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"Clinging Cures" R/S, PG-13, 1/1

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  • Molly
    Clinging Cures by Molly November 2000 Rogue and Scott learn to let go. Characters portrayed within do not belong to me, and I mean no infringement.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2000
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      Clinging Cures
      by Molly
      November 2000

      Rogue and Scott learn to let go.

      Characters portrayed within do not belong to me, and I
      mean no infringement. Rogue/Scott. Rated PG-13. List
      archives and those with previous permission only.

      Few last notes: Proving once and for all that I *can*
      write a non-L/R story. Thanks to Elizabeth for the
      beta and the wonderful ego strokes; to Kate for random
      pretty visions of crossovers; to Die, for just being
      neat. Any and all comments welcome, though I
      appreciate no shouting if you find certain elements
      less than happy. And that's all the warning you get,

      Once upon a time, she failed to recognize her own
      fairy tale.

      Because they say, 'blink and you'll miss it,' and so
      one day she woke up in the medlab with gauze covering
      chemical burns on her stomach and left hip, and she
      thought about the 17-year-long blink that had been her
      life. She thought about the cold gazes and whispered
      gossip from her mother's side of the family after
      she'd been diagnosed

      (*Mutant. What's that? No, no cure.*)

      and she thought about her father, trying to convince
      her that no, mom's leaving had nothing to do with her.

      She'd never believed him, but now, some days, she
      wondered if it were true. If maybe that, too, was
      something she'd missed, and if all her mother had
      needed was an excuse.

      Her. The inexcusable, and she heard Jean say softly,
      "She should wake up soon."

      "Now soon enough?" Her voice was low and rough and she
      coughed, but it hurt so she stopped. Easy like that,

      (*Could say no. That might hurt, too*)

      Jean appeared next to her and smoothed a hand--
      gloved-- over her forehead. "Hey," she murmured. "Are
      you in pain?"

      "No," Rogue lied. It hurt. "Is Storm okay?"

      "Storm's fine," Scott said from the doorway. He looked
      tired behind his glasses and she could see hints of
      Jean in the red reflection. Hints, and Jean didn't
      wear a ring anymore. "You could have been killed,

      "Yeah," she mumbled, sleepy again. "Storm has pretty
      skin, don'cha think?"

      Jean just sighed, and there wasn't much to say to


      "What do you see?" she asked Scott at breakfast a few
      days later. He'd taken to sitting by her in the past
      year or so; he'd taken to giving her gentle looks and
      glimpsing touches that made her wonder if his
      fingertips were soft.

      He shrugged. "A strawberry, with a toothpick stuck in

      She pulled the toothpick out. "And now?"

      "A strawberry."

      "Exactly," she said, and ate the bit of fruit

      Scott looked at her like she was crazy, but it was
      fond, too, so she didn't mind. "Did that actually mean

      "Well, yeah. Did you see a strawberry with a hole in

      "No. Rogue-- "

      "We've all got some sort of hole, Scott, mutants do.
      Whatever it is making us different. But nobody has to
      see them, unless we have toothpicks. Unless we *have*
      to have them."

      "My visor would be a toothpick?"

      "And my clothes, and Bradley's voice modifier. We're
      marked, don't you see?"

      Scott frowned, and she didn't like it. He'd frowned
      enough, after Jean. "And this had something to do with
      why you go in the way of that acid stream?"

      "Of course it does," she insisted, and a few years ago
      she'd never have imagined arguing with him like this.
      "Scott, what if it came down to your eyes or somebody
      else's, and it was up to you and what you did?"

      "Rogue. That's different."

      "I know it is. But can't you see how I don't see the
      scar I'll have as any big deal of a sacrifice for

      "Yes," he finally said. "I just don't like your line
      of thought."

      "Neither do I," she muttered. "Neither do I."


      If anyone were ever to ask, she would say it happened,
      or started, at least, three years after she first
      arrived, with Professor Xavier's stroke. Nobody ever
      asked, though, and nowadays, anyway, only the older
      students remembered the time when Jean and Scott were
      happy and perfect and in the kind of love she only
      dreamed of sharing with someone.

      Some others might have said it was something else,
      that it maybe went all the way back to Logan. Or that
      it had nothing to do with anything or anyone but Jean
      and Scott, and that people could just fall out of

      Rogue didn't believe that, at least not for them. It
      was the stroke in her mind, the stroke and how
      *everything* had changed after that. How Xavier
      recovered but lost most of his mental power, so Jean's
      telepathy became more vital than ever. How Scott
      seemed, from then on, bound and determined to take
      even more of the school's responsibilities onto
      himself, and how six months or so after the stroke,
      Jean didn't wear a ring and Scott lived in the room
      next to Rogue's.

      Which was two years ago, and sometimes Rogue wondered
      how that happened. It didn't always seem like five
      years had gone by, like five years since she'd last
      been entirely unaware.

      Of what she had then, and of what she truly was. She
      wondered if Scott and Jean would see these two years
      like that; if the stroke would become their own little
      milestone of regret.


      "You remember Logan." She finished grading an English
      essay and reached for another.

      And it hadn't been a question, really, but Scott
      looked up from his pile of geometry homework and
      snorted. "I don't think anyone's forgotten *him*."

      "Why do you think he never came back?"

      "He knew I'd kill him for taking my bike?"

      "Liar," she teased gently. "You thought he was a good
      guy, admit it."

      "Never," but he smiled ruefully.

      "Yeah, yeah." She chewed on her pen and stared blankly
      at a sentence about 'The Glass Menagerie'. "Sometimes
      I wish I'd gotten out of here when I tried."

      Scott stopped, and she didn't want to recognize the
      beginnings of wounded in his expression. "You mean
      back when-- "

      "Yeah, back when. It's like," and she hesitated. "I
      like it here, really. Never mind."

      "Hey." He nudged her hand. "Tell me?"

      She bit her lip and the pain let her say it.
      "Sometimes I wish my life weren't all of this," she
      said simply. "All about what I am. I wonder what it's
      like for Logan, getting to walk away."


      "If I tell you one more thing, promise it's between

      Scott nodded silently and she wondered what she was
      doing, why she was telling him. Why she *could* tell
      him something she'd tried to guard even from Xavier's
      formerly probing mind. "My chance," she started,
      "sometimes I don't think of it as ending on the train,
      when Magneto... sometimes when I'm upset, it's later
      than that."

      "When?" Scott asked. She got the feeling he already

      She smiled weakly and looked away, because she
      couldn't look right at him. "Guess that brings us back
      to Logan. But... don't think I'm crazy or anything,
      okay? It's not a thing of wishing I'd died. It's...
      it's thinking that when I got bound up in this place."

      "That's not always good," he prompted.

      "No. But nothing is always anything, is it?"

      Scott tapped his pen on the desk and sighed. "No, it's

      She let it go at that. Scott understood her, and that
      was enough.


      Magneto died on a Thursday evening, after nearly six
      years of plastic imprisonment, three weeks before he
      would have been 76.

      And when Xavier mentioned it to her at breakfast on
      Friday, she could only press a gloved hand to his
      soft, gracious cheek. "I'm sorry," she whispered, and
      he looked so old right then. "He was a good friend,
      when he was a friend, wasn't he?"

      (*He was things betrayal won't let you forget, wasn't

      "That he was," Xavier agreed.

      "He didn't hate you, you know," she murmured. "But he
      had to try, to be able to live after failing you.
      Because he wanted to be able to believe in you. He
      wanted that."

      Xavier looked resignedly reminiscent. "I know, Rogue.
      Thank you, though."

      She saw mortality etched into his form

      (*Death shouldn't be allowed to loiter. Come or go,
      come or go.*)

      and closed her eyes against the sight. "Do you still
      think of him as a friend?"

      "When I think only of him, yes. We never fully let go
      of some things, Rogue. No matter what memories they're
      attached to."

      And she thought of the little box she had upstairs;
      she thought of her mother's photo lying safe beneath a
      dusty set of dogtags. She thought of Scott, who would
      rub her back when it ached from hunching over ungraded
      tests, but who always got a certain look on his face
      when anyone talked about marriage. She wondered what
      had ever happened to Jean's ring.


      "I was eight," Scott said, working in the garden.

      Rogue snickered. "Scott, be serious."

      "I'm dead-serious. Ms. Adelbrite." He grinned lazily.
      "It's true, that your first love is forever. I still
      adore that woman. I used to pray that she would wait
      for me to grow up. Which, back then, I thought
      constituted passing into the fourth grade."

      "And then happily ever after?"

      "Something like that, yeah."

      "What was she like?"

      And Scott started laughing. "I have no idea. How well
      does any kid know their third grade teacher. But I
      still loved her."

      "What'd she look like, then?"

      "A little like you, but older, in her forties.
      Perfectly classy, and she always had her hair in this
      loose bun. Dark, *dark* hair. I dreamed about seeing
      that hair down, and never did. And she wore great
      perfume... I would mess up my tests on purpose, so she
      would lean over and I could smell her while she
      explained things to me."

      Rogue threw a clump of soil at him. "Dog."

      "No way. I was a damn cute kid. I'll show you a
      picture sometime." Scott focused on planting for a
      minute, then glanced at her. "What about you?"

      "I was adorable," she declared.

      "Still are, but I meant, when was your first love?"

      "Who says I've had one yet?"

      "You have," he said. "You're a dreamer; dreamers fall
      in love sooner or later."

      "You'll laugh," she muttered.

      "I'm entitled. You laughed at me and poor Ms.

      "Mine wasn't when I was eight, Scott," she said

      "Then I won't laugh."

      She turned red and played with a small rock on the
      garden's trim. "Logan, okay?"

      And Scott didn't make a sound, just stared at her and
      then touched her hand, and his stayed there, resting
      against the fabric of her glove. It felt nice, and she
      turned her palm up to let his fingers slip between
      hers. "I know you all thought I was just being a dumb
      kid," she finally added.

      "Not dumb, but we didn't realize right away how
      serious you were," he admitted. "I remember the
      Professor cluing us in, reminding us that there was
      nothing light-hearted or youthful about knowing
      someone as well as you knew Logan."

      "It certainly wasn't fun," she agreed, smiling
      ruefully. "Scott... he's not so healthy, is he?"

      "Not so, no. But he's got plenty of time left."

      "And when time's up? What happens here?"

      Scott gave her hand a final squeeze and went back to
      planting, his face a determined mask. "We'll do what
      he have to do, Rogue. That's what 'here' is all


      She closed her eyes some nights and thought about
      Logan. About the few days she'd known him, and about
      how she knew him, still. About the quiet fury he felt
      over his memory void, and about it hurting every time.
      About how she'd admitted it, to his memory and to
      herself, that he wasn't coming back.

      She closed her eyes some night and thought about
      Scott, too. Scott, who almost never let anyone see the
      ways he hurt, who liked having horses at the school
      but never found the chance to ride. Scott, who had
      loved Jean but spent his time with Rogue now, and who
      didn't seem ready to lose a man whose days were
      counting down. Who slept next door, and who lately
      looked at her like her skin was an obstacle it
      shouldn't be between friends.

      She thought about Scott more nights than not,


      There was a point when Xavier got sick, truly sick,
      and then there was a point when Jean had to bring him
      down to the medlab instead of treating him in his
      room. Rogue watched with Storm as Scott

      (*stiff, stiff Scott; you'd think the world was

      and two senior boys eased the small rolling bed
      through the halls and down to the lower levels. She
      watched and she realized she wouldn't be able to tell
      if Scott cried behind his visor.

      Nobody saw Jean for three days, but then Rogue woke up
      to gentle shaking and Jean looked sick, herself. It
      was January and it was snowing; Rogue caught glimpses
      of it out the window on the way downstairs. She
      thought about it being a bit of the sky falling, which
      seemed appropriate.

      Scott was slumped over one of Jean's worktables in the
      medlab, and he barely glanced up when they came in.
      Storm was leaning over Xavier, whispering softly, but
      she stopped when Jean gently touched her shoulders.
      Her face was wet with tears

      (*falling, everything falling; Scott's gonna fall*)

      when she looked at Rogue. With a weak smile, she
      stepped back. "I'm... I need some air," she mumbled.

      Jean nodded, at both of them. "Just a minute or so,
      okay?" she told Rogue.

      And Rogue took Xavier's hand and it trembled, and yes,
      indeed, here was the world at the end. "Professor?"
      she whispered, leaning close. "You're awake?"

      He nodded slightly, eyes closed, and she gazed at him.
      "I don't know what to say," she finally murmured. "I
      don't know how to choose." She squeezed his hand
      carefully. "You know, you're one of those things."

      "Things?" Xavier asked, and coughed slightly.

      "Yeah." She leaned in as close as she dared, her lips
      right next to his ear. "None of us will ever let you
      go, old friend."

      He smiled at that. "Rogue, Rogue... still proving it,
      I see."

      "Proving what, Professor?"

      "You've never needed skin to touch, my dear." He let
      out a rattling sigh. "Scott... Jean... "

      Rogue pressed the fleetingest of kisses to his cheek
      and then slipped away to get Jean and Scott, and ten
      minutes later Jean looked up at her and nodded
      bleakly. Then she took slow, careful steps into her
      office and the door clicked hollowly as it closed.

      And Scott stood still, his back to Rogue, and he
      didn't move for the longest time. "Scott?" she forced
      herself to ask. "Scott, should I-- "

      "Wait," he stopped her. "I-- Breakfast starts in an
      hour. Can you announce that there will be an assembly
      at nine?"

      "Yes," she whispered. "Do you need anything? Either of

      Scott finally turned around, and she'd never before
      been consciously glad that she couldn't see his eyes.
      "No," he said quietly. "I'll be up in his office
      figuring some things out, if you need to find me."

      "Okay," she managed. She hoped she didn't need to find
      him for a good long while.


      It was a beautiful day, cold and crisp and clean, and
      she went out to the pastures to lean on the fence and
      watch the horses. At the end of the field and a few
      yards off, she could see the simple headstone, quiet
      and gray against the snow. The ground had been hard
      and frozen, nearly impossible to breach, but Scott had
      done it. She knew he'd had to.

      Xerxes came and nudged her shoulder, and she scratched
      his ears until he moved on. And a few minutes later,
      arms slipped around her waist; Scott was tall and
      solid against her back. "Aren't you cold?" he asked.

      "I'm okay." She leaned back against him. "Are you?"

      He didn't answer, but she didn't think it was really a
      no. His arms tightened around her and his breath
      chased the cold away in a damp gust through the
      curtain of her hair, and she could feel his lips
      moving against her ear. Gently arrhythmic motions, not
      enough to weasel through and find bare skin, and she
      sighed and rubbed her hands against his forearms.

      "Scott," she murmured. "Where're we going with this?"

      He rested his chin on her shoulder. "You need a
      decision now?"

      "I need to know if you can decide." She slipped in his
      arms, turned around and ran her fingers over the
      frames of his lighter glasses. "Anything, you know?"

      "I know," he said quietly. "I've already decided some


      "Like... that I made some promises to the Professor
      and I'm going to keep them. That I may not be the man
      he was, but I loved him and I loved his dream, and
      we're going to keep going." He ran his thumb, encased
      in soft fleece, over her cheek. "That I've loved Jean
      for so long, but it's time to let her go, because I
      think I'm able to love someone else."

      "You think?"

      "Is that enough for you? For now?"

      And she smiled softly and stretched up to quickly
      catch his lips. At his surprised look, she shrugged.
      "When it's cold, things slow down. I think we've got a
      little time-- for now."


      Once, she looked up into the sun, even though she knew
      she wasn't supposed to. And afterwards, for what
      seemed like eternity jammed into a few hours, she saw
      spots. Glittering black and green spots, hovering over
      her eyes and branding her view.

      And she got scared, and wondered if she would go
      blind. Or worse, if they would never go away, because
      seeing nothing at all seemed preferable to always
      having whatever she saw tainted by a mistake. But she
      got distracted, and when she paid attention once
      again, the spots were gone.

      Once, she opened her eyes and was being touched,
      saved, and once, it started happening when she was
      wide awake. Once, she told Scott she loved him. He
      smiled at that, and she felt completely sure it
      reached his eyes.


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