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FIC: Illusions Part III: Coping Mechanisms: 1/2: R: Logan, Jean, Logan/Rogue, Scott/Jean, others

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  • Jenn
    Remember this one? Okay, it s been two months. The first two parts can be found at www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis, and if you haven t read them, this
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2001
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      Remember this one? Okay, it's been two months. The first two parts can be
      found at www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis, and if you haven't read them,
      this really won't make much sense. Jennifer Hallmark gave me a lovely
      on-list kick in the rear very recently to get this back in gear, and I hate
      to disappoint her, so I'm back in business. Thanks to everyone for the
      support. And Sare, Logan is NOT a sociopath, so there. He's just--very
      practical. :)

      jenn

      Title: Illusions Part III: Coping Mechanisms
      Author: jenn (jenn@...)
      Codes: Logan, Jean, Logan/Rogue, Scott/Jean, others
      Rating: R for this part, overall NC-17, light descriptions of violence,
      angst, drug use, and of course sex
      Summary: Logan muses on the situation, Rogue has temper tantrums and learns
      a few things about Logan she might not have expected. Jean and Scott start
      an old dance.
      Author Notes: Sare for the beta, per standard operating procedure. After
      sitting on this for, what, a month and a half?--I decided I either had to
      release or just drop the story entirely, which I REALLY didn't want to do.
      To Sare, Ally, Diebin, and Lena, who told me that yes, I can finish this
      story, and yes, it is working, and yes, this part is fine and in the name
      of God will you post already. The Jean featured here is dedicated to
      Minisinoo, whose S/Js have influenced me more than I suspected, and Sare,
      because she actually liked her. Yes, she said that. It was amazing.
      Disclaimer: <sigh>I don't own them. Oh well.
      Archiving: Lists, yes, otherwise ask.
      Feedback: Drooled over with too-sweet coffee. I'm paranoid about this
      story.
      Next part is the Chicago-fic, Diebin, promise.

      *****

      Killing was easy.

      Logan had often thought about that--something new in his experience,
      unlimited time to sit around and think, whether he wanted to or not.
      Killing made things simple, and Logan knew intimately that it tended to
      solve problems in the quickest and most satisfactory matter. Done
      correctly, it tied up its own loose ends and when the police found a dead
      mutant, they tended to brush it into their own private version of the
      x-files and leave it at that.

      One of the things that annoyed him was the fact that Xavier just didn't see
      it that way. Even the very-justifiable homicide or three.

      He'd gotten the lecture on ethics twenty-two weeks before, and that had to
      be the day that Rogue had almost drowned, because his mood wouldn't have
      been that bad otherwise--funny, he couldn't remember specific days or
      specific months when he had changed, but he remembered the changes and the
      triggers, and that was the last time he'd killed someone in relatively cold
      blood. Granted, they'd been trying to kill him first. Granted, he'd been
      left with few options--but he'd had options, and Xavier at his ancient
      wooden desk had strictly reminded him of those options, no matter how
      far-fetched, unrealistic, and really undeniably bad they had been.

      X-Men didn't kill for the hell of it. Period. Logan sat in the med lab
      while Rogue recovered from frostbite and hypothermia and admitted, at least
      to himself, that he could have gotten out of that situation without leaving
      the man looking like a leftover from a sausage factory. But God, it had
      felt good, and that began to disturb him, and having those long hours with
      nothing to do and no where he could go, he had unprecedented amounts of
      time to think over his behavior without distraction.

      It was illuminating, to say the least.

      Which was fucked up. Thinking led places he didn't want to go, and because
      of that long, unprecedented length of time to sit down and think, his
      request to Xavier that night had been a little more enthusiastic and he'd
      left wanting to kill again and this time wanting to draw it out a little
      farther and watch the face of the man he killed a little longer and remind
      a few people that he was *not* a domesticated pet of some sort, whose only
      real duty was to assure Rogue wasn't a danger to herself or others.

      Which he was, though, and that came during some more time thinking, and he
      hated that. Might as well have a fucking collar.

      Which had meant one of his longer sessions in the Danger Room and a night
      in New York, coming home at dawn and almost falling over Rogue when he
      found her on the porch, smoking a cigar and watching him with unreadable
      eyes. Followed him back upstairs and waited while he took a shower to get
      the smell of other women off--and how many had there been, anyway?--and
      then she'd asked in a muted voice, one of the few times in memory, to give
      her a training session in the Danger Room.

      "Stop thinking."

      Shit, he was even talking to himself now.

      It felt good to be away from the mansion and a thousand or so acres of land
      that seemed claustrophobically small and confining. So good that he
      dismissed the thinking business for later and concentrated on deciding
      exactly where they were going to go. Though he was getting a vague idea
      that appealed to him, if only because it seemed so utterly cliched, and
      because cliches became cliches for a reason, because they tended to work.

      Like murder, it was easy.

      Dawn was breaking the black into pearl grey to Logan's right and he took
      note of the clouds hanging thickly overhead with a quick glance. The
      window was already rolled down, so only a breath confirmed it.

      Rain today. They'd been out of New York for five hours.

      Rogue still slept, and when he looked at her, it was easy to forget how
      life had changed her. The hard lines around her mouth had softened and he
      could see that the auburn was growing out again--every time she dyed it,
      she left that white streak, and that had to mean something. Or maybe he
      just wanted it to mean something, because fuck, he needed a place to start
      building. Starting from zero wasn't the way he wanted to play this.

      "Logan," she murmured, and he kept her in peripheral vision as the first
      drops of rain fell down. A smile turned up one corner of her mouth, and he
      remembered waking up one night months before and finding her sitting on his
      bed, a very safe three feet away, staring at him. She never said anything
      and neither had he, never even asked how she got the lock on the door open,
      but he'd never locked it again. She'd fallen asleep stretched out beside
      him, the marks of tears drying on her cheeks, and he'd covered her with his
      blanket and caught himself stroking the bared skin of her upper back before
      he remembered and pulled away.

      Why then, why that night, why didn't he lock his door anymore and why did
      he let her stay. Several questions he left alone, that treaded places he
      hadn't felt like going.

      She'd smiled like that when she slept with him--whatever drove her went
      silent for those few brief hours, nightmares taking a long hike out of her
      head, and once she'd woken and looked at him with startled eyes, Marie's
      eyes, uncertainty and surprise and confusion, before she was Rogue again,
      giving him a slow smile and a brush of a gloved hand across his body that
      sent him out of bed so fast he could still hear her laughter an hour later,
      ringing in his head when he ripped apart the Danger Room under Ororo's cool
      supervision.

      "Sleep, baby," he answered, reaching out with one hand and sliding her hair
      back from her cheek. She moved into the touch with a little sign, eyes
      half-opening, a smile curving her lips.

      "Where are we, sugar?" A soft murmur before her eyes drifted closed again
      and Logan removed his hand, gripping the steering wheel between his
      fingers.

      "We'll see when we get there."

      * * * * *

      She hadn't slept yet, didn't even bother, and once she'd left Xavier's
      office, she'd redressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, grabbing the blanket off
      her bed and retreating to the only relative privacy she could achieve.
      Wrapping her arms around her knees, Jean watched the sun rise over the far
      horizon, smoking a cigarette while she took in the view that fifteen years
      had never made any less amazing, any less beautiful. Shutting her eyes, she
      freed her mind, letting it begin to reach slowly outward, riding the new
      morning with dew soaking into the blanket she'd wrapped herself in.

      {What do you think you can do, Logan?}

      She knew--in that way that telepaths are so lucky to have--she knew how
      very close he was to breaking completely. Like her, like Rogue, he was in
      the process of becoming something else, and she'd stared at him over the
      length of a conference room table so many times and wondered, as she looked
      between them, who would end up winning in Logan at the end--Rogue's need
      for some sort of stability or Logan's need for control.

      He'd taken secret option number three, which was to get both at the same
      time and he hadn't wasted a second--when she'd left Xavier's office, they'd
      already been gone, and she'd only wondered in surprise what had taken him
      so long to act. Or if, like all of them, he was as much a prisoner to
      expectations as she was. If they'd locked themselves in it, and she turned
      her eyes briefly to the road and wondered if she could do what he was
      doing.

      Dismissing the thoughts, she drew another breath of smoke and cleared her
      mind completely. The roof in the morning was her place, an open secret at
      best, but she was left alone, which was the part that mattered. Pulling
      the edges of the old quilt closer, she smiled a little as the first rays of
      sun warmed her face.

      "Jean?"

      And he could surprise her still, so much that she jerked in surprise and
      almost screamed, and really, how dignified was that? The awkward clatter
      of boots against the window sill, a soft curse when he hit his head. She
      didn't turn around or snuff out the cigarette, though her first instinct
      demanded both--Scott had never understood the attraction of smoking, had
      hated it, and along with everything else in her life, she'd practiced
      compromise and never let him see her do it. Therefore the roof at dawn
      since her eighteenth birthday and the first pack she had bought legally,
      curled up in a blanket and watching the sun rise. A morning routine, one
      of the many that made up her life.

      "Hey," she answered hesitantly, hearing his careful steps out, almost
      seeing the look of wary determination on his face--Scott was Scott, didn't
      care for heights like she did. High places during missions were one thing,
      but Scott didn't do recreational risk taking. Five steps, and he sat
      beside her, reaching absently for her pack and taking one out, and in
      surprise, she handed him her lighter. He lit up like he'd been doing it
      for years--well, he could have been doing it for at least a year and hell
      if she'd know. They kept the distance in habit, as adults dealt with
      problems.

      Expectations again. It made her wonder what would have happened if they
      hadn't dealt with it like adults and screamed and fought until the mansion
      echoed with their anger. If just once, she'd acted out of emotion instead
      of cool reason.

      Oops, hold it. That's what had gotten her in this position in the first
      place.

      "You okay?"

      She turned her head away, focusing her eyes on the emerging sun to feel it
      burn into her, cleaning away excess in pure heat and pain. Why wouldn't
      she be okay? Ah, Logan, her lover, gone--so the first part wasn't true,
      general belief was far more important than fact. Once and only once, and
      for some reason, everyone believed that made it something. Shit, she
      wished it had been something--then, at least, she'd have the fun if she got
      the blame. At least then she'd have some decent memories to hate,
      something that could wake her up in regret, but even Jean thought that
      three years of penance was enough for one single fuck against the wall in
      an unmoving elevator.

      "Yeah." Taking another drag, shutting her eyes--nicotine racing through
      her blood, the slightest swirl of her head from the buzz, and she held the
      smoke for a second longer as she framed a better response, blowing it out.
      "Xavier canceled classes today. I left notices on the students' bulletin
      board." Opening her eyes, she looked into the distance. "I'm going to
      leave this afternoon. Ororo's taking my classes this week, so there's no
      problem." Silence for a minute, and she struggled to fill it--being alone
      with him unnerved her, left her too vulnerable. "There's a medical
      conference down on Daytona Beach. My college mentor is going to be there,
      wants me to present my paper on gene therapy." A little grin, as she
      remembered the thrill of that phone call, the sudden change that made life
      more than a series of routines to be completed. "He wants access to some
      of our medical records and I cut a deal to bring a few with me for him to
      look at. Xavier finds it a wonderful opportunity to share what we've
      learned about human mutation."

      Scott blew out the smoke in a long grey trail. "Hank going with you?"

      "No, he's needed here." She stubbed out the remains of her cigarette,
      pulling out another, and Scott leaned over to light it. For a moment, she
      stared at the long fingers with blunt, perfectly cared-for nails lingering
      in front of her, and she remembered when those fingers would gently stroke
      her hair, how they felt when they touched her skin.

      "These are gonna kill you, you know," he told her conversationally, and she
      turned a thoughtful gaze on him as he raised an eyebrow in question. Yeah,
      doctors knew everything would eventually kill you, given time. Jean shook
      her head as it lit, drawing in the smoke, breathing it out before shaking
      her head.

      "There are a lot of ways to die. I doubt I'll live long enough for cancer
      to be an issue."

      "You shouldn't go alone."

      That startled her a little, but he was looking at the distant trees, maybe
      planning out the next meeting. Once upon a time, she could read his face
      like a book, but the cool expressionlessness he'd adopted stumped even her,
      and she didn't regret it.

      "I'll be fine."

      "You're a very visible mutants rights activist. You should take someone
      with you."

      Jean let out a slow breath, staring down at her cigarette, then ran through
      a mental list of the other X-Men who'd be available on short notice.

      "I'll get Bobby to come--he likes the beach--"

      "No." And Scott stubbed out the cigarette on the tile, rising. "Don't
      bother. I'll go."

      * * * * *

      "Where the fuck are we?"

      Logan glanced at Rogue briefly--eyes half-closed against anything
      resembling light, lips slightly parted, teeth clenched, her forehead lined
      in stress. With one hand, he hit the glove compartment open, reaching in
      and unerringly retrieving the aspirin, dropping it in her lap before
      reaching under his seat and pulling out a bottle of water.

      "Take 'em. You'll feel better."

      A low growl, but she fumbled the child-proof top off after three tries and
      dumped half the contents in her lap. Pulling off one glove shakily, she
      picked up three, tossing them back and taking a deep drink of water. Then
      a breath, took three more, and knocked the rest to the floorboard, drawing
      her legs up into the seat and resting her forehead on her knees.

      "I feel like shit."

      "Not a surprise--I've told you to drink water before you pass out and you
      never remember."

      He felt rather than saw her resentful glare, before she looked briefly out
      the window.

      "Where the fuck are we, anyway?"

      "Not sure--I haven't been watching the signs."

      "And you're telling me that *you*," and how she managed to may a pronoun
      sound like profanity was a mystery, "who probably know every fucking road
      in the United States, has no idea where the fuck we are. You expect me to
      believe that crap?"

      "Don't care what you believe, darlin'."

      She stewed for several minutes, and Logan lit another cigar. From the
      corner of his eye, he saw her reach for her jacket, pulling out her
      cigarettes, and he tossed her the lighter. She missed--her hand/eye was
      shot to hell from hangover, and she fumbled it on and lit up, taking a deep
      breath as he rolled down her window.

      "Where are we going?"

      "Not sure yet."

      She was recovering fast--the lines in her forehead were clearing and the
      circles beneath her eyes were slowly but surely disappearing.

      "Take me home."

      "You've been trying to get away since you got there--don't give me any home
      crap. Enjoy the ride. We're gonna stop to eat in about an hour."

      "I'm not hungry," she muttered, and hit the glove compartment closed with
      her heel, almost hard enough to leave a dent. Almost. She frowned at it,
      obviously expecting damage, and Logan calmly flipped the turn signal.

      "Then you can sit and watch me eat." Fat drops of rain were making a slow
      patter over the windshield and Logan finished his cigar, tossing it into
      the rain and reaching for Rogue's, tossing it after, before rolling both
      windows closed. She didn't even fight it and Logan mulled the ominous
      quiet--she played with her jacket and found her glove, pulling it back on
      with shaky jerks of her fingers.

      "You think you can make a run for it when we stop." Her head jerked
      around, eyes wide in surprise, and Logan couldn't help it, he laughed.
      Which only pissed her off--but then, everything pissed her off.

      "You think I can't get away?"

      "You can try." Logan dropped to a full stop, putting the car in park and
      turning to look at her. "Go ahead. Run."

      Dark eyes stared at him, and he saw shock reflected in their depths. Shock
      and something else, and shit, he wished he could see what it was, define
      it.

      "You won't find me this time," she shot, jerking her jacket over one arm.

      "I won't even try." With a finger, he popped the locks, reaching over and
      unfastening her seatbelt. "Your shoes are in the back seat. There's a bag
      packed in the trunk and enough money to take you wherever you want to go."

      Her hand went to the door and pressed the handle, but her eyes didn't leave
      his. For a moment that stretched on forever, she didn't even breathe.

      "You wouldn't leave me alone."

      Logan pulled the keys out of the ignition, pushing his door open. The rain
      wasn't coming down too hard yet--going around the front of the car, he
      opened her door, jerking her out and pushing her off the road, into the
      grass. She stumbled in shock, bare feet and the edges of her jeans
      becoming soaked almost instantly as she struggled for purchase on the slick
      grass.

      "Pick a trucker or a razor or a big fucking body of water. You wanna
      threaten, be willing to carry it out this time. Don't do it halfway."

      "Logan--"

      "Now. Do it or don't. I don't give a good fuck."

      "Liar," she breathed, lunging toward the road and almost losing her
      footing. Angrily, she swiped water-darkened hair from her eyes with soaked
      gloved hands. "You've never been able to leave me before. What the fuck
      makes you think you can do it now?"

      "You aren't seventeen and you're sure as hell can take care of yourself."
      Logan leaned back against the hood, knocking the door shut, watching her
      struggle with her balance, toes brushing the gravel that edged the asphalt.
      "Go right ahead, sweetheart--get your ass walking until you find someplace
      you can try all that crap, and see just how long your pretty little throat
      stays in one piece." A wolfish grin.

      "You bastard." Both arms went out as her head twisted to look around the
      deserted landscape, wet hair clinging to her cheeks. "It's the middle of
      fucking nowhere!"

      "Show some thigh--someone'll stop."

      She didn't move for a second, and Logan kept his eyes on hers, watching the
      play of emotion on her face. She didn't believe him, she didn't want to
      believe him, and just below it startled suspicion, that maybe she should
      believe him. Just like Rogue, react then think it through, and he'd had a
      good year and a half to think. And think. And think some more. And six
      hours forty-five minutes--{You're countin' numbers like they're goin' out
      of style.}--he'd had of uninterrupted silence and freedom and a few things
      were falling into place.

      Hell, a lot of things.

      "Xavier--"

      "--will believe me when I call and tell him you disappeared. He can look
      for you all he likes, if he wants, but darlin', you've used up the last of
      your credit with me. Choose. In the fucking car and deal with me or run
      and don't."

      There was a moment when the possibilities flashed through her eyes--he
      could see them reflected in clear darkness, as she took in the quiet
      countryside darkened from the clouds to deep grey, weighing the risks and
      the gains, and awkwardness was suddenly replaced by practiced nonchalance
      as she straightened, and he almost breathed in relief that she was
      following her own pattern so predictably.

      "And lose a chance to spend some time alone with you, sugar?" The low
      drawl she used with such skill, could call up images of a little girl and
      grown woman at the same time. "Wouldn't dream of it." A slow smile, pure
      Rogue, and she slipped back inside without missing a beat, but he knew he'd
      thrown her, and since that was the idea, he hid his grin and stomped back
      around, wiping the rain from his face as he slid into the seat and turned
      the ignition.

      "Not gonna happen, Rogue." She tossed her damp hair back, absently
      twisting it away from her face into a knot at the base of her neck.

      "Call me Marie," she invited, and a gloved hand slid down his arm with
      practiced sensuality, almost perfect. She was good at what she did, he'd
      give her that. With a jerk of the gear shift, they were moving again, and
      she curled herself gracefully into the corner of the seat, wet bare feet
      neatly covered with her jacket. "What're you tryin' to accomplish with
      this little field trip, sugar? Get me fixed up so you can leave for good?"
      The drawl thickened just a little, and he felt an involuntary shudder run
      up his spine--she knew him too well. He didn't bother answering, flipping
      the wipers on instead.

      "Seatbelt," he told her, and she laughed but complied--with slow,
      deliberate movements of her fingers, she pulled it on, and then turned that
      dark gaze on him, utterly cool, and reactionary thinking, her worst
      work--she knew how to hit buttons, but lacked the subtlety to make it hurt
      when she was on the defensive. If she wasn't on the attack, she tended to
      suffer the worst. That held true in any situation she was in--he'd noted
      it before.

      "Okay, so what exactly are we doing?" she asked finally. The rain could be
      clearly heard as it beat down harder on the roof of the car. Logan saw the
      next turn approaching and leaned back a little, relaxing into the seat.

      "Just a trip. Thought you'd want to get out for awhile."

      "You know I'm not allowed to do that." A silky laugh. "I'm surprised Cyke
      didn't wanna come along." There was a little smile on her face, a distant
      memory that she seemed to briefly lose herself in, and Logan kept his
      attention on the road before him, refusing to rise to the bait she was
      offering. "Where we goin'?"

      "We'll be stopping in Maryland in an hour or so."

      "Aren't you wanted in Maryland for somethin'?" she shot, curling back in
      the seat, obviously looking for a way to unsettle him. Pointing out just
      as clearly as if she'd screamed it that she was unnerved, that she hadn't
      expected him to offer to leave her on the side of the road, and that she
      was still trying to get her confidence back.

      "Only for attempted murder and it was a long time ago and we're not even
      gonna be in that area anyway, so don't worry 'bout it." Rogue jerked her
      head around to stare at him, mouth dropping open in surprise. He smirked,
      reaching for a cigar "You always tell me how you got those memories--do a
      little digging. You can't remember just the sex."

      She frowned, drawing a knee to her chest, dismissing it from her mind with
      obvious effort, looking for another method of attack.

      "Whatever you're planning, Logan, it ain't gonna work."

      Logan bit off the end of his cigar and groped for the lighter, brushing
      against her thigh. "You'd be surprised how many people've said that to me
      before I killed them."

      * * * * *

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      www.geocities.com/seperis
      www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis

      --She has all the passion and attraction of airplane noodles.--Nacey's
      opinion of Jean's wild side
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