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