Timeline: Somewhere along the end of X3, approximately 6 years after the first movie. Marie will be about 23yo in this fic. From what happened in the movie, Jean, Scott and Xavier are currently MIA.

Rating: T for language (I am a self-confessed F-bomber) and possible adult situations. Should I progress to, eherm, smut, the rating will be changed to M.


Everlong

by Jacal Ste. Worme


When The Cure came out, it was the second best fantasy that had happened in Marie's life, and at times it even overlapped her frontrunner Logan-as-my-Lover wish. It took a few days until she had admitted to herself that she wanted it. She didn't need to use Bobby's waning affections as an excuse to tell herself how after all that's been said and done, that she was still a coward. Marie was still that awkward, scared, barely-out-of-her-teens girl that had the same fears when she hitched a ride with the Wolverine.

For almost six years, Marie had become one of Xavier's adopted children, was led to believe that she had embraced her mutation, even if it meant being comfortable in her own poisonous skin. She almost bought the idea, she had been trying all this time to do so, to believe that the years she spent in the mansion was worth something. Almost. Because the moment things came crashing down, or rather, when things started to revolve solely around Jean and all that was Jean, that's when it dawned on Marie that in spite of all her efforts, just like her mutation –she sucked in terms of control.

She unexpectedly grasped the fact that no one was keeping an eye on her (what a baby she was!), Logan was more than full of himself in grieving for his long lost Red, and the Professor, as powerful as he was, wasn't really God at the end of the day, and even if she had been surrounded by 'family', who claimed they cared for her and accepted her for who she was –they didn't even realize she was still the selfish little mutant who wanted to get rid of her 'powers' just to be able to touch.

And thinking about the Professor, the man she respected almost as she did Logan, served only as a crutch in her life. She remembers spraining her ankle when she was a little girl, and she had to use those wooden crutches for days, and she only got better when she started doing those excruciating foot exercises. And Xavier, God bless his soul, however he was a man with good intentions, was a man with favorites, was only one man who couldn't be everywhere at the same time. Despite being the greatest telepath on earth, he couldn't really help her the way she would have wanted him to.

And Logan, her dear Logan, had been, once again the only person to have caught her in such a moment that could have changed her mind, could have brought her back, could have changed her life –but instead of telling her to stop, say no, try to strengthen the crumbling foundation she had tried so hard to build for herself, Logan let her leave the mansion without conviction, other than saying they were 'friends', that is. And as much as she would have loved to take his offer for a free ride in the condition that she did it for herself, she refused and took the bus instead, just because she didn't want to lie to his face.

Even so, Marie couldn't really hate Logan, who always managed to overlook her presence whenever Jean had been around, or was the topic of conversation. She understood him too much, and loved him more than she loved herself. She liked to please him, loved to make him feel that his fatal sacrifices for her had paid off and she, his ward, was living a semi-normal life with semi-normal relationships.

Normal? Erik laughed. You are a god among insects.

Think of something original next time, bub, Wolverine snapped. You're becoming a cliché.

And here she thought that these two dominant voices in her head were quiet and observant today. So much for wishful thinking. Marie could only sigh as she sat on the bus alone, massaging and squeezing her gloved hands. With what she was feeling now, she knew she would take The Cure just to be able to touch him again. And if the cure fails, she would call his number and tell him she was dying, just so he can come to the rescue and force his fucking hands on her if that's what it took…

But things didn't always take that expected turn. With how her life usually ran its course, Marie should have known better. Right about the time she was about to get down from the bus, where she was supposed to literally reach for her dreams, to be normal, finally…

Marie remained where she was, gazing at the entrance of the bus, waiting for the familiar, dark unruly hair, leather jacket and muttonchops, wishing that maybe, maybe, he had come after her just like he did six years ago…

But he never came.

The only Logan present was the one in her head.

Some things were much more important than Marie right now. Her heart doubled in speed when the bus driver said that the next town would be a long trip, so they better get ready. The bus will be leaving in five minutes.

Wolverine's voice mumbled in her head, I'm sorry, darlin'.

Sighing to herself, Marie stared out the window, looked at all the protesters and picket signs, all the police, all the drama, and Rogue thought, not today. Maybe this, what she was doing, was not out of fear. Maybe this transition was meant to happen all along. She could almost imagine Erik dancing for joy.

I do not dance for joy, Erik corrected her. I waltz.

No need for the demo, Maggie, Wolverine warned.

This wasn't cowardice, Rogue told herself, ignoring the usual banter between the two. This was supposed to happen. Though she had all those normal things normal people had, all the things Logan thought she needed, she had saved her allowance ever since she started receiving it from the Professor, stashing it in her secret emergency duffel bag under her bed. She had always been prepared to leave. Ready. And she still wanted the cure, but not today. Not today. It didn't feel right.

Now, she was just supposed to run.

"I'm not a coward," she told herself again. This is Marie, embracing Rogue. Wasn't this what the Professor wanted? The man was onto something, it seems. I'll grieve for you by being me, Professor. It's a start, isn't it?

It took you long enough, child, Erik comments, but Marie tries to ignore him.

Wolverine was silent this time.

The real lesson begins now that she's out of the school.

Deflated, she sank back to her seat. Now she's finally on her own.

Back to square one.


Two weeks later...

After Jean's death, Logan had sunk into a quasi-pit of despair. Quasi, because he couldn't drown in sorrow as much as he wanted to –no, not when he was forced to hold shit together after finally losing three valuable assets in the school. Ororo begged him to stay, please stay, because having someone with his grumbling authority was actually a necessity this time around. And even during The Week where they were allowed to find solitude and do eulogies and stuff, Logan couldn't even find it in himself to ride his bike (reminded him too much of Scott, the pansy son of a bitch), immerse himself to a drunken stupor (reminded him too much of Jean) or run away (reminded him too much of Marie). He didn't know why he stuck around either, as it clearly reminded him of the Professor, but it was a good kind of distraction. At least, he knew, staying would help keep the institution in one piece.

This is gratitude, Logan thought. Helping out because, after all, the Professor had kept good in his word by taking care of Marie every time he left and returned the first three years of being associated with them.

Christ, Marie.

Logan clenched his jaw in her memory, the same way his heart did for reasons unknown. Because he wanted to believe that if he stayed longer, she would return. After all, this was her home now, wasn't it? Or maybe, after taking the cure Marie had made a life for herself, free from all the bullshit that surrounded their lives before and after The Week. Even believing so, Logan felt a nagging suspicion that she was out there –purposely running away from him, of all people, but he chose to push the thought away.

However, the more he thought about her, the more he felt the need to find her. And it wasn't just because the Wolverine inside his head kept taunting him about it. Blaming him for her decision to take the cure, blaming him for being such a dense idiot, blaming him for being a dick to her when she was vulnerable. Logan could only wince at the thought that Marie had made such an impression to his feral side years ago that his concern for her was overwhelming even to him –which was a feat in itself.

But Jean's death, followed by Scott, and then the Professor –now that was overwhelming. With regards to the redhead, it was the first time Logan lost someone he cared about, someone he planned to do more than flirt with. And when he told her he loved her before that final moment, tasting those three words in his lips before ending her life, Logan couldn't help but feel, rather… floored. He felt himself lost in the sensation of saying she meant to him more than a mindless flirt and possible fuck, and it made his heart ache with so much sadness that he wondered if that's what love was really about. He knows how he had never said 'I love you' to anyone before.

Not even Marie, the person who marked the beginning of his living. When he stopped merely existing.

The grief expands again because of that name, and once more, Logan wonders why would she need to run away. Why, kid? Why leave the life we've made here? I thought you were fine, weren't you? I thought we were close friends, and you go on with your life without as much as a goodbye to me? You trying to pull one on me, leaving me like I've left you before, is that it? Why the fuck did you leave me in this mansion, Marie? Don't you want to fucking see me anymore?

Instead of setting out to find answers to those questions, Logan chose to focus on the right here and right now. That, and he was starting to think like a fucking pansy. He was not going to shy away from the fact that in this mansion, he had friends, and he honestly wanted to honor Charles Xavier by settling even just a little longer, at least until things were back on track. As much as Logan felt like he was such a mess, he liked to think that he was doing the right thing. Be the good guy for once, even if there was no Jean to give him approval, or Marie to appreciate all that.

However, the week after The Week, Logan found himself getting more anxious and anxious each time he would return to his sleeping quarters. He didn't feel like dozing off, he felt the need to feel the wind on his face, the road in front of him.

But what about his defense class tomorrow morning?

There's a reason you've got healin' powers, moron, Wolverine mocked him. Use it.

"Sorry, Scooter," Logan mumbled, and mounted his bike. He remembers her years ago, smaller, thinner, afraid, those wide eyes staring up at him with so much emotion he thought he would balk and stay because she asked him to.

I don't want you to go.

Logan said 'I'll be back for this' when he gave her his dog tags then. Guess he should have said something else. Something more specific. Something like 'I'll be back for you.' Too late.

After everything they've been through, Logan always knew his home had a name.

Marie.


"…we call on you to lend a hand to restore the Golden Gate Bridge, as this will serve as an opportunity to…"

Roge tuned out the blaring television on the counter and focused on the roadmap in her hands. She was trying to figure out her next destination. For the past few days, her intuition was telling her to move. She had resorted to hitchhiking when she decided she needed to save money. And considering that her personal intuition has saved her a couple of times now, she decided to listen to it. After buying a one-way ticket to Vancouver, she kept moving from one town to the next, and now she was stuck somewhere in British Columbia. There's just something about Canada, and that was probably the nostalgic Logan in her head talking.

Don't you just want a beer with that thought, darlin'? You, me–

And me, Erik piped in. You are incorrigible, Wolverine. Corrupting–

"Alkali Lake," she whispered a bit loudly to drown their voices out, thumbing the spot somewhere in the map. She snickered to herself as memories from that disastrous day came back to her. How could she hate Jean? Like Logan, they always seemed to do things for the greater good. Unlike her, she only ever did things for herself.

You were my greater good, Marie. I'm smart enough to admit that.

And humans deserve to pay for thinking that mutants–

What did I say about clichés, Bucket Head?

Instead of listening to them go at it again, or have a pity party in the diner, Rogue shifted in her seat and stood up. Maybe it was time to check the parking area to see if anyone was leaving for somewhere North. North, just like Logan. Ugh, maybe she just idolized him, why she kept thinking of him this much.

Keep tellin' yourself that, darlin'.

I, for once, agree with the brute.

"Shut the fuck up, you two," she whispered harshly, and was thankful no one was looking at her like she was crazy. Leaving a few bills on the counter, she hoisted her bag up her shoulder and made her way out.

Much to her disappointment, the few cars and trucks in the area looked like they were just there, no drivers loitering whatsoever. Well, not everyone was in a rush to leave. She groaned to herself and decided to hit the road on her own. Her boots could last till the next town anyway. If she dies from the cold, then so be it. As she started walking, Rogue heard a clang from the distance, like something or someone shoved, hits against something metallic. There was struggling, and unable to help herself, Rogue cautiously followed the commotion. Maybe someone needed help, she thought, and walked quietly to what seemed like two men arguing in the distance.

What was it about the greater good thing again, bub?

She thinks too lowly of herself, this one.

And I agree with you right there, old man.

Rogue rolled her eyes, all the while following a small path behind the diner that led to an unpleasant trailer park. She listened for a while and heard it again.

"I said, let me go."

"I just wanted to help. Suit your self."

"Wasn't asking," the younger man spat.

The voice was all too familiar.

"Good morning, class," he greets once he entered the room. He placed his blue tumbler at the teacher's table and for a few minutes, the distinct scent of coffee filled the entire room. "I don't suppose you guys are up for a pop quiz?" he laughed. Everyone groaned in response; his humor was never really appealing.

Rogue stiffened. In an instant, she was dashing towards that eerie feeling, that voice.

"Happy birthday, Rogue. Please don't end up in jail by the end of the night." He sounded like he was joking, but the serious expression, those red shades of his covering his eyes, Marie really found him hard to read. She laughed anyway and thanked him for remembering. "I'm serious," he added and she just rolls her eyes.

She felt like she was going to throw up with the tension she was feeling in her gut.

"Look, she's a young woman. You can't just let her in your room whenever you please." He didn't know she was eavesdropping, but Logan did. He doesn't take it easy on the feral, never really did. Logan waved him off, saying the other man was the one with a dirty mind. He doesn't say it out loud, but Logan really meant that 'she was just a kid'.

For a while it stung, and Marie wanted nothing more but for his suspicions to be true. At least he knew she wasn't a silly schoolgirl with a crush anymore. Unlike Logan...

Emotion thick in her throat, Rogue gasped sharply as she regarded the beat-up physique of the man who sat back to lean against a jarred door that was part of a sorry excuse of shack, a far cry from the lavish mansion he called home. "Scott...?"


AN: Thank you so much for reading! Reviews are love, I'm single, so please send some. ;)

*Credits to Foo Fighters for fic's title, borrowed from their song with the same title.