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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part V: 5/5: Rogue, others: NC-17

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  • jenn
    5/5 ***** It was his room, third to the left and the door opened easily beneath my touch. Johnny had barely turned around before I had him up against the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2002
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      It was his room, third to the left and the door opened easily beneath my
      touch. Johnny had barely turned around before I had him up against the
      wall, one bare hand wrapped around his throat. The cell phone he'd been
      holding clattered to the floor like an accusation.

      The most damning thing was, he didn't even look surprised. I didn't have to
      wonder why, only wondered that he hadn't run. I kicked the phone out of
      reach and stared into the clear blue eyes.

      "You fucking bastard."

      The temptation to squeeze was almost irresistible--my fingers twitched with
      the need, the desire to just *do* it, kill him, God, he'd risked all our
      lives, our--

      God. Traitor all along, and I thought of what he'd told me about his
      support of Hank, why he was here. I hadn't gotten it, not really. Didn't
      understand everything he was betraying, everyone he was going to destroy.

      Five seconds that seemed to last five years, and I let him slide down the
      wall. I hadn't killed Hank, though God knew I'd wanted to. Stepping back,
      I studied his face, and there was nothing there--nothing but the coolest

      "Kitty, Jean--you knew both times, didn't you? That attack, when you
      immolated the corpses--you did that to protect Hank. That's why it's
      standard now. They might have had--something to implicated Hank."
      Implicate Johnny. Should have known, guessed, when Logan told me so long
      ago, that Hank had given those orders to Johnny.

      Should have fucking put it together.

      Johnny didn't answer for a minute--nor did he touch his bruised throat.
      Just watched me with a wary, intense concentration that drove every nerve in
      my body into edgy action. I wanted to kill him, wanted him dead so badly it
      shook my hands, and I clenched them into fists at my side.

      "You help them, don't you? The FoH, Hank, the mutant terrorists--you *help*

      "What do you want, Marie?" he asked slowly. Blue eyes stared into mine,
      nothing in them at all. Johnny could blank himself like no one I'd ever

      "The truth. Kitty and Jean could have died. I could have died." Treason
      and murder in one beautiful package, and he'd betrayed us.

      "Thirty thousand human beings will die. Slowly and painfully, while their
      bodies reject the mutation on the dirt of that camp." St. John stared at
      me, expressionless. "I know what happened to Senator Kelly, Marie, and the
      X-Men can hide the truth from the world, but that doesn't change the facts.
      I know how he died I was here. I *know*." He pushed by me, reaching for
      the duffel bag on the bed, not even attempting to hide what he was doing. A
      stack of clean shirts were dropped in without ceremony, then he retrieved
      the phone, flicking it off with a careless flick of his thumb.

      The traitor was running. Hank had called and warned him, and if I'd been
      only a few minutes later, he would have been gone.

      "That doesn't make what you did right--Kitty could have died." Jean could
      have died--could have lost the baby she wanted so desperately.

      "Right and wrong went out of fashion around the time Magneto was allowed to
      dictate post-war policy," St. John answered coolly, not pausing in the
      steady packing. A framed picture disappeared into the recesses of the bag,
      and I saw his mutant ID laying on the bed beside it, proclaiming him the
      most elite of living mutants, a war veteran and an X-Man. "Feel free to get
      the fuck out. Hank got free passage out--I assume you're not turning me
      over to Jeannie for interrogation."

      I shuddered at that thought, even now. --like an onion....--

      "Did--did you know what they were doing?"

      St. John shook his head slowly as he dropped the phone into the bag.

      "I didn't know for sure--I was just sending information, like I told you
      before." And how damnable, that I couldn't be sure he was telling the
      truth. The St. John I'd known never would have done this, ever, never
      betrayed a teammate. "I wouldn't have stopped Hank, if that's what you
      mean. If they'd held you--maybe we could have negotiated the humans out.
      Instead--" St. John shrugged, looking away. Bitterness was written into
      every line of his body. "Instead, they got desperate, tried to take out the
      telepaths. Jean and Betsy got damned lucky, you know. They figured that
      without the two strongest, the others would slip up and the camp would be
      free." Twist of a smile. "It's not easy to hold that many dissidents in
      one place, you know."

      *We* negotiated the humans out. Like he--like he was one of them.

      "How can you betray your people?" I whispered. No X-Man would do that.
      "How can you turn on your own kind--"

      "They *are* my kind." Flare, bright hot and almost blinding, and I felt the
      heat from his skin even at three feet away. I'd never felt that from Johnny
      before, not in this world, not in the other. His back was to me, head down,
      and I felt him pull it under control with an effort that was entirely
      visible. "I was born of human parents, same as you. They're human,
      Rogue--human. They're not rats for us to exploit or experiment on--"

      "But it's okay for them to do that to us?" I was breathing too fast, too
      hard, the pulse in my forehead a counterpoint to my anger. He'd--he'd
      turned on us, risked lives, given out information--and for *what*? To save
      the people that would watch us all die, who'd spent a war trying to kill us
      already. My God, how-- "How can you forget? Is it that easy for you? To
      see what happened to your friends and family and--and then turn on them? I
      *saw* what was in their minds, Johnny, in that--in the FoH officer I
      absorbed. Don't you--don't you remember? What they did to you? What they
      did to everyone?"

      Almost as if I was watching a slow-motion video, Johnny turned around, blue
      eyes darkened almost to black, fixing on me. For a moment, neither of us
      moved; *everything* seemed to freeze in place. Then, sudden heat, a flare
      of pure power that made the air burn briefly around us and I winced,
      invulnerable though I was. St. John had never needed much fuel for his
      fires. This St. John didn't need any at all. The air was full of the smell
      of charring wood and my gaze slid downward, unwillingly drawn to the
      blackened floor beneath his feet, the brown crisp of the ceiling above his

      "Nine months," St. John whispered, and he pushed me back against the bed
      with hands that burned through my jacket and shirt like fire. Falling, I
      caught myself on both arms, the heat radiating from him sinking into my
      bones. "They burned me out. I blew up the Mansion. I wanted to die."

      I sucked in a breath of hot air, letting it out in a rush.

      "Three months. Drug trials and experimentation, torture and filthy cells
      crowded underground where I never saw sunlight." His voice was low and
      breathless and utterly flat. "I watched hundreds destroyed and experimented
      on and burned out, left nothing but bodies they dissected at their leisure.
      They dragged me out and flew me here, and the Mansion went up in smoke
      because I couldn't even think, much less control my powers. At that point,
      I didn't even care." Quick breathing. "It took four point eight seconds to
      vaporize the school, topped myself out into unconsciousness on the floor of
      their plane and I woke up locked in a collar. They watched me go insane in
      their cage and took notes until Logan found me. Nine months, Marie. No one
      thinks I can remember it. I do. I *remember*. Every. Fucking. Minute."

      I couldn't move, couldn't look away from the blue eyes drilling into mine.

      "Two years, where I couldn't function, didn't know where I was or what was
      going on. Jean fed through me so they could use my powers on the field.
      Hank manipulated me into blowing up the things he wanted hidden. Eighteen
      months ago I was still recovering from collar shock in a small room in
      Canada, and they thought I'd never be able to function independently again.
      Twelve months ago, they thought I'd burn myself out because I didn't have
      any control." Brief pause. "I can control myself now. It's hard, it's
      hard to hold it, it's a battle every day when I can feel it rise up inside
      of me with nowhere to go.

      "My parents died in Australia during the government-sponsored cleansing,
      Jubilee died in the camps under torture, Xavier was murdered in the middle
      of a filthy camp latrine, and Bobby--God, he lost his parents, his
      lover--everything. Jean lost her baby, Kurt lost his tail, and I lost three
      years of my life and part of my mind. Don't you dare presume to think you
      can judge me--I paid for being mutant as much as anyone else. I paid for
      being different, and for being who and what I am."

      "You don't--" I choked off the words, looking for something--something
      concrete. "He--the FoH I killed--he's in my mind. Don't you--don't you
      know what they'd do to us, if they got out?"

      "I know," St. John said softly, implacably. "They already did it once. I
      lived the experimentation camps, Marie. I survived them. But I never, ever
      made it an excuse for what I did after. There is no excuse for those people
      dying out there so Lensherr can play scientist and experimenter and God all
      at once. I would go through it again, all of it, rather than be a person
      that can accept that."

      *"I would have died in the camps before letting myself become them."*

      That's what I'd said. To Logan. My own words, and it was as if the days
      between were nothing at all to this--to this moment, this second, when
      everything fragmented.

      "You've been here two weeks, and you've changed. You believe in Scott's
      revised dream and Logan's cynicism and Jean's bitterness. You believe in
      what they brought out of the camps and out of the war. They--they think
      this is temporary, but it's not, Marie. You set up society with a chosen
      slave population, that's how it's going to be until there's another war.
      Until we've internalized and justified this--this social structure, until
      it's all we know."

      And I'd said that too.

      "Scott isn't going to do that," I whispered, hands shaking in my lap.
      Standardization of a way of life--Scott didn't mean that to happen, I knew
      it in my bones, knew it from his memories I'd taken when I'd taken his

      But Scott wasn't Magneto, wasn't every other mutant in this school, on this

      "He already did. He approved the Polaris Project--but then, what's a few
      thousand human beings up against the good of mutantkind, right?" Tiny
      pause, almost breathless. "Or one life against those, one quietly
      indoctrinated girl who believes she's going to save the world. Just. Like.

      I shut my eyes against the bitterness.

      "And you came back, and now you believe too. You believe the bullshit, that
      this will make everything better, or fairer, or more just, that this can
      erase what we went through, that this'll be what heals us all in the end."
      Instantly, St. John had my face, tilting it up, staring into my eyes.
      Whatever he saw in them, however, made his hands drop away. "Nothing,
      nothing, can ever be done to make this up to me, do you understand that?
      Nothing can bring back Jubes or Xavier, give Bobby his lover, give Jean back
      her baby, give us back our lives. Every human on earth could die and it
      wouldn't be enough. Don't you get it? It's not about fair or about
      reparation or even liking or disliking or hate. I'll hate them, I'll hate
      humans, for as long as I live. I'll hate them and fear them, and somewhere
      in me *likes* what I see every day, that humans are locked up where I know
      they will never hurt me again. I like their fear and I like knowing that
      they fear me and I hate myself for it, for being no better than they were to

      "Then how--"

      "Because they took everything else from me." St. John seemed to step
      back--not physically, not in the world. Something that was all in the eyes,
      the tilt of his chin, the space between us that seven very different years
      had created in him that I could never touch. He might not have been in this
      room at all. "They took St. John and left Pyro, they took my life and my
      family and my home and my world and left me in this--this godforsaken mutant
      dreamland where every day, I wake up knowing that my people--*my*
      friends--are playing mutant supremacist and training everyone to believe it.
      I can't let--I can't let the humans have anything else. I didn't believe in
      Xavier's dream when I went into the camps, Marie. I wasn't ever a believer.
      I believe it now, because otherwise, that war was for nothing. We all
      suffered for *nothing*. Humans were right, we're not anything more than
      animals who deserve to be exterminated, because we know better, we saw the
      what we could become, we lived on the other side of the fence and we fucking
      became it anyway. *Nothing* they could do to me, nothing, can make me want
      to become them."

      *"I never stop making sure that what they are, the FoH, the Brotherhood, all
      of them, is what I don't become. It's a choice I make every day."*

      God. This wasn't--

      "St. John--" But I had no idea what to say, how to say it. If there was
      anything at all.

      "You don't have the right to judge me, Marie--Rogue--whoever the hell you
      are and whoever the hell you've become. Not because you didn't live this
      and not because you weren't in the camps or because you didn't fight the
      war. Because you *chose* this--because you saw everything that humans could
      do to us, you saw everything they *did* to us, and you thought it was so
      fucking great that you decided to become that yourself. You made a choice,
      Marie. I understand Scott and Jean and Logan and Magneto--but nothing will
      ever make me understand, nothing you say will ever justify the fact that you
      support those camps, those restrictions, and those deaths."

      "I don't. I don't--" Don't *what* Marie? What the fuck don't you believe?
      You watched thirty people die for you and you've taken three lives with your
      own hands in this place. What the *hell* do you believe?

      We stared at each other for a few long minutes, my heart in my throat,
      pounding so hard I could barely think, barely breathe. Neither of us spoke,
      and the air cooled around us as St. John winced, bringing himself back under
      control, blue eyes turning downward as he shivered, suddenly shaking,
      rubbing sweaty palms into his thighs as if he was rubbing off something

      Maybe my touch.

      I stared down at my hands briefly before looking up, catching St. John's

      "I sent Hank out of the zone," I whispered, and St. John didn't even twitch.
      "I sent him out. I told him if he came back, I'd have him arrested. The
      X-Men suspected him of collaboration with the enemy for a long time."

      "I know."

      Something twisted across his face, body straightening, and I reached out,
      pulling my hand back at the last second. The blue eyes were distant, dark,
      and I watched him separate us, distance growing with every breath--those
      words, that anger, had been for Marie, the girl he met, not the stranger who
      now sat on his bed.

      "You'd--you'd die for those humans, wouldn't you?" I said slowly, picking
      my way across the confusion of my own thoughts. It was a question, maybe,
      but I knew the answer, easy. It was written into every line of his face,
      every movement of his body.

      "Yes." Without hesitation. Without question. A true believer, what I'd
      thought I had always been until I came here and saw what the price of belief
      really was.

      I'd never been a true believer in anything. Hard to say, to think, but
      there it was. I'd never believed this much. I'd been Xavier's invulnerable
      X-Man and then Scott's, I'd played on both sides of the fence and fought for
      a cause I thought I believed in--but I'd never personalized it. I'd
      thought--I'd thought I was better than this. That I was--that the cause
      meant something to me. I'd preached equal rights for mutant in the other
      world, but never risked myself to achieve it. I'd coasted along all my
      life, and this--this was the moment I had to acknowledge it. In the face of
      Johnny's belief, there wasn't a choice.

      Everything I'd ever said, in this world and the other, had been a lie. I'd
      never believed enough in anything to die for it.

      "I'm not a believer, Johnny." Somehow, it was easier to say than I'd

      He paused briefly, and I caught the quick dart of his eyes before his
      expression cooled again.

      "They won't die," I heard myself say as St. John picked up his duffle bag.
      The words slipped into the space between us, hanging in the air with more
      meaning than I wanted to think about. As if from a distance, I heard
      Johnny's breath catch, the sense of the words penetrating. "Polaris won't
      die, Johnny."

      Like falling, like flying, like knowing. It was--this was it.


      I looked up at him, blue eyes, shining with the faith I'd never had. I
      wanted to be him.

      "I can change things," I said slowly, feeling it come together. "I
      can--Johnny, I can change everything."

      I heard the duffel bag drop unceremoniously to the floor--and maybe he felt
      it too, whatever was moving inside of me, awakened for the first time in my
      life. What I was and what I could be, if I tried.

      If I just--believed. Just this once.

      'Tell me."

      * * * * *

      The day outside was gorgeous. I could see what seemed like forever from
      Johnny's window. Hearing his quiet footsteps as he left, I wondered a
      little on the fact that the sun looked just about the same today as it had
      the day Logan had brought me to the Mansion, about ten million memories ago.

      Slowly, I retreated to the neatly-made bed, dropping onto the mattress and
      drawing my legs up to my chest, shutting my eyes. Going to Logan or Scott
      with this would be pointless--I knew the first arguments would wear down
      what I'd decided. I had to do it, had to make the commitment, and this
      time, I had to do it alone. No inner voice committee meetings, no advice
      from friends, just--just me.

      And for the life of me, I hadn't had to do that in forever. Not since that
      first touch with David so long ago, not since Logan, Magneto and the Statue,
      and Carol. This was just--Marie.

      And for some reason, I'd wanted this silence of the mind for so long.
      Ironically, I'd never wanted my voices more than at this moment. The
      white-washed halls of my mind were echoingly silent, only my thoughts, small
      and insignificant wandering through.

      I rolled on my back and stared up at the ceiling. Closing my eyes and
      reaching inside, looking--but there was nothing. Logan and Carol gone as if
      they'd never been there at all, and the others--ghosts of feeling, like a
      thousand tastes in quick succession, nothing I could cling to, no one to
      ask, no one to tell me what was right and wrong.

      I'd depended on my inner voices far too much. To help me clarify my own
      lines, to make my decisions easier, to always have the back-up of them
      telling me when I fucked up and how. Most people didn't have that, and
      most people--most people didn't need that. They were strong all on their

      And Logan said I depended too much on my strength. I'd never realized until
      this moment how much he, how much Carol, were that strength.

      So what was it, exactly? Rogue, Marie, the girl who refused to die for
      Magneto or the one who was going to save Polaris? Make a fucking decision,
      Marie. Or--just acknowledge the one you made. Just do it, for God's sake.

      I shut my eyes and remembered the numbers on the boy's arm, remembered the
      blue eyed girl playing outside, remembered the way I'd felt the first time
      I'd seen the concentration camp--call it what it was, not an internment
      camp, a concentration camp--high chain link, electric current, and razor
      wire coiled above, silvery and deadly. Remembered a time and a place where
      I'd been the child behind the wire and stared out, when I'd been a immortal
      soldier and stared in.

      Getting up unsteadily, I opened my eyes and stared at the far wall, rubbing
      my sweaty hands over the legs of my jeans as I walked out the door. The
      corridor was endlessly long and my boots were so loud, and for the first
      time in what seemed like fucking *years*, I *saw* the slim blonde girl whose
      name I'd forgotten, arms piled with towels, green eyes cast down as she
      hurried by me and the blue numbers etched into her skin in sharp relief like
      an accusation of what I was letting happen. Her death, perhaps, if she was
      one of the ones slated for experimentation. So many others. More than I
      could name.

      Sarah. That was her name.

      I stumbled into the wall and shuddered a little, the paneled wood cool and
      grounding against the bare skin of my hands.

      Eric Lensherr was in his office and I pushed my hair back, briefly
      regretting the blonde, before opening the door and walking in. He rose,
      frowning a question, but I took the steps separating us and closed my bare
      hand on his uncovered wrist.

      Jean's walls dissolved with a breath and his eyes widened in startlement as
      he felt the draw--shock and disbelief and horror and anger and laced through
      it all, sheer intoxicating *realization*, of what I was. Who I was.

      The memories were a rush of blind color and sound and images almost too
      quick to identify. Xavier, dead at my feet and in my arms, my own face
      plastered across a thousand countries and a thousand ways, drawn from pencil
      and on the wall of a camp I'd seen only in Kitty's memories and I knew,
      *knew*, who had created this legend. The legend that had built a lie and
      won a war and people--people had died for without question. Because a
      seventeen year old girl was willing, they should be, right?

      I jerked from Magneto as if he burned. It was too familiar.

      When Erik looked at me, it was in his eyes, all of it, and I reached out
      with my other hand and the metal lamp at the edge of the desk tossed itself
      into my palm effortlessly.

      I remembered this feeling and so did he.

      Stepping back, I put down the lamp and held his eyes, washing his memories
      behind Jean's shields as I raised them again, feeling them ripple with the
      addition and the strength it took to re-erect what she'd created inside me.
      Bracing a hand on the desk, I got my balance and looked up into faded blue
      eyes that blazed with triumph, with hope.

      It made me sick and high and scared at the same time, like freefall without
      a parachute--it would hurt when I hit, and I would land hard, but even
      knowing that wasn't enough to dissolve the determination created in that
      moment in Johnny's room.

      "My name is Rogue."

      * * * * *

      Scott didn't move for a full minute after Magneto left his office, standing
      with perfect, military-precise posture by the door. Very Scott, obeying the
      chain of command even now, never let the subordinates see the leaders

      Visored gaze fixed just above my head, and I knew he was talking to Jean.

      The meeting had been short, brief, and to the point. It would happen
      tonight, and I had six hours to live. If I listened, I could hear voices in
      the hallway, people yelling questions as Magneto prepared, and I hoped to
      God Logan hadn't suddenly decided to come back to campus.

      The flick of power turned off was almost audible, and his visor was on me,
      intense and blindingly red.

      "What are you doing, Marie?"

      I swallowed in a dry throat, running sweaty palms against my thighs and
      drawing in a long, deep breath.

      "I have to."

      Scott's hand snapped toward the door, fist closed, but he paused instead,
      resting his knuckles against the dark wood.

      "We have to get you out, Marie." His voice was firm. Leader voice. "I'll
      call Logan--I can get you both on the Blackbird and into--"

      "No." Standing up, I reached out, remembering at the last second that I'd
      just dropped Jean's shields and human contact was chancy stuff until I'd had
      time to meditate a little and rebuild completely. Crossing my arms over my
      chest, I leaned into the desk and looked for the right words. "I have to do

      "Die?" His voice was harsh. "For what? Marie--"

      I looked inside for something--anything--to tell him, something that would
      make sense of the uncomfortable cloud of swirling thought that made up all
      my useful brain function right now. Some words to bring it into focus
      again, make it something more than just impulse and guilt and--and *what*
      exactly? I could be on the Blackbird and gone--Logan and I could build a
      new life, and what were those damned lives to me anyway?

      Rogue, of course, never would have needed to ask that question. Then again,
      Rogue hadn't been too hot to go in that machine either, and the
      uncomfortable mix of impulses and beliefs and reality were just enough to
      keep me silent.

      But if he kept talking--I'd break. I didn't want to die any more than any
      other sane person on earth.

      "When I got here, all I could think was that you'd betrayed Xavier."

      My words hit him like a short gust of wind to the face--reeling but not
      falling, expressed in the tight lines that curled around his mouth and chin,
      hand flattening against the door.

      "This--this isn't what Xavier wanted, Scott. Not--not ever. I know, Scott.
      Before I was here, I was Rogue, in his school--he trained me for seven
      years, took me in when no one else would or could."

      There was a presence in the room with us now--the memory of a ghost,
      perhaps, or the memory of someone we'd both loved and, in our different
      ways, lost. Xavier might be dead, but Scott was his protege, his son in all
      but blood. His heir to the dream that was this now, and I thought I had the
      reason--or *a* reason, anyway.

      "You--I've learned since then. I've killed for you three times as Marie
      Danvers. I watched you execute thirty people for mutantkind's existence, and
      I--I agreed. If it's any consolation, at least you have a reason for
      changing, for making this world. I don't. I just got used to it."

      Got used to it. Jesus. What had I been all my life anyway?

      "Then why?"

      I sucked in a breath, locking my hands into the edges of the desk.

      "I've never been a believer."

      Scott frowned, more questions gathering, but I put up one hand shakily. I
      could do this.

      "When Magneto put me in that machine seven years ago, I didn't want to die.
      I was a kid. I didn't know whether the machine would work or not, and I
      didn't care. I wouldn't have cared if the damn thing was going to bring
      eternal world peace and an end to hunger--it *didn't* matter to me, because
      I didn't want to die. It was young and understandable and selfish, and it
      was me."

      His nod was slow, almost painfully precise, and I shifted my weight and
      looked down at the floor.

      "When I got here, I didn't want to go into it because I didn't want to die.
      And I can put it in a lot of pretty words about free will and the wrongness
      of what you're all doing and crap like that, but that was the basic idea.
      I'd been there, done that, and I didn't want to be in it again. Not for
      mutantkind, not for humankind, not for anyone. I wouldn't get into it
      because I didn't want to die. Still selfish."

      Scott opened his mouth to speak, but I raised a hand, hoping to God he'd pay
      attention--just this time. Just this minute. Just for this.

      "A day ago, I didn't want to go into it because I didn't really care whether
      humans died because of it. Because I stopped caring. Because I was mutant,
      they were norm, and if I was willing to watch thirty people shot down for
      wanting to escape being forced to become mutants, then I was certainly
      willing to watch few thousand people die because I knew the machine would
      never, ever work. Polaris too, as long as I didn't get in that machine
      myself, and what does that make me, exactly? You, Jeannie, Logan, Johnny,
      even Hank--you're all willing to die for what you believe in. You believe
      in this world, and if you thought it would work, Scott, you'd get in that
      thing yourself. I'm--I'm not a believer anywhere--I never have been."

      God, that hurt. More than Logan or Carol's defection, more than even
      Johnny--sharp and sudden and painful. And the truest thing I'd ever said.

      "And that's a reason?"

      "No," I answered, my voice sharp, and I could hear my own heartbeat,
      pounding in my ears. I wished I could tell him about my talk with Johnny,
      now safely away, the sound of his voice filled with my words, the beliefs
      I'd played at having. All hollow, all meaningless, because this was the
      truth. I was selfish, and a coward, and I'd been trying my damndest to get
      away and let everyone else deal with it. "I--can't let Polaris die for me,
      Scott. I can't--I can't let those people die for me. Just because I'm
      scared, just because I can't face this." It was like a breath of cold air
      between us, and Scott slowly leaned against the wall. This was it, the
      choice I'd made, and I almost smiled. It was easy. "I won't be that kind
      of person, Scott."


      "You believe." It wasn't a question asking for clarification--and just
      maybe, Scott had had one of these moments too, maybe in the camp, maybe
      before. When the decision had to be made, and when it was, the person who
      came out on the other side wasn't the same as the person who walked in.

      "Yes," I whispered slowly, staring up into his eyes, reading all the pain,
      the understanding in them. "I'm a believer now."

      His hand touched my hair, light as air, and I leaned into it without

      "I understand."

      End Part V


      --Barney is fun in the middle of the night, but wake up and you just feel
      cheap and dirty, and not in a good way. -- Beth, AIM convo on Barney the
      Purple Dinosaur
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