Title: White Picket Fences
Summary: Logan leaves Rogue, claiming she won't find Happily Ever After with him. This is look at her life and how not everything goes as planned. (Reverse order vignettes.)
Disclaimer: Marvel et al own, not I.
A/N: This is Rogue/Wolverine. I swear. The other pairings just sort of...popped up.
Life as a X-Man is rarely blissfully long—or even blissful. Few of the teammates Wolverine knew are still kicking. Jean died before he even left, Jubilee died at the hands of government agents, Kurt washed up on the shoes of Germany one day, and Storm succumbed to breast cancer not long after.
And the ones that are left are at the funeral of Robert Drake, fondly known as Iceman.
Scott, wheelchair bound and attached to an oxygen tank, is wheezing in the rows somewhere, a bouquet of flowers clutched in his hands. Kitty, her hair more gray than brown, holds his hand, comforting him when the flowers become soggy in the rain and fall to the mud. A woman with purple hair he vaguely recognizes from pictures sits in the front row, her eyes steely and staring at something only she can see.
He does not know why he is here. It was well known that the two men never liked each other, that the unspoken rivalry was too much for friendship to form. But he will be needed, needed by a woman with white streaks in her hair and a husband lying in the coffin.
But she isn't here.
He leaves the funeral quietly, trying not to make a scene. He knows that her home is within walking distance of the cemetery and he plans to talk to her. He could have taken a cab or something equally dry, but he needs time to think about his feelings—yeah, his feelings.
Is he ready to face her? Is he ready for wrinkles and liver spots?
The house is a pale yellow, with a white picket fence, a green lawn manicured to perfection, and an herb box hanging from the windowsill. It was everything that Marie dreamed of.
At least, that's what he told himself eighty years ago.
He is wrong to be here. His clothes, the leather jacket, ripped jeans, and dirty boots, they mark him as an outsider; trespasser on the perfect lawn of the perfect house in the perfect life.
He knocks three times, ignoring the shaking in his hands. He is not afraid of a slip of a girl who he has not seen since he was twenty.
The door remains shut. He knows it is wrong, but his claw is slipping out and the door is open in seconds. The first whiff he catches of her is stale, hours old. He rushes through the house, focusing on her scent, not seeing the pictures of the happy family, the crystal vase given to her by Bobby, the Chinese silkscreen bought for her on their honeymoon. He final catches a fresh scent, leading him to the backyard.
The backyard is a gorgeous garden with flowers and trees. He follows a path, bracing himself for the old woman he expects to see.
Instead, he finds a woman not a day over thirty on a swing. She is wearing a yellow sundress and is barefoot; her beauty amazes him. Her hair is plastered to her wet skin, but she doesn't seem to mind.
She hears the scuffle of the gravel beneath his feet and looks up. "Bob--?" Her face falls and he is sure that there is more than just rain falling down her cheeks.
"Hey," he says, rubbing at the back of his neck, "Marie."
"Hullo, Logan," she says, "I see you got the invitation."
He kneels in front of her. "Don't be like that, Marie."
She ignores his comment, rocking back and forth on her swing. "Why are you here?"
"I figured you'd need me."
"Need you?" She glares at him. "It's been sixty years. I've buried plenty of friends and loved ones in that time. I don't need you."
"I'm sorry, kid, real sorry."
She laughs, a laugh that sends her head back and her shoulders start to shake. "Kid? Kid? I'm eighty years old, Logan."
She holds a hand out, examining it in the rain. "Did you know that those absorptions were more than we ever thought they would be? I realized when I was forty years old and looked like I was twenty-five. My daughter was fifteen and her friends thought I was her hip, older sister, not her dowdy mother.
"Did you know that I could finally control my mutation three months ago? That's nearly sixty fucking years without human touch, I actually forgot what it felt like.
"Did you know that Bobby died two days ago? I was making breakfast and when I went to wake him up…he just didn't wake up. Doctor said it was a heart attack, said it was a death most people our age would hope for. I ignored the stares he gave me and pretended not to hear his exchange with the police officer. They thought I was a gold digger, poisoning her husband for the life insurance.
"Did you know that when I woke up this morning, I forgot about the funeral? I sang a song in the shower and wore his favorite dress. It wasn't until I got downstairs and didn't see the paper that I remembered."
He grabs hold of her hand. "No, I didn't know."
"Because you didn't let yourself know. You ran with your tail between your legs and right out of my life."
"I'm sorry for that."
"Sorry?" she glares at him. "Too late for sorry, Logan."
"I tried, Logan, to keep you in my life. I really did. I wrote letters, mailed invitations, even sent snapshots of Celeste."
Celeste. He remembers the woman with purple hair from the funeral; he compares her face to the one he knew of a toddler in a bleary snapshot of the happy couple. Marie adopted her two years after the wedding, wanting to have the child she could not give Bobby biologically. He kept the snapshot for a few years, pulling it out to remind him of the good in the world, before it was eventually lost in his many campers over the years.
"I finally gave up. I couldn't take the looks Bobby gave me every time I sat down to write if I wasn't going to get anything in return."
He places his lips against her hand. "It's my fault."
"Damn right it is."
He wishes this could have happened under other circumstances. He wishes for sunshine, laughter, and for him to have never screwed up. He left her for being too young, and now that they were nearly the same age, at least physically, she did not want him.
"Why are you here, Logan?" She pulls her hand away from his.
"We need to talk."
"About what? How you were terribly wrong and you want me back now? Thank god your husband is six feet under, that means I don't have to kill him before our quickie wedding in Vegas."
He winces at the harshness in her voice.
"Well, guess what? It doesn't work like that. You can't show up sixty years later and expect the lovesick teenager you left behind."
"I wasn't expecting that, honest." If he could cry, he'd probably be close to tears by now.
She is silent, waiting for him to explain.
"I discovered a lot of things while I was out on the road. I found out about the experiments and parts of my past."
She yawns. "This might have interested me then, but not now."
He suppresses his growl. "I also learned that revenge isn't what life is all about. I tried to settle down once, a while ago. She was a lovely girl, but she wasn't…"
"She wasn't you, Marie. She wasn't you."
Marie sighs, standing up. "That's lovely Logan, real poetic. But I have my happily ever fucking after to get back to."
And she stalks back into the house, leaving him alone in the rain.
How many couples make it to their twentieth wedding anniversary, she wonders. Not many, probably. And when that couple used to make a living off of fighting psychotic evil villains and anti-mutant governments? Well, those chances get even slimmer.
And the odds of escaping from the government, surviving against the forces? Most people have better chances at the lottery.
That must make her lucky.
And a lucky gal like her should not be hiding upstairs in the mansion that used to be her home. She watches from her window seat, hidden in a plethora of cushions and pillows, the anniversary party being held in her honor.
The young ones of the mansion, the ones that only know her name through rumor and stories, run around. They play soccer and throw Frisbees at the older members. She can see Celeste, her lovely daughter, playing fortuneteller. Of course, most do not know that she can actually see the future at times, and that the palm readings are idle games. She watches her husband recount heroic battles with the likes of Magneto. She sees Kitty looking at her husband in rapture.
She can feel the ache of Jubilee strongest at moments like this. Five years ago, the place would have been chaotic, but she would have been happy. She would have been with her friends, laughing until her sides ached. Now, she could only wonder what life would be like with her best friend. The best friend that was lost to an overzealous government looking for answers about something Jubes did not even know about.
The irony of the world's biggest gossip dying for something she did not know was not lost on Marie.
A knock on the door pulls her from her mourning.
"Bonjour," Remy says, sitting down next to her. He rests a wrapped present on the cushions between them. "I have a present for you."
"You could have waited until I opened the others," she says, turning back to the window. If she tilts her head, she can still see the image of Kitty and Bobby skating in the fountain.
Remy laughs under his breath. "Maybe, but I don't want to be outshined by the others."
This makes her smile. "That bad, huh?"
He nudges the box closer to her. "See for yourself."
She peels back the wrapping paper and opens the box. Inside lays a crystal vase supported by silky cushions.
She cocks an eyebrow at him, "I don't understand."
He smirks. "Do you remember the first time you met me?"
"Yeah, you were robbing my college dorm."
"I still have the scars, chere. Well, that night I took something and you never noticed; I figured I ought to give it back to you sometime."
She looks at the vase with new recognition. "Damn, I remember. Jubes was tired of me moping around on Valentine's. She brought home a truckload of chocolate and flowers for me."
He shrugs. "I thought it was symbolic."
She giggles, the bubble of despair bursting. She leans over and hugs him. "Thank you, Remy."
His voice is soft and he rubs her back. "Anytime, love."
The Happy Family
Francesca is bundle of warmth and joy in her arms. Her purple hair pokes out from underneath the blanket, reminding her of all the evils in her daughter's future. "We can't risk her getting hurt."
Bobby nods, looking over her shoulder at their child. "We'll keep her safe, always."
She knows he means well, but it does not provide her with much assurance. She will have to plan on how to keep her daughter safe. Off shore accounts in case of emergencies, a rigid physical training system when she's older, and a codename when her mutation fully manifests. Until then, she would have to protect Francesca with her own physical prowess.
She walks over to the crib, tucking her daughter in for the night.
When she returns to the living room, Bobby is sitting on a crate reading the newspaper by a wavering candle. She sits herself on an upturned bucket, pulling out her own newspaper. Besides the occasional letter from the X-Men, this was their only contact with the outside world.
Sometimes, being a wanted mutant is not easy.
The safehouse is not anything to write home about. A cabin in the middle of God knows where with only two rooms. The main room acted as a kitchen and living room; the two chairs they once had in the living room broke four months ago. The other room served as a bedroom for Bobby, her, and the baby. A derelict bathroom was attached to the bedroom, providing the only space where Marie could find any privacy.
It was the best Scott could do after the Professor was scapegoated and his accounts frozen.
Once every two weeks, Scott would stop by with groceries, newspapers, and whatever news he could provide. And if he happened to stop by on the rare times Bobby was out on a mission, what harm was there in that?
She knows it is wrong, but at times like this she cannot bring herself to care. Her daughter is someone else's baby, brought to her by Scott a month ago, half dead. Her husband will not touch her at night anymore, preferring to watch an empty sky than go to bed with her. And she is sleeping with her fearless leader and friend.
Tonight there is a knock on the door. Two slow knocks followed by three quick raps, a signal that it is Scott.
She rushes to the door, opening it with a breathless smile. "Hello, Scott."
"Evening," he says, handing her a bag of groceries.
She leads him to the kitchen where they start to unload the food. He is stacking a month's worth of soup cans when he says, "Colossus is close to finding the person who put Rogue on the Wanted list."
Bobby grunts in response.
Rogue pauses in her task. "What happens next?"
"After we find the person? We do everything in our power to get you off the list and out of here."
She presses closer to him. "Thanks, Scott."
Under the coffee pot an envelope peeks out, reminding her that it needs to be posted. She hands it over to Scott and he takes it without hesitation. He stopped arguing with her about Logan a long time ago. Bobby, however, glares angrily at the wall.
Later, out on the porch, when she is smoking a cigarette and resisting the urge to sit in Scott's lap, she asks, "What's it like out there?"
"It's not Disney, but it's not the holocaust either."
She blows out a ring of smoke. "This limbo is hell."
"This cabin, this life, is hell, Rogue," he says, looking up at the stars. His forehead crinkles in thought. "What makes you stay here?"
"Besides the warrant out for my arrest and the hundreds of experiments waiting to be done to me and my skin?" she jokes.
"Because he followed me here. Because he accepted me for my skin before…before anyone else did." They ignore the reference to Logan. "Because he needs me and I need him in a weird, twisted way."
"But you don't love him."
"At one point I did." She takes in a deep inhale of smoke. "And sometimes, I still do."
He laughs, hollowly. "When did our lives get so fucked up?"
She smiles now, stubbing out her cigarette. "When we decided we wanted to be happy."
The Chinese Silkscreen
Bobby tangles a hand in her hair. "Rogue," he breathes out, staring into her eyes lustfully. His other hand begins to deftly untie her floor length sarong.
She does not stop him, but she does warn him. "Be careful, Bobby."
"Iceman," he corrects her.
"Right, be careful."
It is her honeymoon and Bobby has rented a quiet hut on some remote island in the Caribbean. They should have done this on their wedding night, but Bobby had more whiskey then he thought at first and past out before Scott even had a chance to land the Blackbird.
Bobby sighs, frustrated. "I get it, Rogue."
She lies awkwardly on the bed, reminding herself not to curl away from his touch. He is her husband now.
He breaks away from the kiss. "Could you not lay there all stiff like?"
She tries not to be hurt, but the tears come anyhow. "Sorry."
He tries to wipe the tears away, murmuring apologies in her ear, but she cannot stand to hear them. She tumbles out of the bed, wrapping the sarong around her waist again, and runs out of the hut.
Through her tears she stumbles across the beach to the manager's hut, the only place with a phone connection on the entire island. The manager's wife is there and does not ask any questions when she asks for the phone.
"Rouge, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, it's nothing. I just need you to come pick me up."
"But, Rouge, it's your honeymoon. And I just dropped you off not twelve hours ago."
"I know, I know, but…"
"I'll be there as soon as possible. Wait for me on the south side of the beach."
"Anything for you."
Bobby has not found her by the time the jet comes, if he ever looked for her. She runs up the ramp and into Scott's arms before he has time to say hello. She wonders when he changed from casual friend to her rock, but she cannot remember.
She falls asleep in the copilot's chair on the way home, his hand resting over hers on the armrest.
When she awakes, she is in a hotel room decorated in expensive Chinese silks. Scott is asleep next to her on the bed, snoring lightly.
"Scott?" she nudges his shoulder.
He cracks one eye open. "Do you like it?"
"Where are we?"
He sits up on the bed, pulling her up with him. He waves his arm towards the balcony and the city behind it. "Beijing."
"Beijing?" She tries not to notice the disappointment that wells in her chest when she realizes he left them both dressed.
"I thought you wouldn't want to go back to the mansion just yet," he says, shrugging his shoulders. "Was I wrong?"
"No, no, no," she says, shaking her head rapidly. "You hit the nail on the head."
He runs a hand through his hair. "Well, why don't we explore the city?"
She returns home with a Chinese silkscreen depicting a dragon wrapped around a mountain, a broken hymen, and a whole new disposition on her world. Bobby apologizes on bended knee and she accepts. He never questions where she went with Scott or what they did, and she could never be more grateful.
She is sunning on the front lawn of the mansion when she feels Logan approach. She knows it's him and she will never be able to explain why.
She smiles up at him. "Hullo, Logan."
"Morning, kid." He plops down beside her, smoking a cigar. "Come here often?"
"Only when the weather is beautiful."
She props herself up on one elbow. "And what brings you to me on this fine day?"
"The Professor has another lead for me." He angles his head back, basking in the warmth of the sun.
"Another lead?" she is not surprised, it is always one thing or another with her Logan.
"A general of some sorts retired recently and Wheels thinks he might have worked on me." He looks down at her. "I'll be leaving tomorrow."
She flops down on the ground dramatically. "Oh my, whatever will I do without you? How can I be a damsel in distress when my knight in shining armor is halfway across the continent?"
He smiles. "I'm no knight."
"Play along," she says, sticking her tongue out at him.
He ducks down, catching her lips in a kiss. He pulls back for her skin has a chance to react, but she is still stunned. He has done this before, but never in public.
She is nearly exploding with happiness when she sees his face. It is dark, moody. He looks like the weight of the world rests on his shoulders and his shoulders alone.
Logan growls, grounding out his cigar. "Look, Marie, we have to talk."
These talks never bode well for her in the end. It is part of the criteria of being a girl with killer skin.
"You might be twenty, but I am still too old for you." He holds up a hand to silence her when she begins to protest. "I'm an animal and you deserve better. You deserve you white picket fence and happily ever after."
She sighs. "I don't see how I get the melodramatic rep when I'm compared to you."
"This is exactly my point," he says, standing up. "You're still to young to even take this seriously."
She is hurt. Damn her for trying to inject some humor into his bleak life. "You're being ridiculous, Logan."
He scoffs at her. "When you prove my point so easily, why do I even bother arguing with you?"
She stands up as well, glaring up at him. "I'm too young? Newsflash, I'm probably older than you up here." She taps at her head. "And you might think you done some bad things that you need to protect me from, but I've seen it all and then some."
"I am not going to argue with you over this."
"Fine. Run off again, see where it gets you this time."
He huffs angrily and storms off, leaving her behind to welt in the sun.