Author's Note: This is a sequel to my two previous works: "Touch" and it's sequel, "The Rest of the World is Noise." Without them, this would have no context and make little sense, so read them (and review, if you could be so kind.) The title of the fic, as well as individual chapter titles are all songs by The Angelic Process, who had pre-titled "Mouvement" songs throughout their discography.
1: The Flesh is Weak
She slept. As it was said, didn't mean to do it that way.
The rest of the night, just like the morning, was a blur. She only remembered brief snapshots.
Waking up to him panicking about his visor. Briefest of contacts when slipping it on, telling her of the Gordian knot of thoughts in his head, each thread a snake, coiled up, entangled and ready to unravel, to leap out and choke him.
The force of his repression, setting each thought aside. Saved. For later, always for later.
He thought he'd have time to fall apart, someday. Just not today, not now.
Not while she was around.
Breakfast. Strange colors in the diner. The red of the faux-wood table. The shiny chrome of the fixtures.
The red of his eyes and the faint shadow of his stubble.
Black. Coffee. Not helping, not giving her anything.
White of the waitress' apron. Like a butcher, or a maniacal surgeon ready to cut into their lives with an order. A mother, a miracle worker. A sustenance-giver.
Kaleidoscope of insanity, rising to choke her in a flash of impossible hues.
Sharp gray giggle.
His hand on her forehead, baby blue, beautiful, needed. Checking for a fever.
The colors of grey.
Her consciousness came and went along the road. She experienced small snippets, each one marked distinctively by the amount of natural light present, and the general feel of her surroundings. Every once in a while, her brain reminded her that the position she was in was particularly hard on a given set of blood vessels, so she shifted, changed position, and tried to hold onto her consciousness.
She failed. Every time.
Because every time she opened her eyes, it would be there. Despair. Pure and unfiltered, untainted by any thoughts of hope his presence would bring, could bring.
The sweet reality of him in the driver's seat, guiding them through the unknown, unfelt road. She didn't even feel that the road existed. The world had ended, yes, and they were the only ones that had made it through. They were all alone. Together.
The feeling of the back of his seat underneath her bare palm. The miniscule bumps of the pores on the leather against skin.
Warmth from knowing that he was there.
Sleep, pleasant in those times when she reached out; her mind eased to complete solitude by the knowing of him.
She only saw the no-dream. Black, limitless, featureless dark of the in-between consciousness. Her body was aware that she was lying on the back seat, with a coat draped over her body to protect her from the cold. A pillow, bought from a roadside convenience store under her head, two duffel bags at the footrest making her bed larger. Her bare feet, open to the cold. The folds of the coat, soft in her grip. The belt around her waist and the jeans on her lower body.
The no-road, flowing beneath. Like a river, silent and allowing them passage. The no-world surrounding her, and the familiar scent of his skin, barely finding its way through the assault of other, fainter smells.
Yet, no consciousness. No way to understand it, to turn this surge of input into something malleable. So she just laid there, letting the world assault her senses while keeping her mind away from the surface. The surface of the no-dream, like the sea, atop which was her breathing space.
But she was too busy drowning, too busy sinking. No time to swim. No strength to float.
His voice often broke the abysmal depths of her broken consciousness. He talked to her often, telling her of irrelevant things, random anecdotes about this, that and the other. Small stories. She listened earnestly, unable to react due to her partial paralysis. Absorbed every single sentence as if her life depended on it.
Inside, she felt that it did.
She even responded sometimes, when she felt strong enough to speak. Rolled a thousand lies on her tongue, hiding her truths for when she actually would have the courage to withstand their impact. Felt her tongue burn with all she hid, and felt dragged closer to the edge with each response.
He just liked to speak to her. She liked having him speak. She didn't have any words to give.
And the echoes in her head, hundreds of voices as one, shrieking a noise at each word coming out of his mouth. Scrutinizing it, commenting on it, taking it out of context, mixing and matching with their own experience. Taryn's nails, Kitty's mom, Kurt's tormentors, Mystique's lovers, Jean's dates, Sam's sister, Jamie's puberty, Logan's no-past, Eric's tattoo, Amanda's blue, Duncan's body, Fred's mirrors, Todd's insecurity, love, sex, blood, pain, ache, family, water, sun, earth, death, Kentucky, Chicago, the bleachers, Bayville, Savage Land, Africa, Asteroid M, Bayou... went on and on and on and on, endlessly.
Overwhelmed her into the no-dream.
She woke up to movement too strong to ignore. He, with her flats in one hand and her coat in the other, lifted her off of the back seat and started carrying her. She instinctively flung her arms around his neck, taking care not to make actual skin contact, and pulled herself closer. Shivered. The echoes receded when he was this close. Fell into an expectant silence. One touch, just one, nothing more.
Somewhere in her head, someone was singing, "Why can't I get just one kiss?"
"We've done enough for the day."
"I don't even know at this point. 'bout halfway to Chicago, I think."
"We were goin..."
"You need to sleep somewhere other than a back seat." He said, "I need some sleep, too."
A tiny vibration. His cell phone going off.
"Lemme down, Ah can walk..."
"I don't need to get that. It's probably Jean."
Silence. He didn't say anything. She understood.
The brief, frantic transition between the motel room door, and the bed. Relief. He set her down, took her coat and folded it, and placed it on the spare chair by the window. She looked at him, at his distance. He might not have noticed, but it was very much a part of him, this transparency: he was thinking about something, and Rogue wasn't supposed to know of it. So he just went all rigid, normal, natural movements becoming more forced and restricted, as if he was doing everything with weights tied to each joint.
She noticed, even through the haze of her half-consciousness.
"I'll take a shower." He announced. He placed his cell phone on the bed stand, "It's on silent, so it shouldn't be any problem. Do you need anything?"
Rogue glared at him, her mind having difficulty comprehending the expression. Need? Did she need anything?
You, she wanted to say. I need you.
"Ah... nah. Nothin'. Ah think Ah need,"-you, you as a whole, you in yourself, you as much of you can give, as much as you think you can spare-", some rest. Ah know it sounds like a bitch thing ta say, but Ah'm tired."
"It's normal." His entire body made this motion, as if he was about to step forward, but the invisible wall he had put up stopped him. Rogue knew the motion. Meant he needed to say or do something, that he felt he shouldn't say or do.
For the briefest of moments, she hoped against hope. It passed, as it always did.
"Sleep, Rogue. I'm here. You're safe."
She slept. She heard him turn on the water. Shivered. Turned away.
The halfway sunlight seeping through the blinds.
She woke up in the dead of night, like she had before, with his arm draped over her. She panicked. The more she laid there, the more conscious she became, and the more she panicked. It wasn't anything unusual, Cyke often did that to Jean but she never had experienced something like it since the survival camp. Maybe she could phase through and... no. Kitty's thoughts. Rogue shook it off.
Scott's touch was still there.
Rogue turned and pushed him away. He groaned, turned around and continued sleeping soundly. She sat there, knees to her chest, shivering.
Panic, abject, abstract. There was nothing wrong, yet she couldn't stop herself. Somewhere inside her, the knowledge she had gained just two nights ago stirred inside, slithered closer.
She could scream.
Cupped both hands on her mouth to keep herself from it. He was too tired, too busy working carrying two people across the road. He had to rest, to sleep uninterrupted by her personal little apocalypse. She could fall apart all by himself, her world would collapse and he, lying next to her, would never know, never notice. He was too busy from driving to... wherever it was they were going. She remembered something about Chicago, but her mind was too clouded to discern whether that was actually the truth or some piece of abstracted echo-dream trying to be the truth.
She looked outside. Darkness. Her visits to the infirmary in the mansion and recurrent walks down Charles Xavier's secrets had left her nocturnal, it seemed. She felt stronger than on the road, more aware than on the diners, more alive, more awake.
She got up. The carpet, rough and textured under her bare feet. Welcomed the sensation and moved to the bathroom. There, in the mirror, she saw a tired mess. Hair in tangled, separate strands, dark circles around her eyes, make-up from God knew how long ago clinging to her skin... pale, sickly skin.
She felt absolutely filthy. The coat of dust on her skin, she could feel the miniscule particles clogging her pores. She felt sweat and unchanged clothes, the coating of road salt on her.
She closed the door and locked it. She needed to get clean.
The water, trailing in cleansing, purifying streams across her bare skin felt wonderful. Made her shiver, from head to toe, her skin tingling to the sensation. She felt her muscles relax and knots inside her unravel. The cleaner she got, the better she felt.
Like a crooked string correcting itself, ready to be strummed again.
All knots undone, except for one. And she knew just how to unravel that one. As her hands slid across her body, enjoying the feeling for as long as she could make it last, she felt her weariness bearing down on whatever stolen, perverted bliss she needed to find, whatever need she needed to feed. Her body was caught in a riptide, wanting it and too tired to acquire it.
The echoes were eerily silent, as if expecting her to ignore her body's demands and just get on with it.
Rogue shivered. Bit her lower lip.
Whether she was tired or needy, both cases just proved to her the one thing Logan-by-Rogue kept telling her all this time. The flesh was weak.
She smiled, not minding any of it. He was strong enough for the both of them, and she, despite bending, hadn't been broken yet.
Another touch and another delicious shiver.
If this was weakness, she was glad to be weak.
And he was sleeping in the other room.