Fic: The Very Sickness of My Heart: 2/2: R (Logan, Rogue, others)
- Disclaimers etc. in Part 1
/ / indicates italics
// // indicates an excerpt from Rogue's journal
* * indicates other people in Rogue's head talking to her
The Very Sickness of My Heart
Logan loved Rogue and did his best to protect her, but he'd been unable to do so the night she killed Carol.
Carol was one of the few people with whom he'd become close over the seventeen years of his remembered life, an ex-lover who sometimes joined the X-Men on their missions, her invulnerability, strength and flight always an appreciated weapon in their war with the Brotherhood and the Friends of Humanity.
But Carol didn't know that Rogue had taken to roaming the halls at night, a sometime somnambulist, dressed in black and blending with the long shadows in the dark corridors. No one was ever sure if she was truly asleep when they'd find her, poised at the end of the hall, leaning out an open window, curtains floating on the breeze, regardless of the weather.
So, Carol made the costly mistake of trying to sneak into Logan's room while Rogue patrolled the halls in a strange, narcotized state halfway between waking and sleeping.
Rogue thought she was protecting Logan. She told him later she'd thought Carol was from the government, come to take him away to be tortured again. "But no one's gonna getcha while I'm around, sugar," she assured him gravely. He wanted to weep, a strange and new feeling that only she ever evoked, and one that would become all too familiar in the years to come.
That's what made it so hard for him to bear -- that she would ever feel it was her responsibility to protect him, when all he really wanted to do was take care of her.
The damage was done before anyone could react.
Jean and the Professor woke to the anguished psychic screams of both women, as all of Carol's essence drained into Rogue's already disturbed mind.
By the time Logan arrived on the scene, Carol was dead and Rogue was hovering near the ceiling, too terrified and bewildered to come down.
"'Oh, woe is me,'" she quoted through the sobs that wracked her body. "'To have seen what I have seen, see what I see.'"
Finally, working together, Jean and Xavier were able to calm the girl down and remove her to an isolation chamber, where they slowly tried to piece her broken psyche back together.
Logan still blamed himself, though the others had exonerated him long ago.
*They hate you,* Carol whispered. *You killed me, and they hate you.*
Carol drowned out Logan, who tried to give comfort, but she roused Erik, who sensed a chance to wreak havoc on his beloved enemy. Erik chimed in whenever Carol poured her venom into Rogue's ear, forcing recollections of humiliations he'd suffered at the hands of long-dead oppressors. He told Rogue that's what the X-Men had in store for her, as payback for killing one of their own.
David -- long-dormant, driven back by Logan's fierce determination to protect Rogue, even in the recesses of her mind -- found his voice again, adding chants of *Kill the mutie freak!* to the cacophony in Rogue's head.
For many months she fought, desperately trying to break free of the stranglehold Carol had on her mind. Carol had easily ferreted out her weaknesses -- her twinned desires to be like Jean and be loved by Logan -- and used them mercilessly to torment her. *He'll never love you. He loved me and you killed me. He can never touch you, or you'll kill him, too.*
Finally, in an effort that sapped Xavier's strength for weeks afterward, Carol was sealed off, walled into a tiny white room in the deepest recesses of Rogue's mind. Erik and David, too, were banished, leaving the ghost of Logan to help guide Rogue back to some semblance of sanity.
Pale and weak, she returned to the land of the living after almost a year in exile in the pit of her own mind.
Once again, their kindness poured over her, a balm to her lacerated soul -- Scott's approval, Jean's soft words, Xavier's smile, and most of all, Logan's warm, strong hands upon her shoulders, anchoring her to reality.
As Rogue gained strength, she once again began to work with the Professor to control her skin, as well as the new powers she'd gained from Carol.
She began hearing the whispers again soon after, about how she was broken and would never be fixed, never be an X-Man, never have Logan's love.
She watched as Jean arranged her wedding and it was this joyous event that brought the plan, fully-formed, to the forefront of Rogue's addled brain.
"Scooter's really whipped to put up with all this wedding bullshit," Logan muttered one night, teasing Jean as she pored over fabric swatches and china patterns.
Perhaps Rogue stood downwind, or her scent was so familiar to him that it didn't register, but Logan was unaware of her presence outside the room where he lounged with Jean.
"Maybe it will be your turn someday," Jean replied. "You might even enjoy it, with the right person."
Logan's eyes darkened and his face fell. "I'll never be that lucky," he growled. "The one I want--" he broke off, determined not to dwell on what might have been.
Jean reached over and clasped his hand gently. "I'm so sorry. I wish things were different."
Logan shook his head. "It's not your fault, Jeannie. We all have to play the hand we're dealt."
Rogue sniffled at his fatalism, and the pain of his confession of love for another woman. All of Carol's whispered venom came back, and this time, Rogue couldn't fight it. She believed deep down inside that she was unlovable, that was why she was untouchable. She was poisonous as a warning, to keep people away, because she killed everything she touched, everything she loved.
She had no way of pushing those thoughts into the little white room where Carol had been sent, because *she* was thinking them, not any of the others in her head.
She spent more and more time writing in her journal, a signal to the others that things had taken a turn for the worse, if they'd only known. But they respected her privacy, her desire to have control of her thoughts, and never asked to see the contents of the notebook that accompanied her everywhere.
//Wedding bells and flowers in her hair.
They don't want me at the wedding. I'm a reminder that we're not normal. We're all freaks, even if *she* pretends she's not. She's so fake, so friendly, but she's just hurtful. She's hurting him. Can't she see how much she's hurting him? The look in his eyes, oh, he's so sad all the time and he was never sad before, and it's all because of HER.
I HATE HER.
If he leaves because of her, I'm going to snap her pretty little neck and watch the light die in her eyes.
They can't touch me. I'm stronger, faster, and I've been touched by a god.
Not the pathetic mewling god my mother told me about growing up.
No, I've been handpicked by Dionysus. They think I'm mad, but my madness is that of a holy Bacchante.
I will go to the mountains and celebrate my lord's return, for I am his chosen bride. That is why no man can touch me without dying. I am Semele and I am sacred.
No. No. No.
I'm Marie. I'm Rogue.
I love Jean. I love Logan. I love the Professor and everything they've done for me. They've given me a home.
I'm going to make them love me. Love *ME* the way they love her.
I'll be everything they want, everything they need. I'll be the best goddamn thing they've ever seen.
I will push her aside and claim my rightful place.
I have been cleansed through the fires of pain and death and risen again. And I will become her. I will become the woman Logan loves. I will.
The wedding approached and Rogue grew edgier, waiting for the right time to strike.
She noticed how tense Logan became whenever others mentioned the wedding -- he was almost as agitated as she -- until he finally forbade everyone from mentioning it in his presence.
Even so, it's possible the whole thing could have been prevented if they had all been a little more vigilant, a little less sure they had everything under control.
Rogue lived up to her name; she was the one variable they'd forgotten to take into consideration. They even knew about her eavesdropping habit, and her way of discovering things they'd prefer she didn't know. But in their arrogance, they believed themselves a match for her, and reckoned without the slyness she'd developed in her time as a phantom, flitting through their lives like a dark cloud that never seemed to move in from the horizon, a storm that never seemed to break.
Afterward, her accusations of blame tortured them, because her words held the tiniest kernel of truth, and really, at first, none of them was quite sure who was speaking.
She was pressed up against the side of the open window that looked into Xavier's office. It was a beautiful June evening. She'd been out chasing fireflies when she'd heard Logan's rumble, along with Xavier's more cultured tones. She sidled up to the house, eager for more secrets. The secrets sometimes hurt, but she reveled in the knowledge they didn't want her to have. Knowing secrets gave her some measure of power, some control, when everything else in her life seemed to be slipping from her grasp.
"Do you think it's a good idea?" Logan asked. She couldn't identify the strange note in his voice -- she had never heard him sound so uncertain.
"Yes," Xavier replied. "I fear the effect of the wedding -- this tension you all feel -- It's unbalancing everyone. It's best if you go. You are always welcome here, Logan, but all of us agreed that your leaving is best."
"Scott and I convinced her that there is nothing more she can do. Don't reopen the subject with her, Logan. It will only hurt you both."
Logan grunted and Rogue could hear him getting up to leave the room. She rushed away, but he saw her and tracked her down, cursing.
He'd wanted to present the idea to her as a /fait accompli/, but now, he'd have to speak with her about it before all his preparations were made.
He tracked her to the gazebo, a favorite haunt of hers. And haunt was the right word, he thought. In her black clothes, with her dark hair eyes, only the streaks in her hair and the alabaster of her skin reflecting light, she seemed like a ghost or some sort of dark faerie sprung from the night.
She played with her gloves nervously, and he found himself at a loss for words, just staring into her deep, wounded eyes, inhaling her scent.
"I'm going away for a bit," he said abruptly. "I've got some business to take care of, but I'll be back."
"It's because of the wedding, isn't it?" she asked, her voice barely rising above a whisper. She hardly spoke these days, flitting through the halls like a phantom.
He nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, it is. But don't you worry about it. I'll be back," he repeated, trying to impress that upon her. He wasn't sure anymore how much she understood or remembered whenever they spoke. The Professor was right, he realized. Taking her away from here was probably the best thing for all of them.
She mimicked his nod, but knew she'd have to act quickly, do it before he left her for good.
"You all right, kid?" he asked, and he almost convinced her that he cared.
"Yeah," she said, "just fine."
She slipped down to the lab a little later, hiding in a dark corner and biding her time, like a spider waiting for a fly.
With the wedding -- and the requisite two-week honeymoon -- fast approaching, Jean spent a good deal of each night in her office, making sure she was as caught up as possible. Not only did she have her research to worry about, but as the doctor at a school with many accident-prone children, there were often charts to update and tests to process. She knew she needed an assistant, but just hadn't had time to train one of the likely students or hire someone from town to come in part-time.
Rogue watched and waited, and when Jean took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes, Rogue sprung.
Hands bared, eyes wild, with preternatural delicacy, strange in one so strong, she latched onto Jean's neck with one hand and gently slipped the other around her mouth, cutting off her scream. Rogue urged the pull to begin, for the first time in her life wanting that connection. She used Jean's own telepathy against her, preventing her from crying out psychically.
Both women sank to the floor as Rogue absorbed the last of Jean's life.
Scott was startled out of sleep by the sudden awareness of a change in his link with Jean -- and a third presence that had never been there before.
He rushed down to the lab and found them. The women looked like some obscene pieta, Rogue cradling Jean in her lap, sobbing.
"No!" Scott screamed, waking the Professor, Logan and Storm.
Rogue smiled at her -- no, Jean's -- fianc�. "Don't you love me, Scott?" she asked in a voice that was not her own.
When the others appeared, she repeated the question, and sobbed in frustration and anger as, one by one, they turned away in horror.
Rogue lives in a small room just beneath the attic, now.
Jean's telepathy was too much for her -- the voices overwhelmed her into catatonia, and broke her completely. She cannot control it, nor her skin, so Xavier and Logan decided it was too dangerous to institutionalize her; she needs Xavier's presence to keep her from invading others' minds with her madness, and to keep them from invading hers.
She is a legend among the new students, a bogeyman, the crazy lady only a few of them have seen, on warm spring days when Logan slips her out of her room while Scott is busy teaching.
She has occasional lucid days, asking Logan when he's taking her to Alaska, and what it will be like when they get there. Logan tells her all about the world she'll never get to see. He keeps his voice steady and stares blindly out at the horizon during these monologues, never letting his own pain show.
She ties him to this place. He sometimes wishes he'd never seen it, never met her.
Most of all, he wonders what he could have done to stop it from happening -- all of it... If he'd taken her with him that first time. If he'd never left at all. If he'd never come back.
They sit in the drowsy afternoon shade and when the sun dips below the horizon, he takes her back to her little room, decorated in soft shades of blue, accented with white eyelet lace.
She says the same thing every day, just before he leaves her.
"Love me, Logan. Love me."
He, who has never cried a tear that he can recall, invariably feels his eyes burn at her words, even as he finds himself incapable of giving her the answer she desires. He couldn't say it when it would have meant something, and to tell her now would be a mockery of all his impossible hopes.
He leaves, and, as he does every evening, he leans on the door after it's closed and whispers, "I do, Marie. I do."
The title comes from "Hamlet," as Laertes laments over his father's death and sister's madness. Rogue's quote is also from "Hamlet," from Ophelia, as she laments Hamlet's apparent madness.
All the mythological references can be found in Bulfinch's or Edith Hamilton, or at the Encyclopedia Mythica at http://www.pantheon.org/mythica - one of my personal favorite sites on the web.
The Muse's Fool: http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool
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