Unglorified Victory

By Melissa Lee
Rating: PG
Date: 8-12-00
Feedback: Money and tomatoes go to: Royal_Starship@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: What can I say? Wolverine and Rogue belong to Marvel Enterprises and 20th Century Fox. If you want to use my deer for some, uh, strange reason, ask me first.
Author's Notes: This is my first contribution to the X-Men fanfiction community, so be nice! I don't have many facts in here, but I did have the movie in mind when I wrote this, so consider it in the timeframe after the X-Men Movie.
Dedications & Thanks: Danielle, for being the first to read this prototype, and for fueling my infatuation in X-Men after telling me she watched the cartoon as a kid also. (This is all your fault! ;-)
Summary: Wolverine weighs the consequences of joining Xavier's Institute, and is reminded of his one success.

I pull the night around me like a thick cloak, marvelling at the way its edges slick over my rough skin like an Ontario freezing rain storm. The chilling nocturnal environment is a primal haven; and I thrive in it, my every sense detecting the finer points of this dark, desolate forest.

I feel my nose twitch, and my ear catches the quiet footfall of a lone doe. The tiny, delicate hooves step carefully through the crunching undergrowth, oblivious to my presence, my almost inaudible growl, my stalking eyes.

I need a good hunt.

Focused, needle-like pain shoots through my knuckles, very similar to the sparkling silver claws now extended from my hands. I inspect the claws in a some-what nonchalant fashion, seeing their thin, skeleton-like manner of which they curse my physiology. Grinding my teeth together, I swallow the brief discomfort and continue surveillance of my prey.

Presently, the snikt of the adamantium seems to have alerted the young deer of the situation at hand. She swivels her head around, the ebony black eyes searching the surrounding woods; her body, pale in the moonlight, stock still. The doe's dark nostrils quiver as she sniffs, seeking her hidden attacker: me.

Suddenly, in a fluid motion not unlike that of the deer's cousin the gazelle, the doe leaps out of the clearing, startled. The temptation of the hunt dangles before my eyes, and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to take advantage. I sprint after the deer, my keen eyesight tracking its flee through the thicket.

I run with renewed strength, the day's earlier toil showing no effects on my hunt. My feet fly across the bush and bramble, barely lighting upon the logs and rocks obscuring my spontaneous path. The whipping sound of my claws join my ragged panting, and I am almost deefaned to the noise of the escaping doe. My eyes being to lose focus as the searing adrenaline fills my veins, nearly forcing my body ever harder. I stumble, and suddenly my mouth is filled with dead leaves. Erupting into a fit of coughing, I spit the brittle debris out and curse like a madman. The beating heart and rushing air leaves my ears; the stench of my perspiration escapes my nose; the veil of red lifts from my eyes.

I sit back and lean against a tree trunk, hardly winded. Vaguely aware of my claws sheathing themselves within my arms once more, I slam my fist into the ground.

Every time.

My struggles at the institute were now infringing on my goddamn hunting abilities. The stresses of school life are slowing you down, old man, my conscience pricked. I was too tired to focus on the hunt; my mind kept fogging up, my body overwhelmed by the rush. The rush I used to find so seductively exhilarating. Now it was only disgusting, frustrating.

Momentarily, I thought I imagined the sound of the doe nearby. I stand up and turn to face that direction, my muscles tensing in rabid anticipation. The sound fades, and I close my eyes, breathing deeply.

Another failure.

I shuffle back to the main road, where the X-Cycle awaits, the moonbeams glinting off its gleaming stainless steel piping. Maybe if I returned to the mansion real quiet-like, Cyke wouldn't get his panties in a knot knowing I took it out again.

Minutes later, I'm back at the institute. I take little notice of anything as I park the X-Cycle in the mansion's expansive garage and head for my room. I take my time through the winding passages of the Institute's main building, working ponderously at the inside of my cheek. How could I get this cursed body under control?

I idly toy with the idea of leaving the Institute for a week or so, perhaps take a vacation and head up North. Nah. I dismiss it immediately. I would probably get lonely up there all alone. I laugh quietly at this. Wolverine? Lonely? That's a good one. I have to admit, however, shooting the shit with Wheels can be pretty uplifting after a long day.

Presently, all thoughts of the cue-ball-headed professor disappear into nothingness as I take in the scene at my doorstep. A little heap of wavy brown hair and white bedclothes awaits me. I stare for a moment, then hunch down and inspect the strange and obviously asleep late-night visitor. I pause when I notice a lock of silvery white hair amongst the dark, and a very distinct scent, not completely sweet or tangy, just...unique.

Rogue.

My success.

My one success among a vast amount of failures.

I smile (not a mushy, endearing, lop-sided grin, mind you). Pulling on a pair of black leather biking gloves, I carefully lift her off the floor where she lies in a sort of fetal ball. I position her in my arms, adjusting her gangly limps in a way that is, hopefully, more comfortable than sleeping on the hardwood floor.

In some strange way, I sorta feel like some medieval knight escorting the beautiful princess to bed. I did find her quite beautiful, for a little girl. Too bad touching her had such bad effects. It gives a new meaning to "She'll be breakin' hearts soon!"

I gaze down at her as I walk down the hall as quietly as possible. Her face, expressionless in slumber, presses against my chest and her arms are folded in her lap. She looks amazingly peaceful, and I try extremely hard not to disturb her from dreamland.

I stumble on my own feet from not watching where I am going, and she murmurs in her sleep, squirming a bit.

"Ssh..." I soothe her, and she quiets.

Sooner than I would have wanted, I arrive at the door to her room. The great wooden door is slightly ajar, so I toe it open and locate her bed through the darkness.

As soon as I lay her down she stirs, twisting around in bed. I watch, puzzled, until it finally dawns on me. Warmth. The sudden lack of warmth to her body must be a shock. She shivers a bit and even whimpers.

"Logan..." I am surprised to hear. "Where are you..."

"I'm right here, Rogue," I whisper, leaning over her.

"Where'd you...go..." she mumbles in her sleep.

Without a second thought, I shed my coat and gloves and squeeze into bed beside her. I lean my upper-body against the wall and gently pull her towards me. She obliges willingly; subconsciously, of course.

"I'm back now, honey," I murmur in her ear. "And I'm not goin' anywhere."

I just sit there with her, vaguely mulling over the many times I had helped her, and the many ways in which she had saved me, in return. Did she have any idea how important she was to me? She was my victory over my past, my first win in a new game. The game of living with my mutant powers and flourishing with them.

A tiny smile creeps onto her sleeping face and I hug her to me, my thick arms wrapping around her, my treasured success. I close my eyes and smile also, and sleep threatens to overtake my senses. As my thoughts become foggy, I am comforted by the warm little body taking comfort in mine.

I could get used to this companionship thing.


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