Title: Not Brotherly
Author: S J Smith
Summary: After taking the Cure, Rogue doesn't fit in anywhere.
Disclaimer: So not the owner. So not making any money.
A girl from the South hears it all - those horrible jokes about girls needing to be 'good enough for family' before passed off to anyone else. They get ignored or laughed off, even if the women get angry for hearing them. Marie knew about those jokes, and punched her cousin when he told one to her. Rafe got mad, and Marie wound up with a couple of bruises compared to the one she'd given him, but it was worth it. She wasn't that kind of girl, and her family wasn't like that, either.
At least, that's what she thought. Just because she'd fought back didn't mean Rafe was gonna stop, and at twelve, Marie found herself flat on a bed with Rafe on top of her, rubbing her breasts and asking if she liked it. She tried to fight, to scream, but no one could hear her over the sound of Alabama turned all the way to ten. And Rafe had laughed and held her down while he hurt her, telling her it was the way it was in the family. He had to be wrong, Marie knew it, but still, no one ever said anything that made her believe otherwise. When she tried to talk to Momma about it, Momma changed the subject.
It took a long time for Marie to want to trust anyone again. David was the first guy she'd wanted to look at her that way. And then it all fell apart. Her skin turned poisonous, and her family turned against her. Rafe and his friends came around one night, while Momma and Daddy were at a prayer meeting for her, trying to find answers from God. Marie had chased them off, but not before Rafe managed to get hold of her wrist, and the things he wanted to do to her, it scared her half to death. But her skin made him sick as a dog and his friends terrified, and that was the night she left home to head for Alaska.
Marie thought she was lucky. None of the men she hitched a ride from tried to touch her. A few of them talked to her about going home, or told her about their lives. One of them was quiet the whole time she was in his truck, but he had a little shaggy dog who rode on the seat next to him, and it climbed over to her and fell asleep in her lap. It was the first real contact she'd had with any living thing since Mississippi.
And then there was Logan. The sight of him shirtless in that cage made her mouth go dry, and she tried not to take that memory out and think about it very often. She didn't want to hurt him. Once she and Logan wound up at Professor Xavier's mansion, it didn't matter anyway. Logan stabbing her, and proving what her skin did made sure that no one was going to touch her, not that way, not unless he – or she – was crazy. David hadn't known any better when he'd kissed her. Neither had she. Magneto, he was crazy, at least that's what Marie thought, but now she had a memory of him inside her head, and sometimes his voice made sense. She tried to ignore it most of the time. He had some dark thoughts, and the images he'd put in her head along with letting her skin suck out his power were sometimes scary and sometimes just weird. Marie knew men liked sex, but seeing it from Magneto's – Eric's – point of view was just creepy.
Logan's memories were just as bad, except he had had a lot more women. Marie hadn't wanted to know that, but sometimes, when she was alone at night, her skin almost itched with need. It seemed like Logan's hands moved over her body instead of her own at those times. Marie would let him take over, and the sensations his memories could wake inside her were almost overwhelming.
When she was Bobby's girl, Marie could almost hear Logan in her head, critiquing his moves. Bobby'd leave her flushed and needy, knowing Bobby wouldn't touch her, not for long, at least. Logan's memory, though, was willing to help her along, and it didn't hurt anyone if she touched herself. But Bobby didn't like having a girlfriend with poisonous skin, and Marie could almost feel how jealous he was of how Logan took care of her while they were running from the mansion when Stryker's men attacked. Maybe that's what pushed him into breaking it off with her. Maybe it was the way she decided she wasn't gonna wait anymore for anyone to tell her she was worthwhile, deadly skin or not. She'd been the one piloting the Blackbird and doing her best to help the rest of the team, while Bobby had been waiting for someone to tell him what to do. Couldn't he have been proud of her for doing that, rather than mad he didn't think of it himself?
Whatever it was, Bobby had a new girlfriend, and she…was standing in a line, waiting to get the Cure - to get rid of her poison skin - so she wouldn't be a threat to anyone anymore. Logan and Magneto stirred in her head, telling her this was a bad idea, and a part of Marie thought they might be right. But the bigger part knew it was a good idea. She didn't want to be like this any more; she needed more than being the untouchable girl at the school.
The Cure hurt a lot more than she expected. The drugs burned through her bloodstream, turning her body into a conflagration. She remembered screaming, and fighting the bindings that held her on the medical cot. The fever raged through her, burning out her mutation, turning it to ash.
She left the hospital dressed in a t-shirt with her arms and hands bare and a silk scarf around her neck like a flag, and there was absolutely nothing – nothing – she couldn't do right then. Marie walked down the street, marveling at the sunlight on her hands. Shocked at the sensation of bumping into a boy, prettier than she was, who smiled down at her, and a frisson of sheer want shook her body. "Are you okay?" he asked, and Marie swallowed hard before she could even nod at him, much less get her brain and mouth to work in concert.
"Yeah, I am," she said, then repeated it, louder, joyfully, wanting to shout it to the heavens above, where her conservative Baptist family would tell her God lived, and she'd say it as a prayer, so maybe He could hear her.
The boy smiled at her, not at all afraid of her skin when he touched her shoulder, his thumb skimming her upper arm, and he said, "Good, have a great day," and disappeared back into the people walking by.
Marie wanted to follow him but stopped herself – there was someone else she wanted to see, someone that made that ache deep inside her flare up even hotter than the fires that burned her mutation out of her. She turned right around and headed back for the Mansion.
It looked different somehow, when she arrived outside the gates, paying the cabby and giving the chain-smoking woman a good tip for bringing her home. Walking past the garage, she saw a familiar flash of chrome, and hesitated for a split second before walking toward the motorcycle and the guy squatting next to it. "Hey, Logan," she said, "why don'cha give up on this old thing and get something with some class?"
He tilted his head back, an unlit cigar between his teeth. "Well," he said, "look who's back." His eyes traced up her body, lingering on her bare arms for a split second – for Logan, almost a lifetime. "I said you'd come home."
"Yeah, I," Marie smiled, and tried to keep from shifting her weight, tried to keep her hands at her sides when she wanted to touch him. Knew from the way his nostrils flared she wasn't hiding anything from him. He'd told her people's scents changed, depending on what they wanted. Logan's eyes swept over her again, lingering around her breasts and hips, then jerked away.
"Maybe you'd better get inside, tell everyone you're back," he said, picking up a socket wrench. He glanced at her, then back at the motorcycle engine. "You and me, we'll catch up later."
Later, Marie realized, was a subjective term. She was welcomed home, but it felt different. Strange. No one said anything to her about taking the Cure, but she was treated in the same way – a little bit differently. Kitty gave her a quick hug when she came in, but she still took care not to touch bare skin. Storm had been happier to see her than any of her age mates, and the Professor, well, his welcome was better than anyone else's. He didn't make her feel like she'd given up the only thing that made her a part of this world, but the days passed, and she was still alone. Not strong enough any more to go on missions – not mutant enough to fit in. Too human for a school for gifted children.
The sunlight outside burned down on her, and Marie sat on a bench, staring down at her hands. They were small and thin and completely unremarkable, now. She studied a scar that hooked around the base of her left thumb, where she'd gotten herself scraped on a barbed wire fence. It was so normal, just like the rest of her.
"Hey." Startled, Marie glanced up into Logan's face. He jerked his head. "C'mon. Let's go for a ride. I got the bike fixed and it needs a test drive."
"You don't see anyone else here, do you?" Logan held out his hand and, after a faint hesitation, Marie took it, letting him pull her to her feet. He didn't let go of her, either, taking her with him as they walked to the garage. "I've been thinking," Logan said, only dropping her hand when he grabbed the handlebars to swing his leg over the bike. "Ah, ah, helmet."
Marie made a face at him but grabbed the one Logan had got her, and she tugged it on before climbing on behind him. It wasn't the first time Logan asked her to go on a ride, but the first time since she'd been Cured. Wrapping her arms around his waist, Marie bit her lip at the feeling that ran through her body when Logan started the engine. It swept over her, the rumble of the engine settling in her core. It took all of her willpower to keep from sweeping her hands down Logan's body and touching his crotch. She wouldn't stop leaning against him though, letting the heat of his body soak into hers.
She couldn't tell where they rode, not with her eyes closed and her face pressed against Logan's back. He didn't talk much when they went on bike trips, just drove, and that was fine with Marie. When he finally slowed down, pulling onto gravel and cutting the engine, she lifted her head. Her legs trembled, and she wasn't sure if it was all from the vibration of the engine running up through her body.
Logan climbed off the bike, holding it steady so she could dismount, then catching her arm when she staggered into him. "Easy." He smiled when he said it, and kept his hand in the small of her back for a few seconds, until he was sure she could walk on her own.
"Where are we?" Marie didn't recognize the place, overgrown with weeds and trees, with a bare track running deeper into the woods. She stared around, wondering just how they'd gotten here. "Logan, what do you have in mind?"
With a grin, he started off down the track. "Come on," he said over his shoulder, letting her decide whether she was going to follow or not. Marie started after him, left with little choice otherwise. He led her deeper into the woods, and they finally ended up at a house that had trees growing up through it, a rosebush trying to claim the entire porch and lilacs perfuming the air with their sweet scent. Birds sang from the underbrush around them, and Marie turned in a slow circle, wondering why Logan brought her here. He climbed the porch steps, avoiding the rose's thorns, and beckoned for her to join him.
"Is it safe?" She hesitated, eying the porch.
"If I can stand on it, it's gotta be." Logan pulled out a chair, wood scraping on wood, and settled into it with a sigh.
Marie followed him, finding the rose bush was easy enough to avoid, and while the porch whined a bit when she put her weight on a board, nothing broke. A second chair waited for her, and she sat into it, relaxing when she realized it was still sturdy enough to support her. "How'd you find this place?"
Logan shrugged. "Does it matter?"
"I guess not." Staring out through the rose bush, Marie could hear buzzing, and a bumblebee flew by, landing on a rosebud before taking off again.
"Look, I wanted to talk to you, without everyone being around," Logan said. "I think I understand why you went and took the Cure. It had to be hard on you. You're a pretty girl. You deserve a lot better than not being able to be touched. And now, you got it. You could have anything you want, everything you always wanted."
"I," Marie glanced at him, then down at her hands. "I wanted to go to college. And have an adventure. I've had the adventure, more of them than I ever expected. Maybe now what I need to be is a normal girl."
"Maybe you should go back home. Mississippi. See your family," Logan said, "Family has to take you in." At her snort, he frowned. "Don't they?"
"You don't know families too well, do you, Logan?" Marie asked wryly, watching as a honeybee zipped past, heading for the lilac bushes. "My family thought I was a sin, that they'd done somethin' horrible to get me. And I wasn't the horrible one, my cousin was!" She couldn't stay sitting, had to move, and flung herself out of the chair, nearly stumbling as she thrust past the rose bush, not caring if her arms got cut this time.
"Hey! Kid – Marie! Wait up." Logan thundered after her, so loud instead of how he usually was. He caught her shoulder, tugged her around, but she wouldn't – couldn't look at him.
Marie slapped his hands away, backing up a couple of steps to yell. "My family," her accent thickened with her rage, "they let my cousin hurt me! I tried to stop him, but I wasn't strong enough. Momma didn't believe me! I don't want a family!"
He grabbed her again, his fingers digging into her skin. "Marie. Marie." Giving her a shake, he dragged her against his body, holding her tight even when she tried to fight her way free. "You're okay. Listen to me. You're okay." He nuzzled her hair, his grip on her body turning into an embrace when she stilled. "You know I wouldn't let anything happen to you. I made a promise."
"I'm not your little sister," Marie whispered, her fingers unclenching and resting on his chest.
"I know," he rumbled back. "Never thought of you as one." His sigh gusted over her shoulder. "Just too young."
Marie straightened her shoulders, daring to meet his eyes. "I'm older than I look." Tossing her hair back, she said, "You, Magento, you're both in my head. And Johnny, David…Rafe. All of you. I've lived your lives." A short, sharp laugh escaped her. "Be nice to have a woman in there instead of being alone with a bunch of men."
"Sorry," Logan said, his brows furrowing. "Is it, I mean, still? Even with the Cure?"
"It just changed my skin, not my memories." Marie let her palms move over his chest, admiring the strength of his body. "You're in there to stay, Logan. But not like my brother."
"Good to know," Logan said, cupping her chin, to raise it up so he could kiss her.
- end -