For days, she stayed by his side, only leaving the medlab to walk the restless husky, and feed him. But, soon Hank offered to watch over him, and Rogue ate, slept, and breathed in the medlab. She spent the long hours talking to him, telling everything that had happened in her life since leaving the mansion.
"I have a job now," she whispered, a faint smile on her lips, his stationary hand still clutched in her own. "It's not the greatest job, but it pays all right. You see, I'm a cashier at a store. A designer store actually," she laughed now. "High-class snobs tend to hang around most of the time. But, it's not so bad. I bet you're wondering how I got a job like that- It was more like an accident; I was just window-shopping and there was a small 'help-wanted' sign in the corner of the window. Just on an impulse, I guess, I went in and applied. Anita- that's my boss- must have liked the looks of me or something because she gave me job right there." Pausing to lick her lips, she gazed around the room, the (life-meter) ticking in the background. "I don't intend to stay there long, only until I can find another job. I've always wanted to do something that made a difference in the world, ya know? And, I have a feeling selling designer clothes to celebrities isn't going to change much for the better."
"I have a dog now. His- his name is Logan, too." Chuckling quietly to herself, she began to imagine the expression on Logan's face. His eyebrows would undoubtedly be drawn together and raised high on his forehead, in the way only Logan could do. Then he'd probably roll his eyes and snort, maybe ruffling her hair or nudge her under the chin with a 'Hey, kid- you missed me that much?'
Almost as if he had asked the question, she nodded, pressing his hand to her lips. "I do, Logan. I miss you so much. Please," she whispered, squeezing his hand, "please come back to me. I don't want to lose you. I'm so sorry. I should have stayed- I shouldn't have ran like I did. I- I was being selfish. But, I didn't have any idea how much you would-" her voice broke, and she bowed her head now, the tears splashing onto the ground. "I thought you and Jean would only get closer, and eventually even marry or something. I couldn't stand the thought of you two being together. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have begrudged you of your happiness- if it was her that made you happy. I should have stayed with you- as your friend. Because, we are the best of friends, aren't we, Logan? Always together, never divided- never again. I swear. I swear I won't leave you ever again. I promise, Logan."
Rogue jumped as she heard footsteps lightly thump across the hallway, nearing the door. Quickly wiping away her tears, and sitting straight up her seat, she tried to look as normal as possible.
"Oh," despite herself, she shivered as Jean sauntered into the room, her thinly plucked eyebrows raising as she saw Rogue sitting beside Logan's bed, his hand clutched in her own. "It's you."
Rogue cleared her throat, "Yea, I just-"
Jean cut her off. "I know," she said darkly, leaning against the wall. "The professor said you might be coming soon, but he hadn't mentioned you were already here." Her smoky gray eyes shifted over to Logan, still lying in the bed. "Any change?"
Swallowing hard, she only shook her head. Jean snorted, folding her arms over her chest, regarding him with a masked emotion. "I don't know why they thought you could make a difference. After all, you're the reason he's lying there." The words cut through Rogue like knives, and she winced, feeling the truth of it grate against her bones.
Seeming satisfied with her reaction, Jean carelessly shrugged her shoulders, and glared icily at the woman with dark hair and platinum white streaks. "I hope you're happy," she said, her tone cold and bitter.
Her brown eyes widened a bit, and she finally regarded Jean carefully, noticing a few scars on the doctor's cheek, tainting what used to be her flawless skin. "What happened to you, Jean?" she asked, pointedly not acknowledging her comment.
Jean's eyes flashed, nostrils flaring dangerously. "Do you really want to know what happened to me, Rogue?" she asked, her voice cracking. Gulping, Rogue nodded. Maybe she could understand Logan's situation better if she knew exactly what had occurred in the seemingly brief relationship between the red-head and wolverine.
Her fierce eyes burned into Rogue, as if she hoped the girl would crumble under her gaze. "I stayed with him - after you left. But, that was only because he needed someone to hurt for him, because he couldn't do it himself- at least not for long." Rogue felt as if a heavy weight had been placed inside of her belly, and she almost screamed for the woman to stop before she said anything more. Just by the haunted look in Jean's eyes, and her first words, she knew whatever was coming next would be horrible.
"He tolerated me for a while, letting me sleep in his bed and live in his room- though he was hardly ever there himself." Jean snorted bitterly, the sour look on her face seeming to draw inward, as the woman sitting in front of her was momentarily forgotten. "He went out to fights every night, street racing, anything suicidal that would bring him home nearly broken in pieces. But, he'd always heal before it was time for him to leave again."
Her eyes blinked at Logan, stationary and unmoving in the hospital bed. "Then, one night I woke up, and he'd tried to kill me- had his claws puncturing my cheek-" she lifted her hands absentmindedly to the aforesaid skin, rubbing it with the inundation of memories. "He said it was an accident- that he was trying to wake me. Then, he took me to bed and... I bled more. That was first time it had ever hurt. With Scott- it'd been gentle, but Logan had hurt me, until I didn't know whether I was screaming from pain or ecstasy. I always had to wash the sheets afterward, because the smell tormented him- and he came to bed even less, unless it was to hurt me."
Rogue flinched, struck dumb by her words. Logan had hurt her on purpose. The thought made her sick to her stomach at the mention of blood spilling during what should have been such an intimate exchange. She herself had always imagined what it would be like with Logan; after all, she had most of his memories in her head, and knew well from those what he was capable of. But, she'd never come across him submitting a woman to this kind of torture. Seeing the pain reflected in the doctor's eyes made her stomach churn, and Rogue fought back a sob. The person she loved most in the world had become similar to a monster; a nightmare haunting Jean's life.
Seeing Rogue's eyes begin to fill with tears, the woman was filled with bitterness and loathing. "It was because of you that he did that," she spat, digging her fingernails into her palm, desperately trying to keep the tears back. "It was the only reason I stayed- because I knew it was because of you. Besides, I thought it would fade away with time- that he would forget about you. But, he didn't and it kept going on. I- I'd lost something I'd always wanted- and expected I would have with him. Logan- I thought he had truly loved me, or felt something strong for me- that's why I broke it off with Scott; Logan had promised me something better, something wonderful. But, then you left and stole it. You left him, and he blamed me. Every time he looked at me, I knew he wished I didn't have red hair- but brown hair and white streaks. I knew he hated me because of you." Her slightly glazed eyes swung over to Rogue, the bitter hatred pouring out in everything she said, the way she moved, the way she stared.
"Then he ended it- told me take my stuff and go back to my own room. That had been at least six months ago. It got worse after that. He hardly even came back to mansion anymore. He'd disappear for days, and then come back without a word with rips and blood stains on his clothing- that was the only evidence. Everyone was afraid- we didn't know how to approach him. I tried-" she choked on her voice, but cleared her throat and continued stubbornly, "I tried to help him, but he always walked away- never even looked at me anymore. Then we got the call about Magneto's bomb. For the first in what seemed like years, we suited up together - Logan included- and went out to vanquish the bad guys. It had almost seemed normal; Logan wasn't in the corner brooding as usual, but he seemed ready and alert. Everyone thought it meant progress."
Jean's chin began to tremble again, but she dug her nails further into her palm, suppressing the emotion. "He practically ran into the bomb. I think- I think it reminded him of what happened at the Statue of Liberty." Gazing pointedly at Rogue, she struggled to understand wholly what had driven him to give up- and it seemed as if Rogue would understand better than she could, though she would never admit it. "He charged into it, roaring at the top of his lungs, claws extended. It looked as if he was trying to save someone, running after someone that meant something. But, then the bomb exploded and he got the full force of it. All of us passed out at first- but when we woke up, we couldn't find him. We found him deeper into the building, lying on the ground of the facility. There was a trail of gashes in the wall, as if he had sliced at them." Jean lifted her hand to her mouth, shuddering at the thought of her own memory. "It was all your fault," she repeated, her voice thick. "Because you decided to have a tantrum and run off. Your fault."
There a long silence. In fact, Logan's steady breathing became the only source of sound throughout the room. Dark brown eyes filled with tears, yet none fell. The reality of the situation smashed into her like a heavy blow to the head. Despite her love for him, even she could not condone the seriousness of his actions. He had hurt - no, abused this woman standing in front of her. Broken her apart piece by piece and stripped her of her dignity because he could hurt himself. It almost felt as if they were speaking about an alien, some stranger who had walked into the mansion and pretended to be Logan. There was no way the monster who had ripped thrown his life away, as well as others, could be the same man, the man that she loved, lying unconscious on the hospital bed.
Jean watched her carefully, feeling suddenly useless. She had come down and delivered what she felt must be said. And, now there didn't seem to be a reason for her to stay. Turning quickly on her heel, she half-ran from the room, the expression of pain and anguish on Rogue's face almost too much to bear- or understand. She didn't have to watch Logan crumble right before her eyes. She hadn't been torn from the inside, blood spilling out every time that man touched her. In fact, she was the reason why all of this had happened.
With a remorseful twinge in the pit of her belly, Jean felt that it was wrong of her to blame that girl - someone so young and unaware of how much she meant to those around her. Even though she knew that Rogue hadn't planned this out, hadn't intended to hurt anyone, it didn't stop the pain burning inside of her. It didn't make the scars disappear. It didn't erase anything that had happened. So, she blamed, and hated, and silently screamed for some release from the memories.
Back inside the room, Marie was gazing quietly at Logan, scrutinizing every line and angle of his countenance, trying to imagine him as what Jean had described him to be. She couldn't. Logan had become a symbol of security and safety, and home. The image of the man she had become so attached to wasn't shattered, but it was tainted. She loved him still,; it seemed as if nothing could change the way she felt for him. But, there was a piercing stab of guilt and sorrow inside of herself as she thought of how he had basically and purposely destroyed himself and others - because he had lost her. It wasn't something she couldn't fully comprehend; rationally, his actions had been nothing short of monstrous and shameful, and nothing could excuse him. But, she wasn't angry at him, wasn't disgusted - just sad.
Of course, in all of this, Jean was the one that had truly suffered, physically as well as mentally. There seemed to be no way to atone for what Logan had done to her, and if he did wake up eventually, there was no doubt the score would have to be settled, somehow. If he woke up.
Hesitantly, Rogue lifted her index finger and brought it close to his brow, guiltily brushing away a lock of his hair. It seemed wrong to be comforting him after everything she had just learned, but it was also a natural reflex. No matter who he was, or what he had become, Rogue couldn't help but love him.
But, love still didn't excuse the crime committed.