FIC: Every Purpose Under Heaven - Reawakenings (1/2) post-X2 [L/R] R
- TITLE: Reawakenings
SERIES: Every Purpose Under Heaven
SPOILERS: Everything through X2.
DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations belong to Marvel, Fox, and Brian Singer.
SUMMARY: Fourth and final story in the series. http://www.wolverineandrogue.com/fic/dbseries.php?series=50 'If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.' And you though the MRA was bad.
THANKS: Hand-holding and stalking by Emily Meredith, Lulu, Philateley, and katherine. Thanks to Em, Lulu, and Philateley for impeccable betaing, and to katherine for finding the perfect line of poetry for me. Also, thanks to everyone who stuck with the series; it's been a fun ride. :)
Every Purpose Under Heaven: Reawakenings
Rogue came to awareness suddenly, blinking in a sickeningly familiar light. Diffuse yet bright fluorescent light.
Despair washed over her as she glanced around -- white walls, white ceiling, and, God, the leather cuffs --
Logan was a dream.
Oh, God. Her rescue, her return to the mansion -- it was all a cruel, cruel hoax by Six-Five-Eight, and she was still in this goddamned hellhole, and it was about forty million times worse because she'd let herself believe it was over. She'd believed she was free.
She'd believed in Logan.
"No," she yelled, as if denying it aloud would deliver her back into Logan's arms, safe and snug at the mansion.
As quickly as it came, the overwhelming sadness left, replaced by a hard, cold anger. Fuck it, she thought. If no one's going to rescue me, I'll damn well get myself out of here.
She thrashed on the bed, straining against the leather cuffs, trying to pull herself free from the hands on her upper arms.
"No." She was crying now, big, angry, frustrated tears, because she couldn't survive any longer in this place. Not one more second in here. And those bastards were saying something to her over and over, and they were calling her Marie, and how could they know her name?
She froze, every muscle rigid. Because that was *his* voice. Logan.
Then her anger kicked up a notch, and she fought harder, twisting roughly from side to side, screaming in wordless anger. How dare they use her hope against her? She opened her eyes to glare up at their hated faces, but the featureless white was gone, replaced by the deep darkness of her room at the mansion.
"Marie," Logan said again, his voice surprisingly soothing. "It's just a nightmare. C'mon and wake up for me."
She blinked, her gaze focused on his familiar face, cast in shadow by the dim light sneaking in around the curtains. Was this real, she wondered, or another false reality courtesy of Six-Five-Eight?
"It's okay," Logan said. "We got you out. You're safe." His fingers brushed her hair back from her face, trailed softly down her cheek, and his touch was so familiar that she sagged into the pillows.
Pillows. And crisp cotton sheets. And the familiar weight of the down comforter that they didn't need anymore but that she'd persuaded Logan to leave on the bed for a little while longer.
"Logan?" she asked, her voice rough. Please, please, please, let this be real.
"Yeah, darlin'," he murmured, releasing her upper arm and settling back down beside her. He drew one hand down her arm and then over, settling his palm flat against her abdomen.
Rogue reached up with trembling hands and pulled her sweat-dampened hair away from her neck, grimacing.
"Washcloth?" Logan asked quietly. A veteran of nightmares himself, he knew all the best ways to get past the physical and emotional aftermath of waking up terrified and covered in cold sweat.
Cool cloth would feel wonderful soothing her skin, but Logan would have to get up. She leaned into his solid, comforting body and shook her head, her fingers aimlessly stroking his rib cage. Logan watched her for a moment, then nodded. He twisted away, his warm palm abandoning her stomach to fumble through the nightstand.
"Here," he said, offering her one of her silk scarves.
She gave him a tired smile and accepted the scarf. With trembling fingers, she pulled the smooth fabric over her face and down, around to the back of her neck. Logan took the cloth back and carefully wiped along the line of her jaw, down her throat, and flattened his palm just above the swell of her breasts, thin silk the only thing between her skin and his.
"Better?" he whispered, the heat from his hand warming her skin.
Rogue gave up trying to bring her breathing back under control and simply stared into Logan's eyes. They could touch without fear, but Logan understood how intense skin-on-skin could be for her sometimes -- and how erotic it was to feel him through the thinnest of materials. She lifted her hand, trailing her fingers from his elbow up his biceps, and gave him what she hoped was a smoldering look. "Getting there."
Logan stared right back, and when he answered, it was pretty clear he wasn't going to accept her change of subject. "Are you?" he asked seriously.
Dropping her hand from his arm, Rogue turned her face away on the pretense of stretching her neck. "Well," she said, her voice still a little unsteady, "I don't know, but this sure is getting annoying."
Even in the darkness, she could make out the amused quirk of his eyebrow. "What is?" he asked, dragging his palm back down to her stomach so slowly and sensuously that for a moment she wasn't sure what he'd asked her. How could she be expected to concentrate with his hands on her body?
"Nightmares," she answered belatedly. "What's wrong with me?" she demanded, punching the mattress with one fisted hand. "It's been nearly four months and I'm still having these nightmares. God, you'd think I could get over it--" Rogue stopped too late; Logan's expression hardened into impassivity, and she reached for him. "Logan--"
"They tortured you, Marie," Logan interrupted, his voice tightly controlled. But whether he was holding back anger at her captors or anger at her thoughtlessness, Rogue wasn't sure. "That doesn't just go away."
"Why not?" she asked, wincing at the plaintive note in her voice.
"I don't know," Logan answered quietly. He still had nightmares every few nights, but Rogue suspected that not all of them featured faceless doctors and water-filled tanks. More than once Logan had woken with her name on his lips, then hugged her very tightly before allowing himself to relax enough to fall back asleep.
Once, he'd tried to leave their room, sleep in the library or some such nonsense, for fear he'd hurt her during a nightmare. But Rogue had simply watched him, allowing her need, her terror, her insecurity to show on her face, and he'd lain back down, curled his body around hers, and never mentioned the library again.
Oh. Was she supposed to be conversing? Rogue reached out for him, stroking the bare skin of his hip, relishing the way his grip on her waist tightened. "I wish I could have your nightmares again," she confessed softly.
Logan's muscles tensed beneath her fingers and she glanced up at his face, impassive once more. "No," he answered gruffly. "You don't."
She couldn't seem to say anything tonight without unwittingly insulting him. "I don't mean -- I just--" She stopped, frustrated. "I can deal with physical pain," she said haltingly, her eyes downcast. "At least that way when I wake up and the pain's gone, I know what's real and what isn't."
"This is real," Logan answered, his voice like seven miles of bad road. "Right here, Marie. This is real."
"I know," she told him. It took some effort, but she managed to meet his gaze. "I do. Really. It's just -- Six-Five-Eight was so damn convincing, and sometimes I can't--" She shrugged.
"You can't let yourself believe this is real, because it'll kill you if you're wrong," Logan guessed.
Rogue blinked back sudden tears and nodded.
This time it was Logan who dropped his gaze. "I don't know how to help you," he confessed in a hushed voice. "I--" He broke off with a frustrated sigh.
"You are helping me, Logan." She waited, willing him to look up at her. When those familiar hazel eyes locked onto hers, she did her best to smile. "Waking up not knowing -- it's really... It's terrifying. I can't tell what's real and what's not. But you're always here, Logan. And you're real and I *know* it." She reached up, brushed her fingers through his hair, let herself grin. "I don't think anyone could conjure up such ridiculous hair."
Logan stared down at her, incredulous, then broke into a smile. "That's not very nice, Marie."
Rogue felt the last remnants of the dream, the last vestiges of doubt slip away as she gave that smoldering look another try. "I thought you preferred me when I'm naughty."
His smile softened, just a little, and he said, "I'll take you any way I can get you, Marie."
Rogue heard the "I love you" in his words and reached for him. "C'mere, you big lug."
Since they'd found her, Logan made it a point to watch Marie very closely.
First, because he'd never actually loved anyone before, and it was an exhilarating and annoying experience. He worried sometimes that it was turning him into a melodramatic jackass like Scott. Then Marie would smile at him, and he'd remember that he didn't particularly care.
Second, Logan watched her because he knew her better than anyone. And no matter how many smiles and denials she offered him, he knew she was struggling. It wasn't just the nightmares, either; she was cautious, careful, very aware of her surroundings at all times. And while he certainly encouraged her to be on alert, it wasn't like her to be so paranoid.
It was... well, it was like *him.*
But he wasn't sure how to broach the subject, so he watched her closely.
Still in her pajamas, Marie moved restlessly about their room, picking up a paperweight and weighing it in her hand. She ran a finger along the spine of their books, then paused in front of the window, staring out absently into the cool morning.
"You okay?" Logan asked before he could stop himself. Marie was having trouble, sure, but she didn't take kindly to his pointing it out. She usually only talked to him, *really* talked to him about what was going on in that complex mind of hers in the safety of their darkened room. Not in the bright light of day.
"I'm fine," Marie answered tightly, her frame tense. She didn't turn to face him, and he debated walking over to her.
"You coming to breakfast?" he asked instead.
She turned partway, her face in profile. "I'll be down in a few minutes."
In other words, get out. Logan stood immobile, arms crossed, eyes narrowed. He wasn't the kind of person who dealt well with delicate emotional matters. He preferred the brutal truth, and accepting Marie's attempts to deal with the fallout from the torture she'd suffered was more than a little frustrating. "Marie," he said, hearing the barely masked impatience in his voice, "You--"
"Logan, please." There it was, the tremor in her voice that always made him want to toss her in his truck and take her to Canada. She'd laughed the few times he'd suggested it.
"I'll be downstairs," Logan said, trying not to sound pissed off. He was pretty sure he failed.
She nodded, her hair spilling over her shoulder. "Thank you."
Logan hesitated, drinking in the sight of her, tucking the semi-tragic image away to torture himself with later. If he'd been faster on that roof, if he'd found her more quickly, she wouldn't have all this shit to deal with.
Nothing like the taste of self-loathing in the morning.
When he pulled the door closed behind him, he did it very, very softly, afraid if he gave into his frustration, he'd take it off its hinges.
"Logan!" Jubilee -- as ever, too goddamned loud for this time of morning -- fell into step beside him. "Mornin', babe. You look like shit."
He gave her a friendly glare. Added a grunt for good measure.
Jubilee grinned. "Chipper as always." She scanned the hallway with exaggerated curiosity. "Where's that girlfriend of yours?"
"On her way down." Logan gave the elevator button an energetic jab.
"Whose nightmare?" Jubilee asked mildly. "Yours or hers?"
Logan stepped into the elevator. "Anyone ever tell you you're a pain in the ass?"
Jubilee nodded soberly. "Pretty much everyone I've ever met. Good thing I'm so cute."
Logan snorted, staring intently at the doors, willing the elevator to move faster.
"Hey, you know what else everyone says about me?"
"I could guess," Logan muttered.
Jubilee swatted his arm. "Play nice."
Eyebrow up, Logan noted, "You're a brave little girl."
"I'm only a year younger than Rogue, old man, so I wouldn't--"
"Thank God," Logan grumbled as the doors slid open to his avenue of escape. He headed for the dining room at a good clip.
"People say how good a listener I am," Jubilee announced, matching his pace. "So if someone were having problems and was too embarrassed to talk about it to, oh, let's say her scary, grumpy, older boyfriend--" she talked right over his growl-- "perhaps that person might open up to me."
Logan set his jaw, stopping just outside the dining room. "You don't need my permission to talk to Rogue."
Jubilee flashed a grin. "Good boy."
"Poker tonight?" she asked, backing towards the teenagers' table, where Kitty and Bobby already sat. She gave a half-shrug. "Kitty has some tequila..."
Logan rolled his eyes. "Come find me." He headed for the kitchen and stabbed some sausage and some scrambled eggs. Then he sauntered over to what Ororo persisted in calling the breakfast nook and plopped down across from Scott.
Ororo always ate with the few children left at the school, and Hank, Bobby, Jubilee, and Kitty usually joined her. These days, Scott and Logan wound up at the kitchen table more often than not, and Marie ate with her friends on mornings she'd had particularly bad nightmares. When he'd asked about that in his typically blunt fashion, she'd told him pointedly that his concerned gaze always tipped off Scott, who'd join Logan in *watching* her. And it annoyed her.
Which was why Logan was more than a little surprised when Marie walked into the kitchen, paler than normal, and took the empty seat next to him. She gave Scott a small smile. "Good morning."
"Morning, Rogue," Scott greeted, pushing the half-full carafe towards her. "Orange juice?"
She nodded, pouring herself a glass, her fingers trembling a little as she replaced the glass carafe on the table. Scott studiously kept his head angled toward his plate, but Logan had the distinct feeling that he wasn't the only person studying Marie closely.
Considering the stormy look on her face, Logan suspected Marie could feel Scott's attentive gaze, too. Logan speared a sausage and dropped it onto the small plate in front of her.
Under the table, Marie's hand brushed his knee. "Thank you," she said, but she made no move to eat. "Scott, I wondered if I could talk to you about operations."
Scott seemed a bit startled, cutting a glance to Logan, but recovered quickly. "Operations?"
Marie's hand settled on Logan's thigh, and he tensed. Oh, Christ. She couldn't possibly be thinking of--
"I want back on the team," Marie announced.
Rogue really, really, really wanted to glance over at Logan, on the incredibly *off* chance that he'd be smiling and supportive of her decision. She knew from the way his thigh tensed beneath her hand, however, that he'd be glaring. She kept her attention on Scott, whose expression was unreadable. As usual.
Then he lifted his eyebrows slightly and opened his mouth to speak, but Logan cut him off.
"You're not ready."
Rogue squeezed his thigh and answered without looking at him. "I am. Scott, I've recovered. Really. My leg's fine, and I'm back up to level four in the Danger Room--"
"It's too dangerous," Logan interrupted.
Rogue finally gave in and looked at him, and she was right -- he was glaring at her. "Excuse me?" she demanded.
Scott, probably sensing an impending explosion, used his best Reasonable Adult voice. "Rogue, the team--"
"She's not ready," Logan said again, his voice flat and expressionless. His hand landed atop hers, and she figured the gesture was supposed to be comforting. To her surprise, Rogue realized that it felt... patronizing.
She pulled away, pushing her chair back a few inches. "Don't you think I'm the best judge of that?"
"Rogue," Scott jumped in, "you know there's a place on the team for you."
"Good," she answered over Logan's angry growl. "I'm in."
"The hell you are," Logan countered sharply.
Rogue took a deep breath and tried not to holler at him. Her Mama'd given her a lot of advice growing up, but Rogue didn't see the sense of a lot of it. Who cared if she chewed gum in public or drank directly out of the can? And she knew for sure that there was a least one guy out there who wasn't only after one thing. But Mama's admonition about airing your dirty laundry in public -- that one she just couldn't shake.
Scott wasn't exactly the public at large, but the principle stood. So Rogue pushed herself upright. "I'm going for a walk. You coming?"
Their angry gaze held for a long moment, then Logan stood, fury and fear stealing the usual grace from his movements. "Yeah."
Rogue touched Scott's shoulder as she moved past. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Scott gave her a worried look as Logan slammed though the kitchen doors heading for the patio. "Rogue--"
"It'll be fine," she interrupted. "Really. He's still adjusting to this whole thing." Scott lifted his eyebrows in a question. "Caring about other people," she clarified, flashing a wry grin.
Scott nodded slowly, but didn't respond until she reached the door.
She turned back.
"When you were gone," Scott sounded apologetic for bringing it up, "it was -- It was bad."
Rogue stood frozen, the metal doorknob warming in her grasp, afraid if she moved, Scott would stop talking. She'd never asked the others about the time she was in hell, and Logan had refused to talk about it when she brought it up with him. "How bad?" she whispered.
Scott sighed. "He blamed himself. He -- I don't think he slept more than a couple hours at a stretch the whole time you were missing. Every time we located a lab, he tried not to let himself hope we'd find you. And then he'd tear the lab up, top to bottom, and when you weren't there..." Scott shrugged. "It was bad."
Rogue ducked her head, staring absently at the tiled floor as she tried to reconcile Scott's words with the faint images she remembered from Logan's mind. She couldn't understand what it had been like for him, not really, but his reaction to her nightmares and his own were enough for her to know that it had been bad.
"He's terrified," Scott continued quietly. "He's terrified that he'll lose you again."
Resentment flared in Rogue's chest. "My side of the bargain wasn't exactly a picnic," she pointed out. "I'm pretty determined to avoid a repeat performance myself."
Before Scott could answer, she pushed through the doors and out onto the patio. Logan was leaning against a balustrade, arms crossed, a lit cigarette clenched between his teeth. The image was so eerily close to one that Six-Five-Eight had baited her with that Rogue had to lay a hand against the doorframe to anchor herself to reality.
He must've known she was there, but he didn't acknowledge her presence. Rogue took a breath and pushed away from the doorway, strolling past him and heading out onto the lawn. It was still fairly cool, but the sky was clear and Rogue knew it'd be a lovely spring day. She started toward Ororo's gardens, but Logan was suddenly beside her, a restraining hand on her arm. "No."
She turned, puzzled and irritated. "What?"
He held the cigar in his free hand, his whole body tense. "Don't go into the gardens."
Oh. The gardens. The men with the tranq dart. Who knew the Wolverine would be so damn superstitious?
She sighed. "Logan, that was months ago. I'm back. I'm fine."
"You're not fine," he ground out, eyes flashing.
Angry herself, Rogue yanked her arm from his grasp. "I'm getting better every day. You're the one who's not fine."
Logan took another step closer, glowering down at her. "I'm not the one who was fucking tortured, Marie."
Don't yell at him, she told herself. He's upset. She took a deep breath. "No, you're not," she agreed, hearing the strain in her voice. "But you blame yourself and looking for me was hell and you're scared it'll happen again."
His body drew itself taut. "You think I'm worried about what'll happen to *me* if you're taken again?"
Oh, shit, Rogue thought. "Logan--"
His voice shook with fury. "Don't you get it, Marie? They kept you as a fucking lab rat."
"I remember, thanks," she shot back. "I have no interest in another round of their experiments."
Logan flicked his cigar away, his movements sharp. "How the fuck do you expect them to experiment on you when you can control your skin?" he demanded, his voice cold and low and ten times scarier than when he shouted. "What do you think they'll do to you when they realize you're of no use to their little science program? Keep you around as a fucking mascot until I can find you again?"
Okay. Decent point. Scary point. One that Rogue hadn't quite figured out on her own. If they caught her again and they had no use for her, they'd kill her. Like they'd killed the professor. Without remorse.
Her legs felt a little shaky, and she really, really didn't want to die. But when she thought about that hellish white room--
"I'd rather they killed me," Rogue said without thinking.
Logan froze for an instant, and then two strong hands grabbed her upper arms. "Don't you ever say that," he ordered fiercely. "Ever." Then he was stalking away from her.
"Logan." He didn't turn, but he jerked to a stop. Rogue moved closer, so close she could hear his ragged breathing. "If you had to choose between those two options, the lab or death, which would you pick?"
"We're not talking about me."
She actually laughed. "It's never about you. You can go traipsing into danger whenever you damn please and I'm just supposed to be okay with that? Do you ever think about what it's like for me? Waiting?"
He turned on her, one hand pointing an accusatory finger at her. "I know what it's like to wait, Marie. Difference is, you know *I'll* come back."
Rogue managed to suppress the childish urge to shove him, but her voice was almost as loud as his when she yelled, "You're not indestructible! God!"
"I'm as close as it gets and you damn well know it," he retorted.
"But you're not immortal," she insisted, shaking her head a little in frustration. "Do you think it doesn't haunt me when you're out on a mission? I think about all the different ways you could be killed."
"That *I* could be killed?" Logan's claws shot out and he brandished them at her. "*You* don't have these."
"I don't *need* those. I can kill with a touch!"
"You," Logan shouted, sheathing the claws with a snikt, "could be shot or stabbed or garroted or a dozen other things that wouldn't give you the chance to touch the person *killing* you!"
Rogue waved a dismissive hand in the air. "I could get hit by a falling satellite, Logan."
"That's not the same fucking thing," he shot back. "You're choosing to put yourself in danger, and you don't have an offensive power. And whoever you're fighting will figure that out, Marie. First rule of offense is use your opponent's weakness. You don't have the kind of mutation that lends itself to this kind of work." She narrowed her eyes and studied him, staying silent long enough that he shifted uncomfortably and crossed his arms. "What?"
"You're not saying that it's too early for me to go back to the team," she answered slowly, her voice flat. "You're suggesting that I *never* go back."
Logan stared at her with his best impassive look.
She looked away from him, all of her anger gone, replaced with hurt and sorrow. Her eyes stung with sudden, unwelcome tears, and she gave a watery chuckle. "Well."
"No," she interrupted, glancing over at him. God, it hurt to finally figure out their relationship. To finally understand exactly how he saw her. To finally see clearly how this would all end. She couldn't look at him, not when she said this, so she stared at the green, green grass. "Logan, I can't do this."
Silence, then, "Do what?"
She swallowed hard, then waved her hand between them. "This." Another glance, but the stunned look on his face was too awful. "Not if you don't see me as an equal. I'm not that girl you rescued. I haven't been for a long time. I can't --" She shook her head. "You're right. I don't have your claws or your skeleton or your healing factor. But I've trained for a year and I've been to hell and back for this team and I think I've earned the right to decide for myself."
He stood as still as a statue, staring at her. But he didn't answer.
She held his gaze as long as she could, until something inside of her broke under the weight of his silence. "I love you, Logan. I know you love me. But I need you to trust me."
Still no answer, but he looked like she'd tossed his heart onto the ground and beat it with a shovel.
Rogue sighed. She couldn't decide whether she should take it back or throw herself into his arms and cry. Instead, she stepped forward, placed a hand on his crossed arms, and leaned up to kiss him quickly on the mouth. She started to pull back, but his hands landed on her waist, holding her carefully, but not so tightly that she couldn't pull away.
He stared at her, indecision in his eyes. Then he tilted his head and kissed her. The kiss was gentle and sweet at first, and then his fingers tightened on her hips and his mouth slanted over hers with desperation. Rogue slid her arms up and around his neck, leaning into that solid, familiar body. She was crying a little now, not sure if this was Logan's idea of an apology or a goodbye.
When he pulled back, his fingers traced her jawline. "I can't lose you," he said quietly.
She smiled, bittersweet. "That's not what I asked you." He stared down at her, and she knew he was torn. She slipped out of his grasp. "Think about it," she said quietly. "I'll see you later."
END PART ONE