Title: Alter-Eighteen: The Inescapable X
Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@...
Summary: AU: "Once an X-Man, always an X-Man"
Rating: NC-17, sex, violence, language
Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and Fox; this piece of
fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool; if Terri wants it with the other
Alter-Eighteens, she's free to take it; if you've already got my stuff,
sure. If not, please ask. I'll say yes.
Feedback: Is happily reread during writer's block
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete, Dot, and Meg.
< > indicates thoughts
~ ~ indicates telepathic conversation
// // indicates dreams
Alter-Eighteen: The Inescapable X
Rogue couldn't sit still. She fidgeted in the copilot's seat, checking
and rechecking her gloves, her jacket, the instrumentation. Anything to
keep her nervousness at bay. This was her first mission as a member of
the main team, and she badly wanted to prove useful.
"It's not a *real* mission," Jubilee had said scornfully. "It's just a
pick-up. We've all done those."
And when she'd first been told she was going, that's all Scott had said.
"It's a pick-up."
Normally, Scott went, and he took either Jean or Storm with him. The
women made a formidable case for the school to young mutants who'd been
on the run for a while, with no friends to turn to and no place to call
home. She wasn't able to compete with their poise, confidence and
beauty, even though she was a living testimonial to the school -- a
runaway who'd found a home there.
But this, she learned as she read the mission brief, was different.
They were going to Laughlin City, up in Alberta, to pick up the mutant
known as Wolverine.
As the Professor had explained the mission, Scott's jaw tightened, and
Ororo laid her hand on his arm in a soothing gesture.
They'd been a couple since Rogue had arrived at the mansion two years
ago -- a scared seventeen-year-old being chased by powerful men --
mutants and humans alike. The humans wanted to experiment on her, learn
the secrets of her skin. The mutants wanted to use her power in some
machine that supposedly mutated people.
She'd escaped the first with the help of the X-Men, and the second she'd
survived only because of Storm's bravery, Scott's pinpoint accuracy with
his optic blasts, and Jean's medical expertise.
Absently smoothing back her hair -- the two white locks framing her face
the only physical reminders of that awful experience -- she turned to
"Why is Scott so uptight about this guy?" she asked as they flew swiftly
through the night sky, following the twilight west.
Storm looked at Rogue's open, curious face and said, "Before Scott and I
got together, he and Jean were engaged."
Rogue's eyes widened. It was hard to imagine the Fearless Leader of the
X-Men with anyone other than Storm. Especially the poised, aloof Dr.
Ororo nodded at her colleague's unspoken question. "Yes, it's true. They
were planning to get married. Then Wolverine arrived. He made no secret
of his attraction to Jean, and Jean -- " Storm paused, obviously
choosing her words carefully. "It had been clear for some time that
their relationship was troubled. I do not like to admit it, but I played
a role in that, I think. Scott and I -- we fit together in ways he and
Jean never did, never could. She was his lover, but I was his best
"When it became clear that their relationship was ending, Logan spared
no effort to get Jean into his bed."
Rogue sat on the edge of her seat, no longer staring out at the starlit
sky, intent on the story Ororo was telling.
"Jean soon learned she was pregnant. But the timing -- no one could be
sure who the baby's father was. She and Scott had still been --
intimate, up until she returned the ring and went to Logan. Even
afterward, she and Scott tried to reconcile..." Storm sighed.
"Naturally, the two men did not get along; each paraded around like the
alpha male of a wolf pack. When you meet Logan, you will understand what
I mean. Their sniping and fighting made things difficult for Jean. She
did not have an easy pregnancy -- from her fifth month on, she was
restricted to bed rest.
"She was under a great deal of stress, as were we all. To make an
already-too-long story short, the baby was premature, and born with
spina bifida. William -- she named him William -- developed
hydrocephalus, and the operation to insert a shunt was not, was not
Rogue could tell that Storm was having a hard time discussing the
subject, even though it hadn't been her baby. She was still Jean's close
friend. It must have been difficult for everyone, she thought.
"He died about three months after he was born. Scott and I drew closer
together in the face of the tragedy, but Logan and Jean -- they were
driven apart." Storm rubbed her forehead. "I do not know if they loved
each other, but they did not part on friendly terms. Logan was
devastated by the child's death, even though it was never proved which
man was the father. In his own grief, he was unable to support Jean,
who, in turn, could not be there for him."
Rogue reached out a gloved hand and Ororo took it, gripping it tightly.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to open up old wounds."
Storm gave a wistful smile. "Child, it is not you who will be opening
these wounds. I do not know what Charles is thinking, bringing Logan
back to Westchester, but I have a feeling he may regret reopening this
chapter of the past."
Rogue was startled by her candor. Scott never openly questioned
Professor Xavier, and Rogue took his lead. She respected him greatly --
all the members of the younger team did, even if they rarely said
anything out loud. He had led them time and again on missions from which
they'd come home safely. There was no greater mark of a leader than
that, they thought.
The two women were silent for a while, then Rogue said, "So, were you
friends with him?"
Ororo smiled. "As much as anyone was friends with the Wolverine. He's
not an easy man to get to know. Do not be alarmed or insulted if he's
unfriendly. It is his way."
They fell silent again, with Rogue turning over in her mind everything
Storm had told her.
They landed in an open field about half an hour later, and took
snowmobiles to their destination.
"I thought we were going to Laughlin City," Rogue said when they
arrived, taking in the collection of ramshackle huts that looked like a
strong wind would blow them over.
Storm jerked her chin at the sign on the main strip. "This *is* Laughlin
"Talk about delusions of grandeur," Rogue muttered. Storm chuckled.
They reached the doorway of the Lion's Den, and Rogue raised an eyebrow.
"How is it that I'm thousands of miles from Mississippi, but I still
can't get away from rednecks and truckers?"
Again, Storm's lilting laughter rang out, drawing all eyes to the two
women as they entered the dark and dingy bar.
They would have stood out regardless. The place was a shithole, full of
heavy, sweaty, beer-and-bourbon soaked bodies looking for warmth and
protection from the arctic night.
The crowd quickly refocused its energy on the two bare-chested men
grappling in the cage.
Rogue took a good look and whispered, "Oh, my."
Logan heard the light laughter over the crowd noise, and two new scents
wafted over the rank odor of the place, distracting him slightly as he
tried to place them.
Finally getting tired of toying with his current opponent, and intrigued
by the aroma of innocence tickling his nostrils, he knocked him out with
a left to the solar plexus and a right to the jaw.
The guy fell like a ton of bricks and the emcee announced that, once
again, the Wolverine was the undefeated king of the cage.
Taking the glass of bourbon some woman handed him through the cage, he
closed his eyes and focused. He knew the one scent -- wind and rain and
unthinkable power, tightly leashed. He called up the face instantly,
even though it had been five years.
He let his eyes play over the crowd, easily picking out her snowy hair.
She was dressed in leather, but not her X-Men uniform. Undercover, then,
he thought, turning his attention to the woman with her.
And catching his breath as she turned, her eyes meeting and holding his
for an endless second. He felt like he was drowning in those fathomless,
dark coffee eyes.
Her lips parted in a silent gasp, and he licked his own, wondering if
she'd taste as good as she smelled, clean, lemony -- his. Startled at
that last thought, he decided to talk with Storm rather than avoid her
when he was done fighting.
The crowd roared and broke the spell. She turned away and took a dainty
sip out of the beer bottle in front of her, her face flushing under his
The weather goddess turned and caught his eye, nodding almost
He grinned and went back to face his next opponent.
"Jesus," Rogue whispered. "What *was* that?"
"That, my child, is the Wolverine." Ororo frowned at his unexpected
interest in her companion. Not that Rogue wasn't a beautiful woman --
she was. But she was so far from Logan's type that Storm was immediately
Rogue was too young to play his games, she thought, and he wasn't the
type to be intentionally cruel, leading her on and breaking her heart--
<And your imagination is running away with you, Ororo. It was just a
look. Once he realizes how young and inexperienced she is, he will lose
interest.> Telling herself that, the weather goddess sipped her scotch
Rogue, meanwhile, was stunned at the intensity of that stare. It was one
thing to admire -- and be admired by -- such a prime specimen of the
male animal. But his eyes -- it was as if they'd bored straight into her
soul, locking onto something in her and drawing her to him.
She wondered if he felt it, too.
Then she chided herself for being fanciful.
She had never been successful at dating. The young men at Xavier's were
too interested in lusting after bold Jubilee, cutie-pie Kitty or
sex-kitten Betsy, who ran through them at an alarming rate, to pay much
attention to the girl who couldn't be touched.
Which was fine with her -- it was all a little too incestuous for Rogue,
who didn't want to date someone who felt like her brother, even if he
She nursed her small infatuation with Scott, knowing he was oblivious to
the way her heart fluttered and her breathing quickened when he was
close. A hopeless crush for an untouchable girl. It seemed fitting
and -- in a strange, self-effacing way -- enough.
Or it had, until the moment she locked gazes with the Wolverine.
She saw many other women in the bar, all of whom wanted the same thing
she did, and all of whom no doubt had more experience getting it, but
she'd had two beers and hadn't eaten in hours. She was definitely
feeling no pain. When the bartender plunked down a shot of something
golden and said, "On the Wolverine," she knocked it back without a
second thought, enjoying the burn and ignoring Ororo's pursed lips and
raised eyebrow. Rogue's self-confidence, never very strong, skyrocketed.
"It's a little warm in here, don't you think?" she whispered, removing
her jacket to reveal the tight black knit top she wore with her leather
jeans and boots. It was the non-uniform uniform, since they were
"undercover" on this mission.
Ororo shook her head and wondered how she was going to explain a
hungover Rogue to Scott when they got back to New York. He was already
tense about Logan returning; this would just be the icing on the cake.
Soon, there were no more people drunk -- or stupid -- enough to step
into the cage with Wolverine, and people started leaving the bar for the
cold trek to their homes.
Logan came walking out of the backroom, fully-clothed, Rogue noted with
"Beer," he said to the bartender, settling on the stool next to Rogue
and pulling a wad of cash out of his jacket pocket, along with the stub
of a cigar, which he stuck in his mouth. The bartender uncapped a bottle
of Molson and set it down on the bar. Logan removed the stogie and took
a sip. "Storm," he said.
Storm recognized his wish for anonymity. "Hello, Wolverine."
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" he asked, glancing at
the woman next to him. The urge to stare was strong, but he didn't want
to be too obvious in his intent.
Up close, her scent nearly overwhelmed him -- the need to take
possession of what was *his* almost overtaking his control. Of course,
when he took a good look at her, and saw that, haunted eyes aside, she
was still a teenager, he clamped down tightly on the desire surging
through him. He was a lot of things, but he'd never been one to despoil
innocence, a commodity that was far too rare in his experience to be
ruined with casual sex. And he had a strange feeling that nothing with
her would be casual -- especially not sex.
"I'm Rogue," she answered for herself, in a honeyed drawl that warmed
the blood in his veins.
"What kind of name is Rogue?" he asked, annoyed at the effect she was
having on him. He could have any woman in the place, and he was wasting
his time talking with Storm so he could be close to the one he
*shouldn't* have? Sheer stupidity. He sighed internally at that
conclusion. Brains had never been his strong point.
"What kind of name is Wolverine?" she shot back, unfazed, her eyes
Once again, he found himself drowning in their depths. They were the
color of fine chocolate, or fresh coffee, and he knew if he could drink
from her, he'd always be full.
He thought of all the women he'd seen and known, and knew none of them,
not even Jeannie, with whom he'd been in love, had affected him like
this. He had a sense of meeting his own Helen of Troy -- here was a
woman men would be willing to kill for, die for, and she was *his*. Of
that he was certain.
He just had to make sure she knew it, too.
"Professor Xavier would like you to return with us to New York," Storm
said, interrupting their rapport.
He removed the cigar from his mouth, and, without breaking Rogue's gaze,
said, "Not gonna happen."
"He has some information he thinks you'll be very interested in--"
"But he won't give it to me unless I come back into the fold?" He
snorted, finally looking at her. "What happened to compassion and
understanding, 'Ro? Or has he finally gone around the bend?"
"No. He would like you to listen to his proposal, but he will give you
the information regardless of your decision."
"Then he can roll into his big, round room and give me a call up here,"
he replied, tapping the side of his head. "I left and I'm not going
Storm sighed and stood. "Fine." She motioned to the other woman. "Come,
Rogue. We have a long trip ahead of us."
Rogue slid off her stool and pulled her jacket on. She wordlessly
followed Ororo to the door, but her eyes never left the Wolverine.
With a grace and quickness surprising in a man of his size, he managed
to meet them there. Pressing a large hand to the door, he blocked their
Quirking an eyebrow, he looked down at Rogue. "Don't go, darlin'. You
and me were just gettin' to know each other."
Rogue felt the blush burn her cheeks and looked down in confusion.
Ororo pursed her lips again.
"She's not for you, Wolverine." The weather witch emphasized the name.
Her words were lost as the ground began to shake and the door was flung
open, sending all three mutants sprawling.
Logan caught the familiar, fetid scent of--
"Sabretooth," he growled, extending his claws and rising to a fighting
crouch in one smooth motion as the huge blond mutant entered the bar.
The catlike man bared his teeth. "Been a while, runt."
"Not long enough, bub," Logan ground out, already closing in for the
Avalanche, the skinny young man who was the cause of the tremors, rushed
into the bar, only to be met by an angry goddess, eyes glowing white as
thunder crashed and lightning crackled in a very localized storm.
Rogue grinned as she launched a well-placed kick, felling him. He landed
on his back and she jumped on his chest, her hands immediately going to
his neck to cut off his air supply and render him unconscious.
Storm moved outside, aiming lightning strikes at the jeep in which
Mystique was sitting. When that burst into flames, Storm chased the
fleeing shapeshifter, but she was too slow. Mystique morphed into a bird
and flew away, dancing through the lightning bolts Ororo called down
from the sky to stop her.
Cursing, Storm re-entered the bar. Wolverine and Sabretooth were fairly
evenly matched, and neither paid much attention to the two X-Women or
the crowd of civilians who loudly cheered on their champion.
Storm was just about to tell Rogue to stay out of it -- Wolverine and
Sabretooth had a long history -- when Rogue jumped between the two men,
one lethal hand bared and reaching for Sabretooth.
Logan pulled his punch at her intrusion. He stared, stunned, as
Sabretooth rammed his fist into Rogue's jaw and, while she reeled from
that blow, sank his other hand into her stomach, ripping her flesh as if
it were paper.
She dropped to the floor, too breathless to scream, and Sabretooth
licked her blood off his claws. "Mmm, tasty," he taunted.
The bikers and truckers who'd stuck around to watch the fight scattered
at this display.
Storm rushed to her fallen comrade's side, sending her thoughts
screaming out to Xavier or Jean for help.
Roaring, the Wolverine lunged at his enemy, enraged at the damage done
to this woman, who he was already thinking of as his mate. He slashed,
scoring Sabretooth's chest with three long gashes, and then slipped nine
inches of razor-sharp adamantium into the big mutant's throat. With his
left hand, he drove the other set of claws through Creed's trunk, then
jerked upward, opening him from navel to clavicle.
Storm looked up from Rogue's wounds as Logan retracted the blades with a
wet snap and Sabretooth crashed to the ground like a felled sequoia.
Logan rolled his neck to work the kinks out, then dropped down on
Rogue's left side.
"What the hell were you trying to do, kid?" he asked, his voice rough
with anger, fear and other emotions he was ready to name yet.
"Helping," she gasped.
He and Ororo exchanged glances at the burbling sound of her breathing.
"I think the lung is punctured," Ororo said, "One of her ribs--" Her
eyes went faraway, a sign Logan recognized from his days on the team.
She was communicating with Xavier or Jean. <Please let it be Jean,> he
thought, willing the girl to stay alive until the redheaded doctor could
tell them what to do.
"You hang on, kid. We're gonna take care of you," he said tenderly,
grabbing her still-gloved hand and bringing it to his lips, hating the
feeling of helplessness that flooded him.
"Marie," she whispered.
"My name is Marie." Her eyes fluttered closed, her limited energy
obviously spent in the effort to speak.
"Kid-- Marie, just hold on," he said frantically. "You gotta be strong
now, Marie. Jeannie'll fix it. You'll see. You'll be as good as new
She smiled sadly, her eyes remaining closed. "I don't think so." It was
so soft, even he had to strain to hear it.
"Dammit, Ro," he growled. "Do something."
"I--" Storm was at a loss. She could set bones and bandage wounds, but
this -- Rogue's organs had been mangled, her flesh torn to shreds. She
tried to apply pressure, to stop the bleeding, but knew she was only
causing her friend more pain.
"'Roro, please," he begged, reaching out and brushing Marie's hair off
"Be careful! Her skin is deadly."
He ignored her admonition and continued to stroke Marie's hair, oddly
comforted by the silky feel of those mahogany and white locks in his
"Logan, please. She could suck the life right out of you if you are not
careful, and then I would lose two friends tonight."
Logan's head snapped up. "What do you mean? Would it help her?"
Storm had only seen him this distraught once -- after William's death --
and then he'd withdrawn into stoicism after an initial burst of violence
when Hank gave him the news.
"I, I don't know," she answered, her mind racing through all she knew of
Rogue's mutation. An idea -- "She absorbs the powers of mutants who
That was enough for Logan.
Cradling her gently in his lap, he pressed a hand to her clammy cheek,
ignoring the way her blood stained his clothes and slicked the floor.
Storm watched, holding her breath and praying that -- somehow -- it
"Come on," Logan whispered. "Come on, Marie." He closed his eyes against
the sting of tears and pressed his lips to her forehead, her temple, and
finally, her lips, willing his strength into her.
And then he felt it -- a strange prickle along his nerves at first, then
his whole body screaming in pain as his healing power drained into her.
Storm watched in horrified fascination as Rogue's wounds closed up and
the color came back into her face.
Her eyes flew open and she gasped, her breathing free of that terrifying
gurgle. She struggled against the life-giving embrace.
Logan dropped to the floor, unconscious as Rogue stared wild-eyed at the
destruction around them.
"What -- How -- Why?" she managed, leaning over his prone form, her ear
to his chest, confirming that his heart still beat, as her gloved hand
reached up and stroked his cheek gently. "I-- he--"
"Take a deep breath, Rogue."
Yes, she was Rogue. <Marie,> said the new voice in her head. <Mine.>
"Focus, Rogue," Storm said, trying to guide her back to herself. "We
need to get him to the jet."
"He has a truck," Rogue said, stumbling only slightly over her pronouns
as she reached into his pocket for the keys. "Help me."
It was difficult (the hundred pounds of adamantium lining his skeleton
made him much heavier than he appeared), but they got him into the
pickup and took off at high speed for the place they'd left the
It was all a blur to Rogue. She was trying to sort out the new
personality in her head. She'd learned to cull what she needed from
these rare acquisitions and lock away the rest until she was centered
enough to deal with it, but this was more than she'd ever absorbed
before, from anyone, even Magneto. Logan was tenacious. He wanted to
stay in the front of her mind, making sure she was okay and they all got
to the jet safely.
She'd been dead, she was sure, and he'd brought her back, so she didn't
fight too hard when he took over and began barking orders through her at
She tried to figure out why he'd done it, and through the myriad
confusing thoughts and feelings, she came back to one thing, over and
She pondered that on the long journey home.
"There's nothing I won't do, but some things are gonna cost you extra."
Mike Kellerman, _Homicide: Life on the Street_
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