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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 5: MA: 1/1: Scott

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  • jenn
    Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 5: The Martyr Author: jenn (jenn@thegateway.net) Codes: Rogue, all Rating: MA Summary: One Rogue. Two timelines. Three
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10 8:09 PM
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      Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Interlude 5: The Martyr
      Author: jenn (jenn@...)
      Codes: Rogue, all
      Rating: MA
      Summary: One Rogue. Two timelines. Three personalities. Rogue discovers
      who she is, could have been, and everything she can become.
      Author Notes: see headers for Part I, II, III, IV, and V. Thanks to Andy
      for the beta and Khaki and Sarah for the prodding. *hugs* Extra hugs to
      Khaki for being patient. I do appreciate it chica.

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

      *****

      Present Time

      Scott felt Jean's touch, light and gentle on the edges of his mind.

      --He's unconscious.--

      Logan--Scott pushed the thoughts out of his mind, feeling Jean's retreat as
      well. Instinctively understanding his need for space right now in his own
      thoughts. Not quite up to acknowledging what he was going to do, not yet.

      It'd been enough when Logan had sensed it in Jean--he'd felt the shockwave
      wash through their connection, pitying Ororo who was still in New York and
      being less competent with shields. Logan, going toward Rogue, blank horror
      a rush that Scott in the car hadn't been able to block, sensing it all
      through Jean and Logan at the same time--

      --and mercifully brief, merciful maybe for Logan, too, and Rogue had come
      back down the stairs only minutes later, gloves clasped in one steady hand.

      "About two hours," she said briefly as she got in the car, eyes very old and
      very distant. Rubbing her temples lightly with the tips of her fingers.
      "At least, that should be about right. Jeannie's staying so he has--someone
      here. I--it should be over before he wakes up. You'll come back--" she
      sent him a sideways glance and Scott nodded tightly.

      Logan. God.

      Closing his fingers over the steering wheel, Scott pulled out of the
      apartment building's parking lot, forcing himself to stop casting
      surreptitious glances at her as she leaned her head against the window.
      Eyes closed and breathing deeply, hands clenched over the leather in her
      lap. Pushing her hair back with one hand, he saw the dull line of metal
      around her throat, but the turn-off back to Salem was coming up too fast for
      him to wonder what it was.

      "Is it up?" Marie asked softly--slight drawl he hadn't heard before. Scott
      swallowed hard and concentrated on the road.

      "Yeah. He--didn't have time to move it to Salem, so we're doing it from the
      school. The range is longer than the original, so it should reach New York
      without much--many problems." He was beginning to babble and that was
      just--surreal. This entire conversation was surreal, though. "Marie--"

      "Where is he setting up?" she asked. "On the roof? I know the first trial
      was performed from up there, to check the range and power levels. I saw the
      scaffolding."

      "Yes." Easier just to answer questions, let reflex take him. "Polaris--"

      "I'm not charging with Polaris," Rogue said, and Scott blinked, tossing her
      a sideways glance. Nothing readable there, and it reminded him of his first
      view of her in the dining room only--what, a week or two ago? He remembered
      how young she'd looked, but now--that was gone. As if something had
      stripped her down to essentials--pure, clear line of her profile, tight
      lips, and the dark eyes that seemed unable to quite fix on anything. He
      could hear the chafe of flesh on leather from the gloves on her lap. "We're
      sticking to the original formula. Magneto goes up there with me." Her
      mouth curved up, glancing at Scott. Almost a smile at any other time.
      "Johnny was right, you know. Erik would have sold his soul to get the
      original absorber. The count is close to one hundred thousand bodies
      between Salem and New York with all the imports you've been doing. I
      suppose he didn't want to take the chance of something going wrong."

      That explained the speed, at least. He wouldn't want Raven or any of the
      other hardliners, to figure out what he was going to do. It was
      dangerous--even if he'd survived the first two times. Too dangerous. They
      needed Erik too badly.

      "I'll be up there, too," Scott said, and he caught an unguarded expression
      chase its way across Marie's face. Eyes going very wide and very dark,
      pupil swallowing the iris, and her mouth opened briefly. Then a little
      frown, before she looked away. "You're not--you're not going to have to go
      up there alone."

      Her head turned, eyes flickering to her lap, and Scott could almost see the
      leather stretch, before her hands relaxed and he got his eyes back to the
      road.

      "Scott, can I ask you something?"

      Swallowing, Scott nodded.

      "All--the pictures you used. During the war. Logan drew them, didn't he?"
      A quick glance told him nothing--the fall of hair obscured her face. Scott
      wondered what she wanted to hear but--. No. Truth this time. God knew,
      they all owed her that.

      "Yes. Erik--found them first. He used them to intensify European sympathy
      for the war in countries where mutants weren't being--persecuted."

      "They were useful?" There was an unspoken intensity behind her question
      that Scott couldn't quite identify. Taking a breath, Scott thought
      carefully.

      "We needed a symbol. We didn't have one. When Logan and I found
      out--during recruitment, actually, we found the first of them." Scott
      struggled a little, looking for words--but this wasn't a mutant rally or a
      speech or anything he could use his usual skills. Just a conversation,
      beside the girl whose memory they had exploited. Taking another breath, he
      evened out his thoughts. "You became a symbol, Marie. It was
      important--more important than even we knew until it was almost over. When
      people--when they understood what you were willing to die for--" But he cut
      it off, teeth locking together. She hadn't been willing.

      "Scott." Her fingers brushed his thigh, quick and light, as if she was
      afraid of leaving fingerprints on his jeans. "No. This--believe it or not,
      I understand why you did it. I even--I have to say, it's good THAT you
      did." Amusement and something else he couldn't define. "I remember--I have
      some of the memories--yours and Kitty's and Logan's." Her head tilted just
      a little. "I understand how you needed the symbol and why. When--Jeannie
      told me little girls these days learn the story of Rogue just like George
      Washington. That true?"

      Scott smiled a little.

      "Required material in class, Marie."

      "Yeah." Marie's eyes grew distant again. "We--never had that. A single
      symbol, in the other world." Her face grew pensive and Scott wondered what
      she was thinking. "We had the dream, you know--but never a united vision
      like that, to pull all mutantkind together. We had Erik's interpretation
      and Xavier's interpretation, and well, some others that I wish I had time to
      tell you about."

      Scott nodded mutely.

      "And I--I never thought how important that was, you know? To have that, not
      until here when I got to see it. It's a powerful thing, a symbol, to pull
      people together like that." Marie stopped and Scott shot her a quick
      glance, but her face was only thoughtful. "What I'll do today--it'll be
      there too, won't it? In the stories?"

      Yes. It would. Scott wondered if she wanted to hear that. "Yes. It
      will."

      She nodded, as if she expected that.

      "Start it with 'once upon a time' maybe," she said with a grin that lit up
      her face, and Scott blinked, fixing his gaze on the road again. "Don't,
      Scott--gallows humor. I get this way. Picked it up from Logan once upon a
      time myself. It's just--it's a weird feeling. To know that I can change
      things so much. I hated my powers--I still do, I suppose. Until Jean
      helped, I couldn't control them, but now--now that I can, it doesn't seem
      much better. What earthly use is absorbing anyway? Just a taker, as far as
      I can tell, a glorified thief. Sort of a joke I made once--probably only
      funny to me--that when someone said they wanted *everything*, I was the
      first person that could actually *have* everything I wanted. Just with
      this." She lifted one slim hand, wiggling her bare fingers in the air.
      "I--turn-off to Westchester, Scott."

      Scott pulled in, and Marie settled back in her seat. Hair covering her face
      and he wondered what she was thinking.

      And he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

      *****

      Everyone was gathering to watch--the wave didn't affect mutants, so while
      the school had been evacuated, most were outside to watch, and Marie had
      turned off the projector, so thick dark hair instead of blonde was visible.

      The stares were--uncomfortable. People moving out of the way of the car as
      Scott parked it in the stone of the driveway, and Marie got out, pushing
      back her hair and looking around her as if she'd never seen the school
      before.

      God, so young. Seventeen had been young--carrying her body down from the
      Statue that long-ago day. This, though--

      "Scott." Someone was breaking through the crowd, and Scott raised a hand to
      block a little of the sun. Bobby, running full-tilt across the yard, hair a
      mess and shirt half-unbuttoned, barely glancing at Marie. Which in itself
      was a warning, and Scott took a few steps before Bobby came to a skidding
      stop.

      "Johnny's gone," Bobby said breathlessly, and Scott frowned.

      "What do you mean--we evacuated--"

      "No--his stuff, all gone. He--he cleaned out our room. I don't
      know--Scott-" Bobby stopped, breathless, and Scott felt the first trickles
      of genuine alarm. "He was in the sublevels--I went down to check and
      the--his codes were last. He--Scott, I think he left. For good."

      Scott froze for a second, thinking of the computers, the information
      downstairs.

      "Did he--"

      Bobby was quick.

      "I think he accessed the mainframe, but I don't know what he did. I mean,
      Kitty's protections, I don't think he could have done anything, and anything
      he could do, Kitty could fix, you know? But--" Bobby was blanched so pale
      Scott reached out, meaning to steady him. "Scott, he didn't--I mean--"

      "No. There's nothing he could have gotten that would hurt us, Bobby. His
      access isn't that high. And--I don't think--" No, that wasn't true. Scott
      did think--he'd been somewhat aware of St. John's disaffection for awhile,
      but--. There hadn't been time for that and everything else. He should have
      made time. "We'll--we'll handle it after. Where's Kitty?"

      "Gone to see if she can trace him," Bobby answered. His eyes flickered to
      Marie and stayed there briefly, but not long. Too caught up in the moment.
      "I'm going to New York--Hank was in the zone, and I think--I mean, I--I need
      to find him, Scott. Talk to him. I don't want--" Bobby stopped, taking a
      breath, slim body almost shaking. "I need to find him, Scott."

      "Go ahead. Take my car." Scott gave him the keys and Bobby ducked by him,
      already reaching for the door. A glance down showed a fine line of frost on
      the bricks, melting beneath the dying sun, and he sighed a little, wondering
      what condition his car would be in when he got it back. Probably nothing
      useful. Turning, he caught sight of Marie, hand on Bobby's door and leaning
      close.

      He couldn't hear what they said, but Marie nodded and straightened, and
      Bobby jerked the door closed and pulled out, rushing toward the gate in his
      usual breakneck speed. No, he wouldn't get the car back in any condition to
      be driven.

      "Ready?" she asked, and then walked by him. The crowd parted like water
      for her--students, teachers, everyone. Silence like something living--and it
      hit Scott all over again, the power of a legend. The power *she* had, right
      this moment, the power they'd given her with the lie. They watched her like
      a religious experience in progress and Scott swallowed hard. "Oh." She
      came to a stop, and Scott saw two uniformed bodies at the door of the
      school. "Um, Scott? I think--looks like Raven made it after all."

      Who the *hell* had told her about this? Scott moved up--they recognized him
      on sight and nodded, but their gazes fixed on Marie in something close to
      awe. He couldn't quite blame them. As they stepped aside, Marie's head
      tilted a little, and he saw something like a smile turn up her mouth.
      Disappearing almost instantly when she saw his gaze, and she shrugged.

      "Hey, President Kelley decided to watch too. Nice to know. I'm going to
      miss hearing these stories, Scott. I never--you know, I wish I'd read the
      ones the little kids got about me, the original one." She shrugged as she
      opened the door, walking inside the silent building. Ghostly, almost, and
      Scott shivered a little. "Sort of seemed morbid, but now--I wish I'd heard
      it." As she placed a hand on the banister, there was another flickering
      gaze, fixed on him with an intensity that seemed to reach beneath his face
      and go searching through his mind.

      Another little smile, and she took the steps two at a time. Scott forced
      himself to follow.

      "I'm--you know, Johnny. Don't be too hard on him." He couldn't see her
      face now, two steps in front of him, and Scott worked a little to catch up
      with her on the landing. "He's--he's a believer, Scott."

      "You think he changed sides, too?" Hard to think, that Johnny--. Damn.
      Later. Much later.

      "Maybe," she answered softly. "What's the penalty for that?"

      "There's not one," Scott answered, still trying to process--well,
      everything. Too much to deal with right now. "It's--he's suffered enough.
      If--he can't stay in this zone, of course, but--he can go somewhere else.
      Join one of the human-rights groups. He'd be a good leader for them, too,
      being a camp survivor."

      "Yeah," Marie answered. "He would be, wouldn't he? He--told me. About it,
      a little." Scott blinked in shock, but Marie was still talking. "About how
      he blew the school. What he went through. Hank didn't go through camp
      trauma, so he's not quite as influential. And his FoH alliances probably
      piss off other mutants, but Johnny--he'll do it better, I think." Marie
      shot Scott a sideways glance as they came to the top of the stairs. "I was
      thinking about--about that."

      "About Johnny?" Why--

      "Just in general. You're a good leader--you got everyone through the war.
      Did you always think it would be this way?"

      Scott thought of the camps that had once made him sick--still did, in some
      part of him that Xavier still lived in, quiet voice and inescapable
      presence.

      "I don't know."

      "Would you have fought for this? Those--those years of the war, when you
      were fighting--was this what you saw? What you envisioned for the future?"

      Scott paused and Marie did too, studying him now with an intense look of
      concentration, and he wondered what it meant. But--

      --was this what he wanted? If he'd had the power at the end, or the
      necessary numbers, or God, just a little less need for revenge that was
      still running through him hot and fast back then, still living his own
      memories, Jean's, Ororo's, Logan's. Still the blank horror of Palm Beach
      and the bodies he'd help bury, the smells of the lab and the nightmare
      they'd found on the lower levels--almost mundane compared to the neat,
      insanely clean files on the computers he'd read for hours because he
      couldn't make himself stop.

      It was a hard question, and he'd asked himself that so many times before,
      but now--

      "No," he said slowly, and Marie's head tilted. "I wouldn't have--no."

      Marie nodded slowly, some strange tension leaking away, and she turned down
      the hall, toward the last set of stairs that went to the roof. As Scott
      caught up to her, he saw her hands were twisting the leather again.

      "You--after this, everything changes? The camps, everything--you'll stop
      it? All of it?"

      Scott stared at her for a long moment--the feeling from her he couldn't
      quite identify, something that skimmed fear and hope and anger and
      resignation, but over it all… Over it all, something else entirely. He
      would have called it excitement, but….

      "Yes." Easy promise to make, and he thought of her in Erik's office, the
      faith he had no idea where she'd picked up. "Marie?"

      She looked up, mild eyes and serene face, like every statue they'd created
      of her, and something like nausea rolled in Scott's stomach. He could still
      stop this--or could try, anyway. Probably couldn't win, not with Erik's
      people and God, Raven's people here. The last stairs were so close and she
      stopped at the bottom.

      "Are you sure?"

      Her head tilted briefly, then she nodded thoughtfully.

      "I've been sure for longer than I thought, Scott. Go back downstairs now."

      Freezing on the first step, he looked at her. Intense concentration on her
      face.

      "Marie--"

      "Go back downstairs. Move everyone back." Flickering her gloves up, he saw
      the watch in her palm, and she glanced down at it. Gently, she pressed it
      into his hand and stepped back. "Thirty feet should be enough. I set this
      earlier. You have enough time."

      She took the stairs two at a time, and Scott grabbed the banister, coming up
      behind her.

      "What?"

      She turned, and the grin on her face hurt to see. Serenity, yes, and grief
      and anger, and so much more.

      "I wanted to do this a little differently, but you sort of changed things a
      little. So. Do what I said. Go back downstairs. Get everyone back. I
      don't know how much he can control in fallout, so better safe than sorry."

      What--

      "Marie--" Too damned much was happening, Scott couldn't focus on anything.
      The watch was body-warm in his hand, ticking obscenely loud in the quiet,
      and Marie was watching him with a little smile that seemed light years from
      anything he'd ever have expected to see.

      "This is the only choice I can give you. You can figure out what the hell
      I'm talking about or you can live and can keep your word. That's it, Scott.
      You have about three minutes. Go." Little, quick flash of--God, joy.
      Utter, unmistakable joy, maybe realization, maybe understanding or all of it
      together. "By the way--this time, get the details right, when they tell the
      story? This one's gonna be different."

      And she turned, trotting up the stairs, and Scott looked down. Old
      fashioned pocket watch, and someone had drawn a dot in red marker on the
      surface.

      Three minutes.

      Slowly, he turned around.

      "Fallout." Moving faster, toward the stairs, then down and outside before
      he was quite aware of what he was doing, shouting orders that they
      instinctively obeyed, years of indoctrination paying off. Scott circled the
      building and watched as Marie walked to the posts, and she looked down,
      seeing him.

      And he couldn't possibly see her smile.

      It was like watching slow-motion on a television, nothing he could change.
      Erik was moving toward her and both hand went out, touching him--and Scott
      froze when Erik did--

      *"What I'll do today--it'll be there too, won't it? In the stories?"*

      "Marie," he said slowly, and felt it--Jean in his mind now, sudden and
      sharp, maybe his shields were weakening.

      --Scott, what's wrong?--

      --Can you feel Johnny?-- he asked, watching the hold continue, longer than
      he would have expected. --Jean--

      --Not at this range to Westchester.-- She sounded tired, impatient, still
      recovering from her wound, he remembered, and it bothered him a little,
      because he was missing something. --What's going on? You're….--

      Erik hit the platform with a sound that Scott was too far away to hear--but
      Marie was already on the posts, the machine moving. Raven was taking a step
      toward Erik, and Marie was--

      --looking at him again, before her eyes closed, head back, and he looked
      down at the watch.

      Instinct took him backward--moving faster than he'd known he could move, the
      ground seeming to shift underneath him, and he could still see Raven,
      kneeling beside Erik's body, coming to her feet suddenly and too fast,
      changing into her natural form right in front of his eyes. She hadn't done
      that in public in seven years.

      --Scott?--

      *"This one's gonna be different."*

      The machine was already going, wave spreading out far and wide, and Scott
      thought he heard screams, but they could have been Raven's or Marie's, he
      couldn't be sure. Something caught beneath his shoe and Scott hit the
      ground, jarring wrist and palm, dirt shoved up beneath his fingernails, and
      he instinctively shut his eyes as he felt for his visor to make sure it was
      still in place. When he opened his eyes, he looked at the watch and the
      hand was on the line.

      It started like something out of a movie--not an explosion nearly so much as
      a pure wall of white flame, coming up fast and furious from around the
      ground of the school. Mouth dry, Scott heard now the screams from behind
      him, people yelling questions, but he couldn't quite take his eyes away from
      the platform and the wave that--

      --would not reach even Salem, and Rogue was up there.

      Instantly, it too, was engulfed, before Raven had time to even change form
      again, and Scott knew Johnny's range down to the inch. Spinning on the
      ground, looking, and found him, as if he wanted to be found, no surprise
      there, Johnny'd never been one to deny his own complicity.

      Sitting quietly on the picnic table, knees drawn up to his chest, eyes
      dilated completely, staring at the school with a blank face. Sweat beading
      on his forehead and soaking into his hair, and Scott was feeling the heat,
      too, knew he had to get back further. Getting to his feet somehow,
      stumbling toward him, not sure what he'd do when he got there--

      Johnny looked at him as he collapsed by the picnic table. Nothing for an
      endless second, then Johnny reached behind him, dropping a bag by Scott on
      the ground.

      "Bobby didn't look too closely." It was heavy, and Scott fingered it up
      numbly. "He checked the mainframe, but it's backed-up in New York. Hank
      should have it all by now. I think I saved everything we'd need. Kick-ass
      network connections we got. Thank God Kitty wasn't around to see what I was
      doing and cut the connection."

      Johnny's gaze went back to the fire, watching for a few minutes as he forced
      it to his will, and Scott had seen it a hundred times before when Jean
      channeled through him--but this was more than mere fire. He wasn't trying
      to stop anything--this was total dissolution, and then Johnny shook his
      head. One slim hand went to his forehead, wiping sweat away with trembling
      fingers.

      "You--"

      "Look in the bag," Johnny said mildly.

      As suddenly as it had begun, the fire was gone. Nothing but sparkling
      afterflashes in Scott's corneas, and he rubbed his eyes, breathing in the
      smell of ash and charred bodies. When he looked again, there was nothing
      left of the Mansion but the burned-out remains, crumbling where they stood.
      Easily, Johnny pushed himself off the table, swaying briefly before darting
      out a hand to grab the edge of the table.

      "God, it's strong. I--haven't done that since the last time." Johnny ran a
      hand across his forehead again, and his palm came away slick.

      "She--planned this, didn't she?" Unthinkable, unbelievable, but there.
      Like Johnny standing beside him and the building--the building was gone.

      Johnny smiled a little.

      "Yeah. She said--said you needed a new symbol, to start everything over
      again." Johnny shrugged a little, mouth soft and strangely dreamy. "Dead
      symbol, living legend, so the stories would be true. That when she died,
      she died for something she believed in, and she died for everyone. And that
      everyone get it right." Sideways glance at Scott, taking him in with a
      single look. "She said you'd do it. And you'd get the details right."

      *"It's a powerful thing, a symbol, to pull people together like that."*

      "She--"

      "Yeah." Johnny shook his head again, smiling now. Ash from the air
      clinging to his skin, black patches growing on his clothes, and swaying on
      his feet, but the energy coursing through him was almost visible to the
      naked eye. "Well, wanna help?"

      Scott blinked and the bag parted under his hand--his uniform. Stared down
      at it.

      "Suit up. This is my fire, won't hurt me, but you might get injured. Good
      of you to fireproof the uniforms. Boots are at the bottom. Come on."

      "What?"

      Johnny pushed sweaty hair back, narrowing his gaze on the building
      thoughtfully. The blue eyes were circled in red and shadowed as they
      watched the flames die.

      "Promised her burial," Johnny said slowly, scrubbing a hand briefly across
      his face. "Somewhere else. Where people could see. She hated that tomb."
      The pause seemed to echo a little too long, and Scott looked at the
      blackened remains of the school. Shock was still too close--distantly, he
      could hear the people, students and teachers, voices yelling and milling
      confusion all around them, but it didn't quite touch him, any of it.

      "Her body--"

      "Marie could walk through fire," Johnny answered, taking a few tentative
      steps before stumbling again. When he looked back, Scott couldn't read
      anything on his face but pure exhaustion. "Even I can't break
      invulnerability." Another step, and Scott found his feet, straightening.
      "You promised her, didn't you?"

      One day, he'd be able to think about this, put it in perspective, but--not
      right now. It was seven years ago he buried her the first time, and it was
      like living life all over again. Something thickened inside him, maybe
      exultation and anger and the part of him that still belonged to Xavier, and
      he found himself nodding slowly.

      "Yes. I promised."

      End Interlude 5

      ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*
      www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis
      www.geocities.com/seperis
      http://seperis.diaryland.com

      --If you're going to have alfresco sex, make sure it's not on a nest of fire
      ants, or at least make sure you're on top…. --Te, being helpful
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