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2004FIC: Close Your Eyes--A For Now Coda: 1/2: PG-13: Rogue, Logan, Jean, Xavier, L/R

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  • Jenn
    Feb 1, 2001
      Title: Close Your Eyes: A For Now Coda
      Author: jenn (jenn@...)
      Codes: Rogue, Jean, Xavier, Logan, Logan/Rogue
      Rating: PG-13, you're shocked, aren't you?
      Series: For Now: At Seventeen, At Nineteen, At Twenty, and At Twenty-One
      Summary: Letting go doesn't mean giving up. Rogue explores a rainstorm
      and an identity. Things get wet.
      Author Notes: Sare, for the ultra-fast beta read and clarification of
      Central Park. Jennifer Hallmark and Kristin Hughes for the betas of the
      early version. Ann for running over it and telling me it worked. Diebin
      for reading it last night and saying it didn't suck. And you will notice,
      I DID finish a series. Aren't you impressed? :) And to every person who
      encouraged me to finish this one and sent sweetly nagging emails.
      Archiving: List, otherwise ask.
      Disclaimer: There's a reason this isn't canon already--if I owned, it damn
      well would be. Oh well.
      Apologies: If you love Jean, forgive me. I'm nicer to her in other fics.

      * * * * *

      I'll bet you've never seen Central Park in the rain.

      There's something mystical about it--yeah, yeah, yeah, touristy crap from a
      resident. I've been here a lot--there've been school picnics and parties
      and I walked here with Bobby once upon a time, under sunlight filtered
      through thick green leaves high above my head, booted and gloved and
      scarved among people in lycra and spandex. He held my leather-covered hand
      and joked about the weather and I watched bicyclers pass by with Logan's
      tags around my neck, under my shirt so no one could see.

      I've always been partial to fantasy. When you're young, that's what life
      is, you know--a series of fantasies that upgrade to achievable dreams or
      become a nostalgic reminder of who and what you were. When some girls in
      the dorms two doors away from me looked forward to their first kiss, I was
      curled in bed holding a pillow and staring at my own hand, trying to
      remember what human skin felt like when you touched it.

      I forgot.

      Maybe I can't be blamed for my fantasies, really--I have so much to work
      with. Two men and a boy who between them have done it all, seen it all--I
      have seen so much more than most people ever will. Jubilee complains she's
      bored--I can relive a musical in seventies Broadway or explore
      revolutionary eastern Asia, dance in post-World War II France or make love
      in the heat of a Memphis summer under a bare yellow bulb. I can have
      memories of a thousand kinds of touch I've never had, never can have.

      I am loved and protected and cherished and trained--by people who have no
      tie to me in blood but only in a simple genetic abnormality that binds us
      in a way that blood family can never completely understand. I will never
      lack a home, food, comfort, support--I will never lack companionship and
      friendship and meaning in life.

      I am petted and smiled at and wrapped in the finest silk on the market, an
      eternal child. Sex doesn't make you an adult, no--life does. And with
      everything they give me, everything they're willing to give up for me,
      every way they love me, that's the one thing they can't do--they can't give
      me a life of my very own, because who and what I precludes that forever.

      Forever's an awful long time, Logan told me once, when we sat on the grass
      sipping spiked lemonade. Stretches in front and behind you in an unbroken
      stream of time. I break up my forever in fantasies where I'm a model, an
      actress, a dancer--ah, bet you didn't know I took classes when I was a kid,
      huh? One thing is always the same--there's always touch. Skin against
      skin. Brushes of fingers, touches that mean nothing and mean everything.

      I walk under the heavy, wet branches of trees stretched above my head like
      great arms that don't quite hold enough rain back to keep me dry. There's
      a clearing fifteen meters ahead and everything hits me at once when I step
      out of the trees--a heavy downpour that washes over the cloak of a
      seventeen year old girl, that coats the body of a twenty-one year old
      woman, and I push the hood back and stare up, rain soaking my face and
      collar, dripping deeply into my shirt. The rain pounds down so hard I
      can't see the trees at the end of the clearing, blurred into moving
      greenish white.

      I close my eyes.

      I have a choice to make.

      * * * * *

      Seven days ago I found out everything.

      Hell of a post-birthday present.

      I curled up in my bed with a hangover from hell and Jubes and Kitty nowhere
      in sight, thinking how nice it'd be if I'd just sink into the bed and never
      come out.

      Maybe I made a mistake and he didn't say what he really didn't say. Maybe
      the whiskey reinterpreted everything. Maybe I'm so very wrong that it was
      just pathetic.

      But it's a small jump that I could handle.

      I went to his room while he was out--doing whatever it is cage-fighters do
      for recreation on weekends when they aren't beating the shit out of
      someone--and started my search. If you asked what I was looking for, I had
      no clue. For proof either way. Something tangible that didn't scare me.

      But this was Logan. I was scared to death.

      I checked the closet first. Logical. He's not much for leaving his
      private effects out where anyone can see them.

      My letters to him, all bound up and carefully stored in a leather case that
      smells faintly of cigar. The watch I gave him for Christmas when I was
      eighteen, almost immaculate, never used, but never left behind, still in
      its original case. A bundle of letters from Jean and Ororo and Xavier in
      the back of the closet. A picture of me in my graduation gown, mortarboard
      askew, grinning at the camera. Looking close, I noticed that I'm not
      wearing gloves. They're tucked in my pocket under the gown.

      A box that I couldn't open at first--I pulled out a bobby-pin and initiate
      a lockpicking expedition, one of those random memories that I really
      couldn't attribute to any one person. Did Eric ever pick locks? Nah,
      magnetized them. Logan can put adamantium through them. That left Cody.
      Hmmm. I should check on the crime rate for burglary in Meridian one day.
      They may have a FBI most wanted right there in my sleepy little former

      The first thing I saw was a pair of my gloves. I traced them with my
      fingers, faintly remembering wearing them a long time ago--my hand's grown
      a little. I checked the fit, wondering why he had them, where he'd gotten
      them--they're worn, at least two years old, and I could remember losing a

      --oh fuck, he found them in here. That's where they went.

      There are other things, things that made me frown. Pictures of me--how he
      got them I still don't know. My eighteenth birthday party, that he missed
      by two days, but took me to a play in New York to make up for it and
      afterwards we ate ice-cream in Central Park at midnight--the ticket, not in
      so great condition, is tucked in beside it. My first dance, scared to
      death in a dark green dress with black gloves, Bobby's arm hovering over,
      but not quite touching, my waist. A few random shots of me that I know
      Jubes took with her eternally present camera.

      There was also an old phone card, dated from around the time he called for
      Christmas when I was eighteen and we talked for fifty minutes. Things that
      didn't mean anything and yet meant more than everything else, things he'd
      kept when he really didn't keep much, what went with him wherever he went.

      Always touching and never touched. That's my life, my mission, and my
      definition of what I am.

      "Found it, huh?"

      I didn't spin around on the floor, didn't begin to panic because I was just
      too stunned, didn't say anything but simply looked up, seeing him lean
      against the door of his closet, a little surprised, a little resigned, very
      Logan. Stared back down at the box, felt him walk over and crouch behind
      me, one hand dipping briefly inside, moving things around, tracing the
      lines of old pictures and frozen memories. He was warm against my back and
      I closed my eyes to take it in, knowing the staccato pulse of my heart
      wasn't all arousal, that some of it was fear. And my hand in its too-small
      glove clenched in my lap

      "I don't understand," I finally whispered. Though maybe the part of me
      that I don't think about did, the part that meshes with his memories. "I
      mean, do you need an engraved invitation or something? I haven't been
      obvious enough, or blatant enough, or were you waiting for me to strip
      naked and sit on your bed in some cheap centerfold pose to wait for you?
      Would that have gotten the point across better?"

      "If you had, at least I'd know you weren't scared of being touched."

      I stiffened a little, but he didn't pull back, content to sit there and
      wait for me to work it out for myself.

      "It's not that simple," I stammered out finally.

      "It is that simple. You want it to be some issue that can't be fixed
      without divine intervention or some crap like that. And for awhile there,
      you didn't think like that--you didn't make it the center of your universe
      and the axis on which everything had to turn." Fingers reached out,
      picking up the other glove idly. "And I find these in my room--granted, it
      was a nice thought if you did it deliberately, but four hours later I knew
      you hadn't. You slept with them on, when you were alone, in here. When
      you couldn't touch anything or hurt anyone." He dropped it back in and I
      closed my eyes again and tried to pretend that he hadn't caught me and I
      was still alone.

      I'm good at fantasy.

      "So I try to find out what the fuck happened that made you so scared and no
      one knew for sure, though the first indicator was around the time you and
      your little boyfriend parted ways. And at first, I thought he'd done
      somethin' to scare you or hurt you--" I shivered at the sound of his
      voice. "And your buddy Jubilation caught me stalking the poor kid outside
      and dragged me back in and asked for an explanation."

      I could imagine Jubilee doing just that. Jubes isn't afraid of anyone or

      "She told me that nothing had happened." A pause. "And that was the whole

      My fingers shook and I tried to clench them to stop it. His hand covered
      mine, lightly, tracing my bare skin, soft leather and the smell of the

      "Nothing happened, did it?"

      I wished I could just disappear into the wall, like Kitty. Shapeshift into
      something that can get by him, like Mystique, but I'm just Marie, sitting
      on the floor. Pretty much the definition of trapped.


      "And I considered that it was other people you couldn't trust--and I tried
      to make you see that you could. It took me awhile to work it out--it
      wasn't that you didn't trust anyone else, you go to a fucking school for
      mutants, so they know the score, right? It was you. And I could deal with
      you being afraid of other people--but how the hell do I get into your head
      to figure out how to fix you being afraid of yourself?

      Another pause, and his arm withdrew.

      "I'm not a kid anymore. I don't need you to fix me."

      And maybe he sighed, I didn't know. A breath against my hair that I leaned
      into without meaning to at all.

      "You're so young, Marie. And I forgot that."

      And I stared at my hands and didn't move, and he quietly left me there to
      consider what he'd said.

      I am young. God, though--not like he thinks, like he believes. I'm
      twenty-one and a hundred--I remember Auschwitz and starvation and rape on
      cold dirt behind high fences. I remember murder and blood and cages and
      the filth that ten showers won't wash off your skin or out of your mind.
      I've had sex in a thousand places with more people than I can count, women
      and men, and there's little I don't know, less I can't imagine. I'm Rogue,
      a murderer, a survivor, a monster wrapped in white skin.

      Youth is relative. In some ways, I'm too old for him.

      * * * * *

      I'll bet you've never stood still in the rain.

      The grass is muddy underfoot and my boots start sinking into it a little
      when I turn in a slow circle as the thunder breaks overhead, echoing
      through my body--touch I can have. I close my eyes when the rain stings
      into my skin and unfasten the throat of my cloak, letting it fall like so
      much shed skin, and I'm soaked within seconds as rain pounds into my
      long-sleeved blouse and jeans. People on the little paths pass by under
      the cover of umbrellas and give me a quick stare before continuing on their
      merry way--this is New York, if I was naked most wouldn't even blink at the
      sight of me.

      With one hand, I push my wet hair back, kicking my cloak to the side,
      breathing in air thickened with humidity and the smells of the forest--once
      upon a time I learned to track in the woods and Logan was my adversary for
      a game of cat and mouse that ended five feet from the edge of the lake we
      went swimming in during the summers. I don't remember how long it
      took--everything was instinct and training and reflex, but I remember the
      smell of fear and adrenaline and rich satisfaction over the scent of pine
      and mahogany.

      Winning was secondary to the life I could feel in the pulse of my body when
      I ran, and I understood why Logan never stood still, even at rest. Why his
      life was a fast-forward with a series of measured brief pauses.

      I take a step forward and remove my scarf, letting it float to the ground,
      heavy with water.

      I have dozens of scarves--every color, every type, thick enough to ward off
      the chill of winter, thin enough to barely tint my skin when I wrap one
      around my neck. I left home with a cotton one filched from my mother's
      drawer at three in the morning, and bought the one Logan found me in at a
      discount store just outside Niagara Falls. My hands shook the entire time
      and oddly enough, that is the last time I remember going into a store
      unaccompanied and suffered the difficulty of counting money with fingers
      that couldn't feel the metal and paper they held.

      Of course, I've gotten used to that.

      Funny--I barely had enough money to buy food, but I bought that scarf
      because I lost the cotton one in the truck of the fifth person to give me a
      lift. Once upon a time, I left my room without my scarf and gloves and
      everyone looked at me as if I was naked, and it was an odd experience, the
      first one of its kind. I remember how my hands twitched on the desk and I
      wondered what kind of emergency would require someone to touch my neck
      ungloved. The classroom smelled a little of fear and a lot of resentment
      and I cut math to go back upstairs and pull out thick green cotton and
      didn't talk to anyone for the rest of the day. When Bobby met me for
      dinner, he smiled in relief and touched my gloved hand and I told him we
      needed to talk.

      Even mutants need a lower class to pity. Society is society through and
      through. Nothing changes but the names, sugar, you better believe it. And
      I don't take pity well.

      So I step on the scarf.

      * * * * *

      Logan left five nights ago.

      I sat on his bed while he packed, knees drawn up to my chest. He sorted
      efficiently through the clothes, finding exactly what he needed with
      minimum fuss--Logan's ultra-organized, the military in him shows through
      more than he thinks. Threw them on the bed and I stared at them and
      wondered if I could wait until he was gone before I fell apart.

      "I don't want you to go."

      He gave me a glance, a trace of a smile curving his mouth. I guess it
      isn't very manly to show how excited you are about going out to maim a Bad

      "It's just a mission," he told me. "Won't take long. I'll be back."

      Just a mission, he said, as if it was nothing, but it wasn't *just* a
      mission or anyone could take it. This mission required someone able to
      survive anything short of nuclear detonation in his fucking face, so to
      speak, and I didn't need to be told that.

      "I don't want you to go," I repeated. I knew if I said anything else, I'd
      break down and cry and that's not the way he needed to see me when he
      left--and that's not the person I want to be. He's an X-Man and I accepted
      a long time ago that the chances of any of us in the Mansion surviving our
      fortieth birthday relatively intact is a pipe-dream at best.

      He's Logan and he loves his work. It's never just business; it's always

      In the abstract, I knew that, even understood it. In the abstract, in
      fact, I knew that he'd probably be perfectly fine and worrying about him
      was something like worrying that the ocean will dry up overnight.

      Concrete was different. This was Logan. And this mission was
      dangerous--damned dangerous--or he wouldn't be going.

      He shook his head and ducked into the closet and I grabbed the duffle bag
      and started putting things in--I know how to pack. Extra shirts, a
      sweater, jeans, lots of socks, underwear, even a shaving kit--that's enough
      to make me smile a little. I pulled off my gloves as he came back out,
      glancing at my painstaking work, and he grinned.

      "You worry too much, darlin'."

      "Yeah," I answered, trying to keep my voice level. "I guess if you can
      survive me, you can survive anything." And I stared at the bag, hard,
      because there's no earthly reason I should be so afraid.

      But I am. Every time.

      He dropped on the bed beside me, putting the last few things in and zipping
      it up. Then dropped it on the floor and took my hands from my lap. The
      leather was cool against my skin and I forced myself not to stiffen.

      "I'll be fine."

      I don't think before me, he ever had anyone who cared whether he came back.
      And I wondered if that's something he liked

      It was pure impulse that moved me, so I crawled into his lap and feel his
      arms go around me, bare hands around his back, closing my eyes, breathing
      in his scent, and trying hard not to cry now. I can't let go, and maybe he
      can't either. I want to believe that, and I can feel his chin in my hair
      when he strokes my back with leather-coated hands.

      "You're pretty when you cry, darlin'." He was teasing me.

      "I'm not crying." My voice sounded a little hollow and a lot congested.
      How annoying. I cleared my throat hastily.

      "Sure you're not." Another long stroke, and he tilted my head up with both
      gloved hands, smiling down at me. "Don't worry. I'll be back in one
      piece. Maybe carve you a new pair of gloves out of the son of a bitch
      causing problems this time. You like Sabretooth's hide?"

      That was enough to make me giggle, which was what he was going for in the
      first place, and he dropped me neatly back on the bed and picked up the
      bag. I didn't move and as he walked to the door, he gave me one glance and
      a wicked smile.

      "I stocked up on cigars, baby. Feel free."

      The door closed and I stared at the drawer a little startled. And because
      I couldn't help it, I walked over and opened it, looking at the expensive
      Cubans in neat rows.

      I think that's when I started crying. I'm not sure.

      * * * * *

      I'll bet you never laughed at the rain.

      It's cold, which is a shock to my thinly-clad body, as I shed the light
      blouse--my soaked t-shirt clings to my skin, and goosebumps jump up all
      over me at the feel of rain on bare arms. Once upon a time, I went
      swimming alone in the lake near the mansion, under pure moonlight, wearing
      a tank top and bodysuit (for the sake of the poor fish, who knew if I could
      absorb through scales)--the water was cold and I got out shivering,
      wrapping myself in my towel, and Jean caught me at the door and made me go
      to the infirmary, asking what I thought I was doing swimming at night in

      I showed her my silk-covered hands and said that it was too hot to swim in
      gloves in summer.

      God, it feels good, bare skin I've never seen outside the shower, rarely
      touched by the sun. Air whispering against ever inch exposed, and one last
      thing, one last fantasy, and I lift my hands encased in black leather.

      Carefully, I strip off my gloves, letting them fall on the ground beside
      me. Step on them for good measure, and rain washes away lint and sweat and
      fear from my fingers--and joggers run by looking a little confused when I
      raise a bare hand and wave at them.


      I knew he'd find me and I start laughing, wet hair falling in my face, and
      I scrape it back with a bare hand. God, how weird is that, the whole idea
      of being surrounded by trees and jogging people and the rain comin' down on
      me and I don't give a damn.

      "What the fuck are you doing out here?" He's keeping to the grass under
      the leafy
      canopy of the trees, relatively protected.

      "When'd you get back? How'd you find me?" It's a giggle I can't control,
      any more than the rain that falls down on us, any more than the feel of the
      thunder that rumbles the ground under my feet. And he looks at me standing
      in a soaked t-shirt and jeans, excess clothing spread around my feet in a
      little circle that I step out of.

      "Got back an hour ago and followed the route of your car, baby." And he
      stops fifteen feet away, giving me that particular look that means he's
      questioning my sanity and that makes me laugh more. "I could find you

      And he just watches me in something resembling complete bafflement when I
      kicked off one boot, then another, letting the mud soak up into my socks,
      against my bare feet. Squish my toes in, then set my heel on the toe of
      one sock, jerking it off.

      Logan leans against a tree and looks vaguely amused. "I'm assuming
      here--it's a stretch, darlin'--that you left that obvious a trail for a
      reason. You wanna share why we're in Central Park in the middle of a
      damned storm?"

      "Not really." Other sock off and I jump, coming down to splash in the
      puddle that's rapidly accumulating around me, muddy water sloshing across
      my denim-covered calves. Then look at him, trying to look macho while
      water pools around his boots. He can do it too. How I don't know, but he
      can. "Lose some clothes there, sugar. Wet leather ain't that much fun--I
      just discovered that with wet wool." I poke my cloak with one bare toe,
      then throw him a smile. "Do it, Logan."

      He thinks I've lost my mind. I want to tell him I found it.

      * * * * *


      --Hi, My Name Is Jenn, and I have Serious Issues with Marie wearing gloves
      to bed. On Principle.--Sare on "Evil Plot Bunny #1: The Evil Sare
      Tortures Jenn Via AIM One Night"

      --Yeah, it's like being in love with hospital gravy.--Nacey on Jean's