A/N: Written for likeadeuce in the X-Men Remix 2013 on AO3. A remix of her piece, "The Busy Griefs," which is amazing.
What to Do
or The Busy Griefs Remixed
They all needed to be busy doing something. It was a mess at the mansion, shattered and broken as Rogue's heart after everything that's happened. Rogue asked once, first thing in the morning, if she could help Logan cleaning up, and he took one too-observant look at her barely holding it together and shook his head. "We got this." So Scott and Colossus and Logan did their guy thing and Rogue had to find another way of dealing with this.
Jean had always been her favorite teacher. She had always been there for Rogue, never belittled her hatred of her own "gift" like Storm had. Rogue didn't know where she was going but she figured it was somewhere she would feel closer to Jean. Only it wasn't. She found herself in John's room and had to draw in a deep, sharp breath. It seemed such a short time ago, he had been her friend and such a short time ago that Jean had been alive, the mansion whole and unbroken. In a dull, aching way, she realized suddenly that she would come one day to earn something of her chosen name.
The thought gave her energy to do something. She scrabbled through the boxes in the closet until she found what she was looking for, then holed herself up in the media room, watching John's old footage while curled up on the couch, until slowly, her friends filtered in behind her and bookended her. Kitty hugged her knees, frown troubling her face. Bobby put his arm around Rogue's shoulder and gave her the perfect opportunity to cry. She didn't.
"We should make a video of this," she said instead, "for the funeral."
That word sobered all of them. Bobby leaned down and kissed the top of her head. "Jones might want to help. He needs something to do."
Didn't they all? Rogue nodded.
Storm found them later, Bobby and Jones and her knee-deep in their project. Kitty was fritzing just a little today—stress and all that—and was trying not to destroy any equipment by phasing through it, so perhaps it was natural that Kitty jumped at the chance to find appropriate readings for the funeral.
Storm gave one last questioning glance at Rogue, who just smiled—barely—and got back to work. Rogue could never get up there in front of those people. Don't cry over spilled milk. Don't cry. It's something she was taught when she was a little girl, and she needed to be strong to make it through this. She would weep her way to the podium and back if she had to read for Jean. She didn't even stop to wonder why Storm was disappointed.
The boys went through so many songs, trying to decide which suited Jean best. Rogue wandered through her mindscape and asked that little piece of Jean that was in her head, "This one?" "This one?"
Finally, psyche-Jean shook her head. An instrumental jazzy piece, piano and trumpet, tickled Rogue's mental ears. Images and sensations of happiness, of Scott's embrace. Rogue shut it down quickly. She didn't want to know that sort of thing about her teacher.
"Rogue. You okay?" Bobby's face was tight with worry.
"Yeah." She wiped away the tears from her cheeks, and then she couldn't stop crying. Why? Why did this have to happen?
She didn't see Jones, just Bobby, pulling her into a hug and hushing her, holding her, until finally she had wept herself out.
Rogue didn't trust herself at the funeral. She sat straight-backed between Logan and Bobby, tightly holding their hands, holding it together because she had to. She let go of Bobby when he and Jones went up to play the film. She didn't let go of Logan. It was easy enough to pretend that she was comforting him. As stoic and strong as Logan looked, Rogue had him in her head. She knew his griefs were deep but quiet and he was struggling with this. And maybe he was pretending as well, that he was comforting her.
Rogue found herself in with Kitty, Bobby, and Logan when Jean's family—her family—came over to thank Kitty for her reading.
"Your reading was so lovely, dear," Jean's mother told her.
Kitty dipped her head and shrugged. "You know. I got it out of a book. Rogue and Bobby did all that work on the movie." Rogue didn't look in Kitty's eyes. She could hear the grief in her voice.
"Goodness, are you Rogue?" Mrs. Grey exclaimed.
Suddenly the attention was on Rogue. She stiffened but offered her gloved hand. Most people didn't care for the gloves before they understood. Mrs. Grey didn't bat an eye.
"Jean talks so much about you. Such a good student, so helpful."
She hadn't expected that and it startled her into honesty. She stammered out a thank you. "Miss Grey was my favorite—" A sob started up her throat and choked her. Desperately she shoved it down. "Are you sure you don't have me mixed up with Kitty?" Deflect, deflect. Get this conversation elsewhere.
"Oh stop," Kitty said, and to Mrs. Grey, added, "Everybody knows how awesome Rogue is except Rogue." She playfully swatted at the Rogue's shoulder then let her hand phase at the last second.
Rogue shuddered. She knew it was just Kitty's playfulness—she did it to everyone—but Rogue hated that. It made her feel untouchable all over again. She glanced up, suddenly realizing that Storm and Scott were there and Kitty was demonstrating her trick again for Jean's brother.
"Flyboy's got a new hero," Scott said. "It's official. I can retire." He glanced over the three of them. "Speaking of retire—"
Before Scott could finish, Mr. Grey held out his hand to Logan to shake. "I'm sorry, I keep seeing you, but I don't think we've met."
Rogue felt a small relief that Logan was polite this time and shook the man's hand.
"My name's Logan."
"Yes, of course. Mister Logan." Jean's mother extended her own hand politely, but the name clearly meant nothing to her.
"We sometimes call him Wolverine," Rogue interjected, but that name seemed just as much a mystery to Mrs. Grey.
"Do you work here at the school?" Mrs. Grey asked.
"Just passing through. I'm a friend"—Logan paused, then—"a friend of Rogue's."
The sentiment was true enough and exactly what Rogue would want to hear—among people who understood, but Mrs. Grey was a lady and the words were all wrong. She kept herself from ducking her head in embarassment and made an exit from the stiff pleasantries required as soon as she could drag Bobby and Kitty away.
Logan followed them out and she gave him a good glare. "Great, Logan. Now Jean's folks think you're my pervy cradle-robbing boyfriend."
"What?" Logan demanded, truly startled, at the same time Bobby yelped, "Hey! I'm your—"
Kitty laughed, the first genuined unfettered laugh she had given all day. "Bobby. You do not want to finish that sentence."
Rogue just shrugged and gave Logan one last hug for her own strength. "I forgive you," she teased, then scooted off before he could give her what-for.
It was lights-out and she should have been asleep, but she wasn't and there was nothing to do to hold her grief at bay. She was the most useless, helpless— She was crying. Rogue was crying, wondering why if she could have any power she wanted with just a touch, that there was nothing she could have done to save Jean.