I: PRE-MISSION, PRE-ARGUMENT

They always had sex pre-mission. And the sex was sweet, sometimes slow, and he always smiled lazily down at her when he was done.

He seemed happy, almost grateful, and she wondered why he seemed this way before missions, of all things. She could understand a carpe-diem-type coupling, an anxious mindless fuck, but this…was easy familiarity and warm sharing. She didn't understand that, not when this was possibly the last time or the last time for a long time or the last peaceful time. But he didn't strive for meaningful or desperate – just…happy.

She let it happen, and she appreciated it, the feeling of being loved, of being totally in the moment. And of not thinking, Not THINKING, of the mission the next day, at least while he was touching her.

The sex also seemed to send him to sleep. Almost immediately. He'd smile happily, goofily, rub noses, smell her, them, and pillow himself on her stomach. Sometimes, he'd grin up at her gently one last time before burrowing in her chest, but he was always asleep within minutes, a deeper sleep than normal, one without nightmares.

He seemed at peace then, really only then, and she wouldn't begrudge him that. Not even if she didn't wholly understand it.

She didn't sleep before a mission, dozed on a good day, but she liked this time with him, his head lying on her breast, his hand curved round her waist. He was totally hers at that moment, in ways he never was during the day, and she was grateful she had this. This moment, these hours as she stroked his hair and felt him breathe: this was her peace.

She'd take it, she'd take him, even if it took a mission to get it.

They were raiding a lab, their first, their only. It was the same lab in Ohio that Rogue had investigated two years ago. Sometimes strange to remember that: because they'd learned so much more and tried so hard, in other ways, to fix that, expose that. But they were ready to fight now, strike now. Xavier was growing bolder.

The timing, yes, it looked political. The MRA, passed by the House, pending in the Senate, had provoked a few mealy civil liberties protests, a wary ambivalence in public opinion. The FoH was louder, though: 'Mutant menace,' 'We need to know what they know', 'Not with our children', etc. And crimes against mutants were rising, felt like the tide was turning.

Perhaps the political climate explained why their previous efforts had failed. They'd done some digging, tracked the careers of the head scientists, leaked information, leads to reporters. They'd gotten some muted reports out of it, mutterings, sly paragraphs on page 26B. Reporters were running scared, and the paper trail hadn't proved very effective: 'state secrets', 'executive privilege'.

When Xavier had found a former employee from the base, confirmed mutant experimentation, when their contacts had refused to publish such reports, and when the government looked prepared to move the base elsewhere, Xavier and the X-men had decided to act. It was their only confirmed base; it was their last chance.

There was an air of righteousness about it, too—a sense of making this right for the mutants they had known about for months now—they would be freeing them.

But this mission was going to be a dicey. They wanted to expose the labs but protect the prisoners, had to leak evidence but hide their own involvement. They had to kick up a lot of dust, remain spotless themselves.

Yeah. No tall order there.

Luckily, they knew this lab. They knew the combinations of codes to get in, the strength of the security team, the layout of the building. They knew the area, the land. And they were X-men and mutants. They had the element of surprise. But—yeah, no one was looking forward to this. Not really.

Three, and possibly four, mutants had been confirmed at this site as late as two months ago. A few humans in experiments, too, oddly enough. Three scientists/doctors, seven professional staff members, and about twenty rotating guards.

The plan was to go in at night, cut off communications, drop the four guards on duty, liberate the prisoners, and collect documentation. Later, pictures and documents (copies that didn't identify their mutant subjects) would be leaked to the press, along with the location of the lab.

Rogue had glanced penetratingly at Logan when the mission was in the planning stages—how was he with the whole 'experimentation' thing—but he seemed unaffected, and she pushed her worry away, knowing it pissed him off. But she was relieved, nevertheless, when she was assigned to his team.

Though, based on his look of smug satisfaction, that had been his doing. He'd always been rather protective of her—he'd never really gotten over the Magneto thing, she thought—and since they'd got together two years ago, he'd just gotten less gentle with it. Felt he could be more demanding, perhaps? Something. It was easing some now, had been really bad a year ago, when she'd gone on her first real mission. But it had settled into harsh commands, the occasional insufferable remark. She could take that, and she'd learned how far she could push back.

It was the way they worked, the way things went. She didn't question it. Because Logan could be generous and he could be sweet – if he was sometimes also uncommunicative and possessive, brusque and demanding, well…she'd take what she could get.

So, 'You're on my team, darlin',' he cocked a cute brow.

'That's right, so don't be trying any crazy shit with me,' she warned, and he smirked back. That's right. Protectiveness could go too far. And, she supposed, it went both ways.

Teams: To the east - Scott & Kitty, west - Rogue & Logan, and north - Storm & Remy. Jubes and Bobby were meeting them there off-site, in an unmarked van. It would transport them closer to the site, haul away the documentation after. Bobby had sulked initially, but it was pretty fleeting—he was older now. And he got to fly the jet over to the site, after they'd secured the compound. Xavier let him handle the 'very important' arrangements for securing van, asked Jubilee to surreptitiously oversee them.

Onboard the Blackbird: blank mission gazes, flopping heads in time with the jerky movements of the jet. Logan and Scott checked the equipment compulsively, eyes narrowed, thinking for the rest of them.

Scott started pacing, Remy and Storm murmuring; they must be close to landing. Logan, keen-eyed, grabbed her elbow, 'On me. Stay with me.' Like she needed the reminder, but his warning wasn't really about her.

She nodded dumbly, a little concerned: Logan was too intent this time, thinking too much, instead of playing to his usual animal instincts. And while that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, she had a suspicion it was because he didn't trust them here.

But the jet was landing, the crew was stirring. Easy touchdown, about ten miles from the compound, and a thickening quiet, as they surveyed the field, saw a flickering light – Jubilee and Bobby in the van. Logan disembarked, promptly ate his words by waving her back, as he and Scott set out alone to meet them. Covering for the team.

And really, gazing after the two of them, they were both leaders tonight. Co-commanders, really. It was apparent in the set of their shoulders, in the way they walked abreast, made room for the other. Jean's death had had the one positive effect of making the two of them into better leaders.

The van crawled over after a moment, Logan hanging a ride, and Jubes threw upon a door, 'All aboard,' she chimed. They clambered in. Bobby staying with the jet—Rogue mock-saluted him because he never saw the irony in that—Jubes' tuneless whistling as they settled in for a quiet, creeping ride.

It was pitch-black outside, felt too soon, when Jubes tore open the door, 'I'm kicking you out, guys.' Getting used to the darkness and testing the radios, one last check to the equipment. Storm, white-eyed already as she gathered the rain clouds, some atmospheric wind. Not too much: who wanted to get wet? And two guards walked a beat outside, every hour. No use if weather kept 'em inside.

The teams split up: Logan and Scott's round to the west and east, Storm's to the north and its entrance. The guards exited to the south. They weren't in any real danger from them. In fact, this mission wasn't that dangerous at all: unless they were caught. But taking the first two guards out before weather could block the satellites meant it had to be quiet. Doubly hard since they couldn't kill—sucked being the good guys. But the X-men were good.

And they didn't have to wait long.

The guards weren't good. She could hear the chatting drift east, instead of west towards Scott and Kitty. Logan's guarding hand, pushing her back against the wall, a sharp glance. Whatever. He needed her, and after the guards passed a step, they came from behind with a blow to the windpipe, injected a tranquilizing agent into the neck. Fast-acting, thank you, Dr. Hank, and the guards fell, she and Logan dragging their prone bodies into the shadows after them. She got a grunt from Logan: high praise.

So, that part was done, just two more inside. Logan's low murmur over the radio, hearing Scott's assent. Storm taking this opportunity to destroy the largest satellite now—lucky strike—crack of lightning, loud rumble of thunder. Too suspicious to take out every satellite, but Storm was making it look good, having fun with a bit more lightning in their neighborhood. Scott and Kitty trotted towards the south entrance to try their luck with the codes.

'Something's wrong,' Logan peering from his crouch, pushing her back. 'They're not gettin' in.' And only moments later, she heard light footfalls, jogging steps, and Scott and Kitty came round to them, squatted in the shadows beside them.

'Codes don't work,' Scott informed them. 'Must have changed them.'

'Shouldn'ta drugged 'em,' Logan kicked one of the guards, as though to determine whether persuasion might wake them up.

Slight glitch in the plan.

'I'll touch one,' Rogue offered, low.

No,' he grabbed her arm roughly. 'Not until we've tried something else.'

And—well, she agreed. Never a pleasant thing to do, and she'd be useless to them afterwards. But if they wasted too much time, it might come to that. The guards would be missed.

Kitty appeared, face too white, 'Let me go. I can get in.'

'Fine,' Logan affirmed, insultingly quickly, getting a quick nod of assent from Scott. So, fine, yeah, maybe she was being a baby about this?—but her way could get them all in, didn't put one person at risk, guaranteed not to set off alarms. And what were the odds Logan would let her go in by herself—but, sure, fine for Kitty.

OK, yeah, had she had those thoughts, that would totally make her a baby. 'Careful,' she winked a goodbye to Kitty, because not mad at her, certainly. Kitty winked back, tripped through the shadows, gone.

Rogue did roll her eyes when Logan took off with Scott to scope out the other exit, leaving her there on the south side with—that's right, nothing. They dragged off the fallen guards, even.

Then silence her end. Fifteen long minutes. Leg falling asleep. Something was happening—storm picking up. Within seconds, she was drenched. Baleful look to the skies. Fucking Storm only had good aim with the lightning.

Then a loud clank, Rogue tensed, stream of light came falling out of the building, and 'Rogue,' a loud call from the door. Jesus, they would scare her like that. 'Get in here,' Logan demanded impatiently.

'Oh, did I keep YOU waiting?' she panted out as she sprinted past him. He was not in the mood. She flipped her hair, droplets of water to the ground. 'So—secured?' This was anticlimactic. For her.

He ignored her, clomping down the narrow hall. She flapped off most of the water, trailed after.

'C'mon, we gotta get 'em out.' She loved how much a part of this she was.

But as he went into the wings, she was hit with a faint sense of dejá vu, grabbed his shirt. 'Wait—this is the wrong way. It's down a floor.'

'We found 'em up here,' he tugged, seemed to register her frown, though. 'Ya sure?'

'Yeah. Someone's down there. Or was.'

He eyed the corridor, eyed her narrowly. He pinched the transmitter, informed Scott of where they were going. Aw, that was love—or, you know, whatever they had. She could tell he didn't quite believe her.

'C'mon. Follow me,' she darted past, before he could change his mind. Down the grated stairs, to a smaller, darker hallway, lit only by emergency lights. Yeah, all eerily familiar. Got to the door with the vault-like wheel, subtle keypad to the side, tried to remember for a second.

'You don't know the codes,' he gruffed. 'We'll have to get Scott.' Well, she was glad, at least, he wasn't setting to rip through the door himself with his big manly claws. The hinges weren't even on this side, steel must be inches thick but…

Vague memory—she popped in a few numbers—Keycode incorrect Keycode incorrect. She was a little nervous. Was there an automatic lockdown after a certain number of consecutive guesses? Keycode incorrect. And maybe the codes inside had changed as well. But—fourth try was a charm. Heavy clicks, large thuds.

'I'm useful for somethin',' she told him, and he swung open the door.

He wouldn't let her go first here, kept shoving her behind. And these were—these were the labs here. Straps, chairs, computers, devices. Eerie lights, squeaky tile, and the strong smell of Lysol. This was cleaner, brighter than the labs Logan had been in, but she wasn't sure that was better for him.

They entered a smaller room—and she knew, off to the right, murmured to him. Large, grey door, small reinforced window, and very dark inside. Couldn't see. But she could smell: something living and unwashed. And she was glad she hadn't Logan's senses—pretty godawful just for her.

'In there,' he murmured. 'Ya know the code?' She didn't, not to this one. He examined the door, popped a claw, and the Logan she was used to for missions, he was back, pacing slightly, sniffing, animalistic movements. She edged away, gave him space.

'They're not movin'. Only one, but I want you to stay the HELL away,' he shoved her back. 'Get out your weapon. I'm cuttin' the bolt.' At least it wasn't a vault this time.

It was a shrill noise, then a bang as he kicked the door open, too loud, empty echo, and she stayed crouched there for a moment, until she was sure the inmate wasn't leaping out. But she wanted to make sure the Wolverine didn't claw 'em to death, either.

'Logan?' she clambered up to the doorway, weapon still drawn. Couldn't see a blessed thing.

'Drugged,' he croaked, almost unrecognizably. Like terribly upset animal-Logan, not enraged. Wounded?

'Ok,' she answered when she got nothing more, shifting uncomfortably in her crouch. And nothing—no other sound. 'I'm getting a light.' Rummaging to find one. Click—light.

An instant tableau, Logan still and kneeling over a small cot, the bare outline of concrete walls, grate, toilet in the corner. 'Logan?' she pressed, stepping forward cautiously.

He was unresponsive, almost struck, and she darted a more quizzical glance round, padded up behind him. What kind of condition must the prisoner be in to provoke this kind of reaction? Not dead, he'd said—drugged? The prisoner, and seeking out the face, she realized, she recognized…it was Jean.

Jean. Really Jean, breathing and not dead. Alive after all this—three years. And the images hit her, of Alkali Lake, of the diluvial waters rushing up, Rogue petrified and helpless and stupidly not knowing how to fly the jet, Pyro gone and Logan—Jean saving all of them and the waters pounding down on top of her, Scott's anguish and the pained silence as they—all rushing back. Jean, alive, after all this time. She-she was…

She'd been tortured, shit. Had she been here for three years? Suddenly her condition, her state of health seemed of primary importance, and Rogue reached forward, sought to ascertain—

Growl, fierce, and flash of teeth—woah! Logan wouldn't let her near.

Shit. This must be…must be something for him…you know, too.

She backed off, shakily noting the way his hands were running over Jean now, her face, body, arms, and legs, and he was wound, very wound up.

'How is she?'

He didn't respond, still the restless exploration, cupping, feverish, and he'd—well, obviously he'd loved her, she couldn't help but remember that, too.

She couldn't look away—shock, his hands on Jean—and it felt wrong, she felt wrong, that she couldn't. She was drawn forward, with no clear idea why, just wanting to be closer suddenly, wanting him to see her, to notice her. RIGHT HERE. Until he rounded on her, snarled. The claws out—snikt—FROZE. Yellow eyes, Wolverine.

'Ok, ok,' she placated, just as gingerly backing up, and he watched her with those glowing, dead eyes the whole time, a snarl, sneer—God, Logan. But she wasn't truly terrified until he suddenly snapped his teeth and lunged forward, claws out, and—shit! skin ON—she was chased into the far corner. He backed off then, eyeing her warily, sniffing, the occasional growl in her direction, and pacing the room now, cutting off both Jean and the door. Guarding Jean, in fact. She was just going to stay here, then.

Well…

What the—what did she do now?

'Logan?' Only, of course, he didn't look like Logan. Shit. She wasn't going to cry, not at all. He threw her some darted glances, still agitated, a growing confusion. Maybe she could capitalize on that. 'Logan. I need to know how she is. I need you to tell me how she is.' His pacing was slowing, head cocked to her. She gestured but made no other move. 'Can you tell me if she's alright? Jean.' Maybe he understood?

On his next pass, he slowed somewhat by the cot, those yellow eyes fastening on hers, and she urged him on—the claws went in, and he laid a soft hand on Jean's shoulder. 'That's right,' she encouraged, while he regarded her with that same steady look. 'Good, Logan. How is she?' He turned slightly to Jean, was beginning to move in a less predatory manner when—

ONK ONK ONK

Logan jerked up at the sound of the alarms, and he roared, sprang away, crazy hands to his head against the sound, swinging, and fine, that was just FINE, when she was just getting him back and she was pretty sure alarms weren't good, just in general.

'Logan, give me the radio,' she yelled over the insane shriek of the alarms, of him. Even drugged, how could Jean still be unconscious for this? And he looked manic, swinging his arms, and fuck, he could skewer her and she would suck the hell out of him for all she cared. They could die down here together.

She heard the squawk from the box at his chest, something unintelligible garbling, and she darted in, firmly blocking his waving arms, grabbed the mike away. Phew! He staggered back, gave another impotent roar, and started pacing tightly and semi-cowering in her corner. Good, role reversal could be a bitch, but she was all for the sane one being in charge.

'Scott?' she called, strained and high as she eyed Logan, confined but still crazy in his corner, and over her shoulder, the comatose Jean. 'You wanna tell me what's going on?'

'Rogue. Just a second, Rogue.' And that 'second' seemed interminable, with the ear-splitting alarms and Jean and Logan and her grimly breathing, waiting with the transmitter held high and tight. After a few minutes, the alarms turned off abruptly, and Wolverine's rasps, low growls and tread could again be heard. And the smell. Don't forget the smell.

She tapped the transmitter impatiently. 'Rogue,' the scratchy voice again. 'The alarms went off.'

'Did they?'

She could almost hear the smile in Scott's voice, though he was still all business. 'We cleared the sky to land the jet out front, but the document room was wired. Signal got through by satellite.'

'Which means we have how long?' Logan still pacing.

'Twenty minutes for local. An hour for military.' Checking her watch. Fine.

Well. But face-to-face with a disturbed, territorial Logan, looking over her shoulder at Jean—fuck, this wasn't going to work.

'Rogue, ten minutes. Did you find anything?'

'Yes, we found a prisoner.' She needed back-up, though; they needed back-up. Because she couldn't move Jean with Wolverine here, and…they might have to take out Logan, as well.

She refused to feel guilty when he was fucking crazy.

So backup: who? Gotta be strong—Logan was heavy. Was it—was it wrong, ok, if it was Scott? Logan respected him, at least. Really had a thing against Remy. Maybe Bobby? No, seriously. And with Jean, too…Was it wrong if it wasn't Scott? Just where should her loyalties lie? Dammit! This was a mission. Who needed pesky ethical dilemmas now?

Fuck, Scott was either the best choice or the worst…and wasn't there a part of her that was very interested in which it was? Staring at Wolverine, his agitated pacing still. 'Scott, the prisoner is Jean. We found Jean.'

Silence. Then the very careful, 'Jean?'

'Scott, get down here now.' And she was pretty sure she didn't have to tell him twice.

It wasn't long, and Wolverine heard/smelled him before she did, jerking still from his pacing, and without turning, she called out, 'In here. Wolverine, too.' And she held up a palm, bracing, because if she needed to take him out, she was going for the face. Scott didn't heal after.

She was murmuring low words and phrases to Wolverine, no clear idea what she was saying, but in the general persuasion of no one dying today and staying in this goddamn corner, Scott on his way. Wolverine's gaze swiveled, shrewd, knowing animal eyes; she didn't turn. Just…'Hey, Scott,' she couldn't hide the relief in her voice there, and the strain. 'Careful now; it's Wolverine.'

It was a still moment, Wolverine's depthless glare, his nostrils flared, but silence. And something passed between the two; she wasn't sure, she could only see Logan, but after a few moments, Scott crossed behind her to Jean, turned his back to kneel over her, and she knew they'd be okay. No one was going to die, at least.

But she'd failed to imagine how uncomfortable it would feel, standing there guarding Wolverine. She could hear Scott's soft reunion, her back giving him a false privacy, feeling the shock anew, and watching Wolverine watch them with those flashing yellow eyes.

Scott might be crying. But it was quiet. And going on far too long. 'Scott,' her voice was harsh, 'is she ok to be moved?' So, fine, she'd be the bitch. Someone had to.

She risked a glance over her shoulder, saw Scott was running hands over Jean, more slowly, deliberately than…from the corner of her eyes a flash, and she straightened, found Wolverine a step closer. 'NO!' she tapped his chest swiftly, and, surprisingly, he backed up, looking piteous, anxious, denied. How did she get in this position?

They needed to get out of here. 'Scott, what's the verdict? Can she be moved?'

'I think so, yes.' It was paler than usual for Scott, but he was pulling himself together.

'Carry her then,' and she heard the rustlings of what must have been that, and Logan's gaze began to dart around in concern, he gave a small whine, pressed against her palm, testing. 'I'm sorry,' she told him, and his eyes locked on hers, like an animal denied but trying to understand. She wished she could tell him better. 'I'm sorry. No,' firmly pushing him back.

Scott had gained his feet, and she angled slightly to see the door, see Scott, arms full of, tight on Jean. His gaze flicked from her to Logan, 'You two ok?'

'Yeah. Go straight to the jet,' she ordered. And she didn't care how it looked, the picture of her jealousy guarding Wolverine. He hadn't been there, hadn't seen when the claws came out. And she didn't feel like dying just because Jean was alive.

The other ramifications of Jean being alive…well, she'd decide how to deal with that later.

She let the silence swallow up Scott's retreating footsteps, took a moment to firm her resolve. Wolverine.

'Look at me,' she gestured firmly. 'Look at me. You're following me, understand? You're following me.' Keen and intense his gaze; she thought maybe he did.

'Follow me.' Tapped his chest and turned her back. No snikt, that was good, and he was right behind her, too. Checked her watch—they had, like, three minutes.

How had that been only seven minutes long? Felt like a lifetime.

Quick tug on him, she sprinted up the stairs, snapping into mission mode. The documents, the prisoners. Had to get out. Three minutes.

The document room looked like ordered chaos, Storm leading the troops, Kitty at the computers, Remy destroying the last of the surveillance videos, the confused throws of a last mad dash.

'What can I do?' Clasping Wolverine by the arm; but he seemed fairly obedient now, his confusion almost centering him. She was in charge.

'One last load to the van,' Storm ordered, a little harassed, and Rogue was able to load up a file cabinet, thrust a few paper boxes in Logan's arms, and then dash out the door, Logan and Storm and Remy right behind her.

Jubilee at the van, Bobby running over from the Blackbird some yards away. Rogue dumped her load, grasped and shoved in Logan's, as Jubilee arranged to make more room inside. 'They'll never make it,' she worried to Storm. And they wouldn't—not with only a ten-minute head start. Storm nodded, and a terse discussion sprang up, with the low glow of the van's interior light spilling out over them. Jubes 'n Bobby couldn't make it, but Storm might. Remy going with her. Placating Bobby: 'Someone has to fly the jet.' Checking up on them with Cerebro, and two last prisoners still inside.

Decided, and Rogue had nearly forgotten about Wolverine, until she was shoved, thrown forward several steps, and over her shoulder, she found him, stalking past. He'd nudged her belligerently, seeking, what—attention?

'NO!' Unacceptable, and she rapped his knuckles sharply, probably wouldn't have if she'd given it half a thought at all. But Wolverine growled, retreated sulkily. God, what the fuck was wrong with him?

She'd attracted the attention of everyone; Storm in particular had on a very arrested expression. 'Will you be alright?'

She had no idea. She wasn't looking forward to the plane ride. 'Go.' And she hated Jean suddenly; she got to hate a living person.

Storm went, and the tail lights cast a dim red on the circle of X-men in front of her, Jubilee and Bobby and Kitty, Logan sulking a few yards away, all turned to her.

Why was everyone looking at her suddenly? Why was everyone so stupid suddenly? 'Come on, the last two prisoners; I want outta here.' She did, she was really, really tired.

The pallets—she sent Bobby back for the pallets, have Scott prepare, and grasping Logan, Kitty leading them to the prisoners inside. A row of cells, the two prisoners had been moved on their cots to the hallway in front, and Rogue spied the fallen guards in one cell, all piled on top of one another, knocked out and locked in. Well, good. A pity they wouldn't be there longer.

'The pallets,' and taking one from Bobby, poking and prodding Wolverine until he did as she wanted, unrolling them, loading the prisoners, thin but not dying, bent but not broken. All of them drugged. 'Kitty, one last look around. And grab some documents, just in case the van doesn't make it.' She hefted up her end, surprisingly Wolverine hefted up his, too, his eyes on hers, seeking approval. She nodded, left Jubes and Bobby to get the last prisoner. Fourteen minutes. Fuck.

A bumbling jog. Her guy was getting bounced, and she felt badly about that, but she thought he'd probably feel worse if he was, you know, caught in the crossfire. Or left behind. Clambering aboard the jet, and Wolverine was concentrating now, actually looked so much more normal. She hoped it'd last.

'Scott, where?' And Scott was guiding them, a few adjustments on the jet allowing them to stack the prisoners on their pallets to save space. Jean, in fact, was on the pallet below. She eyed Logan fiercely, but he was quick to follow orders from her, exhibiting a much greater understanding, sliding the pallet in place.

A shout from outside, Bobby, calling for help, and Logan's eyes snapped to hers—brown this time. What, danger did that? Whatever. Sprinting out after him into the dark to see—two figures, closing in on Jubes and Kitty hauling in their last prisoner, Bobby turned to face them. 'Bobby, get the fuck on the jet and start it up!' And she and Logan turned to face them. She caught only one small glimpse of him in the moon glow to see that he was, indeed, Logan, again, and then—they were on them.

Christ, what a fucked up mission.

It became clear why these two weren't carrying long-range weapons: they were mutants, although why they were covering this base was anyone's guess. But Rogue, after grappling with her opponent for a futile minute, dodging some big motherfucking claws and only nearly sidestepping a plume of flame from this guy's mouth, just decided to use her skin. This was taking too long, so fucking close to leaving; and this guy just slashed her thigh right open. Fucking hell; she was swearing a lot lately. 'Rogue,' she heard Logan yell, like she needed him to tell her that her fucking thigh was ripped open. Thanks so much, she could feel all on her own.

She found flesh, felt the pull. Shit, shoulda thought his through. He was fucking psychotic—a 'Dragon', come on, dude—grey vision—how did this guy see?—and acute smelling, and…she breathed out a fire in a long plume in front of her. Can't say she hadn't seen that coming, too. She closed her eyes, couldn't feel where they were still touching, almost desperately clamped down on her skin—off, OFF. Pfew, heard him fall, and sighed in relief. In fire. A mangled growl, shit, couldn't see but that might've been Logan. A part of her really wished she could've seen that. So long as he wasn't too hurt, anyway.

'Can't see,' she called out in panic, turning her head as the flames sprayed. Shit. 'Which way?' cursing herself when the flame happened again, and her suit must be singed now. Nice plastic-and-leather-char smell.

'You gotta stop doing that, darlin',' she heard Logan from behind her this time, and thank God, thank God, he was back. 'You're bloody dangerous.' She nodded obediently, his hands on her wrists. 'So, you're blind, huh?' She nodded again…not exactly true, but she could only see hazy moving shapes, and she wasn't sure where she was. 'Grab onta me. And keep your mouth shut and breathing even.' She did so, and found herself following Logan's easy sprint onto the jet, again, heard him give the command to go, and seated her, facing, she hoped, nothing that couldn't get singed.

She was opening her eyes wide and blinking at everything, see nothing in here. Thigh really starting to hurt now. She began to sigh, felt a bit of burn, and stopped immediately. Damn, no getting out of this. And this freak in her head was getting more insistent and more alive, murmurs and memories of insane things about women in general, mutants and virgins. A complete psycho, as well as a mutant? She concentrated hard on trying to pushing the images, the emotions out of her head, when she heard a murmur to the far right…Logan, quietly asking, 'She alright?' Nothing else, and well…it's Logan again. She had to be grateful for that.

Fuck, 'cause after all this, she might just cry. But she wouldn't. She leaned tensely up against the wall.

Then suddenly there it was, Logan's smell, strong, slightly singed, a little bloody, and his hands on her legs. She tensed immediately, and the dragon's feelings in her were strong and insistent, too, immediately hostile. There was the casual probing of her thigh, and she felt hot fire, and tears, acceptable tears, and the dragon's emotions again, stronger, seeking vengeance… her teeth bared, and she heard Logan, 'Woah, darling. Put those away. Careful.' And his voice didn't sound like he was joking, but like he might be dead-serious, and she wished she could see that expression of horror for when it might be funny later. But small jet, she made a conscious effort, lips and teeth firmly together. Christ, the dragon in her head, but Logan wasn't done yet. He was touching her all over, and smoothing her clenched fists in his hand.

'Darlin,' and she couldn't do this right now. She just couldn't. It was a struggle to remain conscious. Conscious and still. And even breathing. Damn. 'Darlin,' he sounded more insistent now. 'Turn your skin on.' She shook her head vigorously. Too hard to control it right now- she couldn't take more. 'Turn you skin on. Your leg, darlin'. Let me heal it.' She grit her teeth, screwed up her eyes, braced hard against the wall. 'Darlin,' he was saying softly now. 'It's bad. The gash on your leg. It's bad. Bleeding a lot. We need to heal it. Come on.' But she couldn't, shook her head again.

Logan, concerned voice, was ordering someone to get him the med kit, and he was bandaging her leg at once. She tried to force the dragon out of her headspace while he did it, because his reaction was to shove him away, get out of this damn aircraft, and slouch away. And hers—well, she'd never been a big fan of pain. And exactly how long did it take to dress—fuck…she focused on stiff and unresponsive, suffered the bandaging.

She remembered little about what happened when they arrived back on base. She remembered she tried to refuse to go to the med lab: she didn't want to burn everything up, and the voices and jostling of people around her were uncomfortable for her, what with the dragon's hatred for every living thing. But she found herself unable to resist the impetus; and her effort was costing her. She still couldn't see, she was disoriented, and very thirsty, her leg ached like a son-of-a-bitch, and that was when she wasn't moving it. All in all, a terribly shitty day, not least of which was that she didn't know what would happen when she woke up and Jean Grey was up and the whole Logan, Jean, Scott, Rogue happy-happy love fest could begin in earnest.