Title: Who You Are
Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@...
Summary: Logan and Rogue discuss identity issues. Directly follows "'Tis a Pity She's a Whore"
Series: Off the Corner #6
Rating: R - 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 you've already got my stuff, sure. If not, please ask. I'll say yes.
Feedback: Is great for the complexion, both yours and mine.
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete, Dot, and Meg. Especially Dot, who let me fictionalize her. <g>
< > indicates thoughts
Who You Are
After a few minutes on the road, Rogue noticed they were driving west, not south. Not back to Manhattan.
Drawing a deep breath, she said, "When are we heading back into the city?"
He shot her a quick glance, gesturing with the stub of his cigar. "We're not."
<We're not. Ohhh-kay.> "I need my stuff."
"My *stuff*. My clothes, books, CDs. You know -- stuff."
"I'll get you new stuff."
She frowned. "There's no need. I'll call Chyna and she can pack--"
"I said no."
Silence for a few minutes.
She tried a different tack. "I paid for that stuff. I worked *hard* to pay for it. I--" The glare he turned on her was fierce. <Uh oh.>
"I *said* I'll buy you everything you want, Marie," he growled.
"That's a waste of money."
"I got lots."
"Look," he snapped, "why do you even *want* shit that reminds you of, of -- *that*?"
She sucked in some air, preparing herself for what was going to be an argument, perhaps even *the* argument that ended this little fantasy in which she'd found herself living.
"That's who I *am*, Logan."
He pulled over abruptly, throwing the car into park and grabbing her shoulders. "No, it ain't." His hazel eyes were dark, resolute. And something else she couldn't pin down, though it looked, strangely enough, like fear. "I promised I'd take care of you, darlin', and part of that is buying you things. Pretty things, anything you want."
"Then I'm still a whore, Logan! Only, now I'm *your* whore."
That won her another growl. His hands dropped from her shoulders as if he'd been burned. "No, Marie. No."
"Is 'no' all you can say, Logan?" she said, her attempt at teasing not at all hiding her anger.
"No." A weak grin.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, you did -- *that* -- for a while, but it ain't who you *are*, Marie. Don't you see that? You can be -- you *are* -- so much more than that." He cupped her cheek in his gloved hand, slid his thumb along her lower lip. "That was the whole point of you comin' with me, darlin'. So you never have to turn tricks again. I don't want anything that reminds you of that."
"You don't want anything that reminds *you* of that, you mean," she shot back. "I know who I am, Logan. Do you?"
"I'm Marie, the southern girl who loves snow. I'm you and Erik and David and Jean and Scott. All of that together makes me Rogue, the mutant with poison skin, who can kill with a touch. I've been a daughter, a student, a waitress, a hooker. Never a victim. All of that has made me what -- who I am. I'm a survivor, Logan. *That's* who I am."
"Nice speech, baby. How long you been rehearsin' it?"
She shook her head and reached for the door handle. "It's been fun, Logan."
"What the fuck--"
"Look -- you have to let me have some say in my life, okay? You're not God Almighty, and if that's what you want, then you've got the wrong girl. You freed me from one pimp; I don't need another."
A frustrated growl escaped him and her face softened a little. "I don't wanna be your pimp, Marie. I wanna be your lover. There's a difference, you know."
"Well, act like *you* know, dammit."
"Fine," he said, starting the car and pulling back out onto the road. "Call your little friend. We'll get your shit if it means that much to you. But let's get it straight right now -- I *am* gonna take care of you. I made you a promise, and I'm gonna keep it. So don't think that you need to worry about stuff like clothes or books or food. I'll handle all that while you get your head together, while you get back on your feet and decide what to do. College -- whatever -- it's yours when you want it."
"I don't," she started, then stopped, taking a deep breath. "I don't understand. Why? Why are you doing this?"
"You got me up there?" he asked, brushing her temple with a forefinger. She nodded. He raised an eyebrow and she blushed.
"It's not just sex, Marie. You and me -- we're in this together, now, for however long you wanna stay with me."
He shot her another look. "You don't sound convinced."
"I -- " She blew out a gust of air, annoyed, though with herself or him she wasn't sure. "Where we going?"
"To pick up your stuff, that you can't seem to live without, then west. I got a place outside of Denver, we can stay there for a while if you want." He concentrated on driving for a few minutes, since traffic was getting heavy. She watched him, but said nothing. "Or do you want to stay here, in New York?"
Again that uncertain tone she found so endearing. "No. I don't have fond memories of this place. I'll be happy to see the back of it."
"Good. I mean--"
One side of her mouth quirked in a half-grin. "I know. So, what about you? You turning over a new leaf, too?"
He looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, you know -- I'm quitting the corner, are you quitting -- whatever it is that you do?" She tried unsuccessfully to block the memories she'd called up earlier from flashing before her eyes again.
He shot her another unreadable look. "No."
"Pretty much, yeah."
"You don't want to talk about it."
A sharp bark of laughter. "Not really, no. I ain't much for heart-to-hearts, kid."
"You're in my head."
She saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed hard. "You know what I do, then."
"Not, not really."
"I kill people."
"For a living?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"And it doesn't, I don't know, bother you?"
"Most of 'em needed killin', Marie. The fact that I made some money on the deal was a bonus."
"So you only kill bad guys?"
He snorted. "It's not that simple." He ran a hand through his already wild hair. "I'm not, I'm not a good guy. Not like Xavier's X-Men. I'm not out there saving the planet. People who need a certain type of work done--"
"Wetwork," she interrupted, pulling the term out of memory, though she wasn't sure if it was hers or his.
A chuckle. "Yeah. Wetwork. They get hold of me, tell me who the target is, how much they're willing to pay, and how they want it done. Then, I decide if the money's worth the risk. I'm the best there is at what I do, darlin', but what I do isn't very nice."
"How do they get hold of you?" This was a whole different level than she was used to. Nellie had put hits out on some of his dealers who habitually came up short, but that was chump change -- five hundred dollars here, a thousand there, for corner boys looking to make a rep for themselves.
"There are ways."
"But what if you're not there. I mean, you've been in New York. I haven't seen you make a phone call since we've been together--"
"I have a secretary." He seemed embarrassed by the fact. "Dottie Stephens. She handles all that stuff, makes my hotel reservations, picks up my dry cleaning -- you know."
"Is she your girlfriend?"
Another chuckle. "God, no. You think *I'm* scary? Dottie makes me look like a big ol' pussycat. She's a terror of a woman. Been married close to twenty years, I think, and her husband's got to be the bravest man I ever met."
"And she doesn't have a problem with -- killing people."
"She doesn't -- she doesn't really know that's what I do. I mean, she does, I guess, but we never discuss it. She orders the ammo and the supplies, and sends me off with a smile."
"Huh." Another long stretch of silence, then, "So you don't need a secretary, but how about a partner? You could train me--"
"No fucking way in hell, Marie."
"It's just an idea, Logan. God, you don't have to jump down my throat."
"It's, it's complicated, darlin'. I don't want you doin' anything dangerous. I'll train you to defend yourself, sure. I mean, if you had some self-defense knowledge, that little prick wouldn't have been a problem for you this afternoon. You could have kicked his ass into next week before I even got there." He nodded, as if coming to a decision. "Definitely gonna make sure you get some hand-to-hand training, and maybe some weapons stuff, too. If I'm not around--"
"See, right there -- if I were your partner, I could go with you on trips and we could be together."
"It ain't like the movies, Marie. It's not glamorous or anything. It's a lot of fucking waiting around, staring through a gun-sight. Then getting on a plane or a train and getting the hell out of dodge, like nothing happened. It's not glamorous," he repeated, under his breath.
"But you do it anyway."
"It's who I am. It's what I do."
"It doesn't have to be, Logan. What about all that stuff you just said to me? About not being defined by what I did to survive? You're the same."
He shook his head. "No, I'm not." He shot another glance her way. "This is what they *made* me for, Marie. I don't know much about who I was before the lab, but when I woke up, I already *knew* this shit -- I didn't learn it along the way.
"The people who found me -- they worked for the government. They didn't know me, but they knew -- they knew *about* me. About what I could do. Had done in the past."
"The government? You work for the government?" she asked, more shocked by that revelation than by anything else he'd said.
He laughed grimly. "No. Not anymore. They have to pay, just like everyone else. I don't owe anybody anything. It's just me. And now you."
"But you're more than just your job, sugar. You're a good man--"
He held up a hand. "Don't go building illusions, Marie. I am what I am. I've spent the past fifteen years as an angel of death. I don't sleep too well at night, but that's the price I've paid. I don't want you getting involved in any of that.
"I've got a lot of money put away. Gonna take a vacation, get you settled in. Then we'll see what comes up. We're gonna take it slow, kid. I don't want you thinkin' you made a bad decision. You can leave whenever you want. But I'll always be around to take care of you, even if this-- even if this doesn't work out."
"I made a promise, Marie. I don't do that often, but when I do, I keep it. You're mine now." She shivered at that, not-quite-fear mingling with, strangely enough, desire. He was serious about everything he was saying. She could hear vague echoes of it in her head.
"But *why*? Why even make the promise?"
He said nothing, pulling over to the side of the road again, so he could turn to face her without putting them in danger.
His hands grasped her shoulders again; he leaned in, his eyes dark and hot, holding her captive, even if his hands hadn't.
"Do you trust me?"
"Do you trust me?" he repeated, his voice urgent, almost desperate, pleading.
She nodded. "Y-yes. With my life."
He nodded and moved one hand to push her hair back behind her ear, then cupped her chin. "Look, this is new for me, okay? I've never, I don't *do* the relationship thing. I'm in, I'm out, I'm gone. But you -- you make me want to live, and I *like* that. I haven't ever felt that, not that I can remember."
"Me, neither," she whispered, stroking his cheek gently. "I just -- you have to let me have some control, Logan. Please."
He nodded. "I know. Whatever you need. Just, just tell me when I'm being a dick, all right?" He gave that adorable half-grin again. "Sometimes you might have to yell a little, but I usually get the point."
"Oh, Logan." She stroked her thumb over his lips. "We can do this." He leaned in for another kiss, pressed to her cheek through her hair, and spent a long moment just inhaling her scent, mingled with his.
He pulled back out onto the road a second time, and she picked up the cell phone and dialed. "Hey, Chyna, it's Rogue. Yeah. I'm coming by to pick up my stuff. Can you pack it up for me? Thanks."
The Muse's Fool: http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool
Make a difference, help support the relief efforts in the U.S.