Back in the Day: The Legend of Logan's Kin
Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and other suggestive parts; I will warn beforehand
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or lyrics of any songs I place in my story, although I do wish I did.
A/N: This is not really a chapter, per se. It's more of a little, much-needed passage between chapters. Thank you for your reviews, your favorites, your follows. I love you all. Enjoy.
Christmas Day, 1877
The snow had begun to fall. The streets were lined with wreaths and draped in holly, a sure sign that the holidays had finally arrived. There would be a great deal of festivities, the number of lights rivaling that of the stars; the season and its message of hope giving the people cause to celebrate but leaving Remy reeling in its expectancy, its delighted happiness, when all he could see was another harsh winter ahead of him.
Few carolers had gathered in the street, sharing good tidings of great joy in song. Remy LeBeau watched from afar, taking a pull of his cigarette and allowing it burn between his fingers. Another time, he might have joined in; he knew the lyrics by heart, of course. But he turned the corner instead and could hardly keep from shaking. The cold, he blamed it immediately; struggling, then frustrated, he yanked his trench coat tighter about him. The devil, he regretted to say, had returned to the city once more.
Christmas day found him in the local saloon, playing his hand and losing nearly everything before he turned down his cards and bought himself a fourth glass of whiskey. Of course he blamed the drink, or maybe he didn't really care to win anyway.
The girl was pretty, perhaps. She sat down in his lap before he had a chance to ask. No, she was very pretty, he decided with a nod at his whiskey. But she was more than that. Certainly, she could touch.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. LeBeau," she offered cordially, one arm draped over his shoulder, the other tugging at the lapel of his trench coat. It had been such a long time, having someone so near once more. He reached out and put her hair behind her ear, knowing full well that wisp of white was not there.
"Merry Christmas t' y' too," he muttered under his breath. And then he suddenly got to his feet, causing the girl to fall over in surprise. She cursed him, calling him names, but he paid her no mind and replaced his Stetson on his head. She wasn't what he came here for, anyway. Pulling the trench coat tighter in anticipation of the cold December air, he made his way out the back door. He would not risk getting thrown out if he could simply walk away unscathed.
Outside, the snow continued to fall in a winter gloom. But Remy was not yet finished. He wandered around the corral behind the saloon, keeping a careful eye for those who might holler "thief!" and at the same time deliberated, half-drunk, which horse best suited him tonight. She wouldn't like seeing him like this: up to his old antics, stealing horses and giving the police a run for their money. But she had liked him that way, too. It was at that moment the wretched spinning in his head began, and Remy wrenched his eyes shut, if only to stunt the growing pain pulsing in his temple. He must stop thinking of her. He must move on.
When he settled on the chestnut mare eyeing him cautiously, she did not whine when he led her away. Surely she did not mind his company for the evening, but Remy could only presume such things.
He made out like a thief in the night. The snow fell faster the longer the night stretched.
You see her when you close your eyes,
Maybe one day you'll understand why
everything you touch only dies. (1)
He had not returned to Paul's since the night she left, but he had not completely left it either. That Christmas night he kept watch, taking the horse around the house, peering into its emptiness through its dirty windowsills. She had not returned, but she had not completely left it either. The coat she bought in town hung limp near the fireplace, the chicory coffee sat alone on the kitchen table waiting to be used. His hand went to his pocket searching for a cigarette, but came up with her pair of gloves instead. Remy sat staring at them like a dumbfounded fool. What would she think of him now, perched atop a stolen horse, waiting for something—anything to happen? She had made sure he would always feel her absence.
He did not expect her to return— and why should she? But how did she manage, and where was she now? No coat, no means of getting around, not a penny to her name. God knows he had searched, how he tried to find her in the dead of night and the entire day after. But unlike Kitty, she would not be found on the front porch, wanting to apologize for leaving. No, the Rogue had done gathered her senses and left for good. And he knew that there was no use in staying, there was nothing left for him here, but he couldn't find it in him to leave just yet. Maybe he wanted to end the chase, barricaded and useless like John Wilkes Booth before he was shot up in a last stand with the police; maybe he felt Magneto could tear him to pieces before the year was up. But mostly, he saw now—much too late—how he was with Rogue. He had had a purpose, and though it was a daft, utterly unfair and cowardly purpose, he had meant something to her. But she since had gone and took that with her, and he couldn't blame her for it.
Or maybe it was because he had seen how much she loved him, even when she was faced with the truth and could not yet accept it; how desperately she had wanted to believe him. And how, even now, he could not return any of it.
Remy inhaled sharply, blinking back tears as his hands grasped her gloves tighter. He'd take it all back if he could, if only he could. Merry Christmas, Rogue. He should not have felt ashamed of being seen, for he had never felt so lonely in his life. Wherever you are.
You only need the light when it's burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know your lover when you let her go,
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low,
Only hate the road when you're missing home,
Only know your lover when you let her go.
And you let her go. (1)
Rogue was furious, watching Belladonna stroke the bed sheets which she and Remy shared, feeling violated by the murderer's latest intrusion. But Belladonna chose not to mind; she lifted her gaze briefly, a sly shift of her knowing eyes in Rogue's general direction.
"Before y' jump t' conclusions, as I know y' surely have," she pointed out, reaching behind her, "I want y' t' know I am willing to let y' live—"
Rogue scoffed at that. "Yah mean lahke the last time we met?"
"Thet—I don't want t' talk about thet," the assassin snapped, looking genuinely offended. "But since y' mentioned it, if I wanted y' dead, y'd already be gone a coon's age ago."
Rogue set her teeth. "Why have yah come, then?" she demanded as evenly as she could manage.
Belladonna shrugged her elegant shoulders. "Many reasons, 'course. But all t'ings will come in due time, I suppose. Dis, I think, is long overdue." Rogue watched as Belladonna revealed a pile of papers hastily compiled, the first page being that of Rogue's Wanted poster.
"What is this?" Rogue rasped breathlessly, staring at her picture and then glaring at the assassin before her.
Belladonna was unruffled by her tone. "What should have been given t' y' from de very beginning."
"Ah don't understand." Rogue did not pick up the papers, something that seemed to irk Belladonna to no end.
"Well, go on. Have a look at his telling of y'."
Rogue was caught off-guard. "His?"
Belladonna rolled her eyes impatiently. "Don't tell me he's never admitted the reason he's gone along with someone like you." When Rogue did not answer, Belladonna spat, "But of course he wouldn't. Not when it risked losin' everythin' he's worked so hard t' create."
Rogue swallowed hard. The assassin seemed satisfied knowing she had hit a chord.
"Ah don't believe yah! How can yah accuse Remy of such?"
"Really, because y' think he's not capable of doin' such a t'ing?" Belladonna shook her head, looking pained with her reaction. "Y' cain't truly believe he's helped y' simply because he wanted t' help. Not when being with y' meant a steady paycheck as long as he kept y' along. It was only a job t' him. He had to help, y' see."
He was being paid to stay with her? Rogue's head reeled with such a ridiculous accusation. But she reminded herself whom this was all coming from and forced herself to face the assassin who seemed so confident in what she had revealed.
"He never loved you," Rogue began to reason out, "Yah're angry with him—"
But her visitor only scoffed. "Oh, and he loves y', is dat it? Is dat what I'm supposed t' believe?"
Rogue said, "It don't matter what yah believe. Ah believe it."
Belladonna just laughed. "Oh, thet's rich, it is! Remy loves a femme who cain't touch, who hasn't got anythin' he really wants. But please, don't take m' word f' it. Y' know how t' get de truth, don't y'? Isn't thet de point of y' powers anyway?"
Rogue could hardly contain her fury. "How dare yah assume yah know how mah powers work!"
Belladonna sighed, as though saddened by her reaction. "Catin, I don't assume." She nodded towards the papers sitting between them. "It's all there. I learned it from him." The woman suddenly stood, straightening her purple cloak about her shoulders. "Mais. I believe I've overstayed my welcome."
"Ah hardly think yah being here a courtesy," Rogue shot back.
Belladonna ignored that, pulling on her gloves as she walked to the door. "I'll show myself out." And she turned to Rogue, her blue eyes gazing at her with steady intent. "Y' should know I've only come tonight so that y' might see him for what he really is. He cannot be this selfish, t' let y' on this long. Take it from someone who knows him. Remy LeBeau cannot be trusted." She paused for a moment as her hand went to the gun at her hip. "They say you shouldn't carry it unless you're willing to shoot. With Remy LeBeau alive, I'll never go without it."
. . .
And Rogue thought, how dare she. Watching Belladonna walk out that door like she owned the place. Telling me how to think, how to feel, when I know what he means to me. But that didn't mean a damn thing, now did it? Because she sure didn't know what she meant to Remy.
The front door clicked shut. It was a long time before Rogue felt it safe to move. That pile of papers Belladonna left at the foot of the bed, standing out like a sore thumb in the middle of the room. Rogue could see her wanted poster staring back at her like some malicious jest set to destroy her.
What am I doing? Surely she would not take advice from someone who had tried to kill her. But it was like a pull of curiosity mingled with entitled honesty that kept her reading, page after page, the horror of her tragedy replayed in every word written, every picture placed. The dreaded memories all came back, rushing like angry waves anxious to lose her at sea: Cody, Logan, the officer with a family, the assassins. Everything she had said in confidence to Remy was recorded, reported: her friendship with Logan the "Legend," the inability to touch without first doing harm, McCoy's account of her miraculous recovery from a fatal gunshot wound. He traded her secrets for gold. And through it all, he referred to her simply as a mutant. Remy wrote her so powerful that no man was match for her touch of death, which was not a hard thing to sell, considering her history.
Rogue suddenly felt her head so heavy with conflicted conviction, struggling to comprehend the horrible truth that all this time she had been made to believe herself safe in his company. The thought of Nightcrawler twisted her insides into knots, so very aware that he was her latest victim. Remy had influenced her, that was certain. He only wanted to learn more of her ability. But no—she must not give up on him so easily. What if she could touch? What did he mean by that, if he was not curious of even the smallest possibility that they could be together? Surely he could explain; there must be something else that kept him on. There had to be. She couldn't be just a mutant to him, as he had documented in this report. In the very least, he owed her the truth. And she knew how to get it.
Her green dress was given as a sort of parting gift from Kitty Pryde. How far away it all seemed, Kentucky and Piotr and how Remy had annoyed her to no end. When did it all change? Rogue could not remember. She had nothing else—material or otherwise—which she regarded as her own. Quietly, she took off her gloves and her dress and rent the sleeves and neckline until there was but a bodice and a skirt. Hurriedly, she pulled on what was left of the gown, leaving the gloves lying beside her on the bed. Had he meant to protect her or protect himself with those gloves? She would stay, she decided, if only to hear it from the only one who mattered.
Rogue sat shivering in her torn dress as time slipped away and the light waned, until she heard Remy call for her before he tore through the front door and it banged against the wall, the sound reverberating through the empty house and in the very marrow of her bones.
"Rogue!" His cry knocked her to her senses and her heart throbbed in response.
Belladonna could not do without her gun, but Rogue knew she could do far worse without one. She was ready for him.
Remy was breathless, careening up the stairs, adrenaline pushing him forward, bent only on finding her. "Rogue!" His voice burst from deep inside him, senseless almost, as he found his footing and paused at the top the staircase. A slight sliver of fear traced itself into his heart; suddenly, he was not quite ready to face the possibility that she might have been taken from him already.
The boards creaked and he turned to see her, the lamplight guiding her path through the darkened hallway.
"Rogue," he said again, the relief swelling his throat at the sight of her standing in the shadows. She was here; she was still here. He reminded himself to breathe.
Remy took a step in her direction, wanting—needing to take her in his arms. They should leave at once, of course; he could not risk losing her again. But he noticed her hesitation when she never before thought twice to go to him. Then he saw it: Rogue's dress in tatters, her skin bared and glowing against the faint flame she carried. Something was not right. Never before had she been so exposed, never on purpose.
"What's happened?" He finally asked her, the words slow in coming as he watched her from a cautious distance. She was carrying something in her arms. A pile of papers. Remy recognized her Wanted poster staring up at him from between her hands. How did she come by it? His fear returned, warping rapidly into dread. He should have known better, the moment he recognized that damning piece of evidence he himself had compiled. But by then it was too late: he knew she was already lost.
Rogue said very calmly, "Logan's alive." Remy felt his heart skip a beat as her eyes met his. "But yah knew that. Even when Ah didn't, yah knew."
He risked a step forward, feeling her slip away the closer he came. "I was gonna t' tell y'…I wanted t' tell y' everythin'…"
"Tell me?" Mistrust clouded the brightness of her eyes. Vaguely, he realized she finally saw him for what he truly was and knew nothing would be the same between them. "It's true, then."
This wasn't how it was supposed to go. But for the life of him, Remy didn't know how to make it right again.
She had seen the papers. She had read every single line, every page branding her a mutant and him a coward, further proving him a scoundrel. But he saw that she held them hard against her, if only to salvage what was rapidly collapsing between them.
She shook her head, struggling not to cry. "What am Ah tah yah?" She gasped, her voice quivering.
Remy LeBeau, a man who built a life always ready for what may come, hadn't expected this. He saw in her face how much his response would matter. Was she just a mutie he wanted to catch? Bribe her with friendship for a trip up North while pretending he was the kind of person to care? Nothing could hurt her more than his own doing.
But Rogue did not wait for an answer. Anything spoken might as well be another lie. She set down her lamp and approached him, letting her arms fall to her sides. The pages fluttered in a heavy, chaotic cascade to the floor as she stepped into the space between them. And the details would haunt him, his mind torn between every attempt to remember, to forget: her skin so white against the dark green of her dress, the curve of her neck and line of her jaw and the sound of her boots clacking on the wooden floor in a steady, even tempo. Her eyes were glazed, hair pulled back except for that curious slant of bleached hair dangling limp across her face. It frightened him, how real she became—as if there were only the two of them who existed in the world at that moment.
And then he saw her hands—those gentle, capable hands that he had held so confidently wrapped in their leather—saw them reach out to him. She wanted to take his face in her hands. Her bare hands. What if you could touch? And for a long moment, he wanted her to do it.
Her eyes were pleading with him: I want to believe you. Make me believe you.
What he would give if only he could.
But what she would absorb, and how could he bear it, knowing she would see it all: his betrayal and scheming, their whole relationship built on a lie. In that moment, she was asking for the moon. And he just couldn't do it.
The next minute, Remy backed away from her reach, trying to avoid her gaze. There was no use in pretending; they were as sure as strangers since the day they first met.
"Rogue," he whispered warily, and he abruptly realized something truly stunning and saddening all at once: he had never even learned her real name. Remy tried searching back into the farthest reaches of his mind, but his heart was racing because he knew he was doing more harm than good, and suddenly she was gone, fleeing down the stairs past him, her ruined dress flying out behind her.
Racing after her, cursing himself for not wearing gloves, Remy was running and shedding his coat, and just as she cleared the front door, he threw it over her, wrapping her in it as she struggled desperately against his hold. "Rogue, please…!" But her resolve was stronger and he could barely keep her strapped in his trench coat for long.
"No!" She cried out, and it tore him apart, how much she wanted to leave him. "They all were right about yah—every single one of them, and Ah believed yah—! Ah never meant anythin' tah yah. Nothin' but a damn mutant!" She threw that last word like a slap across his face. Remy recoiled and loosened his grip; he did the wrong thing and she was able to push away, breaking free of his hold, and then bampf! She was gone before he knew what had happened, replaced by foul smoke and an empty trench coat and little else to tell him where she went.
You've made your decision
Now get up and leave.
A familiar sting of the woodcutter's swing to the tree.
I'll fall in the forest to elbows and knees
And it won't make a sound
Since there's no one around here to see. (2)
Rogue gasped. The cold night air tore into her lungs, the painful heave temporarily lifting her from the fog of what had just occurred. She did not know how she had done it, or that she even remembered she could use that Nightcrawler's powers until she was standing in the snow, looking out across the sleeping, silent town. Rogue could not go back. She could almost hear Remy calling for her, frantic and oblivious to her proximity as she stood shivering in her thin, tattered skirt unable to go or stay or move at all.
Rogue reached deeper into those memories that did not belong to her and quickly reappeared in someone else's bed. The acrid smoke lingered and she coughed into her hands until she could breathe normally again. She lit upon a blanket and wrapped it around her bare arms, shivering as the tears slid down her face. She couldn't quit crying. The sobbing surprised her, how hard she wept in her fury, her remorse, that cruel last look of him as he begged her to stay with him carved in her memory like a deep cut meant to scar. She cried because she hated him, because she wanted him to hurt as much as she did, but mostly because she loved him; even now, she just loved him so much.
It didn't take long for Remy to realize he was no longer alone, paying vigil to an empty house or a girl he no longer knew. The cold wind whistled in his ears, the snow falling steady and fast. Remy got down from the horse and put away Rogue's gloves. If the damned assassins had finally come to do him in, he might as well give them a good fight. He charged a card and allowed it to glow brightly between his fingers as he stared hard into the bitter, endless darkness.
And then, it pounced. Remy saw the shadow of a man and knew he was found. He threw the card blindly, knocking down a nearby tree, hoping at least for a distraction as he scrambled away. His hand came up with another card, but by then Remy had reached the back porch of Paul's. He had hoped to face his attacker with the safety of the house behind him, but that was futile as Remy threw the card and the force of the explosion sent him backwards through the door. His shoulder hit the wooden boards hard and the pain kept him down—he could not will his body to get away.
And then he heard it: Sinkt! The sound alarmed Remy all to pieces. It was like knives tearing through flesh, reared just for him. Some expletive tore out of his mouth; Remy rolled away just as the fist came down hard and fast. His body suddenly burst from the ground in a blustery panic, trying to escape with his life through the dark, unfamiliar house. The snarling, the roar of anger rising behind him. Logan. It had to be the Legend, tearing up the stairs, burning through the doors like a force to be reckoned. Remy felt the grab before the pull; the fingers lifting him effortlessly off the ground. He dangled, all his weight suddenly dependent on Logan's hold, the horror becoming all too real as Remy was flipped around and forced to face his fate.
Logan bent his face forward, his scowl obscuring his features. Remy barely made out the battered cowboy hat sliding menacingly over his eyes, half-wondering if this would be the last thing he would ever witness alive.
"Now," the Legend sneered, the glint in his eyes as cold as the claws in his hands, "you answer to me."
(1) Passenger. Let Her Go.
(2) Dry the River. Weights and Measures.
I was prepared to love you, and never expect anything of you. I give these two songs full credit for helping me write this piece. To be honest, I had thought it would be easy to write this part because I've envisioned it for awhile now. Only when I finally got to it did it suddenly become so difficult, seeing as there was so much to get across. So I hoped it sufficed. And Logan's back! I can only tell you how excited I am to write him in again...
Up Next: How they get on without each other.