Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing characters, and inserting plot.

A/N: This story starts of with an alternative ending to X3 (I guess it's been done before). But, time permitting, I'm planning to take this in a different direction. Expect post-apocalyptic angst, and perhaps some character deaths. Dark themes, some language.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.

I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

As far as epiphanies went, Rogue felt mighty gypped. She had heard that epiphanies were supposed to be all enlightening and liberating, like fate whispering in your ear, revealing precisely how things were supposed to play out. But all she felt was something she would later chalk up to temporary insanity. One second had her minding her own business, standing in line for the Cure, and the next had her suddenly fulfilling the strange compulsion to walk up to and drain the memories of some shifty looking character she had seen sulking in the sidelines.

In her defense, the man had struck her as terribly suspicious, someone who looked exactly like the type of mutant Magneto would scrape off the street and recruit for his cause. His unnaturally tinged green eyes flickered with disgust across the mutants in the line from beneath a mane of unkept hair, and his hands kept twitching furiously, picking at the sleeves of a dark trench coat that all but swallowed his scrawny frame. Maybe Wolverine's paranoia had started to rub off on her. Or maybe all those news reports of the Brotherhood blowing up Cure clinics had struck a chord with her, and damned if she had come this close to finally, FINALLY getting what she had always wanted only to be thwarted by some megalomaniac and his scraggly flunkies.

In an act so completely out of character, Rogue had abandoned her position in the line, walked up to the man, and, ignoring his complete bewilderment at her approach, proceeded to violently grasp his hand with her bare one. Mercifully, her target only managed to gawk at her incredulously for a few seconds, before slumping over at her feet.

And then, all she could feel was anger. Pure, unbridled hatred towards all those spineless bastards standing in line. Here she was, getting murdered in the middle of the street by some sick bitch with two-toned hair, writhing in pain before their very eyes, and all they did was stand mutely by. They deserved everything that was coming to them. They deserved to be roasted alive, and she had enough explosives to do just that. Hell she had enough to flatten the entire block. She almost felt a pang of regret. The poor bastards were never going to find out that Magneto had stormed Alcatraz island, they were never going to realize that he had liberated their kind, or enjoy their newfound freedom. They had thrown away their chance at freedom the minute ... they ... wait ...

She took a deep, spluttering breath. She was not ... Gilbert Jacovic ... she was Rogue ... Marie. She was Marie.

She needed to warn the X-Men.

Rogue fumbled with her purse, fished her cell phone out and switched it on, trying to forget the childish defiance with which she had switched it off in the first place.

But Bobby wasn't answering his phone. And her next best shot, Jubilee, nearly bit her head off.

"Where the hell have you been? Aren't you watching the news? The goddamn Golden Gate bridge has been yanked and flung across the bay! Bobby, Kitty and Peter are probably facing off against hundreds of mutants."

"What? You mean –"

"Rogue! They needed you, but you up and disappeared. I don't know the full details, since no one ever tells me anything really, but ..."

Rogue wasn't listening anymore.

Shit. She was an X-Man. Her team, her friends were risking their lives to stop Magneto, while she had been mired in her own self pity. She needed to get her act together right now. She needed to help them fight against the hordes of Magneto's mutants.

But there was the small matter of getting to San Francisco immediately... as in right now ... as in she couldn't really afford a plane ticket, let alone a six hour flight to the West Coast.

She had been ignoring it until now, but she suddenly became aware of a faint crackle of energy beneath her skin, and she smiled as a snippet of memory came rushing to the forefront.

Gilbert Jacovic could teleport.

How so incredibly convenient.

In the thick of things, the chaos was suffocating. It swirled through the air, intermingled with the ashes, with the overwhelming scent of death, and clogged his airways. It was virtually impossible for him to breathe except in heavy gasps. And if he were any ordinary human, he might have considered chalking up the heavy breathing to physical exhaustion. But he was no ordinary human: he was the Wolverine. And at the moment, his current discomfort was the least of his concerns.

No, there were much more important things to worry about. Take for example the monstrous tower of water poised oven Alcatraz island, threatening to eviscerate it at any moment, or the screams of soldiers and mutants as the tornado of smoldering ash caught up with them, swallowed them whole, and continued on its path of obliteration. It was funny really, that humans and mutants found equality only in death. Wolverine would have laughed if his lungs hadn't been on fire.

Instead, he ventured to glance out into fray from behind a pillar he had chosen for cover.

And there she was, the eye of the storm, the nucleus of destruction: Jean Grey.

She was the Pheonix, terrible and beautiful. She was the pure essence of life and death united in a single force of nature. She was a goddess that demanded the right to inflict her divine wrath upon all the poor morals that surrounded her. Even in her most terrifying form, she still managed to take his breath away.

Yet, although Phoenix glowed with an unworldly magnificence, Wolverine's heart mourned for the Jean he knew, the Jean he loved. He knew that the Phoenix needed to be stopped, but to do so without hurting Jean seemed near impossible.

But, there was something else in the air. Something entirely out of place. Something that smelt vaguely of sunshine, distant shores, and bittersweet tears. He felt the pressure of the air around him shift unnaturally, felt time and space constrict to the point of a needle, and then expand again.


"What the –"

Wolverine blinked several times, because clearly he was hallucinating. Rogue was definitely not standing ten feet away from him just as though she had been there all along. But if Wolverine had learned anything, he had learned to trust his keen senses. So he scowled at Rogue's lopsided grin.

"Kid, where the hell did you come from?" he growled.

"I teleported. I'm here to help –"

But whatever Rogue had to say was cut short by the whir of a large chunk of debris hurtling towards the position she was standing in. Wolverine grabbed her arm and hoisted her beside him in the nick of time, avoiding the falling projectile. Wolverine watched her eyes widen with bewilderment as she finally became aware of the vast devastation surrounding her. Although her features hadn't changed, her quickening heartbeat told Wolverine how frightened she actually was.

"Look kid, you can explain how you got here later. Right now, I need you to find Storm and the rest of the team. Find any survivors, and get them aboard the Blackbird."

He watched Rogue gulp, and nod her head nervously. But as she rose from her position, she froze as her eyes fell upon the figure in the distance.

"Is that ... is that Dr. Grey?"

"No," he said, with absolute finality, "Jean's gone. That's the Phoenix."

And just like that, something inside him snapped. Jean was gone. His decision had been made. As he watched Rogue step away from the pillar, with the intention of heading back, he unsheathed his claws. He wondered if Rogue could tell.

But Rogue only needed to take one look at him, one glance at the desperate determination on his face, reflected even in the glimmer of his claws, before she knew that his heart was breaking.

"My god, you're going to kill her."

Her voice was small, merely a whisper shattered by the cacophony of the whirling ash.

He knew that he should have left then, he should have launched himself into the whirlwind of ash. But instead, for an instant, he turned to look into Rogue's eyes. He didn't know what he expected to find there, but it was definitely not the strange tranquility that seemed to permeate her features, or the faint smile on her lips, a smile like she knew a secret.

"I think I understand what I have to do now."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I think ... I think I know how things are supposed to work out. Why I didn't take the Cure today ... why Dr. Grey is supposed to live."

All Wolverine could do was stare at her incredulously. They were wasting precious time here, and he wanted to tell her that, but somehow he was mesmerized by how strangely confident her voice sounded. She crossed the distance between them, the faint smile still on her lips, but her eyes were looking beyond him. An uneasy feeling settled into the pit of his stomach, and Wolverine, a creature of instinct never ignored the signs. Yet ...

"It's like I can hear the pieces falling into place. Everything that's happened before, everything was just prelude to this moment, to what I have to do."

"You're doing nothing but what I tell you, stripes," Wolverine said with a sternness that could shatter glass, "Now get out of here."

"I'm sorry Logan."

Before he could realize what she was doing, he felt her fingertips rest gently against his right forearm. He felt his words and his protests disintegrate from his mind. And although her touch paralyzed him instantly, his last coherent thought was to wonder how she had managed to take her gloves off without him noticing.

Then, he succumbed to darkness.

A/N Liked it? Hated it? Please review! I'd love to hear what you think