FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part IV: MA: 4/9: Rogue, all
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Between the Danger Room, Johnny, and an afternoon of foosball, I had a day
that was completely unproductive, exhausting, and probably the most
enjoyable I'd had since my arrival. It was rather easy to slip back into
normal relationships with my teammates, given the fact that they had no
idea who I really was. Well, except Johnny. Bobby was more problematic,
and the icy blue gaze fixed on me with a strange sort of pity that grated
on my nerves more than I thought possible.
I'd never been a big fan of pity, after all, especially when I couldn't
figure out what the pity was for.
After the third game of foosball (me and Kitty won), everyone drifted off
to their evening duties or dinner, and already aware that the kitchen was
serving a bastardized form of beef stroganoff, I ducked into the rec room
and curled up on the couch with a book from the library. Logan was
supposed to be home before dinner--please God, don't make me eat that
stroganoff. No matter what universe you happened to be in, it was rarely
done well, and a Russian next door neighbor as a child had given me a
palate that did not take bad imitations.
I heard their voices before I saw them--Logan, his usual abrasive
post-mission self, and Jean, softer and warmer. Ouch, how familiar.
Ducking down on the couch, I dropped the book beside me, trying to find a
way to look casual and not-sneaky-listening-to-other-people's
conversations. No more missing important chats for me, oh no. And this
might be important. This was *not* sick curiosity about what kind of
relationship existed between Jean Grey-Summers and Logan here. Not at all,
because shit if I gave a damn. Period and end.
"--and you seem to be the only one she's really comfortable with. So get
her into the lab. Talk to her. I want to get this over with."
Wouldn't you know, it was about me. Damn. I glanced at the far door that
led outside, but making a run for it just seemed--well, cowardly. And
they'd see me--if I was right, they were in the absolute worst spot for me
to get away without being caught.
"She doesn't like labs. Bad memories." I steadied my breathing as they
stopped at the rec room door, a good thirty feet from the couch. "I'm not
gonna push her either, so just feel free to fuck off, Jeannie. Leave her
alone, let her get acclimatized to everything."
I didn't want to get acclimatized to this. That scared me more than
"It's more than just a fling, isn't it, Logan?"
A longer pause. I held my breath, hands beginning to sweat inside my
"None of your business."
"Logan, I'm happy for you." It came out in a rush, as if she was afraid
he'd be gone before she could get the words out.
Whoa. Huh? Slow down. Rewind. Apparently, Logan was having a very
similar reaction, because he didn't walk away from Jean, which I'd half
expected them to do.
"Jeannie--" Soft warning, almost a growl. But--
"I know." Her feet, coming closer, and I took a chance and ducked my head
out, saw her reach out one delicate hand, brushing his shoulder before I
ducked back down. "You don't want to talk about it, you don't want anyone
to comment on it, and you're pissed because we noticed. Sorry--we've known
you for seven years and lived inside your mind for one of them. There's
damn little you can hide from us anymore."
The silence wasn't so much tense as resigned, and I almost felt Logan's
breath hiss out.
"It's not like that."
"Yes it is." A voice of liquid understanding--that was my Jean Grey, pure
compassion, love, feeling. Tears prickled behind my eyes--oh, this wasn't
right. This wasn't. She couldn't be the same person who invaded minds,
who helped give orders to imprison thousands. She couldn't be. "I don't
have to read your mind to see the way you watch her, the way you are with
her. It's--I know what you've been through, but it's not destiny, Logan.
You don't always have to be alone."
"I don't wanna talk about this." His voice was soft. God, this was a
conversation that wouldn't exist in my world. I took a breath, letting it
out slowly, my fingers digging into the book beneath my hip.
"Just stop waiting for the axe to fall. It doesn't have to. You won't
lose her too."
Oh fuck. Oh God, dear God, fuck, fuck, *fuck*.
I let myself sink down into the cushion, shutting my eyes against
everything that was implied in those three sentences.
Nothing. Not even a clue that he was there.
I heard his footsteps cross the rec room, out to the dining room, and Jean
fade down the hall toward the offices. I peered out from behind the couch
to check for bystanders, then scrambled to my feet. He didn't need to know
I'd heard that. He didn't. Ducking out into the hall, blessedly free of
Jean's presence, I leaned back against the wall for a few minutes, then
forced myself to walk back in the door. Logan was coming back through, and
a grin turned up his mouth as he walked toward me. My mouth went dry.
I jerked my gaze up, unable to move for a moment under the patient smile in
his eyes. I took his hand, letting him pull me out of the doorway, for
the first time really noticing how he touched me, how often he did it. I
liked it, yes. Looked forward to the arm loosely draped around my
shoulders, the casual touch of his hands. I kept my gaze on the floor as
we approached the front door and he pushed it open for me, emerging into
bright sunlight, his hand pressed against the small of my back before
resting on the back of my neck. Possession, pure and simple, marking me
for all to see. I'd thought--I'd thought he'd done it to cement my alibi
in the minds of everyone around us, the reason I was staying with him, to
keep the curious away. And he was, no question, and for all those reasons,
but also because it was true.
He was doing it because he liked it, because he wanted to. Because he
didn't want anyone else to touch me, to see me and think I was free, anyone
at all. He wanted those things, even if he couldn't admit them to Jean, to
me, even to himself.
Under the fading sunlight of evening, I acknowledged it, and I knew, knew,
I'd been hiding it from myself as well. As someone stopped us to ask him a
question, I realized I was leaning into him, taking in his scent,
imprinting it into my mind, and my gloved hand was idly playing with the
buttons of his jacket.
I'd made a lie the truth. This was how it happened. I wanted it too.
I started from my contemplation of my fingernails--no, they weren't that
interesting. Nor were they worth the bother--constant glove-wearing had
made my interest in my nails pretty much non-existent. My box of duck
l'orange had been picked over several times before I gave up and took it to
the fridge. Emotional equilibrium and hunger, too damn connected. If I
ever got really stressed, I'd starve to death.
"Not really." And I wasn't--before I could say anything, Logan was beside
me, tilting my head up, and I noted again that he was wearing gloves.
Almost always did now, in fact, and I wondered when that had started.
I had to guess when I reappeared in his life.
World in crisis, I'm in crisis--take your pick. I tried to find something
to say, avoided looking at him--but my Logan had never let me get away with
that and this Logan was no different. He tilted my chin a little farther
and met my eyes.
"You've been quiet since we left the school. Wanna tell me what's
"Everything," I said finally. His finger brushed against my cheek, an
almost-caress that left me breathless. He had to hear my heartbeat speed
up at the touch--it was all I could hear, pounding in my ears, a rush
through my body with the casual contact no one in my life had ever given me
before. And he froze, staring into my eyes.
I jerked my head away, staring down at my hands.
"I'm fine." It was a lie. He could smell it all over me. For a second,
there was nothing, then he stood up, crossing the room and, for a moment, I
thought he was going to leave. But--the sound of the locks being turned in
the door and he came back, sitting in the chair across from me, reaching
for a cigar in the box on coffee table shelf before leaning back into the
Tell him what? That I was getting used to the touching and the attention
and having him near me, having him want me? That he'd never been anything
but my friend and my guardian and maybe in some weird way my father-figure?
That I'd given up hope a long time ago and he'd brought it back--because my
Logan had never, ever looked at me like he did. Never touched me like
that, never watched me with that steady gaze that turned on parts of my
mind I'd long ago turned off.
Never trailed his fingers across the small of my back until the clothing
didn't seem to exist, and I thought I could feel his fingerprints etched
into my flesh.
--What are you doin', Marie?--
Fuck. Logan. Reaching out, I groped for the collar, jerking it around my
neck and clicking the lock into place, taking in a sharp breath at the rush
of dizziness before it faded--I was getting used to it. Running my fingers
through my hair, I leaned back into the sofa. His eyes fixed on the collar
with something in them that seemed almost like satisfaction and almost like
shame. But neither one, and I couldn't make anything of that.
"I don't know how to start."
"Beginning works." He lit the cigar and absently, I reached for one too,
seeing his eyebrow jump a little when my fingers closed over it, raising it
to my mouth.
"Just because they're quiet doesn't mean I don't keep some of the
preferences." I tried a smile on, found it lacking, and got up, sitting on
the edge of the coffee table. "Light it?"
The hazel eyes measured me briefly, then he took out the lighter, leaning
forward to cup a hand around it when I placed the cigar between my lips.
He met my eyes and the lighter flared to life in his eyes.
I couldn't look away. After a few seconds, I stopped wanting to. The
endless moment stretched between us, with the flame burning and the heat of
it faint against the skin of my cheeks, like the touch of his fingers.
"Okay." He leaned back and I automatically drew in a breath and nearly
coughed myself into asphyxiation. When I lifted my head, I saw him
grinning a little and snorted at him. "Very smooth. Not gonna get outta
this chat that way, though. Tell me what's botherin' you."
I realized I was still sitting on the coffee table and began to rise,
before his hand came down on my thigh, freezing me in place.
His *bare* hand now. I swallowed, looking up briefly before biting down on
my cigar. I sooo understood Logan chewing on those suckers. Much superior
to worrying at your lip or grinding your teeth. Tasted pretty good,
too--but then, I liked cigars. I didn't like the taste of tooth enamel as
I ground it off.
I took another drag, then slowly held it, letting it out. He watched me
for a moment, the hazel eyes fixed on my face, before he sat back--shit,
removed his hand. A flare of recognition in his eyes at my posture, the
arch of my fingers, the casually careless position on the coffee table when
I leaned back on one arm and enjoyed the flavor that lingered on my tongue.
"You learned that from him." He gestured toward the cigar and I glanced at
it briefly. Him. The other Logan.
"Yeah." I paused, taking the cigar from my mouth. "Cubans. Did you know
I had a cigar preference before I could legally smoke them?" I grinned,
staring down at my hands, realizing I was still wearing my gloves. "Cuban
black. I had contacts that'd get them for me. I guess I was the only
sixteen year old girl in New York who had connections to the black-market
cigar trade." It was weird, come to think of it. Bobby and Johnny had
taken the occasional hit of X and Jubes, Remy, and Kitty would get stoned
out on the lawn (okay, so I participated in that a bit), but me, I had my
Cubans and my bottle of Jack Daniels secreted in the floor of my room,
wrapped around with a metal chain and a dogtag for when I needed to lose
myself in someone else.
"You said you're--you and he--are friends?"
I nodded, playing with the end of the cigar for a moment before looking at
"Yeah, sugar. Best friends." I paused a little, thinking about that.
"You taught me to drink water when I did shots so I wouldn't have a
hangover and let me crash on your couch. Like now, just--" I waved at the
empty space where most people would have a TV, "--with television and
I felt his eyes on me, running over my body as if he was removing each
piece of clothing one by one to study the skin beneath, and I took another
long pull from my cigar. When I let out the smoke, Logan pushed the
ashtray closer to my hip and leaned back in the chair. He wasn't going to
let go of this. Crap. They both had to be the stubborn sort.
"I was sixteen when I met you and you--you saved my life. I
had--feelings." I puffed at the cigar--God, bad idea--and let out the
smoke in a rush of words. "I got over it. I did. Not a big deal, you
"You're lying through your teeth." He said it casually--and here was the
difference, that reminded me that this wasn't the Logan I knew. The other
Logan would have avoided this topic at all costs.
"You can lie your way through the school, Marie, but you can't lie to me."
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees to meet my gaze without
hesitation. I shivered--he was too close, I was too aware of it. My
fingers began to shake and I lifted the cigar to my lips, wanting to avoid
saying anything else--because what he'd make me say was the truth.
"You never got over it."
"I moved on." There we go, crap to hell. The cigar was plucked from my
lips, ground out in the ashtray and put on the floor beside our feet. His
expression was unreadable.
"I can tell--ever since you saw me, I've smelled it on you. You never got
"Stop it, Logan."
I began to get up, but a hand slid over my thigh, and everything just
*stopped*. Breathing, thought, nothing but the feel of his fingers moving
over my jeans-clad thigh, up to my hip, rubbing slow circles deep into my
skin, marking me. I shivered as he shifted closer, felt his breath brush
my hair when I forced my head to turn away.
"I can smell it on you, feel it on you." Against my ear, inescapable.
"You like it when I touch you."
I couldn't deny that. Shit, I couldn't deny anything, and a hand cupped my
cheek, turning my face. The hazel eyes burned into me, before the lightest
brush of his lips over mine--God, Logan was kissing me. He was kissing me.
A little more pressure, gentle, searching, coaxing out my response, and I
couldn't stop myself--oh that was a lie, I didn't want to. I didn't want
to stop, wanted more, everything I could get. Opening my mouth, I slid an
arm around his shoulder and let him push me back on the coffee table's firm
surface. He settled over me, pressing my legs apart, sharing my sharply
indrawn breath at the feel of him pressed into my body, and his tongue slid
between my open lips, tracing the line of my teeth, exploring inside, his
hand in my hair tilting my head further.
My first real kiss. Cody, the boy I almost killed, with silk for Bobby and
Remy, but this--this was my first kiss. This was the one I wanted to
remember, wanted to burn into my mind. How he tasted and smelled, how he
filled my mouth and wrapped his tongue around mine. Warm and wet and heady
and slick, mapping my mouth with every stroke.
I drew my foot around his knee and pushed myself down against him, grinding
through two pairs of jeans, and felt the instant response in the soft growl
into my mouth I couldn't help but echo.
He was right--it was all over me. And he was right too--I'd never moved
on, not completely.
He pulled back abruptly, staring down at me, and I could hear my own harsh
breathing as I ran my fingers through his hair, down to scratch lightly at
the back of his neck when his tongue traced the line of my jaw.
"Marie, baby," he whispered against my ear, biting sharply into the skin
just below, and I stopped breathing. His free hand trailed up my side from
my hip to my breast, thumb brushing the nipple, bringing my entire body
alight--he wanted me, he wanted me, knowing it and having it were so
different, so good, I shut my eyes and let my body take over, finding the
buttons of his shirt, fingers shaking when he moved to my throat.
"God, Logan--" I whispered, and his hands were rough, lifting himself so
he could take the edge of my shirt, pulling it up, and I half-rose so he
could pull it over my head. Then he kissed me again, hands roughly cupping
my breasts--no scarf, nothing between us, nothing, I couldn't get over
that, the feel, the taste, the scents that seemed suddenly so vivid,
brilliant, like colors I could feel. Nothing like this, nothing could
be--I dug my fingers into his back and pulled him closer, the warm skin of
his chest against mine through the opening of his shirt and my bra,
tightening a leg around his. "Please--" I wanted my gloves off, I wanted
to feel all that skin, that body, I wanted to trace it with my bare flesh
and mark it, wanted to see what I could make him feel, how he could make me
feel. Nothing had prepared me for this.
He lowered me back on the table, supporting himself with both hands,
panting softly, trying to bring himself under control. But why--
"Who's touching you?"
"What do you want, Marie? Who do you want?"
My hands froze, and I stared up into the hazel eyes--and I didn't have an
answer. For a second, we looked at each other, then he sat up, crouching
on the balls of his feet, pulling me up into his lap, and I felt him hard
against me, pressing up. I couldn't stop the gasp, the soft moan and I
rocked myself into him, feeling his response in the tightness of his body,
the bunching of the muscles under my hands. His fingers twisted at my
throat and pulled--and I saw the tags tangled between his fingers, pulling
me so close our lips were a breath apart.
"Who are you thinking about?"
"You," I whispered.
"Which one? The one who trained you and cared for you and taught you to
smoke that cigar? Or me?" I wanted to turn my head away, but the chain
bit into my neck, forced me to keep that burning gaze. He'd never been
less than perfectly honest with himself, and he demanded that from others,
always had. "Look at me, Marie. I'm not him. I've done things he hasn't.
I haven't done anything for you--I didn't save your life on the Statue."
"You wanted to." I didn't want to examine this, didn't want to make it
into an issue, think about what I wanted--because I didn't know. Oh God, I
didn't know for sure.
"Does that matter? Here and now?" A pause. "You don't want me, Marie.
You want him." With a gentle push, I was seated on the coffee table and he
was standing up--he couldn't look at me. I clasped my trembling hands and
he crouched again, reaching for my hair, ruffling it lightly, like my Logan
had so many times before, but the hazel eyes avoided mine. "Go to bed,
Marie." Then he stood up and grabbed his jacket from the chair, going to
the door. As I heard it close and lock behind him, I slowly found my feet,
walking into the bedroom and pausing at the door, my body still aroused, my
mind utterly in shock.
I ignored the lights, tripping over my discarded boots and stumbling
blindly into the bathroom, flipping on the switch and staring at myself in
the mirror. Lips swollen, rashes of red across my neck, and the bright
metal of the collar circling my throat. The darkening bruise beneath my
ear, and I pushed my hair back, seeing the indents of his teeth in my skin.
I didn't look much like Rogue anymore. Not any girl I'd ever been.
"What do you want?" I asked, reaching out to tap the glass, almost as if I
expected an answer. I wasn't staying here--I was going home, my home, the
place I grew up, with my family and friends and their support and love and
see Logan smile at me over breakfast and tell me my hand-to-hand sucked
because I depended too much on my strength.
I'd always depended on my strength--the strength to walk away from a
hopeless crush, a hopeless lover, a hopeless battle. Bobby had called me
cold once, when I was able to keep fighting with my allies falling all
around me, when I was able to tune out everything else around me and get
the job done. I depended on my strength, my speed, my reflexes, my
training, my invulnerability.
I wasn't as strong as I'd thought. I couldn't walk away from home, though
Hank had as good as said it was hopeless. I'd never walked away from my
feelings for Logan.
And I couldn't walk away from what I felt for the man that had just left
the apartment--no lie I could tell myself would convince me that making
love to him would just be a substitute for having the man I loved with all
my soul. This was just as real, just as powerful, and a thousand times
Sinking into the cool tile floor, I shut my eyes and buried my head in my
hands, tears burning behind my closed eyelids.
God, it was always the hopeless that made me stop walking.
* * * * *
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