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"Counting Backwards" R; Rogue (Logan); 3a/5

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  • Molly
    See story notes in part 1 Counting Backwards 3a/5 by Molly January 2001 2. “Hell is truth seen too late.” -- Anonymous She tells herself, loading her two
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2001
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      See story notes in part 1

      Counting Backwards 3a/5
      by Molly
      January 2001

      2. �Hell is truth seen too late.� -- Anonymous

      She tells herself, loading her two large duffels into
      Logan's backseat, that she's a fool. Or Magneto tells
      her, but it all seems the same.�

      She shakes it off, and goes back up one last time.
      Lindsay still hasn't come back; she called, from
      Iceland of all places, and she sounded hopeful even as
      she expressed regret that Marie was leaving.�

      And now here she is, turning off all the lights,
      double-checking the window locks and locking the door
      behind her. She wants to undo it all; she wants to
      tell Logan sorry, her mistake, she can't go through
      with it after all. But she takes the elevator down and
      he's waiting by the car, and she tries for a weak
      smile.�

      He gets the point and nods at her. "Don't panic yet,
      huh? It's a long drive before you have to worry."�

      "Yeah." She closes her eyes and steels herself, then
      climbs into the car. "Long way out of hell, and all
      that."�

      "Reading cheerful stuff, I see," he teases, getting in
      and starting the engine. "Cut that out. Knowledge rots
      your brain."�

      "Right. This coming from someone who gets a kick out
      of Hawthorne."�

      "Remind me to ask Xavier to help you get rid of my
      more embarrassing memories, okay?"�

      "Not a chance," she mutters. "I'm keeping what I can
      get."�

      2.�

      Two thousand miles down and she's tired; the passing
      tree lines blur before her eyes and she blinks
      unsteadily. "Can we stop for the night?" she asks,
      barely loud enough to even hear herself.�

      Logan glances at her. "You could sleep in the back."�

      "I can't." She digs her fingernails into her palms and
      stares at her bare knuckles. "Not while we're
      moving."�

      "Okay," he says. "There's a decent-sized city in a
      hundred miles. That good?"�

      "Yeah." She turns her attention back out the window.
      "Can I have a cigar?"�

      "These things are bad for you," but he reaches into
      his jacket and hands her one.�

      "It's not fair that you can say things like that
      without being a hypocrite," she says with a sigh, and
      lights the cigar.�

      "Not my fault I'll never wind up with cancer."�

      "Yeah, well. It's not like if I wind up with it, you
      wouldn't touch me, whether I wanted you to or not."�

      "That's not necessarily true. If you told me not to, I
      might not."�

      "Might not?" She frowns at the landscape.�

      "If you had a reason, and I believed you, yeah. I
      might not."�

      "Say I woke up tomorrow and were sick, and said I were
      ready to play by luck."�

      "I wouldn't believe it."�

      "Why not?"�

      "Because tomorrow we'll be back on the road, heading
      to do something that should help you live *better*."�

      "What if tomorrow I didn't want to be back on the
      road? What if I woke up and told you I didn't want to
      do it anymore?"�

      "Still wouldn't believe you wanted to stay sick."�

      "Logan." She looks over at him and feels a brief flash
      of anger at how comfortable and relaxed he is. It's a
      rare sight she might usually welcome, but not now.
      "What if I tell you that right now? That I want to
      stop?"�

      He hesitates. "Are you?"�

      "What if I did?" she presses.�

      "I'd say... we could stop. I wouldn't think it's a
      good idea, but we could. I'm not about to make you go,
      Marie."�

      "Oh." She breathes deeply, smelling the cigar more
      than smoking it. "Hundred miles?"�

      "About ninety, now. Little over an hour."�

      "Okay."�

      "Marie--"�

      "I'll know in the morning," she cuts in. "Do you think
      he knows I'm-- we're coming?"�

      "He knows," Logan replies shortly. "Wish he wouldn't
      just pop into my head like he does, though."�

      "Tell him to cut it out. It helps if you also tell him
      you don't respect him or his dreams, and then take
      off."�

      She glances up and sees a hint of a smile on his face.
      "So you're saying I'm too polite?"�

      "Polite wouldn't be my word of choice for you, but you
      get the point." She fights sudden panic. "Logan, I
      really don't know if I can-- How do I face him, after
      how I treated him, all of them? What do I say?"�

      "I'd try a hello, maybe a how are you. He likes that
      pleasantry crap."�

      "Logan."�

      "I'm not kidding." He reaches and takes the cigar from
      her and smokes silently for a minute. "He told me to
      make damn sure this is your choice. If we get to the
      front door and you want to leave, you can. He wants to
      see you, and wants to do whatever he can for you,
      but... Look, Marie, it's about you, and what's right
      for you. He doesn't give a damn about whatever
      happened before you left."�

      "He should," she mutters, and waves him away when he
      offers the cigar back. "Keep it. I can't promise it
      won't happen again."�

      "Magneto sure knows how to hold a grudge."�

      "Yeah. But doesn't everyone, if it's important enough
      to them?" She sighs and rubs her eyes. "I don't want
      to talk anymore."�

      ***�

      The motel is the same as cheap motels anywhere; short,
      squat, the old sign flashing 'Vacancy' to any number
      of faceless travelers in need of a place to stop, to
      sleep, to fuck.�

      Logan gives her the key to the room and says he's
      going to find dinner. Inside the door, she drops her
      small bag and immediately gets into the shower, where
      she stays so long she's only half-dressed when Logan
      bangs on the door. "Smells good," she tells him,
      cracking the door to let him in with a pizza. "What's
      on it?"�

      "Sausage. Onions. Anchovies." He watches her tug on a
      pair of leggings. "Shower hot?"�

      "Not anymore. It should heat up again soon, though."
      She tears into a slice of pizza and sighs. "Mmm, thank
      you."�

      He grunts, mouth full, then chews enough to say,
      "TV?"�

      She nods. "Find something decent, okay? Wrestling
      doesn't qualify."�

      "Damn," he mutters, but grins. "Hockey?"�

      "'Kay." She crawls across the bed to rest in the crook
      of his arm and drags the pizza box with her. "You
      don't want anymore, right? I can finish it?" she
      teases.�

      "Hell if I don't," he growls. He drops the remote and
      snags another piece. "Don't be a pig."�

      She elbows him and then settles again. "I like this,"
      she says softly. "Being here, being still... I think
      I'll be okay tomorrow."�

      "Just needed a break?"�

      "Yeah." She finishes eating in silence and then goes
      to brush her teeth, and while a hockey game plays in
      the background, falls asleep leaning into Logan's
      chest.�

      When she opens her eyes it's still night; the only
      light in the room is the vulgar red neon of the motel
      sigh, still flashing vacancy with an irony that makes
      her stomach knot. Logan is on his back next to her,
      tangled in the sheets, and she stares at his tinted
      profile for several long minutes, trying to hear some
      remnant of his rough voice in her head.�

      There is none. Vacancy is right; they got it pegged.�

      She wonders, not about Xavier, but about the others.
      How they'll look at her, what they'll think. If Jean's
      soft smile applies to someone who gave up, if Scott
      can be as warm and stoic for someone who doesn't
      believe in it all. If Ororo's gentle acceptance is as
      universal as it always seemed. She wonders, and she
      worries, and then she rolls into Logan, slides up and
      over to straddle him and lowers her head to bite one
      nipple through his thin cotton shirt.�

      He mumbles in his sleep, lifts one arm to blindly see
      what's there. His hand finds hip and curving back; he
      shifts, groans, and brings his other hand up to tangle
      in her hair. "Marie," he mutters sleepily.�

      "Shh," she whispers. "Just... shh."�

      And he shuts up and they ruin another pair of her
      leggings, and she reminds herself to pick up a sewing
      kit to make a more permanent pair. And again at dawn,
      and all the while she wants to cry for seeing the
      light of day.�

      ***�

      The mansion looks strangely different; she thinks
      they're wrong in saying you can always go home again.
      The fountain looks foreign, the windows menacingly
      dark behind the reflection of sunlight. She looks at
      Logan and sighs. "What was it you said about getting
      to the front door?"�

      "Say the word," but he keeps heading up the stairs.�

      She scowls at his back, mutters quietly bitter
      obscenities. He just smirks slightly after knocking.
      "I heard that."�

      "Good."�

      And the door opens and Jean is standing there, her
      beauty and poise the same injustice it always before
      seemed to be. She blinks once and then smiles, looking
      behind her. "Scott. They're here." She turns back, and
      after a brief welcoming smile at Logan, turns her
      attention beyond him. "Rogue... welcome back."�

      She simply bites her lip and stares at Jean for a
      moment, then at Scott who appears behind her. "It's
      Marie," she finally says. "Hey."�

      Logan elbows her. "Muster up some guts and at least
      try to be nice, huh? Nobody needs both of us being
      chronic jerks."�

      She sneers at him. "It's your turn to be nice, you
      bully." But she shrugs and raises an eyebrow. "How're
      you guys doing?"�

      "We're good," Scott says, and both he and Jean back up
      to let she and Logan in. "You probably want to clean
      up after traveling; I'll show you to your rooms and
      then--"�

      "Room," Logan breaks in bluntly. "We only need one."�

      Marie nearly bursts out laughing at the identical
      statements on their faces; thankfully Jean recovers
      first. "Scott, I actually think Storm is waiting for
      you. You're supposed to help her with... Oh, I don't
      know. Go help Storm with something, okay? I'll take
      them up."�

      Scott clenches his jaw and shoots one hell of a glance
      at Logan, but walks stiffly away. Jean manages a
      falsely bright smile. "Shall we?"�

      And Marie finally loses control and starts giggling.
      Logan just glares at her. "Glad you're amused."�

      "Hush," she tells him, struggling to breathe. "I don't
      *need* your thoughts to know you wish you had a
      picture of his face."�

      "Well... " He grins and shrugs, glancing at Jean.
      "Sorry. It's fun driving Scooter crazy."�

      Jean raises her brows. "Between us... I wish I had a
      picture, too. Of us both." She starts up the stairs.
      "Ro-- Marie, Professor Xavier wanted you to have all
      the time you need to get settled and comfortable. You
      can either go to his office whenever you're ready, or
      else dinner is in three hours, if you prefer a lighter
      atmosphere."�

      "Thanks," Marie says softly. She looks at Logan. "It's
      okay, us being in the same-- "�

      "Don't pay attention to Scott." Jean stops at the
      second door in the first floor hallway. "Here we are.
      Marie, I hope to see you at dinner, and Logan, could I
      speak with you for a minute?"�

      "Sure." He squeezes Marie's arm. "Be right back."�

      She drops her bags inside the door and simply flops
      down on the large bed to stare at the ceiling. When
      Logan comes back, she quirks a grin at him. "What'd
      she want?"�

      "Get it in one try and you'll get a prize."�

      "What prize?"�

      "Hell, I don't know. I'll think of something. I'll owe
      you."�

      "I'll hold you to that. Let's see... She wanted to
      know if you're damn sure of what you're 'letting' me
      get into with you; if you remember that jeez, I'm only
      twenty and going through a lot and is it really a good
      idea."�

      "Wow." He sits on the edge of the bed. "I'll owe you
      double if you know what I told her."�

      "Oh, that's easy. You told her, and I'll attempt exact
      words here, that 'Marie has three different ages in
      her head and none of them are too young to make her
      own decisions, dammit. And maybe it's just about the
      best damn idea I've had in years, so why don't you
      just go let Scooter chew on that?'" She grins. "How'd
      I do?"�

      "Aside from scaring me, great. I'll bust you out of
      here for a night away anytime you want."�

      She frowns. "No fair. I'd make you do that anyway."�

      "Oh, you'd make me?"�

      "Yeah. You just remember that you owe me, and I'll
      think of something."�

      "Whatever." He grabs her ankle and squeezes it. "You
      seem like you're doing okay."�

      She shrugs. "We'll see. Now that we're here, Magneto
      seems to be-- in hiding. I think he sort of wants to
      see Cha-- Xavier. It's been awhile; he's probably
      building up some influence to get me to say things
      when I'm off my guard."�

      "Huh. But no panicking? No wanting to leave?"�

      "It ain't a picnic, but I'm fine for now." She shrugs
      again. "Tired, though. You mind if I take a nap?"�

      "Not if I get to, too."�

      Xavier is already at his usual place at dinner when
      she and Logan walk in, and she immediately notices
      that two seats across from him are marked as reserved,
      as he generally does when guests are expected. �I�m
      fine,� she whispers, not needing to look to feel
      Logan�s questioning gaze.�

      She shuffles her way towards the table; she�s
      surprised to feel only a rush of the old fondness that
      was too soon overwhelmed by her resentment. Magneto is
      taking his time, she thinks, or else he, too, is just
      needing a break from himself.�

      She manages a genuine smile. �Professor,� she greets
      him quietly. �You look� well.��

      He returns her smile, seeming slightly surprised. �As
      do you, Rogue. Welcome back.��

      �It�s just Marie now, actually.� She glances at Logan
      as they take their seats. �Things have changed.��

      �Have they?��

      �A few things,� she clarifies, and peels off her
      gloves to eat. It�s become natural, almost
      instinctual, and she blames it, or rather attributes
      it, to Logan�s pleased looks at the sight of her bare
      fingers. �A few.��

      �Ah� In any case, it�s good to see you. Logan, you as
      well.��

      �Yeah, charmed,� Logan mutters.�

      �Hey. What�d you tell me about being nice?� Marie
      teases.�

      �Told * you*, didn�t I?��

      �Logan.��

      �Fine, fine.��

      She picks at her food for a few minutes, replying to
      the awkward questions Xavier asks. Scott and Jean and
      Ororo come in and she suddenly feels like she�s being
      silently interrogated by a panel of innocuous judges.
      She stares nervously at her plate, listens to the
      growing buzz as students wander in and find seats.
      �Marie,� Xavier eventually says, �I�m afraid I have to
      ask if you would mind putting your gloves back on,
      with so many people in the room.��

      She freezes, and notices Logan do the same at her
      side. �Excuse me?��

      �As a standard precaution, you understand. Such as I
      ask Scott to wear his full visor while around the
      students.��

      Her eyes narrow slightly; she can feel anger boiling
      up and tries desperately to fight it, tries to insist
      that she knows he�s right and she should have though
      of something like that herself, that she should never
      have taken them off.�

      But Magneto wins. She pulls her gloves on with slow,
      deliberately jerky motion, then drops on hand below
      the table to squeeze Logan�s knee. He glances at her,
      his eyes a frowning question, but she turns a steely
      gaze on Xavier. �Always, always looking out for their
      poor, innocent souls, aren�t you?� she asks lowly.�

      He doesn�t answer. He meets her cold look calmly; he
      looks like he knows something�s about to blow. And
      Marie smiles and shakes her head slowly. �Do you
      remember Portugal, Charles?� she asks, loosening her
      grip on Logan�s knee and sliding her palm over his
      thigh. �As I recall, that was� before the accident.�

      �I remember,� he responds. �It was the summer
      before.��

      �Yes.� She goes completely still for a moment. �When I
      could still make you * feel*� but I suppose we all
      find our substitutes.��

      And she presses her hand against Logan�s crotch and
      squeezes, and he coughs hard. He�s on his feet in an
      instant, but not before she gets to see the nostalgic
      regret that floods into Xavier�s eyes. She wants to
      let loose apologies, as many as it takes, and she
      wants to make him hurt even more, all at once. But
      Logan is grasping her upper arm and nearly yanking her
      up from her chair as he pulls her out of the room.�

      �What the hell do you think you�re doing?� he demands,
      turning on her in the hallway.�

      �I thought I was making a point,� she says lithely.�

      �Don�t ever fucking use me like that, Marie,� he
      growls. �I make * my* points when * I* want to. I�m
      not your prop.��

      �Aren�t you?� and she hates the mocking laugh she
      hears coming from her mouth. �What is it you are
      exactly, then? Because honestly, Logan, the protective
      savior bit is getting rather worn.��

      �I�ve only been out to save you once. Once, you hear
      me?��

      �And doesn�t it just kill you to see me, to listen to
      me, and know you weren�t fast enough?� She smiles
      cruelly. �You can�t get over that, can you? You can�t
      stand that I got to her first and made my mark, and
      now you�re trying to� to what, * Wolverine*? Fuck me
      out of her?��

      Logan lets out a low snarl and steps towards her right
      as Jean comes out of the dining hall. �Marie, Logan,�
      she starts, and then stares hard at them. �Logan,� she
      repeats firmly.�

      He blinks, still glaring at Marie. �You come find me,�
      he mutters, �whenever you get that son of a bitch
      under control.��

      She stares at him as he walks away, then turns a blank
      look on Jean. �Go away,� she says dully. Jean just
      looks startled and wary and so Marie edges past her
      and trudges down the hall, away from Logan and
      everyone, everything else.�

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