by Nancy Lorenz.
Rating: PG-13. Some violent, disturbing themes. Swearing.
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.
'~' denotes telepathic communication.
Rogue had taken to dragging him about the place, and he didn't
mind. It seemed her mood was improving, and as he watched her he
noticed her testing the new personality attributes that had made
themselves at home in her psyche. Not that they were bad, or
that they were unwelcome, they were new. New, but seemingly at
home in this woman's personality. When he questioned Rogue
about it, she said that they were things about Carol that she
liked, and wanted to encourage in herself but never had the guts
"There are things about Carol you like?"
She nodded, holding his hand, pulling him out into the garden
from the kitchen back door.
"Rogue, she was a psychopath."
The relaxed look on Rogue's face fluttered, and she shrugged.
"She had a hard past, Logan. So did Magneto. I'm not
particularly in love with either of them, but if I don't accept
them for who they were, and encourage their positive aspects in
my personality - I'll never be happy. You know? I can't try to
reject them from my psyche, cause if I do that, I'll go crazy."
It sounded all too familiar. Not that he had other psyches
within him, but that raging animal inside that he always seemed
to be at odds with clutched onto those words. Heed her wisdom,
it said. Understand my strength.
Go to hell, he replied, and pulled out a cigar from his jacket.
He took his hand from Rogue's, digging for his lighter, watching
Rogue wander down the path ahead of him. Rose bushes filled the
garden either side of her, and she smiled softly at the different
shades of the blooms. Drawing her hand out of a glove, she let
her hands brush over the flowers lightly, not long enough to
cause them any damage. Her frivolity encompassed her, robbing
her of mindfulness, and as she took a step to move further down
the path her toe caught on a dislodged tile in the pavement.
She staggered, her second step failing her. Logan jumped forward
to catch her, and as his lighter clattered to the floor his hands
grasped for air.
Rogue's large brown eyes widened as she fell without help, and
her hands clawed for air.
And stopped. She stopped. She hung in the air at a bizarre
angle, as if the whole thing were a video, and someone pressed
pause. Logan looked around, to see if Jean had stopped her from
No, no Jean.
He peered back at Rogue, gazing at her in wonder. The floating
woman gasped, joy splashing on her face.
"Logan... Logan, I'm flyin'!"
"No shit," he rasped, "How the hell are you doin' that?"
With a crease of concentration in her brow, she brought herself
up, and stretching her arms up into the air she frowned with an
effort, and he could see it in her eyes, willing herself onward
and upward. She slowly lifted upward a moment, till she was a
couple of feet up off of the ground.
"Carol's powers," she mumbled back.
Then she made the mistake of looking down, thinking on what she'd
Her body grew limp and she tumbled down, Logan jumping forward to
catch her properly this time. He did, and the weight of the
girl dropping on him toppled him to the ground.
Jean wasn't sure what part of "Meet me tomorrow at four o'clock"
Rogue didn't understand, but the empty lab and the total lack of
young silver and brown haired girl had her stomach clenching in
her chest and making preparations to do the Heimlich from the
She strode down the main hallway of the school, abandoning the
lab in urgent worry. The kids eyed her with curiosity, and
concern, and she let the spidery fingers of her mind reach out,
slowly, carefully. She touched their minds... she didn't feel
the deep colourful rich pools of personality like she knew the
Professor saw, rather flashing glimpses, identifying emotions and
images that let her know who she was looking for. She could only
gain depth with other telepaths, which is why she was surprised
when she hit upon Rogue's mind and fell into it like one
misjudged the depth of a puddle.
~Rogue? What on earth...?~
~Hey Sugah,~ the young woman's mind said, sounding far, far too
old. ~You lookin' for me?~
~Yes! Everywhere! Where are you?~
~Earnin' my wings, baby. Earnin' my wings.~
Jean pressed her lips together and with her inner hunches
lurching inside of her she made for the gymnasium. Upon getting
there, the sight that greeted her ran her blood cold, fear
growing in her chest.
Mid-air, without any support or suspension hung Rogue, arms lax
in the air like a ballet dancer's. Her legs dangled in a
similarly delicate position, her body curving in a way that would
have all the sculptors and painters running for their pencils and
equipment to capture the graceful impossible moment.
She ran forward, shaking her head.
The girl floated in the middle of the gymnasium, the paneled
polished pine flooring below her padded with large crash mats
reserved for the high-jumping facilities. Upon seeing the
panicking Jean, Rogue just giggled and willowed backwards as if
she were fooling about in a swimming pool.
"Come on up, Jean!" she grinned, "The air's fine!"
Logan looked up at the girl, his face unreadable, but his arms
twitching on occasion.
"What the hell are you thinking Logan," she said, "Letting her do
this - she could get herself killed!"
Logan snorted. "Yeah, like I could stop her."
Confusion flickered over Jean's features, and it dawned on her.
Not only did she have impossible flying abilities, but impossible
strength. Dangerous, far too dangerous to be in a young
fragmented mind like Rogue's.
Rogue eyed Jean a moment, as if seeing that thought, and
petulantly she tried a dive. With delicate ease she plunged down
to the ground then, as if changing her mind, swung up into the
air, up, touching the ceiling, then floating down carefully like
a pill dissolving in water.
"I think I like this," Rogue said with a small grin.
Logan just shook his head, stuffing his hands farther into his
"She has to get down," Jean said, "We have to work with her new
powers slowly, so that-"
"So that what?" Logan asked, eyes narrowing. "What you so scared
Jean swallowed, caution overflowing in her brown eyes. "I'm
worried she - with accessing the new powers that she-"
There was a soft rush of air, and turning around Jean saw Rogue
glide through the air towards her, hurt resounding in the large
brown orbs. She staggered as her feet met the crash-mat, and
tripping and trying to sort out her tangle of limbs she pulled
herself from the safety precaution, her lips tensing in quiet
Straightening her shirt she strode over to Jean, trying to regain
the air of elegance and coordination she had in the air not a
moment ago but sadly failing.
"You're scared a' me," she said, hugging her arms to herself.
Logan eyed Jean sharply.
"No," Jean shook her head, "No Rogue, it's not that, we just - we
don't know the effect of your accessing the stored memories-"
"I'm not," Rogue said, firmly, reasonably. Her controlled ease
made Jean feel all the more uncomfortable in the current
situation. "I'm not accessing them. Look, I'm having my daily
counseling with the Professor," she said, "And I'm not sick
anymore. This, this..." She lifted her hands, pulling her gloved
fingers closed into light fists and then slowly uncurling them
again, eyeing the movements as if she'd never seen her hands do
this before. "These powers they..." She straightened. "Ah could
do good things with them, Jeannie." She swallowed, eyes to the
brim with emotion. "I'm not useless anymore."
Jean frowned. Useless? She thought she was useless? "Rogue..."
"I feel good," she said, interrupting her again. "For the first
time in... well..." She let out a shuddering breath. "Please,
let me enjoy something in my life. Just something."
Closing her eyes, the plaintive tone of the girl in front of her
was not lost on her. She placed her hand on the girl's
shoulders, squeezing them lightly before meeting her large brown
eyes. "Does it have to be this?"
Rogue swallowed, chiseled lips twitching. "What else do I have?"
Rogue agreed to go with Jean to the lab, but not without needing
a lot of convincing to come down after she launched herself into
the air. The air was light, the air was defeated, the air was a
new friend. It pulled back her hair as she soared, whistled
around her body, handed her freedom on a silver platter. What
freedom, she wasn't sure, but during her whole time with Carolyn
within her she had felt robbed, sullied, violated somehow. The
moment she woke from her deep sleep spent with Xavier she knew
something had changed, shifted, even subconsciously. It wasn't
till she had tripped and floated that she could put a finger on
what it was... control. For the first time in days, she felt
like she could have control of something. That something was her
powers - her new powers. She could put her fist through a 2ft
thick wall and the next moment she could run her fingers through
her hair lightly, hug Jubilee without a touch of harm coming to
No helplessness as energy seeped from bodies, no tears and no
weakness. Just strength... a fuckload of strength.
Jean led her to the lab, a plethora of instruments laid out on a
trolley. Oh yay, Rogue thought, I get to be a pincushion for an
hour. The lady doctor smiled, patting the examination table.
With some apprehension, Rogue traipsed over, pulling herself up
onto the table.
"How many needles ya stickin' into me today, Doc?"
Jean looked to her, hazel eyes flashing at the girl's Loganesque
turn of phrase. She smiled shortly. "Enough to figure out
what's happened to you, Rogue." She let her eyes settle back to
the syringe in her hands that she prepared primly. "Roll up
your sleeve." Rogue complied, and taking the girl's naked arm
with a latex-gloved hand she pressed the needle to her skin.
And pressed. And pressed. She frowned, pushing hard. The
skin may as well have been leather. Jean's lips tightened, her
Rogue just gawped at her skin, eyes glistening with a touch of
fear. "Wh-" She gulped. "What's happened to me, Jean?"
Jean shrugged, gulping herself. "I don't know, Rogue... I..."
She sighed, handing the needle to Rogue. "Here - you see that
Rogue licked her lips, "You want me to stick it in there?"
Jean nodded. "I can't. The skin it's - "
"Too strong," Rogue supplied, and taking the syringe she pressed
it to her skin. There was a sickening give, and Rogue twisted
her lips, wincing. The needle had bent. She looked to Jean
with glistening eyes. "What does this mean?"
Jean sighed, propping her hands onto her hips. "For me? I'm
going to need stronger needles. For you? We'll do the tests we
can today, and tomorrow I'll make some calls about getting some
Rogue nodded, sighing and pulling down her sleeve. "Ah'm sorry."
Jean's brow creased a touch as she frowned lightly at the younger
woman. "What for?"
Rogue looked to her arm and nudged it up. "This. Me bein'
different. You don't like it, Ah can see it in your eyes. Feel
Jean nodded, pulling over a stool. Seriousness seeped into her
usually sweet features, and she looked hard suddenly, like a
matron, but worried, like a mother. "I can see how you might
think that, Rogue," she said, "But it's not true."
Rogue laughed. It was a small innocent chuckle, and she shook
her head without any maliciousness. "No, no. I can see it. I
can feel it. Like - like a flash of colour - but with
feelings. I see your eyes and I know. You don't like it."
Jean clenched her jaw a moment, then licked her lips. "Rogue...
what am I thinking of now?"
Rogue frowned, her brow denting, her lips pushed out in effort.
She sighed, pulling up a leg and cocking it, running a gloved
finger over her full mouth in another Loganeque gesture. With a
final sigh she pointed at Jean lazily.
"I have no idea," she said. Jean sank a little, looking away.
All Rogue could think of was how she suddenly could smell a
cigar. A nice, long smoky cigar.
"Okay. Come over here and we'll begin the tests on your
Rogue nodded, stepping over to the side room equipped to the brim
with machines that strained and tested every imaginable facet of
the human body, and a few machines that strained and measured
facets not imaginable to the human body, but perfectly
conceivable for the mutant body. It was a certainty that Jean
was a pioneer in her field, and probably knew more about mutant
physiology than any other being alive, Hank McCoy running a close
second due to the fact that he was in his last years of medical
tuition. Jean led her to a simple treadmill, and opening a
drawer she brought out conductive gels, wires and sticky pads
that resembled large metallic nipples. Jean pointed to Rogue's
"Could you take that off so I can stick these onto your skin?"
Rogue shrugged and doffed her dark baby-tee. Slipping on latex
gloves, Jean began the task of sticking on the electrodes.
There was a quiet moment of Jean hovering around her body,
fearless, relaxed, as if Rogue were any other half-clothed
person. In that small moment, Rogue felt a touch of relief and
thankfulness. In all of this, Jean was caring at heart.
Perhaps a little too much so, like a mothering sister. The
redhead smiled and hummed.
"Out a' curiosity..." Jean looked up to Rogue, and she
continued. "What were you thinkin' of? You know... when you
Jean shrugged and smiled. "Oh... just a cigar."
She was unsure if she was scared as she waited in the observation
room. It was empty, cleaned out since the last time she'd been
here. The flowers were gone, and so was the vase. Jean said
everything was in the laundry, so the room was stark. For some
reason, it was more comforting now than it was before when it had
been brimming with amenities. Maybe because now she could see
it's true nature, and she felt she could deal with that. It was
a cold sterile cube of a room, and the mirror in the far wall
reflected her image back at her.
Her hair was long. Longer than she remembered it being. 'I
need to cut it,' she mused. 'I look like a little girl.' It
occurred to her she was a girl - damn her if it was months since
she felt like one. The dark baby-tee she wore hugged her form,
and thin bands of her pale skin stuck out from between the hems
of her glove and shirt. A dark brown woolen scarf wrapped her
neck, and Logan's tags dangled down on the tent her breasts
created with the shirt. They glinted in the light, scratched,
old, but precious. Her arms seemed thin but her body felt
different. Her hips felt larger and a yearning built inside of
her to dress accordingly. 'You are a woman now,' a voice said
inside of her, 'Let this shine and emanate from you like the
alluring scent of a rose.' It occurred to her this moment that
she sometimes wished Carol would shut up. Still... a better
wardrobe couldn't hurt.
Jean opened the door, the sudden 'ka-chunk' of the action
shocking Rogue from her deeper thoughts. She smiled patiently at
the lady-doctor, wrapping her arms around her knees.
"What's the verdict?" she said. "Am Ah a mutie freak?"
Jean sighed patiently at the self-depreciating comment and sat at
the end of the bed, opening her clip-board file. "Certifiably.
From my tests thus far I've been able to establish that your
changes have been totally restricted to your cellular structure
and brainwave activities. Your skin and body are strong,
stronger than any skin mutation I've seen. You're practically
indestructible." She could see the girl's large brown eyes
glinting at the endless possibilities opened up by this fact.
"You probably can't burn, bullets may bruise but I sincerely
doubt they would pierce your skin. Your cardio-vascular
endurance is at a normal level though, and without blood tests I
couldn't ascertain what else is at a normal level. I'm just
itching to take a skin sample and run every test on it that I can
think of. You were an intriguing case before Rogue but now..."
She sighed and shook her head. "Now you're truly remarkable."
Rogue hugged her knees and smirked. "So how many more bad guys
do I gotta suck up before I become simply amazing?"
Jean tilted her head, sensing the dry jocularity in the girl
before her, and just narrowed her eyes. "Don't even think about
it. You put us all through enough heartache this past week, and
I honestly don't think Logan could survive another bout of that."
Rogue smiled, a security growing within her as she understood
that Logan, in some way, needed her to be okay, and that he
wasn't happy otherwise. Something occurred to Rogue. She
frowned at Jean. "What about my flying?"
Jean looked up. "What about it?"
"How does it work? How... how can I do it?"
"Ah," Jean nodded, "Your mind seems to be geared to generating
telekinetic energy. You think 'fly', and those energies lift
you. I believe this also accounts for your slight and unwitting
Rogue's eyes grew wide in shock. "You're sayin' I'm psychic?"
Jean smiled slightly. "Not actively, no. When I was
approaching the gymnasium today, I had an encounter with your
thoughts - as if you knew I was accessing them."
"Encounter..." Rogue's brows knitted.
"A conversation," Jean nodded. "Almost."
Rogue shook her head, snorting lightly. "That's so weird."
"It might seem that way at first..."
"No," Rogue said, "No. Before you entered the gym this mornin, I
was wondering what I'd say to you when you saw me flying. Maybe
you just saw that in my head."
Jean eyed Rogue firmly. "You responded to me Rogue.
Rogue shuddered. "Then there's some part of my brain I don't
have any control over."
Jean nodded, "Possibly."
"Great," scowled Rogue. "Like my body isn't doing enough without
"If it's any consolation, telepathy and telekinesis are things
that you can learn to control. All it takes is practice."
Practice... Rogue sighed. That sounded like fun. Why was it
that she had the difficult powers? Sure, the others had powers
which they had to learn to control, but being in the later stages
of puberty and like her, verging on adulthood, they'd very much
come to master them. Rogue felt like she'd never have that
"Come on," Jean said, "I'll take you over your specific results,
then you can go stop Logan wearing a hole in the floor of the
corridor outside with all his pacing."
Yes. Logan wanted to come in whilst she was examined, but Jean
forbade it. It was probably wise, she had to pull off her shirt
and all sorts of things. Damn it.
"Geez," smiled Rogue, following Jean into the main room of the
infirmary, "Ya think I'd never had a check up before."
"I don't think Logan's had to deal with very many of them."
Rogue nodded. That was true. Very true.
Logan had an instinctual dislike of shiny places that smelt of
disinfectant, and waiting for Rogue to have her examination was
not making him any easier about having to be amongst it.
Eventually the door to the Infirmary opened, and Rogue and Jean
spilled out, chattering and smiling. It took a moment for Logan
to catch up with the conversation, and slowly realised what it
"So once the reinforced equipment comes in I can take those
samples and run some tests, okay?"
"Sure," smiled Rogue. She turned and spotted Logan standing
there, the expression on his face close to that of a cat at a
veterinary clinic waiting for an examination. He stepped
forward, arms crossed, lower jaw jutted just slightly foward as
his eyes flickered in worry.
"So, she okay?"
Jean smiled reassuringly. "Of course she is Logan. It seems
these powers are settling in to stay. They're only getting
stronger, and thanks to them Rogue has a whole range of things
she couldn't do before to look forward to."
Logan stared at the woman flatly. "Right." New range his hairy
ass. She could do enough; she didn't need any more crap on her
plate. He looked to Rogue, who frowned at him slightly. "You
"Yes," Jean nodded.
"Right," Logan pointed at Rogue, "Wanna go for a walk?"
Rogue nodded silently, and they strolled from the infirmary,
Rogue hugging her sweater to her chest and Logan loping along
with a tenseness to his lips.
Rogue looked to him, then back to where she was going.
"New abilities, huh?"
She narrowed her eyes at him and frowned again. "Yeah. You
don't like 'em do you?"
He sighed, shrugging with a long roll of his shoulders. "I dunno
Kid. I worry about what they'll do to you."
"They'll protect me, Logan," she said. "I can do some good now.
I can be like you guys-"
Logan sighed, rubbing his brow, "Baby, I don't want you being
like us guys."
Rogue stopped, cocking a hip and a brow at him. "What?"
He stopped with her, a part of him knotting up at the anger in
the girl's eyes. Great. This discussion again. He lifted her
arm up by the wrist and flopped her hand about. "It doesn't
matter what powers you got, Kid. Without the proper training
you're vulnerable. And this," Another hand flop, "Won't help
Rogue ticked a lip, anger in her eyes, and she yanked her hand
away roughly. Logan, not expecting the strength that came from
the girl, didn't let go soon enough and thusly went careening
into the wall behind her, slamming against it then staggering
back, cradling his head. Rogue covered her face, brows tilting
"I um... I didn't mean to do that..."
"Sorry..." Rogue looked around, covering her mouth with brown
silk covered fingers, before planting her hands on her hips.
"Logan, sugah, I don't know if you noticed or not, but this thing
I'm living, called a life? It's mine."
Logan looked at her behind a bruised but clearing brow.
"Yeah, sure, whatever. Simple thing is, I wanna be a part of the
team, and I will be."
Standing up straight, shaking his head of the last sluggy moments
of healing, he glared at her. "Why? So you can protect me? Is
Rogue smirked sadly, shaking her head and scoffing. "Sweet
Jesus, the man is amazing!" She sniggered then gave him a glare
of seriousness tinged with a smile. "You really believe that
He opened his mouth but she waved a hand.
"Forget it." She strode off ahead of him.
"Where are you going?!" he cried.