TITLE: Ticket Out
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters.
WEBSITE: The story can be found at:
FEEDBACK: Is appreciated.
Rogue used to think that mutants didn't age beyond a certain point, but then
she realized it was more that most of them never got the chance to. When she
first came to the school, Professor Xavier was older, and Magneto too, but
most of the other mutants she came across were smooth-skinned and young. It
was a school, after all, but even the instructors weren't much older than the
students, and it was another thing that was different from home, no old
teachers counting the days till retirement, bitter about their students'
It has stayed that way all the time Rogue has been there, the people around
her growing younger instead of older, it seems, but there's no Fountain of
Youth at the school; it's just that the older go away and more young ones
appear and so the demographic stays the same if the people don't. It's a
dangerous business, being a genetic freak, what with the tendency to be
persecuted and sometimes called on to fight in great, dramatic battles
between good and evil. There are always casualties.
There are other things, of course, mutations gone awry, people who turn out
too fragile instead of too strong, like the girl she met her third year
there, Diane. Diane could float and shimmered a beautiful blue-green, but her
bones were so brittle that they shattered during her first trip to the
Westchester Mall, when there was a fire in the food court and she got pinned
against the wall in the rush out.
Others no one likes to talk about, but Rogue thinks about them often now,
thinks of boys like Ryan, one of the strongest empaths the school had ever
had, who jumped from the school's roof six months after he arrived. They lose
a lot of empaths that way; it's hard to find something that can dull, if not
rid them of, the pain quick enough. A lot of the strong ones get rid of it
their own way before the doctors can even try.
Rogue's been robbed of that decision. She spends nights alone in her room,
sometimes, imagining ways to kill herself. She tries to think of things she
could absorb that would kill her, but if she did it that way it would have to
be for sure, because she's pretty sure she couldn't bear living on with more
voices trapped inside her head. It's hard to find a way that's certain.
She's not serious, of course. Not really. She only thinks about it sometimes,
almost never. She remembers a time when it would have been simple - a bottle
of pills, a carefully placed slice on the arm - but those days are gone now.
Now she can fly, and she supposes she's glad, because there really isn't
anything as glorious as soaring above the world under your own power, the
wind rushing past you and all the beauty of the world spread beneath you to
see. Sometimes she thinks that if she didn't have that, she would - well,
she's not sure what she would do. How do you destroy something that's
indestructible? That's the whole point. You can't.
She's not sure. She goes into battle and fights, really fights, because she
doesn't necessarily want to die, not every day at least. Only on the bad
days, the really bad ones, when she's tired or she thinks of those who have
gone before, when she's lonely for Jean or Ororo or Bobby's sweet smile and
the days before he realized she was a lost cause. Then she thinks of it.
Flying into a volcano could do it, she thinks. Maybe. Or drowning - she's
never tried that.
In the beginning she broke everything, and sometimes she still forgets her
strength. She can't remember how much glassware they went through in the
kitchen those first few weeks, and even now if she's not thinking or if she
gets too angry, she'll shatter a coffee mug in her hand or knock a door off
its hinges just shutting it. She couldn't drive at first, either, because she
kept putting her foot through the bottom of the car every time she came to a
sudden stop. Professor Xavier gave her her own car that first Christmas, a
fully loaded red sporty one, complete with reinforced flooring and a titanium
She's still got the car. It's in mint condition - she doesn't use it much,
really, since flying is so much quicker. But sometimes she likes to sit in it
and test out the flooring, doing her best to crush the steering wheel, and
imagines destroying it, ramming it into a brick wall or a tree, stuffing it
into a compactor at the local landfill with herself inside. She imagines the
car crushed but knows that she'd stay safe inside, perfectly formed, not a
scratch. It's like her nightmares about the world ending, where she watches
her friends die long, brutal deaths one by one, and then watches the other
people die too, people she doesn't even know, and that's not the worst part
of the dream, not at all. The worst part of it all is the ending, is how she
always survives, perfectly safe, perfectly alive, perfect forever, and alone.
That's just how it goes. She guesses she'll get used to it. That's how it
works, after all. She's gotten used to the other things (she barely notices
the gloves anymore), and this will pass too. She almost never thinks about
the touching thing, only sometimes, only on the bad days, when she misses her
mother's cool hand on her forehead when she was sick (she doesn't get sick
anymore, though, a gift from Logan, so it's a foolish thing to miss), or her
father's rough hand in hers pulling her along (she always walked too slowly,
always looking at things, always thirsty to see the world). In the beginning,
she used to brush people by accident all the time, would cause fainting
spells in her wake. She got better at it, though, she got used to it, and on
her good days she knows soon she'll stop crushing coffee mugs, too.
On her good days, and her bad days too, she thinks of Logan. She thinks of
Logan often, mostly because he's the only one she doesn't have to resign
herself to outliving; Logan, who looks the same every time she sees him, the
same as he did the day she first met him years ago in Alaska. She looks
almost the same, she knows, not quite the young girl she was at first - she
got to age beyond seventeen, at least -- but she'll stay forever trapped at
the age of twenty-five.
Logan's like her, Logan understands, although they never talk about it. Logan
comes to see her at the school and they get to pretend it's like the way it
used to be, like she's still someone who needs to be protected and he's the
one to do it. He calls her kid and she doesn't mind the way she did back when
the title really applied, when he used to rescue her. He always comes to the
school when it's gotten bad for him, Rogue can tell from his ragged edges and
the way he growls instead of speaking half the time. All the kids at the
school are terrified of him.
She's the only one he'll speak to. His eyes light up, or soften, or maybe
both, when they set upon her, and she knows she's not fooling herself the way
she did when she was eighteen or twenty-two, when she was so desperately in
love with him that it hurt. That's gone now, or maybe it's still there but
it's buried under something else so much bigger that she doesn't even notice
it anymore. Maybe he could love her back now; she'll never ask.
It doesn't seem so important now, when all that really matters is that he's
almost as indestructible as she is. He could maybe love her now but what
matters is that he reminds her of how it used to be, back when she was able
to imagine a future where they found a way to fix her, a day when she could
run her fingers down his face without killing him. He reminds her of when she
could imagine an end for herself.
She's always glad to see him but every time she wonders why exactly he comes,
if it's because he needs someone who remembers Jean and the days when they
all thought finding out where he came from would be a good thing, or if he
simply misses her. Sometimes she wonders if it's because he remembers the
very beginning too, the Statue of Liberty, those few cuts that took forever
to heal, and recognizes her as his ticket out. She can't really blame him