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FIC: Rebirth

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  • khakigrrl
    Title: Rebirth Author: Khaki Email: rimmette@earthlink.net Rating: PG13 Category: Drama/Horror Disclaimer: None of these characters would want me to own them.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2002
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      Title: Rebirth
      Author: Khaki
      Email: rimmette@...
      Rating: PG13
      Category: Drama/Horror
      Disclaimer: None of these characters would want me to own them.
      Archive Rights: WRFA, XMMFFC, DDFH, Med Lab. Otherwise, just ask.
      Author's Notes: I am very, very, very slowly coming back, so I will
      return to my WIP fics, but it'll take quite a while.
      Author's Warning: I tried not to get too gross, but be warned
      anyway. There is unpleasant and perhaps even disgusting imagery in
      this story.
      Summary: Why Logan can't remember his past. Basically, a thinly-
      veiled excuse for me to torture Logan and/or Rogue.

      *****

      He returned in much the same way that he'd left. Unnoticed, except by
      one person.

      Rogue stood next to the plate, her leather-gloved hands gripping the
      bat tightly. When the next pitch came, the crack of the bat filled
      the air as the ball hurtled up and away into an unprotected area of
      right field.

      With a laugh, Rogue ran, speeding to first and then around to second
      plate. When she rounded second, her eyes widened in dismay and she
      almost tripped over her own feet before a smile broke across her face
      and she began running even harder. She ran past third and then off
      the field, extending her arms and barreling into Logan.

      "You're back! When did you get back?"

      "Rogue!" her teammates yelled at her, urging her back, but she only
      had ears for the man in her arms.

      "Don't you wanna finish your game, darlin'?" Logan asked, cocking his
      head back towards the angry young adults.

      "Nah, I can play anytime. I've missed you."

      "I called ya every week."

      "That's not the same as seeing you."

      Logan's cock-eyed grin showed itself for a moment at her response,
      and he put his arm around her shoulders, leading her away.

      The protests of the people on the field faded as Logan and Rogue
      walked into the woods, but neither of them spoke to fill the silence.
      They simply walked in mutual contentment until they reached the banks
      of the stream that cut through the woods.

      Logan let go of Rogue and sat down on a rock while she did the same,
      facing him.

      "What is it, Logan? What did you find?"

      "Nothin'."

      "What? But the professor told me..."

      "Oh, I found an old army base all right. Just didn't have one thing
      to do with me."

      "Logan, I'm so sorry. I know how much this means to you."

      "You still got me in your head?"

      "Well," Rogue said as she shifted positions. "It's kinda hard to
      explain."

      "Try me," Logan said, leaning back and putting his hands on his knees.

      "Ok. It's like, when I touch someone, I get their powers, memories,
      personality, that sorta stuff, but when they wake up, it kinda goes
      away."

      "Kinda? You told me that kid you kissed was still in your head."

      "He is, sorta. Even though the powers and everything go away, my own
      memories stay. So it's like I have my memories of his memories
      instead of his memories."

      "So you have your memories of my memories?"

      "Yeah."

      Logan paused, his lips pursed in a frown as he asked, "Any of the bad
      stuff in there?"

      Rogue looked down, and answered in an almost whisper, "Yeah. They
      really hurt you, Logan."

      "Aw, kid. I"m sorry."

      Rogue looked up and held her hand out to him. "Don't be. I like it.
      It makes me feel closer to you even when you're gone."

      Logan took her hand, rubbing it gently. "I'm back now."

      "Does the professor have another lead for you?"

      Logan let out a breath of amusement and met her eyes. "You think
      that's the only reason I came back? Haveta make sure the geeks are
      taking care of you."

      "I'm fine. I... sometimes I really miss you, but I'm ok."

      Logan's face broke into a grin once again, before he schooled his
      features back into place.

      Rogue caught the swift expression and asked, "What?"

      "What?"

      "Why do you smile when I say I've missed you?"

      "Sorry, kid. It's just... no one's ever missed me before. It's really
      nice. I can't remember anyone ever caring whether I lived or died."

      "Well, I care," Rogue insisted, "so don't go off dying anytime soon."

      Logan nodded, looking down at their clasped hands. They sat for a
      while like that, listening to the babbling of the stream.

      "What's the professor going to do to help you?" Rogue asked after a
      long time.

      "He wants to go in my head and sift through everything. See if he
      can't make some sense outta this swiss-cheese memory of mine."

      "Logan... but, that's terrible."

      If Rogue had learned anything about Logan, it was that he was an
      intensely private man. A mind scan that deep would leave every
      memory, every thought, open and bare for Xavier's perusal.

      "It's the only way I'll ever find out."

      "Can't you just... just..."

      "You know how long I've been lookin', kid. I've used up all my leads.
      This is my last chance."

      -----

      Throughout her young life, Marie's favorite season had always been
      summer. There was no school, and she could go swimming with her
      friends almost every day during the sticky, hot season. However, when
      she grew up and became a mutant, her preference changed. Marie might
      adore summer, but Rogue worshiped autumn. In the fall, she could
      comfortably cover her skin in the crisper air, and yet still enjoy
      the outdoors. With the protection of clothing, she could play sports
      without much fear for her teammates. All that freedom, plus the lush,
      radiant colors only trees in New England could produce, made falling
      in love with the season easy.

      In fact a few weeks after Logan's arrival, Rogue was enjoying the
      milder weather by playing a game of soccer when she saw him and the
      professor walking towards the woods. Well, Logan was walking; he was
      carrying the professor.

      Curious, Rogue excused herself from the impromptu game and headed
      towards the two men.

      "Logan, Professor, whatcha doing?"

      Professor Xavier cleared his throat, and said, "Hello, Rogue. There
      are some places on the school grounds that I can't reach without
      assistance, so I simply asked Logan if he would help me..."

      "She's ok, Chuck," Logan interrupted before turning his attention to
      Rogue. "Professor thought maybe being out in the woods'd get us past
      my memory block."

      "But I thought he..." Rogue turned to the professor and corrected
      herself. "Sorry, professor. I meant, I thought you were just going to
      use your mutation to find..." Rogue paused again, trying to think of
      a tactful way to say it.

      "You thought I'd just rip the answers to Logan's past out of his
      mind?"

      Rogue looked down and shrugged. "Well, yeah."

      "Unfortunately, Logan has very strong shields protecting those
      memories, and we've resorted to more traditional methods."

      "Traditional?"

      "Yeah," Logan said, reentering the conversation, "psychy-mumbo jumbo,
      and we should probably get going."

      "Oh," Rogue said, taking a step back, and looking everywhere but at
      Logan.

      Logan nodded and turned away, only to call over his shoulder, "You
      comin', kid?"

      "What?" Then Rogue took a quick breath and shook her head. "But...
      that's... it's way too personal, Logan."

      Logan grunted and turned back to meet her gaze. "You think I trust
      Chuck here more than you?" he asked with earnest eyes. He cocked his
      head in the direction he'd been walking. "C'mon."

      -----

      "Slow your breathing, Logan. Focus on relaxing," Professor Xavier
      instructed from where he sat, leaning against a tree in the small
      clearing.

      Rogue sat a few feet away from them, watching Logan intently as he
      was hypnotized. He sat in a lotus position that he insisted was
      comfortable, although Rogue couldn't imagine ever being able to relax
      with her legs twisted up like a pretzel. Somehow, though, Logan
      managed.

      She watched as his muscles loosened starting at his feet and ending
      with his head. The lines of his body became softer and the few stern
      wrinkles on his face disappeared as he loosened up, making him appear
      years younger.

      As she studied him, she wondered about the amazing openness he was
      showing. He didn't even know what he would find in this, the deepest
      and most protected part of his mind, but he trusted her enough to
      actually let her be present when he uncovered it.

      She couldn't help asking herself if she would have the courage to be
      equally open to him. Could she actually expose to him her darkest
      thoughts and greatest dreams? Could she tell him all her secrets and
      know with a certainty that he'd never betray that confidence?

      Well, wait a second. What had she been doing every week on the
      phone, but that? Logan knew all her fears, secrets, and desires.
      Well, all but one. The one that involved him. The one she held
      closest to her heart in hopes that some day it might become a reality.

      She broke from her reverie when Professor Xavier asked a few
      innocuous questions, which Logan answered in a slow, almost monotone
      voice. The professor nodded to himself, then began.

      "Logan, go to your safe place, your favorite hunting spot in
      Alberta. The sun is warm on your face as you prowl through the
      undergrowth. The game trails around your feet are fresh, and there
      are no humans for hundreds of kilometers. You are comfortable and
      secure."

      Logan's blank expression turned up into a beaming smile at the
      professor's description.

      "If there is any time during this session where we need to stop, I
      will say your safety word, and you will return to this place. Do you
      understand?"

      "Yes."

      "Do you remember your safety word?"

      Logan nodded.

      "What is your safety word?"

      "Marie."

      Rogue was so stunned she actually, leaned back as if she'd been
      struck. She thought he'd forgotten. He always called her, "Kid."
      She'd heard him ask other people about her, and then he called
      her, "Rogue."

      But, he hadn't forgotten. He'd actually picked her name, of all the
      other words in the entire world, to mean safety and protection to him.

      "That's right," the professor continued, unaware of Rogue's
      revelation, or at least pretending to be. "Whenever I say, `Marie,'
      you will return to this place."

      The professor let out a deep breath, as if steeling himself for what
      was to come next.

      "Logan, I want you to leave your safe place. Allow yourself to move
      backwards through your memories. Backwards through time. Back over
      15 years ago, to the cave where you first woke up."

      Rogue observed Logan's calm expression change to an almost
      animalistic grimace. He started breathing deeply through his nose
      and his head turned slowly from one side to another, as if he was
      taking in the scents of his new setting.

      "Center yourself in the moment, Logan. What do your senses tell you?"

      "It's morning. Sky's lightening, but not dawn yet. Ground's wet
      with dew.

      "I'm crouched on rocks, gravel, in front of a small cave. Dead
      buck's lying in front of me. Most've the meat's gone, but there's
      enough for a couple more meals. Smells like it's still ok to eat.
      It's been skinned. Got the skin tied around my body. Keeps me warm."

      "Go inside the cave, Logan."

      "Dark in here. Wet. Can smell moss, rotting leaves... feels like a
      bed of leaves."

      "Ok, Logan, now that we've established..."

      "Fever," Logan said in a ragged whisper, his forehead tightening as
      he tried to place the smells. "Blood. Death."

      "Logan, you've never..." the professor said in dismay before he
      stopped himself. Lowering his voice to the calm cadence he'd had up
      until this point, Xavier said, "Logan, what died in this cave?"

      "Don't... Scent faded. Been weeks, maybe months."

      "Logan, how long have you lived in the cave?"

      "Don't know. A long time."

      "Ok. Logan, I want you to travel further backwards in your memories
      to the time before the cave. Stop at the place where you lived and
      slept before the cave and center yourself in that moment."

      For a moment, Logan's expression didn't change, and then his eyes
      shot open in terror and he fell backwards onto the ground.

      "Logan!" Rogue shouted, and scrambled towards him as quickly as she
      could.

      The professor held up a hand at her and commanded, "Marie. Marie,
      Logan. Go back to the safe place in your mind. Marie."

      The words had absolutely no affect. Logan's entire body tensed so
      tightly where he lay that his muscles shook in exertion. When Rogue
      reached his side, she saw his eyes still open and panic-stricken, and
      now his mouth, too, hung wide in a silent scream.

      "Logan! Wake up, Logan!" Rogue yelled, then, taking a cue from the
      professor, she shouted, "Marie! Marie! Marie!"

      Logan remained as he was. The muscles of his chest spasming like he
      was trying to breathe, but no air went further than his mouth.

      "Stop this!" Rogue ordered the professor. "Use your mind and make
      him wake up. I think he's stopped breathing!"

      Xavier leaned back and closed his eyes, his face a mask of
      concentration. Only after a few seconds, though, his eyes shot open
      again and he panted for air.

      "His mind's... completely primal. There's nothing but emotion and
      sensation. Nothing I can link to."

      "He's dying!"

      "I've summoned Jean. She'll sedate him, and he'll recover."

      Rogue nodded and turned her attention back to Logan, his every
      movement another glimpse into his agony. She couldn't help but try
      to ease some of it by gently stroking his hair with glove-covered
      hands, but he gave no indication of feeling her. He continued to
      struggle and gasp for air, his body locked in paroxysms.

      By the time Jean arrived, his lips were blue from lack of oxygen.
      Her features widened in shock when she saw him, before she donned a
      mask of professionalism.

      Having been briefed by Xavier as she ran to the scene, she quickly
      prepared and administered Logan-sized doses of anti-seizure
      medication and a sedative before she pulled out an intubation kit and
      started trying to work Logan's head into a position where she could
      secure his airway.

      A couple minutes passed with no change in Logan's condition, and Jean
      couldn't get his head to budge, even using her telekinesis and
      Rogue's help.

      "Dammit," she said in frustration. "His healing factor must've
      burned off the meds before they could work."

      "What does that mean?" Rogue demanded. "You've gotta help him. He's
      not breathing."

      Indeed, Logan's coloring had worsened to the point where his skin,
      not just his lips, had a distinctive blue cast.

      "It's not just the breathing. His pulse is so rapid, he's going to
      stroke out if I don't sedate him, but I can't play willy-nilly with
      these dosages. If I overestimate, I could depress his body to the
      point where his heart stops."

      Jean turned to Xavier. "Maybe if we combined our minds..." but Rogue
      was no longer listening. She knew of a foolproof way to knock Logan
      out, and hopefully save his life.

      Moving quickly, she had a glove pulled off and her hand on Logan's
      bare cheek before either of her mentors noticed.

      -----

      No words.

      The fragments of this mind had no words to express the terror, the
      mind-numbing panic, but Rogue's did.

      She was trapped, weight pressing on every inch of her skin until she
      could barely move a finger. She didn't know where she was, or even
      which direction led out, all she knew was that she had to escape.

      Her skin rubbed against the smooth plastic enveloping her body, and
      itched against the few places where dirt and grit had made its way
      through the plastic. Opening her eyes and mouth only led to the
      sensation of more dirt, now falling in and mixing with tears and
      saliva.

      There was no light. Her voice made no sound and nose detected no
      scents for how can a mouth yell or a nose smell when there is no air?

      The miniscule remains of the mind she was linked to understood the
      terror of captivity and the need to escape. Claws sprung painfully
      from her hands, piercing the plastic covering. When more soil fell
      in filling the small space that had existed around her hands moments
      before, the mind forced an attack, piercing the enemy again and
      again, digging, stretching, and fighting for life.

      Rogue's mind understood so much more than the one controlling this
      body. She knew what the captivity, lack of air, and abundance of
      earth meant. She'd been buried alive.

      -----

      How her body survived without oxygen, Rogue couldn't understand, but
      survive it did. As her mind reeled at the knowledge that she was
      lying in a filled grave, most likely six feet under firm soil, her
      body kept fighting to escape.

      Inch by painful inch, battles were won and ground was gained. Hours,
      days, even years could have passed during this sightless, soundless
      battle with death before her bloodied fingers broke through the
      surface of the terrain above.

      Even then, more time passed before her head broke through and exited
      the tomb, or rather the womb of earth, and she rejoined life, taking
      a first, ragged breath.

      With that breath, the damage inflicted during her prior life and
      death became apparent. Her lungs rattled with that breath, and her
      eyes, cloudy with putrid cataracts, watched as her mouth expunged
      black, viscous liquid, which had to be a mixture of blood and decay.
      Mixed in with the foul fluid were creatures that thrived in the dark
      depths of the world, gorging on the corpses of others.

      Her arms shook under the force of each weak cough. The bloated,
      white limbs would be unable to bear the weight of her rotted body
      much longer, but still the shattered mind she was connected to
      struggled onward. It ruled her body, this shell of a human being,
      pushing it beyond all limitations.

      Rogue's mind, overcome with revulsion, could barely focus on what her
      body was doing as she dragged herself through rows of rectangular
      stones. These stones had figures and symbols carved into them that
      the primitive mind didn't understand, but Rogue did. They were
      numbers, gravemarkers with numbers stretching at least a square mile
      around her. So many graves, so much death.

      Her body struggled on, out of the field of death and onto the side of
      a paved road, a road with a sign. Somehow, the fragmented mind
      understood some of the symbols on this sign. Perhaps they were
      vaguely familiar to it, perhaps the mind simply wanted to come back
      here some day. For whatever reason, it made her body stop and her
      eyes squint at the sign. L... O... G... A... N... Then she dragged
      herself off the road and into the woods.

      Rogue's mind had seen the sign, too, and where she'd been reeling
      with disgust, now she was pressed down by sorrow. It'd read:

      Mt. Logan 30 km

      The connection had been so visceral, so painful and frightening,
      she'd forgotten. The shreds of a mind she held onto was Logan's.
      This was his past, but it held no answers. He didn't even know his
      name.

      -----

      Strong hands grabbed her arms, and Rogue felt a sudden transition as
      she lost the connection with Logan's mind.

      "Good job, Rogue," Jean said. "He's breathing on his own now...
      pulse is dropping to regular levels."

      "He isn't... I didn't hold on too long, did I, Jeannie?"

      "It was just a few seconds. I think your touch shocked his mind out
      of whatever it'd been stuck in."

      "I concur, Rogue," the professor added. "I can sense him now. He
      feels like Logan again."

      -----

      Rogue sat vigil by Logan's bedside, sometimes crying for what he'd
      had to endure, sometimes crying for his lost, and according to Jean
      and the professor, unrecoverable past, and sometimes crying because
      she was so happy that he'd survived and come into her life.

      "Hey, kid."

      Rogue looked up and met clear hazel eyes.

      "Hey," she said.

      "Chuck and Jeannie?" Logan asked, hesitation and worry clear in his
      voice.

      "They know, but no one else does. They said it was your life and you
      could tell who you wanted."

      "You?"

      Rogue nodded.

      "Everything?"

      "Yeah."

      "What're you still doing here?"

      "None of that changes who you are to me."

      "I'm a damned experiment that died on the table!" Logan countered,
      sitting up and jumping off the Med Lab bed. Pacing back and forth,
      he said "I didn't escape. I didn't take any of those bastards with
      me. I died, they buried me, end of story. I'm a freaking corpse,
      Marie! Why would you ever..."

      Logan turned and froze at the look of astonishment on Rogue's face.
      He cringed thinking that she probably didn't know everything, and
      he'd just messed things up even worse, when she spoke.

      "You called me Marie."

      "Wh... What?"

      "Marie. You always call me `Kid'."

      "Marie... Kid, you're not focusing on the bigger issue."

      "Logan, I've had two days to think about this. You're not an
      experiment. You're not a corpse. You're Logan, and you're just as
      alive as anyone else. In fact, you're more alive than most. Jean
      said your healing factor was probably a lot stronger before the
      adamantium slowed it down. It must've kicked in and saved your life
      right after you died from the implantation."

      "But if I can't die..."

      "Oh, you can die. Jean told me that, too. The metal on your bones
      slows down your healing factor a lot. It might take more to kill
      you, but that doesn't mean you're Superman."

      Logan sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

      "Logan, you're the same man: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. All
      this means is that instead of looking for your past, you can start
      working on your future."

      Logan grunted, "Never given much thought to my future."

      Rogue smiled. "Well, from where I'm standing, you've got a good
      start. Nice place to stay. Plenty to eat." She reached out and
      hooked one of his hands in hers. "Friends who care about you," she
      added, gazing intently into his eyes.

      Logan looked down thoughtfully at where their hands joined. Then, he
      lifted her hand in his and kissed it chastely, giving Rogue his
      broadest smile as he lowered their hands again.

      "You're right, Marie. There's nothing better than... friends."

      *****

      The End.
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