massage those spots in a public
area," he told her firmly. "The last thing I need
is a misdemeanor for public lewdness on my record." He
tensed under her.
"What's wrong?" she asked, still too relaxed to
open her eyes.
"We've got company."
She laughed. "What, are some kids violating curfew?"
"No, Rogue," he said in a low voice, "my
kind of company."
Her eyes snapped open to find that his were glowing. "What
is it?" she demanded, now all business.
"See for yourself."
She stood up, looking around. The moon, which had not been
visible a few minutes before, was now a crescent high in the
sky, casting silvery light through the trees and leaving long,
twisting shadows on the ground. High in those trees, shadowed
outlines of figures perched on the limbs, gazing down at them
with eyes whose green glow matched Will's silver.
"Will," she asked nervously, "what's happening?"
His response was very matter-of-fact.
"There's magic afoot."
Continued in Chapter
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