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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 4: MA: 1/1: Rogue

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  • Jenn
    Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 4: The Legend Author: jenn (jenn@thegateway.net) Codes: Rogue, all Rating: MA Summary: One Rogue. Two timelines. Three
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2001
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      Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 4: The Legend
      Author: jenn (jenn@...)
      Codes: Rogue, all
      Rating: MA
      Summary: One Rogue. Two timelines. Three personalities. Rogue discovers
      who she is, could have been, and everything she can become.
      Author Notes: see headers for Part I, II, III, and IV. Quick thanks to
      Shana for the beta and Victoria for the quote. You have a gift, chica.

      Earlier parts can be found at www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis

      *****

      Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced
      to take the lie as his principle.
      --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

      *****

      Three years earlier


      Sometimes. Just sometimes, Scott would wake and the camp would surround
      him again with the thick odors of unwashed bodies and unburied waste. The
      filthy-dirt floor of the temporary shack inside the main complex shifted
      beneath his body, darkness all around him, the bandage he'd made from the
      ragged remainder of someone's shirt wrapped securely around the unhealed
      wounds from the last rounds of experiments.

      Just from the last. There'd be more, when they figured out something new
      from the Summers genetic code or from the brain tissue they'd extracted
      that'd stolen some of his memory. They hadn't cut deep enough yet to
      disrupt cognitive ability--but then, they had time. As long as he lived.

      And sometimes, just sometimes, he'd wake from the touch of a hand and
      attack without thought, because it was the one thing, the only thing, he
      knew. They never took him willingly, no matter how stupid it was to fight
      four, six, ten guards, all fit and healthy and far more ready for combat
      than he was. He'd never go on his own feet, never let them have that much,
      never let them believe that he would ever resign himself to this. It was
      the one thing, the only thing, that he kept, when they'd taken everything
      else. Scott Summers didn't break. Ever.

      Amsterdam was hot and sticky with summer, the humidity high even in the
      expensive, air-conditioned hotel suite with black-market liquor prominently
      displayed on the sideboard. Pulling at the collar of his shirt, he glanced
      out the window, watching the quiet residents pass their day in almost
      normal pursuits, things he could remember once doing so long ago that maybe
      those memories were simply faded, not removed. Or maybe they'd never
      existed to begin with--Scott couldn't imagine ever being comfortable
      walking down the street, exposed to any gaze, any attack, any betrayal.

      Leaning back against the wall by the window, the door fixed in his
      peripheral vision, he watched Logan perform his self-imposed search
      duties--no matter that the room had been examined down to the floor beneath
      the carpet at least twice before they'd set foot in Amsterdam. Both Erik
      and Logan had sent hand-picked teams to study the suite, the hotel, and the
      landing area inch by inch. Of course, Logan trusted no one and nothing to
      be as thorough as he was himself. That was a given. Scott Summers, leader
      of the X-Men, was too valuable to risk even in the little things.

      Scott was almost used to Logan's almost habitual paranoia, barely blinked
      as the bed was unmade, the chair cushions disassembled, and the rugs
      removed and left outside for Remy to deal with. He'd seen it before--in
      every compromised area, this ritual would be performed with painfully
      meticulous attention. In a way Scott would never, ever admit, it gave life
      a certain amount of predictability. Remy would always hit on a woman
      within five minutes in any given location, Logan would always be paranoid,
      and Scott would be quiet and enjoy the show.

      "You and my mother would get along well," Scott told him, shifting against
      the wall. He got a half-hearted grunt in response, before Logan
      straightened, shaking his head sharply as he took one last view of the
      room. Well, maybe Logan was gaining faith in his own security team--this
      search was at least three minutes shorter than normal. "Would you like
      to walk me to the bathroom, too? In case of a hostile toilet?"

      "You bitch a lot, you know that, Summers?" Logan gave the room another
      glance, then nodded to himself. "All clear. How long?"

      Scott checked his watch and pushed himself away from the wall. Inactivity
      made him twitchy, always had.

      "Ten minutes."

      Logan nodded slowly and pulled out a reassembled desk chair, dropping into
      it and taking a breath.

      "He doesn't trust the cities we have under our control," Logan observed.
      "Rhode Island would have been just as secure and a hell of a lot more
      convenient."

      "Amsterdam was reclassified as a mutant safe zone well before we took over
      Rhode Island."

      Logan gave him a sardonic glance that gave his opinion of that entire
      situation. Which was, to wit, Erik Lensherr didn't trust them any more
      than they trusted him, despite the aid and the sanctuary to survivors.
      Some scars were slow in healing.

      "Neutral ground, you mean. Human and mutant." Logan had problems with
      that, in terms of basic security. Amsterdam was literally a neutral
      zone--mutant-friendly human families had settled here as well as mutants
      and neutrals alike, but there was too high a price on Scott's head for
      Logan to feel comfortable even with supposed sympathizers and neutrals.
      Rhode Island had two things going for it--it was relatively isolated from
      the mainland, and it was under total mutant control. Bobby and Remy had
      cleared it of all humans, moving them into the first of the east coast
      internment camps in Georgia. A temporary measure which both Scott and
      Logan had reluctantly agreed with, but if Scott had anything to say about
      it, the internment camps would be burned and the ground salted as soon as
      the war ended. Just thinking about them gave Scott a headache, and he
      rubbed his temples lightly before turning to glance at the door. Logan
      caught the look.

      "Remy and Sam are out there." Probably bored out of their minds or
      flirting with the staff. They'd been at the hotel for almost two hours
      with nothing to do but stand in the hall and look vaguely threatening.
      Which, admittedly, both were very good at, but still.

      Scott nodded and pulled his jacket off, dropping it on the edge of the
      ornate, four-poster bed. Trust Erik to pick out the gaudiest hotel in the
      damn city. Catching his reflection in the mirror, he winced. Still too
      thin, almost emaciated, but the face that looked back at him was more
      familiar. Hank and Jean had done wonders with the scars. Scott kept his
      hair cropped short in war conditions--practical, in the life they led right
      now--but the scar on the back of his head was a vivid reminder to everyone
      that saw it. Almost unconsciously, he reached up to rub the thickened
      tissue, jerking away at the first touch.

      "He should have arrived by now."

      "He doesn't trust us."

      "And that's a pretty obvious statement even for you, Scooter."

      Scott began to answer, but the touch deep in his mind took the words. His
      wife slipped into his mind, sliding through on cool fingers of thought.
      She was awake, and apparently in Cerebro. Catching Logan's gaze, he saw
      the other man shudder, almost imperceptibly, then Logan shook his head
      quickly, hazel eyes meeting his with the lightest trace of embarrassment.

      "Still getting used to it."

      Scott grinned. "She'll get better at it."

      Scott heard Jean's silent laugh echo gently in his mind.

      "At least I'm conscious," Logan answered easily, and Scott couldn't help
      the grin, remembering Logan's shock the first time Jean had initiated the
      link. He was saving that memory back for a day when his sense of humor
      returned for more than brief appearances. "Much longer, we leave."

      Scott didn't want to have this argument again, and especially not today.
      Logan thought he was irreplaceable. He could very well be right, but it
      wasn't a comfortable knowledge.

      Jean silently reinforced Logan's statement. Scott sometimes wondered if
      Logan had agreed to the link simply to have back-up from Jean whenever
      possible, not just for the benefit of being able to finally start splitting
      up their forces. Shaking his head, he pulled out a reassembled chair and
      Logan went to the door, knocking once. Remy opened it, and they carried on
      a short conversation before he closed it again, a ghost of a smile turning
      up his lips. Scott knew that smile very well, almost didn't need to ask.

      "Remy said Erik's plane just landed. Ten minutes or less."

      Scott tilted his head, seeing something flare briefly in Logan's eyes.

      "Who's with him?"

      "Mystique and Toad, couple others."

      That explained it. Scott leaned back, taking a breath. He could guess the
      direction of Logan's thoughts already and almost smiled himself.
      Familiarity, routine, security, loyalty, vengeance, synonyms for Logan.
      Some things never changed.

      "Toad?"

      "Yeah."

      "Here?"

      Logan shrugged, staring at the far wall.

      "No place better."

      "Be careful."

      Logan grinned, a baring of his teeth that had nothing to do with humor.

      "Always."

      Scott nodded, satisfied. Vaguely, he felt he should say something, maybe
      tell him not to do it, except it really wouldn't stop Logan, and Scott
      really didn't care enough to make the effort.

      "I sent Lensherr a message about Victor's death," Scott said slowly,
      watching Logan's face. "He didn't seem suspicious."

      "We all have our hobbies, Summers. I'm better at mine than most." Scott
      half-turned at the sound of the desk drawer open to watch Logan going
      methodically through it--this time not looking for threat. After a few
      minutes, he shut the drawers, leaning back without any change of
      expression, but Scott knew what he'd been looking for, and sighed to
      himself. Her face was one Scott knew as well as his own by now--dark eyes
      and the beginnings of a smile curving soft childish lips. With the link
      active, Scott's fingers twitched a little, rubbing absently over his jeans
      to remove the nonexistent traces of charcoal and lead.

      Jean had called it coping.

      God, Jean... Jean had changed too, and Scott found himself reaching out
      through the link, needing to feel her again, even this very different woman
      than the one he'd married--God, three years before? That was all?
      Instantly, she was with him, so different, but still his Jean. God, so
      different than the link had ever been before, the rich flow of her power
      and personality over him. From flatline catatonia to this.

      --Shh. Don't worry so much.--

      He let out a breath at the feel of her, soothing, grounding, reminding him
      what he was doing here in the first place.

      :::When are you returning from Genosha?:::

      :::As soon as Piotr and Kitty are certain they can rebuild Cerebro, my
      love. They've been working on the blueprints for several days. It should
      be soon. Perhaps a week.:::

      Scott nodded, letting the link fade a little before building up his
      personal shields again, giving him the space he needed in his mind. She'd
      returned to America twice since he'd sent her to Genosha for post-camp
      care--unable to accompany her himself, he'd almost driven himself crazy,
      unable to feel her mind, and communications so spotty that it'd been weeks
      between contact. With Betsy, she'd returned once Cerebro was almost
      complete at Genosha, and he'd been--

      --stunned when he felt her, when she reactivated the link between them and
      everything flared to painful life before she could control it, he knew
      everything, *everything*.

      He didn't remember much of that week after. But he remembered how they
      touched her body and shattered her mind and bruised her soul.

      Shutting his eyes, Scott controlled the memories, not wanting her or Logan
      to feel it, knowing the other man would read it in his face. Taking a
      breath, he forced the memories back, the things done to her and forced into
      her and ripped through her. Things that hurt to think about, that he
      hadn't been in time, made him want to watch Atlanta burn again. And enjoy
      it just a little more.

      One with Logan, he supposed idly, in the need for revenge. He couldn't
      pretend to himself any longer that he just wanted his freedom and the
      freedom of his people. It was more, and he'd gone beyond the restrictions
      of a just war more times than his conscience could easily handle.

      But consciences were expensive things, and he'd found over time, he simply
      could no longer afford one.

      A soft, precise knock alerted them both and Scott straightened, readying
      himself for this first meeting since Daytona. The door opened quietly and
      he turned, watching Erik Lensherr and Raven come in--Raven in her
      promotional form of Senator Kelley, as usual, though she discarded it as
      soon as the door was shut and arranged herself like a cat in an armchair by
      the door, eyes flickering to Logan briefly for possible threat.

      And maybe Scott was the only one that saw the almost invisible flicker in
      the hazel eyes that stared back at her, the way they took the measure of
      the other woman in a quick, barely-visible glance before the lashes hid
      whatever went within and Logan let his chair down, turning his full
      attention on Scott. He'd had seen that look before once, knew what it
      meant even if Erik didn't, if Raven didn't. Of course, they didn't know
      how Sabretooth had died either.

      Strangely, it was Logan that had been the one to push this interview.

      "Summers." Erik's nod was almost formal, and Scott forced himself to
      respond, leaning back into the desk, Logan's presence strangely
      comforting--but it had been that way for so long, he didn't even bother to
      wonder about it anymore. Quiet strength, overwhelming presence, and a
      distinct ability to give the impression only boredom was keeping him from
      killing everyone in the room. The quick, almost invisible glance from Erik
      showed how well it was working. Good. They were already on unequal
      terms--let him wonder if Logan carried a grudge still, even if Logan was
      the reason this meeting was happening at all.

      "You wanted to see me."

      Warren and Jean had pushed for this too, the necessity. He didn't have to
      like Erik's politics or his beliefs--he needed him anyway. Scott accepted
      the practicality of it--that winning this war needed Erik and his
      resources, his followers, and his influence. And it needed Mystique to
      take her position as the mutated Senator Kelley for all to see.

      Needed one more thing, one that Scott had agreed with when he watched
      Atlanta burn from the seat of the Blackbird, surrounded by frightened and
      injured fellow mutants, holding the unresponsive body of his wife. It was
      a lie, but somehow, that just didn't matter as much as it once had.

      "You've done well." Erik's voice was soft, edged with something else, and
      for the first time, Scott looked into the eyes and noted the changes that
      three years could make--the weight gained, the thin face slightly filled
      out from starvation conditions, the luxuriant white hair that Erik had kept
      until their guards had shaved it off, the elegant body, dressed in the
      finest silk suit, that moved with a slow, careful grace.

      Remembered with a burning pain that spread through his chest, the last time
      he'd seen this man, remembered watching Erik's struggles to get to Xavier's
      body after a bullet silenced that brilliant mind forever.

      Remembered Xavier telling him to believe before everything ended in a haze
      of red and pain and terrible loss. Erik's hoarse voice somewhere far away
      from Scott's own utter shock, as the other man stumbled through the
      rank-smelling mud and cradled the lifeless bloody body in his arms, the
      first time Scott knew for certain that he would never be able to believe
      again. Not in that dream, not in the innate goodness of humankind, not in
      anything he couldn't personally control.

      "What do you want?" It was more blunt than he wanted it to be, but seeing
      the raw grief and anger and hate in Erik was just too much--reminded him
      how much of it was in himself, how often he unleashed it and with so little
      regard to who got in its way.

      A shrug of elegant shoulders, before the older man lowered himself
      gracefully into a chair--the grace cultivated to hide the scarring on his
      shoulders, back, and thighs, the reason he'd never run again, the reason
      his walk was always so precise.

      It was a reminder of children in Canada and Genosha still in pain, of
      Johnny trapped within his own mind in Hank's Canadian sanctuary, Kurt's
      amputated tail and the scars criss-crossing his chest and hips, and the way
      Kitty flinched when someone came too close....

      He shivered and turned his gaze down.

      "To assist you."

      In more than sheltering the mutants they'd freed, sending money and
      supplies and weaponry, more than taking Jean in and caring for her until
      she'd regained her control and her mind, returning her to him as a stranger
      who had ripped apart the minds of men in their custody as she searched for
      the information they needed so desperately. More than had already been
      done--and Mystique's presence was here for that reason.

      "You think she can pull it off?" He jerked his head at Mystique, knew she
      was stiffening at the implied doubt.

      Magneto never hesitated.

      "A telepath will remain with her, to assure that--accidents do not occur."
      A pause, the gaze fixing on him. "It will help you, Scott. To win."

      A slow nod, and Scott felt Logan's assent, Jean's silent assurance that
      this was the way of it. That it had to be.

      "All right. What about Senator Kelley's family--"

      An unpleasant smile curved the other man's face, cutting off the words and
      the thought. He should have guessed, of course.

      "They won't be any trouble, Scott, so don't fret yourself."

      He could have asked, but he didn't. And on some level, he didn't even
      care.

      "All right." With an oblique glance at Logan, Scott took out the sheet of
      paper, folded and refolded so many times that the edges were frayed, the
      folds fragile. Taking a step, he dropped it on the table beside Erik's
      chair. "You started this."

      The grey eyebrows jumped, and slowly, Erik lifted it, unfolding it, running
      his fingers absently over the edges, then looked up in surprise.

      "I wasn't aware these were present in America."

      Scott shrugged, resting his weight on his other foot, feeling Logan's
      intense interest. Erik's gaze slid to Logan briefly.

      "The latest of your recruits was circulating them on the West Coast. Where
      did you get the original?"

      Another slight shrug, but Scott detected the stiffness in the man's body.

      "When I decamped from Daytona, I needed supplies. It was in the Canadian
      sanctuary." An oblique smile that hid far too much for Scott's liking, his
      glance sliding to Logan. "He did it, didn't he?"

      The growl was mental only, but Scott found himself having to choke it back
      in his own throat. Scott hesitated, then nodded as Erik spread the
      photocopied sketch out, looking at the dark eyes that hadn't seen the world
      in four years, the print beneath that told who she was and why she had
      died. He wondered what it said about his mental stability, that he knew
      the face of a dead girl more perfectly than that of his wife.

      "Yes." A pause. "How many of those do you have?"

      Erik smoothed the paper again, a slightly bitter smile turning his mouth.

      "Printed?"

      "The originals. How many did you take?"

      Erik blinked, the grey blue eyes lighting up.

      "There are more?"

      Scott hesitated, then took a breath, turning and picking up the briefcase
      from the floor beneath the desk. With another glance at Logan's blank
      face, he opened it and removed the stack. Turning, he crossed the two
      steps separating him from Erik and placed them on the small table.

      For a moment, silence, and Erik's fingers slid through the sheets, almost
      caressing.

      "You support this?" It was more than asking about something as simple as
      using Rogue to further the cause and they both knew it. Scott didn't want
      to--but somewhere in his mind he was still kneeling in the cold mud while
      Erik cradled Xavier's unmoving body, dirty-grey head bent, whispering words
      Scott couldn't hear in a voice choked with hate and grief and promises of
      revenge.

      Sometimes, in the shower, Scott thought he'd never be clean of that dirt
      again, of the blood and splattered bone and pieces of flesh that clung to
      his memory if not his body. And sometimes, just sometimes, he stopped
      wanting to be.

      "Yes. We want these everywhere. People read that, they see--" He broke
      off, trying to think through what he was saying. The reason Logan had
      argued with exhausting, implacable patience. "They'll know why we're
      fighting. They'll know--"

      "They'll know what to die for."

      Logan certainly did. He wanted to--with Jubilee gone, there was nothing
      left to ground him. This was it--one picture, one dead girl, one
      inescapable goal. Scott wondered if Logan thought he was hiding that from
      anyone.

      "Yes."

      Erik picked up the first sketch, slowly nodding.

      "I can have them everywhere in a matter of days."

      Scott nodded slowly and pulled up a chair. It was time.

      "Let's talk about direct Genoshan intervention in the war, Erik. We want
      to win."

      End Interlude 4

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Personal Webpage:
      www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis
      www.geocities.com/seperis

      XMMFF List Archivist:
      www.geocities.com/xmenmoviefanfic

      PETJ, PETS, EFB, WRB, FEF, WRM, AngstGrrl

      *****

      You own the action figures, and when a slow song comes up on the cd you are
      listening to, you think it's normal that they should dance. -JO

      YKYBRTMWRFW, #43:
      wr.com
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