Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: To answer so questions that may or may not have been addressed in recent chapters.
Rogue is not with Bobby. Bobby is with Kitty. We're going with the whole idea that they broke up because of his cheating on Rogue with Kitty. They are not on speaking terms, and he will not play any sort of main role in this story. I dislike him.
Professor Xavier is still alive. Jean is not. Scott is not. Magneto is human. The Brotherhood is currently in shambles. I think that's about it.
By Miranda Panda-chan
"So what kind of a name is Rogue?"
"What kind of a name is Wolverine?"
"My name is Logan."
You know I ain't good with words.
You know I'm a shitty friend.
I'm an even shittier person.
I hope you get better soon.
And I'm sorry I broke my promise.
She'd stared at the dumb piece of paper with the hardly legible scrawl of black ink for over three hours. She hadn't said a word, not to Storm, not to Beast—whom she'd grown to appreciate as of late. Beast was the one that told Storm to bring the note, after seeing her blank and apathetic expression after he'd finished saving her life. No one had known of what she'd done except for the furry blue doctor in the corner that looked a thousand years older than he really was, no one had known she'd tried to take her life, had managed to gnaw and scratch through the soft flesh of wrists and arms, everywhere she could reach, and had (purposefully? accidentally? she didn't know anymore…) sliced through her own veins because she couldn't stand the feel of her own skin anymore—the coppery flavor was still trapped in her mouth (not even a good mouthful of Listerine had been able to take away the taste of it). No, no one had seen her do the act, he'd been the only one to know—had been the only one that had taken it upon himself to make sure she lived. The pain in his eyes told of a harsh wisdom, a knowledge that came only with seeing people like her. Like the battles of life had taken everything out of him as he stared at her whom had taken the brunt of the pain and loss.
Pity. Her mind spat. It's just pity. And she couldn't help but agree, but only a little. Because she'd also come across a strange epiphany—one that had the possibility to be both a wonderful new door for her as well as a gruesome truth.
She was normal now. She was a human by all rights, technically. No one would be able to know, especially with a new name as had been suggested by the Professor, who had come in not to long ago to tell her that he'd been back within the hour after dinner. She'd been playing with the idea since Logan had told her of the true horrors of her injury. The invisible injury—the one that seemed to hurt her the most.
"So, you're still awake, Rogue." She flinched, although she didn't think she could keep it together if she'd been called Marie…she still knew that, in all truth, she was lying to herself when she said her name was Rogue.
Rogue was dead, now, after all.
Marie'd been the one to survive, damn it all.
She nodded, ignoring the feeling that he was listening to her every thought. He stared at her for awhile, and his gaze seemed to chastise her more than words could have. His gaze told her of his disappointment at her apparent lack of self-control and immaturity.
She couldn't help but silently scoff; she'd already known she was a failure.
"Professor, I came up with something that might make me better." He raised his eyebrows in question, but didn't say anything, "I know I've done a really stupid thing." She paused, hesitating—maybe this wasn't the best idea to say aloud currently.
"I think we all can agree on that, yes." He said, urging her on.
"Well…I think…I wanna leave." There, she'd said it. Blunt and as a painfully clear as she could've possibly said it. Moments of silence past, the Professor searching in her eyes for something, before finally, McCoy broke it.
"Rogue, you can't possibly think that we're going to let you go out on your own after--."
"Fine. But not right away. Logan has left, obviously." He nodded towards the letter she still held in her hands.
"But Charles-!" Beast started, but the Professor only raised up his hand to silence any further objections. He nodded in resignation, and so Charles continued.
"So for now, let's not rush things. I do want you to start attending the sessions that first had when you came here." Ah, those sessions. The ones where he played councilor and she played the psychotic patient, the sessions that had originally been used to hopefully find a way to help her gain control over her mutation—they would now be put to a more regular use.
To make sure that she was mentally stable.
"And to perhaps see if the cure can be reversed." His voice added quietly. So he had been snooping around. She knew it!
"Fine." She'd said. She'd go through whatever she would have to so she could leave this place that now, held more pain for her than happiness.
"…He seems to generally want to help you. And that's a rare thing for us. So whatdaya say? Give these geeks one more shot?"
::Two Years Later::
Rogue was still having her Saturday sessions with the Professor, although as of late, they were becoming increasingly shorter due to his assurance that they were running out of things to talk about (she didn't like to think about how the cure couldn't be reversed and she was stuck feeling this empty for the rest of her life). They'd already gone over in great detail how she'd start her new life. They'd gone over her feelings for Logan, and Logan's actions and what they indicated for her. They'd even gone over her favorite foods and TV shows! She was completely open, she knew it had been pointless to try and hide anything from the Professor. She considered him a close friend, not just a mentor and instructor, but something of a father-figure. Someone she could trust…
She'd only had one other person that she'd felt she could trust with everything. And he'd shown her just how easily that much trust in a person could be thrown away, trampled on, eaten, vomited back up, then run over by a semi.
She'd leave in another month, the plane ticket had been bought, the house that she'd gotten fairly cheap because of the realtor's connections with the Professor (mutants know people, ya know?) had been inspected and bought, she'd already been promised a job as the secretary of some business corporation, and she'd already gotten a whole new birth certificate. She would live as Anna Marie, but she'd already decided to go by Marie.
Everything was going perfect. Everything was going according to plan. No hesitation. No second thoughts. Don't think about it. In the words of Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try." She wouldn't go back on this. She wouldn't--- her attention was suddenly taken away from her mental pep talk because of someone was walking in, she could see the front doors from her new favorite spot on the second floor, her legs hanging over the edge of the balcony that looked on the entrance of the school on the first floor. The black hair in two all too familiar spikes on either side of his head, the smell of cigar smoke, the ratty old leather jacket, and the permanent scowl--
"Logan?!" Oh hell.
And before he could utter a word of surprise, she ran.
She was pacing, she'd admit that. She was nervous, twitchy, anxious to get away—getting the itchy intolerable feeling of wanting to shed her skin that she was no longer comfortable in. She took a deep breath in, Storm was watching her warily (because she was a teacher now, and she hung out with the other teachers. Youth had been left behind long ago, in a time that was without Magneto and without the Cure, most definitely), sitting on her bed and following her with ice blue eyes.
"Why is he here, Storm? I don't get it…he normally leaves for at least three years at a time. He left in the first place…why did he come back? Why does he always come back?!" She was panicking, and on the verge of hyperventilation.
"Don't worry, Rogue. You'll be leaving in a matter of weeks. He can't cause you too much damage, just avoid him—it's not all that hard, he's sort of an enigma around here anyway." She said, her voice calming. Rogue plopped on the end of the bed, clenching the material of her sleeves in her fists and biting her lip.
"Is there any way we can move up the date? I don't think I can handle being around him…"
"He might not even bring it up, Rogue. You know that."
"I realize that, but the betrayal is still there, and I haven't forgiven him yet." She whispered, "If he doesn't bring it up that'll almost make it ten times worse—because then I'll never even know if he feels guilty about it. I'll be thinking to myself: could he really have forgotten what he inadvertently did to me?" she was tired, she mentally noted to herself. She needed sleep. A lot of sleep—they weren't going to have classes for the next week because of (a very late) spring break. Most students were still at the school, being either runaways or castaways—only a few had gone home without worrying about hiding what they were.
"Rogue, you're tired. It's getting late…just don't think about it. I'm sure he won't be as much of a terror as you think he'll be. He's an asshole, but he wouldn't try to make you miserable."
"Yeah…well, he doesn't really have to try, now does he?…He just does." She whispered, but still Rogue could only hope she was right as she closed the door, the soft clicking noise telling her it had locked behind the weather witch. The darkness was a welcome as she turned off her lamp, snuggling into her pillows—still dressed, only lacking shoes and jewelry. She was too tired to bother with changing clothes.
Two weeks went by without incidence, Rogue kept to the deserted hallways, and made sure to overdose on the perfume and spray the entire hallway—just for the extra precaution. She wasn't taking any chances. She got food at odd hours of the night and morning, and she left class and went through the untraveled route to her room. Two weeks, and no sign of Logan. Two weeks, and no problems—no emotional breakdowns, no more uncomfortable twitch and no more feeling uncomfortable in her own skin (which happened even without him there—her skin would seem to shrink itself and feel itchy, like a new sweater—uncomfortable and foreign and not her own). Storm had commented on her amazing ninja skills several times in the comfort of Rogue's classroom, where she taught, of all things, Algebra.
But that's precisely where her happy little world began to crash around her.
It was Monday of week three, and Rogue was gathering her papers. When the door to her classroom opened, it was quiet—the soft creaking noise not near as loud as it normally was, and she wondered why Storm would try and be so quiet.
"Hey," she said, expecting an immediate reply from the older woman, when no response came, she turned around.
Where was Angel when you need him to fly you out of a window?
"Oh," she breathed, startled and uncomfortable, "I thought Storm…err…yea." She stumbled over her words. He stared at her, an uncomfortable expression on his face. He looked guilty.
Good. And Rogue couldn't help but feel a little bit smug. Not that she would show it. No, not to him.
"Just wanted to see what you been up too, kid." He said, his voice still rough, his eyes still wild and his entire being just screamed rugged.
"I've been teachin'. Somebody's gotta teach these kids math, and I seem to be the only one with enough patience to do so." She couldn't help but laugh at little, she had little to no patience at all. Yet, in all honesty, the statement had been the truth—she had no patience at all and yet she had more patience than any of the rest of them had—especially when it involved math, "What've you been up too?"
"Nothin' much. Went back to cage fightin' for awhile, earned a little money here and there—I was getting kinda slim on cash, ya know?" he said gruffly, walking over to her, his boots, although large, didn't make a sound on the tile floor.
"Ah…" she said, the conversation was awkward, she didn't want to talk to him. Not after all he'd done. Not after everything that had happened. She was already feeling the urge to run her nails against her flesh to try and loosen what was now uncomfortable—her own skin. She turned only to find herself nose to nose with him—well, almost. He was still about a foot taller than her. The silence killed her as her eyes locked with his—the crushing weight of everything making her throat close and her mind shut down. Yet her mouth, damn it all, managed to move on its own accord.
"I got your note." He backed up, glancing down and nodding quickly.
"I figured ya did, it ain't like Chuck to not keep promises."
"You didn't have to leave."
"Yeah, I did—don't kid yourself, Rogue. You know I can't stay in one place for very long." He ruffled her hair, and she couldn't help but feel slightly patronized—even as the warm feeling flooded up from her toes to her cheeks.
"It's Marie, now." She said softly, she'd gotten over her own self-denial in her Saturday sessions with the Professor. Rogue was dead. Had been since Alcatraz. She didn't lie to herself anymore. She had accepted herself as who she was, is—Marie. Marie D'Ancanto. The cowardly Mississippi southern belle that never knew when to quit. But once she left, she'd change all that. She would.
"Oh." He said, he ran his hand through his hair, "Well, I'll be seein' ya, kid. I got stuff to do. Danger Room training an' all that." He said, walking out just as Storm walked in. She stared at Rogue—waiting for a breakdown, waiting for her to try and tear her skin off again because that's how she seemed to respond to a lot of things. Instead, Rogue just stood there, a little shaken.
She could never step in the Danger Room again.
She was hardly allowed in the lower levels anymore at all.
She wasn't even really an X-Man anymore.
But he was.
And so she cried, letting Storm hold her and try to soothe her like a mother would. Because that's what she had become, a mother figure. Someone who she could talk to, a friend as well as family.
Storm could only wonder what Logan had said to upset her so much.
"I don't want you to go."
"I'll be back for these."
From that day on, Rogue saw him more in the mansion than ever. Even in the deserted hallways, and unused routes. Three more days was all she had to wait. Just three. No more, but no less either. 72 hours. 4320 minutes. And time never seemed to flow as slow as it did while waiting for those hours to pass. Storm had already told the students that Jubes would be their teacher from now on. It was laughable really, her fashion-obsessed friend had failed math during her own highschool career.
Everything was prepared for her departure. Her room was clean, her stuff was packed, she had replacements for all the leadership roles she'd been in charge of, and the secret still hadn't leaked to Logan.
Life was as good as it could be with her situation. So good, in fact, that she'd agreed to eat dinner with the rest of the house (more specifically, at the Teachers' Table, which still made her slightly giddy) that night.
She was on an errand for Storm, in fact, when a certain Canadian started to rain on her parade.
"Marie!" his voice was rough—rougher than normal. He was growling and anger was evident on his face.
What had she done now?
Nothing, to her knowledge.
So she turned slowly, bringing herself to a halt—ignoring the voice in her head telling her to run (although she knew if she had he would've caught up with her in a matter of minutes in a most unpleasant fashion) and ignoring the other voice that said to ignore Logan and continue on with her errand (Storm always had hated lateness).
"What?" she shouted the irritated reply back—honestly, this man had a lot of nerve. He was only a few steps away before something in her mind clicked—he knew something about her that made him furious—and so far only a few things had made him truly angry. The list currently consisted of when something (mostly either herself or Jean) was hurt by someone else (mostly from the Brotherhood or the government). SO why would he be mad at her if she couldn't have hurt Jean and why in the would she hurt herself--?
"Oh shit," Panic ran through her, but even as she turned to run (did he really need proof? Wasn't her running away enough proof to prove whatever story he'd been told by—who had let that slip? Only two people knew the whole story…). He grabbed her wrist as she turned to run, and she knew if she tried to pull her arm away she'd only end up pulling it out of the socket.
Logan stared at her with hard eyes. His gaze frightened her, not from terror, but something else.
He'd never meant to hurt her.
That still didn't mean he hadn't.
Anger shined through…along with something to the effect of sadness—guilt maybe? (But what did he have to be guilty about? He hadn't caused her to do that). He grabbed her hand and lifted up the sleeve that covered her right arm and hand.
"What'd you do to yourself, Rogue?" he stared, shocked and angry at the jagged reddish pink zigzags, like ripped paper, all over her flesh. She could still taste the coppery substance that had flooded her mouth and the space beneath her fingernails—the same substance that rushed through her veins at the very moment—the same thing that kept her alive. She tried to yank it away (gingerly, she'd need that hand later on to slap him with, she knew) and he only growled menacingly as he examined in horror at her moment of insanity.
"Leggo!" she yelled, trying to pull away once more, he raised his eyes to look at her, "What the fuck are you trying to pull, Logan?" she hissed.
"I heard," and all the anger in him died almost completely as she looked back at him defiantly, "I-."
"I'm pretty sure I know what you heard," She growled back, and as his grip loosened, in shock or horror, yanked her hand away.
"They said that after I left—that you tried to-."
"Don't flatter yourself, Logan—it wasn't because of you," she spat, "It had nothing to do with you at all."
"Then what did it have to do with, Marie?" he demanded.
"My skin—it wasn't mine--…I couldn't stand the feel of it so I made a way to escape it. My aim wasn't to kill myself, it was to get rid of feeling like a foreigner in my own flesh. But I'm now. Nothing like that has or will ever happen again."
"I'm no some helpless kid you need to feel sorry for, Logan. I can take care of myself."
"You did it right after my letter," he whispered, "Why would you do it—why would you even try to take another person I love away from me?!" And the slap she'd been holding in came flying out, the skin-on-skin impact echoing in the empty hallway. Tears were in her eyes, shining over the anger pouring out. He stood there, shocked.
"Don't you dare act like you care so much, Logan—especially when we both know you don't." her voice was low, a hoarse and cracked whisper holding more hostility then if she had just yelled outright.
"Save it, Logan. I've got stuff to do—unlike you, I can't just shirk my responsibilities to go joyriding in Canada—I've got work to do." And with that she turned away, his hand slipping off her should as she expanded the distance between them.
"Damn," he growled, finding a cigar and lighting it. He watched as she walked further and further down the hall until she finally turned the corner—heading for the elevator, he assumed. He cursed once more, kicking his foot against the floor before turning on his heels and heading the opposite direction.
He growled softly in the dark hallway; he really needed a drink.
He'd heard her anger at him and the former head of Mutant Relations from his office, even if it was in her (and now his) head. She was in the gym, the normal one, used for everyday purposes. She was just happened to be making use of a punching bag and the rubber upper torso and head of a dummy. She was beating the shit out of both.
They walked in slowly (or in the Professor's case, rather, wheeled) and watched her carefully.
But she noticed them almost immediately.
"You told him?!" she was angry, downright furious, "What right did you have to tell him?! It was a moment of temporary insanity—I haven't even thought about doing something like that again. You should know that!" she was yelling and pacing (she seemed to be doing a lot of that as of late).
"He had a right to know, Marie."
"Why? It wasn't his fault that I…did that." She said, refusing to give a name to the action.
"You would've handled it better if he hadn't just up and left." Beast added in.
"You don't know that! Just because you're telepathic doesn't mean you can see the future of what could have happened." She growled at the Professor, another person whom she had trusted—who had ratted her out—just like always, before turning back on her heel to go back to her original cause of being at her current location.
"You can know that I did not expect him to react like that, and for that I am sorry."
"You should've known. You could've warned me you were gonna tell him!" she kicked the punching bag, causing it to bust finally, achieving her goal for the night. Sand poured out of it in a waterfall. Just because she didn't have power didn't mean she was completely helpless. She sat sank to the floor, exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.
"I can't stay here for much longer," she whispered hoarsely, her hair falling in her face.
"It's only one more day." She shrugged the comforting hand off he bare shoulder. The touch of flesh on flesh unnerving her further—there'd always been fabric in-between. Always.
"I'll be up in my room."
"Storm will expect to see you at dinner—you told her you would be."
"Tell her I can't. I'm not as prepared to face him as I though—especially not after today."
"Come down to dinner, Marie—don't cut us off right before you leave," Hank pleaded.
"Why not? I'll make leaving that much easier." They had nothing to say to that, and so she stood up and brushed herself off—leaving the two X-Men to wallow in guilt.
Rogue had, in fact, gone to her room for several hours. A very persistent telepath and a whiny blue doctor weren't enough to persuade her to come out. The only think that managed to get her out was the idea that Storm would ask why she wasn't at dinner, and the only option they had left was the truth. The whole truth. And she didn't even know why it mattered so much anymore, but it did. And damn it, she'd rather be shot before someone else found out. Damn snitches…
So there she sat, next to Storm and Beast, quietly eating her salad and occasionally cutting up a small bit of her steak.
And nothing but silence ensued.
Logan sat opposite Beast, which was diagonal to her left, and she wanted nothing more than to kick him under the table like the immature kid he thought she was.
And then conversation began, and she couldn't help but miss the silence that was now shattered. Logan refused to make eye contact or even ask her to pass the damn salt, while the Professor and Hank tried to make polite conversation with her.
And she was getting fed up with this kind of shit….
She stood up, slamming her hands against the table top.
"Rogue?" Storm was the only one that still called her that, and it still made her twitch just a little.
"I need some air." She said curtly, putting her dishes (still filled with food) in the trash and marching out of the kitchen. They all flinched as the door slammed.
"I do believe dinner has been spoiled for the night," Hank said, taking a bite of mashed potatoes. The rest could only in agreement, even as Logan stood up from his seat and headed out the door.
Rogue was trying to keep it together. She pulled out the box of cigarettes that she'd promised herself she wouldn't use unless absolutely necessary (she wouldn't get another one in God only knew how long). Picking one out she shoved it back into her pocket, rummaging around to find the old Zippo with the shark painted on it that brought back far too memories that were filled with more happiness than she figured she'd ever get again. She leaned against one of the columns, feeling like she wanted to melt into a puddle of goo because of how dumb she'd just been. Really? What was she—five? Throwing a tantrum like that and walking out on people who hadn't meant any harm—could she get more immature? She shook her head, regretting just a little her previous actions now that she had time to think and fire on her tongue, the scratchy smoke swelling in the confines of her lungs—she felt semi-invincible.
Then the door opened and the sound of cowboy boots hitting the wooden porch gave away who it was, and all the good feelings left in a heartbeat.
"What?" she asked irritably, taking a drag from her cigarette.
"Didn't know you smoked." He said, shrugging, "Didn't know you were old enough, too."
"Tch, I've been old enough too for about a year. But I been doin' this for a lot longer than that," She said simply, shrugging off his questioning gaze, "You would know that if you'd ever stick around long enough to find out the simple facts about others." She said, flicking the end to make the ashes fall off to the ground. He watched them fall, ignoring the jab.
"Hm? This?" she said breathing out a puff a smoke, he nodded slowly, "I started this after Johnny left us. It reminded me of the way he smelled, and it made it seem like he was still here." She smiled ruefully, remembering the naivety of her youth—when things were all too simple, "Now I guess it's just a habit, I like to think that it's a memory of the real Johnny, the one that got possessed by the fire. Not Pyro." She said softly. There was silence for a long moment as she looked up into the sky to see the clouds darkening overhead. It wasn't until she felt the first raindrop hit her forehead that she finally conceded and stamped out her nicotine refresher. She moved to sit on one of the steps, not minding the rain in the slightest.
But she could tell the man behind her was getting anxious with the silence. Especially since she hadn't said anything.
So he said the first thing that came to mind…
"Ya know, Jeannie and me used to stand out here in the rain when One Eye was out doing something, just stand her-." (Which perhaps hadn't been the best idea, in retrospect).
"Stop it, Logan." She said, more like growled, "Don't bring her up."
"I don't know why you didn't like her, kid. She never did anything to ya-." He started in on her defense…just like Alcatraz…keeping her safe from the rest of the world. He really didn't know when to just quit talking, did he?
"She's ruined my life." Her voice was far too even and flat. She wasn't looking at him while she said it, either, just staring at the open field in front them. The pathway that led to the exit as well as the gardens, and the lake…and the fountain…but she wouldn't look at him until she finished and he'd made a sound that started like an accusation or a defense or an argument of some sort. But it died the moment he met her accusing eyes. And it seemed he remembered.
"Now kid, you can't blame my actions on Jeannie-."
"Stop calling her that, damn it! Call her that when I'm not around." She yelled, turning back around to the scenery, walking a little ways forward.
"Still, kid, you can't blame my actions on," he had paused, as if catching himself, "her, my actions were my own."
"She made you fall in love with her." She said, her voice still flat, quiet, and angry, "And because of that love you protected her at Alcatraz, and because you protected her you forgot all about your promise. A promise that I've remembered, and a promise that I thought you would keep because you've kept all your other promises—haven't you, Logan? You had to choose between me and her that day. You had to choose between saving my life or saving hers—even though, and don't even think I don't know you knew, that she would have to die. That that would be the only way to save her."
"Rogue…I…you were young, kid. You didn't know anything about love when you first met me. Hell, we didn't know each other at all. You were just a dumb kid."
"Just a dumb kid, huh?" and he had the sudden feeling that perhaps he'd said something that he shouldn't have again, and he couldn't help but feel like he was driving stakes through her heart with each word he said in her defense, "Just a dumb kid. That's rich." She laughed a little, smiling ruefully. "If I was so dumb, Logan, why did you bother comin' after me that day on the train?"
"Rogue, that's not what I meant-."
"Answer the damn question, Logan!" she turned around, her wet hair flying around her and then landing with a splat against her clothes.
"I came after you because I was worried. You were just a dumb kid. You couldn't protect yourself against Magneto, even I could tell that with the way Chuck was talking about him." He said, his voice gruff.
"That's it." she shook her head, still smiling like she'd have rather been shot than be here with him, "That's it. You really are predictable, Logan. You really are. And here…ya know, you're just infuriating. I hate almost hating you—I could. I could hate you so easily and yet it's so damn hard." She said, turning around from him and pacing, the rain still pounding against her small form, "I try, I try, and I try. But no! You make it so damn easy and yet it's so damn hard. And it's all your fault! And I can't…" she made a frustrated noise.
"Listen, Rogue…I loved her. You…you're a kid, Rogue." As if he thought that point alone was reason enough.
"No I'm not! Not anymore, Logan! I've seen war, blood, death, and betrayal. Seen and been a part of all of it. I'm not some dumb kid, I'm not just something to protect anymore. I've been shot at, I been Cured by force. I've made decisions that a nineteen year old in New York shouldn't have to make." She continued on with her rant, perhaps it was the slight buzz she had from the few glasses of Scotch she'd had, but what it was that was driving her to say things she'd even rarely thought out loud was cutting off soon, "I've loved you since I first saw you in that bar at Laughlin City, or maybe not loved you then, but I felt some sort of attraction—otherwise I would never have even got into that camper of yours. You knew I liked you, I knew after you touched me again, she had told you that I was 'rather taken with you.' The nerve of some people! URGH! You knew and yet you didn't even care—you didn't think the slightest of me. Ever, did you?" she asked, pointing a finger at him, up in his face, eyes flashing as the epiphany settled over her, the conviction strengthening her as he faltered in his gaze, "I knew it!" she jumped right back into her rant.
Logan could only stare at her; she was fighting back tears as she continued, the only way he could tell was by the bright red that rimmed her eyes. He didn't know how to respond. He had loved her. He had, but Rogue was a whole new world (and it kinda resembled the Aladdin sort of way), a whole new spectrum, with new galaxies and stars. And she was all of it combined.
She was too much for him, and he knew that. Far too well than he could ever want too. He didn't deserve her. He knew that. She was far too good for him, because he'd fucked up too many times—he'd only wanted to go back like how it used to be. Like when she was just seventeen, a lonely little girl trapped in war of betrayal and death and hate. He'd wanted to protect her, he wanted to do so much more—but he knew he couldn't. He didn't have much when it came to morals. But she was the good thing that happened. She cared. He knew that. She'd cared and had wormed her way into his heart since she shouted her warning and asked later if it hurt.
"Does it hurt when they come out?" eyeing his knuckles, or rather the spaces in-between.
No one else had bothered to ask. His attention returned to her, she was back up in his face now. Tears obvious, he could smell the salt, hair plastered to her head, the white stripes taking on a dull gray color, the brown turning a murky, slick black, her over-sized clothes clung to her small frame, making her look twice as frail as she would've without the rain. His eyes widened as he took in her words.
"You've got to choose Logan—me or a memory?! I've been second place to her since we ever showed up here—but she's dead, Logan!!! She's not here anymore—you killed her, yourself!" and she knew she'd struck below the belt with that attack the moment she saw him flinch and his eyes reflected the pain in his heart, but it was the truth, and she wasn't gonna stop now, "She asked you to take her life because the woman you loved," she spat the word like an expletive, "didn't have control over her own body or mutation anymore. Why can't you let her go? Why? Is it because I'm too young, too naïve? Is it my mutation? Do I disgust you, too, Logan—is that it?" and she could feel the tears rushing down because—what if he did find her disgusting? But he could only stayed dumbfoundedly at her, eyes filled with paid. The Wolverine looked defeated, broken, and finally he shook his head slowly.
"It's not any of that, Marie…"
"Then what is it—what makes her so goddamned special that every male in the whole goddamned place is drooling over her—everyone here is moping because of her and yet she tried to kill us all—how does she still have so much control over you even though she's dead!?" she was panting from the output of energy she'd released in those last few statements. The rushing release of raw emotion flowing out of her was zapping her confidence away slowly but surely…
"Never mind…" she said, wiping away rebellious tears, "just forget it. Forget we ever had this meeting. I—I…"she chuckled, all the conviction dying as the scared little who just wanted someone to love her appeared, "I don't know what I thought I could accomplish with that…I just thought that—hell, I don't what I thought. Sorry, I wasted your time."
"Marie, it's not—"
"Stop, Logan, really. Just stop. I'm leaving tomorrow, maybe that's where this is all coming from."
"You're leaving?" she nodded, "Just like that?" he asked in disbelief.
"The Professor's making sure I can support myself, Storm's been helping me, too."
"You been planning this for awhile?"
"You could say that…ever since the whole cure-thing I've…well, I don't feel like I shouldn't be here."
"But you didn't choose to get it, Marie."
"I know, but I still wanted it. I could just taste freedom only a needle away. You don't know how bad I wanted to be rid of those stupid gloves. And that's…that's unacceptable, especially as an X-Man. I don't belong here—not with people who are ridiculously supportive and nice—the very people I wanted to turn my back on when I stepped into that clinic. I'm not a mutant anymore, Logan—I'm just a gray area. "
"Rogue…" she shook her head, her eyes holding a sad note to them.
"I've already made up my mind, Logan. You didn't stop me from getting the cure…you're not gonna stop me from leavin' either. You can't…not anymore. I'm a big girl…capable of making my own decisions—I'm following my instincts." She said, finally looking him in the eye. Her green eyes told of pain and wisdom that a nineteen year old girl from Mississippi shouldn't have yet. She turned and walked back down the steps of the Mansion, plopping down on the second to bottom step and looking more defeated than when he'd found her at the beginning of the damn conversation. He just stood there under the balcony of the second floor, watching her stature shrink with every second as she curled into herself—the distance between them making her untouchable was almost tangible. There were unanswered questions, answers that didn't make either of them happy but were the only truth either could come up with. She was just sitting there in all truth, being pelted by the rain, staring blankly out into the darkness.
"Could you leave me alone for a couple minutes?" her voice broke and cracked a little, it sounded as if she was choking, "I wanna be by myself for a little while," she turned, giving him a horrendously fake and forced smile, even with the tear tracks mixing with the rain, "That's the reason why I came out here in the first place." She laughed a little. He nodded, understanding his presence was keeping her from having the emotional breakdown she needed. She gave him a broken, but real, smile before turning back around and waiting for the tell-tale sound of the opening and closing of the door with a soft click. She didn't even hear him walk up behind her as he placed his bulky leather jacket over her head and around her shoulders to protect her from the cold rain. She looked behind, startled and letting out a gasp of shock as she watched him walk back inside without a word, closing the door quietly behind him. She bit her lip, but the emotional build up and turmoil overflowed without her permission, and she clutched at the jacket, pulling it tighter around her as if to keep herself from breaking into a million pieces. She sobbed, crying endlessly as her heart tore itself up and her brain yelled at her for being so stupid in believing that she'd had a chance—that she could ever beat Jean Grey, even if she was dead. Her body was shaking, from the cold or from the sobs she didn't know—mayhaps both. She couldn't have known that the Wolverine was just on the other side of the door, listening to her every single cry.
And with each tear, he could feel her cries cutting through him--adamantium and all—and finally through his heart.
Storm had noticed the encounter and had watched with a sigh and an empathetic heart. She knew exactly the pain of wanting to be loved and being denied. She couldn't help but ease the rain up slightly—getting sick would probably not make Rogue any happier. Logan's expression was one of a broken man. Rogue's was one of defeat.
"I can smell you, 'Ro." The gruff male voice held a sadness to it that tugged at her heart. But that wouldn't stop her from tearing into him.
"She loved you, ya know?" she stepped out from behind the corner, walking into the kitchen, and sitting across from him. He had a beer in one hand and a lit cigar in the other.
"Logan—even if you don't love her…she has a point—Jean is dead." Logan gripped the bottle a little tighter and took a drink before letting it just sit on the table, "I realize you love her, Logan, but it's been two years—."
"It's not about Jean, 'Ro."
"Then what is itabout, Logan?! Marie's a strong, young woman, capable of making her own choices--"
"Ya know…I told her that…back when she leavin' to get the cure in the first place. I told her to follow her instincts and make her own choices. She's young, but she's got enough smarts to get her through life…" he said, not looking at her.
"Then what's the problem—she wants to live her life with you. She's made her choice."
"That's precisely why I can't. She's got her whole life in front of her…she's too good for the likes of me, 'Ro. She needs a nice young man, who'll settle down her—raise a couple brats—the whole works. She's normal; I don't want to be the one that keeps her tied down to us freaks." Storm looked at him with his last statement, but he just shot it back down with a look of his own, "You know it's true, Storm. She wanted to get the cure…she's wanted to be normal since her mutation manifested. She don't need any of us keeping her back from living a happy normal life with a normal house, job, and family."
"But Logan, she doesn't care about any of that…she wants you. Are you saying you wouldn't provide for her and be a caring husband and father to her children? Are you saying--?"
"No, no, no. I'm not sayin' any of that. I'd do anything for her—even you know that. I've never have let her in my camper back in Laughlin if I didn't at least care about her."
"Then I don't see the problem."
"The problem is that I've fucked up too many times for me to be worth her time. She deserves someone better--."
"Logan, you said yourself she can make her own choices, and she chooses you. You can deny it all you want—but you're the best for her."
"She doesn't have any other options yet. The minute she gets to wherever you guys have set her up, she'll find a nice human boy to be with." In his mind's eye, he could picture it. Marie and her happy normal family. No worries about the Brotherhood, or mutants. No fighting, nothing. Just happiness. He growled a little at the image. He could also see the fickleness of the young man, and how he'd leave her alone with kids, debt, and a broken heart.
"Logan, she'd be dead without you. You've saved her several times, too many times to name them all—and without her, you'd have never learned any compassion to the rest of the world." She said the last part half-way joking and half-way serious—he gave her a look that told her he wasn't amused, "Look, she's gonna leave tomorrow thinkin' you hate her and feeling guilty about what she said tonight and feeling depressed because the man she loves doesn't love her back which is the equivalent of hating her in her mind. At least let her decide before you judge for her what's best."
"'Ro, she don't know what's best an--!"
"Her plane leaves at 10:15 tomorrow morning. Talk to her before she leaves, Logan—you'll regret it if you don't."
"Do you hate her?" she was getting annoyed with his stubbornness.
"I thought we already covered this." He said, almost sulking as he took another swig from the bottle. Storm just glared at him, daring to avoid the question, he glanced at her and caved, "No, I couldn't hate her if I even wanted to. I—I want what's best for her."
"You said yourself, Logan, you're not her father. Don't act like one now." She warned. They both stopped talking as the door creaked open and shut again quietly. Rogue trudged past the door, his jacket still help tightly around her. She kept her head down, her wet, stringy hair hung in her face like blinders on either side, and the bright white stripe was now a soggy grayish color. She kept walking, quietly moving up the stairs to the second floor dorms, moving slowly and mechanically—zombie-like and looking dead with dark eyes and her too big clothes sticking to her thin frame. Logan looked torn, and he'd already scooted back and halfway stood up before he knew what he was doing and sat himself back down. Storm gave him a pointed look that said he'd just proved her point.
"I wouldn't bother her tonight—but Logan, she's leaving in the morning—and she isn't coming back. The Professor has sworn me to secrecy, and her location won't ever be looked at or thought of ever again." Storm said, taking her leave with those final cryptic words. Logan sat and sipped his now warm drink, a sour look crossing his face as he snuffed out the cigar. When he finally did move, he couldn't help himself as he walked past her room to listen to any sounds that might give him an indication or something—he didn't even know anymore…but all he could hear was the sound of water running from a shower. He sighed and continued moving, finally making it to his own room to brood for the rest of the night.
Rogue felt like shit. Her eyes were bloodshot still, her face seemed swelled ever so slightly, and she could only curse mildly under her breath as she looked at the clock. Her room was barren, having packed everything up the day before. All her belongings sat in a small pile at the end of her bed, packed nicely in three bags, one of which had been with her since she'd left her home in Mississippi and hitchhiked to the Canadian wilderness. She threw the covers off of herself, scratching her head lightly as she eyed the sunlight streaming through her window with hatred. Her mind was slightly sluggish as it reminded her of last night's events. She didn't know if he'd even want to say good-bye to her, but she'd keep the jacket nonetheless. If nothing else it might help ease the pain of not seeing him. She sighed, wondering if she was doing the right thing—maybe she should've waited about this and maybe she should fix things with Logan before leaving for good, and….and she was scared out of her mind. But she'd known her little speech wouldn't do any good. She hadn't even planned to give the speech anyways. She wished he'd have just left like everyone expected him too, after Alcatraz—she might've been able to handle everything better. She couldn't help but wondering if this would the last time she'd ever see him again. She sighed, beginning to get ready for the last morning she'd spend as Rogue, and the lifetime ahead her that she'd spend as Marie D'Ancanto, and she almost hates herself for her own decision.
She didn't know how she was going to survive anywhere else. It'd been so long since she'd been on her own, so long since she'd seen anywhere other than Westchester, New York—and now she was moving to Texas. She'd already been up north, seen the things she had wanted to see as a child. Why not further explore the south? It was going to be a long plane ride, and after she got on that plane—Rogue would no longer exist. And that scared her more than anything. She hadn't been Marie in over three years. She felt naked, vulnerable—and most of all alone. Her powers had connected her to people, had helped her make the most loyal of friends, helped her meet the nicest people ever, helped her face her fears, helped her find a purpose—and now what did she have? Nothing. She still knew those people, still cherished every memory, still loved each and every one of them just as she had before—but she was human now. Just another Homo sapien looking for a way to pass the time and get by in this world. What would she do now?
She stopped thinking. She'd already been over this with her own innerself. She'd been over this with the Professor and with Storm. The Mansion's doors were always open to her should she ever need a safe-haven. Hesitancy wasn't going to get her out of her own emotional tornado. Of course, she was still surprised that the Professor had actually agreed to it. He could've made her stay if he'd felt the need…and he'd probably felt the need when she'd asked for that particular request. She'd asked him if he could help her set up her own place somewhere else, someplace she'd never been. Of course, she wouldn't forget that she made the decision after having stared at a note from Logan as Storm could only stare at her bandaged wrists that she'd ripped open with her teeth about five hours prior to the meeting. It was a wonder the Professor had agreed with it when she'd asked the first time—but maybe he'd realized being anywhere away from Westchester, and the good and bad memories that accompanied it, was for the best.
She was drying her hair with a towel, fresh from the shower, when someone knocked. She vaguely pondered the idea of doing nothing, and pretending she couldn't hear it. She shook it away, as she walked towards it, the least she could do on her last morning as an X-Man is be sociable. The knocking became louder and had gone to the level of incessant banging against the polished oak door.
"Hold yer horses, sugah—I'm comin' already!" she grumbled irritated already. The banging was harsh, definitely masculine. Finally she unlocked it, opening the door only to be staring face to face with a certain Russian, "Piotr? What're ya doin' here?"
"Rogue…I—I heard you were leaving today. Is that true?" he asked quietly, his eyes not able to stay on her face, but darting to the background of her room.
"Yeah, why?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow in question.
"Oh…well…I wanted to say that…" he trailed off again, eyes on something he was fidgeting with in his hands, "I'll miss you." He said, finishing, smiling a little ruefully as he held out his hand, the one holding something. She held out her ungloved, small, pale hand palm up and marveled at the small object that he dropped. It was a beautifully decorated charm bracelet. Obviously Russian from the designs and charms, she gasped.
"Pete…you didn't have ta—!"
"Don't worry about it, you're family Rogue, and when family starts going away we give them gifts to remember us by." He said good-naturedly.
"Oh Piotr!" she hugged him, and after the initial shock, he, too, hugged her back. It was over quickly, though. She put on the bracelet, smiling softly at the sparkles it gave off when the sunlight hit it just right.
"Just remember that there are other people that care for you, Rogue. And if you ever need help, if you ever need anything, me and the rest of us are here for you." He said, and she knew he meant it. She had known about the Russian's affections for her, but she had also made it very clear to him awhile back, that she did not return those feelings. He still remained one of her closest friends, though.
"Thanks, Pete. I'll remember that." She said, already missing him a little. He stepped back, turning once more to her before completely walking off.
"Good luck wherever you're going, Rogue." And he walked back down the hall, turning at the stairs to go to the kitchen for breakfast. She sighed, unable to hide her emotional turmoil as she retreated back to her room, closing the door softly with a click. She closed her eyes, focusing on breathing, repeating her own little mantra over and over in her head.
You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.
You don't have choice.
It's do or die.
You can do this…
You can do this…
You can do this…
She opened her eyes, determination setting in them. She wasn't going to think about it. She refused to think about everything she was leaving behind. She was starting a new chapter in her book, and entirely new life. She couldn't afford to be hesitant. She couldn't afford to stay here any longer knowing that she would always be second-best to a corpse.
She couldn't stay here any longer knowing that he didn't love her, not even a little bit.
And so she resumed packing, muttering reassurances to herself, and not stopping to reminisce about any of the items she was throwing away (specifically photos). Gone was Rogue, the minute she got in that taxi that would be here within another hour to take her to airport, she was Marie D'Ancanto.
And there was nothing she could do to change that. Stopping for a split second she realized what she was holding. And she couldn't take it anymore. Her emotional barrier cracked, and as the first tears fell, she sank down to the floor, crying for the second time, trying to ignore the smirking face of Logan staring up at her from the ground where the photo had landed.
God, life sucked.
"I think you should follow your instincts."
Logan had been pacing around his room for hours and hours on end—unable to sit still, unable to stop thinking, unable to do anything productive except mutter and pace. God, he was pathetic. He loved her, she loved him—it was simple right? No. She was so innocent, so…pure. And he was so…well, words didn't describe what he was—at least, not polite ones. He'd already attempted to make himself go talk to her, and he'd only ended up pacing in the hallway half-way there. He had to do this. That girl meant more to him than he could fathom, he knew that. He really did—that's why he wanted to let her go. Because he didn't he could stand himself if he held her back from being all she could be. He growled at the image that he'd come up with the night before. Marie and her perfect little life and family, and the fickleness of the young man and the broken heart and the realizations of what the young man had really been like come far too late. He could see it all—humans were cruel like that. He yelled and sliced away at the wall, a habit he'd grown accustomed to after she'd first been brought back from Alcatraz.
So there he stood, panting from the force and the anger that he'd just unleashed on the poor wall and chester-drawers, the shredded wood staring at him unforgiving. It even seemed as if the furniture was accusing him! He growled again, this was ridiculous. This was just dumb, not even he could justify the cowardice he was displaying—had been displaying for the past four hours, thirty-five minutes, and twenty seconds. He wrenched open his door and stalked down the hallway, displeasure obvious in the scowl that seemed permanently set on his face. Before he could hesitate, before he could even think of what he was doing or what he would say to her—the girl that he'd almost broken beyond repair. He knocked, loudly.
"Rogue!" No answer, "Marie?!" the door swung open as his fist hit it one more time. His eyes darted at the ridiculously spotless room that smelled of Rogue and salt water. She'd been crying again.
"Marie?" he took a step inside, and then it dawned on him to look at the clock.
"Her plane leaves at 10:15 tomorrow morning. Talk to her before she leaves, Logan—you'll regret it if you don't." Storm's words floated back to him.
"Shit!" Logan cursed loudly, and ran out, the door swinging wildly behind him.
The fluorescent green numbers on the clock on the nightstand flashed 10:00 mockingly.
Rogue had officially become Marie. That's what her license said, that's what every identification card on her said. Anna Marie Raven. The name sounded foreign. She'd said a couple times, just to get the feel of it on her tongue, but it didn't sound right. It felt like a shirt that was two sizes to small, the name unable to convey the entirety of who she was. The simpleness of it taking away some attributing characteristics of her personality. She supposed she'd get used to it. Maybe it wasn't too small, but too big. Maybe she was just a small little girl, like the one that had runaway from her home in Mississippi out of fear. Maybe the name was too big, and placed the burden of having to live up to it. Giving her the burden of having to, needing to fit in with the rest of society, unable to be an outcast any longer. It wasn't a choice. This was something that was being forced on her, and she'd have to fill those shoes of this human girl that was good, pure, and normal. She sighed, she was thinking again. She'd have to stop that. She wasn't going to be able to get on the dumb plane if she kept that up. She still held her suitcase and duffel bag in her hands, her fingers wrapping around the handle of the dark green suitcase tightly. She wore gloves for the security factor, dark green—just like the suitcase. Habit she supposed, and she needed all the security she could get if she was going to go through with this. She took a deep breath, beginning to walk into the airport, after having stood in front of it for so long staring at it like it was a demon waiting to swallow her up. People probably thought she was nuts, but the picture was right. Those revolving doors were waiting to swallow her up, and completely obliterate the person she'd been. Not that she didn't want that too happen—it was just a scary idea. Taking another deep breath, she pushed against the glass door, entering the last place she'd ever see of New York.
Logan had used the motorcycle he'd grown so fond of, the one that had originally belonged to the late Scott Summers. The best thing about the bike was the hyperdrive speed, he could get to the airport in half the time it would normally take when following all the laws of the road and going a reasonable speed. But even with the added bonus of cutting his time in half—that only left him five minutes to find her and convince her to not get on the plane. He gripped the gas harder, knuckles white—he'd be damned if he let her get away.
She was standing on the edge of waiting area, knowing full-well her flight would be called to board within five minutes. She was twitchy, antsy with fear and excitement at seeing a new place. But she still couldn't help the tears that were running freely down her face.
He hadn't even come to wish her goodbye.
She sniffled, trying not to go into the throws of an all-out emotional breakdown. Not here. Not now. Maybe later after she'd landed in the southern state of Texas and found her apartment.
"Flight 226, all passengers please board." The mechanical female voice called over the speakers. She looked up at the hanging signs, wishing everyone that left here a farewell. If only…
He hadn't even had the decency to let her see him one last time. She bit her lip, readjusting her duffel bag on her shoulder before taking a deep breath and starting to walk over to the portal to her new life…
"Marie!" she froze and turned, eyes widening as she hastily wiped away the tears that she hadn't realized were there.
"Logan? What are you—mmf!" his arms had wrapped around her waist, pulling her to him as close as possible and holding her there steadily. He kissed her hard, almost punishing in its intensity. There was no talking, no thinking, just acting on instinct—finally taking his own advice. Her mouth was soft against his, and it took him a moment to realize she was kissing him back hesitantly. She tried to pull away, even if she was kissing him back, she wouldn't allow this without some sort of fight, but he held on to her, tracing her lips with his tongue. The gasp he received was enough to allow him entrance to her warm cavern, and he plunged forward, sweeping against the inside of her mouth and pulling her closer. She couldn't help the small moan that escaped her as he sucked on her tongue for a moment before he finally pulled back in need of oxygen. He gazed at her, eyes filled with apologies and promises, confessions of sins and love, and a new revelation of what he'd known all along. She could only stare right aback, almost ashamed of how much she'd enjoyed the kiss. She glowed an even deeper shade of scarlet as she realized he could probably smell it. Logan gave her a guilty grin, that proved he could, in fact, smell just how much she had enjoyed it, and she could only try and catch her breath again.
"You really thought you could leave without me, darlin'?"
"Logan—I." he stopped her, already talking over her, knowing she would try to rationalize. Knowing she would try to make him feel better for not loving her, if that were the case—knowing she didn't want him to be with her out of mere obligation. Knowing that she loved him and only him.
Knowing that she didn't know it had been reciprocated all along.
"Marie… I'm takin' my own advice and followin' my instincts any I ain't letting you go. You're stuck with me, kid—." And she smiled, understanding the meanings of his words.
"Is that term really appropriate now, sugah?" she asked, wrapping her arms lazily around his neck, and looking up at him with gleaming green eyes. He smirked at her and he pulled her to him.
"It's you who I think isn't bein' appropriate, darlin'." She blushed scarlet, not noticing the intercom announcing that her plane was leaving. She smiled, nevertheless, hugging him—pulling him close so she could smell the scent of cigars and pine.
"I love you, Logan." She whispered, breathing in his scent, the only thing that could make her heart stop aching. She had expected, dreaded, the feeling of him tense against her at her words. But all she felt were his arms wrap around her in an embrace that completely encompassed her entire being and felt his warm breath ghost across the top of her head. His head lowered, as he buried his face in her hair, he spoke softly, and she could feel his lips move against her head.
"You're my one and only, kid. This was my choice, and don't you ever forget it."
If only it had happened that way. If only he'd been two seconds faster. If only love stories were true, and happy endings always found the people that deserved them. If only she'd waited a little longer, if only the flight hadn't been planned at all. If only he'd thought that mayhaps she wouldn't wait for him forever. She could picture it so perfectly, her expression would be of pure bliss and happiness and his mirror her own—but her daydreamings had yet to come true, and she doubted that this would be any different. Although, if it had, it would've been the perfect ending to her story, and the perfect beginning to theirs.
But it didn't, and it wasn't. So she sits on the plane alone, looking out the window for the last time at New York, marveling at how simple it was to get on the plane and leave it all behind. How easy…she would've thought it would have been harder—like pulling teeth or getting a heart transplant. She felt tears beginning to fall, even as the plane began to take off. She wiped them away quickly—this had been her decision and she was going to stick to it.
"Damn right I am," she whispered to the cold window, staring at her reflection…"Damn right."
A/N: Don't worry, it's not the end. There will be a sequel! Yes, there will be. Should be posted up soon, I've gotta work a few plot flaws out of it, but after that it should be good. Sorry this took so long to post, I didn't realize I was missing that much story out of one single part. So—anyways, please review! Thanks!
A/N: Don't worry, it's not the end. There will be a sequel! Yes, there will be. Should be posted up soon, I've gotta work a few plot flaws out of it, but after that it should be good. Sorry this took so long to post, I didn't realize I was missing that much story out of one single part. So—anyways, please review! Thanks!
The one and only