Title: Commencement
Author: StellaMaru
Email: stellamaru at hotmail dot com
Rating: PG? I dunno. Discussion of movie violence. No swearing, which I think is a first for me! (at least where Logan's concerned) ha.
Summary: "Isn't it what you do now that's important?"
Characters: Logan, Marie
Archive: yes if you have things of mine already, otherwise let me know (I'll say yes)
Feedback: is good for you, like Guinness.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I make no money.
Completed: June 19, 2003

Notes: Talk, talk, talk. They never get to kick any ass when I'm writing them!

This started as a response to marag's 'Logan talks about X2-events with someone' challenge. Guess it turned out more Rogue-centric than I'd planned... ;)

All of the windows were open and the sun hit the parquet flooring in regular rectangles of light, illuminating swarms of dust motes along the way. It was a hot June afternoon, and Rogue could feel a trickle of sweat sliding down the back of her neck. She sat next to Bobby on one of the dining room chairs, commandeered into service for the day.

This should've been the most exciting thing to happen to her by the time she turned eighteen, she thought. She should be thinking about making her drive up to Alaska, about getting ready for college, about moving away from home and how much she would miss her mama and daddy.

Instead, sitting here in the mansion ballroom, fidgeting in her chair, the moment was deeply anti-climactic.

Xavier's speech was brief. He mentioned their recent losses and Rogue saw him look towards Scott and--momentarily--to her and Bobby. When he spoke of commencement as a time for new beginnings and re-birth, Bobby glanced at her with a smirk.

She thought of John, who should have been there to walk alongside her and Bobby. Was he thinking of them? If John had been there, she wouldn't have been able to keep from giggling with him and Bobby over the Professor's grandiose language.

She missed John. That short time when it had been the three of them--Bobby, John, and her--was the closest she'd felt to being normal since that afternoon in her bedroom with David, when her world had changed in the span of a kiss. With John around, she had been able to laugh and joke and even bask a little in the attention from two boys her own age.

Of course, it had all been a lie. John's thoughts as he unleashed his power at the Drake's had shaken her. He was so different from Bobby as he rushed into her. She wasn't surprised when the Professor broke the news that he'd left with Magneto.

Together, the small class stood when Xavier's speech ended. They filed past him to receive their diplomas and a few personal words.

"Congratulations, Rogue. I am very proud of you."

"Thank you, Professor," Rogue said. His grasp on her hand was firm and reassuring. The ceremony was small--just the graduates and faculty in the mansion ballroom. They'd opted for a quiet affair, no cap and gown, no "Pomp and Circumstance." It didn't seem appropriate to celebrate, only a month after they'd lost so much.

Bobby was subdued and kept finding little excuses to touch her hand or her hair. He was probably thinking about his parents; they hadn't responded to his emails, and when he called Ronny had answered, only to hang up.

Logan was hanging out near the exit, probably itching for a smoke. Rogue was glad he'd come--It made her feel nice to have someone there who wasn't a teacher or another student.

"We should get ready," Bobby said. "Meet me back down here at six?"

"Okay." She tipped her head to kiss him--three soft brushes in quick succession. Practice had shown just how long they could touch before her mutation sparked to life.

When she left the ballroom, Logan was gone.

She changed quickly--a few dodgy experiences on the road had cured her of dilly-dallying in bathrooms--and made her way down to the kitchen in search of a soda.

Her skirt was new. It was long, but the fabric was light, so she didn't feel smothered in it. In her purse she had stuffed three thin silk scarves. Things with Bobby were getting more serious, and her stomach flip-flopped a little at the thought that he would want to touch her tonight. Maybe they'd do more than touching. It would happen in the car, she imagined. He would touch her under her skirt, with one of her scarves. He wasn't afraid of her skin, he told her. Maybe he wasn't, or maybe he was, but it was a kind of fear that he liked. She knew about things like that. She didn't mind if that was what it was.

She opened the fridge and stared at the sparse selection of sodas. Bobby made her feel young; she loved that about him. His touch didn't give her nightmares of jackbooted men and smokestacks, or suffocating green water and cutting blades. His touch made her feel beautiful and wanted. It was nice to feel young.

The cold from the fridge made her shiver and she grabbed a bottle and shut the door. She opened her soda and looked out on the porch.

Logan was there, leaning against the railing, chewing on a cigar stub.

"Hey," she said, hovering in the doorway. He looked back at her and nodded.

"You did good, kid."

She smiled. "Thanks. Thank you."

"Not just today. This," he said, gesturing vaguely. "You did good here. Made a place for yourself. Got people who care about you."

"You too."


"No 'maybe' about it, mister. You've got people, too, whether you want 'em or not." She poked him in the arm. "I'm people. Scott and Storm are people. Professor Xavier's people..." she trailed off, noticing how his expression changed when she said Xavier's name. His face hardened and he bit down on his cigar. "Is something wrong? I mean besides--" she fluttered her hand in the air. "You know?"

"Nothing you need to worry about."

"Oh. Okay." She ran her hand over her new green skirt and sat down on the porch steps. He didn't move from his post by the railing, behind her.

"Going somewhere?" he said.

She smoothed her skirt again. "Bobby's taking me out to dinner. We have reservations and everything."

They lapsed into a silence, broken only when Rogue set her soda bottle down with a soft clink. "Did you find it?" she said quietly, without looking at him. "What you were looking for?"

He didn't answer for a long time. "Found something," he said finally. "More n' I had." She waited for him to elaborate, but he only adjusted his cigar and went back to staring in to space.

She didn't want to show it, but she desperately wanted to know what he'd found, why he didn't have the tag anymore, and what had happened in the dam while she and Bobby were in the plane. His uniform had been shredded. Most of it was her own curiosity, but a portion of it was the growling, pacing presence in her mind, the bit of Logan whose last independent thought was of her on the statue, dying. He still wanted to know, and that want bled out into her conscious life.

"Logan--" he probably wouldn't answer her. He'd probably brush her off. "Who was that man, Stryker? When the mansion was attacked?" Logan had just stood there, in the lights, looking at the man who seemed to know him. He'd said he didn't remember, in the car, but now... he was different. The tag (she thanked God he hadn't noticed that she'd been wearing it when she was asleep) was gone, and he was even more withdrawn than usual. Maybe it was grief, but maybe it was more.

She was right; he kept silent for several minutes and she started to think he wasn't going to say anything.

"Someone who said he knew me," he said, and it'd been so long since she asked her question that his voice startled her. "Before." He drew a breath to speak and held it for a few seconds. "He's dead now."

She suppressed a shiver. This was his world, she knew. Death and blood and metallic pain. It didn't have to be, she thought. Maybe it didn't have to be that way for him, not anymore.

"Did he?" She forced herself to speak calmly. The remnant of him in her mind was agitating her and made her want to jump up and confront him. "Know you?"

"Guess so. Still don't remember."

She thought of her mother's face, turned cold against her. Of Bobby's family, so loving and perfect, who wouldn't even talk to him now. "Maybe sometimes it's better not to remember."

"What do you mean?" He sounded wary.

"I mean, maybe it hurts more to remember than it does to forget."

"What are you getting at? You been snooping around?" It was almost a growl.

"Huh?" she looked up at him in surprise. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't like it much when people keep secrets. 'Specially about me."

Her mouth twisted in confusion. The words came before she could stop herself, in an accent that was more mid-Atlantic than Meridian.

"You know, dear, not everything is about you."

It hung in the air for a second and then she gasped and slapped her hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry," she said, the words muffled by her palm. "Sometimes things slip out." This was it; she'd pissed him off too much and the conversation was over. "If I'm not thinking right or paying attention," she continued, painfully aware that she was babbling, yet unable to stop. "You should've heard some of the things that came out of my mouth right after the statue." Wincing, she bit down on one of her knuckles to keep from saying anything more. The last thing he probably wanted to be reminded of was the statue or anything she might have said with Magneto and him fresh in her mind.

She heard him move behind her on the porch and turned to tell him she was sorry and not to go, to please stay. He wasn't leaving; instead, he sat down on the step, opposite her. "It isn't better to forget," he said. "Don't ever think that." He didn't sound too sure of his own words.

"Even when it hurts down to your bones?" so soft, it was a whisper of a whisper.

"Maybe especially then. Maybe the hurt can remind you-- protect you some. Keep you from repeating--" he broke off, like he remembered who he was talking to. "It can't be better to forget. It can't."

The expression on his face was so different from any she'd seen before. He looked lost.

"Logan... tell me what happened at the dam. Please?"

He took a deep breath and she thought he was going to talk, but he let it out and settled back into silence. Just when she was thinking she should go in to meet Bobby, he said it. "There was a mutant there. One of Stryker's. She-- she was like me." Clenching his fist, he rubbed his knuckles. "Had to fight her. Killed her. Pumped her full of the same metal I got all over my bones." He took the cigar end from his mouth and looked at it. "Guess she must have been under the same drug they used on Scott. The way she looked at me, right before...."

Rogue blinked. Whatever she had been expecting, this wasn't it. She'd heard about what happened to Scott--and Kurt--but she hadn't thought about what it would be like to have to fight someone whose actions were not their own.

"She was like me," Logan repeated. "Wonder if she volunteered for it."

"You didn-- you couldn--" she choked back the words.

His expression was set, looking out on the sun; it was low in the sky, but still bright. This was important, Rogue knew. This was heavy stuff, serious stuff, grown-up stuff. She didn't know what to say; she didn't want to be a grown-up yet. What she wanted, however, was often at odds with reality. "Does it matter?"


"Does it matter if she volunteered? Or- or if you did? She was trying to kill you, right? You had to-- to--"

"Kill her?"

"Yeah. She was trying to kill you, and you haven't done anything since I met you but save lives and-- and fight like the devil for a bunch of people who've managed to put your life in danger more times than I can count. Does it matter how things started out?"

He took out a lighter and lit the bedraggled cigar end he'd been fingering. "Sometimes it does. A lot of times it does."

"Not to the people whose lives get saved." She picked a fluff of lint off her skirt. "It's not like you can go back in time and change things. Is- isn't it what you do now that's important?"

"Maybe. Don't know."

Another silence fell between them and Rogue let her mind wander as a soft breeze wafted across her face. Only the clatter of Bobby opening the door roused her.

"There you are," he said. "I was looking all over for you." He nodded hello at Logan after holding out his hand to help Rogue up.

She smiled at him. "I've been right here."

"We should go--get started on the re-birth of our new beginnings," Bobby said, grinning. It was forced and not very amusing, since he didn't have John around to make him work at being funnier.

"Yeah. It's time for that, to start over," she said, looking at Logan. "Let's go."

Rogue looked back at him once more, right before the door closed on the porch. He'd turned so he could stretch his legs out. Eyes closed, his face relaxed in the evening sun.