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FIC: Good Intentions 2/4 (R,S, everyone)

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  • Katarina Hjärpe
    GOOD INTENTIONS by Katta ((for disclaimers et.c. check first post)) ********** Finally the time came when Rogue could find no suspected cars anywhere near
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2000
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      GOOD INTENTIONS by Katta
      ((for disclaimers et.c. check first post))

      **********
      Finally the time came when Rogue could find no suspected cars anywhere near
      them.
      �We lost them,� she said. When she slowed down and looked outside, she
      realised something else. �But I have no idea where we are.�
      Scott rested his head in his hands, trying to ignore the headache. Now was
      not a good time to get carsick. He *never* got carsick, he told his stomach.
      His hand stung a little and made his face wet. He must have cut himself on
      the glass, in spite of the coat.
      �Look for signs and tell me when you find one,� he said.
      She sat silently for a while watching the road, wishing there was something
      she could say to him. Right now, what she wanted more than anything else was
      to be rocked like a baby and told that everything would be alright. It
      wasn�t fair, she shouldn�t have to be on the run like this. None of them had
      deserved this.
      She scorned herself for her childish thoughts. Fair had nothing to do with
      it.
      When she saw a sign she almost jumped. �There�s one! 5 miles to New Castle.
      Is that close?� Being a southerner, she had never learned much New York
      geography.
      �Well, it�s Westchester.� He thought for a while. �Okay, try finding a
      small road, but keep track of how you�re driving so you don�t get lost.
      Whatever you do, stay off the highway, that�s the last place we want to be
      with a stolen car.�
      �Okay,� she said, doing as she was told. �Scott?�
      �Yeah.�
      �It�s getting dark.�
      He grabbed her arm. �Where�s the sun?�
      She was taken by surprise. �That way.� She could have bitten her tongue
      off. �Sorry. Behind us.�
      �Okay, stop. We�re going in the wrong direction.�
      She pulled over. �Maybe we should stop for the night. We could need some
      food�� She looked down on her strange appearance. �Not to mention some other
      clothes.�
      �And probably a vehicle that wasn�t stolen,� he snapped. �What do you want
      to do, knock on someone�s door and say: �Excuse me, we�re two mutants on the
      run, can you take care of us please?�� He regretted that remark as soon as
      he had said it. This was most certainly not Rogue�s fault, and a good leader
      never made his teammates suffer the consequences of a bad mood. But the
      darkness got to him so badly he could hardly even think.
      Rogue hesitated. She had a suggestion, but she knew Scott wouldn�t like it.
      �I could steal some. Clothes, I mean.�
      His mouth twisted a little. �What, from a clothesline?�
      �I could absorb someone, very briefly, and take their clothes.� She spoke
      in a quiet voice; she didn�t like the thought one bit.
      Never use your power against an unarmed human. Well, in his case that
      wasn�t even a possibility anymore. And in hers� desperate times needs
      desperate measures. He knew what it took for her to even suggest such a
      thing.
      �You can still do it?� he asked, not quite able to suppress the envy.
      �Yeah.� She really didn�t want to talk about that, but part of her wanted
      him to know. �They took pieces of my skin away, but it didn�t make any
      difference.�
      What do you reply to something like that? *I�m sorry*? �Okay, but be
      careful.�
      �I will.�
      Rogue walked back to the main road, slowly taking her gloves off and
      keeping watch for any car to pass by. Since she could never pass for
      innocent hitchhiker she decided on madwoman and starting pacing to and fro
      by the road. Surely sooner or later someone would be compassionate or
      curious enough to stop.
      Two trucks passed her by, accelerating when they saw her. Part of her was
      grateful. Even though her powers let her take down anyone with a touch,
      truck drivers still intimidated her. A few minutes later, a passenger car
      pulled over, and a man stepped out of it. Rogue began to mutter to herself,
      while her heart pounded away. Let�s try those acting abilities.
      �Hey, girl, are you alright?� The stranger�s voice was tender. Rogue did a
      frightened animal thing: jumped, turned around and stared at the man with
      big scared eyes. He was about Scott�s size. Good. Trouble was, that still
      left *her* without proper clothes.
      The man approached her slowly, hands held out in a friendly gesture. When
      he had come close enough, she grabbed on of his hands and waited until he
      gasped for breath before she let go. The guilt she felt immediately
      disappeared when his thoughts reached her mind. What a sleaze. Quickly, she
      put on her gloves and started undressing the man. That was not something she
      had done before, and certainly not something she thought she would
      experience like this. Fortunately, he was a sleaze in warm clothing. Shirt,
      sweater *and* jacket, that meant enough for both her and Scott. If only he
      had worn two pair of pants as well. Of course, she would look strange in
      pants that size anyway.
      When she was done, she stuffed the man inside the car with some difficulty,
      then looked around for food. None in the glove compartment, but there was a
      bag on the floor. She dug through it and found a big French bread with ham
      and mustard. Her stomach rumbled happily, and she hurried back to Scott. His
      head jerked up when he heard her approach. It felt eerily surreal to see
      those sightless eyes instead of the usual ruby-red mirror image.
      �It�s me,� she said. �Here.� She handed him the upper half of the bread and
      he immediately took a bite, showing that he was just as hungry as she was.
      �I thought you were going for clothes?� he said.
      �I took his clothes too, but I figured this was more urgent.�
      His lips cracked in one of those rare smiles that made the girls in class
      fall down dead. �Good thinking.�
      **********
      They slept in the car that night. Tomorrow they would have to leave it and
      start walking. It would be difficult, since Rogue didn't have any shoes, but
      a whole lot safer than hitch-hiking. They were pretty easily recognized and
      had better stay away from people as much as possible.
      It was hard to sleep for both of them. Scott managed to doze off for a few
      minutes, but waking up from a nightmare and finding himself in impenetrable
      darkness was so painful and frightening that he didn�t dare to fall asleep
      again. He choked a sob and moved uneasily to find a more comfortable
      position. Rogue had gotten the backseat, and he hoped she had managed to
      sleep better than he had. It didn�t seem like it, though. When he lay still
      and listened he heard her quiet sobs, and something else as well, a sound
      smaller than the nibbling of a mouse. It took him a while to figure out what
      it was. She was clawing her own skin. No, not her own, the foreign skin.
      �Rogue?� he whispered. �Are you okay?�
      Her hands stilled, and she took a deep, uneven breath. She wasn�t okay, not
      at all, she hadn�t been less okay since the day she discovered her mutation.
      �I miss Logan,� she said, and then wondered why *that* had been the first
      thing to come out of her mouth. It wasn�t exactly something Scott would
      appreciate, everyone knew that he and Logan was far from friends.
      Actually, Scott didn�t mind, because he recognized that sense of longing in
      her voice. It was the same longing that had been in his thoughts since he
      woke up. �And I miss Jean. At least we have each other. I coldn�t have done
      this alone.�
      �Me neither,� she said. She was grateful for his company, but couldn�t
      quite put that into words. Instead she reached out with a question that
      wouldn�t leave her mind. �Will it ever be alright?� The pain had to lessen,
      she couldn�t live on feeling this violated.
      Scott didn�t answer that at first, he had to fight the tears. The only
      thing that kept him sane in this darkness was to avoid the thought that it
      might last forever. �God, Rogue, I really hope so.�
      She sat up and leaned forward, giving him her hand that was still clad in
      that despicable latex glove. As touches go, it wasn�t perfect, but she
      needed it anyway. Part of her suspected that he might need it too. He
      pressed her hand gently and leaned backwards so that they could keep some
      sort of sleeping position while still holding onto each other. It didn�t
      cure their insomnia or heal the pain. It just relieved it.
      **********
      Jean turned the key and opened the door to the cabin, reaching out with her
      mind for Scott. There was nothing. Her eyes wandered around the room and
      found it as neat and tidy as it used to be between visits. �They�re not
      here.� But then where were they? They should have been back three days ago.
      Logan sniffed the air, and a deep frown formed on his brow. �They haven�t
      been here either. I can�t smell them.�
      �What!?� Jean�s concern turned into pure anxiety. �Are you sure? Maybe the
      scent has just worn off.�
      He shook his head. �No, I can smell �Ro and Bobby, vaguely, but nothing at
      all from Scott or Rogue.� His fists clinched. A long time ago, he had
      promised to take care of Rogue. Good job he was doing, if she could be
      missing for two weeks before he reacted.
      �That�s it, I�m calling home.� Jean picked up her cellphone and called the
      number for Xavier�s office. Her hands was shaking when she waited for the
      professor to answer.
      �Xavier�s school for gifted youngsters, Charles Xavier speaking.�
      �It�s Jean. I�m at the cabin, but they�re not here, and Logan says they
      haven�t been here at all.�
      There was a long silence in the other end of the line. She knew her
      thoughts wandered in the same direction hers had: that this meant they had
      been gone for almost two whole weeks. A lot can happen in two weeks.
      �I�ll try to find them with Cerebro,� he finally said.
      �Okay. Call us back when you find them.� *If* he found them. After all,
      there was a possibility that Cerebro wouldn�t pick up their brainwaves -
      because there was nothing to pick up. �Good luck.�
      Jean put away the phone reluctantly. She would have wanted the professor
      there, he was the one person who cared for Scott as deeply as she did. But
      she guessed she had to settle for Logan. She sat down next to him on the
      sofa, and he turned to her with a look in his eyes she had never seen
      before.
      �Do you believe in God, Jeannie?�
      �I guess,� she said. It wasn�t something she gave a lot of thought to.
      �Can you help me pray for my Marie, then? I don�t know how to do it alone.�
      Most of the time, he used Rogue�s nickname like everyone else. In this
      caressing way to use her real one, there was more love and despair than she
      could ever have expected from the rough Canadian.
      �Of course.� She took his hand and with stumbling words and chaotic
      thoughts she tried to pray with him for the next couple of hours. *Let them
      be alive, let them be okay. Let us find them.* When the phone finally rang,
      they both jumped. Jean looked at Logan, her thoughts torn between hope and
      fear. If the professor had found them this quickly, it meant they were alive
      and not far away. But what if they were hurt? What if they were prisoners?
      What if�
      �Answer it,� he pleaded, and she took up the phone.
      �Hello?�
      �I found them. They�re between New Castle and Bedford, heading east.�
      �Are they okay?� Jean was almost afraid to ask, and Xavier�s hesitation
      told her all she needed to know.
      �They�re alive and heading home. That�s good news.�
      **********
      Rogue felt awful waking up, but preferred this wake-up to any for the past
      two weeks. Looking up, she found that Scott wasn�t in the car. She rose so
      quickly she bumped her head on the roof, but when all the little stars had
      cleared she could see Scott standing nearby, apparently washing his face in
      a rain barrel. She hadn�t even noticed there was one. Stretching her
      still-sleeping legs, she left the car and walked up to him.
      �Hey.�
      He turned to her. �Morning.� There was no point in asking if she had slept
      well. Neither of them had. �I was thinking. We definitely want to dump the
      car, and we should probably get off the road altogether. Do you mind some
      walking?�
      She looked down on her feet that were just wearing socks. �Barefoot?�
      He frowned. �I didn�t think of that.� He sounded annoyed, as if it was a
      crime to not think of everything. Considering their situation, it probably
      was. �Well, at least it�s warm.�
      �Yeah.� Most likely, it would proceed to downright hot before the day was
      over. �It�s okay, I can walk barefoot. It won�t go fast, though.�
      He gave her a strained smile. �Won�t go fast no matter what.�
      They had never been friends before any of this happened, but now it hurt to
      see that smile. Gently she reached out for his hand and cursed latex when he
      winced just a little. Of course, his associations must be as bad as hers.
      She never wanted to get near another doctor for the rest of her life.
      Although uncomfortable, walking was better than the car. The mind-numbing
      adrenaline left their bodies and allowed space for� thoughts. Maybe the car
      was better after all. She tried to keep her mind on coming home, forcing
      happy thoughts on herself, but she found none. They said nothing as they
      walked along the road, some distance away but still following it. The only
      thing on their minds was not something they wanted to put into words.
      At first, Rogue�s steps were uneasy and hesitant, but soon her soles picked
      up the memories of all those summers she had walked barefoot as a kid, and
      she increased her pace as much as she could without making things difficult
      for Scott. He looked as stern and determined as ever, back straight in the
      leader position, but now and then he had a slight stumble and his jaw
      tightened. Since he was determined not to show her any sign of weakness, she
      never mentioned it and never made a big deal out of waiting for him.
      After a few hours, she spotted a gas station and felt a little relieved.
      Not only did she really need to get some weight off her feet, but she was
      getting quite hungry, too. Places like these usually had food.
      �There�s a gas station ahead. Is it okay if I go buy us something to eat?�
      Scott was surprised. �Where did you get money?� A thought struck him. �Oh.�
      �He only had about fifty bucks, but it�s better than nothing.� There wasn�t
      much point in talking of ethics. Safety was their primary concern.
      �Okay. Do it. I think I�d better stay behind, though, we don�t want any
      attention.�
      How could he be so calm? �Sure.�
      �And Rogue� if they have a phone, try calling the professor.�
      �I will.�
      Leaving Scott, she went to the gas station and walked up to the counter
      inside. She silently pep-talked herself to not be afraid. She had done this
      before, all the way from Mississippi to Canada. Only, then she wasn�t quite
      as aware of what people would do to mutants. Trying to keep her voice clear,
      she spoke to the clerk and managed to order some chicken sandwiches and
      drinks to go. There was no reason he would look twice at her, she told
      herself. She had taken off her gloves before entering, and the white in her
      hair, as well as her lack of shoes, could just be some sort of trend.
      He handed her a plastic bag. �Anything else?�
      �Do you have a phone I can use?�
      He nodded towards a corner. �Over there.�
      As she dialed the number, the meaningless mumble from the radio suddenly
      became words she needed to listen to.
      ��found in his car robbed of clothes and money. The man has suffered some
      sort of attack, but the doctors are not sure if this happened before the
      robbery or as a result of the same. According to his wife, the man had been
      wearing a worn, red denim jacket with star-shaped buttons, a grey sweater��
      Rogue�s eyes met the clerk�s, and she saw that he was looking at the jacket
      she was wearing. Her mouth got dry. Don�t evoke suspicion. There must be
      several similar jackets, he had no reason to think� but she couldn�t stop
      the feeling that she was going to faint any minute.
      �Hello?� The professor�s voice in the phone.
      She slowly put the earphone back in its place, pretending it had been a
      busy line. Without any hurry, she walked through the room, across the yard
      in front � and then ran as if chased by fire. When she got back to Scott,
      she grabbed him by the sleeve since she hadn�t had time to put her gloves
      on, and pulled him with her. �Run! Come on!�
      Not until after ten minutes did she dare to stop, sinking down on the
      ground, exhausted. At least she still had the food.
      Scott was still standing up, distressed. �What happened?�
      �The radio� They talked about the man I absorbed, describing his clothes. I
      think the clerk suspected something. I panicked.�
      �You *think* the clerk suspected something?� She was surprised at his
      biting tone of voice. Looking up at his pale face she realised that he had
      thought the hospital people had found them again. Since he was so
      cool-headed and collected, it was hard to remember that if she didn�t tell
      him what was going on, he had no way of knowing.
      �I�m sorry. I guess I overreacted.�
      The tension in his shoulders eased a little. �Don�t think about it. Do you
      have the food?�
      �Yes. Couldn�t make the call, though.�
      Scott waved it away as unimportant. Right now he didn�t know if he wanted
      to return. The X-men felt further away than the moon.
      **********
      �Figures that it would start raining,� Rogue said later that day. Her feet
      were beginning to ache, and her arms always were.
      �Well, when it�s this hot it really doesn�t matter,� Scott said.
      �It won�t be hot tonight, and the sun is almost setting.�
      �Really?� In one way it didn�t surprise him, since he felt like the day
      ought to have been over several hours ago. He had just stopped thinking
      evening would ever come. �Alright, try to find some place we can spend the
      night.�
      �I know a woman in Bedford I�d like to spend it with. Best lay on the east
      coast.� Rogue was too tired to stop those words from getting out, but she
      quickly bit her lip.
      Scott frowned. He knew that wasn�t Rogue speaking, but it didn�t quite
      sound like Logan either, and the Logan part of her was getting weaker
      anyway. �The guy you absorbed?�
      �Yeah.� Rogue blushed. �Sorry.�
      �No, I�m sorry� that I let you go through that.� She was just a kid after
      all, what right did he have to ask this much of her? *Face the facts,
      Summers, you�re losing it. Without her, you wouldn�t have managed a single
      mile.*
      �It wasn�t that bad, really.� It wasn�t, comparatively. The stranger might
      be a sleaze, but his presence in her head was a delight compared to those
      tiny little cold minds of sixteen dead mice. �And you didn�t *let* me go
      through with it, it was my idea. You�re not responsible for everything, you
      know.�
      �But you shouldn�t have to be.� He walked straight ahead, without revealing
      any emotions, and she couldn�t very well start cuddling him senseless when
      she never had before. Everything she did she needed him there to double
      check, to use his experience and authority. So maybe he wasn�t at his
      strongest, but he was everything that stopped her from going to pieces. She
      wished she could tell him that, but with his defences up like this, she
      simply didn�t know the way. Fortunately, she found something else to talk
      about.
      �There�s a clear-felled area to the right with some sort of worker�s shack.
      It looks deserted. Hardly the driest place to spend the night, but better
      than nothing.�
      �Okay.� He followed her to the place. It had a pad lock, but the door was
      so rotten Scott could break it open. It was barely big enough for the two of
      them to lie down in, and Rogue lay down almost in Scott�s lap, hoping she
      wouldn�t accidentally touch his skin during the night. It was comfortable
      being this close, though, and warm.
      �Not much privacy,� Scott said, smiling a little. His voice indicated he
      didn�t object to the situation any more than she did.
      �Won�t get as cold, though,� she pointed out.
      �True. Considering I�m from Alaska it�s surprising what a wimp I am when it
      comes to cold.� His light tone told her he was more than exaggerating. Any
      real character flaw he would never readily admit.
      When he mentioned Alaska she recalled her old plan of travelling there, and
      she recalled the things that had taken away the girl she had been back then.
      It wasn�t a comfortable thought, so she shuddered a little, and he
      half-consciously put an arm around her. Once again, things had changed too
      fast for her to understand. After this terrible ordeal, in the despair she
      was in, Scott�s arm around her felt like the most natural thing in the
      world. Not anything like what it might be like if Bobby ever held her like
      that, and not even like Logan�s ever-comforting strength, but the sombre
      consolation of someone who knew what she was going through.
      Carefully, she pulled away the bandages from her arms. She hadn�t dared to
      look at them in daylight, but this grey night was more merciful, only hinted
      the lines and scars. Her gloved fingers followed the sore new skin she hated
      so much, and she cried to herself. She was just about to start hurting
      herself again when a firm hand took hers aside, holding it in a gentle grip.
      To return the caress, she pulled her fingers through his hair, holding his
      face between her hands. Any other time they would have shied those touches,
      afraid that they would be over-interpreted, seen as something other than
      what they were.
      A simple statement from both of them. *Don�t worry about perfection. You�re
      here, that�s enough. We�re all we have.*
      **********
      Jean�s cellphone rang as they were driving along the 684. It was the
      professor.
      �I got a phone call I�m almost certain was from Rogue. She hung up before
      saying something, but I called the number on the display. It seems they�re
      staying close to the highway, but not quite on it. See if you can trace
      them.� He gave her some directions, and she thanked him. Trace them � in
      other words, pull over now and then so Logan can take a sniff. Not a
      problem. Anything, as long as it gave results.
      The search was slow and unsatisfying. It seemed like everyone from Britney
      Spears to the pope had been on the highway, just not the people they were
      looking for. Neither of them could give up. The idea to stop never came up,
      not even when it was well past midnight. They only changed driver and went
      on, stopping now and then to check it out.
      Jean couldn�t believe it when, by the time the skies had gotten lighter
      again, Logan finally said: �They�ve been here.�
      �What?� She had heard, she just wanted to hear it again.
      �They�ve been here. Went that way.� He didn�t even have time to stop before
      she had returned to the car, driving it into the tiny road he pointed out. A
      few seconds of stopping to let him in was all she allowed herself.
      She sensed it when they reached them, just as much as he did. That bond
      that had been missing in her mind was finally back, and she hardly dared to
      believe it. Her heart was pounding away as they approached the tiny shack
      and looked inside.
      Scott and Rogue had both heard the car coming, but by the time they
      realised it was actually *stopping* too, it was too late to run. They rose
      and stood with their backs towards the wall. Rogue pulled off her gloves,
      preparing for a fight, but when she saw the faces of the people coming in,
      her arms fell down. �Logan��
      Logan didn�t need to hear his name said twice, his enhanced senses had
      already told him everything he needed to know. Within a split second, he had
      his arms around Rogue.
      �Don�t ever scare me like that again, you hear me, kiddo?� he said, shaking
      her softly. He could feel every one of her sobs against his chest, and he
      knew he was crying too. It didn�t matter. �What have you been up to anyway,
      I thought One-eye was supposed to�� His glance fell at Scott and his voice
      dropped. �Jesus Christ!� he whispered.
      Jean was frozen by the door, staring numbly at her lover, but Logan�s
      reaction told her that she wasn�t delusional. �Scott?� she asked, weakly.
      His face turned in her direction, finally able to focus on something in the
      chaos. �Oh Jean!� Part of him wanted to throw himself at her. He had missed
      her more than anything ever, but then there was pride, and uncertainty, and
      ultimately he just stood there, not knowing what to do.
      Her hand stroke his face. How he loved that hand! His own touched it,
      followed the arm and finally he held her like he wanted to.
      �What happened to you?� She was crying. �Who did this?�
      No, there was no way he could talk about it. �A run-in with Odysseus, I
      guess.�
      �Doctors,� Rogue said quietly. �I don�t know who� they said they wanted to
      cure mutants��
      Logan looked down on her, shocked. He had assumed that she was alright
      because she seemed like it, but now she silently rolled up her sleeve and
      took the bandages aside to show him her arm. His reaction told her
      everything she needed to know. She was repulsive. Slowly, she took a few
      steps away from him, to the door. If she could, she would have run away, but
      there was nowhere to go, and she wanted to rest at last. The car. She could
      see it from where she was standing. She would go and sit down in the car,
      and Jean would drive her home.
      Jean took Scott�s hand. �Come on,� she said gently.
      He hesitated. Going home would mean getting off the road and the run, to be
      back with Jean and the ones he loved. But it would also mean that every
      single one of the X-men and the students would know that he had been broken.
      That it was possible to break him. He didn�t object when Jean lead him
      inside the car, but he wondered to himself what would happen with the two of
      them now. At least if the surgery could be reversed things could perhaps go
      back to normal, but�
      Don�t think about it. Don�t even let the possibility enter your mind.
      You�re going back. The nightmare is over.
      **********


      � more tomorrow!
      Katta


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