Title: Placebo Effect
Summary: It's all coming down to the fact that Marie should have realized that normal was never supposed to be part of her vocabulary.
Warnings: Slight sexual content, slight language. Very loose usage of the term "Placebo Effect."
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it would have been canon. The definition comes from The Skeptic's Dictionary. The summary is based off of meeker004's Vertigo; however, the plot is not similar.


The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behavior not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered.
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i.

Five days after she gets the cure, Marie has sex for the first time.

It isn't beautiful or romantic like she had always hoped it would be, and it ends before she can find any pleasure out of it. Bobby gives her a loving smile and quick kiss, before he slips out of the janitors closet they snuck into and heads off to class, leaving her alone.

Marie takes a deep breath as she dresses and reminds herself that this is why she did it and promises that next time will be better.

ii.

It only takes two weeks for the segregation to hit her.

At first everyone comes to her with questions (what was it like? how long did it take? did it hurt?) wanting to know every detail about the process. Some sigh dreamily and talk about maybe going and doing the same. About becoming normal.

But everything changes when they realize that she's not planning on going anywhere. That she wants to stay at the Institution, because she doesn't know how to survive in the outside world anymore. And suddenly, they don't seem so accepting of her change.

It's subtle at first. She's pushed aside during training sessions ("it's not safe for you here"). Then she stops being invited when they play outside of class ("it's mutant games; it wouldn't be fair for you, you know?"). Until they finally just stop making excuses, and only a hand full of people are willing to acknowledge her existence.

And she's quickly realizing that being a freak among normals may not be as bad as being normal among freaks.

iii.

"What the hell do you mean she has to go? Are you out of you mind?"

Aurora only winces slightly at Logan's outburst. "The Institution is a place to help young mutants. That no longer applies to Rogue and we are short on space. It isn't fair to the other students to continue to allow her to stay."

"And where the fuck do you expect her to go?" He growls. "Back to the parents who abandoned her?"

She ignores his question and shakes her head. "She made her choice, Logan."

And he's made his. "If the kid goes, I do too."

Aurora's eyes widen, as if she actually expected him to let this go so easily. "You would leave all these children for her?"

"Watch me." His eyes meet hers, and he dares her to test him.

The next morning, Marie gets the news that she is welcome at the Institution as long as she wants.

iv.

Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night.

When she does, she sneaks downstairs and into the kitchen and sometimes she finds Logan there, raiding the cupboards or drinking a soda (Aurora continues to enforce the Professor's no alcohol policy, much to Logan's dismay). He always looks up, gives her a nod, and tosses her whatever it is that he's gotten a hold of. She just smiles back and mumbles her thanks.

Marie knows that he's probably there because he had another one of his nightmares. But she never says so, because she's started to have her own lately. One where she's running and running, but can't find what it is she's looking for. One where she realizes that she is no longer feels complete.

(Because it's all coming down to the fact that Marie should have realized that normal was never supposed to be part of her vocabulary.)

So she just sits with Logan and enjoys the silence, because she's starting to feel like it's the only thing she has left.

v.

She's with Bobby in the closet again. It's something that keeps repeating itself more times than she's sure she wants, but she's scared to stop it. He's one of the only ones who still acknowledges her existence now, and she doesn't want to scare him away.

Besides, this is what she wanted. This is why she did it.

Her shirt is off and he wastes no time doing the same with her bra. The air is cold because of him, and the sudden exposure makes her breath hitch. His fingers dance against her breasts and she closes her eyes, and she tries to convince herself that this she wants this. That this is why she took the cure (though she's not completely sure she would call it that anymore), and that this is what she wants.

But it's not.

And the next thing she knows, she can't feel Bobby's hands on her anymore, and everything has suddenly gotten much colder. She opens her eyes to find her boyfriend on the floor, breathing but unconscious.

She screams.

vi.

"Placebo effect." Hank says, turning away from his tests and back to her. She's sitting on a medical table, Logan on one side of her and Aurora on the other. Bobby lays, still unconscious, on the next table over. "Well, kind of."

"The drug wasn't real?" Aurora asks. (Marie doesn't miss that she doesn't refer to it as a cure.)

"Oh no, it was. But the mutant gene seems to have returned."

"How is that even possible?"

"I believe," he takes his glasses off and looks at her, "that it depends on the will of the taker. She wanted it to work, so it did." Marie can feel his gaze lingering on her, even after she's broken away, and she hugs her knees to her chest.

She doesn't bother to ask what's changed.

vii.

It only takes Bobby two-point-five weeks to realize that celibacy really isn't his thing. He tells Marie that maybe they are better off being 'just friends'.

The next day, Bobby's in the infirmary with a broken rib, and Logan is walking around with a very smug grin.

viii.

"I'm sorry." Kitty Pryde tells her one morning, before she's even gotten out of bed. It's only been one week since Bobby broke up with her. "I really am." And though her voice certainly reflects it, Marie isn't sure she believes her. "I love him."

Marie isn't looking at her, but she doesn't have to be to know that Kitty is watching her. She thinks that maybe she is waiting for her to do something – cry, scream, jump up and suck the life out of her maybe – anything, but she doesn't move. After a couple of minutes, Kitty finally leaves. When she does, Marie hugs her legs to her chest and takes a deep breath.

Because what's killing her the most is that she's realizing that it doesn't really kill her at all.

ix.

He pulls her aside three days later, when he finds her walking alone between classes. "Do you miss it?" He asks, before she has a chance to say anything.

Marie raises a brow, clearly confused. "Miss what, Logan?"

"Not having powers." He's probably the last person she expects to hear that from, but it's been bugging him and he needs to know. "Do you miss it?"

He expects her to say yes, because that's all she's ever wanted – to be normal. To be able to touch someone without having to worry about hurting (or even killing) them. To have real human contact. And that's why she took the damn cure the last time – so that she could touch that brat, the one who left her once it all backfired.

"I…" She bows her head and avoids his eyes. "I… I have to get to class." Marie pushes past him.

Logan doesn't bother to stop her, because he's pretty damn sure he's got his answer now.

x.

"You know," He says one night when they're sitting in the kitchen, "If you were able to turn your skin off once, who says you can't do it again?"

Marie nearly chokes on her soda. "What?"

He shrugs. "You did it once. Switch it off and on."

"I didn't do anything, Logan – I had the cure!" She says, but he gives her a look that clearly shows he doesn't believe her. "Besides," she adds, bowing her head. "I wouldn't know how to."

He snorts. "Yeah, too bad there aren't any schools or anything to help with that." Her eyes narrow at him and he shakes his head. "Look, it's your call, kid." He takes a swig of his soda. "But I just thought you should know that you do have a call."

Her gloved fingers clench the soda, and she doesn't reply.

xi.

She knocks on the door twice before sticking her head in. "Storm, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Aurora looks up from the papers on her desk. "Rogue, I was actually planning on calling you here."

Marie raises a brow in confusion. "You were?"

"Yes." She motions for her to take a seat. "It seems that there has been a new development in the drug that suppresses mutant genes. I was told that the test results are promising." She takes a deep breath. "You know how I feel about this, but I thought you should know."

A new drug. Another chance – a better chance – to have what she's always wanted. To have a normal life. To be able to touch, to feel, to love, without fear. And for the slightest of moments, the word 'yes' dances on her tongue.

But then she remembers the last time, the feeling of losing something, of losing a part of herself, and she knows her answer.

Marie shakes her head and smiles at the surprised Aurora. "Actually, my powers were kinda the reason I wanted to see you…"

xii.

She spends three months, forty-six training sessions, and countless hours of outside practice trying to figure out how to do it – so it's only natural that it happens while she's daydreaming. And when it does, Marie is so surprised she nearly falls off of her bed, wondering if she's imagining the whole thing or if she's finally lost her mind.

It doesn't feel at all like how she expected it to or anything like when she took "the cure", a lifetime ago. There is no distant gap, no sense of something missing. It almost feels like a light switch that has been turned off, because, while it may be off, she still knows that it's there. She takes a deep breath (afraid that it might not work again, but desperate to know), and switches it on again. Off again. On again.

Marie all but jumps off her bed and out the door.

(She's so excited that she doesn't even care when the crowd in the halls part as to avoid bumping into her.)

She finds him coming out of the Danger Room, hands in his pockets, and that stupid cigar in his mouth. By the time she gets to him, she's out of breath and has to stop to catch it before she can say or do anything.

Logan raises a brow. "You alright, kid?"

"Great." She says when she's finally caught her breath. "Better than great. I've got something to show you."

She closes her eyes and switches it off. When she opens her eyes again and removes her glove, Logan looks even more confused. For the slightest of seconds, she hesitates – what if she's wrong? what if she ends up hurting him? or worse? – but he doesn't flinch when she lifts her bare hand closer to him.

Suddenly, she's sure she can do this. Her hand to touches his face, her fingers brush against his skin, cupping his cheek. He's the first person she's touched on her own in years.

"I did it."

He grins. "What changed?"

She remembers thinking about this exact moment. About wanting to be able to touch him without fear. About being able to hold him.

A slight blush dances on her cheeks. "What was it that Hank said? A Placebo effect." She smiles at him. "I had to want it enough."

His hand covers hers and a silent message passes between them.

She knows what everyone else will think. She knows they won't approve and she knows their reasons. He's too old, she's too young. He's too rough, she's to gentle. It isn't right. It isn't sane. It isn't normal.

But Marie's finally sure that normal was never meant to be a part of her vocabulary.


Note: About two weeks ago, I had this insane urge to write a fic based on a word. I asked my friend for a word and she said "Placebo!" to which I told her it was a stupid word and chose Overshadow (to which I wrote an Avatar fic) instead. However, the next day I started thinking about it and realized that it is the perfect word for the X-Men: The Movies after the third one. Sorry if the characters seem odd, because it's been sometime since I have watched the movies.

This fic is dedicated to Mathilda.

Review, please. =]