FIC: Two Solitudes (5/?)
- Title: Two Solitudes (5/?)
Summary: AU fic, Wolverine and Rogue meet under diff. circumstances
Distribution, Disclaimer, Etc.: See Part One
Previous Parts: http://www.ficorama.net/otherfic.htm
They got to Anvik after dark--Harold drove into town, pulled over to the side of the road by a bright blue house. "Here we are."
Logan got out of the car, happy for the chance to finally stretch his legs. They'd stopped once the whole time, just to get gas. He was grateful for that--the more miles between them and Magneto, the better.
"Thanks again for the ride," Marie said. "We really appreciate it."
"No problem, it was nice to meet you. Good luck to both of you--and Logan, thanks again for the cigar." Harold rolled the window up and headed back onto the road, away from the town.
Logan watched him leave, thought about where he and Marie could stay. He'd thought the town would be small--most towns in Alaska were, but it was not a good sign that he couldn't see any lights at all, other than the light from the stars and a few faint lights from a series of scattered houses.
"Wait a minute," she said, interrupting his thoughts. "He got back on the highway. He didn't stop here--he said this was where he was going!"
"So he just didn't want to take us any farther? Is that it? He just picked the nearest town or something." She kicked at the ground. "I thought he was nice." Her voice was wistful, disappointed.
Logan grunted. Maybe Harold had seen the bruises on Marie's face and figured she was in trouble. Maybe he'd guessed that he and Marie were in trouble. Maybe Harold wanted to help them out a little or something like that. Maybe Logan knew he'd have never done anything like that himself. He looked over at Marie and amended his thought. Never had done anything like that--before.
He waited for the questions to start. He'd never met anyone who didn't have a million of them and he could tell she was upset by what she thought Harold had done, would want some sort of reassurance.
She didn't say anything.
He looked around again, squinting into the distance. No patches of bright light anywhere, which meant no bar, nothing . That wasn't good. He'd have killed for a beer and finding some place to stay would have been easier in a larger town. He was sure she'd say something, maybe ask what they were going to do or what his plan was. It would irritate the crap out of him. He hated it when people asked him questions he didn't have answers to--it reminded him of all the questions he had no answers for about himself.
She still didn't say anything.
He finally looked over at her. She was sitting on the ground, eating one of those cardboard tasting energy bars. "What are you doing?"
She looked up at him. "Eating. I'm hungry. What are you doing?"
"Yeah. That sign we passed on the way in said that the town was up to eighty-eight residents. Up to? I think there were eighty-eight people living on my dorm floor. I didn't know we could classify that as a town."
He shifted a little bit, almost startled by how calm she was. Almost, he told himself. "Dorm?"
She shrugged, put the wrapper in her coat pocket. "At school."
"Right." He didn't have anything else to add to that line of conversation. Schools, most definitely, held no interest for him. "So you think we can find a place to stay?"
She looked up at him and smiled. There was a smear of chocolate by the corner of her mouth. "I trust you."
"Oh," he said and turned away. He was glad it was dark.
He didn't think he'd ever blushed before.
They took a quick look around town anyway, even though Logan figured there wouldn't be much point in doing so. Anvik seemed to consist of a few sections of houses separated by roads that looked like they'd last been paved about forty years ago. She stumbled in one of the larger potholes and let out a muffled "Umph!" He went over to see if she was ok, and while she was telling him that she was fine, he noticed the sign.
It was tiny, hand-painted, and nailed to a telephone pole. He could barely make out the words, but he was pretty sure they were 'Campground, 2 miles.'
"Let's go," he told her. "I think I might have found something."
They walked down the road, for what Logan guessed was two miles, and didn't find anything. He let out an exasperated breath and looked over at her. She was staring at the trees that were standing where the campground should have. He wasn't sure what to do at that point--try to find a house with a shed behind it, maybe. He'd certainly slept in worse places.
"You know," she said, "maybe they meant two miles in the other direction."
He felt his face heat up again and cursed. Twice in one night? He knew this saving people thing was a bad idea. "I was just thinking that" he lied. "But I suppose you can take credit for the idea, if you want."
She smiled--he could see the flash of her teeth, just barely. "Right. Thanks."
"This is it?"
He was thinking the same thing, but he didn't say it. "Yeah. This is it."
"Oh. It looks closed."
"Probably is. Tourist season doesn't start till May or so." Not that the place looked like it ever got much business at all, as far as he could tell. The campground, such as it was, was a series of about ten tiny wood buildings with a larger one in the center.
There wasn't even a fence around it, which he figured could be either a good sign or a very bad sign. He didn't mention that to her though. "Come on."
She nodded and he felt her hand brush along his arm. Her night vision was a lot worse than his--in part because of his mutation, and in part, he was afraid, because her eyes were starting to swell up from the bruises. She rested her hand in his and they walked over to the buildings.
The lack of fence was a bad sign, he decided. A very bad sign. The buildings actually looked abandoned, but at least they hadn't totally fallen apart. He figured they might as well try the largest building first, since it was the closest.
He heard her teeth chatter. "You cold?" He figured the heavier jacket they'd bought her, and the time spent inside a relatively warm car, would have helped her recover from all those hours of walking through the woods. But maybe he'd thought wrong.
"No-o-o-o," she said slowly, each letter punctuated by the sound of her teeth clicking together. "It's just that...I don't know. It doesn't even look like that--room--in Magneto's...but still. I just sort of realized that he's, um, out there."
They were at the building and he looked at the door. At least it was locked, which, all things considered, could be a good sign. "Is he talking to you?" He looked back at her, briefly. Her teeth were still chattering as she nodded.
"Well, put him to use." he told her. "See what you can do to the lock."
"But you could just..." she started. And then he saw the flash of her teeth again. "Keep him busy, right?"
"Yeah. Something like that."
She moved forward, stood beside him, and put her gloved hand on the lock. She started to bend the lock--the air around him felt charged somehow and he could almost hear the metal embedded inside him vibrate in response to whatever it was she was doing.
"Got it," she said, and held up the lock. She'd turned it into some sort of blobby-shaped object--he couldn't see exactly what it was. Rogue turned towards him and he was close enough to see that the gleam in her eyes wasn't hers at all, and then she pressed the object into his hands.
He looked down, traced his fingers over the metal. It was round--and something was on it--words. He followed the outline of them with his finger and then cursed. Wolverine. U. S. Army. He reached up towards his neck automatically, checking to make sure his tags were still there, resting against his skin.
"What is it?" her voice was silky soft and he heard a whisper of amusement. "Don't you already have that answer? Too bad it might be the only one you ever get, yes?"
He dropped the metal and grabbed her wrists. "You," he said to her, "can go to hell. Marie, can you hear me?"
She jerked her hands away from his. "I hear you." And then, after a moment, in her own voice, "I'm sorry. He's just really mad about you leaving with me--he's upset that Cha--I mean Xav..." She broke off and took a deep breath. "Uh--I just--you know it wasn't me that did that, right?"
He pushed the door open and went inside. "Yeah. I know."
He knew it. It still didn't make it better. Or easier.
Once they got inside he told her to wait while he went and looked around. She said "Ok" and he was sure he'd heard the relief in his voice when he said "Good." He knew that she couldn't help what had happened to her, couldn't help having Magneto stuck inside her head, but it still bothered him. Logan wondered how much she knew about him and knew that he would never ask her. He didn't want to know that she knew exactly what he'd been doing at Magneto's and what a willing participant he'd been.
The building was mostly empty, but he found some old blankets in one room and grabbed them. It looked like whatever furniture had been there before was gone--probably sold or chopped up for firewood. He also found what had probably been a kitchen--the wood floor had linoleum over it, and he could see faint outlines on the floor where appliances had once been. There was a bathroom as well. It was tiny and cold--the window in it wasn't sealed properly; he could see faint edges of sky around the edges and he wondered if the campground had ever been opened or if it had been built and then abandoned for some reason. Next to the bathroom was what had probably once been a maintenance room. There was a toolbox sitting on the floor--empty, of course, and all that was left was the water heater. It was rusted and had a dent in one side but the pilot light under it sputtered when he held a match to it and Logan let out a low whistle. The owners had probably gone broke having gas lines put out to the place.
He finally ran out of rooms to wander through and went back to her. She was lying on the floor, her head resting on the backpack.
She sat up and he saw Marie rub her face with her hands, gloved fingers sliding under her eyes. She'd been crying. He shifted his weight from one foot to another, hoped that she was done. He didn't know what he'd do if she cried. Run away? Hold her? Both options made him feel ashamed and nervous at the same time. "I'm fine."
He didn't say anything to that, just sat down on the floor near her and pushed the blankets towards her. "Found these."
She shuffled her feet across the floor a little bit. "Is there uh, a...you know?"
"A bathroom." She sounded so embarrassed that he laughed.
"It's in the back--just take a right and go down the hall."
She got up and walked off and he grabbed the backpack and fished out a couple of energy bars, still smiling.
She came back after a few minutes and he could smell hesitation on her. "What is it?"
She sat down and started fingering the blankets. "There's a shower in there."
"Yeah. There's also an unsealed window in there. What about it?"
"Is there water?"
He sat up a little straighter and finished the energy bar he was eating. "Why?" All he could see was the outline of her hands resting on the edge of the blankets, her fingers tracing circles.
"I want to take a shower."
"No way. The water, if there is any, is probably freezing. And you're already cold enough."
Her fingers kept moving over the blankets and he fought down the urge to grab her hands and keep her still. Her movements made him nervous for some reason. Her whole attitude was making him nervous. She smelled different--afraid, somehow.
"I..." her voice broke. "I just really want to take a shower, ok? Please."
"I said no."
She stood up then, so abruptly that he heard the sound, the swift shift in the air around her. "Look," she said, walking over to the far edge of the room. "It's not that I'm not grateful for what you did. I am, ok? It's just that I...I can still smell that place on me, and every time I inhale all I smell is metal, and it's making me..."
"Stop--just stop ok? I mean--" Oh hell, he thought. He was no good at this. "It's ok. You can take a shower," He thought of her wrists, of how he'd seen them, of how her skin had been covered with dried blood and bruises. He thought of the noise her palms made when she'd fallen away from the machine. He knew he didn't want to hear anything else, didn't want to think about what had happened to her, what he'd watched happen to her. "Let me go see if I can light the water heater."
He shook his head and went down the hall. He burned his finger lighting the pilot light under the water heater. When he went back and told her to go ahead she brushed by him and he caught the smell of relief. He sat on the floor and ate another energy bar carefully; listened to the water run and wondered why he cared about how she felt.
The water stopped running after a while but she didn't come out of the bathroom. He waited for a few minutes, figuring that she was doing some sort of complicated female thing. But she still didn't appear and he finally started to worry. He got up, figured he could blow out the pilot light and then knock on the bathroom door to make sure she was ok.
The door opened and he swallowed. She'd gotten dressed again but her hands were bare. Faint light, star light, was seeping around and through the bathroom window and she looked cold and lost. It reminded him of how she looked when he'd stood in front of her and told her that he'd take care of her.
He'd promised that he'd take care of her. "You ok?" he asked again.
She was looking down at her hands. "I just stood there," she said. "Under the shower, for the longest time, and I couldn't figure out why my hands weren't getting clean. And then I realized that it wasn't dirt on them, it was blood." She turned her hands over, her palms facing up.
"Damn." Her palms were dark colored, the flesh around them infinitely lighter. She'd torn all the skin off her palms and he wondered how she'd managed to walk for all those hours with her hand wrapped in his. It must have hurt like hell. And below her hands he could see her wrists, just faintly, the tops of them showing around the edges of her shirt cuffs. They too were lined, dark with dried blood.
"I washed out my gloves," she continued. "I hope they'll dry. I'm sorry I don't have another pair but I was just walking into town when I...when Jean came up to me and asked if I wanted a ride back to school."
"Someone I know. But it wasn't her. It was Mystique, I guess. That's what Magneto calls her, anyway. He knows about her and..." She trailed off.
He was still looking at her hands. He wondered how long it would take till they got infected. It wasn't even a question of whether they would or not, at that point. "You know about my mutation?"
"My mutation. Has Magneto said anything about it?"
"No. I know you have the claws though. Is that what you mean?"
"No." He lifted his own hands up a little, hesitating. Did he really want to do this? He looked up, away from her hands.
Her eyes were wide and dark and he could see the pale curve of her cheek. She looked a little like a ghost to him, somehow. He thought of the terror in her voice when Magneto spoke to her, telling her that she already knew what he was doing. He thought of the look in her eyes when they got to the edge of the woods, of the way she'd looked back to where they'd come from.
He remembered her saying, "I trust you," and the way those words made him feel.
He put his hands on top of hers, his fingers resting on her palms.
She let out a choked noise, her hands automatically coming up to push him away. He tried to say something, but couldn't.
He'd been hurt before. He healed fast--it was his mutation, he'd always figured that it was what made him so attractive to the government. He was probably the only person alive who could have survived what they'd done to him. He'd lived through having metal implanted all over his body. He'd woken up from that in more pain than he ever thought possible. He sometimes thought he'd imagined how bad that pain was.
He hadn't. Touching her reminded him of the truth of that pain because that's what touching her was like. It was just like memory, it was that excruciating. It felt like everything inside him had been rubbed with a red-hot iron. Every muscle, every nerve, every part of his body felt like it had been twisted, pulled apart. He would have screamed if he'd been able to.
And then it stopped. The burning in his fingers numbed and that feeling raced up his arms, through his body. He thought he heard someone saying "Ohgodohgodohgodohgod" but wasn't sure because it was as if someone had stuffed his ears with cotton. He looked down at the floor and it seemed much closer than it had before. Almost at eye level, in fact.
"Logan?" Something wet and very cold brushed across his face and he moved away from it, instinctively. "Logan?" Something brushed against him again and he looked up.
Marie's wide eyes met his. "Are you all right?"
He watched as her face came into focus. She was biting her lip. The wet and cold thing brushed against him again and he pushed it away. She let out a little noise of protest.
That made him sit up. "What?"
"Nothing. It was just a towel."
He looked down at her hands. She was rubbing one wrist--a towel covered wrist-- with her other hand. "Did I hurt your hand?"
"No." She shook her head and moved the towel away. "It's better. You did it." He started to reach for her hand and very quickly stopped that thought. "Let me see."
She raised her hands up towards him, palms up. The dark centers were gone and all he could see was the pale tint of her skin. "That's what your mutation is," she said. "Healing. Why did you do it? You know what my skin can do."
He shook his head, trying to clear it. It felt like his brain had swollen to twice its normal size and his head ached. "I don't know. You're the one that absorbs people, so why don't you tell me why?"
"You shouldn't feel guilty," she told him. "You saved my life. You don't owe me anything even though you seem to think that you do."
He looked up at her. Shit, he thought. She'd absorbed something of him. To hear his own thoughts, in her voice--it was too much. He stood up and his legs threatened to buckle. He ignored them and walked away from her, went back out into the other room.
She came out after a while. He heard her gather the blankets up, practically felt her look over to where he was standing. He was pretending to gaze out one of the front windows. "What?"
She let out a little sigh. "I don't mean for it to happen, you know."
He turned around and looked over to where she was standing. "I know."
She wrapped a blanket around herself, then sat down on the floor. "You weren't going to tell me how cold it can get at night, were you? I wonder if my hair will freeze."
He started walking towards her, then stopped. "It's not a lot of fun to hear my own thoughts coming out of your mouth."
He started walking again, sat down next to her. He gave her another two blankets and kept two for himself. He lay down next to her--not too close, but probably not far enough away. He wondered if she knew what he was thinking and figured she probably didn't. He didn't even know what he was thinking.
"You know those X-Men that Magneto's always talking about?"
"Yeah." He gritted his teeth together.
"Maybe they could help you. Find out about your past, I mean."
"How much did you see? About me?" He tried not to sound angry. He was pretty sure he failed.
She sat up. He could see the outline of her, vaguely, through all the blankets she was wrapped in. "Is that...?" She shook her head--he could see the blanket move back and forth. "All I got from you were just flashes--that's all. I swear. Magneto is the one who told me about the X-Men. He knows that you got bored with all his talk about them."
He didn't say anything. He was wondering exactly how much Magneto knew about him. The guy certainly had his own secrets, that was for sure.
"Pro...I mean Xavier--he's the leader of the X-Men--he could maybe help you." she said. "He's helped a lot of mutants."
That explained where the x in X-men came from, he thought. "You know this guy or something?"
There was silence for a moment. "Maybe."
Now it was his turn to sit up. "Are you an X-Man or whatever they call themselves?" Christ, if she was, Magneto would never let up. He was obsessed when it came to them.
He laid back down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. After a while, he heard the floorboards creak as she moved closer to him. He let out a sigh and rolled over in her direction. "You cold?"
He reached out and pulled her blankets toward him, the curve of her head resting close to his shoulder. The blanket had slipped down a little and he could see the line of her scalp. "I don't remember much about who I was. Before the government, I mean. Magneto said he could help me find answers."
"Who you were? Is that what--I saw you sitting in the snow somewhere. You didn't know where you were."
He swallowed. "Yeah. That's the first thing I remember. The claws--all the metal--the government put it there."
"Oh." And then, after a moment. "Does it hurt? When they come out, I mean?"
He heard the rustle of her blankets shifting and then she rolled over, looked at him. "That guy that was there--the one I--"she paused, "mutated--he knew what happened to you, didn't he?"
"He died. His body couldn't handle the mutation."
"But Magneto was going to bring in more government officials. That first one, he was just a test." He heard her inhale. "You knew that? That there'd be more chances for you to find out what you want to know?"
He closed his eyes. He didn't want to talk anymore. He didn't want to examine his motives for helping her, didn't want to think about why he left, just wanted to believe that he'd done it because of some -- maybe misguided -- notion that the girl in front of him needed saving.
After a moment, he heard her roll back over, away from him. He inhaled. She smelled like sleep and some other elusive scent he couldn't quite place. He moved a little closer to her, listened to the sound of her breathing, deep and even.
He didn't remember falling asleep but he remembered the dream starting. He was outside Magneto's fortress, standing in the snow, and Marie was walking towards him. She smiled and the ground beneath him shifted, melted. He opened his eyes and saw water around him, felt the burning pressure of it working its way into his lungs. He could see Hamilton hovering over him, just out of reach and he strained forward, searching for answers. And then he saw his own arm; saw the marks on it, long black lines showing where metal rested inside him. The red-hot pressure in his lungs spread upward and filled his vision and he was drowning..."Logan!" A hand grabbed his shoulder, shook him and he tried to push it away. "Logan, wake up--it's just a dream."
He woke up abruptly, gasping. His claws shot out right away and he heard a shriek, then a thump.
Oh shit, he thought. Oh shit. What had he done? "Marie?" He pushed the blankets off and reached out across the floor, towards the shape of what he thought was her. If he'd been the kind of man who believed in prayer he would have been offering them up then. But he wasn't that kind of man and so he just hoped he hadn't hurt her.
"Hold on a minute," she said. "I'm all tangled up in this blanket."
He heard movement and then her head emerged from the pile on the floor. "Marie?" he said again and reached towards her. He pulled back away almost immediately, the sight of his still bared claws reminding him that he could have really hurt her.
"I'm fine," she said softly. "I was just startled, that's all. And when I rolled over--well, this room isn't that big and the wall isn't that far away. The walls feel pretty sturdy, in case you were worried about them falling down or anything. Are you ok?"
"Shit." He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. She was fine. She'd asked if he was ok. "Shit."
"Logan," she said again and that's when he realized that she was the voice he'd heard at the end of the dream.
He got up in a rush, the blankets falling around his feet. He left her sitting on the floor behind him, and went outside.
The Northern Lights were brighter than usual that night and the entire sky was filled with light. He cursed again and rested his hands on his knees, willed himself to stop shaking. He'd finally seen that what he was doing was stupid, really stupid. He could have killed the person he was trying to save, would have done it without meaning to--but still would have done it. It was just luck that kept him from doing so. "Shit." he said again.
He heard the creak of the door opening behind him. Go away, he thought. Just go away. He didn't want to even try to talk to anyone, much less her, right now.
He heard her footsteps stop next to him. She didn't touch him and it made him miserable that he wanted her to, that he wanted her gloved hand resting on his arm, wanted her voice to tell him that it was ok, that she forgave him.
She didn't say anything and he eventually stopped shaking. He stood back up and glanced at the bright sky again, wondered if he should say something to her.
"It's beautiful," she said. "I've seen it in pictures before. But this...it's beyond words. I wish I had a camera."
He looked over at her. She was staring up at the sky--he could see the line of her profile peeking out from the blankets she'd wrapped around herself like a shawl.
"I'm fine you know," she said. "I'm mostly just embarrassed that I rolled right into the wall."
He looked back up at the sky and blinked hard, tried to make the stars focus. "You're really ok?"
Her hand touched his arm then, her fingers--her bare fingers--resting on his sleeve. "If it wasn't for you--for what you did for me, for how you got me away from Magneto--I wouldn't be able to see the sky like this. I wouldn't be here. I just want you to know that I know that and that I don't think I can ever thank you enough."
They went back inside after a few more minutes--he could tell she was starting to get cold. Plus the way she was making him feel was starting to scare the hell out of him. She rearranged all the blankets and he watched her cocoon herself back inside them. "Ok," she said. "I've got myself all covered. Except for my face, but I'll lie away from you so that should be ok. Right?"
"Yeah. It'll be fine." He grabbed the blankets she'd put on the floor for him and lay down, thought about facing away from her and then decided it didn't matter if he lay facing the back of her head. He could handle that. He was going to handle that.
"Goodnight," she said and yawned.
He figured he could allow himself one question. "Why'd you trust me?" He looked at the back of her head as he spoke; looked at the way her hair spilled out over the top of the blanket she'd wrapped herself in. He could see a little of the white streak in her hair and he couldn't even think of a possible answer to his own question. He wasn't sure why he even wanted to know.
"I knew Magneto wanted me dead. I mean, I guessed before, but after he...you know--I knew. So when you came and told me you'd get me out of there--I figured that if you were going to kill me you'd have just done it. So I took a chance. I didn't want to die."
He couldn't say anything to that. He closed his eyes instead, wondered why that answer wasn't enough for him, wondered what answer he wanted to hear. He listened to her breathing, heard the gradual shift as she relaxed, fell into slumber again. He listened to the noises she made, listened to the gentle rise and fall of her breath and finally fell asleep once more himself.
I would say that believing in something just makes it seem real
--from "Southern Discomfort: The Devil in You" by S. T. Shimi
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