My first fanfic - enjoy! R&R! RR
Deep in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies, a feral-looking man stood; his dark scruffy hair being ruffled in the breeze. The day was clear, just moments before dawn. It was late August, and the air had a distinct crispness about it suggesting the end of summer yet still the faint scent of sweetness of late summer fruit, not over-powering but clearly present in the early morning dew. It would be time to return to the Institute soon, but not just yet.
Logan had had a long standing tradition of needing to get away from the Institute. Logan would never admit it, but the peace he had felt here could never compare to the feeling of belonging he got from the Xavier Institute. Still, it was easy to get claustrophobic in a place like that and, with heightened senses, near impossible to endure full time. Logan needed to feel free, but for all that Chuck had done for him in the past, he usually timed his wanderings so as not to leave them short-staffed. For reasons unknown, Alberta was his place of choice to wander. Maybe it was just a pathetic, and sometimes desperate, attempt to find out more about his past.
Logan stepped from the door of his dwelling, a small shack located high up in the East face of the mountain, facing the sunrise where on a clear day such as this you could see the Big Horn Indian reserve, North-West of Calgary. Logan stretched and sniffed the air outside his hand-built cabin. A true Wolverine starting the day by ensuring every muscle was awake and alert; ready to respond to the environment they found themselves in. With dawn all creatures big and small may stir and begin the day, or rest after a productive night. This was the time to hunt. Food supplies were low and the animal in him sensed the changing seasons and felt the provider instinct; this was the time to build stores. Knowing the fire would keep until his return, he glanced back at the cabin as if asking for permission to go.
Not needing much in the way of weapons, he grabbed some rope and set off downhill to the nearest water source. Clad in his trademark worn jeans, boots and wife-beater, he ran down at top speed through the forest, barely making a sound. This was what it was to feel alive, to embrace the animal within. Here, the Wolverine could lose himself to instinct and not feel ashamed of his feral side; after all, the forest may see all and remember all but does not judge.
A few hundred yards away from the edge of the clearing by a stream, he paused and sniffed. He knew his prey was near and off to the right. A stag emerged from the edge of the overgrowth. Cautiously, it looked left to right and stayed stock still for a few moments before proceeding with a lowered head to the water's edge. Jumping forth from the forest on the creature's right, in a graceful but powerful leap, the hunter bounded to claim its prey.
Two sets of bone claws erupted from their flesh housing and struck the stag; three in the right shoulder with the majority of the force to knock the creature over, and three to the neck to make it quick. Adrenaline on an all time high the hunter stood over the animal, and breathed in the scent of her prey and something distinctly more masculine downwind. She retracted her claws and looked up through the white streaks of mostly brunette, chin-length locks. Over at the edge of the clearing, Logan stepped forth.
"I was gonna tag that one, kid." Logan stated gruffly, holding back his praise at that he hadn't noticed her approach until the strike. He also couldn't detect the smell of brimstone off her, indicating that she didn't cheat by teleporting to the location using Nightcrawler's powers.
"Sorry to spoil your fun." Rogue replied with a cheeky grin.
Being in Alberta for two months with Rogue was hardly a walk in the park, more like the toughest hike through the Canadian Rockies in Logan's life, or in as much of his life as he could remember that is. This had nothing to do with getting along with Rogue or not working well with her. In fact, despite being the oddest individuals of the Xavier Institute, they were actually one of the best pairings – as friends and teammates. There is nothing one wouldn't do for the other. Plus, they seemed to be the only two in the Mansion that could appreciate companionable silence. Even the telepaths didn't understand that. Having little control over multiple personalities hiding out in your head or possessing heightened senses that you can't turn off can be taxing. But a combination of the two, coupled with other re-emerging powers, proved to require something drastic for Rogue.
After surveying the damage inflicted to the stag at Rogue's hands, Logan could see the efficacy and precision of the strikes.
"I'm impressed, kid." Logan stated, not holding back the pride in his voice this time. Heck, after all she'd been through in the last year and how hard she had to work because of it, she deserved a little credit.
"We've been out here for two months, Logan, it's about time that Ah got somethin' right." Rogue looked down at the bloody carcass at her feet. With the adrenaline wearing off and Logan's abilities fading at her will, she started to feel a little nauseated by her handy-work. "Or wrong. Oh man, that's gross!"
"You're not gonna go all vegetarian on me now, are ya kid?" Logan replied with a grin as he tied up the deer with the rope he brought, preparing it to be hauled back up the mountain to the cabin.
"Hah! Yeah right," Rogue replied tapping her temple, "like you or Sabretooth would let me go a day without meat. It takes a lot of effort to cook my steak medium-rare rather than having it blue."
"I prefer medium-rare to blue, so I'd blame Sabretooth for that one." Logan didn't mind the banter when it was with Rogue – especially since she had been acting more and more like herself and was talking about the personalities she had absorbed; a marked improvement from bottling things up. Yeah, like he was one to talk. Logan hadn't opened up and talked about things more in the last two months but he may as well have had. Since Rogue had him in her head too, sometimes all they needed was a shared look for her to understand. It took some talking for it to work the other way though.
Looking at Rogue now, so at home in the wilderness of Alberta (for a southern gal), Logan noted that she had changed. Physically, she was the same as ever, although perhaps a little more tanned from the outdoors and less of requirement to cover-up her deadly skin seeing as it has been just the two of them. Ripped jeans, boots and string vests have been more her style here. But no, Logan noticed a change in her personality, or rather the re-emergence of her personality as the dominant figure from all the countless ones she has absorbed since the on-set of her mutation.
Since the night Mystique revealed her betrayal to Rogue, Logan had felt increasingly more responsible for Rogue's well being; these feelings better described as a unique bond of friendship than a father-daughter deal. After the night of Apocalypse's awakening, all of the personalities Chuck claimed to have driven out wasn't worth squat. Rogue had absorbed a huge number of powers and personalities under the influence of Mesmero in twenty-four hours. What Rogue kept to herself was that Apocalypse drained her of those powers but not the personalities – and if her encounter with Mystique had taught her anything it was that as long as there was a trace, she'd be able to tap into the abilities of those she had absorbed.
Touching Apocalypse worked both ways. He took all the powers from her and she took a glimpse of his memories and knowledge. She knew the only way to stop him would be to re-entomb him, and with the help of the X-men and Leech, she did just that. When it was all over, she admitted to Logan that she was at her breaking point.
The Wolverine had her back. He'd been watching her closely since that night when she first lost control. He could piece it all together faster than the others. He knew she'd been holding back the truth and enduring more than she had to throughout the crisis. It was at this point that Logan told Chuck he'd be taking her away for awhile. It wasn't a question asking for permission; it was simply a stated fact.
Once in the Rockies, Logan hoped that with meditation and hard work, Rogue could finally get a grip on how her power worked. He didn't mean her ability to touch; he was referring to the ability to tap into the powers of anyone she absorbed. Rogue admitted that the personalities were still with her. When the dominant personalities were in control she exhibited their abilities also, with little or no control. Where Logan took her had space to practise and hone these abilities. It was remote and isolated; no one would get hurt and no one could hurt her. Whether it would work or not - it didn't matter; if nothing else, the kid deserved a break.
After the first few weeks of working with Rogue, she was demonstrating more control over accessing the different personalities individually. With more effort she was able to subdue them on her own without Logan guiding her back. The powers were another issue. It took much longer to figure out the link between the personalities and the access of their powers. In fact, it was Rogue's idea to start with Wolverine's abilities. Claws and a healing-factor were not as destructive as optic blasts or an avalanche.
Logan's personality was one of the toughest to bring forth from her collection. Although it had dominance in her mind over the others, the huge gaps in his past it made it difficult to catch. However, once she had a hold over it, it was the easiest to focus on with Logan being right there with her.
To understand the link between his persona and his abilities, Rogue required a quick touch of the real Logan to boost the link. After a few sessions she no longer required the contact and understood the connection. Then she took to practising with the other personalities and powers, and focused on Logan's when she started to feel overwhelmed. She was now at the point of being able to focus on a person she had absorbed and their abilities at will. Logan wished he could take credit for that but all he really did was to give her the time and space she needed to figure it out on her own.
The frequent short touches with Logan were not without their consequences. Not the nightmares, she had those anyway – and not to be harsh on Logan but the nightmares she's had over the last two months were much worse. No, it was the first time she exhibited Logan's abilities without touching him. It happened a few weeks ago...
Focusing on Logan, her mind went to the Weapon X memories. She was being tied down and submerged in a coolant with a tube to breathe. It was then that the needles advanced. It was then that she screamed...
Bone-claws erupted from Rogue's knuckles. Blind fury took a hold of her. She swiped frantically at anything and everything in her way. She ran through an obstacle course of trees and logs and overgrowth, the sound of her heart pounding in her ears being her only link to reality. The adrenaline kept her going. It was after dusk when it happened but now well into the early hours of the morning before she stopped running. The adrenaline was gone and was replaced with fear and cold dread. Wolverine was fading and she was returning to normal, but she was still on high alert – the fight or flight response having taken over and being all too eager to fight.
She never saw or even sensed his approach among the pitch black. Bursting forth from the trees someone bigger than her grabbed her wrists with his gloved hands and pushed her back against the tree, using the weight of his body to hold her in place until she realised she was safe.
"Rogue! Look at me!" He urgently demanded of her. Rogue was coming out of her trance.
"...Logan?" She replied slightly confused. Logan smiled briefly at the recognition and released her wrists, and surveyed her for any damage. She appeared unscathed. At the same time, she lowered her wrists and examined the three protruding bone claws from each fist. She looked at Logan's clothes, seeing three puncture marks to his chest and many slashes across in triplicate. The skin underneath the ruined garments appeared unharmed but she knew that was not always the case.
"Are you alright?" They both asked each other at the same time, and both smiled.
"Yeah, I'm ok kid. You got the jump on me and a fair head-start while I recovered from it." There was no anger in his voice, only concern for her. Rogue nodded.
"...It was Weapon X..." She whispered. Logan looked down at the ground.
"... I know. I'm sorry." Rogue took his gloved hand and squeezed it.
"Don't be. I guess we finally worked out how my powers work. I don't think the transition will be as dramatic as that for the other powers." She quickly assured him. "And we learned two new things."
"Yeah, you can take on physical manifestations," Logan replied taking her offered hand and examining the claws closer. "And I had claws of bone before the Adamantium. Can you retract them?"
"Yep," She smiled weakly at Logan, "That felt weird." Logan stepped back from her causing her to suddenly feel the chill of the night air encircle her. She looked up into the night sky and around at the darkened forest. "I guess we should go back to the cabin?"
"I hate to break it to you, kid. But you've been running solidly for the last hour away from the cabin." Logan stated. He looked over at her as she rubbed her arms for heat. Coupling the exhaustion and the adrenaline with-drawl with the chilly night air, he figured she must be freezing. Logan slowly pivoted on the spot to gain his bearings. He sighed. "I dunno, kid. There's not much out here in the way of shelter. We could build a fire but that alone won't keep you warm enough..." Logan stopped talking when he felt two small arms encircle his waist from behind, pressing his back to her. "Rogue, I..."
Suddenly, they were both standing outside Logan's cabin. Rogue had teleported them back home using Nightcrawler's abilities. Logan turned to look down at Rogue, this girl was always full of surprises. She smiled up at him sheepishly. He raised an inquisitive eye-brow at her. She still had her hands on his waist but drew them back fairly quickly when she realised that contact was no longer required; with a slight blush to her normally porcelain skin.
"Home, sweet home." She said. Funny, how Rogue considered this home now. "Well, Ah guess we should head in, it's been a long and eventful day." With that, Rogue turned to go inside.
"That is has..." Logan sighed, barely audible. Watching her retreat, Logan's mind started calculating. They were about twenty five to thirty miles from the house, yet in a single teleportation, Rogue managed to get them back home. Filing this thought away for later, Logan followed Rogue into the cabin...
Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he finished tying up the carcass and hauled it over his shoulders; a perfect picture of the male hunter-provider. They began their trek back up to the cabin. Rogue offered to help with the weight as a polite gesture but knew that Logan enjoyed the physical work of bringing the animal back up to the cabin. This way he could work off his adrenaline from not going for the kill himself.
"I'm surprised you have the energy to help with this, Rogue." Logan says when they had nearly reached the cabin. "After all, I was sure you were asleep when I set out a while ago, and you still beat me to the kill. I would have thought over-taking me might have worn you out a little, unless..." Logan glanced at her, one eye-brow raised in a mock-accusing look.
Rogue fully understood his implied accusation and with slight hesitation, blushingly she confessed: "Quicksilver..."
"Cheater." He inhaled quietly, but purposefully loud enough for her to hear.
"Hey, Ah'm not a cheater, Ah was just practisin'!" Logan nodded and threw down the deer just outside the cabin door. Rogue went into the kitchen and filled a glass with water and proceeded to drink and then get a glass for Logan.
"Let's get this thing sliced and diced." Logan stated. Rogue held out the glass of water to him. He then added for good measure, "Cheater."
Suddenly the contents of the glass swirled up and ejected straight in to Logan's face. Rogue had used her telekinesis abilities from Jean Grey on Logan.
"Hey, that's cheating!" Logan growled.
"It's not cheatin', it's practisin'!" Rogue retorted.
End of Chapter 1