Reading Key: Thoughts are signified by 'these'. Emphasis and the voices in Rogue's head are in italics. Telepathic conversation is underlined.
Author's Note: Yeah, sorry for the long wait. I've got a lot going on, very little of it good. Like most others, I really need the economy to turn back around, just for starters. Also have a new German Shepherd puppy. Literally every minute not at work or sleeping is spent watching him so he doesn't tear the house apart (also some of the time I am sleeping I have to watch him, lol). Anyway, hope you enjoy. By the way, the puppy's name? Logan! ;)
Thank you to all the reviewers of the previous chapter. Normally I take the time to answer each one (the signed ones anyway) to show my appreciation, but the gap between updates was so long this time that I didn't think anyone would remember what they said in their review. Never doubt that I cherish each and every one, though! If you had a question last time you really wanted answered, ask it again in your review for this chapter.
Keep in mind that most of the first two parts of this chapter happen during parts of the last chapter. Should be pretty clear.
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"It's not going to work."
Magneto eyed Mystique with something approaching exasperation. They'd been discussing various methods of approaching Rogue… Mystique refused, for a reason she wouldn't give him, to tell him their daughter's real name… but the shapeshifter'd had an argument against each. This time, it was a plan to liberate a 'control collar' …a device he'd originally been planning to simply destroy along with its maker… and give it to Rogue.
"Why not?" he demanded. "She wants control. You said that's why she's been working with Emma Frost. And she wants to be able to touch, to be with the Wolverine."
He had to fight not to sneer as he said it, but he managed. At first it had been completely repellant to think of one of his blood taking the dangerous feral as a lover. But he'd given the idea some thought and was forced to concede that it might be a good thing. Wolverine was a strong mutant, nearly impossible to kill, and not anywhere near as insane as Sabretooth. If they should ever procreate, their children… his grandchildren… had the potential to be immensely powerful. And Magneto knew first hand how far the man would go for the young woman in question, having seen the drama unfold less than five feet from him more than two years ago. He knew how rare a thing loyalty like that was.
"The collar is made of metal," Mystique said flatly. "No matter how much it might tempt her, she would not leave herself open to being controlled by you. She'll already be on edge enough worrying about what you might do to Wolverine; she won't purposely enhance that danger. And even if she did consider it, he would never let her."
His brows arched. "She'll take orders from him?"
"No. But she will see how much it would worry him, and that would matter even more than the danger to herself."
"Wouldn't he want her to have it? He is a very carnal creature," Magneto pointed out.
"If sex was more important to him than her safety, it would also be more important than her. He could get it elsewhere with little effort." Mystique gestured with her hand in a vague manner. "And anyway, touching skin is hardly a requirement of having sex if you have more than two brain cells."
Magneto nodded grudgingly and put the matter out of his mind. He was far from being a prude, but there was only so much of talking about his child's sex life that he could handle.
He leaned back in his chair. "Do you have any suggestions as to how to go about this?"
Mystique pursed her lips, a wrinkle forming between her brows. "No. Not yet. Maybe it would be best to hold off on any attempts until I've been able to see her. Reconnect with her."
Magneto idly turned his wrist, causing the metallic balls on his desk to begin imitating a miniature solar system instead of swinging back and forth like a novelty pendulum toy. He and Mystique had discussed where her relationship with their daughter stood before he started running scenarios past her. And he had to agree with Mystique. If the two of them were going to convince Rogue to at least back off from her vendetta against him, it would help if she were already on a good emotional foothold with her mother. Besides, he did have other plans to oversee. Rogue was not any more important to him than Pietro and Wanda, and he had put off truly getting to know them in order to attempt mutating the world leaders.
He straightened and waved dismissively. "Then go. Let me know when we can move forward or if you come up with anything plausible."
Until she did, he would kill the collar's creator and hold on to the device just in case. He would send Pyro to do it. There was absolutely no chance the boy would want to keep the collar for himself; his power was all he had.
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Rogue reopened the connection with Scott and Piotr shortly after Logan had left for the School. She wanted to let them know, without delving in too deeply to what had been so personal, that she and Logan had talked things out and were now together. She couldn't imagine that Logan would have had a warm greeting from either of them otherwise.
Are you alright? Scott immediately asked when he once more felt her in his mind.
Piotr kept silent, though Rogue could feel that he had been waiting to ask the same thing. Perhaps Scott had simply been faster in recognizing the re-established psychic link. Which made sense, given that he had more experience with the state. Or Piotr could simply be waiting for her to 'speak' first, as it were. After all, he had no way of knowing of Scott's end of her bond with the other man.
She reassured them both and shared the information she had intended to. Rogue could sense some resentment from both of them, but they assured her they were happy for her if she was truly content. Scott's history with Logan made his feelings easier to accept, and she was pretty sure Piotr was just feeling protective of her, so that made his resentment understandable as well. It would have been nice if two of the people important to her had been able to simply be happy for her, but she knew time would show them… and her… how good Logan could be to her.
Placated, the two men got back to their duties at the School. Rogue turned her attention to starting her day. After showering and getting dressed, she moved to the main room of the one bedroom apartment to start a list of the things she needed to get to make the place livable. There was a lot she needed since all of the everyday things… dishes, furniture and linens to name a few… had already been in place at the House, and she'd tossed out the secondhand stuff she'd used while living on her own in New York. Rogue knew if she didn't have a complete home to come back to each time she had to go out and deal with the monumental issues she was facing, she might break. Everyone needed a refuge, a place to unwind and feel safe.
When both of her Inner Logans tried to help her think of needed items, more often than not coming up with the same thing at the same time, Rogue took a moment to 'get rid of' the newer one… though until she had a chance to speak to Emma, she wouldn't know for sure that banishing personalities from her mind truly worked. Either they were simply stuck somewhere in her mind where she could not easily find them or they really were gone and the Phoenix had been what kept the last bit of Jean from leaving her until Alkali Lake.
Either way, it was the Logan that had been her constant companion for the past two years that she kept. She had the real life version of the newer one; two was overkill, especially now that she had a psychic bond with the real Logan. But unless she made the decision to rid herself of Erik, she needed someone to remain and balance him out, so the older mental version got to stay. Suppressing the headache that formed between her eyes during the process, Rogue got back to the task at hand.
She paused in her scribbling when first Piotr and then, after a brief conversation between Xavier and Logan, Scott each had a short confrontation with Logan. She was slightly amused by the posturing, but very proud of Logan for keeping himself in check instead of resorting to his usual response to aggression. Rogue knew he was doing it for her, for the life they were planning to build together. She just hoped he thought being with her was worth any restraints he had to put up with.
Several minutes after leaving the School, Logan tested their new psychic bond for the first time, tentatively calling her name in his mind.
Yes, sugar? she responded gently.
You want me to get anything on the way home, darlin'? he asked.
Rogue smiled and let him feel the surge of happiness his choice of words had caused. She felt him gasp at the sensation and pulled back on it, answering, Get whatever you'd like. We're out of everything.
His amusement at her silly joke bled back to her. Why don't I just come pick you up, then? We can go out together and stock up.
I'll be there in a few minutes, Logan ended their telepathic conversation.
Rogue hurriedly finishing writing her list. She didn't know if Logan would even want to do more than just the food shopping… he might find the rest boring… but she wanted to have the list ready in case he did choose to accompany her. If he didn't, she would still need to borrow his truck to bring back whatever she purchased. Her Mustang didn't have a whole lot of room, and certainly not enough to transport any type of furniture.
When she could sense Logan pulling into Darkholme's parking lot, Rogue let him know she was making her way out to him. Logan was waiting for her by the passenger door, the engine still running, when she made her way outside. Rogue smirked, knowing his position was for far more than just opening her door. Not that she minded one bit.
Rogue didn't wait for an invitation, walking straight up to him and looping her arms around his waist. He grinned down at her and put his own arms around her, one at her waist and the other just below her shoulders, his fingers playing with the ends of her ponytail. Rogue leaned into Logan's chest, releasing a contented sigh at feeling his body once more pressed to hers. A low, pleased growl rumbled through him and, by extension, her.
"Hi," she greeted quietly.
Logan's grin softened into a loving smile. "Hi."
She couldn't tell who moved first… she tilting her head up and Logan angling his down… but it didn't really matter once their lips brushed.
"Love you," he mumbled at the point of contact, causing their breaths to mingle.
"Mmhmm," she responded incoherently, wanting him to get on with increasing their contact.
Rogue felt Logan smile against her lips and almost gave in to the urge to bite his lower one in retaliation for his amusement. Until she realized from the warmth in his mind that it was actually happiness, contentment. He had read beneath her non-words to her true feelings and was basking in them like a housecat in a patch of natural light from a window. Rogue pressed her mouth to his fully before he could get to the drowsy stage. Both arms around her tightened, the hand that had been playing with her hair trapping it against the nape of her neck in a possessive grip.
Her fingers splayed so that she could be touching as much of him as possible, and they briefly convulsed and clenched tighter against him when his tongue touched her lips lightly. A tease. Feeling bold, Rogue mimicked his motion before exploring his mouth. Logan approved of her taking the lead, another rumble issuing from him. Someone wolf-whistled from across the street when the hand at her waist slid down to cup her ass. Rogue laughed, breaking their kiss. She placed a quick peck on his pouting lips and broke from his hold.
"If we don't leave now, we might never," she told him.
Logan grunted in a way that said he was okay with that idea but opened her door, shutting it firmly once she was completely inside.
"Where to, darlin'?" he asked when he'd gotten in and, after a pointed look from her, buckled his seatbelt.
Rogue shifted slightly in her seat, pulling out her list for emphasis. "That depends on you. If you want, we can just go to the supermarket in the shopping center on Fifth. Or we can hit the department stores at the mall to see about furnishing and stocking the apartment with everything we need and then the supermarket."
"The mall it is," Logan answered, throwing the truck into reverse.
"Logan, you don't have to go just because I'd like…"
"Since this is going to be our first home together, I'd like us to choose what goes in it together," Logan cut her off to tell her. "The cabin's already taken care of, and if you ever want to use the house Irene left you, you can choose how to redecorate that if you want to keep things even. Of course, you're more than welcome to change anything in the cabin you want to."
Rogue scooted closer to him on the bench seat and leaned in to place a kiss on his facial hair. "Thank you."
Logan's right hand dropped from the steering wheel to her thigh, squeezing gently. He kept it there, and they settled into a comfortable silence for the rest of the ride to the mall.
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The day had begun an odd combination of good and bad. Waking up with Marie had been wonderful beyond words, but her being worried for her mother… even for so short a time… had cast a pall over the experience. Logan fervently hoped they could wake on their own tomorrow morning with nothing and no one intruding on their private time. Going to Xavier's, even if it had been a necessary step forward, had bothered him and served to remind him of what he had to lose, what he had come closer to losing than he could have imagined. The knowledge that there was someone there more than willing to pick up the pieces if he somehow screwed this up was not a comfort.
As far as Logan knew, he had never been with someone the way he wanted to be with Marie. And with how strongly he loved her, he doubted he could have felt this way before. Even on the off chance he had, he would never leave her by choice. As far as he was concerned, it had been someone else who had lived the life he couldn't remember. He was a different person now, had in fact been two different men in just the years since waking with no memory. Before Marie and After. Though there had been a few people who had helped him, made an impression on his life, none had touched his heart until her. He hadn't been entirely convinced he even had one until he realized it was hers.
And now here they were, going shopping like any couple newly moved in together. It was domestic and peaceful, but he couldn't really tell if it didn't make him itch to get back to his old life since in the back of his mind he knew it was only a temporary peace. Logan wanted to believe he would be completely content leading whatever life Marie chose for them, but he wouldn't know for sure until everything else was out of the way. He just hoped he could keep that little bit of fearful doubt hidden from her the same way he had kept his thoughts on Piotr's feelings for her to himself. It was too soon for her to know about his concerns about his wandering nature; she would take it the wrong way. Considering she remained at his side, happy and quiet, for the whole drive, Logan was sure he had managed it… or if he hadn't, she'd also seen that if he did take up his nomadic lifestyle again, he'd be dragging her with him.
They reached the mall, and Logan maneuvered through the parking lot like it was a war zone. He tended to avoid places that had this many people in such close quarters, and seeing all the cars made him a little itchy. He found a spot that was close to the largest department store without being in a place that would have a lot of onlookers. They didn't need witnesses if he or Marie showed more strength than they should when bringing their purchases back to the truck.
The home furnishings section of the first department store they went into was their primary stop. When Marie paused, looking between each department with clear indecision, Logan reached down for her hand and tugged her toward the mattresses.
She allowed him to lead her, but gave him a confused look. "We already have a bed, Logan. Unless you don't like it?"
"It's fine," Logan assured.
If she still had the mattress she'd had sex on with Piotr, he would have tried to convince her to get a new one, but she'd gotten rid of it a few weeks after Hannah passed away because it had been the one her daughter had been sick in. Hannah's scent clinging to the mattress had caused Marie to have disconcerting dreams that often had her waking up thinking Hannah would still be there beside her. The memory of the pain it had caused her was enough to make Logan's stomach clench.
"Just thought it would be fun to try a couple out." He continued, waggling his eyebrows at her exaggeratedly.
Marie laughed and shook her head, but replied, "Sounds nice. And I've always wanted to try that one made of the material that's supposed to hug your body."
"Tempur-something or other?" Logan asked, vaguely recalling an infomercial from one of the nights that fear of his nightmares kept him from sleep.
Marie hummed an affirmative and wove through the aisles of mattresses, looking for that particular brand. "It actually seems kind of creepy to me, but it is supposed to be comfortable."
She found the bed she was looking for a minute later and climbed on, laying down on one side. Logan eyed the other side warily but couldn't resist when Marie patted the spot beside her, eyes twinkling. He sighed and lowered himself down next to her… and then kept going down, sinking into the giving material much more than she had. Her eyes widened dramatically as she watched him, the dark green orbs filling with silent laughter at about the same time he remembered that the adamantium coating his bones made him a lot heavier than he looked. Possibly a lot heavier than the bed's material had ever been tested to support. Marie scrambled off, and then pulled him from his fitted crater.
Luckily, the lone salesman in the mattress department was busy going through financing options with another couple. Logan and Marie stood next to the bed, watching until the depression on it was only as deep as a normal person would make. Marie bit her lip the whole time to keep the proverbial lid on her amusement. Looping an arm around her shoulders and walking as casually as possible, Logan led her from the mattress department to the one that had living room furniture.
There was a lot less drama as they tested couches and settled on a leather sectional that would just fit in the space available. They bought it and a coffee table. Because it was still so early in the day, Marie was able to schedule same day delivery (the sectional would not have fit in the bed of the truck). With that in mind, they went through the rest of their furniture choices… a small dining table and chairs, a TV stand, a couple lamps, a dresser and two nightstands… quickly.
Once that was done, and delivery scheduled for late in the afternoon, the two of them took their time picking out housewares and other essentials. They stuck mostly with darker blues, greens and some browns. Marie had always had a preference for the darker hues of the color spectrum, and the ones she chose reminded Logan of the woods, the wild openness that had always been one of the few things to calm him. Logan had only a certain amount of his cash on him, but Marie told him they could worry about who paid for what later and just used her credit card for everything.
He insisted on buying the food when they went to the grocery store after the mall, and he also stopped at a deli so they wouldn't have to worry about throwing together a late lunch. After bringing everything inside but only putting away the perishables, they took their time eating at one of the tables in Darkholme. Marie was done with her sandwich, Logan halfway through his second one, when she suddenly stood and moved to straddle him in his chair. He automatically dropped his hands to her hips, caressing her sides over her shirt with his thumbs. A soft smile lit her face before she kissed him gently. A small moan escaped him but he didn't try to stop her when she pulled back right away, though she did lean her forehead on his for a long minute before sitting up straight.
"What was that for?" Logan asked quietly.
Marie smiled again. "Just reminding myself that this is real. That you're really here with me."
"No place I'd rather be, darlin'."
She gave him another soft kiss before sliding off his lap. "I'll let you finish eating. I'm going to check the answering machine before I start bringing the rest of the stuff upstairs."
Logan nodded his acknowledgment and watched her walk to the door that led into the employee only section of Darkholme, his gaze focused on the sway of her hips. Turning back to his lunch when the door closed between them, he took a bigger bite than he had been. No need for something as trivial as food to keep them apart any longer than necessary.
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Rogue wrote down the messages as they played. There was one from Pietro asking if she'd found out anything about Mystique yet, and the second one was a delivery confirmation from one of her liquor suppliers. Rogue's pen stilled when Emma's voice, tinged with the superior attitude she mostly put on around the Hellfire Club, issued from the machine.
"Rogue, I'd appreciate a call back soon. I need to know what happened with this whole situation, and we need to discuss the next Hellfire dinner. You did make a promise to me when I generously agreed to help train you."
A large hand possessively curving to fit her waist stopped her from jabbing the delete button hard enough to destroy the machine.
"Bitch," Logan muttered darkly. "If we didn't need her…"
"I know," Rogue said softly.
"She's going to keep making demands until she hears from you, isn't she?"
"Yes," Rogue agreed. "What do you think about just going to see her instead of calling her back?"
Logan's frown turned into an evil smirk as she faced him. Rogue mirrored his expression for a moment, but she was still too angry and worried for it to stick. Logan's hands came up to clasp her shoulders. He massaged them caressingly, but only a tiny bit of her tension fled.
"I think dealing with her will help take away at least some of the stress of waiting for everything else to fall into place. We should go do it now so we'll be back in time for the furniture delivery."
"Yeah," she agreed again. "Let's go before I change my mind."
Logan pulled his keys out of his pocket. "You wanna drive?"
"Bad idea. I might wreck it daydreaming about revenge."
Rogue shivered slightly as Logan's hands traveled down her body to rest on her hips. He gave them a light squeeze before making a request.
"Can we take your bike?"
She nodded and pulled the appropriate key from the pocket of her jeans, dropping it into his large palm. A second later, Logan was pulling her out of Darkholme and to where her Harley was parked. What seemed like a mere moment after that, they were roaring down the street in the direction of Emma's house. Rogue knew Logan had gleaned the directions from her mind through their connection, allowing her to avoid having to think about it.
Now she could concentrate on how best to make Emma pay for the lies and false hope. From all the time she'd spent working with the older woman, Rogue knew Emma's biggest fear was a loss of control of the telepathic portion of her powers. It was a common fear among telepaths based on what she'd learned during her time among the Hellfire Club as well as having had two of them in her head. And it made sense. No one liked having their minds messed with, their free will stripped away, and loss of a telepath's control inevitably led to panicked discovery by those around them.
Though there were some mutants who went public with their abilities, telepaths rarely did. Even Jean, who had been in the public eye as a doctor specializing in mutant genetics, had never revealed herself to further the cause. Neither had Xavier, despite his lofty goal of human-mutant equality, acceptance and peace.
It struck Rogue that using someone's fear against them was exactly what her parents would do, but she pushed the negative connotations of that thought aside. There was a reason to do so, after all: it worked. And really, wasn't that what fighting was? Finding your opponent's weak point and exploiting it so you came out the victor?
The Logan in her head grunted agreement as Erik soothed, Of course, my dear.
As they approached Emma's house, Rogue put up every mindblock she had. It wouldn't accomplish anything to let the White Queen know she was coming. And that she was beyond angry. She was thankful that Logan was safe from Emma's power as well. Emma was strong, but she was no Xavier.
Rogue, on the other hand, had his potential. And she was going to remind Emma Frost of that fact.
To be continued…