A/N: this fic includes two character deaths, and one suicide, as well as heavy talk of God. Inspired, oddly, by another fanfic.
It's been three months since her death.
Since then, I've thrown myself into my work with the X-Men, but my heart isn't in the labor. I merely distract myself as much as possible and as long as possible during my waking hours.
At night, there is no defense from the nightmares.
I hold her in my arms as she dies. We're alone, in the field where we crashed. She's bleeding everywhere . . . so much blood. It's on her face, and my clothes, and I touch her and it's on my fingers. Shrapnel from the plane is embedded in her abdomen, at least seven pieces I can see and probably more I can't distinguish through her layers of clothes.
She suffered trauma to the head, near her brain stem. When I kissed her before, when she was still unconscious, she didn't absorb me . . . she must have hit the part of her brain that controls her mutation.
She's crying just from watching me crying. Her spine has another metal plate through it, I doubt she can feel anything at all in her body. She slowly bleeds out and she tells me over and over, "I love you, I love you, I love you, don't let go just yet. Stay with me. But when I go, please don't follow, not just yet.
"It's not your time, my love, my darling," she smiles through anguish.
I'm a grown man, but I've burst into harsher sobs, tears not just welling in my eyes but making clear tracks down through the grime on my face. "Rogue, don't leave me. Don't leave me all alone."
"You're not going to be alone, love. You'll have the X-Men."
"They're not you, my Rogue, my Marie, my heart. I love you, Rogue, don't leave me yet."
"I love you too," she smiles, green eyes reddened through by her own crying. "I love you always and forever."
"I'll never stop loving you, Marie. Why do you have to go?" My last question was directed more to God than her.
"Pray for me. I love you, Remy."
It's been three months since her death.
Remy "Gambit" LeBeau has thrown himself in his work, as if dying from exhaustion was the only way to cope with his grief. The professor made him take a week off, but he just spent every moment in the gym or Danger Room.
When I say every moment, I mean it. He never eats and rarely sleeps, and the whole mansion can hear him scream when he does.
It was already too late for Rogue when we arrived on the scene of the crash. She had died some minutes before, but Gambit was still clinging to her like she was the only thing keeping him alive. He was still crying from grief, screaming to God not to take his beloved.
She was the only reason he had been allowed a second chance, after Logan had discovered his . . . previous occupation. She had probably secretly admired him, at least, from the moment he arrived. I think she fell in love with him when he told us the whole truth – from his days on the streets of New Orleans all the way to his banishment from his home city and his contract with Sinister.
He fell for her long before that, but I remember the day and time exactly. It was early morning. She was in the medical lab, for injuries sustained on her last mission. She had been too late to save the boy from a mob of anti-mutant fanatics, but she had accidentally absorbed a tiny part of his mind.
Remy watched silently for a mere instant before comforting her. She told him that the boy was asking her where he was, and how he got there. She told him that she hadn't had the heart to tell him he was a manifestation of memory, and that his formerly living body was dead. She hadn't had the heart to tell this nine-year-old, poverty-stricken, physical mutant that he was dead because he had been born with white fur and a tail.
Remy told her what I myself could not find the words to say.
"Dat shows how much heart y' have, cheré, dat y' don' want a chil' t' feel de pain y' feel for 'im."
He smiled at me as she left, slowly accepting her failure with her usual silence.
"Y'know what, Hank?"
"I t'ink I'm in love wit' dat femme."
It has been three months and one week since the death of Rogue. She was one of my favorite pupils, always eager to learn and slow to interrupt. She would read quietly in the Institute's library for hours, hardly moving but to turn the page.
Though I have lost X-Men in the past, her death resonates. She refuses to be pushed to the back of my mind, because she has had to push so many to the back of hers.
This troubled hitchhiker my staff and I took in, a paltry handful of years ago, has wormed her way into a deep part of my heart. I find myself not wanting her to leave. I want to remember, because Rogue was a truly good person.
Some of my students have been on the edge of the line – more than I'd like to admit, actually. But Rogue's only reaction to her mutation was a thorough self-hatred. She became involuntarily a Virgin Mary, and I don't think she ever complained, much less lashed out violently. She pulled into herself, instead, and though that path is just as harmful, it is infinitely more depressing, and considerably more rare.
Then again, everyone knew from the beginning that little Marie was a completely different sort of person. She saw the good in a bar-room brawler and a street-thief, and has managed to find it in herself to give sympathy to a man who nearly killed her to kill yet millions more.
I don't think even I have managed to sympathize with my old friend, Erik, but with Marie's patient explanations, I was beginning to see a point in her arguments. He had lived through one holocaust, one near-genocide of a race. He refused to allow it to occur again.
"His actions may have been inexcusable," she told me once, "but his motivation is based purely on love. He loves his people more than he has ever loved a person alone, man or woman. He tried to make humans see his side not because he hated them and wanted their fear, but because he loved mutantkind – all of mutantkind – and he wanted us to be safe and happy and to KNOW of love. He heard the stories the media didn't tell; the stories about mangled mutant children found by high ways and on play-grounds, even. He heard my story, too, though he didn't know it was me."
"Your story?" I asked. What had honestly happened to Marie that was so terrible, that I had never known, that had not been in her file or on her mind when I scanned it.
Her smile was sad. "After David woke up, he told my home-town what had happened. He didn't do it to be mean, he tried to be as reasonable as possible, he tried to calm down his parents when they screamed for me to be comatose for three weeks. He succeeded, at first.
"When I went back to school the next day, though, I could see everyone's eyes, following me as though I was about to rip out their throats in a fit of madness. Uncomfortably, I went through the rest of the day, enduring the glares and harsh words from teachers and students alike. I was on my way home, but I had to cross a gravel road. I knew there were about fifteen boys and girls following me, and I sped up slightly.
"They called out, shouting obscenities and names. I ignored them, trying to run faster. That was when the first one hit."
She swallowed, as though trying to rid herself of a bad taste. "Rock. The first rock." Another gulp. "My best friend, Liza Ellen, threw a rock straight at my head. The captain of the baseball team complimented her aim as he threw another, this one hitting me in the back of the neck. I turned, and they all came at once."
Rogue lapsed into silence, her eyes distant and cloudy.
"I came home bloody. Dad didn't notice. Mom didn't care. I packed my stuff and left for good, stopping by David's window briefly to say goodbye. He understood, but he was sad, I saw it in his eyes. Besides, his psyche told me."
Dear God, if anyone deserves salvation, it's that girl.
Three and a half months.
Three and a half months of a lot more bar-fights, and endless nights spent in a futile attempt to drown myself in liquor.
God damn all healing factors. Mine didn't work for Rogue, though she had reached the point where she would've been able to bring it up by the memory of me.
Why should it prevent me now from forgetting her death, from forgetting the awful stench of blood and burning? What god is this cruel?
Extra nightmares for Logan.
I finally pulled myself off the stool and headed for the mansion. It was three a.m., there was little chance of running into someone now.
But the moment I crossed the gate, I knew something was wrong. The smell . . . oh God. The smell of blood. I raced for the source, searching near-fruitlessly in the dark. Finally, I found it.
I listened very hard, very closely to his chest.
Five seconds. No heartbeat. Ten seconds. No heartbeat. Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, five whole minutes pass, and no heartbeat.
Finally I give up. He's dead as the proverbial doornail, but I can't even see who, he's so mangled.
I take the paper clenched in his hands, it's stained with tears.
"I can't take this anymore. I may go to hell, but at least there I can forget. I'm sorry, cheré. I tried to stay."
There was no signature, but I needed none. I knew who the dead man was now. And, now that I was hardly paying attention, I could smell bourbon, cigarettes, and spice beneath the blood.
A/N: Wow. That was REALLY depressing. I'm crying for the third time since I started writing this.