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FIC: Causa Anima [7/18] [R]

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  • tosh
    Causa Anima by Nancy Lorenz. E-mail: tosh@opera.iinet.net.au Rating: R. Sorry, forgot about the bad language. Some violent, disturbing themes. Archive: XMMFF,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2001
      Causa Anima
      by Nancy Lorenz.

      E-mail: tosh@...
      Rating: R. Sorry, forgot about the bad language. Some violent,
      disturbing themes.
      Archive: XMMFF, WRFA. All else, all ya gotta do is ask.
      Classification: General, slight L/R UST, S/J content.
      Series: Manus Mortiferum
      Spoilers: The Movie.
      Synopsis: Continues on after the movie. The Mutant Situation is
      worsening and Erik Lenscherr escapes from prison. Rogue suffers
      a terrible mishap during the mission to stop him that shakes the
      foundations of her psyche and changes her life completely.
      Disclaimer: All characters copyright Marvel and Fox.
      Feedback: Enjoyed, responded to, adored and worshiped. Respond
      to the email above :)
      Author's Note: This is beta read, but not to the fullest extent
      that it can be. Some comma and semi-colon confusion occurs. Does
      that really bother you? I figure it's only fan-fic, and I have a
      comic to ink so I don't have the energy to break my back over
      this thing. But I did get rid of the spelling mistakes and the
      grammar mistakes. Most of them anyways :) Very big thank you
      to my Betas - JennyEdu, Jennifer Hallmark, Shaz Nolan, and I
      swear there must be someone else. I can't remember right now.
      E-mail me, smack me up the side of the head and I'll rectify it
      in the next chapter posting. Love ya's alls mates! Oh - and I
      know I said I'm releasing it a chapter a day, but I'll forget to
      do that I think, so I'm just doing it bunch by bunch :)
      Dedication: To the WRGrrls. You've been around for over a year,
      and the fandom is still going. That's majorly cool. Without
      your support, your enthusiasm and love, I'd be nowhere. This
      tenacity and companionship has helped me improve the crafts that
      I want to take into a career. For that, I thank you and love you
      always. Thank you girls.

      Chapter Seven:
      Waking Dreams.

      Xavier's face was drawn in concentration, his frame curled over
      the sleeping form of Marie. He was deathly still, his fingers
      folded together and in his lap. Logan was set vigil behind the
      two-way mirror, never budging in the observation room. He
      would not move, his brow pressed down and shrouding his eyes in
      shadow. He barely twitched as the door to the room opened.


      A steaming cup of cocoa was slid in front of him on the desk in
      the room, the skid of a pulled chair and a heavy sigh
      accompanying it.

      "Drink up."

      Logan glanced to the taller man next to him, nostril twitching as
      the smell of the chocolate drink teased his senses. Scott
      pointed to the mug, red lenses gleaming in the dim light of the

      "It has a marshmallow in it."

      Logan looked down to it, "Really..."

      "Old Summers recipe, like my Mom used to make," he added, and
      took a sip of his own mug.

      Lifting the mug to his lips gingerly, Logan took a small nip of
      the frothy-topped drink. Well, damn, Cyke made good cocoa. Who
      knew? "What do you want?"

      Scott sighed again, "You have barely left this room in the past
      three days, Logan."

      He shrugged, "I showered."

      "Yeah, but you haven't eaten."

      "Not hungry."

      "Logan..." The drone from Scott was one of warning, and Logan
      threw a look of disregard to the man.

      "They haven't moved for two days."

      Tilting his head a little, Scott gazed at the telepath and the

      "You know, when Jean first got here, she was pretty much in the
      same boat as Rogue."

      He glanced to the Fearless Leader in surprise, "She was?"

      Cyclops nodded, "Hell yeah. At first she was distant, cold, and
      then when her power grew stronger she was as disturbed as Rogue."

      Logan clenched his jaw, eyes roving over the melting marshmallow
      in the mug warming his hands to a tingle.

      "What happened?"

      Scott shrugged, "Xavier trained her. Every day he spent hours
      with her, teaching her everything he knew of mental
      discipline." A little smile flashed on the younger man's face,
      "And I spent pointless hours in here waiting and watching on

      Logan glared at the bespectacled man, hands tightening around the
      mug, "Cyke..."

      Scott smirked, patting his shoulder gently, "Friendly warning,
      comrade. Enjoy the cocoa."

      Logan kept his eyes set on Marie as Scott strolled from the
      room. He'd seen the dedication and damn near sickly-sweet
      rapport going on between Cyclops and Jean. God shoot him down
      in flames before that ever happened between him and the Kid.

      She was exactly that - a kid. Barely eighteen and only kissed
      by adulthood. Why did her eyes have to be so old?

      He put away those thoughts, frowning and watching the Professor
      at work. Not the most exciting spectator sport, considering, but
      right now he'd not be anywhere else. He couldn't help the waves
      of disappointment that crashed through him on occasion. Not
      that it was an egotistical thing, but he wanted to help her.
      The fact that he apparently had no power to caused a terrible
      ache in him.

      He didn't want her hurting, and he could smell the ache all over
      her. The tears, the tension, the anxiety. It didn't have a
      place on Rogue, not in his mind. All he was allowed to do was
      wait, and he'd rather impale himself than interrupt whatever
      Xavier was up to. He sipped at the cocoa in his hands, hoping
      that his time here waiting wouldn't be too much longer.

      He wasn't sure if the school was taking turns at "Let's get Logan
      out of the Ob Room" but there was another set of knuckles
      wrapping at the door. He gave an audible grunt and sighed.

      "Come in."

      By fact that the person knocked tipped him off that it wasn't
      Jean. Jean doesn't knock anywhere in her own damned
      infirmary. And the blunt sweet smell of girl's deodorant hit
      him, one he'd smelt before but never tried to pin on any one
      person. As a dark-skinned girl in a gaudy yellow jacket toed
      her way into the room, he gave a regarding twitch of a nostril.

      "Hi," she said, her voice small, "Um..."

      He cocked a brow expectantly.

      "I'm - I'm Jubilee. Rogue's friend?"

      "Right," he nodded, looking back to his cocoa, "She mentioned you
      the other day."

      Jubilee nodded, taking a seat next to Logan after closing the
      door. It annoyed him a little that the girl assumed he wanted
      her in there just because he acknowledged her presence.

      The girl folded her arms, leaning on the table and sighing.

      "How is she?"

      Logan didn't move; his eyes were fixed to the sleeping form of
      Marie. "The same."

      A deep sigh fell through the girl, and she hugged herself. She
      looked to Logan. "They said you've been here every day since..."

      Logan glared at her, "So?"

      "Oh," she shrugged, "I just - I thought that was really cool of
      you. She needs someone - even if she can't see 'em."

      He gazed at Rogue, pursing his lips, his brow crinkling
      thoughtfully. "Everyone else has been telling me to get out of

      "Sure. That's the exact thing to tell you to do if they want a
      wrecked mansion on their hands."


      She gave him a wry smile, "I sincerely doubt you could keep still
      for too long."

      He gave a gruff sigh, "For someone I just met you know an awful
      lot about me."

      "You kiddin'?" she snorted, "I'm Rogue's best friend! Duh! It's
      like Logan this, Logan that, yadda yad-"

      She stopped, looking through the corner of her eyes at Logan, who
      sat stock still, eyes boring into her. She cleared her throat.
      "Uhhh, not that she's that bad - yeah sure... oh crap," She
      fidgeted, "Forget I said anything..."

      "I didn't hear anything," he mumbled, the cocoa suddenly
      fascinating to him.

      "I didn't say anything," said Jubilee, shaking her head
      adamantly, "God it's a pretty day."

      "Haven't been outside to see," Logan said.

      "Not surprising," she said, and pulled out a small packet of
      chewy lollies that were readily available at one of the dormitory
      vending machines. She held the plastic packet up. "Gummy bear?"

      His eyes fluttered at the chewy sugar treats offered to him, and
      he ventured to grab one, only because of his suddenly low blood


      The thing squelched and bounced in his mouth, as if refusing to
      be broken up by his teeth.

      "This thing doesn't wanna quit," he grumbled.

      Jubes popped one in her mouth and nodded blandly, "Yep. They
      last and last and last. You can go a whole history class with
      'Ro on four of these."

      He glared at her, "I don't believe you."

      She blinked at him matter of factly, "Try me."

      With a huff he looked back to Marie.

      "I'd rather not."

      After a long moment of relative silence, both of them gazing out
      the mirror (the noise of Jubilee chewing on a rather stubborn
      gummy-bear filled it adequately to annoy Logan some), Jubilee

      "Dude...Xavier is really boring to watch."

      "Tell me about it..."

      "Though..." Jubilee tilted her head; "He has this vein on the
      side of his head that's kinda really throbbing..."

      Logan tapped his teeth with his tongue and nodded, "Yeah... I
      noticed that too."

      "Wow... that's so grody..."

      "Great," groaned Logan. Jubilee looked to him, blinking her
      large black eyes at him expectantly.


      He sighed forlornly. "Now all I can look at is the vein. Before
      I could ignore it, but now..."

      "Sorry," Jubes shrugged meekly, popping another gummy-bear in her
      mouth before looking back to the Professor. "Wow... it's like a
      lava lamp."

      Logan gave a sudden sigh, "Look - can we quit talkin' about his
      damned head?"

      "Geez!" Jubes cowered a little, "Fine sure! Whatever!"

      "Thank you."

      She blinked at him and then looked to her own fingers picking
      through the gummy-bears, "Jus' tryin' to make conversation."

      "You're not very good at it."

      Jubilee swept an unimpressed look to Logan. "So, you let Rogue
      ride in your trailer, right?"

      Mouth edging open in caution, Logan nodded.

      "And she didn't jump out?"

      That little...

      "Didn't have to," he said, "She didn't annoy me by pointing out
      something I had to look at for hours."

      "You don't like lookin' at it then don't look at it!"

      He grit his teeth, his patience fast running out, "I wasn't, not
      until you wouldn't shut UP about it!"

      Jubilee glared at him as his voice rose, a growl rumbling in his
      throat, and whilst cringing, her bottom lip jut out slightly and

      "I'm sorry..." she rasped.

      Suddenly, Logan's anger seeped away some, enough to see the
      cowering young woman next to him, hands clenched around a little
      packet of gummy-bears, his own hands gripping the mug underneath
      him with knuckles an interesting white. And one thought hit him.

      I am such an asshole.

      He gave a heavy sigh, patting Jubilee's shoulder roughly, if not
      a little tentatively, shaking his head at himself.

      "I'm sorry... I'm just -" He threw a hand towards the unconscious
      Rogue, the gravity of the situation weighing heavily on him.
      "I'm worried about her."

      Jubilee sighed back at him, her hand on Logan's shoulder this
      time, squeezing it.

      "Look, mister... I know this might not help, but like - I've been
      here since I was thirteen. That's like five years. And in all
      that time, Xavier's never failed us."

      A darkness grew in Logan's chest, and with a tightness in his
      lips he scowled down at his cocoa. The marshmallow had melted -
      all that was left was a sickly sweet puddle of gloop floating at
      the surface.

      "There's always a first time, kid."


      Jubilee left him with the ten remaining gummy-bears, hugging him
      tightly before she went to defense night-classes. She'd stuck
      with him all day, and she had announced herself a
      comrade-in-time-passing-conversation. The brassy young woman
      silently surprised Logan, as she was better company than she
      looked. Despite the talking too much. It was when Jubilee was
      having one of her more shrill discussions that he missed his
      soft-spoken Marie the most. It was cruel that she was just
      there, beyond the glass, in the small room asleep.

      Whether it was light or dark outside, he didn't know, but the
      watch on his wrist read seven o'clock.

      Then the door was knocked upon again, an elegant gait of heels
      that heralded Jean's approach. She gave a tired smile as she
      walked in, foil-covered tray in her hands.

      "Oh geez..."

      "Thought I'd bring you some food to eat. Apparently Jubilee got
      you to have some gummy-bears but they're not really going to
      sustain you after three days fasting."

      "I wasn't fasting," Logan grumbled, head cradled in folded arms
      upon the desk, his words being delivered into the formica
      tabletop underneath him, echoing around the room. "I ate a 100
      grand bar. And a few mini-quiches - Scooter was in here eating

      "That's bound to keep a man of your size in tip-top condition,"
      she muttered back at him dryly, unwrapping the meal and sliding
      it in front of Logan. "Eat. Or I'll stick a needle in your arm
      and force some sustenance into you."

      "Wow," he said drolly, "Your bedside manner is getting better
      with time, Red."

      "I do what I can," she said, pulling up the chair next to him,
      sinking down into it.

      Silence drifted between them, the only sound being Logan picking
      at the cutlery, unwrapping it from the cloth serviette they were
      bound in. His hazel eyes lifted to her brown ones, and with a
      visible shift in his expression, he let his hands drop on the

      "Three days, Jean. What the hell is going on?"

      Jean's eyes fluttered closed, and she sighed. "I don't know,
      Logan. It's not my place to barge in and find out either. All
      we can do is wait-"

      "What are they doing in there anyway?!" he growled, "Is he
      asleep? Are they both just sleeping or is something actually

      Jean's eyes were suddenly cast to the scene beyond the two-way
      mirror, a quiet awe in them directed at the Professor. "A lot is
      happening in there," she said. "Nothing I'd like to guess on."

      Logan cast her a tired look, then pushed the meal away, enfolding
      his head in his arms. There was a slender hand on his shoulder
      suddenly, it squeezed and comforted along with the smooth voice.

      "The Professor is doing his best, you can be sure of that,

      He didn't care. He really didn't care. It wasn't important to
      him, and the touch on his shoulder was a burning cold that made
      the quiet anger within him bubble. He wasn't sure why he was
      angry - it wasn't Jean's fault. But Jean wasn't Marie. Jean
      was fine, and Marie wasn't. Jean was assuring him, and he knew
      - she had no idea how it would all turn out. She was as
      uncertain as he was. With a grunt, he turned away, battling a
      roughness in his throat.

      "Just - just go, Jean."

      Sliding her hand away, Jean tilted her brows up, the sympathy on
      her features reaching him, but failing to make him feel any

      He didn't pay Jean any mind as she left, and any appetite he had
      before she entered was gone from him. All he could bring
      himself to do was wait - wait for her. The small grey sparsely
      furnished room, the strangely warmly decorated observation room
      on the other side of the glass from him, and Rogue's sleeping
      form were all he saw, all he put his mind to. Every bit of
      will, every bit of hope, he poured into her. Guilt wracked him
      mercilessly, if's and would have's haunting him.

      They were thoroughly tiring, and often he found himself slumping
      over in the chair, catching a moment's sleep against the desk in
      front of him. He wasn't sure how many hours he'd spent curled
      up over the desk like that; then again he wasn't sure of the
      hours he spent awake either. Often his mind would leap in
      anticipation and create a moving, animated Marie in it's own eye,
      dreams that would cruelly bring his heart to the brim with

      And he'd awaken. In the bed, Marie would still be lying, the
      Professor vigil.

      At least in those situations, it wasn't the dark dreams he had,
      where the Professor was gone, and so was she. At least then,
      the dark hopelessness didn't chase him around. Disappointment
      was far easier to handle.

      The dreams had taunted him so that when he awoke this time, when
      he saw Marie turning her head, redness and tears in her eyes but
      a ... a lighter look to the sadness there, he thought it was
      another dream. But the Professor moved his chair, wheeling out
      of there weakly, weaker than he had in Logan's visions, and Marie
      curled up and was just a frail looking slip of what she usually
      was... and the dream didn't end.

      For the first time in days, Logan felt tears spill down his face,
      and he raced from the room, heart thumping wildly.


      He didn't wait to tell Jean, he just ran, slamming open the door,
      half toppling over Charles Xavier trying to leave the very room
      Logan was struggling to get into. The frantic younger looking
      man stuck a toe into the chair and launched himself over the top
      of it, the Professor ducking in slight alarm. There was no
      mistaking the tired smile on his face, however.

      Logan didn't notice. His vision was fixed to the sleepy girl
      before him, her eyes calm - sad, and calm. At the scuffle and
      grunting in front of her she looked up, and a soft smile fell on
      her face. Her voice was a breath, rough from lack of use and she
      leant forward in the bed.


      He pulled her forward into his arms, hugging her tightly, not
      caring if they accidentally brushed skins.

      "You okay?"

      He leant back, dipping his head down to look into her eyes, and
      she nodded lightly.

      "Yeah," she said, "I think so..."

      He swallowed, ignoring the wetness on his cheeks, searching her
      features. "You were a little shaky for a while there..."

      She met his eyes with a dry look. "Logan... I was out of my

      He nodded, clenching his jaw. "I was worried."

      "Yeah," she said, gloved hand scruffing the hair behind his ear,
      "I know. I saw."

      Uncertainty splashed his features then, and he looked up to her.
      "I'm sorry, Marie."

      She frowned at him in confusion. "What for?"

      "If I'd handled that bitch better, I swear I could've--"

      His heart clenched slowly as her eyelids fluttered, her
      fingertips settling to his chest as she shook her head.

      "No, no Logan," she said, "No... no blame. We're X-Men, this is
      our life. It's our life."

      Her gentle words were barely any consolation, not when he could
      see the scars this ordeal had left in her soul. Her eyes were
      tainted. He sighed, sinking his head into his hands, feeling a
      shake from the lack of food. It bit at him, feeling weak like
      that, feeling helpless now.

      "I just wish I could have helped you. I said I'd protect you,
      and I didn't. I didn't keep my promise."

      Gloved fingers slid down his face, lifting his face up gently.

      "You tried," she said, "And you never left me. That's
      protection enough for me."

      "You still got hurt," he mumbled, "In ways that are too hard to

      He could see her tensing up, and he didn't want this. He didn't
      want her upset or angry when she should have been sleeping and
      calm, resting. She narrowed her eyes delicately.

      "What're you sayin'?"

      He looked up at her, wringing his hands together.

      "I don't think you should go on any missions anymore Marie."


      "No," he said, cutting her off, "I didn't intend for you to go
      out there, suckin' up the minds of every loser jerk with the
      Brotherhood, you got that? The only reason I wanted you on the
      team yesterday is because you're all we have against Magneto."

      Every word that fell out seemed to cut at Marie more because at
      every word she recoiled a little, winced, anger drawing her brows
      down. She said nothing, and he wasn't sure whether it was upset
      or anger that made her so silent.

      "I can't let you get hurt again," he said, "Not because of me."

      She just smiled then, resting back in the bed, gazing up at the
      ceiling. "Always lookin' out for me is my Logan."

      He watched her. He wasn't sure if it was Carol that seized her,
      making her say such a thing, or whether the experience pulled out
      a dry sliver of humour from within her. It wasn't unsuited to
      her, merely unexpected. He just shifted, looking up at her.

      "And how do you feel about that?"

      Blinking, she met his gaze, and she sent a smile in his
      direction. "Does it matter? We both know that you're lookin'
      out for me, whether I want you to 'r not."

      "It does matter," he said finally, letting a tiny smile tease the
      corners of his mouth, "And yeah... I can't help but keep an eye
      out for you. Need someone there in the afternoons to make my
      room all cozy."

      She smiled drily, "I'll be there with muffins and jam."

      A sudden thump interrupted her lazy smile, and when the door to
      the observation room burst open, it only served to widen it.
      Jean strode in, the lines of stress that had been on her features
      over the past few days lifted, auburn hair billowing about her as
      she plugged her stethoscope into her ears.

      "The Professor just told me," she said, her voice a huff from her
      rushing, "It's good to see you awake."

      "I'll say," Logan agreed, squeezing Rogue's hand.

      It was at that moment Rogue squeezed back.

      "AAH!" Logan bent, half-sliding off the bed as the pain ripped
      through him and he grabbed the wrist of his other hand. Rogue
      had dropped the hand and she wriggled, fear and horror twisting
      her usually light features.

      "Logan!! Oh mah God!"

      Logan winced, holding up his hand, "It's okay Kid, it's okay...
      ya just bruised me... a lot... ow..."

      Jean held the hand, turning it over and pressing at the flesh.

      "Bruising yes," she said, "Deep bruising, bone dislocation.
      Logan, come with me, you're going to have to get these reset."

      Logan groaned, the lady doctor pulling him up from the bed and
      towards the infirmary. He looked to Rogue, the girl's arms
      wrapped around her knees in an upright foetal position. Her
      eyes were on him, round and full.

      "I'm sorry, Logan," she breathed.

      "Not your fault, kid," he said before Jean dragged him out of the

      Jean dug through cupboards, and for a moment Logan felt like she
      didn't even know he was in the room. Were he in less pain he
      could have enjoyed the way her hair looked in the cool light of
      the room, soft and liquid, but all he wanted was relief from the
      crushing aches in his right hand.

      "It'll heal in a minute," he said, "I don't know why you're

      Jean eyed him as she placed bandages and ice down next to him on
      the examination table he sat on.

      "The swelling still needs to be controlled," she said, grabbing
      the cold packs and pressing them to his hands. She looked up at
      him as he hissed, the cold biting him. He could see a slight
      tension in her features, but no puzzlement, not the wild
      confusion he was feeling as to how the hell this happened. He
      leant forward.

      "You know somethin' about Marie? That you're not tellin' me?"

      She glanced up at him and shrugged, "It's only a theory."

      "Then spill it. How the hell did she do this?" He nudged his
      injured hand up.

      Jean pulled the ice pack away, beginning at bandaging the hand,
      and as she applied the stretchy material, long lashes blinking,
      she spoke.

      "You know what happened when she absorbed Magneto's energy."


      "It took two days for that to wear off, Logan. Two days for his
      mutation to fade in her body's energy patterns."

      He frowned, "What about my mutation?"

      "Thankfully," said Jean, "She never exhibited any evidence of
      subdermal claw formations in her forearms... maybe your mutation
      wasn't around long enough for them to grow, I don't know. Your
      personality stayed with her though, for just as many days. You
      mentioned that this mutant-"

      "Carol," Logan said, "Marie said her name was Carol."

      "Carol," amended Jean, "Was unusually strong-"

      Horror fell through Logan, the pain subsiding slowly and
      forgotten, his only worry now the well being of the girl in the
      other room. "You're not saying she's got the powers for keeps
      are you?"

      Jean opened her mouth but a snort from Logan kept her silent.

      "You mean she has to get used to a new set of powers all over
      again? Like she doesn't have enough on her fucking plate?"

      Jean sighed, "We can't be certain till I do more tests-"

      "This is all my fucking fault," he grumbled, jumping up and
      pacing. "All my fucking fault, cause all I wanted to do was get
      back at that bastard Magneto and Rogue was the only way to do it
      and I was too fucking pissed to see that it'd just get her hurt
      again!" He swiped at a stack of freshly sterilized test tubes by
      the sink, the lot of them smashing on the floor. Jean flinched
      as the tinkling smash resonated through the room, her lips

      "Logan, she's alive and well," Jean said, "And for now it seems
      she's fine."

      "She just had four days having her head read Jean," Logan said,
      "That doesn't seem anything like 'fine' to me."


      The plaintive cry, soft and almost mewling, halted the roaring
      anger that was bursting from him. He blinked, and as if looking
      at the woman for the first time, he realised Jean was withdrawn,
      arms crossed, face firm with defense. Turning, he met the brown
      eyes of a weak looking Marie, leaning in the doorway and pursing
      her lips at him.

      "Don't be mad."

      Logan breathed evenly, nostrils flaring, his hands fisting at his

      "Ah told you, it's not your fault."

      He glared at her for a long moment, and could almost see that
      innocence in her, the reservoir of it that was left under the
      cognitive swaths of Erik Lenscherr, of Carolyn Danvers - of
      himself. He sighed, shaking his head.

      "Yeah, but you were my responsibility."

      He could hear her sigh, the girl looking down at her naked hands
      that peeked from the flannel sleeves of her rumpled nightgown.
      Looking down like that, lips soft, eyes averted, she looked
      impossibly young. Then she looked up at him, met his harried
      gaze. There was a strange yawning in his chest as he saw the
      calm, the pain, and the wisdom there. It was as if, during the
      touching of minds, Rogue took in some of the ageless Professor's
      wisdom and made it her own.

      "Ah'm okay," she said softly, "Please... don't feel bad anymore,
      not for me."

      The words lifted the anger from Logan's features and slumping a
      little, he shook his head. "I can't help it."

      Rogue blinked slowly, looking away. Jean stepped forward,
      wrapping long fingers around Rogue's flannel veiled elbow and
      pulled her towards the examination table.

      "We're gonna finish this exam," she said with a small smile, "Up
      on the table."

      Before she could pull herself up, Logan's hands were at her
      sides, depositing her on top of it. Marie blushed at him.

      "I could've done it myself."

      It was now the older man's turn to grow rosy in the cheeks.

      Taking Logan's place in front of Rogue with a patient smile, Jean
      pressed the flat of the stethoscope to Rogue's chest. She
      pressed it here and there, asking her to cough. Whilst Jean
      fussed over Rogue, the girl watched Logan. He stood with arms
      crossed, face drawn, concern and concentration etched on his
      hawk-like features. She smiled softly at him as he glanced to
      her face, and he nodded back. Her affection didn't quell his
      worry. Jean's examining lasted a good ten minutes, and after
      finishing, she put her face in her hands, a wrinkle of thought on
      her brow.

      "Well?" Logan asked.

      "Everything seems perfectly normal," she said, "But I'll need to
      take more tests. I'll have them set up for tomorrow - um-"
      Tapping her lip, Jean looked to Rogue, "I think it's best if you
      stay here for more observa-"

      Grabbing Rogue's hand, Logan growled.


      Rogue jumped a little, blinking.

      "She's had enough time in that room," Logan said, pulling her
      from the table and to him, "I think it's time she got to sleep in
      her own damned bed!"

      Tilting her head, she looked to Jean.

      "He's right," she said, "I just wanna sleep in a bed that doesn't
      bend in the middle."

      Sighing, Jean nodded.

      "Fine," She looked to Rogue, "But be back here at four tomorrow.
      I should have everything ready by that time."

      Gathering her up in his arms, Logan pulled Rogue off the
      examination table, shepherding her towards the door. Logan
      didn't want to focus on Jean's worry, or even what could possibly
      wrong with Rogue. All there was was Rogue, walking, alert, if
      not a little drowsy, and a bedroom to take her to.

      They stood in the elevator to the mansion levels, the blue shiny
      walls muffling their words.

      "You're tired..."

      Large brown eyes blink slowly. "Yeah."

      "It's - shit. It's 11:30. I'm gettin' you to bed."

      Rogue gave him a weathered knowing look. If she had more
      energy, she'd probably have bothered to get offended at his
      mothering of her, but right now she needed a hand.

      "You been sleepin' for days," Logan said, the edge of worry in
      his voice, "Why you so tired?"

      Her eyes rolled around under their lids, and she wavered a

      "My body slept," she said, "My mind didn't. I'm exhausted,

      With a crease of worry in his brow, Logan pulled her to him
      wordlessly, cradling her head in the centre of his chest, his
      chin resting on the top of her head. "You'll be sleepin' soon."

      Without much incident they reached the large corridor of the
      dormitory wing, Rogue's bedroom one way and Logan's another. As
      they grew closer to Rogue's shared room, Logan could see her lips
      tense, feel her hands clench tighter around his. She glanced to
      him with implore, a quiet askance in her features, a resistance
      as she looked towards her room. He didn't have to be psychic to
      see she didn't want to go there.

      "You okay, Kid?"

      She sighed softly, tilting her head, squeezing his hand hers -
      gently this time.

      "Logan," she breathed, "Ah don't wanna be alone."

      He pointed towards her room. "Well - you got your friends-"

      "No," she said, "No I - I don't want to be alone with my
      thoughts. Not yet."

      Logan nodded silently, pulling Rogue to him, turning around and
      heading for his room.

      "You can stay a little while," he said, "Till you get sleepy.
      Then you gotta go in your own room, ‘kay?"

      She nodded back at him, wrapping herself around his arm. "Thank

      He gave her a long look, a quirk of a smile in the corner of his
      mouth. "Don't worry about it."

      Guiding her in, he flicked on lamp on his side-table, gorging
      himself on the sensations of Rogue being up and about - her
      smell, the sound of her moving, sensing her body and its heat in
      the room. Glancing at her, he caught her roaming brown eyes,
      something new and haunting in there as she looked back at him.
      It scared him a little, but something in him knew it was for the
      better. She looked older than before, as if she knew something
      she didn't earlier. He shoved thoughts of this away, pulling
      back the blankets on his bed and fluffing the pillow roughly.

      "Get in."

      Without a word, Rogue stepped over, still dressed in her
      nightshirt and leggings. "Logan..."

      He stared at her expectantly.

      "Ah really need a shower."

      His face fell. Crap. He'd forgotten about that.

      "You can use mine," he said, "I'll get your things from your

      "They're in the infirmary..."

      Looking back at her he nodded. "Right. Be right back."

      The trip to get the bathing supplies was uneventful, if not
      educational. Strawberry soap, mango shampoo. White musk bath
      salts... no wonder she always smelt so damned good. Upon
      entering his room, he saw the curled up figure of Rogue on his
      bed, clothed in soft flannel, her hair tumbling around her, long
      eyelashes curled upon pale cheeks. Pursing his lips together, he
      shuffled on the spot, debating whether to disturb her or not.
      She looked so relaxed, so content. Gripping her bath things, he
      walked over to the bed, nudging her side.

      "Uh... kid?"

      With a little moan she smiled, rolling onto her back. "Your bed
      is comfier than mine."

      It was moments like this he wanted to hug her and not stop. That
      was the sort of girly thing Ice-boy would probably do, however,
      so instead he waggled the pretty bag he had filled with her

      She opened her eyes a crack, and sighed. "Thank you."

      She grabbed them, and with a sleepy waddle, traipsed into his

      Logan took that moment to fall back on his bed, gazing at the
      ceiling. Stunned. That's all he could say about how he felt.
      Totally stunned. Bringing his previously injured hand up, he
      flexed the fingers, curling and uncurling them, turning the palm
      over and gazing at the back of it. He couldn't tell it was ever
      out of shape. He dropped his hand to the bed, sighing, the
      stress of the past few days releasing itself into his system,
      washing over him, and he could feel his hands shuddering against
      his face.

      He had to keep telling himself - she was okay now, she was
      okay. She was in his shower, up and about, seemingly fine.

      A whiff of strawberry soap wafted under the bathroom door, the
      delicious scent of clean wet skin mingling with it. He clenched
      his teeth, battling the raging drive within him to take a glimpse
      of the creamy, gleaming flesh hidden in the shower cubicle, or
      even sample it.

      He had to stop himself from whimpering when the smell of mango
      shampoo joined the cocktail of alluring scents. No, no, he
      thought to himself, nothing smells better than a wet Marie.
      Realising what he'd just said to himself, he buried his head
      under a pillow, growling quietly. Life was far too complicated
      these days. Far far too complicated. Things were easier on his
      own. Fight or die, that was it.

      Then again, life on the road kinda sucked ass.

      The door to the ensuite opened, and he heard the soft padding of
      damp feet cross the carpeted floor, the stronger wafting of damp
      skin and perfume curling around his senses, and a gentle nudge
      touched his shoulder.


      Her voice was as smooth and delicious as she smelt. He grunted
      from under the pillow, and he could hear her laugh softly.

      "Ah just have to get changed into some fresh jammies. Ah'll be
      raght back."

      He nodded, and growled an "Okay."

      For a few blessed moments her smell and presence didn't torment
      him. She needed him though, she needed him. He would put away
      his overgrown super-strength hormones for one night, cause his
      girl needed him. He nodded resolutely. He pulled his head out
      from under his pillow, placing it back, puffing it with a stiff
      whack. It was as he did that that he heard his door open and
      close, and turning his head he felt his throat catch.

      She wasn't dressed in anything special. Just a lilac set of
      pyjamas, first couple of buttons on the top shirt undone, gloves
      on her hands, socks on her feet. Her hair was damp, in straggly
      clumps, the platinum bolts a muted silver now, all of it pulled
      back from her face with a small hair clip. The thing that
      clutched his heart tightly was the way the flannel sat on her
      body, loose as it was. By all rights she should have looked
      twelve in that get up.

      Oh, how she *didn't* look twelve. How very much her eighteen
      years she appeared, curves and delicious damp skin wrapped in
      soft cuddly pyjamas. She plodded over to him in a secure gait,
      smiling briefly before sitting down on the edge of the bed. She
      seemed a little nervous but even in her most uncertain of moments
      she acted in confidence, as if it were a method of dealing with
      such a thing.

      He watched her trace circles on her own knee, humming to herself
      lightly. With an affectionate narrowing of his eyes, he propped
      his arms on his knees, leaning over to her.

      "That mean you're feeling better?"

      She glanced to him, shrugging.

      "Ah dunno," she said. "Ah feel - nearly normal. Nearly just -
      normal. Not great, not bad. Just existing."

      Logan frowned.

      "I never felt like this before. Then again I never had a
      psychopath in my head before." She seemed to smile at this,
      humour in her tone. He wished he could laugh with her. "It's
      weird," she said, tilting her head, "I never been so relieved to
      be on the under side of bored before."

      A wrinkle sank in Logan's brow. "You're bored?"

      "Kinda," she said, "It's hard to explain. I was so empty, so
      dead inside for all that time and now... now I just feel like I
      can't see anything wrong with my life - and I should. But I
      don't. I feel listless."

      The wrinkle deepened, and with some tentativeness, he reached
      out, enfolding one of her hands in his. "I want you to feel
      happy, Marie."

      Her long-lashed eyes looked to their linked hands, and then
      sliding up his arm they met his own orbs. "Ah know," she said
      softly, "And I will."

      He gave a tick of a smile, and nodded. At that she gently
      squeezed his hand, a little smile on her face.

      "Especially if ya keep this kind of attention up. I feel like a
      Queen! All coddled and looked after!"

      With a smirk he grabbed her, pulling her down onto the bed,
      towards the pillows. She squealed, giggling and wriggling her
      legs, and with a singular sweep of his arm he pulled the
      comforter from his bed out from underneath her. He covered her
      then, tucking in the sides of the blanket as he leant over her,
      trying to ignore the proximity of her face, her lips, or the way
      her eyes roamed his features in soft appreciation.

      "You are good to me, Logan."

      He nodded, sitting up a little. "Yeah, well - I care about ya."

      She nodded, still looking at him in that way that made him feel
      all warm and cuddly inside. Only Marie could do that, only

      "Come on," he said, thumping the side of the bed and rolling over
      to lay next to her on the bed, "You relax some now, that's why
      yer here."

      She nodded silently again, and she sat up, pulling the clip from
      her hair. Logan lay on top of all the blankets, arms crossed,
      sock clad feet crossed at the foot of the bed. He was quite
      prepared to not get comfortable, not get too into this sharing a
      room thing, and once she got drowsy, he was prepared also to
      march her to her room and get her into her own bed.

      The woman stretched, and once she'd sorted out her hair, adjusted
      her jammies, she pulled the blanket up, over Logan's shoulder and
      snuggled to his side, just as she pleased. Logan blinked,
      watching the girl get comfortable against him, one of her hands
      curling around his elbow. She sighed contentedly, face buried
      at his shoulder, her breathing slowly growing steadier. It both
      troubled and touched him that she felt so seemingly secure and at
      home by his side when he'd done such harm to her before in this
      very room, though he was slowly feeling that nothing Marie did or
      felt should surprise him anymore.

      He tried very hard not to begin to feel comfortable in the bed.
      He even made an effort to be grumpy and grumbly about the whole
      affair, but upon seeing Rogue so content and rested for the first
      time in days, he knew that moving the poor thing would be a

      Then again, so would falling asleep in the bed with her.

      Carefully sliding out from under her, he sank down onto the
      floor, resting his back against the side of the bed, just for a
      light snooze.


      The room was dark, a single lamp reflecting off the whitewashed
      walls and lighting their faces gently. They sat on either side
      of the bed, gazing at each other. There was no hate in their
      eyes, no anger. There was nothing.

      The blonde had intoxicating lips that were painted ruby-red,
      gleaming in the diffuse light of the room. Her eyes, swept up
      and sharp, were heavily lashed and deep. Her smile was small,
      knowing, and her hair tumbled down around her shoulders, almost
      as liquid gold.

      The mahogany and champagne tressed girl gazed back at the blonde
      one. Her deep brown eyes were not as heavily lashed, though they
      were as weighted and dewy. Her lips were chiseled, unlike her
      counterpart's fuller mouth, and her face was rounder and
      softer. From the nothing her expression was grew one of
      compassion, and she brought her naked hand forward, covering that
      of the woman's in front of her. Skin upon skin, flesh upon
      flesh. No energy changed bodies - they were one now. When Carol
      spoke, her voice was like honey, like lilies and the gentlest of
      silks. It was low, melodious, and warm. Even as she spoke words
      of conflict, she intoned them with tenderness.

      "You want to fight me," said Carol. "I can feel it. You can't
      fool a warrior with kindness."

      Rogue frowned. "I'm not a warrior."

      "You are," Carol said. "It lives in you. Your heart burns with
      the fire of justice. We want it just as much, you and I. Unlike
      you, I was willing to kill."

      Rogue shook her head. "You don't have to kill."

      Carol's look dropped to her lap, to the hand that covered hers.
      "You've been fortunate, Marie. You found people that cared
      before Death touched you." Carol shook her head slowly, those
      knowing jeweled eyes gazing back at her. "I didn't." She
      blinked slowly, languidly, gazing up to the ceiling. "I found
      Erik, and Erik promised me an end. End to the pain, end to the
      fear." Her voice slipped into a tone of poisonous edge. "He told
      me I wouldn't have to be afraid of humanity any more. With him,
      I was better than they ever would be. I was nature's
      perfection." She glanced down, shaking her head, the poison
      spent. "I was too filled with bitterness and the need to revenge
      to know the difference."

      "It's not your fault," said Rogue. "You didn't know there could
      be another way."

      Carol let her eyes meet Rogue's. Rogue took her hand away,
      looking at the rumples in the sheet on the perfectly made bed on
      which they sat cross-legged. "You tried to destroy me," she
      said. "From the inside out… you wanted to hurt the Logan in me,
      and then you wanted to take my body from me."

      Carol's eyelids dropped a little, and she looked guilty. "I was
      angry… I was frightened. I was inside someone else… alive…
      moving and yet-" She frowned. "I don't know what to do, Marie.
      I'm dead, I can't change this. When I was alive, I had something
      and I didn't know how precious it was." Her eyes grew a little
      red, welling with tears. "When our minds touched… I was so
      angry. Nobody told me that it could be like that, like it is
      here… for people like us."

      Rogue's eyes shot to Carol's.

      "I understood you," said Carol, a childlike uneasiness on her
      face. "I saw what this place was about. I'm still angry, Marie.
      Still angry at humanity but..." She sighed, shaking her head.
      "Now that I know that they didn't understand either, it makes all
      that I did so wrong."

      Rogue nodded, placing her hands on her knees, a soft puzzlement
      on her sweet face. "What are we going to do?"

      Shaking her head again, sadness in her beautiful features, Carol
      looked away. "I don't know."

      Rogue looked to the woman before her. For the first time, in the
      days and hours of her battling her, she didn't feel hate when she
      looked to her. She felt sadness, and a need to help her. Her
      heart went out, and she knew what had to be done. She took
      Carol's hands in her own, holding them tightly.

      "I do."

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