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FIC: The Price of Love 5/?

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  • rimmette@earthlink.net
    The Price of Love 5/? For disclaimers, etc., see part one. ***** I ve hardly seen Jean all week. She s either in the Med Lab surrounded by piles of
    Message 1 of 1 , May 27, 2001
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      The Price of Love 5/?

      For disclaimers, etc., see part one.

      *****

      I've hardly seen Jean all week. She's either in the Med Lab
      surrounded by piles of incomprehensible reports or talking with Logan
      or Rogue. The few times she came back to our room for the night, I
      asked her what's going on, but she always mumbled something about
      doctor-patient confidentiality and went back to whatever DNA
      hieroglyphics she was previously decoding.

      Whatever it is, it's consuming her every waking moment. Sometimes,
      it even affects her dreams. She's woken me up more than once by
      turning on the bedside lamp and scribbling some medical gibberish on
      the notepad she keeps there. Once, writing in the notepad wasn't
      enough. At three o'clock in the morning, she actually got out of bed
      and told me she was going down to the Med Lab to try out her idea.

      Since she won't just tell me what's going on, I've been forced to
      watch and draw my own conclusions. It definitely involves Logan.
      The first night she got back, she became really angry when I
      suggested there might be something between them, but her actions
      since then have told me different. They don't just talk, they
      whisper. They sit on a bench or stand together with their heads bent
      so closely together that their lips are only inches away from each
      other. Whenever I approach them, they immediately back off and
      either stop talking completely or start discussing something inane
      like the weather until I leave.

      Not only that, sometimes when they're talking, Jean holds his hands.
      I watched him rubbing them one day, along the knuckles as he
      sometimes does, when Jean stopped him. She gently took his hands,
      examining them like they were some wonderful mystery, and then she
      started rubbing them like he does as they continued to talk.

      It's maddening! With his mutation, it's not like Logan needs her
      medical expertise, but he's spent several hours alone with her in the
      Med Lab. Of course, whenever I try to go in there when they're
      together, the door's locked and Jean asks me to come back later.
      She's my fiancee. We're supposed to get married in two months, but
      she's spending more time with someone that she told me just last
      Saturday was closer to a perfect stranger than with me. What am I
      supposed to think?

      If Jean and Logan's behavior is frustrating, Rogue's part in all of
      this is infuriating. Ever since Logan came back and started spending
      time with Jean, Rogue's been a different girl. She's practically
      living in her room now, only leaving for classes and meals. She
      doesn't hang out with any of her friends, and she's avoiding touch
      again.

      We've worked so hard with her and the other students this past month
      to make sure that her mutation didn't keep her from normal, social
      interaction. When she was on the road, she learned it was safer to
      be alone, but in a mansion full of teenagers, she needed to get
      comfortable around people again. She was just getting used to pats
      on the back, shaking hands, and even hugs from her girlfriends. With
      Logan's return, she started avoiding people again. In fact, Logan
      was the only one she allowed to touch her, and even with him she
      still flinched.

      It had to be her crush on Logan. Jean told me all about it when he'd
      left. Seeing him and Jean becoming so close was killing all the self-
      confidence she'd developed.

      When I noticed these changes in her, I realized I had to take
      action. If not for my sake, then at least for Rogue's. Jean was too
      preoccupied to have a real conversation, so I waited until I could
      find Logan alone.

      It took several days. He was always either talking with Rogue or
      hovering close-by, but I finally found him one night in the kitchen
      before lights out.

      "What do you think you're doing?" I asked the man crouching half-way
      into the refrigerator.

      "What's it looks like?" he answered, pulling out my six-pack of Coors
      and setting it on the counter.

      "That's my beer!" I protested, forgetting what I'd come to discuss
      for a moment.

      "Yeah," he mumbled. "It's piss-poor quality, but I'm out of my own
      stash and I need a drink."

      I was torn for a moment, wanting to defend my beer both from his
      pilfering and his quality judgement, but then I reminded myself why
      I'd wanted to speak with him, and a beer wasn't a bad idea. I
      reached out and grabbed myself a can, too.

      When we'd both settled down and drunk a little, I asked, "So what's
      going on with Jean?"

      "Whadda ya mean?" he casually answered, playing dumb.

      "I know something's going on, and I know it involves Rogue. I'm
      going to speak to her when..."

      "You stay away from Rogue," he growled, slamming his beer on the
      countertop.

      "She's one of my students, and she's obviously very upset by
      whatever's going on between you and..."

      "Don't, Summers," he interrupted. "Just do what I say. She's going
      through enough without you sticking your nose in it. It ain't your
      business."

      "It is when it involves my fiancee," I argued.

      "No it ain't," he countered. "*Especially* when it involves your
      fiancee."

      That answer was just so incongruous and unexpected that it got me
      thinking. I'd been so obsessed with Logan and Jean spending time
      together that I didn't take into account all the testing and research
      she'd been doing in the lab. I've seen the pages of information she
      was sorting through. When I'd asked her about it, she kept quiet
      because of doctor-patient privilege.

      "It's medical, isn't it? There's something wrong with Rogue."

      "That's for Rogue to say," Logan answered, but from his disheartened
      expression, I could tell that I was right.

      I was about to say more when Logan's head raised and cocked to one
      side, like he was listening to something I couldn't hear. Before I
      could ask him what was going on, his face drew into an angry snarl
      and with a growl, he turned and charged out of the kitchen.

      I've never seen Logan with an expression of such pure, animalistic
      fury, not even when he was fighting at the Statue of Liberty. He'd
      heard something to cause this reaction, and in a mansion full of
      children, I wasn't about to let him rampage unchecked. I sped after
      him.

      He was already up the staircase when I emerged from the kitchen, and
      his claws were out, shining in the dimmed lights.

      "Logan," I called in my most commanding tone as I ran, pushing myself
      to try to catch up.

      I could see that he was practically flying down the hallway, when I
      reached the top of the stairs. Before I could call to him again, he
      attacked the door to Rogue and Jubilee's room, slicing through the
      lock and bursting inside.

      I heard the unmistakable crunching sound of a forceful punch and then
      the sound of a body slamming against a wall. By the time I reached
      the room and flicked on the lights, the fight was over.

      Jubilee must still be out on her date, but Rogue was there, sitting
      on her bed crying and clutching Logan tightly. Logan, who had just
      seconds previously been in an almost insane rage was gently stroking
      her hair, and whispering to her, "Are you ok? Did she touch you?"

      She? I scanned the room and found Rogue's attacker slumped against
      the far wall. She was barely recognizable as female, so thin as to
      be almost emaciated. Her dull brown hair was chopped unevenly around
      her head, ranging from an inch to two inches in length at different
      sections. It didn't appear to be any particular style. She probably
      just chopped it herself in an attempt to keep the shaggy thatch off
      of her face.

      The woman was clutching her right hand to her chest protectively, and
      her nose was broken and bleeding, the blood shining bright against
      her pale, almost translucent skin. She was lucky. She'd probably
      been too close to Rogue for Logan to use his claws. That's the only
      reason I could think of that she was still alive.

      "Who are you?" I asked, raising my right hand instinctively to my
      temple only to find that I was wearing my glasses and not my visor.
      I couldn't risk an uncontrolled blast in the mansion, so I dropped my
      hand and took up a defensive crouch instead.

      The woman didn't even glance in my direction, her eyes fixed on Logan
      and Rogue. Her whisper-thin voice spoke, raspy and almost
      grating, "You're dead."

      I had an instant flash of deja vu. I'd heard those same words spoken
      years before, a prediction that had soon proved true. Looking at the
      woman from a new perspective, I immediately recognized her face even
      sharpened as it was by the harsh angles of starvation.

      "Venom," I said.

      She turned her head to me, and I saw the blood from her broken nose
      and understood what she's meant when she'd spoken.

      Whipping around I inspected Logan and Rogue with a more discerning
      eye. Rogue had flecks of blood on her face, probably spattered there
      when Logan'd punched Venom. Logan's right knuckles were painted with
      red streaks. They'd both been exposed. I didn't know how Logan's
      healing factor would respond to the poison, but Rogue...

      "Rogue, did she touch your skin?" I asked, demanding an answer.

      She just nodded.

      "How long?"

      "S-seconds," she answered shakily.

      "Dammit," I swore. Not long enough. Venom was right. Both of them
      would probably die tonight. "Logan, take Rogue into the bathroom.
      Wash off the blood and get down to the Med Lab."

      "Cyke, what..." he started to ask, but there wasn't time for detailed
      explanations.

      "Her blood," I said, pointing at Venom, "is poison. Get it off and
      get to Jean. Now!"

      Logan immediately took action, and I paused for a moment, opening my
      mind to Jean to warn her of her coming patients. ~Jean. Logan and
      Rogue have been exposed to poisonous blood. They're going to the Med
      Lab. Whatever you do, don't let any of that blood touch you.~

      I could feel her confusion, but I blocked off the connection before
      she could question me. I still had to deal with Venom. Logan rushed
      Rogue out of the bathroom and out the door, while I decided what to
      do.

      I yanked open Rogue's top dresser drawer and pulled out several
      scarves and gloves, throwing a handful at Venom. "Use those. Clean
      up your face and stop that bleeding."

      She complied silently, wincing when she touched her damaged nose.

      "Why, Venom. Why'd you come back. Why'd you attack Rogue?"

      Venom answered my last question with a quiet, "She's mine."

      "What?" I asked, incredulous.

      "She was brought here for me. She can heal my mutation and make me
      human again. I can live again."

      "She's not yours, Venom. She..."

      "She can't touch anyway," Venom interrupted. "My mutation won't
      change anything. Besides, you have to let me touch her now. If you
      don't, she'll die. The man'll die anyway, but I can save her."

      I had to admit, she had a point.

      *****

      TBC.
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