by Nancy Lorenz.
Rating: PG-13. Some violent, disturbing themes. Swearing.
Archive: XMMFF, WRFA. All else, all ya gotta do is ask.
Classification: General, L/R UST, S/J content.
Series: Manus Mortiferum
Spoilers: The Movie.
Synopsis: Continues on after the movie. The Mutant Situation is
worsening and Erik Lenscherr escapes from prison. Rogue suffers
a terrible mishap during the mission to stop him that shakes the
foundations of her psyche and changes her life completely.
Disclaimer: All characters copyright Marvel and Fox.
Feedback: Enjoyed, responded to, adored and worshiped. Respond
to the email above :)
Author's Note: This is beta read, but not to the fullest extent
that it can be. Some comma and semi-colon confusion occurs. Does
that really bother you? I figure it's only fan-fic, and I have a
comic to ink so I don't have the energy to break my back over
this thing. But I did get rid of the spelling mistakes and the
grammar mistakes. Most of them anyways :) Very big thank you
to my Betas - JennyEdu, Jennifer Hallmark, Shaz Nolan, and I
swear there must be someone else. I can't remember right now.
E-mail me, smack me up the side of the head and I'll rectify it
in the next chapter posting. Love ya's alls mates! Oh - and I
know I said I'm releasing it a chapter a day, but I'll forget to
do that I think, so I'm just doing it bunch by bunch :)
Dedication: To the WRGrrls. You've been around for over a year,
and the fandom is still going. That's majorly cool. Without
your support, your enthusiasm and love, I'd be nowhere. This
tenacity and companionship has helped me improve the crafts that
I want to take into a career. For that, I thank you and love you
always. Thank you girls.
With complete inconsistence, in this chapter, '//' denotes
telepathic thought. Sorry 'bout that.
Her heart was heaving in her chest as she entered the common
room. She could feel it thumping, a weightless 'ick' taking her
stomach as she spotted her friends lazing about the room. She
had to tell them about the Professor's offer, of how everything
was going to change. The room was filled with such happiness,
such light airy freedom... her heart stung at the prospect of
ruining it all. She was going to herald the end of all fun, of
all childhood playfulness, because in what she knew would follow,
one would be hard pressed to find a place for it.
The playful thunk-thunk of the fussball table filled the room,
the mindless chatter of the television buzzing in the
background. Kitty and Jubilee sat at the old brown and orange
sofa in the corner of the room near a window that was nestled
with a heavy laden bookshelf of magazines, Kitty cradling one of
them in her lap. Jubilee's distinctive voice filtered through
the usual noise, and it wasn't an unpleasant sound. Her voice
was high, but not shrill (unless she was in an argument with
someone), and it always captured one's attention. It was
welcoming and warm, and one knew by the sound of that voice that
if they sat and listened, they'd hear something they'd really
wanna know about. The low mumbling male-talk between St. John
and Bobby was quiet underneath Jubilee's talking, but it all
melded together into a mismatching symphony that Rogue knew as
the song of home, her family.
She blew a sigh out through her cheeks, strolling into the room,
swinging her arms and fighting to look casual. Jubilee glanced
up as Rogue came close, and smiled brightly.
"Hey girl! How ya feeling?"
Rogue shrugged, toeing the floor. "Okay I guess. Um..." She
closed her eyes, sighing again. This was gonna be tough. "I
really need to talk to you. Well - you and - and Bobby and
Easily sensing the tension in Rogue's voice, Jubilee looked past
the girl to Bobby and John, a concerned wrinkle in her brow. "Yo
Bobby snarled at the fussball table, Johnny sticking out a tongue
in effort. With a violent jab at the table, John let out a
triumphant growl, blue eyes glinting as he grinned.
"Ha! Eat shit - beat you three times in a row!"
Bobby glowered and thwapped Johnny upside the head before looking
to Jubilee. "Hey, what's up?"
Jubes shrugged. "I dunno, ask Rogue. She's the one that wants
to talk to us."
Bobby frowned, loping over with John close behind him. "Rogue?
Is something wrong?"
Rogue glanced up to the ceiling, trying to find the words in all
her worry and anxiety. She huffed a moment, wrapping her arms
around herself. "No- Yes- I dunno." She shrugged helplessly.
"Just - sit down." She waited till the boys were seated next to
Kitty and Jubes before she began, the light beat of her heart
turning to a more nervous pumping. She fiddled with her fingers,
pacing a little before facing her audience and preparing herself
to speak. "Okay well... see, the thing is, I was invited to an
X-Men team meeting today..."
Bobby's eyes glinted. "You - you were?"
"Yeah," she nodded, then held up her hands flat. "But that
doesn't mean I'm in the team." She winced, "Not *yet* anyway..."
Jubilee's eyes widened. "Woah Nelly, let's back you up here a
minute... did you say 'yet'?"
"Yeah," Rogue said, "I mean - the Professor said I was being
considered for early candidacy - like, he wants me to do all this
full on training and stuff."
Bobby was frowning now. "You've got to be kidding me..."
Johnny leant his arms on his knees, gazing darkly at Rogue.
"What makes you so special?"
"Her new powers, doofus!" retorted Jubes, "I mean geez! She can
break shit, she can fly - she's like Superman!"
"Supergirl," corrected Kitty. This garnered an annoyed glower
"It's not just me," Rogue said, "It's all of us. I mean - the
Professor is going to step up your training programmes - Bobby!
They're preparing a curriculum where you guys can learn to fly
the freakin' Blackbird!"
Johnny seemed to perk up at this, exchanging glances with Bobby.
Jubilee shook her head. "Woah. We weren't going to be allowed
to go anywhere near the X-Jet till we'd learnt all about it in
"Exactly," Rogue said. She sat down across from her friends,
pulling up a chair. "Guys, I have a feeling that the Professor
knows that something is going on... something big. He's upped
all patrols with the X-Men, he's letting Jean use Cerebro..."
Rogue glanced around herself, making sure that no one was walking
by the near empty recreation room. "He's scared guys... the
X-Men are scared. There's not enough of them to fight whatever's
coming up, and the Professor knows it."
"Why are you telling us this?" asked Kitty.
Rogue sighed, rubbing her face in her hands. "Guys... I need to
know that if I decide to join early, that you won't hate me for
it." Pulling her hands away she looked at the faces of her
friends. They were all tinged with worry, eyes glinting with the
news that had befallen them. She'd done this, she'd taken away
their carefree afternoon. Jubes tilted her head, playing with
the cut-off lace gloves she wore. Rogue let spidery threads of
sense reach out to the mind of her friend, capturing a splash of
what the young woman was feeling.
Sad, so sad, fear, sad, love, fear, love, hope, fear...
Jubilee shrugged. "Dude... you know that we're all here for the
long haul. We're here for the Professor, because he's given us
so much and asked for squat in return."
"Totally," agreed Bobby.
Jubilee's eyes glinted in seriousness as she continued. "Now, if
he wants you on early cause he needs you - go for it. What kind
of X-Chick would you be if you turned your back on the Professor
in a time of need?"
Rogue felt a warming in her heart, taking Jubilee's hand with her
nerves jangling despite the apparent support. "You really mean
"We all do," Bobby said, putting his hand over the girls'. He
looked to Johnny, then Kitty. "Don't we?"
"Hell yeah," agreed Johnny, slapping his hand down over his
friend's. Kitty jutted out her bottom lip and followed suit.
Jubilee smiled, in a manner strangely solemn. It was such a sad,
mellow yet supportive expression that was on the girl's face.
Rogue met the obsidian eyes of her friend, reflecting the smile
given to her.
"Thank you," she said. "I wasn't sure... I am now."
"That's what we're here for," said Bobby, soft smile on his face.
She wholeheartedly wished that was all they were here for. They
weren't ...they were here to fight as well.
Sleep evaded her that night. She heard the X-Jet rumble and
roar to life, lifting from the dark pit that was it's hidden home
and off into the night, silent and deadly. Her peers slept
soundly in the room they shared, but the thought of slumbering
when her friends... her would-be comrades... were out there
facing the perils of the night, kept her from such activities.
It was stupid; she knew it was stupid.
The X-Men had gone off on their patrols countless times before
and she'd never worried. Why she worried now of all times was
beyond her. She huffed, lying in her bed, eyes wide open, body
fitful with energy and thoughts racing of what her life had
become. When did it get so complicated? Why was she in the
middle of all of this? She was so beyond Mississippi, beyond the
girl she was. She looked to her friends, mounds of blanket and
sleeping bodies in their beds.
She was beyond many things. How she needed her friends though,
how she needed them to keep her young. She felt too old.
I'm seventeen, she thought, I'm seventeen. I buy magazines and
eat chocolate and play fussball and argue with Logan and fly-
Fly? The thought jarred in her mind. Flying... it made Carol
feel free. It made her feel free. Maybe she'd go for a float
around, clear her head.
Peeling off her covers, she lifted from her bed, grabbing a
blanket to wrap around her for her short flight. Her feet never
touched the floor; she didn't want to wake her friends. Floating
across the room, she reached to door, and opening and closing it
as silently as she could. Her trip to the kitchen was swift and
silent, flight presenting it's many advantages. Hot chocolate,
she thought. Hot chocolate with a splash of Kaluha, and a big
She began pulling out all the things she'd need... full cream
milk, cocoa, sugar... Kaluha... When the milk was on the boil,
she felt something, a soft flush of warmth against the hairs of
her body. She frowned, looking about herself. She wasn't alone;
she could feel it.
She kept making the hot chocolate, listening carefully. She
could hear shifting outside, the odd grumble. She pulled out a
second mug, and as she filled them, she added a little more
Kaluha to the second one. She tip-toed her way to the door, and
shuffling her way through it carefully, she felt a warmth plummet
and spread through her slowly as she saw who was there, who she
knew had been there.
He was leaning back against the back porch balistrade, the light
of the New York sky falling on his strong, hawk-like features.
His nose wasn't pointed, but it was a dominant feature on his
face, his brow chiselled, as were his cheekbones. His lips were
thin, drawn to a troubled pout, and indeed there were little
dimples of concern in his chin.
Oh Logan, she thought, sighing softly. What are you doing up at
His hair had lost it's spike from the day, and no doubt from some
tossing and turning. He puffed smoke, a cigar wedged firmly
between his lips, and in one hand he had a beer. She sniffed the
air. Molson Export. He didn't look at her as she approached
him, nor even when she knelt down next to him. His hazel eyes,
blue in the dull light, gazed forward, weighted in emotion she
was too frightened to read.
"What you doin' up?"
He barely moved when he grunted, "Could ask you the same thing."
She let out a deep breath, settling down onto her behind.
There was a pause as the man next to her seemed to relax a
little. "Me either."
Rogue nodded. She held up a mug. "I made you one of these."
He looked down to it, brow cocked, and he ticked a nostril as he
sniffed. "What is that?"
He took it, and very gingerly he lifted the mug to his lips,
blowing on it. He sipped it, then grunted as the warm tingly
liquid slipped down his throat. "Hot chocolate and?"
"A splash a' somethin' else," she said, narrowing her eyes little
with an affectionate yet secretive curl of her lips. It wasn't
quite a smile. It was more defensive than that.
"Right," Logan said with a growl to his voice. "You know you're
not old enough to drink this."
She shrugged. "If I'm old enough to go kick Magneto's ass, I'm
old enough to have a spirit on occasion."
Logan grew cold then, his stare becoming firm and his features
sharp. Rogue felt the reason behind all this dawn on her slowly,
and she wrapped her fingers around the mug in her hand tensely.
"So that's what this is all about."
Her voice was a honey drawl, quiet and tender, a little dejected
sounding too. Logan grunted, shifting nervously.
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"Well you're going to," Rogue said. "I'm not going to have you
actin' like this every time I see you-"
"Actin' like what?" he said, turning and glaring at her.
"You know what I'm talking about," she said. "There's some huge
kinda bug up your ass and it's got my name written all over it."
Logan blinked, top lip cocked and nostril curled as he processed
the imagery her turn of speech presented him with, and he shook
his head to rid himself of it. "Listen. I brought you here so
you'd be safe, so you didn't have to worry about this anti-mutant
thing. I brought you here to be protected." His words were
measured, weighted, firm. "I didn't bring you here to be signed
on to some frigging crusade." He pointed at her with his cigar
for emphasis, then butted the smoking thing out, stuffing it into
his jacket roughly.
She frowned, shrinking back as his strong words flowed over her.
There was passion in his words, feeling. It was rare to hear
Logan speak in anything but a laid back rumble. She gulped,
trying to reign in the warm excitement inside of her that was
brought alive by his care.
"Logan, there are people out there who aren't safe like me." She
put her drink aside, curling her fingers around his bicep and
leaning close, trying to communicate with the man who looked away
from her now, hurt scowl on his features. "There are people that
need our help real bad. I can't sleep, I can't live, knowin'
that I'm ignorin' them."
"You're not ignoring them," he said, lips almost trembling,
"You're giving yourself a chance to grow up first."
She sighed. "The Professor needs me. He's given me so much,
Logan. It's the least I could do-"
He turned his head then, his nose almost touching hers, eyes
blazing into hers directly. "You don't owe him anything."
Her gaze sobered. "You're right." She glanced forward, not
being able to look into those impassioned eyes. "I want to do
this for him."
Logan ran a hand over his face, rubbing his eye, a long sigh
leaving him gently. He watched almost imperceptibly shaking
fingers massage the dips in his knuckles, blinking carefully so
that no tears could occur nor fall. "You almost got killed before
and I'm not gonna see that again." He pressed his lips together,
brow creased in pain. "I can't, and I can't -" He swallowed,
then looked to her, his eyes imploring her with every inch of his
soul. "I can't let that happen again, Marie."
She closed her eyes, leaning her head on his shoulder, sliding
her arms around him. The dear, sweet, stubborn man. God she
adored him... She could hear him sigh as she embraced him, his
own arms winding around her.
"I don't know what to do, Logan," she said.
"Wait," he said. "For me... wait."
She tilted her head, pain in her eyes. "You know I can't do
He nodded, looking suddenly very tired. "And here-in lies our
"Logan, you know things have changed-"
"Have they?" He glared at her.
"Yes!" she said. "Look at me..."
He glanced at her a moment then looked away, and with frustration
Rogue grabbed his face in her gloved hands and glared deep into
his eyes, her own passion on the subject erupting from within.
"It's been over a year since we first came here. A whole year.
You know what that means?"
He said nothing, only jutting his bottom lip out in a scowl.
"It means a whole year of self-defense training, a whole year of
workin' in the gym, a whole year of buildin' my confidence." She
licked her lips, feeling her groove and going with it. "Now I
made it over half-way across the damn continent without gettin'
myself killed or felt up or raped - that was just me, little ol'
me with no kick ass whammy, no flyin', no invulnerability and no
Logan glowered. "That was something you shouldn't have to have
"Neither is joinin' the X-Men Logan," she said. "It's something
you shouldn't have to do either. You've done enough fightin' in
your life, don't you think?" Only silence answered her. "Why do
you do it? I know you hate it. Why do you do it?"
He sighed, looking away, Rogue's hands slipping from his face and
resting on his shoulders. "Cause... I dunno. I ask myself the
same thing all the damned time."
She pursed her lips. "And what's the answer you get?"
He looked back to her softly. "I do it, cause I got to."
Rogue smiled ruefully, tightening her hands around his shoulders
lightly. "Same here."
He sighed, nodding, and looked back to her. They were close, her
body warm and soft against his, her face a breath away from his
own. She fought herself not to tremble, instead secretly adoring
the sensation of Logan's firm musculature under her fingertips.
After a moment of looking over her features, of examining her
eyes deeply, he spoke.
"I know you're like - super-woman now. I've experienced the
evidence, damn it." He held up a hand, the one that had almost
been crushed if it hadn't have been for his adamantium bones.
Her heart froze as he paused. His eyes blazed, his brows tilted
up... she remembered that look... Warm metal, right through her
chest, the pain, oh the pain... so warm... He sighed, looking
back and forth, lips pulled back in seeming confusion. He looked
back to her finally, as if he'd managed to get a hold on some
emotion inside of him.
"I worry." He looked angry with himself. "I worry so much
sometimes I can't think. It was my fault you got taken by
Magneto that first time, and it was my fault you got stuck with
that psycho bitch in your head-"
She brought a hand to his face again, brows tilted, heart
rending. She shook her head as she met his tortured eyes, slowly
yet firm. She didn't say anything; she didn't have to.
Another shake of her head. She found herself running her thumb
over the plane of his cheek, gently pulling him close. "I'd be
nowhere without you."
It was as if she'd spoken an absolution. Logan sighed, closing
his eyes, arms sliding around her waist as she pulled him into a
warm, tight embrace. She leant her head on top of his, running
her fingers through his tousled hair, her eyes drifting shut as
he leant against her. She could feel his breath puff against her
chest, his fingertips run little needy circles on her back and in
the lilt of her waist. Her heart swelled with something
intangible, she couldn't even begin to describe it.
It was warm and it was encompassing. It filled her to the very
tips of her self, and it flowed through her, through him, binding
them, making them whole. She wasn't sure what it was, but
holding Logan like this, she'd never felt so complete in her
entire life. She ventured to press a kiss to the top of his
head, her lips warm and firm against his protected scalp. He
shifted, and she felt afraid, that maybe perhaps she'd done the
wrong thing. Upon seeing the warmth in his eyes, the brimming
need, she knew that she'd done exactly what he needed her to.
She ran her hand down his face, cradling it once more, caressing
it gently... she felt so dizzy, so intoxicated... His eyelids
wavered as if he were a little drunk, but there was a clarity in
them that she knew this wasn't so. His hand drifted up,
enclosing over the hand that held his face, stroking it softly
and she felt his other hand run those maddeningly delicious
circles in the small of her back, over the dip in her spine.
She breathed his name, she needed to, and it seemed to feed him.
His other hand slipped down, flat against the curve of her back,
nestled between her shoulder blades, drawing her forward
He stopped. His eyes darted about, a gleam in them, one of
alarm. She held her breath, brows drawing together.
He let go of her, jumping to his feet and stalking to the other
side of the back porch. He tilted his head, hands spread out,
tense like a cat flat in long grass.
She hated when he acted like this; it frightened her. She balled
her fists, glancing around. "What is it?"
He looked down suddenly. "The alarms... they're goin' off..."
That's when Rogue felt it. An echoing rush of a voice that
touched her mind effortlessly, so tremendously powerful it
rattled her every bone in her body. She gasped, grabbing for
"Oh my God-" she gasped, cradling her head.
//X-Men,// the voice said, //To the briefing room immediately.//
Logan turned, taking her hand. "You okay?"
She blinked, trying to get used to the sensation of power that
had so briefly rushed through her and was as quickly gone. "What
the hell was that?"
He sighed. "Duty call."
She stood up, mentally shaking the unsettling sensations from her
body. "I never, I mean-"
"No," he said. "You wouldn't have. You never been a member of
the team before."
Rogue had never seen the lower levels like this. Red lights she
didn't even realise existed flared from the ceiling, sending the
usually cool blue shiny corridors into a warm flushed panic.
She raced through, Logan pulling her along by her hand. She
patted his hand, assuring him with this gesture that she was
fine, and glancing back to her he nodded and let go. He pulled
off his jacket, and storming around the corner he saw Scott and
Ororo kitting up.
"What's going on?" he asked, pulling off his excess clothing and
grabbing his uniform from its case.
"Don't know," Scott said, "I only just got back from routine
patrol when the alarm went off."
Logan lifted a brow. "You see anything funny going on out there?"
"No," Scott said in a dry tone, "Was all just peachy."
Rogue looked about, fiddling her fingers, not knowing quite what
to do. Scott looked back at her.
"Don't worry about getting changed," he said. "We're probably
fine for this mission."
Rogue frowned. "Then why did the Professor call me here?"
Now Cyke frowned. "He did?"
"Oh." He shrugged and pointed to the change room. "Then go get
Rogue nodded again, rushing into the change room, Logan close
behind her. Her heart raced, she'd never felt like this. It was
exciting, but terrifying. She didn't know what to feel, it was a
confused rush that made her stomach wince. Without thought she
pulled off her clothes, down to her underwear and then slid on
the thick leather jumpsuit, the sounds of revving zippers and the
squeak of unused leather filling her ears. All there was was her
uniform going onto her body, her mind trying to ease itself to a
precarious state of calm. She didn't even register the fact that
Logan was stripping down behind her. It didn't matter.
All she could see was the glaring red lights pleading for her
Snapping her stomach buckle closed she felt a slap on her
"Come on, Kid, let's go."
She glanced over her shoulder to Logan, nodding. "Okay."
They strode from the change room, turning down the corridors
towards the Briefing room, their booted steps clacking and
thumping, rebounding off the walls into a dour echo. The door at
the end of the corridor slid open as the drew closer, and inside
the X-Men stood around the table, arms crossed, all gazing at
Xavier turned his head and looked to them.
"Professor," the both of them replied in a worried unison.
"As I was saying," Xavier said, speaking to his team, "There
seems to be only a small group of mutants infiltrating the
facilitiy, targeting the sub-levels."
Wolverine frowned, looking back and forth between the X-Men and
the Professor. "What the hell is going on?"
Xavier ignored him, listening instead to Cyclops.
"So what do you want us to do?"
"Stop them from injuring anybody," Xavier said, "And find out
what it is they want. This lab is government owned - this is no
"Yes sir," nodded Cyclops.
"The lab schematics have been transmitted to the X-Jet, and you
already have my instructions. Take care."
The X-Men nodded, trotting off out the door, Wolverine and Rogue
looking about them in bewilderment. Rogue turned to the
Professor, crossing her arms, cocking a brow and a hip.
"You care to tell us why you brought us down here in the middle
of the night?"
Xavier turned, wheeling himself towards them. "Just moments ago
there was a break-in at a leading genetics lab in Manhattan. The
infiltrators are mutants, and I sense that this is no random
"Right," Logan nodded. "Then why are we standin' here yappin'
while the rest of the brigade is out bashin' heads?"
Xavier blinked, the aggression floating past him. "I brought you
here for back-up, in the event that the team needs it."
Rogue sighed, swapping hips to cock. "You think they'll need it?"
Xavier smiled lightly. "I'm hoping not."
Rogue nodded. "How'd you find out about this anyhow?" she asked.
"Cerebro," said Xavier. "Tremendously useful device, don't you
"Oh, I know it," Rogue said. "So what are you gonna do?"
"Monitor the situation from that very device, while you both wait
in the television monitor room." Xavier turned and wheeled off,
leaving Logan and Rogue with each other. Logan glowered, folding
"Great. I get to catch up on my soaps," he said dryly. Rogue
nodded, and looked between them.
"Well lookee us," she drawled, "All dressed up and no place to
Logan narrowed his eyes at her non-appreciatively and poked her
gently in the shoulder. "You go to the tv room.
I'm gettin' the pack of cards."
Rogue sighed. "Oh yay."