Hey y'all! I know this is a few days late, but I figured seeing as I couldn't get my 7th chapter of Very Young out in time, I'd post this as a little Christmas pressie to all! I know there are a million trillion fics post-impact like this, so sorry if it's too similar. I had a sudden inspiration and, as per usual, decided to put it down on paper. Or computer, whatever. Hope it's bearable, but even if it isn't, review and tell me why!

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

-Miss P.

Disclaimer: As they say in the Good Book of rules: I must here admit I don't own anything worth suing me for. Thankyou. Goodnight.


Verzeihen Sie und Vergessen Sie

Part of me was glad I did it. I had finally let out some of the resentment and anger I felt towards her; my hurt, her betrayal - it was always there, lurking quietly sometimes, other times it rose, burning, to the surface, like an acid stomach. Everything, right from the start, it always had bad intentions. She never meant to help anyone but herself. I was seen as nothing more than a tool, an extra-powerful toy, not suitable for children. I hate this damn power. I didn't ask for it. I don't want it. This 'gift' has brought me nothing but pain, anguish, hurt, bitterness, anger…the list goes on. They treat me like an unexploded bomb; the slightest touch could set me off. And she did it. She turned me into this person. She made me something to be feared. Destroying her at last was like drinking a cold glass of milk, if we're sticking with the acid stomach metaphor. My fury, my pain, everything she put me through, all gone. It wasn't churning up inside me anymore, with everyone blissfully unaware of how I felt. The relief was intense, and I loved it.

But the admittedly smaller part of me was screaming. What had I done? Was I so heartless that I would cause more pain to momentarily smother my own? Was I more like her than I ever suspected? The answer seemed, inevitably, to be yes. No matter how you dressed it up, what you tried to pretend had really happened or what my intentions were; it was undeniable. I am a selfish, evil, cold-blooded killer. Just like the one whose death I'd caused. She hasn't turned me into this person, if you can call it that. If you happen to accidentally buy the more expensive pair of shoes, doesn't mean you can go back and blame the store assistant for selling them to you. Yes, she took advantage of me, but I was the one who made it possible. I resolutely dug a deep, dark hole and sat in it, refusing to come out no matter how many people tried to help me. All my life I've pushed people away, at any cost, whether it was theirs or mine. I was determined; I wouldn't let them get close to me. Such a cruel irony that I should regret my plan, my ultimate goal, my law to live by, the moment it truly works. I know their attitudes are justified. Especially his. I know he has every right to act the way he is. I killed his mother. Sure, he's only ever known her as the enemy, but a birth mother can never be replaced, and a gap left by one can never be filled. I should know. He at least had the compassion, the conscience that I never had; he was willing to give it another go, give her a chance. But I wouldn't let him. I was so wrapped up in my own anger and hate; I didn't care who I trod on in my path for revenge. Even when someone goes as far as he did to help me, give me a friend, a brother…I still threw it in his face, not only that but I stabbed him in the back as he walked away, defeated. He tried to warn me. But I didn't listen. And now it's far too late.

"Rogue?"

Kitty's fierce, headstrong and fearless friend was gone. In her place was a shell. A shell of Rogue that never spoke, ate or slept, just a copy that someone had put on her bed for decoration. Kitty had never wanted to hear her sarcasm or biting wit more; she blasted boy band tunes at top volume just so she could hear Rogue tell her to shut up. But she didn't. The Rogue she knew was gone. And their bedroom had never felt so lonely.

"Rogue?" she repeated nervously, edging further into the room. "Storm sent me to tell you dinner's ready."

The Goth remained curled up on the bed. Kitty shuffled uncomfortably.

"Uh, I'll ask if you can eat up here, but she'll probably just put yours in the warming drawer or something…"

Rogue made no response. Kitty was not surprised; she was usually met with silence. Other times she just took it in her stride and left her roommate alone, she'd been through a lot, after all. But this time the anxious young girl lingered. All she wanted was a reaction, anything, whether it involved screaming or crying, even if she got injured in the process. Her best friend was suddenly nothing more than an existence: she would get more conversation out of a cardboard cutout of Orlando Bloom. Kitty just wanted the reassurance that Rogue was still in there somewhere. Because she wasn't certain it was true herself.

"You should come down Rogue. It'd be nice to see you out of the room, and uh, you know you love Ororo's cooking?"

The uncertainty in her voice turned the statement into a question. She was reaching, and she knew it. Time for a different tack.

"If you'd just talk to Kurt, maybe, like, some of the tension would ease up. And anyway, even if you did start yelling at each other, it's got to be a step up from deadly silence, right? You've got to start somewhere."

OK, maybe that wasn't the right tack.

"Rogue, say something, please!" she begged.

She may as well have begged Kurt to get an all-over body wax and his tail docked. She waited in desperate hope for a few seconds, then headed out, overwhelmed with disappointment.

"I'm not going down there."

Kitty turned so fast she was almost a blur. Rogue hadn't moved at all, but she was sure she had heard her quiet, almost sulky voice through the pillow her face was buried in. Maybe it was just wishful thinking…

"Why not?" she ventured. If Rogue hadn't spoken, at least the strangeness of her outburst might earn her a glance.

There was a pause. Then, a blank, muffled voice was heard.

"Because they're scared of me. They avoid me like the plague, and I don't blame them. Who'd want to sit down to breakfast with a murderer?"

Kitty was so happy to hear Rogue speak again, she wasn't even offended that she thought they were afraid of her. Which, of course, didn't mean that she wasn't quick to differ.

"People avoid you because they think it's what you want! Everyone's really worried about you; it'd be a relief to see you with us again. And we're not afraid of you either. What's there to be afraid of, we've seen it all before. You're not the only mutant here."

"You're wrong. Don't you get it? You've seen my powers before; you've seen me absorb someone. If I had absorbed Mystique, she would be here in Bayville, alive, instead of smashed to bits on the ocean floor. I killed her Kitty! Y'all haven't seen me kill someone before!"

Kitty immediately opened her mouth to protest, but found she didn't have a thing to say, it was just a reflex. Not only was this the first time Rogue had really spoken since the 'incident', it was the first time she'd spoken about her feelings in any way, ever.

"And OK, I may not be the only mutant here, but I am so different from the rest of you that I might as well be. I have poison at my fingertips that I can't control. I'm a hazard, and now that everyone knows I've lost it and thrown my bloody adoptive mother off a cliff, they're terrified of me. I know it! You're afraid of me too, deep down, damn it, I don't need your thoughts to know that, I can see it in your eyes!"

Kitty blinked, shocked. She couldn't believe that was what Rogue assumed they thought of her. It was awful that being feared and taken advantage of was all she'd ever known. And it wasn't going to stop. The girl was incredibly powerful; people weren't going to let an opportunity like her pass them by, just because she'd already been used and betrayed more than once. And she knew it, too. She knew people thought of her as some kind of exotic wild animal - dangerous to approach but extremely valuable to possess. Yet somehow, despite being burdened with this knowledge, coupled with the fact that she was permanently and literally untouchable; somehow she managed to handle it, pack it up in her old kit bag and keep on with her life. Knowing that she can never let anyone see that it's tearing her apart.

It was no wonder, really, that she pushed Mystique over. No one was meant to bottle all that up and bear it on their own. Everybody had a breaking point, and Mystique had pushed Rogue too hard, for too long. Eventually…inevitably, she just snapped.

Kitty couldn't help it. She walked over to Rogue's bed, where the now silent girl still had her head buried in her pillow. Kitty sat on the side of the bed next to her, hesitating for a bare moment. She leaned over and put her arms around her friend, hugging her tight. Rogue didn't respond, didn't turn or pull away…but her shoulders were shaking.
It was nighttime. The best part of the day, in Rogue's opinion. Darkness was good for hiding; you just blended right into the shadows. Seeing as she was probably going to spend the rest of her days hiding, it was a good thing there was a time when it was easy to achieve the invisibility that she wanted.

She crept silently along the corridor, with stealth she didn't own. Keeping her ears open, in case anyone else should be up at this god-forsaken hour, she tiptoed around the corner to the kitchen. She shut the door as quietly as possible behind her, made her way to the fridge and opened it, now confident that no one would hear her. Stomach growling audibly, the teen reached for the plate of beef schnitzel on the middle shelf and took a few pieces. She tore the meat away from itself with her teeth, too hungry to worry about dignity. After her meal (of sorts), Rogue grabbed a glass and turned on the cold tap over the kitchen sink. She was just gulping down the water when there came a very unusual, yet definitely familiar sound from behind her. She turned slowly around to find Kurt standing there. His expression, at first, was one of surprise; Rogue thought for a moment that she saw even a flicker of sadness pass across his face. But then his eyes hardened and he glared at her. It wasn't something she was accustomed to seeing, she gave it out every day but rarely received it back. And she hated that the one time she did that it should be from him.

"Kurt…" she said hesitantly, beginning a sentence she had no idea how to finish. He continued to stare at her, as though contemplating whether or not she deserved a reply.

"Rogue." It was the first time he'd spoken to her in weeks, but it brought no relief. It was cold, yet somehow formal; all it served to do was prove he didn't have the heart to dismiss even her. He turned back to the cupboard and rifled through it, his movements rushed. He was in a hurry to get out and not have to be in such close proximity with the girl who killed his mother.

"Kurt," she repeated. "Please..."

Now he just ignored her completely. She took a cautious step forwards.

"I'm so sorry Kurt."

This time he rounded on her so fast she jumped and dropped the meat she was holding.

"Oh, well that's good. You're sorry. Zanks, that really helps. Yeah, ze more I zink about it, ze better I feel. In fact, just say it one more time and I might just forget zat you killed miene mutter."

Rogue flinched. Kurt turned back to the cupboard, even though both had forgotten their real reason for being there. His harsh sarcasm pierced her skin like each word was a sharper needle than the one before it. She just stood there, the silence challenging her.

"Kurt, I swear I'd take it back if I could. I never thought it would end up like this, I never wanted to take away your mother the way she had. I would change it the first chance I got, I wouldn't hesitate. But I can't. She's gone, and can you honestly say you miss her?"

"You don't understand. It's not about her. It's not about vezer I miss her, or loved her, or if she loved me. It could've been anyone, cos ze fact is, you killed her."

"She hurt us so much Kurt! She never gave us a thought! It's easy enough now to believe there were noble intentions behind evil, cruel, selfish actions, now that she's not here to prove us wrong!"

"Only God can judge. Zat's vat I was taught. Can you presume zat she didn't have good intentions, zat she never vanted to change? She made you so miserable, didn't she, treated you so badly. I mean she took you under her care, voluntarily, and ven you became a mutant, she gave you a place to live and learn in one of ze hardest times of your life. Even after you refused zis, she even made someone to keep you company, be your friend! Before you dreamt of me zat night, she never even acknowledged my existence!"

"She betrayed me! Lied and cheated, manipulated and used me! She would've done it to you too if I hadn't been more powerful, more valuable to her own wellbeing! How can you turn her into some sort of saint?"

Rogue could feel hot tears of frustration welling up in her eyes. Kurt just looked at her calmly.

"How can you forgive her? I'm sorry for what I did, but I didn't do it to hurt you. I'm still the same, I'm still me, I just made a mistake. A stupid mistake. I was angry, I didn't think, I know I didn't. But she would have done it in my place, to either of us, if there was something in it for her. She's not the mother you've conjured up in your head Kurt! How can you forget all that, the person that she was, but not this? Why not me?"

"She vas my mother! She gave me life! I never got to talk to her you know. I never found out vhy she gave me up. And no matter vat she did, she was ze only mother I vould ever have. You could have saved her, you could have let me make up my own mind about her, but you killed her. I'll tell you vhy I forgave her. Because I didn't vant to end up like her. I vanted to be able to forget people who sinned against me. I didn't vant to end up with my only vay to forgiveness being revenge. I vanted more out of life than she had. But you're right. I don't vant her back, not anymore. Ze zing is, I don't zink I vant you back either."

Rogue just looked at him. She wanted to scream, cry, shake the little furball until he came to his senses, but the hurt from his words was dull, far away, like it wasn't really a part of her. What had he said anyway? She had forgotten what they were even talking about. All she could do was concentrate on either holding her temper or her tears in. Their eyes met and even now his yellow orbs showed sympathy. He was sorry to have to do it, but he couldn't have anything to do with her any more.

Suddenly he was gone. Rogue jerked, as if the sulfuric smoke was the slap to the face she'd never feel. Slowly she sank to the floor hugging her knees. A few silent tears streaked their way down her cheeks.
Scott made his way down to the kitchen, yawning. He was relieved that it was the holidays, despite the numerous danger room sessions, he still got a bit of extra sleep in the mornings nowadays. All that was left to worry about was whether there would be any croissants left. He took his usual seat next to Jean and looked around at the breakfast options. Decisions, decisions. Eventually he grabbed a couple of waffles and slopped some fruit salad into a bowl. He took a fork and began to eat, listening to everyone's conversations. Beside him Jean and Amara were discussing today's pop music and artists.

"I reckon Carla Vega is a total icon. She's so pretty and her music rules!"

"Yeah but it's all about her struggles and hardships, it's pretty depressing really. On the other hand, Jonny Nicholl's songs are really positive and they've got a cheeky edge too."

A few chairs down Bobby and Kurt were arguing with Jubilation and Rhane about soccer teams.

"Just look at the evidence! Belfast creamed Fendalton and made it to the finals!"

"Yeah but the IUS Women's whipped their asses!"

At the far end of the table Ororo and Professor X were pondering which plants grew better indoors than out.

"I just think it would give it a nice atmosphere, but it would have to require little attention, and be reasonably sturdy too, knowing these children."

"I would suggest a Cyclamen, but they do tend to have fragile stems. Perhaps a flowering cactus?"

Just then Kitty made a dramatic appearance that would alarm anyone who didn't see it every day, by phasing through the ceiling and standing in mid-air to yawn.

"Hey guys."

She air-walked down to the floor and found a seat.

"Has anyone, like, seen Rogue? I haven't seen her since dinner time last night, and she wasn't in bed when I woke up"

Silence blanketed the table. A few people exchanged worried glances. Professor Xavier and Logan excused themselves, and Kurt left soon after.
It was windy up there. Her platinum and rust-coloured hair buffeted itself into tangles. She sat down near the rail that had been broken with Mystique's weight. What she was even doing there, she didn't know. It was quiet, apart from the sounds of nature, but far from peaceful. The wind howled around her and the trees waved steadily as if they knew she was there. Below, the sea raged, taunting her, challenging her to come just a little closer. She sighed and stared out at the grey sky as her thoughts engulfed her.

It's hard to believe, but I actually never meant to hurt anyone. Not even Mystique really. I sure never wanted her dead. I guess she should've had a chance to change, and prove herself. But with me, nothing ever goes as I mean it to. I have no say in the direction my life goes. It's everyone else's decision, cos they know what's best for me. What right have I to control my own life? I think I lost that right a long time ago.

She got wearily to her feet and looked over the cliff, moisture finding her tear ducts and spilling over. She found herself to be crying a lot lately. She looked down at the beach and imagined the statue of her mother tumbling over the edge. Had she still been in there somewhere? It shocked her to realise that she truly wished she had touched the statue at the gazebo, that she had been able to overlook her own feelings for once and bring Mystique back.

Poison at my fingertips that I can't control. That pretty much sums it up. Like a toddler with a loaded gun. One who doesn't know they're pointing it the wrong way until it's too late.

Her arms were folded against the icy wind, but she uncurled one and took off her glove. Her stark white hand seemed to glow in the darkness. She crossed her legs and took the other glove off. She held her hands out in front of her, surveying them; they looked so harmless. Who could ever know what deadly weapons they really were?

She extended one long, slender finger and poised it hesitantly over her other palm. She let the skin touch delicately, as though expecting an explosion. She began to trace slow circles in the middle of her palm with her finger, like that game, 'Round and Round the Garden'. Fascinated with the feeling of skin on hers. Suddenly she broke out of her reverie, jolting as though she'd been electrocuted and burning with embarrassment at the thought of somebody catching her. And just like that, she lost her balance.

Her stomach lurched with fear, and her hands flew out to steady herself. They met with only air. She was already falling. She was going to die.

Was she screaming? She didn't know. She wasn't afraid. She felt a horrible kind of amusement at the irony of fate. Right where she'd killed her mother. Now that was appropriate. She'd left so much pain in her wake. Now it had simply intervened before Rogue could do the same thing.

Maybe Kurt would do better without her. He could barely stand the sight of her now. Maybe everyone would. The team would go further without such a liability as her. With no one to be wary of, no one to watch out for, they would no doubt excel far beyond her limitations. Would they mourn her, miss her? She'd never know. Never know if she could've controlled her powers one day. Never remember the feeling of someone else's skin against hers.

Wait! I don't want to die!

She was still falling, but the ground was approaching. She opened her mouth to scream…

And something wrapped around her. She jerked as her speed was forced to a halt. She hit hard, wet sand with an unnatural crack. Her leg collapsed and she dropped down onto her back. Pain forced her eyes shut and she made no effort to stop them.
When she opened them again, the beach was smothered in darkness. Disorientated by her fall, she rolled over to try and find the glass of water on her bedside table. Her hand found something cold and sloppy, and her clothes were sticking to her body, gritty and damp. Another wave lapped at her feet, and she suddenly remembered where she was.

She sat up way too suddenly; the world spun and lights floated before her eyes. She swayed where she sat, and let herself slide back down very slowly. The lights blinked.

Wait a second…

They weren't lights at all. Yellow eyes were above her, attached to a head. A head with blue, furry, pointed ears.

She tried to say 'Kurt'. What came out was "K- kearfle?"

"Ssh," he said, putting a hand on her arm.

She struggled to raise her head. What was going on? How had she survived a twelve-metre drop off a cliff? How did Kurt get there, and why was he touching her in anything but a violent manner? She must be having some weird dream or hallucination. Maybe this was some screwed up recollection of her previous life before she was reincarnated into a wood louse or something. She took a breath, ready to attempt another word, but her stomach rushed into her mouth, and the hand was quickly removed as she turned her head to one side and vomited. Her head cleared, and she turned to look at Kurt. He stared back at her, almost embarrassed. He turned his gaze to the ground.

"Vhy, Rogue?" he sighed, barely audibly.

She didn't answer; her head was having trouble processing the fact she even had the option.

"Why did you catch me?" she asked instead. He looked hurt for some reason as he answered.

"I had to."

"No you didn't. All I've ever done for you is cause trouble. All I've ever done my whole life is cause trouble. There's a reason no one offers to take the bull in the china shop home and give it counseling."

She tried to stand, desperate to get away. She screamed in pain as weight was put on her left leg, and collapsed again. Kurt caught her and set her down carefully.

"Rogue you have a home."

She shook her head, her eyes shut once more to stop the tears.

"Not one that I deserve."

"So you try and kill yourself? Mensch, Rogue, how could you possibly zink zat could make zings better?"

"I didn't try to kill myself!" she said, shocked. "I fell!"

"Mein Gott. Vat were you doing up zere anyvay?"

She looked down, not sure how to answer.

"I…I don't know. I just don't know."

Kurt seemed to sense her discomfort, or perhaps he didn't know what to say either, because he quickly changed the subject.

"It looks like your leg is broken. C'mon, I vill take you back to the institute, and…"

"Kurt, why are you doing this? Why are you being nice to me? God knows you don't owe me anything. I thought you hated me, and I know you have every reason too."

"Because…you're my sister," he said simply and honestly.

"Because of some legal document? I think you have a much more reliable and trustworthy family than me."

"Listen. I need to tell you somezing. I know you didn't mean to hurt me ven you killed Mystique. But you did. Yes, she vas evil, and I know she never even came close to being a real mother to me. But she vas all I had. And sometimes, when I vas alone and looking at my fur, I remembered she vas just like me, growing up ridiculed and abused because she looked different. She vas the only one who could have possibly understood me. "

"I couldn't…" began Rogue, sounding close to tears, but Kurt stopped her.

"Please, just let me finish. I zought you vere ze most selfish person in ze vorld. Vat gave you ze right to decide vezer I could handle my mother or not? Because of you I vould never know if she loved me, or had ever loved me. For a long time I couldn't even look at you, because all I saw vas ze person who murdered my mother. But after I said zat stuff in ze kitchen, I realised somezing. It vasn't really you I vas angry at. I vas taking my anger out on you, because you are strong. I guess I zought you could take it. And also, to cover up."

"Cover up what?" Rogue asked, her voice a barely audible whisper.

He paused. Then, "Shame. Because I knew you vere right all along. Mystique had never loved me. She vas no more a mother to me zan my English teacher. Ze only zing zat had ever mattered to her vas power, zat didn't change ven she had a son, and it didn't change ven she adopted you. I never really forgave her, I told myself zat I had, but in reality, I hated her. I hated her for giving birth to me; I hated her for giving me up. I hated ze fact zat I was of ze same blood zat had blown up our home and tried to kill everybody I care about, and I hated zat she had chosen you where she had never chosen me. I vas jealous of you, so jealous zat I zought I hated you too. My mother had ze time to adopt you, look after you ven you came into your powers, be a friend to you, come after you, ven she never even told me who my father vas. You vere better zan me alvays, alvays more important. I hated zat you knew her better zan I did, zat you vere smart enough to hate her while I vas naïve enough to believe she could change. I vas angry zat she knew you hated her, but I let her believe I vould have given her a chance. I hated zat you had killed her, while I vas still protecting her even in death. You vere smarter, braver, stronger and more powerful, not just in her eyes but in mine too, and zat's vhy I vas angry with you, not because you killed her. It vas wrong to bestow zat guilt on you, ven all you had done vas vat she deserved to have you do in ze first place."

"It is not wrong, Kurt, for God's sake, nothing she did could ever excuse what I did. After all I preached about how awful she was, I was exactly the same. All I did was give her a legacy, let her leave her imprint in me like nothing she had done ever could. You have every right to hate me, and I will not blame you at all if you cannot let it go for the rest of our lives."

"And, in fact, give Mystique the power she alvays vanted," countered Kurt with a soft smile, a remnant of the Kurt she had known before the gazebo. "I realised I didn't vant her to vant me, I didn't vant her to pay the attention to me that she had to you. It vasn't what I vanted at all, and resenting you for having it was not fair, and not true to my feelings. Are ve really going to let ourselves follow in her footsteps Rogue? Are ve going to hold on to our hate, and love only power in the vay zat eventually destroyed our mother? I couldn't save Mystique. She's dead, and nothing can bring her back. But you saved me, saved me from her, Rogue, and zat meant I could save you. I vas meant to do nozing different. Everyzing happened ze vay it vas supposed to."

"Kurt," said Rogue, a smile cracking through the painful tension and dried tears on her face. "You are the best brother a girl could ask for. Thankyou for letting me be your sister."

"Verzeihen sie und vergessen sie," he replied, lifting her arm around his shoulders.

Mystique had made her decision - she had left her children behind for the last time, and they didn't want her to come back. But in so leaving, she had given them the best gift: the only gift that she could give. Because they would never leave each other.

Kurt wrapped his arm around Rogue's waist. She hung onto his shoulder, and they left behind a cloud of black smoke hanging silently on the dark beach.

Verzeihen sie und vergessen sie: Forgive and forget.

end