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FIC: Lost Without You [2/2]

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  • Anita Lorenz
    Disclaimers in part one. ~ means Charles Xavier s Supertravelling Low Cost Phonecall Thoughts [tm] / means Rogue s inefficient but serving personal thoughts
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 26, 2001
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      Disclaimers in part one.
      ~ means Charles Xavier's Supertravelling Low Cost Phonecall Thoughts [tm]
      / means Rogue's inefficient but serving personal thoughts [not tm]
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      "Hey you!"

      I turned, trying to keep calm.

      "Yes sir!"

      Automatic response held good, thankfully, because the person calling me - a
      guard of higher rank - stopped in front of me and crossed his arms.

      "What have you got there?"

      "I found it sir," I said, "Uniform from one of those mutie bastards."

      He nodded quickly. "Right. Watch that terminology there, soldier. We don't
      want to be pinned for being racist now do we?"

      "No sir," I said, standing bolt upright. I ventured a curious look. "Why are
      they attacking us anyway sir?"

      He narrowed his eyes at me like I just asked him who the president was.

      "You wet behind the ears, kid?! It's the prisoner on D level that they're
      after!! Now get that damned uniform to forensics so they can take a DNA sample
      and get your ass OUT there!"

      He shoved me, and with a turn on his heel he bound down the hallway. Oh, I had
      to stop myself from giggling with glee. So maybe the movies were right - our
      soldiers really did have the joined intelligence of a baked potato. Obviously,
      acting as one of them was going to work, so I bound along confidently, holding
      the uniform under my arm. I'd need it for some time yet.

      The sounds of explosions and fighting faded behind me, and after wandering
      aimlessly around a couple of corridors, I found the elevator. I felt like a
      right doofus, totally unprofessional, but I got here and I had the information I
      needed to know. So far so good.

      The lift was rather sleek and shiny - and buttonless. Ohhhh, crap.

      "Level please."

      I blinked at the sound of the deep voice that was obviously pre-recorded. Wow,
      technological. Leaning forward, I cleared my throat.

      "Level D."

      "Clearance Code required."

      I froze. Okay, obviously I was going to need another way down there. If it was
      down. I clenched my teeth.

      "Okay," I said, "How's my fist for a clearance code?"

      "Clearance Code required," it said again.

      I sighed, pacing back and forth. Damn it. How the hell was I ever going to
      find this level?! A few guards ran past, not even glancing at me. Okay. I
      hated to do this. I grabbed the last one, dragging him into the small space of
      the elevator and pulling closed the doors. I heard shouting outside, and the
      ringing 'ting ting' of bullets against the doors. The guard glared at me.

      "You - the door! You bent it like butter!!"

      I nodded silently.

      "You're a mutant!"

      "No shit," I purred.

      "You one of those freaks from outside?"

      I shook my head slowly. "Nope." I tilted my head then, licking my lips
      delicately in thought. All this bravado, I'm sure it was Logan and Carol
      inside of me giving me the front. Admittedly, inside I was a panting desperate
      girl, aching to find Logan. But that kind of behaviour wouldn't get me him. I
      had to be strong, capable, unflappable. I sank to my haunches, pulling the
      guard down with me, and narrowing my eyes, I leant on a propped hand.

      "So," I said, "Are you gonna answer my questions now?"

      "M-muh-"

      I cocked a brow, and for some reason that scared him.

      "Maybe!" he bleated.

      "Good. What's the clearance code?"

      His eyes bugged as he shut his mouth, his head shaking back and forth. "N-"

      I cocked the brow again.

      "No way, mutie!" he blathered, "I'm not lettin' you march in there- URK!"

      I had him around the throat now, nice and firmly, and sliding him up the wall I
      let his head touch the ceiling. With all the charm and appearance of a
      disappointed child, I pouted.

      "Mmm, now now sugar. See, your pretty robots - they march into houses and
      apartments and shopping malls takin' who they please just because those people
      happen to be different. Does that seem fair ta you? Huh?"

      I tilted my brows up, tilted my head, frowned sweetly. He just croaked back at
      me.

      "Those people broke the law!"

      "Oohhh," I sighed, looking sad, "That's right. Then - why don't y'all just get
      the police? Hmm? This Sentinel business just ain't right. I don't think you
      know that do you?"

      He shuddered, and I tightened my grip.

      "Now, I don't know how long I can hold onto this temper of mine... but you have
      my friend."

      The teeth of the man chattered as his lips creased open.

      "Tall. Hairy, handsome. Got mutton chops and an ass that just don't quit..."
      I looked away dreamily as a lazy smile fell across my face, then sighed as I
      looked back to him. The 'tink tink tank tink' of bullets against the inside of
      the door was getting louder, and they'd be out with the heavy arsenal any
      minute. "One of a kind, shoogs, and I'm not leaving without him. Whether that
      means I leave here with you alive, or you dead - well that's up to you."

      "I joined the army, knowin' I could lose my life Miss," he breathed, "You kill
      me, doesn't matter. I'm not sayin' a thing, cause it's my duty."

      Oh for crying out loud, I growled inside my head. Great, just what I needed -
      a patriotic asshole. I growled vocally then, my inner Logan gettin' the better
      of me, and I tightened my grip again around the man's neck. I was so damned
      pissed off I was ready to snap his neck for his stupid blind duty. His eyes
      bugged, the veins in his neck bulged under my hands and he shrieked.

      Obviously he wasn't ready to die.

      "ARMAGEDDON!" he wailed, "ARMAGEDDON!!!"

      Again, I held back on the giggling as the lift whirred to life around us, the
      'tink tink tink' on the door stopping abruptly. I let him go, the man falling
      to the floor like a ragdoll, massaging his neck madly. I paced around the small
      space, touching my chin in thought, and I glanced back to him as I waited at the
      door.

      "Well done, soldier," I said, taking up my uniform, "Your country is proud a'
      ya."

      As the lift slowed swiftly, the doors tried to open. Couldn't, because the
      dents were sticking out past the gap in the wall for them, effectively locking
      us in. The soldier on the ground eyed the dents with hope.

      Nice thought, but no cigar.

      With a slam of my hands I shoved the dents back in place, and the door slid
      open. It was only open an inch when I saw the black glimmer of polished carbon
      set steel. I leapt aside, hiding inside the wall, watching as a hail of
      bullets blasted the inside of the small round elevator. I swallowed my horror
      as the soldier on the floor was studded with bullets, blood bursting all over
      him like small explosions, his body quivering and bucking at the onslaught.

      Obviously the other guards had no qualms in utilizing his oath of sacrifice upon
      joining the army.

      Guns out there, me in here. What was a girl to do?

      I stuffed as much of my uniform as I could inside the guard's outfit I wore, and
      waited. It was quiet out there. They were waiting for me.

      "We know you're in there," a voice said. "There's no point in hiding. If you
      come out with your hands up, you'll get a fair trial."

      Yeah right. Grabbing the edge of the door, I yanked it from it's housing, and I
      held it in front of me as a shield. It served it's purpose well as I edged out
      into the corridor. I listened to the direction of the bullets, and counted the
      sounds of different guns firing. There only had to be eight of them.

      I grit my teeth, and gripping the bottom edge of the door, I gave it an almighty
      swing into the guards before me like a child swiping dominoes from a table. I
      felt something like a punch hit me in the chest, God it hurt like fire and so
      deep!! I kept the door swinging. The khaki clad bodies tumbled over around me,
      guns clattering to the floor, and I ran into the fray, slapping each man
      unconscious and breaking a few noses in the process. It only took a moment to
      incapacitate the lot of them.

      Looking around, I realised this must have been a level geared to science. It
      stank of chemicals and everywhere was gleaming and white. As I raced about
      there were more swinging doors with round windows, reminiscent of hospitals.
      Dear God, this whole level was like a huge hospital.

      "Logan," I breathed, "Hold on baby."

      I pulled out the X-uniform from my front, and I stormed into a random room.

      Beakers, bunsen burners, electronic microscopes - lab. It was a huge fucking
      lab. On the wall I could see X-rays of Logan's body. Anger boiled within me
      at the thought of what they could be doing to him. All of this - it'd freak the
      living shit out of him, I knew it. I stormed onwards, through the lab, and I
      gambled at sniffing the air. Sure, I was no Logan, and his powers had faded in
      me, but I had a sense of smell, right? I couldn't smell him. Only chloroform,
      bleach, blood and gun powder.

      I kept powering on, slamming open doors. The level must have been evacuated.
      I felt dread rising within me. They better not have taken Logan. I sniffed
      some more, winding down endless corridors, tears rising in my eyes.

      No, I thought, no tears. Tears are for Marie. Tears are for failure.

      I kept sniffing, it was hard to detect around the taste of blood in my mouth
      (why did I taste blood?) and it's smell in my nose, but it was there.

      It wasn't smoke, and it wasn't whiskey. It wasn't Old Spice or even older
      cigars. It was flesh, and skin, and pure Logan. I span around, and realised
      where I was.

      Cells... so many cells around me. They all had their own numbers on the doors,
      stencilled in bold silver numbers, gleaming and neat. I made my way down the
      corridor, slamming each door open just in case, but I knew where he was.

      It was the second door to the right from the end, and it was the only one with
      lights on in it. When I got to the door, there was a carded lock there, with a
      keypad. With a growl and a kick the door was no more, splinters scattering the
      floor. I bolted inside, then skid to a terrifying stop.

      Strapped. Bound. They had him down by black straps of rough nylon belting,
      his knuckles capped with what looked like adamantium restraints. His head was
      even strapped down, and the edges of the black belt material were rimmed with
      his reddened skin. I fought the blurring of tears in my eyes, shaking my head
      over and over. His eyes were open, he was staring at me with such fear... so
      much fear. He was completely naked, as if clothing were too good for him, all
      sorts of wires and tubes stuck into his body. In his arm was a drip, and it
      lead to a back of saline. With sedatives, no doubt. As if to complete his
      indignity, he was gagged.

      I stepped forward with shaky steps, my heart thudding in my chest. He shook his
      head at me, groaning.

      "Nnng!" He was scared. "Nnngn!!!"

      Tears spilled down my face as anger burst through me. He thought I was one of
      them.

      "No, no baby." I yanked off the hat, and my hair tumbled down around me and I
      tousled it frantically. "It's me, baby, it's me."

      His eyes softened, and the look he gave me... I had to close my eyes, blink the
      tears away.

      "Nnng!"

      This sound, it wasn't fear any more. Desperation, relief. I looked to him
      again, and the look was still there. I'm pretty sure I'd given him this look
      once upon a time, gazing upon him as my saviour, as the most glorious being the
      world had ever known. I didn't want to receive it from him like this. His eyes
      fell to the uniform I was still wearing, and the fear flickered there.

      Stepping forward, I ripped off the gag, wiping a tear away gruffly with a
      leather glove clad hand.

      "There," I breathed, "Just you wait a moment, I'll get you out of this."

      I ripped and yanked at the wires and the straps, and I could hear him panting
      from the fear, gulping and shifting in his bonds. I got one arm free, two,
      ignore his penis as I move down to his legs... dear God he must have been happy
      to see me. I clenched my teeth, containing my anger at the indignity of all of
      this, and as I pulled away the last of the restraints, he shifted to get up.

      "Wait, sugar, wait."

      I pressed a hand to his chest as I ripped back the plasters keeping the drip
      inside of his arm, yanking it out.

      "There, come on."

      He just sat there, staring at the army uniform I wore. God, what had they done
      to him, getting him into this state? Again I battled the anger, but the answer
      was blatantly clear. It sat on the floor and gleamed up at me with a red
      metallic 'x'.

      I ripped off the army uniform, throwing modesty to the wind, and faster than I
      could ever imagine doing before, I slid that leather jump-suit on over my body,
      zipping it up, fastening the belt buckle shaped like an encircled 'x'. It was
      once I'd gotten into the familiar black leather that he seemed to calm some,
      blinking the panic away.

      "Come on," I said again, offering him a hand.

      I'd been too rushed, too excited to stop and take in the moment, but it was
      right at that second, with him gazing at me, alive and well and here, that
      something within me began to yawn, a great inexorable vulnerability that I felt
      like I'd been avoiding forever.

      My heart leapt as he grabbed onto my hand, and I pulled him to his feet,
      slipping my arm around his shoulders.

      "I got ya now, Logan, I got ya."

      He was a little unsteady on his feet, and peering at me closely, leaning in to
      my support till he was barely an inch from my face, he sighed lightly.

      "Marie..."

      Tears sprung in my eyes, and I nodded.

      "Yeah baby. It's me. It's Marie."

      With an even stronger sigh he grabbed me suddenly, strong arms sliding around
      me, burying his face in my hair. I was scared for a moment, scared he'd
      accidentally touch my ear or my neck, but with all my hair he was safe.
      Letting a curtain of that hair fall over his shoulder, I leant into the hold,
      embracing him tightly, letting the tears fall - but with relief this time.

      That vulnerability I felt before was stronger now, and I revelled in it. I
      revelled, cause feeling that - it meant he was okay. I knew what it was. It
      was need. It was the feeling that lived in me, that said I couldn't be without
      him, not for a minute, not without knowing why he was gone or if he was okay.
      It was a roaring devotion that bound me to him, claimed every inch of my soul
      and made me weak and soft and fatalistic.

      A part of me mourned as I lost that last shred of control, feeling the heat of
      his flesh sink through the thick leather, the hair under my cheek, knowing my
      life was nothing now if this man in my arms was not in it.

      "What did they do ta you?" I breathed around my tears.

      His only response was to shake his head fractionally with eyes that seemed
      flooded with torment.

      I could have stood there all day in his arms, but now wasn't the time. I
      pulled away, taking in a parting breath, eyeing him purposefully.

      "Logan - where did they put yer clothes?"

      "Huhh..." I winced, moving his mouth, "Th-" He growled suddenly, cradling his
      head in a hand. Obviously they doped him up bad.

      "Never mind..."

      I grabbed at the army uniform that had been ridiculously baggy on me, sliding it
      onto his limbs as if he were a child I were dressing for school. I battled with
      his feet and edged on his pants (He couldn't seem to grasp the concept of
      pointing his toes so I could put on the pants), and I felt guilty as I liked
      what I saw when I slid them up over his hips. This was no time for me to be a
      pervert.

      I patted the uppers of his arms, meeting his dazed look.

      "You okay now? Nice and warm?"

      He gazed at me blankly, then frowning a little, he nodded.

      "Let's get you out of here."

      ~~~~X~~~~

      Easier said than done, it seems. I got into the lift, shouting 'armageddon',
      doing my best to ignore the dead young man on the floor. Logan just stared at
      him like he'd never seen a dead body before. Every little thing he did, that
      wasn't like Logan brought to life a rage in me so great, I doubt anyone had ever
      known the like.

      What worried me more was that the sliver of Logan inside of me was deathly
      still, as if stunned to silence. I hated it.

      Once reaching the top level, I kept Logan at bay, waiting for bullets to rain in
      the door. Those bullets never came, and looking out I saw smoke. Smoke, gas
      -- I sniffed. Tear gas, that smell of kerosene had faded some. It was quieter
      though, and I was scared. Action meant people were busy, that I was free to
      move without too much care. Quiet meant a resolution, and I knew the X-Men
      weren't about to come out on top of whatever happened out there.

      I looked to Logan. Like the piece of him inside of me, he was far too quiet. I
      wished he could give me some semblance of advice, but all he could do was stare
      with eyes loaded with agony and fear. That anger bubbled up in me again, at the
      wraith of a figure next to me that was supposed to be Logan, at the thought of
      what they could have done to him to turn him into this disturbed looking man.

      Ripping the other door from it's home in the elevator wall, I ventured out into
      the open, Logan sandwiched between me and the metal door - well protected.

      I remembered my way to the store-room, and from there it wasn't too hard to find
      the side door I entered in from. Worry squelched in my belly, and Logan's
      silence was continuing.

      "Hang in there buddy," I mumbled, "We're nearly outta here."

      He didn't respond.

      The lack of guards was really beginning to get to me. I eased open the side
      service doors, the front quad of the complex in clear view from where we were.

      The quad was to the brim with guards, surrounding two figures in the middle of
      it. One was large, blue, and crouched over a limp body with black hair.
      Beast.... I narrowed my eyes. Oh no... not Morph...

      My mind whirled about the situation, trying to make sense of it - what could
      have happened here? What were the team thinking?

      Distraction... must have been distraction. They knew I'd choose infiltration
      and subterfuge, as it was the best plan for someone on solo. Plus, they helped
      train me. You tend to get out what you put in.

      Still sandwiching Logan in the door I eased him onwards with frantic steps,
      eager to get closer. I saw Beast stand, shaking his head. He looked
      devastated. He was the centre of my vision, centre of my mission. I wouldn't
      leave him alone to the guards.

      It was as if my thought on that hit him in that instant, because as he searched
      the scene around him, as if looking for a reason why his comrade was fallen, he
      spotted me, and shook his head wildly. He saw the intent in my eyes, the
      bloodlust. I sped up as much as I could, ready to plough into the men and
      retrieve the captured X-Men. At my scurried steps, a few of the guards at the
      back turned and immediately saw me.

      "HALT!"

      "Rogue! Get AWAY FROM HERE!"

      Guns where whipped out, and I clutched the door hard against Logan, looking
      around him, eyes wild as I met Beast's frantic glare.

      "Ah can't LEAVE YA!!"

      "You must RUN!" he cried, and I heard the safety latches of the guns clear.

      Oh sweet Jesus...

      "BEAST!"

      "GO!!!"

      No, no I couldn't. I looked to Logan, my eyes filled with tears. He blinked
      and looked at me, the weariness evident.

      "R-" He opened and closed his mouth, growling at his inability to shape the
      words. "R-run bab-y."

      Two guards seized Beast, conking him on the head with the butt of their guns.
      With an almighty roar from deep in my chest I jumped up and shot into the sky,
      still holding onto the metal door, cradling Logan in it. Bullets pelted the
      metal beneath us, denting it with an all too familiar 'tink tank tink', and I
      felt those awful blows to my limbs as I climbed higher in the sky.

      "I'll come back Hank!" I called out on the top of my lungs, "I'll come back for
      ya!!"

      Hank's figure was limp and a dead weight in the arms of the guards as they
      hauled him off. Morph hadn't moved the whole time I'd seen him.

      I was soon too high to be reached by the guns, and one last glance at the scene
      set my stomach into a tight knot. It was utter robotic carnage. Parts of
      sentinels were scattered hither and thither, glittering in the sweeping glow of
      the floodlights. A few armoured vehicles were now twisted wreckage, and there
      was the odd guard laid out on the lawn, stained red.

      I looked away from the mess, dropping the door into the forest of the National
      Park, not needing to look around to know the Blackbird had been reacquired. I
      hugged Logan tight to my chest, cradling him like a baby, nuzzling his hair with
      my cheek.

      "You're safe now, Logan."

      Silence answered me. I closed my eyes then, feeling tears spike my eyes. Morph
      was probably dead.

      "Jesus," I breathed, "What have I done?"

      ~You know what you did.~

      I took a shaky breath in.

      /Not now, Professor,/ I thought, /I can't take that psychology shit right now./

      ~I merely wanted to make sure you were safe, my dear,~ he said right into my
      mind, ~And I am relieved you are okay.~

      I sighed, blinking away the blur of tears.

      /Morph is dead, Chuck. Why the hell couldn't they just fucking let me be to
      save Logan? That's why I went on my OWN, so no one else was hurt!/

      ~Morph chose to go on the rescue mission of his own free will, Rogue. No one is
      blaming you for his death.~

      I responded in silence.

      ~No one but you, in any case.~

      I sighed, hugging Logan tighter.

      ~How is Logan?~

      /Doped to the gills and fucked in the head,/ I responded in my mind, not wanting
      to bother Logan with my mental discussion with Chuck by speaking my thoughts out
      loud. /I'll fill you in when I get to the Mansion./

      Silence seeped into the moment, and while I was flying, the breeze whipping
      around me, the deep blue sky around me filled with stars, I couldn't believe I
      was returning from a partly failed mission and not a joy ride.

      ~You did a lot of damage tonight, Rogue. You saw the consequences of your brash
      actions.~

      I sighed and nodded. /Yeah, yeah I know./

      ~You also proved much to me, much that couldn't have been proven other than in
      action.~

      /Not worth a death and capture of our own though,/ I thought to him, /No where
      near./

      ~No, a discovery never is. But I know there will not be a repeat performance of
      this evening, will there?~

      I caressed Logan's face gently, frowning at his haunted eyes that gazed off into
      the sky.

      ~I thought not.~

      /I'm sorry Professor. I had to do it./

      ~I know Rogue, I know.~

      I don't know how long I'd been flying once I reached Westchester, but I was
      starting to feel a little dizzy, and I was sinking lower in the sky. My head
      was throbbing, aching, it felt ten times it's normal size, and my limbs felt as
      if I'd run a marathon or two. Up ahead, I could see a silvery figure on the
      roof of the mansion, and long tresses of white hair whipping to and fro in the
      strong breeze. For some reason, my brain took that as permission to go to
      sleep, my powers of flight folding away from me, and still clutching onto a now
      unconscious Logan for dear life, I felt myself tumbling down to the ground.

      There was no agonizing crash of limbs on the grass, no crushing pain as I fell
      to my peril below. Only a tightness around me, and the alluring scent of
      exotic oriental musk.

      ~~~~X~~~~

      I wouldn't leave his side. Once I'd slept a few hours, I woke to the sound of
      heart monitors, to the smell of antiseptic. I nearly panicked, but a sweet
      flowery smell that was purely Jean calmed me. I wasn't in any government
      hospital facility, I was home. Home.

      And under all that was the flesh and skin smell so close to me, of the man I'd
      nearly gone insane over, of the man I discovered I couldn't bear to live
      without.

      I crawled out of my hospital bed, ripped off the heart monitor and staggered
      over to Logan despite my saline drip, grabbing a chair and sinking next to him,
      burying my face in the hospital blanket that covered him to his shoulders. He
      was fast asleep, seemingly unhurt, only a couple of bandages wrapping a spot on
      his arm and thigh. Maybe he got hit with bullets.

      Bullets...

      I looked over my own body. No flesh wounds, just deep sickly coloured bruising
      every colour of the damned rainbow. Sickly yellow, green, blue, deep spots of
      red. Okay, so bullets couldn't pierce me - they did a hell of a fine job
      knocking me around, I discovered. I had a plaster on my nose, and some little
      bits of sticky stuff on my bottom lip. Running my fingertips over it, I
      realised I must have split it somehow. During a fight maybe.

      I curled close to Logan, closing my eyes, trying to let my body relax.

      Like a punch to the gut, I remembered Morph's death.

      I gripped the blanket, cursing as tears fell, snuffling and pressing my face
      into Logan's chest as he slept. Grief, and such terrible guilt swept over me.
      I thought to our talk in the security office, and that moment cracked my soul
      open like a coconut.

      Sweet Jesus, I never said a word to him, and he thought I was angry at him.

      "Rogue?!"

      The voice was a gasp, panicked, and spinning around I held onto Logan tight.
      In the doorway to the infirmary, arms wrapped around her, thick fluffy light
      blue robe covering her body that wasn't clothed in a long night-gown was Jean.
      Her hands seemed to be shaking, and her warm light-brown eyes were fixed on me.

      "I was in my room - the alarm went off that you flatlined..."

      Stepping to the bed, she picked up the end of the heart monitor wire, sighing
      with relief.

      "Sorry," I murmured, looking back to Logan, "I wanted to sit with him."

      "That's okay, Rogue."

      I sniffled, hiding my face, looking at his hand beneath my arms, all wrapped in
      bandage and stuck with the intravenous equipment. I heard the trundling of her
      office chair as she pushed it to my side, and without even making sure I was
      cool with it, she sat down next to me, wrapping an arm around me.

      I wasn't angry. In a way, I was relieved. Guilt bit at me again.

      "It's all my fault Jean. With Morph and Hank."

      She sighed, sinking her head against my shoulder, rubbing my other one gently.

      "Did you kill him yourself Rogue? Did you hand Hank over to the authorities?"

      I snorted, looking away from her. "My insistence to save Logan sent you all out
      there. You could have been killed, the lot of you."

      She nodded. "Yeah, you're right."

      I blinked, looking down, feeling wrong for having Logan in my arms right now.

      "You know, we were going to wait to go out again, to retrieve Logan." She
      pursed her lips together, narrowing her eyes. "Upon sensing his mental
      distress, I don't know if that was the best decision to make. We played it safe
      Rogue. That's what we do."

      I nodded.

      "I know I know, I should have-"

      "I don't know if it was necessarily the right thing to do Rogue."

      I opened my mouth in shock at her words, but she continued.

      "Now, taking off with the Blackbird was wrong, you know that. Running off like
      you did - it could have ended in your death too."

      She went quiet for a moment, as if to let her words sink in. All the time I
      gazed at Logan's sleeping form.

      "But... that said... what Hank and Ronald did tonight... they would have done at
      any other time. If they didn't get captured or hurt saving you or Logan, it
      would have been on some other mission. Our lives revolve around personal risk,
      Rogue. Don't take the weight of that burden on your shoulders, especially when
      it's not yours to carry."

      I glared at her, confusion falling through me. She sensed it, and smiled.

      "They chose to go out there. They placed their lives on the line."

      I nodded numbly.

      "I was talking to Scott about the outcome of tonight. You went in there, you
      did minimal damage, you got Logan and you escaped. From reports, they didn't
      even know you were an X-Man."

      "Ah concealed my uniform," I said, clutching Logan's hand nervously.

      "That's smart of you Rogue," Jean said. "You're a woman of action, we've
      discovered, hmm?"

      She squeezed me around the shoulders, leaning the side of her head to mine.

      "We need that, very much. As long as you keep working within the team
      structure, you should be one of our more irreplaceable fully fledged members."

      "Jean?"

      I blinked uncomprehendingly, but Jean smiled.

      "I talked to Scott about your valour this evening. As of today, you're a senior
      member of the X-Men. You'll do your duties with me and Storm, and Logan, and
      you'll be leading the junior members in their missions."

      My jaw dropped. It was so bittersweet... so wrong.

      "I can't accept that, Jean, I-"

      She gave a smile, patting my shoulder. "Well, you think about it. Scott and I
      both really want you on the senior team. We wouldn't ask if we didn't think you
      were capable."

      Nodding in a daze, and babbled a 'thank you.'

      "Okay, I better get back before my husband goes on a rescue mission of his own."

      I gave a shadow of a smile to that, and felt warm inside as the woman pressed a
      kiss against my hair.

      "Night Rogue. Do get some sleep."

      Sleep. Part of me still felt tortured, a small part. The most part of me felt
      sad, a little empty, like a light had been winked out in the mansion without
      warning or reason. Not that I knew Morph all that well, he wasn't really that
      important to my life. He was just a sweet guy that didn't deserve to die.

      And Hank, poor poor Hank. Hank I adored, Hank I knew well, and Hank was now in
      the hands of the US Military. I hated to think what they had in store for him.
      I felt a deep rooted, soul twisting dread for him.

      This all stained my relief for Logan's safety a sad muted hue.

      Then again, I hadn't seen him his good old self yet. He was still to wake up.
      I leant my head on his abdomen, to close my eyes a moment, just to rest.

      I didn't expect consciousness to slip away so easily.

      ~~~~X~~~~

      "Uuhn..."

      I rubbed my face into the fabric underneath my face.

      "Uhhnnn..."

      That was too low to be my voice, and the sound rumbled through my head. What
      was I using as a pillow?

      "Okay, thuh ness time uh go to kill seninels temme to stop..."

      Groggy words, and lifting my head I met the groggy rolling eyes of Logan. Oh...
      I'd fallen asleep on him. I yawned, stretched, absently rubbing Logan's arm.

      "Hey," I said softly, "How are you feelin'?"

      He was silent for a long moment, and he gave a blink, looking away. I sighed,
      clutching his hand, laying my head on his chest.

      "You came after me."

      I glanced up, a heat rushing to my face as he mumbled those words, and I nodded.

      "You didn't have to."

      I swallowed thickly.

      "Yes I did. Ah did."

      He narrowed his eyes, "Why?"

      I caught the lump in my throat, tilting my head, and I ran the backs of my
      glove-covered knuckles down the planes of his cheek.

      "Cause. I just did." I shrugged, shook my head a little, blinked away the
      sharp pain in my eyes of tired eyelids. There were no words that could describe
      the distress I went through without him. I just looked at him, like I looked at
      him when I bought Ginseng, and he seemed to understand.

      He nodded, taking my hand with his own shaking one, pulling my knuckles to his
      mouth and pressing his lips against them in a sleepy yet tender kiss. For a
      long moment he lay there, holding onto my hand, breathing deeply. He still had
      that haunted look on his face, and it made me angry, so angry. Maybe he sensed
      it, I dunno, but I felt his hand curl round the back of my head, pulling me in
      close to him, hugging me tightly as he braced my shoulder.

      Finally, after everything, after agony, pain, grief... relief took front seat,
      stealing tears down my features. He probably smelt them, and his fingers dug
      into my shoulder a little.

      "Ginseng was looking for you," I muttered, and glanced up to him, "I-" I
      swallowed, my chest jerking in a sob, "I had to tell her ya weren't here."

      A crease dented his brow. "Shit-head just wanted to sit on my face again."

      I had to smile at that, and I buried my face in his chest, letting the stress of
      the past days sob its way out of me. I had barely any control as the tears
      slipped down my face, and he just held me, squeezing me on and off, sometimes
      daring to run a hand through my hair. I couldn't help it, I had to mutter the
      words, after everything I'd been through...

      "I love you," I sniffled, "I was scared. So scared."

      He nodded, looking away, "Me too."

      I knew it was no admission of true love, and I knew right now, we needed each
      other more than anyone else. It was enough just to be here, and just to know.
      He tilted my head up then, regarding me, and I licked my lips through a hiccup.

      "I couldn't leave you Logan," I said. "I wanted you with me again."

      He nodded at that, pulling my head back to the nape of his neck.

      "Yeah, Marie," he rumbled, "I know the feeling."

      ~~~~X~~~~

      Seeing Logan's condition must have brought it home to Scott why I didn't wait,
      why I didn't let the government have any more time with Logan that what they
      had. Every time I saw the guy his words and movements were laced with guilt,
      regret.

      I was waiting for Logan to get changed so we could go for a walk and buy flowers
      for Morph's funeral when Scott made his way down the main hall, hands shoved in
      pockets, a pout of thought on his features. Seeing me, he straightened,
      adjusted his glasses, and cleared his throat a little.

      "Hey Rogue," he said. "Whatcha doin'?"

      I looked to the door I was waiting outside of, quirking the corner of my mouth.

      "Waitin' for Logan," I said. "We're gonna get some flowers. You know. For
      Morph."

      He nodded then, that familiar weight of sadness in his frame then. It happened
      to everyone when you mentioned the 'M' word. It was an immediate pull to the
      heart that touched everyone in the school. Scott seemed to gather himself up
      then, and he glanced to the door.

      "How is Logan?"

      I sighed, leaning my head on the door, running the back of a knuckle over it.

      "Different," I said. "Quiet."

      He frowned at that, just a little. I could see he didn't get it.

      "They hurt him good, Cyke."

      He nodded at that, shuffled his feet with that guilty air that was starting to
      annoy me.

      "Look, about what happened-"

      I shook my head at him. "If you're gonna apologize-"

      "I don't apologize for command decisions," he said suddenly, his voice in that
      cool tone that screamed 'Leader'. He softened then, sighing. "I do apologize
      for not being more sensitive in how I told you. I was shaken up myself, but
      that's no excuse."

      I nodded, then looked up at him through my lashes. "I'm sorry about Morph."

      "He was doing his duty," Scott said, patting my arm, "Just like you were doing
      yours."

      I closed my eyes, looking down, and I could feel Scott pulling away from the
      moment.

      "I better get back to marking papers. I'll see you round, Rogue."

      He squeezed my arm briefly and I smiled a little at him, the slightest lifting
      of the corners of my mouth, and he set off down the hall. Before I had a
      chance to mull over what was said, the door behind me swung open.

      "Ready."

      The wafting smell of shampoo and wet skin and hair enveloped me, and turning
      around, I smiled at the pervadee of the comforting scent.

      "Hey."

      He glanced to me, sliding on a jacket. "You know where we can get good
      flowers?"

      I nodded.

      Without a word he slung his arm around mine, tangling his fingers amongst my
      gloved ones, pulling out a cigarette and wedging it in his mouth. Everything
      he did though - he did it differently. Where-as before he moved with a
      carelessness and aggression that oozed of confidence... now he seemed unsure.
      Afraid. He didn't show fear like other people, and nobody else could probably
      tell.

      I could tell. I could tell in the way his eyes avoided nice things. The way
      they were always full of emotion, but guarded. The way his bottom lip never
      seemed to relax, as if he were in effort some how.

      When we were alone, he slept, or lay in my arms. His eyes would go from guarded
      to far away. He never told me why.

      I really knew he was in pain when Ginseng curled up on his chest, and he didn't
      bat her off and growl. He held her, as if she were a treasured thing, cradling
      the little body and pressing his lips together firmly. When I looked to him
      questioningly, he grew still.

      "She's never known anything bad in her life. Except when I growl at her."

      "Hey," I said, sliding an arm around him, "She knows you love her."

      Most people thought Logan hated the cat, but I knew better. I knew how he
      felt. He looked at me then, brows tilted up, his bottom lip jutting out as the
      thinnest sheen of tears rimmed his eyes.

      That was this morning. Now we walked through the Mansion, the usual close happy
      air darkened and sombre. Perhaps there were a couple of resentful glances to
      me by those that didn't know what really went on. I knew it was a part of
      grieving, to find blame and believe in it. It wasn't important to me by any
      means.

      The man next to me was the centre of my world, and for the first time in my
      life, I didn't feel ashamed to feel devoted to him.

      END.

      --
      Lifelong member of PETS:
      People for the Ethical Treatment of Scott [Summers]
      --------------------
      "If Logan & Rogue were supposed to be sibling-like,
      then Hugh and Anna didn't get the friggin' memo..."
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