|Shadowed Paths|


Author's Notes: This is an alternate ending to the movie, and the consequences brought on by the different circumstances. Probably John/Rogue as well as the canon Bobby/Rogue in later chapters.


"I'm sick of this kid's table shit," John said agitatedly. "I'm going out there."

"You can't!" Bobby snapped. "They told us to stay here."

"Do you always do as you're told?" John demanded.

When neither of his friends answered, John turned away with a look of vague disgust.

"John," Rogue said loudly. "Stop. You can't go out there. You won't be able to help them, you can only complicate things."

John turned around to face her. "Maybe. But I can't stay here and do nothing. They might need help, Rogue--they could be dying and we're sitting here like we're in study hall. If you want to stay here, fine. Be my guest, but I can't do it."

"John," Bobby said. "Rogue is right. You can't do this."

John turned to glare at his best friend. "How are you going to stop me?" he demanded.

Hardening her heart, Rogue ripped off a glove and stepped up to him. "I'll stop you," she said.

She reached out and held her hand to the back of his neck, with a startled gasp, John fell to his knees. Rogue didn't let go until all the tiny veins running through him became visible. Bobby was staring at her with an expression between fear and admiration, but she didn't see him--she was looking at her hand in startled disgust.

She hated what she could do with a mere touch.

Bobby knelt beside them both and lowered John to the ground. John had one hand clamped to his forehead, and his other hand was clenching into a fist, then relaxing before twisting into a fist again. "Jesus," he gasped.

That had been worse than last time, much worse. He was guessing his resistance levels hadn't quite gone up all the way before Rogue decided to start up a second round.

"I'm sorry," Rogue whispered, horrified at what she had done. "God, I'm sorry, but I had to stop you."

John turned his eyes to meet hers, and there was a sadness in them so deep Rogue couldn't hold his gaze. "What makes you think you've stopped me?" he whispered before slipping into unconsciousness.

Rogue pushed herself back on her heels. She didn't like the sound of that. Bobby looked over at her, and she found she couldn't meet his gaze, either. She had a horrible feeling all she had done was make things worse.


2 Weeks Later : Magneto and Mystique escaped in the helicopter, and Jean sacrificed herself to get the X-Jet in the air. John was taken back to Xavier's with the others.


Fire surrounded her. Everywhere she turned, each exit she found, went up in flames before she could reach it. But she was strangely unafraid. Something in the fire made her feel safe--a feeling that no matter how close it got it couldn't touch her.

The smoke was hovering above her now, growing into a giant cloud suspended over her head. She could hear someone screaming in the distance, and the voice brought a piercing fear into her heart. A name. They were calling her. No, not calling her . . . the voice belonged to a woman, and she was screaming John's name.

Rogue shot up in bed, the sound of a terrified voice desperately screaming her friend's name still echoing through her mind.

She'd been dreaming again. Dreaming John's dreams.

It had happened every night since they had returned, every night since she had grabbed his ankle and stolen a piece of him. And then she had gone and touched him again, that very same day, and pulled more of his haunted past into her mind.

She knew she had no choice, but she would give almost anything to not keep feeling his pain. She would give even more if it would make John able to meet her eyes again--make him look at her with anything other than the hate that had come to rest there.

John wouldn't go near any of them now. He barely spoke, and when he did, it was never civil. She wasn't exactly sure what they had done to trigger such a reaction in him, but every time she looked at him, all she could feel from him was the deep hurt of betrayal. She didn't understand it. All she had been doing was protecting him, if he'd gone out into that snow alone he could have been killed. She never would have been able to live with herself if that had happened.

But John couldn't seem to live with her now.

Over the last two weeks, all the work she'd put into being John's friend had been undone. In two short weeks, John and Bobby, once inseparable best friends, had not spoken one word to each other.

Rouge pulled the covers off of her and grabbed her robe. She wasn't going to let this happen. She wouldn't lose John over this--not when all she had been doing was trying to help. He could nurse his wounded pride and hurt feelings if he wanted, but she wasn't going to let him shut himself away. She'd seen in his memories what that would do to him, and she wasn't about to let it happen now.

She padded carefully down the hall to John's room, and when she reached the door she didn't bother to knock. If she did he wouldn't let her in. She stepped inside, and expected John to immediately grab for his lighter and light up the room, but nothing in the darkness moved. Frowning, she reached for the light switch.

The room flooded with artificial light, and Rogue gasped when she saw John wasn't there. It was 2.00 AM, and he wasn't there. Pulling the robe tighter around her, she walked over to his bed and sat down. That was fine. He wasn't here? She would wait for him. He had to show up sometime.

With a sigh, Rogue flopped down on his bed. She was determined to set things between them right. As soon as he returned from wherever it was that he had gone, she would.


John carefully entered the mansion and closed the door behind him. He listened for a moment to see if anyone had heard, but then started up the steps towards his room. He was pretty sure only one person knew about his late night excursions, and for whatever reason, Xavier had yet to question him about them.

John sighed as he continued up the steps. He probably knew that questioning him right now was the quickest way to send him packing. He was so sick of this school, and everyone it held. John knew as well as any of them he was searching for a reason to leave.

He frowned when he saw that his door was open and the light was on. Maybe Xavier was going to finally confront him. Hell, maybe Baldy was going to kick him out himself. John wouldn't be surprised.

John paused in the doorway, and leaned against the doorjamb with a slow grin. Rogue was sprawled on his bed. Funny, just a couple of weeks ago the sight would have been a dream come true. His smile faded as he realized now it didn't matter. Too much had been changed.

He closed the door with a sigh. The last thing he needed was someone to see Rogue in his room. He had enough trouble without getting stuck with rumors that he was cheating with his best friend's girl. "Rogue," he snapped as he walked over to her. "Rogue!"

Rogue's eyes snapped open, and John drew back when he saw the terror reflected in them. "John," she gasped.

John kneeled beside her, forgetting about the past weeks for a moment. He grabbed her robe covered arm and forced her to look at him. "Are you alright?" he demanded.

"Yes, just a dream," she said breathlessly. "I'm fine. It was just a dream."

John nodded and his expression closed, all traces of concern disappearing as he got to his feet. "Good. Then leave. I still have a chance to get a few hours sleep."

Rogue looked up at him in surprise. "John," she said. "I came here to talk to you."

"I don't want to talk," he said evenly. "I want to sleep. So if you don't mind--"

"Where were you?" Rogue interrupted. "John, where did you go?"

"Somewhere I could breathe," he snapped. "Now go."

Rogue wasn't about to be intimidated. She'd dealt with John in this kind of mood before, though admittedly, in the past the anger had never been directed at her. "I think we have to clear some things up."

"I think that things between us have been cleared up pretty damn good, Rogue," John said. "You made sure of it."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Rogue demanded.

John glared at her. "I could forgive you for stopping me at Bobby's house, Rogue. I was out of hand, even I'll admit it. I could forgive that, even though it pissed me off that you turned against me when I was only trying to get us out of there. But what you did later?" John sneered at her. "That was unforgivable. You don't get to decide what's best for me, Rogue."

Rogue stared at him disbelievingly. "I stopped you on the porch, John, because you were going to kill someone if I didn't--and what happened on the Jet, I was only trying to protect you! You were going to go out there and get yourself killed!"

"Maybe," John said. "But that was my choice, wasn't it? Not yours."

"We're friends, John," Rogue hissed. "If you put your life in danger it affects me too. You can't expect me to not try and stop you from self destructing."

"Is that what you think I'm doing?" John asked with a laugh. "Well, babe, you ain't seen nothin' yet."

Rogue looked un-amused. "You have to stop this, John. We care about you. We're worried."

"You think that changes anything?" John asked. "It doesn't. I don't care if you care, Rogue. So just leave me the hell alone."

"I'm trying to *help* you!"

"I don't want your help! Haven't you been listening?" John tore off his coat and slumped into his desk chair. Agitatedly, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his lighter. Without looking at Rogue, he began to open and close it.

"John," Rogue whispered. "Whatever happened between us, we can fix it. That's what friends do."

John shook his head in disbelief. "God, you really have no idea what you've done? Do you?" John asked her intensely. "You were the last person in my life, Rogue, the last one, that I trusted implicitly. And now that's gone. I have no one left."

Rogue was near tears, but she stubbornly held them back. She wouldn't let him get to her over this. She'd only been doing what she had to do to help him, and she would do it all again. "You can trust me, John. But if you don't believe that, then believe you can trust Bobby. He'd do anything for you--he's your best friend."

"Bobby?" John laughed. "Bobby would betray me in an instant if he thought it was 'for my own good.' Or if I strayed even a little off that straight and narrow path he seems to love so much. I've always known that. I just thought you were different."

"I care about you, John!" Rogue cried. "Don't punish me for that."

"Just leave, Rogue," John told her tiredly. "There's no point to this."

Rogue glared at him. "You selfish son of a bitch!" she cried.

John looked up, startled at the uncharacteristic outburst.

"You think all you have to do is decide you don't want to care about any of us any more and that's it?" she demanded. "You think it's that easy? Well here's a news flash, Pyro, you don't get to do that. I'm your friend, and maybe we had a disagreement, but you deal with it and you move on."

John wouldn't meet her eyes, he kept his gaze on the flame dancing up from his lighter. Rogue came over and knelt in front of him, and the tears in her eyes held tiny reflections of the fire. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? Maybe I screwed up. I hurt you, I know, but that was only because you scared me. You get this look in your eyes sometimes, John, and it terrifies me because it's the look of someone who thinks he's capable of anything."

"I'm not," John whispered.

"No, you aren't. And that's why I had to stop you before you got yourself killed," Rogue told him softly.

John finally met her eyes, and Rogue was shocked when she saw they were glassy with unshed tears. "It wasn't your place, Rogue."

"No," she said. "I guess it wasn't. But I would do it again--you mean too much to me for me to let you walk away without a fight."

Rogue hated to see John looking this uncertain, the only time she had seen it before was in the memories she had pulled from his past, he was always so collected now. Except she knew he thought all the foundations he had built here were crumbling beneath his feet, and she couldn't imagine how lost he must feel.

"I'll always be your friend, John," she told him. "And friends are there for one another, whether you want them to be or not."

"You nearly killed me when you touched me, Rogue," he told her quietly.

"I'm sorry," she said brokenly. "I never would have held on long enough to-- "

"I'm not talking about physically," he interrupted. "I don't understand it myself, but you took something from me when you stopped me from leaving, Rogue, and I don't know how to get it back."

"I'm so sorry," she whispered again.

He turned away from her. "I know, I just don't think it's enough." John got up from the chair and went over to collapse on his bed. He turned his face away from her. "Turn off the light when you leave."

Rogue watched him for a moment, trying to decide if she should say more. John was so still though, and she knew he was praying she would just leave. She turned the light off and walked out of the room.

Only when the door was closed behind her did she let the tears fall.