This was a story I wrote a while ago. It's basically a Rogue introspective from Logan's point of view. Read and review!
Warnings: Minor swearing, slight Jean-bashing.
The evening air was cool and damp. Slight fog was rolling in, casting the full moon's light eerily across the landscape. Stars peeked out from wisps of clouds, creating the image that the sky was a dark cloth with silver embroidery.
The park was quiet. The children who had frolicked on the playground hours ago had now been sent to bed. The chains on the swing set fluttered, stirred by the breeze, and the metal carousel creaked on its rusty hinges. Water burbled from the scenic white fountain, while cicadas and crickets chirped happily in the grass.
A solitary figure stood on the edge of the sidewalk, scanning the darkness with piercing blue eyes. He was a powerfully built man, with broad shoulders and muscular arms that had been through more fights that one could remember. He was handsome in a rugged way, with strong features that complemented his untamed dark hair.
His gaze rested on a certain point, a barely visible silhouette sitting a ways over on a park bench. Something changed in the man's face when he spotted the other person, just the smallest flash of emotion in his eyes. Then it was gone.
He took a step forward with hesitancy, but he had made up his mind and he wasn't going to change it. Determinedly, the man strode forward, his vision unhindered despite the dim light. The sound of his footfalls on the grass alerted the other person to his presence, but they did not react to his approach. When he sat down beside them on the bench, they still did not acknowledge him.
Fine. He would have to extend the olive branch. The two hadn't actually argued, but he knew that she was too detached and brusque to maintain any close relationships with her teammates.
"Hey Stripes," he said, the nickname that he had mentally christened her with slipping off his tongue.
The girl he had spoken to turned at the blue-eyed man. She had been sitting sideways on the bench, her arm over the shoulder rest with her back to him.
"Hello Logan." She replied quietly.
"Stripes" was a girl of fifteen, but her composure made her seem older and harder than her years. Without luminosity, it was easy to mistake her shoulder-length hair for black or dark brown, but once illuminated, it was clear that her hair was a rich shade of auburn. The only exception was the locks of hair closest to her forehead, which were snow white; hence the nickname Logan had given her.
Without appearing to, Logan studied her. She was pretty, not in the classic sense, perhaps, yet undoubtedly so, with elegantly arched eyebrows, high cheekbones, and flawless ivory skin. Her eyes were forest green and somehow managed to appear feline, but her hard stare diminished their appeal. He understood though, why Jean's cover-girl perfect looks and Kitty's perky schoolgirl cuteness outdazzled her subtle beauty. Besides, he knew that she would rather stay in the background than be forced into the limelight.
The name Mystique had chosen for her was suiting, much as Logan hated to admit it, considering how he despised the woman. A rogue was a thief, a scoundrel. Rogue herself stole a person's thoughts, memories, capabilities- and powers if they weren't a human- with a single touch. Hell, she could drain away their very life force.
The other X-Men wondered why she hadn't chosen a different code name, a name free of taint from the Brotherhood. To Logan, it was obvious. Life wasn't a song that could be edited before it played on the radio. You just had to take the good with the bad at times.
But Rogue seemed to want to hang onto those memories for a reason. Whether it was for revenge against Mystique, anger, or some event that loomed in the future Logan didn't know, but the girl was good. Rogue's features were often etched into a cold mask, almost never even hinting at genuine emotion. She rarely gave an indication of her anger, or really any feelings at all, for that matter.
Although he knew of her emotional compression, Logan didn't doubt her loyalty to the X-Men. Mystique had taken the girl and used her, never bothering to consider the repercussions of her actions. Not even a rogue would allow herself to be tricked into compliance then tossed aside like a broken toy for a second time. And Logan doubted that Rogue would forgive and forget those incidents.
As far as Logan was concerned, Mystique was a rabid animal with only bloodlust to guide her and no true direction beyond her nefarious schemes. The woman was calculating and manipulative, and, much as he hated to admit it, in some instances Rogue reminded him of her.
He wondered how long Rogue could internalize bitterness toward her adoptive mother; her hatred burned inside of her like fire. Rogue was worlds apart from the other carefree students as the Xavier Institute. They had never experienced the pain of being totally alone as she had, except for maybe Scott. But Summers just was out trying to make the world a better place while Rogue . . .
What did Rogue want?
Logan didn't consider himself a busybody who was always involved in someone else's life. Yet he knew so little about Rogue, besides the fact that she felt morally obligated to rescue an injured person from a Cliffside in the middle of a blizzard, even if she wasn't affiliated with said person.
He was going out on a limb by assuming she concerned herself with morals though. Maybe she had just thought that Summers was cute.
In any case, Rogue had revealed so little about herself that none of the X-Men even knew her real name. The name that she attended school by was just an alias, something Logan had deducted when she didn't respond to it half the time.
It really wasn't any of Logan's business; after all, he wasn't a very trusting person himself. But somehow these traits seemed very misplaced in a teenage girl.
Logan cleared his throat. "Ya doing all right, kid?"
Rogue, who had returned to staring out into the night's darkness, glanced at him, the cold, caustic look on her face replaced by impassiveness Her clipped tone didn't quite hide her Southern accent. "I have a hard time believing you followed me four miles from the Institute just to ask if I was all right." She added in an undertone Logan doubted he was supposed to hear, "Mighty nice of you to do that, though."
"Not really worried about breaking curfew, are ya?" Logan asked casually.
Rogue stiffened. "Sometimes I just feel so suffocated. It's better that I get away for a while.
The Canadian knew more than to ask, "Better than what?" Better to get away and out of the house than risk snapping at a teammate then being forced to deal with the hurt feelings, apologies and arguments that would ensue.
Logan spoke again. "What you did for Jean, kid, that was brave."
"Yeah," Rogue replied dourly, "Now maybe I can go five minutes without her telling me I need an attitude adjustment."
The man looked at the girl beside him, who returned his gaze without flinching. She wasn't defiant, rather just reinforcing her statement. After a moment, she resumed staring at the dark landscape.
"So . . . you feel suffocated, huh?" Damn, Logan wasn't good at feelings.
The girl whirled to glare at him angrily. "If you shove some sappy line at me about how Charles Xavier has done so much for me and how I should be grateful that he chose to make me a member of his 'family'-" she stressed the word "family", "Then you'll find that your accelerated healing will come in real handy."
And now she was threatening him. Great. He was supposed to be the expert on Rogue, and here he was, at a loss to understand what the girl was thinking.
No one was going to thank him for his endeavors, and yet . . .
"You never answered my first question. " He drawled. "In fact, you evaded it."
In fact? Evaded? God, Hank and his vocabulary were rubbing off on him.
Rogue slouched down on the bench once more, hard eyes staring into the night, in expectation that he would give up in frustration and walk away. But from her lack of eye contact, Logan could tell she regretted giving him even the smallest sliver of insight.
Hell. Logan groaned inwardly. Forget understanding Rogue's behavior, he didn't understand why he was subjecting himself to this. But Logan cared about this girl; despite her coldness and unwillingness to let others grow close to her, she was the closest to him of all the students. Maybe . . .maybe it was because Logan saw some of himself in her.
The thought occurred to Logan that it must have been difficult for the girl to cope living in such close quarters with the other students. And as if her uncontrollable powers didn't already give her enough trouble, Kitty and Jean were giving her quite a time with it.
It wasn't that Kitty and Jean weren't good kids at heart. It was just that the two felt that Rogue threatened their status at the Mansion. Previously, the Professor would spend extra time with Jean to coach her when using her telepathic abilities. Now, Charles divided his time between working with Rogue and Jean, inspiring feelings of jealousy in the older girl. Jean had been the one with the most potential among all the X-Men, but Rogue's ability- to steal powers and retain them long afterward- put her on level with Jean. Not to mention her envy over Rogue's friendship with Scott.
To make matters worse, Kitty had detected Jean's distaste for Rogue. Kitty admired Jean- after all, Jean was a cheerleader, captain of the girls' varsity soccer team, track star, and an honor roll student (Although Logan sometimes wondered if Jean's straights As were thanks to her telepathy rather than her study habits).
When Kitty realized Jean's dislike for Rogue, the valley girl immediately set out to make Rogue' life more difficult, using passive aggressive mannerisms so not to be reprimanded. Logan liked both girls, but he didn't appreciate their attitudes. First of all, it was petty and stupid; second of all, it broke down teamwork.
Considering that example, it shouldn't have surprised Logan that Rogue was so guarded around him, but it vaguely annoyed him that she labeled as someone she couldn't trust. Did she really believe that every last one of the X-Men thought the worst of her?
"Logan . . ." The sound of his name caused him to redirect his attention to the girl in front of him. Her face was cold and stoic, but Logan didn't bother to take it personally; he knew that is was just her way.
Rogue exhaled, as if trying to cleanse herself. "Being an X-Man means a lot to me, even if at times, it seems like I don't care."
Logan searched for a reason she might be telling him this and recalled the argument between Jean, Summers, and Rogue after Rogue was absent from a Danger Room session. Rogue was a participant of the tennis team at school, and when she had to leave for a match, she had asked Kitty to let the team know where she was. Due to Kitty's poor memory, the message was never relayed to Jean or Scott, and the result was Jean hotly informing Rogue that she was irresponsible, infantile, and inept. Logan suspected that Jean took Rogue's absence as a personal affront to her authority as co-leader. The idea that Scott gave Rogue any support was laughable; he was quick to align himself with Jean.
Now this Logan didn't completely comprehend. From the picture he got, assembled from snippets of overheard conversations amongst the New Recruits, Jean was stringing along Summers and another guy. Typical Summers, so blindsided that he was unable to see that there was another girl besides Jean, and had allowed the chance to be with Rogue slip through his fingers. Granted, the no touching would be an issue for most male teenagers, but devotion was devotion, and Rogue was close to him.
"I'm an angry person." Rogue admitted. "I'll be the first one to say that. I mean it's like I finally get something good going for me, but I have to close myself off from all human contact."
He put a hand on her shoulder, and she tensed, then slowly relaxed. Silence reigned for a few more minutes before she spoke again.
"When I said that I feel suffocated I mean that I just feel a lot of emotion inside of me." Rogue's voice was no longer toneless, Logan noticed. Instead, stress and underlying anxiety had replaced it. "And it's not good, either. Sometimes I just feel so angry. It's like that anger is rising inside of me." The girl seemed to struggle with herself for a moment before adding, "Consuming me."
Logan, for once in his life, couldn't even think of a wise-ass remark to follow this ominous statement.
"Sometimes I wonder if it's okay to feel like this." Rogue paused. "And other times . . . I know that it's not."
He wanted to comfort her, wanted to pull this obviously broken girl into a hug, but even he didn't want to be rejected. He knew that she would just push him away, unable to stand the notion that another person thought she needed help.
"I know that it isn't normal for me to feel this." Rogue continued, her voice reverting to her oddly emotionless tone. "I should be having fun and being happy. I get that. Yet, I think that some part of me just wants to wallow in this rage. And I don't want to be so angry the rest of my life. I want to be happy. But at other times, I think that living with this anger is such an adrenaline rush that I want to feel it forever."
"I don't know what to do." Rogue sounded less and less like the rebellious teen Logan knew and more like a lost child. He watched as every muscle in her body tightened, a reaction to her unusual outpour of distress.
She's afraid, Logan realized. Afraid that I won't want anything to do with her after telling me this. Afraid that I'll just walk away and abandon her to herself.
"Kid, listen to me," said Logan, his voice considerably more gentle than usual. "There isn't some sort of magic potion you can drink to be happy. You have a right to be angry after everything that's happened to you. But you need to remember to keep your happier memories closer to your heart."
Rogue's fists clenched and unclenched. "You won't . . .you're not going to . . ."
Logan didn't understand what Rogue was trying to ask. "Kid, it's getting real late, and you have school tomorrow. You need to sleep." He stood and extended his hand to her. "C'mon kid, let's go home."
Rogue looked away, the cold mask settling onto her features once again. "I don't have one of those, Logan."
Maybe you didn't before, but you do now." Logan replied, an implication of too-bad-so-sad in his voice. "Ya know, Stripes, people at the Institute care about you, like it or not."
She didn't meet his eyes. "I'm not sure if I know how to deal with that."
"I hear ya."
Rogue stood, and together they began the walk back to the Xavier Institute. As she walked side by side with Logan, an emotion rose in Rogue that she hadn't felt in a long time. Hope, that maybe at last she had found someone who understood her.