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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 1: 1/1: MA: Logan, Scott

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  • Jenn
    Interlude 1: The Memory 1/1 ***** i remember kneeling beside you in the darkness and attempting to catch the blood between my fingers as it drained from you.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2001
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      Interlude 1: The Memory

      i remember kneeling beside you in
      the darkness
      and attempting to catch the blood
      between my fingers as it drained from you.
      but the physician could not even heal
      they had taken that away, stolen the gift.
      in the end i could only watch.

      --I Could Only Watch by Darkstar


      September, seven years earlier:

      He didn't need to be here for this--he'd walked out of Jean's lab two hours
      before and he knew she expected him to leave immediately, and the thought
      had teased him.

      A lot of thoughts teased him though--the feel of Rogue's--Marie's--skin
      under his fingers, under his face when he felt his body leeching heat from
      it, but no tingle of reviving power. It stuck with him for far longer than
      he ever would have suspected--teased him with a soft itch under his skin,
      though perhaps that was merely his healing factor fixing any remaining
      damage. Absently, he flexed an arm--good as new. Flip of his wrist and
      the claws sliced outward, loud in the silence of pre-dawn, suddenly
      remembering how hot they felt sinking into Marie's chest. Shaking himself
      from the uncharacteristically intense memory, he let them slide back in,
      watching as the wounds healed.

      No change.

      The porch was silent--the X-idiots were wandering around, doing whatever
      they did post-mission. Logan knew downstairs, somewhere,
      Rogue's--Marie's--body was being prepared for burial. No funeral homes or
      medical examiners for a nameless runaway mutant, too many questions--Jean
      signed off on the death certificate with a sigh and didn't ask why he sat
      in the room to watch.

      She'd asked him if he knew her name, though, and he'd said Rogue, softly,
      surprising himself, wondering why it was so important to keep her name
      close, something that he shared with her, with a dead girl that three days
      ago he'd never even knew existed.

      He supposed he could be considered next of kin, in the very loosest sense
      of the word. No one had asked how long he'd known her, no one had asked
      why he was with her. That should have surprised him, and before, he would
      have answered if they'd asked. Now, he didn't want to. That was something
      else that belonged solely to him--her name, her history, their history.

      Or the lack thereof, as the case might be.

      {*I'll take care of you.*}

      {*You promise?*}

      Yes, he had, and he thought about lighting his third cigar of the night.
      He had to wonder why he was still wearing gloves--he could smell her on
      them, the lightest, lingering trace of her imprinted into the leather that
      he hadn't discarded with the uniform. Quickly, he put down the cigar,
      pulling them off so the smoke from the cigar wouldn't further dilute it,
      tucking them into his pocket.

      "Logan?" The door swung closed behind them, almost silent on the
      well-oiled hinges, then came the sound of heavy feet, crossing the distance
      between them before stopping just beside him. Scott.

      The boy's scent was awash with heavy traces of shock--Logan recognized the
      signs, recognized more in his expression than he'd expected to find, far
      more familiar than he was comfortable with. Sick disgust, failure, a
      pounding, almost merciless anger that would target anyone and anything in
      range, and that odd control that Logan wouldn't pretend to completely
      understand, that let the younger man continue to function as long as he was
      needed. And he was needed--Logan read the demoralization of the other team
      members in every line of their bodies, had to respect the man beside him
      that was keeping himself together, and by extension, keeping his team

      Logan wondered if he should pity him; his mission had failed--failed
      completely and absolutely. They'd gotten nothing out of this except a dead
      body and the knowledge that a portion of New York and a group of world
      leaders were going through some serious issues right now. They could be
      dead, dying, changing. He knew Scott was worrying about it, knew the
      Professor was awake downstairs, reading the reports, preparing for a
      worst-case scenario except--

      --except there was a surreality to all this. Logan stared at the unlit
      cigar. For some reason up there--he hadn't even considered failure. Not
      really. Not concretely. He'd promised, and up until the moment her skin
      let him touch her, he'd believed, with a curious certainty, that it would
      work, that this one time, he could be more than just a
      the loner, that--

      --fuck, where the *hell* was this coming from?

      "Scooter. Got lost looking for the bathroom?"

      He expected hostility. Something. Even hoped for it, to drag some emotion
      out of himself that wasn't this strange inner silence. Maybe he was in
      shock too. She was just a girl--just a girl he'd picked up and knew for
      three days. A runaway, like a thousand other runaways, with the bad luck
      to be a mutant and the worse luck to have a mutation that an egomaniac had
      found useful. Nothing special, no one he'd cared about, and he hadn't--

      "You okay?" asked Scott, voice low, and he dropped uninvited onto the step
      beside him. Something was extended in one hand that was steady, but Logan
      sensed it wouldn't stay that way too long. A bottle--some damn good
      whiskey from the scent--and Logan took it from him, absently turning it
      over to look at the label, confirm its quality.

      "I'm fine. You?" Was he fine? Was this fine? He couldn't remember
      feeling like this before--as if he were waiting for something. He wasn't
      even sure for what.

      "I'm sorry, Logan." Scott's voice was slightly hoarse--had to give the kid
      credit for control, because he was doing a damn fine job. Logan shrugged,
      pulling out his lighter and biting off the tip of the cigar, then
      considering, he pulled out another and tossed it into Scott's lap.

      The younger man picked it up as if he expected it to bite him.

      "I don't smoke."

      "You look like you need to."

      That earned him a laugh--not a real one, and the scent was changing, was
      different--Logan wondered why Scott wasn't with Jeannie, letting her give
      what comfort she could. Shit, he would be--would have pulled her into bed,
      let red hair and beautiful eyes start erasing the images that were burned
      into the empty spaces of Logan's mind, of dark hair streaked with white and
      closed eyes, warm flesh replacing the feel of cold, a living, breathing
      body driving out the empty weight of the dead.

      The way those brown eyes hadn't opened. The way she hadn't breathed. The
      deafening lack of a heartbeat that he'd tuned himself in to hear. It was
      supposed to be there. When he touched her, he should have felt
      something--life, energy. Her. But there was nothing. Nothing but the
      painfully tiny weight of her body and the long neck titled back against his
      arm, the spill of lifeless brown and silver hair.

      Remembering the sound of her scream, he jerked his lighter up, touching the
      tip of the cigar, then turning slightly to gaze at the younger man. Scott
      was studying the long brown cylinder with an abstracted look, like a
      student who knew the theory but not the practice.

      "Bite the tip off."

      The visored gaze jerked up and Logan almost thought he looked offended.

      "I know how to smoke a cigar. I don't--"

      "You said that. Do it anyway."

      There was a pause while the visored gaze studied him, then flickered back
      to the cigar. Logan almost grinned at the soft sigh.

      Scott obviously knew what he was doing-- he bit the tip off with a grimace
      at the flavor, sliding it between his lips, and Logan lit it efficiently
      before tucking the lighter away in his jacket and drawing in a long breath
      of fragrant smoke.

      "How old was she?"

      Logan paused at that. She didn't have a name, an age, a family. When they
      buried her today, there would be no one to mourn her, no one to remember
      her other than as a temporary student, a failed mission, a fading memory.
      These people--they wouldn't remember her for long, with their saving the
      world creed and their numerous living charges.

      She'd be buried here, as nothing more than potential.

      "Sixteen," he said softly, staring into the driveway, at the puffs of dust
      that rose with the light early-morning wind. Seventeen? Maybe fifteen, but
      sixteen sounded right. Drew in another breath of smoke, holding it to
      excuse the way his eyes began to burn. She was so small on Jeannie's
      examining table--face starkly white in death, the harsh flourescents
      sucking away the little color that remained in her face, her lips. Letting
      out the smoke when his lungs began to burn, he looked at Scott briefly and
      saw the visored gaze was fixed somewhere distant.

      "So young."

      Young to be on the road. She'd touched three people since her change: the
      boy in her hometown; he, Logan; and Magneto, the bastard that had killed
      her up there--now locked securely up by the government. Dawn was rising
      soon, and Logan knew that he had to be away before then--had to. He
      couldn't be here to see them bury her. But that didn't seem right
      somehow--that no one would mourn her. They'd mourn Rogue, the mutant who
      had died--but somehow, they wouldn't be mourning Marie, the runaway girl
      Logan had first seen through the wire of a cage in a bar in Laughlin.

      "I need to do rounds." Scott was standing up, snuffing out the cigar and
      tucking it in his jacket pocket. Logan glanced up and Scott shrugged a
      little. "The kids are upset."

      Why the fuck should they be? Irrational anger unexpectedly boiled up from
      Logan's chest, and he heard the beginnings of a soft growl. They didn't
      know her, not really--they'd known her for two days, short fucking days.
      She'd--she'd attended some classes, and hadn't he seen her wandering around
      with some kid? Blond kid--

      Logan stood up, smashing the cigar down on the edge of the porch. Being
      alone didn't seem as attractive as it had only ten seconds before. He
      didn't like the way the wind slid through the trees in the heavy
      silence--he could almost imagine it was her voice.

      "I'll go with you."


      The children were sleeping, mostly. Scott checked door to door, and Logan
      observed his care not to disturb them. Most of them probably didn't know
      what had happened, would find out in the morning, except a few who'd been
      sitting downstairs. Vaguely, Logan recalled the tiny group in pajamas by
      the rec room door, running up to Scott when he'd passed on his way outside,
      remembered someone asking about Rogue in a frightened voice.

      He'd been out before he'd heard Scott explain what had happened, and hadn't
      really considered what Scott must have told them.

      Logan stopped at sounds coming from the last door down the hall. Scott
      paused, giving him a curious glance.


      "Fifth door--someone's up." He shouldn't be doing this--he had no reason
      following this kid around the campus while he did bedchecks on little
      anklebiters, but it kept him from thinking, and he liked that. He liked
      the mindless task of looking at people who seemed perfectly content not to
      know that someone had died tonight.

      Scott headed toward the door and Logan followed, glancing around briefly,
      taking in the scents. Someone had been crying--some anger, a little shock,
      nothing like what was coming off Scooter still, though. Scott stopped in
      front of the door, pausing briefly, before knocking once.

      The silence that suddenly descended was not unexpected, and Scott knocked
      again before opening the door, stepping inside and stopping still. Logan
      moved so that he could see what--and realized with a shock whose room this


      Her scent was soaked into it, battling against that of the four living kids
      crowded onto the floor and her bed. He moved closer, breathing it in
      almost unconsciously. It would fade soon, he knew--but so strong right
      now. It was as if--God, as if she was still here somewhere.

      "Sir." Blond kid, face red--that was the one he'd seen walking with Marie.
      The boy pulled himself awkwardly to his feet, blinking at the sight of his
      teacher, probably not even seeing Logan standing just outside the door.
      "Sorry, sir, I--"

      "It's okay, Bobby." Logan glanced at the small brunette on the floor, one
      of Marie's pillows under her arms. The steady dark gaze was fixed on
      Scott, but suddenly flickered to him in surprise. Asian girl--he wondered
      if Marie had met her. "Are the rest of you okay?"

      There was a chorus of nods from the little group and Bobby--that was right,
      he remembered now--Bobby nodded mutely, not yet sitting back down.

      "Jubilee, Kitty, you need to be in bed." Scott's voice was kind.

      "We were--we were just talkin'," the Asian girl countered defensively,
      clutching the pillow a little tighter. Shit, she looked young--fifteen,
      sixteen? No older than Marie, certainly. Logan stepped in a little closer
      and Bobby's eyes widened at the sight of him. The girl didn't--the clear
      brown eyes met his without hesitation. "Hi--Logan?"

      "Yeah." The other girl must be Kitty--and there was the fire-kid that 'Ro
      had called St. John, crouching almost protectively beside Bobby. He
      thought they were waiting for him to say something--shit if he knew what,
      and why the fuck was he here?

      Most of these kids were runaways, the Professor had said during that tour,
      when he'd watched Rogue acclimatize herself to her new circumstances.
      She'd gone up in the world fast, from alone to truck to expensive Mansion
      and clean clothes and regular meals. Looking at the four children, he
      wondered if they'd been runaways too, and only by the grace of God finding
      their way here.

      "...and get some sleep, okay? The funeral is tomorrow." Scott said, and
      Logan tuned out his voice. He didn't need this, didn't really give a shit
      about the girls who were giving him that look Marie had--as if they saw
      something that he didn't when he looked in a mirror. He suddenly wondered,
      for no reason, what the fuck Marie had been thinking, climbing into his
      camper. No matter how limited her options had been, it made him wonder.
      It was one of those things he would have asked her one day--if she'd lived.


      It was one of those things he'd never have the answer to, unless he decided
      to sit these two girls down and have them explain why they were watching
      him as if they weren't afraid at all, when by all rights they damn well
      should be.

      Turning on his heel and ignoring Scott's surprised question, he went back
      down the hall, took the stairs two at a time and finding the elevator,
      blindly pushing in the code combinations the Professor had given him.
      Leaning back against the wall, he took a deep breath.

      He could still smell her on him--she'd been all over his uniform, and God,
      he should shower again, because it was getting to him. That scent. That--

      The doors opened and Logan bolted out, feeling as if he'd just escaped the
      labs again. He could hear his heart pounding, his breath coming too fast,
      flight-or-fight kicking into high gear without a check-in at his head for
      consultation. The sterile hallway held her scent perfectly from when
      they'd carried her--body--from the Blackbird.

      Slightly surreal, stalking down the hall, following the dying scent of her
      until he was in Jean's lab, walking to the wide metal bed Jean had been
      examining her on. Jerking back the sheet with a hand that shook, he stared
      into the silent face of this girl he didn't know.

      "Why the fuck did you get in the truck?"

      She was so still--he remembered how still she could be--watching him in the
      ring with a combination of fascination and disbelief, sitting on that
      barstool, curling up in the truck seat beside him, brown eyes turned down,
      little smile trembling on her lips hidden by a fall of dark hair.

      He remembered how she'd warned him about that guy with a knife, watching
      him as if she knew that he could never kill when she looked at him from
      only feet away. Remembered that same clear gaze when she'd looked up at
      him in the train and asked him for one thing.

      {--You promise?--}

      "What the fuck did you see, Marie?" he asked, and touched her skin with his
      bare hand--perfectly fucking safe skin now, and he'd give anything if it
      would start pulling at him, if he could feel that hot, electric current
      that hurt--but shit, he'd welcome it, he'd give anything for it. She
      should be up in her room, sleeping her night away, safe and secure in a new
      home with a new life, gossiping with those girls, doing whatever it was
      that teenaged kids did together.

      She should have her eyes open to look at him with that frightening,
      addicting trust. A look that made him want to live up to whatever silly,
      girlish images she had of the man she thought he was...even made him,
      however briefly, want to be worth that look. Slowly, he ran a hand over
      her face--God, she was cold, like she'd never been alive at all.
      Memorizing her face by touch, over the strands of white laced hair, slowly
      over her shoulder, feeling fragile bones through thin skin.

      She'd be buried today, forgotten in a few years. Those kids
      upstairs--they'd had lives before her and would have lives after her; this
      was nothing to them. To Scooter, to Jeannie--to them all, it was a failed
      mission for a little girl they hadn't even known.

      "I would have known you, kid," he heard himself say softly, stroking back
      her hair.

      He wanted to know now--wanted to know everything about her. Her family,
      her friends, her favorite color, her favorite food. He hadn't asked her
      anything useful in the truck, hadn't asked her all those questions that
      hadn't seemed important, because he was going to leave her at the next

      But now, he wanted to know everything--did she like the school, did she
      like that Bobby-kid. If she'd forgive him for failing.

      Shit, of course not. He'd gotten her killed. Having his fun kicking that
      motherfucking Sabrewhatever's ass, playing around with that blue bitch,
      letting that psychotic bastard pin him down--she was screaming and all
      she'd wanted in her life had been to be safe.

      He was going to forget her too, with enough time. He'd forget the light
      drawl in her voice, the tilt of her head. He'd forget--


      He jerked around, claws extended--but the little girl by the door didn't
      draw back. Jubilee, he thought--the brown eyes widened and she paused,
      like anyone with sense, but being one of the population of three so far
      that seemed to have something seriously wrong with her self-preservation
      instincts, she simply slipped inside, closing the door behind her. God,
      she was young--even younger down here, when he could look at Marie next to

      "What the hell do you want?" He let the claws slide back in and her gaze
      followed, a little fascinated.

      "J-just to see if you were okay." A little pause, but she didn't come any
      closer--eyes slipping to the bed where Marie was laying under that sheet
      before darting away. He wondered if she'd ever seen a dead body before.
      He had--he'd caused some of those deaths. Like this one. Like this girl.

      "Fine kid. Get out." He wanted to turn his back on her. But--he didn't.

      Jubilee didn't retreat, and he wasn't even surprised--see population of
      three theory. Instead, she stayed by the wall, watching him with brown
      eyes that seemed to want to creep inside his head and take a good look
      around. He could have told her it would be a bad idea all around for her
      to try--she'd run and never stop.

      "She--she talked about you, you know."

      He strangled the growl that rose up inside him. She *had* talked. All
      past tense. It didn't matter.

      "I picked her up off the side of the road. Nothing in that."

      Jubilee shrugged--he'd guess she was a little spitfire, no question, the
      way she raised an eyebrow at him.

      "She thought it was more." A pause, and he realized that she was still in
      her nightclothes--little pajamas with fish on them. Marie had been wearing
      a nightgown--had anyone ever wondered why on earth she'd come to his room
      in the first place? Why had she done that? Why the fuck had she been
      wandering around the Mansion, and why had she come looking for him, why--
      "She liked you."

      That just raised more questions he had no answers to; questions he was
      sure he would have asked her one day, after all this. Maybe on the lawn
      outside, she would have grinned up at him and answered, little gloved hands
      clasping her knee.

      "You should go to bed."

      Jubilee nodded, agreeing.

      "Yeah, Mr. Summers'll have my ass if he finds out I have the access codes."
      She shrugged carelessly, and Logan watched her sidle to the door, giving
      him a sideways glance from the corner of her eyes. "I'm--I'm sorry. I
      didn't know her that well or anything but--but I'm sorry."

      So was he. God, more sorry with every passing second. Sorry that he
      hadn't gotten her age, just so he'd know, so something would be on that
      stone besides that name and a date of death. There was that burning again
      in his chest--something in him trying to get out, he wasn't sure what. He
      pushed it back in, forcing it under control.

      "Get out." His voice softened as she winced, slowly turned toward the
      door. "I'll walk you up in a second." No idea why he made the offer,
      turned his back, angry at himself, and heard her quiet acceptance before
      slipping out. He looked at Marie's face.

      She was so thin--she hadn't been eating, had probably been half starved.
      She'd almost swallowed his beef jerky whole, then had smiled at him as if
      it'd been steak or something. He touched her face again, running a finger
      down her cheek gently.

      There it was--right there. Right there--the line of her throat that he'd
      never seen on any woman before, the sideways tilt of her head when she'd
      asked him a question, the way she'd pursed her lips when she'd thought
      through her answer.

      He wanted to remember--remember every single thing; sight, sound, and

      "I'll remember you, Marie," he said softly, leaning down and brushing a
      kiss across her forehead. The burning increased, but he didn't care, even
      when he pulled away, feeling the hot dampness on his face, seeing the drops
      on her forehead that he smoothed into her skin. "I won't forget." Not if
      those government fuckers got him in the labs again and sucked everything
      else out of him. Her scent, her smile, the way her eyes lit up, the sound
      of her voice, her name. Especially her name.

      He walked Jubilee up to her room, thinking of Marie's smile, trying to
      brand her face into his consciousness completely. She wouldn't be
      forgotten, not by anyone here. When Jubilee tentatively asked him for his
      version of how he met Marie, he found himself telling her, starting from
      the moment he caught her scent in the cage. Later he sat by Jubilee's bed,
      watching her fall asleep and thinking of Marie and how this little girl
      couldn't be much older--just as lost, but not nearly as alone.

      An hour later, he'd tracked down a pad of paper from the art room by
      smelling out the location of the paints, and then a pencil from the desk
      drawer. Sitting by the window as dawn spread rich-orange fingers across
      the sky, Logan began his first sketch. It was terrible and he tossed it on
      the floor, vaguely aware that there was something strange about what he was
      doing, but he didn't really care.

      He could remember Marie.

      When Jean tracked him down six hours later, he was surrounded by crumpled
      paper and two broken pencils. Logan thought--rather distantly, when he
      felt Jean touch his shoulder and ask if he was okay--that maybe in this
      picture, he'd get it right, get that tilt right, the fall of her hair, the
      curve of her throat.

      That's when the dreams began, with the first finished sketch.

      End Interlude 1

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