Anywhere the Sea Breaks

Author: Paradise
Rating: NC-17 for sexual situations
Category: Rogue/Wolverine Romance
Disclaimer: I DO NOT OWN THESE CHARACTERS, NO INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.
Summary: Four years after the movie, Logan returns to Xavierís mansion. A reunion with everyone leads to another tragedy, and Rogueís life must be saved. But why when Logan touches her to save her life, nothing happens? As she dies she can be touched, yet how unfair is that? Logan knows he canít save her and a very unlikely person does. Rogue is not the same, she is now an X-Men and takes Logan by surprise at every turn. But Loganís not the only one Rogue has now, she has family, whatís to stop her from living a life without him? After all, wasnít he the one who left?
Comments: I only know the X-Men storyline from the movie. I have done a little research on these charactersí histories, but if I change a little something, forgive me, I hadnít even heard of the X-Men before the movie, now Iím addicted.
Dedication: Anna Paquin and Hugh Jackman, who else could do this but you two?
E-Mail: Feedback is welcome, Para8Dice@aol.com
Title: Comes from Seven Girlfriends Soundtrack, the song Anywhere the Wind Blows, by Lauren Christy. Download it, itís incredibly beautiful.

Chapter 1

Logan stepped into Mutant High, unexpectedly and quietly. It was the middle of the day, bright and sunny, four years since heíd stepped into this place. It looked exactly the same, and gave him that sense of confusion, fearÖand comfort. The kids still played pool and other games. Logan looked towards the television where Storm, Jean, and Cyclops used to sit and investigate Magnetoís latest activities. Was Magneto still in that plastic cage?

Logan walked through the long hallway and stepped in the elevator going up two floors. When the doors opened, to his luck, Scott was the first person he saw this visit. Scottís eyes lit up and a teasing smile crossed his face. Logan glared a little which only made Scott smile more.

"Well well, look who finally decides to grace us with his presence. Did you bring back my motorcycle by the way?"

"No but I promise youíll find it in a landfill somewhere in Vancouver," Logan said, stepping out of the elevator.

"Hey Storm! Jean! Look whoís back," Scott called to his friends.

Their eyes lit up in surprise and Storm ran over to see him. Her blonde hair flying with her black cape giving her yet another feature to enhance her glow.

"Logan," she smiled coming up to him, not sure whether or not she should hug him.

He smiled warmly at her. "You donít look a day older."

"Oh neither do you, but then again you couldnít, could you?" she said getting on her tiptoes to hug him.

Returning the embrace he caught a look at Jean. She had that smile on her face without really smiling. She was always so modest and beautiful. But her eyes were warm and at home like always, proud and calm to have him back. Releasing Storm, Jean smiled and reached up to give him a conservative, almost shy hug.

"Good to have you back," she said.

"You two still together?" he teased after releasing her.

"Married," Storm said.

Logan rolled his eyes humorously. "Aw geez, well, you donít have to read my mind but anyhow, congratulations."

"And I hope you find someone so youíll stop wanting her," Scott teased, extending his hand. "Youíre a pain in the ass Logan but itís good to have you back. What happened to your face? Iím not worried since itís healing as we speak-"

"Nothing big, donít worry about it. Howís Xavier?"

"Great, heíll be pleased to see you," Storm said with a smile still on her face.

"Iíve never seen a prettier day than today, you responsible," he flirted.

"No, but if you donít behave yourself Iíll make it go away," she threatened.

They all waited for him to ask.

"Rogue still here? And donít even think about reading my mind, Jean," Logan warned her and she smiled.

"Sheís outsideÖsomewhere," Storm said, not knowing exactly where she was.

Logan left without saying a word, all three of them watching with ideas in their mind about what they would both think when seeing each other.


Logan walked around the grounds seeing half a million kids or so it seemed but couldnít find her. After walking around the entire damn campus, he spotted her, only being able to recognize her by her hair. That thick mass of reddish brown hair that had more body than anything heíd ever seen. The white streaks were gone though.

She was teaching the kids something, and he couldnít move or speak because she wasnít the person heíd left four years ago. She was all grown up. As she spoke he even noticed she had very little of her southern accent left, but just enough to know she had come from there. She had those extremely thin black gloves on that went all the way to her upper arms and a blue blouse with a black mini-skirt on. She lookedÖgood.

"Would you please stop using your powers," she laughed at the kids who refused to listen to her.

"Tell me you never used any of yours," a kid called out.

A small smile touched her lips as she placed her hand out.

"Of course I did. And this is what a boy taught me," she said creating a small fireball in her hands causing the kids to pay full attention at a teacher doing this.

Logan smiled too, charmed watching her.

"And then another kidÖ" she turned the fire into ice. "Did that to his fireball."

"Which kid?"

"A boy I once knew."

"Did you have a crush on him?"

She smiled again. "Yes."

Just then Rogue looked up and saw him and instantly the ice fell crashing to the ground and breaking. She looked back to the students.

"And when the teacher called on my friend, thatís exactly what happened," she said, trying to get out of complete embarrassment. "And now Iím going to break another rule, I have to go talk to someone, so you all talk. JustÖdonít hurt anyone," she said smiling.

Walking over to him, slowly and confidently, he again realized she wasnít a little girl anymore.

"Where have you been," she teasingly smiled.

"Missing out on things that have changed," he said with staring eyes.

She frowned in confusion at his intense gaze on her and forgot what he said. "What? Oh! I-I know Iíve changed-"

"No, Iím sorry," he said feeling like he was embarrassing her. "Most normal people do, just not me."

"I wouldnít call myself normal," she smiled.

His eyes were sad because he couldnít hug her yet she was the one he most wanted to. He could if he was careful though. Brushing his fingers through her hair she sucked in a breath, half afraid he would touch her actual skin and be hurt and half because of how painful it was to not be touched.

"Take it the white strands didnít last too long?"

She exhaled a laugh. "Everyone has a little teenage rebellion. Even you."

She regretted saying that instantly since he didnít remember.

"Whyíd you come back?" she asked. "Did you find the answers you left in search for?"

"Oh well thatís a nice welcome."

"No, I didnít mean that," she laughed. "I just meant itís been four years, was there a reason to return, or youíd just get tired of beating people up for money," she smiled.

"My God, you were not like this when I left. You are brutal now," he teased.

She noticed a scar on his face and reached up with her gloved hand to touch it.

"What happened?"

"Doesnít matter."

"Watch it now, Iíll be a nagging mother on you if you donít stay honest with me."

He took her hand in his, bringing it down from his face.

"I was being honest, itís a little embarrassing but Iíll tell you the entire truth if you make me."

"Yes," she said.

"Scottís motorcycle," he said.

"Oh well it mustíve been five seconds ago because itís healing."

"Yes, when I walked in, it was more, but Scott was only interested in his motorcycle."

She couldnít help but grin. "Iíll bet he was. You staying or just checking in on your way to somewhere?"

"I donít know yet."

"Forever the mystery man. I wonít push anymore questions for the moment."

"So youíre teaching kids?"

"Are you mocking me?"

"Maybe."

"Iím not going to forever, but itís wonderful to be around people."

He heard what she did not say in that sentence which was since I canít touch them.

"I noticed your making fire in your hands."

"Bobby taught me when I first came here."

"You do that very well."

"Yeah except for when I dropped it. How long were you watching me?"

"Long enough."

She gave him a look. "And what does that mean?"

"Iíd been watching you a few minutes."

"You see Jean?" she asked with only a hint of attitude only he caught.

"Yes, everyone except Xavier."

"I canít wait to see his reaction to you."

Just then a kid bumped into her and she turned around quickly to make sure he was okay.

"You okay," she said taking his hands in her gloved ones and kneeling a little to check him.

"Yeah, sorry," he said and ran off.

She shook a little in fear of what couldíve happened to him. It angered Logan that she must worry about that every minute. When she looked back up at him and tried to calm down he didnít buy it.

"Give me a heart attack," she joked with her hand at her heart.

He took that hand and pulled her to him for an embrace. Quickly she turned her head to the side so that her hair would only touch him.

"Itís okay," he said holding her to him. "Luckily youíre still short," he smiled, his strong arms wrapped around her protectively.

Her face pressed up against his shirt, and she could feel his heartbeat. It soothed her and ate at her simultaneously. She hadnít seen him in so long, and even if she couldnít touch him, she could stay like this forever. Realizing she could hug him back and slid her arms around his waist and drew her hands up his back a little as she leaned against him. Her heart clenched in pain she refused to show through tears at the feeling of another person touching her. Even if it wasnít his skin, she could feel the molecules flow back and forth between them, which was something she wasnít lost to.

She was cautious when it came to lifting her head to look at him, giving him time to back up a little so not to touch her.

"Guess you caught me, I missed you," she said as if heíd forced it out of her.

"Oh well thank you for the compliment."

Pulling back, she undid the clasp to the necklace and slowly handed it to him.

"I never thought you were coming back. So I wore something I asked you about in our third sentence of conversation, so I wouldnít forget."

Looking at her brown eyes, he saw doubt in her eyes still.

"I told you I was coming back. You didnít believe me?"

"Well for me itís been a life time. Sometimes Iíd forget exactly what you looked like and Iíd wish Iíd taken a picture."

"A picture?" he said like she was crazy.

A giggle escaped her full lips. "Yeah! Why not?"

She took his hand and turned it so she could see his knuckles. Running her fingers over them she saw they werenít red.

"Take it you havenít had to use them?"

"Not recently."

"Good. Sometimes I thought you were dead and then I remembered you couldnít be killed easily," she smiled. "It was comforting."

"Hey, you were on the run young, you werenít even afraid."

"Well I kind of had a good defense. If anyone touched me-" she stopped then, thinking that although it was a defense, it was a prison. "Well, no one would handle it as well as you."

He shook his head in ugly memories. "I still remember what Magneto did to you. I remember your cries for help, the pain you were in."

"Yeah, and since he was taking my life force I guess thatís what it feels like when I touch people. I mean, thatís the best guess I have to what it feels like when I touch people."

"Iím not sorry you touched me."

She looked in his hazel eyes with an attempt of a smile but instead a sad but grateful look crossed her face.

"Iím still very sorry-"

"Why? I stabbed youÖI deserved it and Iím glad you thought fast enough to do that. And when I found out you were goneÖdonít do that," he smiled.

"What? Donít disappear?"

"You scared the hell out of me, Rogue."

"It was Mystique, she became Bobby and told me to leave. Iíll never forget her words. But when you showed up you said everything right, you did take care of me. I trust you."

"I promised I would, and I will never lie to you."

They stared at each other for a moment, saying nothing.

"Uh, excuse me, class is over, may we leave?" one student said, all of them watching this private moment with smiles on their faces.

She turned to them. "Yeah, go, get outta here."

"Bye Marie," they said as they left.

She turned back and placed her hands on his chest, pushing him back.

"So, Wolverine, Iím hungry."

"Oh Iíll bet you are," he laughed as they walked together.

"Got any beef jerky?"

"Shut up," he said and she laughed.


Storm, Scott, and Jean watched Marie and Logan as they ate dinner that evening. Xavier still hadnít shown up, he was busy with things underground.

"Öand even though Magneto is still with us, Mystique is still God knows where. And weíre worried sheís in a new project and is waiting to strike. We have heard nothing of her in years, but someone like her, going away? So easily?" Storm said to Logan.

"I donít think so. Sheís gotta have some regenerative powers herself because I shouldíve killed her."

"Well I hate to say it but youíre the only one who came close," Scott said.

"Hey," Rogue said, interrupting. "Couldnít we wait five minutes before jumping into war mode? Iíd rather just talk as if we were normal, if thatís possible."

"Okay Marie, Iím with you. Letís have a normal conversation, beginning with, I always wondered exactly how you two met," Scott said with a smile, ready to give them such crap about whatever their story was.

Everyone laughed and egged Rogue on to tell.

"Ohhhh," Rogue teased, giving Logan a little push to embarrass him. "That was a good one."

"Look, could youÖI donít know, leave a few things out," he said to her.

"No no, this is the good stuff," Scott said. "So whereíd you first see him?"

"Canada, at someÖbar, I think it was. And there was a guy who knew he was a mutant and began threatening Logan and he pulled out a knife to stab him and I told Logan to get out of the way and Wolverine brought his claws out and shut that poor guy the hell up."

"Oh Iíll bet," Jean smiled.

"So then at least at that point I realized he was a mutant as well so I sort of hopped on the back of his trailer and slept as he drove."

"May I take over," Wolverine said.

"No!" she retorted and laughed.

"Well too bad, just give me a minute. So I stop the truck and see sheís in the back, and now itís our first three sentences, do you remember what I said?"

Rogue couldnít help but laugh. She recited it. "You were such a charming person. Weíre in the middle of nowhere and he decides to kick me out which couldíve easily been the end of my life and I asked him where I was supposed to go, and he said he didnít know. I asked him if he didnít know or didnít care and he said PICK ONE!"

"You could tell I was in the best of moods."

"Yes IÖnoticed that," she said and he laughed. "But that was so the best line, I still laugh thinking about it," she giggled. "But thatís pretty much how you always are."

"Iíll second that," Storm said.

"So what happened, you kicked her out like the usual Prince Charming youíve always been?" Scott said.

Logan gave Scott the evil eye but Rogue just smiled. They were both so full of shit.

"I was majorly angry, someone just tried to stab me, not a good day, but as Iím driving away in the middle of nowhere leaving her in the road of snow, I thought to myself, do I need to be an asshole?"

Rogue fell over on his shoulder laughing. "And I drove you crazy, I was asking question after question when you wanted me to shut up. And your reaction when I told you I was a mutant."

"Like I had any reason to complain?" Logan said.

"Iíll never forget when I told you about my skin and you said fair enough, only another mutant would say that."

"You wouldnít shut up!" he said. "Damn you kept talking and talking until I finally talked."

Rogue laughed. "I know, I was driving you up the wall, I know."

"You were every bit as full of shit as I was," he said to her.

"I beg your pardon?"

"It looks cozy?" he said.

"I was only trying to keep you from kicking me out, you know I didnít mean that. Do you still refuse to wear your seatbelt?" she taunted.

He glared at her. "I donít need to."

"Oh thatís right," she said sarcastically. "Itís much more fun to go flying through the window bang into a tree and slide several yards in the snow. Even if you do heal rapidly youíre telling me thatís pleasant?"

"It was because YOU were talking that I turned away from the road-"

"Excuse me!" Rogue said and the entire table worked to keep a straight face at their verbal battle. "I was telling you to put your seatbelt on, it is not my fault you turned your head to me to argue when a tree fell on the goddamn car!"

"What the hell are you talking about," Scott asked, laughing.

She turned to Scott with a smile that was unintentionally seductive. Rogue was always justÖwonderfully personable. She didnít mean to, but she flirted with everyone. You couldnít help but love her, and assume she was thrilled and comfortable with life. She never failed to smile a smile that was so real and loving you could swear it was her trying to protect you, to love you.

"As I was driving Logan insane by talking non-stop, I told him he should wear a seatbelt and he turned to me to tell him he never needed any lessons on driving and in the middle of that sentence we crashed into a tree and he went flying out the window."

"Well you DISTRACTED me!"

Rogue rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, sure. You donít need a seatbelt or any advice on driving which is why you sped into the collapsing tree."

"Youíre pushing it," Logan said, threatening her with a food fight.

"Manners manners," Scott said.

"Well while you were out there healing, I swear I was watching you going, damn I thought it was the claws!"

Storm and Jean burst out laughing as Scott gave another seductive, I hate Logan smile.

"I didnít know it was healing powers, all Iíd seen was the claws. And Iím watching you, and there was all of a sudden fire behind me and I prayed you were alive because I really didnít want to burn to death. I couldnít believe you got up so quickly but now I know why."

Logan remembered how stunned she was when he healed right in front of her.

"You did seem surprised that I would get up."

"Uh, yeah, thatís putting it mildly. You get up and your wounds heal and Iím stuck and the flames are getting closer and Sabretooth came and fought with you and then thereís a blizzard and Scott zaps the guy and Storm holds her hand out to me."

"Oh is that how you all met?" Jean said.

"Yes, and believe me I donít everyday see someone with a black cape and white eyes holding her hand out to me," Rogue said and her best friend laughed. "And I didnít get a chance to say this before when we were all here, but thank you all for saving my life four years ago."

"Oh, itís Storm who saved your life? I beg your pardon-"

"Logan," she said smiling. At his angered face she burst out laughing. "I love driving you crazy."

"You do it so well," he noted. "From the first conversation-"

Rogue made an exasperated noise. "Shut up."

"No, that would be my line to you, five thousand times," he said and she laughed harder.

Rogueís breathing came back to normal. "OhÖ" she breathed. "I love you all so much, we never lack boredom. And none of you knew me more than five minutes before you risked your lives for me."

"Logan did most of it," Jean said. "Magneto forced his hands to his chest so he couldnít use his claws to get free unless he stabbed himself, and when we all heard you screaming in pain, he did it and we all paired together. Storm got Logan up to you, I steadied him so he could free you, and Scott helped Logan shut down the machine. But all in all, without Loganís stubbornness, I donít think we wouldíve known what to do."

"He always had to steal the show," Scott said. "I originally wanted to get you."

"Oh and what were you gonna do once you got to her? Ask her nicely to come back to life?" Logan said.

Jean had been subtly reminding Rogue how much Logan obviously cared about her. He was a pain in the ass every time heíd go without them but they had a connection, she got him to talk and be comfortable more than anyone else did.

"You ever feel like youíre in the middle of a testosterone convention?" Rogue said to Storm and Jean.

For the first time in forever, Jean cracked up.

Rogue looked at Logan. "You scare the hell out of me, you know that? When I finally opened my eyes and youíre holding me I pushed you away as fast as I could before I would kill you," she joked. "My God, you scared me to death," she said more seriously.

"Well whatíd you expect me to do?" he said.

"Let go sooner!"

Jean couldnít take it, and she quickly got up from the table and left the room, leaving everyone stunned and confused. Marie stood up.

"Excuse me," she said intending to go find Jean.

"No, let me go," Storm said, placing a hand on Scott.


Jean felt so full of grief. She walked into her office and sat in front of her computer organizing formulas. She struggled with her mind to correct the instability in her program that left her no hope.

"Dammit!" she hissed as the code still wouldnít work.

"Hey Jean, what happened? Whatís wrong?" Storm said.

Jean covered her tired eyes with a hand and stretched. "Nothing."

"Nothing? Loganís just come home and he and Marie are finally seeing each other and you get up and leave?"

Jean looked at her lifelong friend. "Marie is wonderful, and itís just frustrating."

"What do you mean?" Storm said, pulling up a chair to sit down on.

Jean shook her head. "Nothing, never mind. Listen, Iím sorry, Iím just tired, can you just let me do some work? Thatís whatís really driving me crazy. Iíll quit soon, I promise."

"Well what is it that youíve been working on?" Storm said, looking over at the screen. "Looks likeÖyouíre trying to developÖsomething."

Jean turned off the screen. "Itís nothing Rora. Iím sorry Iím being so strange right now. I promise Iíll talk to Marie, and apologize."

"Is it Marie, or Logan?"

Jean turned to Storm. "I love my husband, donít ever doubt that, please. Logan knows that, and I donít think itís eating him up as much as he teases."

"I agree. All right, I wonít push, but if you need to talk, Iím here."

"Thanks," Jean said hugging Storm. "Sometimes I wish I could be everything Charles could ever need. I know he loves me and I know he's proud of me, but I have so much more I want to accomplish. I don't think I could ever stop learning from him, no matter how much medicine I learn, he teaches me about the part of myself we by the government have been taught to shame, to hide. He has taught me how to use my mind with my mutation in ways I could never have done without him. I only wish I could in my future take the people of the world who were lost like me and do for them what he has done for me. How I long to have my telepathy be as strong as his. With training I will be stronger, but he has more natural ability of it."

"Is that what youíre upset about?" Storm asked. "That you arenít doing enough?"

"I donít know," Jean said, but she did know. "I am so blessed with you and Charles and Scott. All I have to say is his name and I remember who is my soulmate. For a few seconds I might see someone else...like Logan, and feel that surge of danger flow through my veins but Logan was wrong. Scott doesn't hold me back and Scott isn't as controlling as Logan made him seem. I could never be like Logan. And there was no connection with Logan, there is the most profound connection with Scott. I am safe, I am loved, I am heard by Scott. He knows me, the good and the bad, and still loves what he sees. Sometimes I stay up all night with Scott just talking and we are never bored. Our minds are alike and where as some people might feel that's boring, it's fascinating. Because when our minds alike, we challenge each other and grow with our minds together. I can't imagine my life without him, without him being the center of it."

Storm felt bombarded with information. She hadnít known Jean needed to talk this much.

"Jean, are you trying to convince me? Because you donít have to. I know you and I know Scott. And LoganísÖkind of hard to miss so the fact that you may have been attracted to him on some level just shows you have a pulse."

Jean barely noticed what Storm had said.

"With Rogue, there was an immediate connection. Something about her made me willing to risk my life to find her. I'd only known her for a few days before hand, but the wisdom in her, she seemed much older than seventeen. And the way she could handle Logan, she said she had just hitchhiked with him but it seemed like they'd known each other forever. Rogue wanted to fit in, but hadn't believed. Damn Magneto for hurting her like that. And damn Mystique for attempting to kill Charles. There was no hesitation in my need to find Rogue through Cerebro. And I just wish sometimes we could do more."

"Youíve always been good to Rogue and she loves us," Storm said in attempts to make Jean feel better. "We give her our love, and you know, a lot of times thatís enough. Iím gonna give you some time," Storm said, having no idea how to help Jean at this point. As soon as Jean was alone she turned the screen back on and tried a new code for the formula, but it still failed.

"No you fucker," she whispered mindlessly to the computer. "I will figure you out, I will give her that piece."


Chapter 2

Rogue sat in her bedroom, taking off her gloves and her top, running her fingers along her poisonous skin. The only physical contact on her skin she would ever feel was her own. It wasnít as if she wasnít grateful when her friends held her, but there was nothing like skin. Did hers feel like everyone elseís when she touched it?

She tried to remember the last time her mother held her or her father kissed her forehead. She couldnít. It had been so long since sheíd seen her motherís face, she couldnít see it clearly. If she had stayed, would her parents have defended her or feared her? Would it have been worth it to stay and find out?

Rogue pulled out a pad of paper that had lyrics written to a song she heard from the 90s that fit her feelings so well.

I stand, no perfume, no makeup,
Itís me, so what if my face is bear?
Dressed up, in fatherís old sweater,
When I slam the door, and run down the stairs.

I promise this room,
Anywhere the wind blows,
Anywhere the sea breaks,
Anywhere the earth quakes,
Let this world explode.
Take me to a new place,
Got nothing in my suitcase,
And Iíll goÖanywhere the wind blows, Iíll go.

She ran her hand up her shoulder as tears fell down cheeks. She would go anywhere, any second. More grateful than she could express was her new gift, to fly. So she could go, anytime. Sometimes she didnít care about the world, let it die around her and she wouldnít notice. For all her humor and all her ease with her friends and students, deep down there was nothing but anger at the very core of her heart. She played the game so well, she fooled herself. She found a way to show her love in other ways than a touch, an embrace, and she ignored the chill she walked around with from no warmth of another person able to give her a hug without fear or caution. She worried about other people, never herself when someone bumped into her. Most of the people werenít afraid of her, because they knew what that felt like and would never exclude her because of something she couldnít control.

And yet they couldnít help but exclude her. She could always make a joke about it, and believe it herself at the time. She saw other peopleís pity for her, like Loganís today. She saw it in his eyes. She knew he felt sorry for her, and thatís why he hugged her. Thatís why heíd hugged her the first time a lifetime ago on the train. But in the moment when a friend would hold her, she didnít have time to analyze their pity, all she could do was feel in that moment, the closest she would ever get to a touch.

She couldnít breathe when someone touched her, it felt soÖreal. Like she could feel what they were feeling as they touched her. People take that for granted she knew. She wondered if people ever just touched someone, with their fingers and felt the chemicals flow back and forth from body to body. Didnít they know that is why it feels so good to give someone a hug? Because of the exchange of molecules? She didnít know, and didnít want to know the answer. She never asked.

Unclasping her bra she grabbed a nightgown and pulled it over her head, letting the material slid over her skin, she memorized that feeling every time she clothed or unclothed herself. Now it was a revelation to touch anything, and she would always embrace the feeling of anything. A table or the dirt, it didnít matter. Some people were blind, some were deaf, she was the untouchable. If she had to choose, would she be blind or deaf instead? In a heartbeat. She could see and hear, and those were gifts beyond comparison, but you arenít a prisoner from other people from that. You donít have to see someone to feel how much they love you. You donít have to hear someone to know what theyíre thinking as they brush their fingertips along your face in a warm caress.

Rogue stared at her hands, unable to discover why she was poison.

"Iím not sorry you touched me."

She shook her head, wiping that thought from her mind. He wasnít sorry because he saved her life. And unlike anyone else he could survive a few seconds of contact with her. But of everyone, he was the least afraid to be around her. The least intimidated or uncomfortable. He didnít care, she was just another person to him. Not someone to fear or be careful around. Maybe thatís why it hurt her more when he held her than when anyone else did. He really wanted to, and he not only knew the consequences, he had experienced them. That was the greatest gift of all he could give her, just allowing her to know thatÖthat was everything.

She leaned over to her nightstand and pulled out her lighter. She dreamed of burning her skin, burning it off. Burning the poison off of her, releasing her of the infection that kept her empty and alone. She lit the flame and looked at it. How many times had she done this, just stared. It helped her honestly. To know she did have the power should she choose to ever use it. No one could touch her but she sure as hell could. She could at least control herself.

"What are you thinking about?" Logan said as she turned her head to see him standing at her doorway.

"Oh IímÖlooking for a cigarette," she said pulling one out of her drawer and lighting it, silently cheering herself for that perfectly delivered cover.

"Did I wear that off on you?"

"No," she smiled. "I wouldnít touch a cigar if my life depended on it. Do you ever knock?"

"I did, when you didnít answer I needed to make sure you were all right."

Lying back down, she inhaled, then spoke. "Still the kid youíre afraid will get herself into trouble again?"

"Well you have been known to disappear on me," he smiled sitting on the end of the bed facing her.

"I know I donít have to say this but Iím glad youíre back."

"So am I. I couldnít live my life without Scottís charm again."

Rogue laughed a little. "Heís a good man, and I know you two have a grudging respect for each other. Heís been there for me."

When I wasnít, Logan heard in her voice.

"What about you? What did you find?"

He didnít say anything, but kept his eyes with hers. She broke the silence and smiled.

"You know I may not be Jean or Xavier but I know what youíre thinking."

"Well thatís good cause I sure as hell donít."

"You canít get over seeing me here, grownup smoking a cigarette."

"Youíve completely changed."

"Yeah, kinda happens when youíre not around," she goaded a little, leaning over to knock the ash off her cigarette.

"Ouch, that one hurt."

"Youíll heal," she assured, grinning.

"Just a wild guess here, but are you mad at me?"

"No, I just like giving it to you."

"How you holding up?" he asked seriously.

"With what?"

"The mutation."

She raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"Donít forget, Marie, I know you."

"Oh so itís Marie?"

"For the moment."

"Really, all right."

"You ever think about before it happened to you?" he asked.

Exhaling smoke, she answered. "I have to, itís sort of my only link to reality."

"Why do you say that?"

"I donít know, sometimes it just feels like Iím not really existing, Iím just sort of watching everyone else. So I need to remember that once I did so I know Iím really here."

"Once what? Existed?"

She was so cool and mysterious now. He had a hard time believing she was the same person.

"Iíve got a question for you. If you could remember before they did that to you, would you want to? Knowing you could never get it back? And remembering the people you had loved who had loved you and knowing they would never view you the same again?"

"I went to find those answers, but eventually I knew the only answers I would ever find or have ever found have been here."

"Itís a hard question to answer isnít it?" she said.

Putting out her cigarette she leaned over to drink some water. He viewed her strong arms as her body twisted to reach the table. Then, flinging the covers off her she stood up and walked to the sink.

"I brush my teeth after smoking usually. Hang on," she said, not the least bit embarrassed of brushing her teeth with him in the room.

Finishing, she sat down on the bed, facing him.

"SoÖwhy did you come to check on me? Or did you just want to see me but had to come up with an excuse?"

"Oh I see Iím gonna get the brutal truth from you whether I want it or not," he smiled.

"Iíve missed that smile. You didnít smile often but when you did you made me smile. Can I get you something to drink," she asked.

"Sure," he said. "Waterís fine."

At that point she was tired of the small talk. "All right, Wolverine, tell me whatís going on," she flirted pouring him a glass of water and handing it to him.

"Is it so impossible to believe I just wanted to stay up all night talking with you? I want to get to know this person who I used to think I knew inside and out."

"Well you did, and maybe you still do, you just have a hard time believing it."

"Or, maybe itís just a cool exterior you put on for the world."

That stopped her cold. How right he was. She was still that girl he knew, that wanderer. That drifter. So sheíd found this place that felt like a home, but it would always be artificial. She couldnít describe to anyone how outside the world you are when you canít make contact with anyone. Sheíd learned how to fool herself into believing she was fine, but just like she could always see through Logan, he could always see through her.

"Of course I have an exterior," she said softly.

"Keep talking," Logan said, his eyes on hers.

"What do you want me to say?" she said hazily. "That it still hurts everyday to wake up? And to know that when I touch someone I hurt them when what I want to do is care for them?"

"Yeah, thatís what I want you to say. I want you to tell me the truth. Even the bad parts."

"Wouldnít it be convenient if not talking or thinking much about the pain would cause it to go away instead of grow?" she asked.

"It would be more than convenient."

Why was it that she had to ask him questions to get him to talk but all he told her was to start talking and she did?

"Did you find any answers?" she whispered.

"Nothing real. There would be leads that all ended in dead ends."

"I donít know if thereís such a thing as fate, Logan, but maybe thereís a reason for that."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, maybe what you had before wasnít wonderful and maybe you wonít find some closure or comfort if you do find out who you were."

"If you were me, could you not try to find out who you were and what happened? Would the questions not eat you alive?"

Fresh tears formed in her brown eyes as she shrugged in defeat. "Youíre right, of course they would. Of course I would give anything to try and know who I was, if I was needed. If I was missed."

"But you are missed," he said softly. "You ran away before your parents had a chance to know what had happened."

"And I donít regret it," she said as a tear slipped down her cheek. "And maybe thatís selfish but I would rather have them remember me as I was than look at me wondering how I could do that. Itís better they think Iím dead than know I could kill them if I brushed my hand against them by accident."

"Do they think youíre dead?" he asked.

"Itís been five years."

"And youíd really wish that? What if they still have hope? What if they are the ones who donít have closure?"

Rogueís face winced in tears as she turned her head to try to stop before sobbing.

"Hey," he said, realizing what heíd said. "That was stupid of me to say, Iím sorry." He held out his arms to her. "Come here."

"No," she said, wiping her eyes with a tissue. "Iím not protected enough-"

"I donít care," he said softly. "All right, look," he said crawling over beside her. "Iíll get under the covers and you put your gloves on."

"Logan-"

"Donít argue with me."

She exhaled angrily. "You always were insufferable," she said putting her gloves on.

Also putting a sheer long sleeved blouse, he pulled her into his arms. Though she lie on the covers, she could still hear his heartbeat, and could still feel his hands on her back, comforting her.

"What would I even say to my parents now if I saw them?" she wondered allowed.

"Were you close to them?"

"Not especially. I loved them and they loved me but we didnít talk an awful lot. I guess we talked about the normal stuff though."

He took her hand and held it firmly in his.

"I never talked to anyone like I talk to you," he told her.

She exhaled a laugh. "Well I didnít give you much of a choice, but thank you for humoring with a kid from nowhere Mississippi."

"Oh I think you were the one who had to put up with me," he smiled.

"I donít know, I kinda figured you werenít as bad as you pretended to be. Especially when some guy comes up behind you and tells you they know what you are. They donít have a clue."

"You got that right. Now wait a minute, you mean to tell me you hopped on my trailer because I was a mutant, not because of how absolutely charming I was?"

She smiled. "Well that too."

With her head still on his chest she took his hand, feeling his knuckles lightly, tracing over his hand and his wrist.

"I donít know who would do this. Place something foreign into someone elseís body itísÖitís sick. I still donít see the point of it," she said holding his beautiful hand in hers, her fingers caressing his. "And not only did you survive the procedure but your body doesnít reject it," she said with amazement in her voice. "I know when you stabbed me you were dreaming about what they did to you, Iím sorry."

"It was nothing," he said briskly.

"Oh really," she said with a sad smile. "Is that why you stabbed me, you thought I was them. Do youÖthink about it often?"

"Itís the first thing I do remember."

She took that to mean yes. "Sometimes it helps to talk about it, even when itís so painful to talk about you think youíll never get over it. Every time I think about what I am, I feel like another piece of me dies. If I can just not think about it I hope I can live without it and not feel so outside looking in. And just from someone else whoís been there, for me, it hurts me to think about my life before. I often wish it never happened so I wouldnít have to feel guilt or ache from missing them."

He didnít know what to say. Even though she lie on his chest she could see his cool exterior expression, and knowing he was full of questions and his own pain.

"I wasnít trying to tell you not to search if you need to, Iím just telling you if you canít ever find the answers, itís possible it would be easier not to know."

When he still said nothing she began to feel like she was putting salt on the wound rather than give him some comfort in his unanswered questions. Lifting her hand and beginning to get off him, he grabbed her wrist.

"IÖreally donít know what Iím talking about, never mind-"

She looked at his hand clasped around her wrist and then at him.

"You were saying everything right," he told her. "For the first time in a long time something someone said made sense."

She didnít quite know what to say to that. He stared at her, thinking how much he would kiss her at this moment ifÖ

Once she caught that in his eye and snatched her hand free.

"Sorry," she said. "To make this simple, would you like some ice cream?"

"What?"

"I need some, want me to get you some?"

"All rightÖ" he said.

Within minutes they were eating out of a huge tub of chocolate fudge laughing their way to sleep.


Chapter 3

12:14 PM

"Whereís Marie?" Storm asked at brunch.

"Donít know, havenít seen her yet," Scott said.

"Did she say anything about where she was gonna be today?" Jean asked.

"She said she was going out," Storm said. "I donít know where."

"Well maybe she just left," Scott replied.

Storm was a little cautious with Marie. "Iíll just go to her room and if sheís not there Iíll know sheís out."

Storm walked through several long hallways to reach Marieís room. She opened the door instantly.

"Marie?"

Rogue sat straight up. "What?" she said, startled from being awakened.

Storm turned on the light only to see Logan at the other end of the bed, also waking up.

"Oh," Storm said, now feeling utterly embarrassed. "Iím sorry, I just was worried about you sleeping so late-"

"What time is it?"

"Past noon."

Rogueís eyes, still adjusting to the light, forced herself to get up.

"Oh, I feelÖlike hell," Logan said, clutching a hand to his head.

"Too much ice cream," Rogue said, trying not to laugh.

"I didnít even know I fell asleep."

"Itís the sugar high and the crash," Rogue said, pushing his head off her feet.

"OW! Easy there, I didnít know you have sugar high hangovers."

"Well, we learn knew things everyday," Rogue said, standing up to go to the sink where she washed her face and teeth. "Iím sorry, Storm, I overslept obviously. Iím gonna quickly shower and change and then Iím outta here."

"All right, I was just worried, didnít mean to interrupt-"

"What, on my sleep? Please," Rogue said. "Thank you for waking us."

Logan finally stood up and Storm still had her eyes half out of her head.

"Got an aspirin?" he said.

Storm couldnít help but smile. "All that from ice cream?"

"Well I donít know, couldíve been talking with her half the night."

"Come on," Storm said smiling.


Rogue put on a business suit, hose, and low-heels as she quickly made her way out the door of her room. She went to the eating room and luckily they were all eating lunch. She picked up an apple as she hurried out towards the door, nearly sliding as she ran.

"Bye," she called back.

"Rogue, donít go see Magneto," Xavier said which stopped Marie cold.

She turned around slowly, looking at all the people in her life.

"Charles, if youíre going to enter my mind and read it, will you at least not tell me what to do?"

"Heís right? He didnít just read the wrong brainwave?" Scott said.

She threw her hands up in defeat. "Yes, Iím going to see Magneto."

"Have you lost your mind?" Logan said.

"Marie, why?" Jean asked.

"I tend to like to see how people who tried to kill me are four years later," she said sarcastically. "Honestly, I am going there to talk to him."

"About what?" Scott said.

"Iím not sure yet."

"If you antagonize him you may be in a dangerous situation. After all, his associates are still free. Mystique."

Rogueís innocent face was no innocent right now. "Iím willing to take that chance. I wonít live my life in fear of him. He can kill me or he can leave me alone, but he canít stop me from speaking. I was too frightened and unaware of what I was then to say what I wanted to, now I have that choice."

She smiled at them hopefully and turned to leave. Storm stood up.

"Iím going with her."

"So will I," Scott said.

Logan just stood up but Jean pushed him back down in the chair.

"You guys, just, calm down a bit. Magnetoís in prison, and Xavier goes to see him. I donít think she needs the cavalry to escort her. Sheís not seventeen anymore," Jean said.

"Yeah but she sure as hell isnít Magnetoís favorite visitor," Scott pointed out.

"Let her go," Charles Xavier said. "Jeanís right."

"Fine, Iím gonna go take a walk," Logan said, leaving.

"Heís gonna go after her," Storm said.

"Oh of course he will, whyíd we even bother trying to talk him out of it?" Jean said.

"Long as he brings my motorcycle back," Scott said.


Magnetoís Plastic Prison

"Let me see him," Rogue said firmly.

"On what grounds?"

"Charles Xavier is my father," she lied. "And I care what happens to Eric. I havenít seen him in ages and that is my own fault. I want to make it up to him."

"Charles Xavier is a regular visitor here," the man said, checking his files. "I was unaware he had a daughter."

Rogue smiled. "I didnít know it was procedure to name family members in order to see someone. But my father and Eric have known each other since they were seventeen."

"Have any ID?"

"Yes," she said, showing him a card.

"You donít share his last name."

"No, Iím married," she said.

"You certainly have an answer to everything, donít you?"

"So far, theyíve been very simple questions," she said with a barely pleasant smile.

The man instructed the guard to go with her, and the plastic hallway slowly extended to the cell. Rogue felt like that little girl for a minute, then sucked in a breath, did her best to hold her head up, walking through the hallway as it opened to her. When she reached the door, the guard told Magneto he had a visitor. He didnít turn to see who it was, so she walked to the other side of the table and sat across from him.

"Hello, Magneto," she said.

Then he looked up at her.

"Do you remember me," she asked.

"Why have you come?" his rich British accent asked, as if she was wasting HIS fucking time.

"I had to," she said, sitting herself down and looking him straight in the eye.

"Why?"

"Because I always wanted to ask you why you selected me to murder out of all the other mutants in the world? But I decided to wait a few years until any animosity between us mightíve died."

"Because you could take my power and then I could use yours."

"So because I could hurt you by sucking your powersÖIím suddenly the answer to our survival? Why, I am not the most powerful mutant-"

"Oh but Iíve heard your powers have increased since your last physical contact. Apparently you are nowÖindestructible."

She said nothing, she had no response. He smiled.

"Do you ever wonder why you remain hidden from all who knew you before you discovered your ability? Do you ever wonder why youíre scared to go back there and see what they will think?"

"Yes," she replied softly.

"And what do you think of when you go to those unpleasant thoughts?"

"I remember that just because they are different from me doesnít mean I have the right to eliminate them out of fear," she replied.

He chuckled at that comment. "Oh my dear, using my own language against me."

"How am I using it against you? Why is this only about you? It was my life you were sacrificing to destroy people. And how is what you feel for them any different from what they feel about you?"

He leaned in close to her. "Because we are the future. There are more mutants born everyday, we are the future, not them. And they refuse to let us live."

"Really? As I recall it was you trying to kill me."

"I wasnít hoping to kill you, you are one of us, you are family. But your power was stronger than mine, stronger than anyone elseís, so I used to as a sacrifice."

"Yeah and who died and made you God?"

He seemed to ignore her. "And had I succeeded, your sacrifice would never have been forgotten."

"Iím flattered," she said, unable to not shiver a little at the memories. "And youíre right, I do have new powers, but I would trade the good ones in an instant to not have any. To not be a mutant. I donít want to use powers, what I want is to be out of my own prison. You think youíre in prison? You donít know prison until you know what it is like to be trapped inside this body. Youíre not the only one who lives in pain," she said, rolling his sleeve up to look at the numbers branded into his skin. "I know you were in the Holocaust, I know you were alive and that you suffered through the most tragic and disgusting time in all history, and by all means I would be paranoid and insane myself, but youíre not the only one who lives in fear, or in pain. Charles does, only he uses his fear to do good instead of evil-"

"Good? Meaning help the people who wish to eliminate him survive?"

She narrowed her eyes. "You are so twisted and bitter. I wonít even begin to imagine what it was like for you to be in the Holocaust and then come to America in hopes that there would be tolerance and have it every bit as horrible as what youíd seen all your life. The poverty, the broken promises, the prejudice. But just because you have powers, doesnít mean you get to play God with them."

He smiled at her, degrading her. "If you could play God, how hard do you think it would be not to give into the temptation?"

She knew he had an incredibly valid point.

"I wouldnít know-"

"You will, someday."

"No, no youíre wrong. Charles has the power to play God, he can control peopleís minds but he doesnít!"

"Oh yes he does, whenever he has to."

"Oh, okay, so in order to try to keep you from killing me and fifty cops while you had Toad carry me like a sack of potatoes, he temporarily stopped you so he could talk to you, then he plays God. You are such a hypocrite because he uses his powers to love and embrace. You are so full ofÖanger, and by all means you have the right to and you hate Homo Sapiens all you want but not you nor anyone else has the right to destroy ONE human thought! Even if the thought is to hate you. For all your powers and all your knowledge you know only half of what Charles knows. And that is the anger, the frustration, the violence. So you have power, big deal honey. All the powers in the world could not give me what has been taken away. But I donít suck up everyone elseís powers just to feel superior, or right, or whole again. Nothing anyone could give me could replace and block out the emptiness my mutations give me."

"Nor can mine," he retorted. "And just to give you a small piece of what youíve been without," he said, pulling her glove from her and grasping her bare hand in his.

She gasped in fear but nothing happened. He smiled cruelly at her.

"If you could gain this ability back, how far would you not go to gain it?" he said. "The one thing you desire most is that, I desire all mutants being safe, as far as Iím concerned, I would find a way to help you if you would join us."

Shivers coursed through her at the way he said that, and she pulled her hand free. She stood up to leave.

"You will be the one lost if you do not see what I am saying is true, that what Iím trying to do is protect our brothers and sisters-"

"Oh ENOUGHÖwith your saving the world crap," she said, wiping a tear from her face. "You preach about all the good you can create but what you really want is control. You want to eliminate them just like they want to eliminate you-"

"We are the future! They wonít exist much longer but they can stop us from existing!"

She shook her head. "No. You wonít exist, we will."

He slowly stood up, looking down on her like she was that little girl heíd nearly killed. Her strength cracked as her eyes widened in fear. He reached forward and cupped her face. The guard was watching intensely now. Rubbing his thumbs paternally over her cheeks, tears fell over his hands.

"You know you were so much sweeter as a little girl," he said and kissed her forehead.

Feeling a touch, even of a man she hated, brought her heart leaping up into her chest and she felt a chill of reality. She wasnít non-existent, someone in the world could touch her. His eyes stared proudly down at her, knowing exactly what he was doing to her. She pushed him away from her angrily. "Stop it!" she hissed.

"Okay, thatís enough," the guard said. "Maíam, let me escort you."

"Thank you," she managed to say.

Guiding her out she heard the sound of the plastic walkway disconnecting and following her as she left.


Outside, Rogue embraced the fresh air and shivered with disgust, putting her glove back on.

"What did he say to you?" Logan said from behind her.

"Oh my God!" she said, turning around, startled. "Donít do that," she said. "You scared me to death."

"Did he threaten you?"

"You followed me?"

"Answer the question."

"He didnít threaten me, he just taunted me a little."

"Youíre shaking," Logan said, walking towards her.

"He sort of has that effect on people," she said, and thatís when he really heard her accent again.

"Whatís wrong?" he said more seriously.

"Nothing. Iím fine, and you know something, you donít have to follow me around anymore. Iím not seventeen anymore and you donít have to be responsible for me-" she said then stopped and turned from tears.

He grabbed her arm harshly. "I made a promise to you five years ago that I would take care of you and I will. And you can pull all the crap in the world with other people but I know you-"

"I donít need to be taken care of like some unfulfilled responsibility!" she said trying to get his hand off her arm.

"Oh well that must be another one of your gifts! Because if thatís true then youíre the only person on the face of the earth who never needs anyone!"

She stopped fighting then, and just gave up, smacking her lips together not to cry. He still had his gloves on from the motorcycle ride as he cupped her face. He couldnít believe heíd said that to her after what she said last night. Her eyes were closed and her face full of hurt.

"Hey, Iím sorry," he said.

"No, youíre right," she said, breathing in. "He touched me. Magneto touched me."

Still holding her tilted face in his hands, he tried to read what she wasnít saying.

"And?"

"And nothing. It was normal, something I havenít experienced in six years. But when he touched my hand I remembered," she said, disgusted and in tears.

Logan didnít know what to say, he was still processing this.

"W-why did he touch you? How?"

"He ripped my glove off and gripped my hand. Then he kissed me."

"He what?"

"Like a father, even heís not that disgusting."

He gripped her shoulders. "Are you hurt? Are you all right?"

She nodded. "I feel fine. It was normal. And I donít know how he did it."

"Did he ever touch you before? I mean when he abducted you?"

"Yes, but he hurt me then. He gave me his life force and then had me use it for New Yorkís mutations, and it hurt so bad it was like layers of pain shocking me in waves."

"Okay, all right, you know something, he doesnít get to hurt you and he doesnít even get to ruin this day, look at me," he said tipping her chin up. "If youíre going to let this get to you, can you put it on reserve for later?"

"And do what now?"

"Get something to eat. I know you didnít eat anything other than an apple-"

"Okay, you win."

"So get on the motorcycle," he said.

She looked over at Scottís motorcycle.

"You took it AGAIN?" she said unable to not grin.

"And this surprises you?" he said with his very sexy almost smile.

"Logan Iím in heels," she pointed out.

"And?"

"And you are not exactly the model driver."

"You scared?"

"Of course I am. Any sane person would be!"

God he looked good standing there waiting for her to get on the bike.

"Youíll throw me," she teased getting on it. "Would you justÖbe gentle?"

"What, Scott never managed to take you out on his bike before?"

She smiled, glad he was covered so she could clutch to him for dear life. Wrapping her arms around him and putting her heeled shoes on the pedals, she laughed.

"Well if youíll recall, you had the bike the last four years."

"But I know he got another one."

"I never asked, and you know what, this-this isnít working. My heels are gonna kill me if you donít."

"What are you doing?" he said as she reached down taking them off.

"What does it look like Iím doing? Iíll die with this lack of balance."

"You sure you wanna do this?" he asked.

She winced. "Do I have a choice?"

"No."

"If Iíd known I wouldíve worn something different," she said hiking up her skirt to her upper thighs so it would be easier to straddle the seat. With that movement Logan once again realized she wasnít a little girl in the fact she didnít give a shit who was watching, she wasnít intimidated. She was freer. And apparently comfortable with her own sexuality. "And I wish Iíd brought something to put my hair up in."

"You afraid youíll blind me?"

"That and the joy of brushing it out when I get home."

"You ready?"

"AsÖready as Iíll ever be I guess."


Mutant High
Four Hours Later

Opening the door, Rogue walked in. Logan was behind her.

"Where is everyone?" she whispered.

<In here Rogue> she heard Charles Xavier say inside her mind.

She smiled. "All right," she said. "Sounds like the troops are waiting."

"Wonderful," he said sarcastically.

Walking through several hallways they went underground where they met up with the gang in the conference room.

"Marie, you look likeÖ" Storm said but couldnít finish.

"Hell?" she offered. "Yeah, I know."

"What happened to your shoes?" Jean asked.

Rogue looked down at her feet, not even realizing they were bare.

"Oh I lost them."

"You lost your shoes?" Scott said. "Oh lemme guess, on my motorcycle."

"Yeah, but I wasnít the one who casually "borrowed" it," she said looking at Logan.

"What about Magneto?" Storm asked.

Rogue blinked slowly. "Can I, talk about it later?"

"He touched you," Charles Xavier said.

"Would you ever stay out of my mind?" she demanded. "Itís not your right to go through my mind," she said, half pleading for him not to.

Scott stood up. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," she said irritated.

"Is he?"

"Yes, it was as if I didnít have this mutation in me, all right?" she said to Charles, though no one else knew that they were talking about.

Rogue closed her eyes and felt herself blocking something. "Donít!" she said.

"What, whatís wrong," Logan said beside her, clasping her shoulders.

"IÖnothing, never mind."

"You just blocked me from being able to read your mind," Xavier said.

"What?" she said, tired and irritated.

Jean came over to Rogue.

"Let me take a look at you."

"Why? I feel normal, he was fine, I didnít hurt him, he grabbed me-"

"I donít give a damn about him," Jean said gently. "I just wanna make sure youíre okay."

Rogue closed her eyes, defeated. "All right, okay."

She turned and walked out the doors towards the lab. To her disappointment, all followed.

"What?" she said to them all as she began to unbutton her blouse.

"Iíll call," Jean said to them, and they slowly exited.

Rogue angrily took off her blouse and hose. Grabbing a thin paper gown, she put it on.

"Where do you want me?"

"Please understand that I just want to make sure youíre okay. We all cared about you so instantly, we risked our lives for you then and we will now. And all I want to do is make sure there is not one place on you Magneto hurt."

Rogue then knew she was being a total jerk.

"Iím sorry. I know you care about me and I shouldnít have acted like that. I love you all so much and sometimes I just feel soÖdifferent."

"Do you wanna talk about what happened today?"

"No!" she said desperately. "Iím sorry," Rogue said. "No."

Dr. Jean Grey took Rogueís pulse, blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and when there was nothing wrong she decided to dig further.

"Am I okay?" Rogue asked, hoping the tests would be over.

"So far," she said getting a needle out to take some blood.

"What are you doing?"

"Drawing some blood."

"Is that necessary?"

"Iím not sure," Jean said.

"Youíve never taken my blood before."

"I know."

"Well, donít you think that might be dangerous? How is my blood less poisonous than my skin?"

Jean looked into Rogueís sad eyes.

"Marie," she said, purposely not calling her her mutant name. "You are not poisonous. And Iím wearing gloves, so even if your blood does touch me, it wonít harm me."

"Thank you for being so good to me."

"Please donít, itís the least I can do."

"Jean thatís a lot of blood!" Rogue said, amazed at how many vials Jean was filling.

"Iím going to run quite a few tests."

Rogue was a little confused. "I havenít had any symptoms. Why are you so nervous?"

"Because Iíve seen too much not to be."

Rogue began to feel light-headed. "Jean?"

"Yeah?"

"SomethingísÖwrong," she said blinking.

"Okay, okay, just breathe, whatís wrong? STORM, get in here!"

Storm came running in. "What?"

"EKG," Jean told her and Storm ran to gather the material, dragging it towards Rogue and beginning to hook it up to her.

"Talk to me, Marie, whatís wrong? What do you feel?"

Marie struggled to keep her eyes opened and be able to focus but she couldnít.

"What happened," Rogue asked. "My eyes wonít focus."

"Well, weíre gonna find out right now, donít worry, Marie, keep your eyes open! Stay with me-" Jeanís voice was interrupted by the noise from the EKG showing Marie was out.

Jean read the monitors.

"Shit!" she hissed.

"Did her heart stop?" Storm asked frantically.

"No, she slipped into a coma."

"What?"

"I donít know why, can you also get me the EEG?"

"Yes," Storm said.

Scott and Logan came in, Xavier following.

"What happened to her?" Logan demanded.

"Sheís in a coma," Jean said, listening to Rogueís heart.

"How the hell did that happen?" Scott said.

"I donít know, I was taking blood and she passed out and went into a coma," Jean said, turning to look at the monitor.

Logan walked over and snatched up a pair of latex gloves, then cupped Rogueís face.

"Rogue, can you hear me," he said, holding her limp head. He looked up at Jean. "When did this happen?"

"About a minute ago. Jesus," she said looking at the monitor.

"What?" Logan said.

"The waves, theyíre so frequent, her brain is working overtime but sheís in a coma."

"Read her mind," Scott said.

Jean put her stethoscope down and stood behind Rogue, placing her hands on each side of her head. Closing her eyes Jean began to focus but then she felt the rejection and she pulled her hands back instantly.

"What?" Logan said.

"SheÖwonít let me. She doesnít want me reading her mind."

"Since when does she have a choice?" Scott asked.

"Since now, I suppose," Jean said.

"Iíll try once more," Xavier said, wheeling himself over.

His didnít work either.

"All I can tell is itís her who doesnít want us to read her, not some physical abnormality."

"Great, so what do we do now," Storm said.

Xavier looked at Logan.

"She didnít tell you what Eric said to her."

"No, she didnít want to discuss it."

"Eric kissed her," Xavier said.

"You could just ask me, you donít have to sneak into my head," Logan said.

"Where? Where did he kiss her?" Jean asked.

"I didnít ask! She said it was paternal, and thatís it. She said he ripped off her glove and grabbed her hand. And when I saw her coming out of the building she was disgusted and frantically putting her glove back on."

"But he didnít hurt her?" Jean asked.

"No, I think thatís one reason she was so shaken up over it."

"Listen, is she okay, right now?" Scott asked Jean.

"Sheís stable butÖbeing in a coma is never a good thing and neither is the amount of brain activity going on."

"That doesnít make any sense," Storm said. "Why wouldnít she want us to help her by figuring out why sheís in a coma?"

"Sheís sick of it," Logan said. "She hates what she is and she feels like sheís not really existing."

"Whoa whoa whoa, wait, youíre telling me sheís killing herself or not letting herself be saved?" Scott asked.

"I donít know, but I know thatís what she told me last night."

"Sheís overheated," Jean said, seeing the perspiration on Rogueís face.

"Want me to get a fan?" Storm said, having no idea what to do.

"No, sheís also very cold, butÖshe had no fever," Jean said. "Get her a blanket," she told Scott who instantly was on the job.

Scott placed the blanket over Rogue warming her with his hands as best he could.

"Is she in pain?" Scott asked.

"No," Jean replied, taking her temperature again. "Dammit, her temperatureís low."

"What does that mean?"

"Iím not sure exactly, Iíve gotta look at this blood."

"Wait a minute," Logan asked. "Didnít you say she began passing out while you were taking blood?"

"Yes. You think that might have something to do with it? That would mean she was extremely anemic, not going into a coma. Going into pre-syncope or syncope would be normal, not a coma."

"Sheís stable now," Xavier said.

Jean took her heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure again, all of which were steady and normal.

"Okay, sheís stable. In ten minutes, take her temperature again," Jean told Storm, "And if itís any different, tell me. Iím going to do some tests."


Three hours passed and Rogue remained exactly the same. Her brain activity still incredibly high, everything else seemed perfectly normal. Jean came back in with test results.

"Everythingís normal," she said.

"Everything?" Scott said.

"Well, she has an elevated amount of iron and magnesium but other than that sheís fine. Even her blood, itísÖnot like her skin. A little spilled onto my hand and it was purely normal blood. In the way it looked, the tests, everything."

"You think Magneto somehow dissolved the danger in her skin being touched," Storm asked.

"I donít know, the only test for that would be to touch her."

"Well since we know I can heal from touching her, I should be the one to," Logan said.

Jean looked to Xavier, who nodded in approval.

"All right, but only for a second, as soon as you feel any pain, let go."

"Is she weak in anyway? Dying?" Logan asked.

"No, she is perfectly healthy except for the coma which I canít explain yet. Why?"

"When Magneto put her in that thing, after I stopped it, she was dead. So when I touched her to heal her, it took awhile for it to make a difference because she wasnít alive for a few minutes. If sheís not sick, would she still take my life force?"

"She absorbs other mutantís powers for a short while, Logan, we donít know how much or how dangerous it is. You are the only one who ever has," Professor Xavier said.

Logan looked down at Rogue, pulled the covers back a little. Placing a hand on her face, he held it there for five seconds and then he felt the pain. Storm pulled him back.

"Yeah, skinís still the same," Logan said, catching his breath.

"Someoneís gotta go see Magneto," Storm replied.

"Iím not entirely sure itís Magneto whoís doing this to her," Xavier said, deep in thought.

"What do you mean?" Storm asked.

"If only I could know what it was he said to her, that might lead us to what she knew and why she doesnít want us to read her mind. He mustíveÖsaid something to her she doesnít want us to know. Rogue is still a mutant, all of her gifts may not have been developed yet, I donít know."

"Gift?" Logan said. "You call anything she has a gift? She is a prisoner in her own body, now more than she was before. She canít even move!"

"Hey, we saved her last time, weíll save her this time," Scott said, trying to reassure Logan.

"Iím gonna go see what the hell Magneto said or did to her," Logan said, walking towards the door.

"Logan," Xavier said. "I wouldnít if I were you. Not only do you have metal throughout your entire body, but youíre not Magnetoís favorite person. You also tend to get a little out of control-"

"Then what the hell do you suggest?"

"Iíll go. I grew up with him, Iíve known him for more than thirty years. We have an understanding of each other, all right?"

"Fine, go," Logan said.

"Keep watch over Rogue, Jean," Xavier instructed.

"Oh weíre not going anywhere," Scott assured the professor.

Scott walked over to Rogue and sat down beside her still body. He touched her thick hair with his fingers.

"Hey kiddo," he said softly. "Weíre all here and we all love you. Youíre stuck with us because weíre not gonna give up."

Tears rose in Scottís throat as Storm and Logan watched.

"Please donít shut us out, kid. Weíve all been through way too much and we need you. Youíve always been an X-Men and youíve always been a part of us. So please, let us help you. And besides, I wanna know how you liked my motorcycle. Weíre going to take care of you, and weíre gonna be here. Tell us what to do Rogue. Tell us whatís wrong."

Scott stared at her for a few moments, then stood up, unable to take it anymore.

"Iím going for a walk."

"All right," Storm said. "Logan, Iím gonna check and see what Jeanís trying to figure out."

After Storm left the room, Logan sat down beside Rogue and watched her silently.


Chapter 4

Jean continued working her butt of in front of the computer. No matter what she tried, with all her scientific abilities she couldnít make it work. Nearly punching the keyboard she sat back in the chair, deep in thought.

"Jean, what is it youíve been working on so hard for all these months?" Storm said, walking up behind her.

"Something to help. Something that might give me an answer."

Storm sat down and tried to comfort her friend. "Jean, I know how many unanswered questions there are, I know how hard it is to live in a world where the world fears us-"

"Wait a minute!" Jean said, as if sheíd finally gotten the answer.

"What?" Storm said, seeing Jeanís eyes deep in concentration.

Jean turned to Storm. "The Professor says that when Rogue touches a human, she takes their life force, and that she can kill them. But with mutants, she absorbs their gifts for a little while. And in Loganís case, that is his life force."

"What are you getting at?" Storm asked.

"What would happen if she touched another mutant whoís power wasnít to heal rapidly when she was dying?"

"YouÖyouíre thinking that it wouldnít harm us to touch her? She might just absorb our powers?"

"Right but not permanently. Donít you see thatís possible?"

"Well, itís possible but none of us have ever tried it-"

"Why not? In five years none of us has even thought about the fact that absorbing Loganís powers would of course harm him, but what would happen to me, I wouldnít be telekinetic for a while?"

"Jean, we donít know thatís all that will happen. She could still weaken you."

"Yes, weaken me, not kill me. Letís look at the evidence from Logan. She takes his life force, his ability to heal, yet even after he collapses, it he who gains his powers to heal back. I did nothing other than monitor him. He regains his abilities."

"Even if thatís true, you think one of us should touch her to see what the results will be?"

"The more we know about her the more I can help her. Iím also going to take a skin sample."

Jean began to walk to the door.

"But Jean," Storm said. "Sheís unconscious, how do we know if she absorbs our powers or not? Sheís not able to move let alone act on things."

Storm was right.

"All right, but Iím still going to take a skin sample."

Storm and Jean walked back into Rogueís room. Logan sat there, his arms crossed on her bedside, watching. Storm went behind him and rubbed his shoulders.

"Logan, come on, come with me for a few minutes."

"No," he said stubbornly. "What is she doing?"

"Sheís taking a skin sample," Storm told him.

"What the hell for?"

"Her skin has always been a part of why she felt like a prisoner," Jean said. "I want to study it, so I can help."

"Wonít that hurt her? You just taking a piece of skin?"

"No, not if sheís in a coma."

"Is she all right?"

Jean looked at the monitorís again.

"She seems stable."

"She will wake up," Logan said.

"Of course she will," Storm told him. "Come on, just for a little while."

Logan stood up. Storm had her arm around his waist as she took him out. Jean sighed, looking down at Marie. She closed her eyes and tried to read her mind again, and failed. Jean bent over towards her, whispering to her.

"Come on, Marie, tell me what you need. What are you afraid of? What you donít want to tell. I want to touch you, I wish you would wake up to know Iím not afraid to. Please tell me if you feel me."

Jean took off the glove, prayed that Marie would wake up, and placed a hand on her forehead. She waited for pain, but there was none. Jean smiled with genuine happiness, tears coming to her eyes. But then she felt a little tired, a little dizzy, and weakened. SoÖRogue could still harm her, but not nearly as fast. Caressing Marieís face, she pulled up a chair to support her fatigued body.

"Marie, do you feel me? Youíre taking my powers, you are taking a piece of me into you, can you feel it?"

Marie didnít move. Though Jean felt herself weaken, she wouldnít let go, screw her pain at that moment, it was justÖit felt like she was being drained of energy.

"Dammit, Marie, open your eyes, open them and look at me!" she pleaded.

Caressing Rogueís face with her long, soft fingers, Jean let go.

"All right, letís take a sample of your skin, let me see what it is that makes your skin the way it is."


Magnetoís Plastic Prison

"Hello Charles," Eric said as he heard the wheelchair being moved in.

"Dear God," Charles Xavier breathed.

"What?" he grinned devilishly. "Oh yes, I can guess why youíre here."

Charles read his thoughts thoroughly. "Yes you could guess but your guess is wrong. You had nothing to do with it."

"With what? Does this have something to do with the girl who visited me earlier today?"

"Her name is Rogue, and sheís not a little girl anymore. But knowing you donít know, answers my question," Charles said, beginning to leave.

"No, Charles, come on, tell me whatís wrong."

"Now why would I do that, brother?"

"Rogue is still one of us, if something has happened, maybe I could help."

"In exchange for what?" Xavier asked, wheeling back to sit across from him. "Letís be honest, why would you suddenly want to help the girl you tried to murder not too long ago?"

"We are mutants, you know what that means to me. Itís important to me that our government doesnít get to her, ever. She is strong spirited and full of life. Regardless of the past, I said I would fight the war, and if that means helping you, I will, old friend."

Xavier watched the eyes of the man who was once his best friend, once the one he would go to when there was no one else in the world. And no matter what Eric did, Xavier understood why. His parents being taken from him, him barely surviving the Holocaust and being in it because he was different. He grew up without tolerance, and he will die without tolerance. His dream was America, the land of tolerance, but that was only a dream.

"I believe you, Eric."

"Only because you can read my mind. You slither through peopleís thoughts and then decide if they are worthy."

"Come Eric, you know me better than that. I was the one you could count on, and only when you resorted to hatred did we change to opposite sides. Tell me, and I promise not to read your thoughts. What did you and Rogue discuss today?"

"She came to me to ask such interesting questions. Why I chose her, for instance. And I told her the truth."

Charles leaned in. "And what truth is that?"

"Her powers are just being developed, she doesnít know she has a say."

"And what makes you believe that?"

"Did she tell you that I touched her?"

"Was that a threat to her?"

"No, it was to make her understand."

"Oh I see," Charles said. "Knowing that what she would want most would be able to touch someone, you touched her-"

"To prove to her there would be no limit to what she would do to get that. When you can play God, how hard is it not to?"

"Sheís in a coma," Charles said.

"Is she? Since when?"

"Since she arrived home from your visit."

"And you believe I had something to do with that."

"No, I donít. I can tell you didnít. But you do have ideas of what is going on, you are brilliant, Eric."

"Did anyone else touch her other than myself?"

"I donít know."

Eric laughed. "What do you mean you donít know? Havenít you read her mind?"

"She has found a way to block me."

"While in a coma, thatís very impressive. She must already be changing."

"Yes she is."

"Experimentation on mutants might be the plan of someone. Did she come straight home after my visit?"

"No."

"Did you ever think there was a reason why she blocked your telepathy?"

"Yes of course."

"Maybe you have failed in giving her hope," Eric said, snidely but with honesty in his voice. "Sometimes a mutantís gifts are not oneís wish."

"You believe sheís going to be abducted."

"Is that impossible?" Eric asked.

"Well, I suppose it takes one to know one."

"Donít let her out of your sight."

"Why are you doing this, Eric?" Charles asked.

"For old times sake, when our cause was the same."


Logan stormed out of the laboratory and Storm followed. She could tell he was losing it over Rogue.

"Logan, please take a breath, she will wake up," Storm said, desperately trying to keep up with him.

"Yeah and in the mean time what am I supposed to do?" he asked, finally stopping.

Storm reached up to touch his face, then as a tear fell down her face she pulled him into her arms.

"When you stabbed her and she healed herself through touching you, the first thing she said was that what you did was an accident," Storm said in his arms. "The pain in her eyes knowing what she had done, I went after her that night and did the best I could to tell her she wasnít to blame, but how do you tell someone that and make them believe it?"

Storm trembled in tears in his arms, causing his courage to break.

"Storm, we should be so grateful we can be in this position she has never ever been in since her mutation. We take it for granted but to never be like this, a comforting embrace-"

"I know," she said. "She has changed so much since you left. Sheís so much stronger, and so much more angry deep inside. And I canít tell you how much I adore her," Storm said. "We have all grown so much closer. You should see her and Jean. And Scott adores her-"

"Okay, stop right there."

Storm smiled. Raindrops began to fall as they walked.

"Did you do that?" Logan asked.

"No," she laughed. "Do you want to go back now?" she asked.

"Yeah."


Logan and Storm walked into Rogueís room where Jean remained looking over her.

"Any change?" Logan asked.

"Yes. HerÖbrainwaves are changing."

"Is that bad?" Storm asked.

"I donít know," she said watching the monitor. "They began being infrequent and irregular in intensity, and now theyíre evening out, but theyíre different than they were before."

"Does that have something to do with her coma?" Storm asked.

"It might. She might also just be reacting toÖ" Jean trailed off in concentration.

"What? What happened?" Logan asked.

"I touched her," Jean said.

"You what?" Logan asked.

"You did it, you went through with it?" Storm asked.

"You knew?" Logan demanded.

"She may just be reorganizing herself with the powers from me she absorbed," Jean said.

"Are you okay?" Storm asked.

"Yes, all I felt was a little tired as I passed my gifts to her but Iím fine. And so is she, as far as I can tell."

"Fine? She is not fine! Sheís in a coma!" Logan said. "And why the hell did you decide to touch her?"

"To see if she would hurt me permanently, or even as much as she hurt you," Jean said, remaining calm.

"And if she had?"

"Then I wouldíve known!" Jean shot back, who the hell was Logan to tell her what she should do for Rogue, heíd touched her, what did he have to complain about?

"Jean-"

"Logan, donít lecture me, I will do whatever it is I have to to help her. You havenít been here, I have, and I care about her!"

Those words hit him hard, and Jean knew it. She felt like a complete bitch but it angered her that he had just deserted all of them for four years and acted now like he still ran the show of Rogueís life. But it was only because he cared.

"Iím sorry," she sighed. "Look, we are all on edge because we are all scared. And we are trying to do whatever it is we can think of to help her. Where is Scott?"

"I donít know," Storm said.

"If he doesnít get back here soon I will freak out," Jean said.

"Iíll find him," Storm said.

"Wait," Xavier said, coming in.

"What happened with Magneto?" Logan said.

"What he said was true, and you know I can tell. He believes someone is attempting to abduct her."

"What?" Jean said.

"Give me a break-"

"Logan, Rogue left your sight for a few minutes while you were at lunch, didnít she?"

Logan didnít have to answer.


"I have to make a phone call," Rogue said standing up.

"To whom may I ask?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Does it matter?" she teased. "Just because you saved my life a couple times doesnít mean you have to worry about a phone call."

"You know itís rude to leave your date at lunch by himself."

"Youíve not a date Wolverine," she joked. "You came here to keep me from getting into trouble, and you won," she said walking off.

A few minutes later she returned, a little shaken.

"What happened? Your boyfriend get hit by a truck?" he teased.

"No, nothing. Just still thinking about Magneto, he has an effect on people that make them feel like theyíre on a roller coaster and it takes awhile for it to slow down."


"But you didnít believe her, did you Logan?" Xavier said, interrupting his thoughts.

"I didnít push it, you think she was followed? And Magnetoís behind it?"

"No, Magneto was the one who informed me."

"Why?" Jean asked. "Did he casually forget he tried to kill her?"

"No, of course not, but I know Eric better than anyone, and I know he was telling the truth from the best of his ability."

"Oh great, so while weíve got this lovely piece of information, what the hell do we do?"

"Itís not entirely unlikely someone might want Rogue. Eric did and told me it was because she was gaining and developing other gifts. And I shouldíve figured that."

"Well, just for the sake of believing you, how do we protect her?" Logan said.

"Well for starters, one of us has to stay with her at all times-"

"Iíll stay with her tonight," Jean said. "Iím not leaving her, not as her doctor or her friend."

"Professor, her brainwaves have changed," Storm said.

"Apparently they have reorganized themselves into different wavelengths and types."

"She touched her," Logan said.

"Do you think thatís what triggered it?" Xavier said to Jean.

"Could be, also could be these new developments, because she could block or telepathy long before I gave her my powers."

"Scott," Storm said, seeing him return.

"She better?"

"No, but sheís different."

"How so?"

"Her brainwaves are different, her blood is completely normal, even human like blood, and when I touched her skin all that happened was I was a little worn out from transmitting my powers to her," Jean told him.

"You touched her?"

"Yes, and Iím fine now, it was worth it to me, to touch her. I thought it mightÖwake her up," Jean said.

The IV inserted in Rogueís arm disconnected itself and lifted off of her.

"Are you doing that?" Scott asked Jean.

"No," Jean replied watching. "She is. She is showing me she did receive my powers. She could hear me wondering."

Everyone was silent and watching Jeanís mind communicating.

"Is she saying anything to you?" Storm asked.

Jean closed her eyes and exhaled. "Magnetoís right," Jean whispered.

Rogue, with the rest of her body still as ice, reached for Jean with her hand. Jean nearly kicked the monitors out of the way as she reached desperately for Rogueís hand.

"Marie! Iím here honey," Jean said, rushing to grab her hand. "Yeah, Iím here. Can you hear me? Are you in any pain?"

"Where am I? What happened?"

Jean looked at everyone. "I can talk to her now, inside my head."

"Is Storm here?"

"Everyoneís here, honey. Are you in pain?"

"NoÖI just feel weird."

"You did just remove the wires from your body, you did do that?"

"Yes, I heard you ask if I could feel your powers. Iím glad you gave them to me so I can talk to you insideÖmy head. I feel you inside of me, I donít mean to take from people when I touch them-"

"Shhh, donít. I touched you to prove to you that you wouldnít hurt me. Now listen to me, do you know what happened to you?"

"I donítÖsomeone did touch me."

"Magneto."

"No, it wasnít magneto. Someone bumped into me."

"Who?"

"She touched meÖgrasped my hand to apologize. I was so scared Iíd hurt her but she just smiled, beautiful smile. Did Magneto do something to me?"

"I donít think so, Marie. Are you sure this woman didnít?"

"She had two kids and a family van, if sheídÖbeen a mutant out in public like that-"

"Have you ever seen her before?"

"No. But sheís gotta be a mutant herself, she just couldnít have known it. Why canít I move? CanítÖIím losing my ability to talk to you in my head."

Jean took Marieís glove off and held her hand.

"Marie, can you feel me now?" Jean said. "Storm, get me a B12 injection."

"For her?" Storm asked.

"No, for me."

"Whatís wrong?" Logan asked.

"Sheís losing ability to talk to me through my powers so Iím giving my gifts to her and injecting myself for my own health."

Jean tightened her grip around Marieís hand.

"Marie, can you feel me? Can you feel that Iím right here?" Jean said allowed.

"Are you in pain?" Storm asked.

"No, not yet, just shoot me up," Jean replied. "Logan, can you get me a glass of water?"

"Okay, okay, stop, I can feel you, let go of me, please," Marie said.

"Youíre not hurting me, Marie. You know that because as I give you my powers you can read my mind."

"Iím scared. Whatís wrong with me."

"Youíre in a coma but I canít find a legitimate reason you should be. Do you have any idea what is happening to you? Do you know who mightíve caused it?"

"No, Iím sorry. Is everyone around me?"

"Canít you tell?"

"N-not quite. WaitÖyeah, all right, I can hear their thoughts. Logan wants to touch me to heal me. Donít let him, please donít let him."

"I know he wants to, but he couldnít even if I let him. You donít need to heal physically."

"Then tell me, Jean, tell me why Iím in a coma."

"I donít know, but weíre working on it."

"Tell them I love them, either your powers are leaving me or Iím exhausted, Iím sorry."

"Marie," Jean said, first in her mind. "Marie!" she said out loud.

"What? What is it?" Scott said.

"Nothing, she just runs out of my powers, but she told us all she loves us." Jean said that, but wasnít sure of that, but didnít want to worry the others. "Yes, someone did touch her, but she canít understand how they could be anything but normal because of how the woman was."

"Well she obviously isnít normal if sheís perfectly fine!" Logan said.

"Logan, calm down," the Professor said. "Jean, can you continue to study her tomorrow to attempt to determine what is causing the coma?"

"Yes. And someone needs to stay with her at all times. I will tonight, I wonít go anywhere."

"Sheís not a goddamn piece of evidence," Logan said. "Sheís a human being who needs help."

Stormís eyes gathered with tears as she placed a supporting hand on Loganís arm. "She can think and talk to you in her mind, why canít she wake up?"

"Iím working on her brain chemistry, to find some reason," Jean assured.

"Why donít you take a nap, just a short one," Storm said. "Iíll stay with her."

"Oh no, Iím fine-"

"I know, butÖIíd like some time with her."

"Logan, want a beer?" Scott said, trying to cheer up.

"Not really but I wonít refuse."


Once they had all cleared out, Storm quietly sat down next to Rogue. She didnít say anything for several minutes, just staring at her friend in fear.

"Rogue, can you please search for something that might have something to do with how we can help you? WeÖcare about you, we need you. Youíre are great combat fighter. You can kick the shit out of anyone and you are so valuable to us as more than an X-Man. Even though youíre all grownup Iím always going to think of you as a little sister. And Iím sorry I walked in on you and Logan. I know how much you two care about each other. That man can never stay put. He has a real ego problem."

Storm wiped her teary eyes.

"Iím not scared, Iím justÖI miss you. I know how much you feel alone, but we are working incredibly hard to not only bring you back but to find out what it is about your skin that makes itÖuntouchable. I love you, and Iím gonna stay here with you."


Chapter 5

Next Morning
6:24 AM

Logan came downstairs the second he woke up to see Rogue. Jean finally forced him to take two sleeping pills to get him some form of rest, and he received all of thirty-four minutes of quality beauty sleep before kicking off the stupid covers and marching impatiently downstairs.

First thing he saw was Storm curled up in a chair, her knees to her chest with a small blanket covering her. Walking over, he didnít have the heart to wake her up, sheíd obviously stayed up forever with Rogue. He secured the blanket a little and brushed a strand of her white blonde hair.

Looking over to Rogueís bed, it was empty. He looked around to see if she was in another bed or part of the room, but she wasnít.

"Storm, wake up," he demanded.

She was instantly awake. "What?" she shrieked.

"Whereís Rogue?"

Storm threw the blanket off herself. "Oh my God," she said standing up. "Whereís Jean?" she said, her breath shaking as she pushed the heavy machines out of the way to find Rogue.

"You justÖLET her go?"

"Well shoot me for sleeping!" she said in tears.

"Why the hell didnít you get one of us if you needed to sleep!"

Scott and Jean burst through the doors in their pajamas.

"Whatís wrong?" Scott said.

"Marie," Storm said. "IÖfell asleep and sheís gone."

"You justÖwhen?" Jean said. "What happened?"

"I donít know! Iím sorry I-" Storm said, turning away with a hand over her mouth.

Scott instantly walked over to her and pulled her into his arms.

"Itís okay," he said, kissing her forehead. "JustÖtell us approximately what time you fell asleep so we can know how much time has gone by?"

"I guessÖone oíclock," she said pulling back trying to get it together.

Xavier walked in. "Oh Lord," he said, already reading their minds.

"Go to Cerebro," Scott informed.

"On my way," he said, exiting, Logan going with him.

Jean stared at the door Xavier and Logan walked out of. She was still, not having completely comprehended what could be happening to MarieÖif anything was happening to her. Scott tapped her on the shoulder and she frantically turned around.

"Itís just me," he said softly.

Jean drew in a deep, teary breath. "Where is she?"

Scott pulled her into his arms. "I donít know. I donít know."


Xavier placed the device over his head and turned the machine on. Logan paced angrily around the hallway waiting for the Professor to be finished.

"What the hell is taking him so long?" Logan muttered.

"Hey, Logan," Scott said, running up and patting him on the shoulder. Logan was the worldís biggest asshole but he cared about Rogue and that at least earned Scottís respect. "Give him a little bit longer-"

"Every minute heís in there is more time they are able to do God knows what to her."

"I know," Scott said. "But however long it takes Xavier, itíll take five times longer to do it without him."

Jean placed a supportive hand on Loganís shoulder. Scott noticed but wasnít worried. They were all completely in this together now. Jean then reached for his hand and he gave it to her. Logan then noticed the missing person.

"Whereís Storm?" Logan asked.

Jean turned to look down the long hallway. "SheÖshe was in the exam room-"

"Shit," Logan said, passing them to look for her.

"Logan-"

"Scott, let him go. You know how Storm feels about Marie, maybe theyíll help each other. But Iíll tell you one thing, if Xavier canít find her with that thing, I sure as hell will try."


Her feet touched the ground, the soil was slightly moist, a little mist clouded around her. She walked two steps, slowly, her body aching with each step. The pain forced the feel of bile rising in her throat. Her lashes lowered as the tears slipped. The night was beautiful, mysterious and haunting. She could barely see, until she stared up, seeing the echo of eternity beside her, growingÖgrowing angry along side her.

She exhaled as the atmosphere met with her anger, her pain, her revulsion of what had happened. Her hair blew with the wind, her arms flowing up to her sides as she turned to the Heavens, demanding a response for her disgust and angry heart.

"Iíll show you God!" she shouted as the wind grew more intense and the sky began to flame up with motion as her body did.

She closed her eyes and felt the Earth move beneath her feet, her heart racing with release as she used her gift to lessen the pain in her heart. She felt the funnels almost lift her off the ground, forcing her to fly. The crackling lightning and the thunder that shook the ground below her. The noise grew louder as she heard something, it was desperate but she couldnít care less. Let it save her, let it remove her.

"Ororo!" someone said, slamming into her, knocking her face first into the ground as she heard an explosion behind her.

The force of the fall caused her to take a few minutes to come to.

"Storm," someone said, pulling her up from behind, the hands gently taking her shoulders. "Storm, can you hear me," he said, his hands cupping her face. "Say something, please."

The first thing that came out of her mouth was a heart-wrenching sob. She forced her tired eyes open. Sucking in a breath, she managed to speak.

"Logan," she moaned painfully.

He pulled her into his arms, rocking her.

"What theÖwhat the hell were you doing?" he whispered, terrified.

"My head," she wailed. "What happened?"

"It looked to me like you were trying to electrocute yourself considering I just barely managed to push you out of the way of the lightning you created."

"We triedÖthe computer," she said.

"What computer?"

"LastÖlast night I turned on Jeanís computerÖsheís-been researching a way to stop Marieís skin from hurting another people. So she can touch again. Jeanís been working so hard to find a way, while Iíve been doing my best to let Marie be anyone she wants in front of me. That I will take care of her and love her no matter what and I let her go."

"Storm-"

"Oh my God, what if theyíre experimenting on her-what am I saying, of course they are! Why else do that to her? Someone had to do something to her because there was no medical reason for her to be in that coma! I shouldíveÖgotten someone else when I was tired-"

"Okay, stop," Logan said. "Stop blaming yourself, I didnít sleep at all and I shouldíve come down to check on her, so we all shouldíve done more, not just you. But itís not over. Come on," he said, slipping an arm under her legs and lifting her weak and lifeless body back to the compound.


Chapter 6

OkayÖI canÖI can think. All right, so where am I? CanítÖcan I see? If I can I canít see anything but movingÖparticles. I canít move! DonítÖdonít panic. Iím just still in a coma. But I know theyíre not here. Where are they? What happened?

Okay I feel something, a needle. Do they want blood? No, no theyíre injecting. What is it? I feel it. Itís going through me, I feelÖweird. OhhÖmomentarily muscle spasms all over, my brain feels likeÖshit. Hands, I feel hands on me. What are they doing? Why are they touching me? What are they trying to do to me? ListenÖall right, I can hear voices. Procedure, are they doing a procedure on me?

I try to swallow and I canít, I try to open my mouth but I have no control. Do they know Iím conscious within my mind? I hope not, maybe whatever the hell they gave me will wear off and I can ask them if they mind telling me what the hell theyíre doing to me. What do they mean it didnít work? What the hell were you trying to do to me that would make "it work"?

Oh my God, whatever they just did gave me a serious hot flash, my body burning and the perspiration, I can feel it. My hair, everywhere, had I known I wouldíve cut it all off. Wait! My eyes, I canÖopen them. Look, look, see something. FocusÖcanít see their faces, they have them covered. Where am I? Dark, full ofÖequipment, people, everywhere. Wait, little girl, in the far corner. SadÖempty, scared of what sheís seeing. What the hell are they doing allowing a child to watch this? How old is she? Sheís standing upÖokay, sheís not a child. Sheís aboutÖseventeen. Sheís walking over to one of the people working on me, theyíre so busy they havenít noticed my eyes.

She hears the girl tell the woman to stopópain, Iím in painÖunbearable painÖmy eyes are closing as my heart clenching in pain.

"Donít, donít you die, dammit, help me!" the woman said. "Sheís going into cardiac arrest! Get over here!"

She felt the stiff jerk of the shock against her heart, forcing it to beat.

"Donít you die! Stay with me, here, stay with me!"

WhyÖdo they want me to stay alive? What are they doing? Breathe, just try and breatheÖscrew em, Iím gonna live. Breathing is evening out, I can breathe. HeartÖdoesnít hurt, okay, relax. She heard the woman screaming at another person, anotherÖdoctor maybe.

"What the hell was in that drug? It was NOT supposed to hurt her, what the fuck was in it?"

"Itís going to take a few times to get it right-"

"Right? Is that what you think you even came close to accomplishing? You nearly killed her, you have a goddamn long way of going!"

"Youíre the one that picked her and you knew there could be consequences-"

"Donít you double talk me you son of a bitch. I picked her because there wasnít a whole lot of options. Now I will save my daughter and your life depends on your finding the right drug for her. Now Iím going to examine her and your drug and you had better pray that your next attempt on her is a helluva lot more successful!"

Well, whoever it was certainly wasnít taking any crap from this guy. SaveÖsave her daughter? All right, thatís at least, sounding moral. How do I help? What do they want to take from me? Or do to me? <Wasnít a lot of options> All right, so once again Iím unique, how? <It was NOT supposed to hurt me> Was thatÖit wasnít supposed to hurt me??? That doesnít make any sense. What is the drug for?

"You know though that you may kill her in the process. Thatís of course why you abducted her."

"Well as long as we figure it out, finding the answer, thatís all I care about."

Sheís holding my wrist, injecting something else in me.

"What are you doing now?"

"Sheís semi-conscious."

Dammit, now Iím screwed.


Two nights later, she couldnít take it anymore. She got of bed. It was wrong. Clothes, she had to get her some clothes, warm clothes. God knows if she could survive but at least sheíd be gone. She snuck past all the rooms on the floor and scrambled her way down the next three staircases.

"Canít be like this, even if there was a cure for me," she breathed running towards the gate. "Zero one five seven, Kara," she said as the machine scanned her eyes and welcomed her inside.

She ran towards the woman, and realized she was completely unconscious.

"Oh dammit, I donít know how to wake her up."

She looked at the IV, which was flowing inside the woman. Her fingers went to the bag of fluid, it wasnít just saline. What else was it? There was a noise from upstairs.

"Jesus," she said, realizing there wasnít time to fuss. "Whoever you are, I hope this doesnít hurt you, I hope it gets you to wake up."

She took out the needle in the womanís arm, grabbing a bandage and placing it over the tiny incision. She lightly tapped the womanís face with her gloved hands.

"Hello, can you hear me?" she said, cupping her face. "Look, Iím touching you, I have gloves on but Iím touching you. Come on, I need your help, I canít carry you out here and get you back there by myself!" she pleaded. "Shit," she said as a tear strolled down her face. "I canít believe Iím doing this after theyíve worked so hard for my benefit but wake up!"

She moved to the vile of drugs, reading the descriptions as fast as she could. Finally she found one that mentioned consciousness and it was all the time she had. She took the vile and a needle, sucking up the medicine into the needle and walking over towards the woman. She looked at this woman, lifeless, and undeserving of it. It had been a good cause, but an immoral and disgusting reality.

"Dear God, please let this do what I want it to, donít let me kill her," she prayed, injecting the needle into the womanís arm.

Instantly the woman drew a sharp breath.

"Hello? Can you hear me?" she asked frantically.

There was no immediate response to the woman other than more regulated breathing. She actually believed the woman wasnít dead now.

"Christ," she said, running quickly to get the clothes, forcing them onto the woman.

She had a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved skin-tight shirt and heeled boots. All right, so she hadnít done a lot of preparing, whatever it was, it was clothes. She never realized until now how difficult it was to dress an unconscious person. Attempting the shirt, she stopped and prayed.

"Please God, if you can just get her to wake up Iíll right this wrong. Do you want her to die? Come on God, help me save her for crying out loud and wake her up!"

She cupped her face again.

"Come on," she said shaking it. "Come on, open your eyes!"

She took a finger and gently opened the womanís lid herself. It was dead and then suddenly it was striving to blink. She released her.

"Hello? Oh my God, can you hear me?"

Her brown eyes focused on her.

"Say something, please."

She licked her dry lips and swallowed. "Wh-where am I?"

"Oh thank God, no time to talk right now, Iíve got to get you outta here. Help me dress you, can you sit up," she said already pulling the woman by the hands up to a sitting position. "Lemme get this shirt on you, itíll keep you warm."

She was too drugged to argue with the girl. She did her best to help out with the dressing process, but when the girl pulled her off the bed, she nearly slid to the ground.

"Whoa!" exclaimed the girl, catching her. "Come on, I need you to walk, I need you to walk right now."

"W-what did you do to me?"

"I gave you something to get you conscious so I could get you the hell outta here. Walk with me!"

She walked a few steps with the girl, then looked down at her shoes, then ironically back up at the girl.

"Hey, I was in a hurry, forgive my fashion and walk!"

She swallowed and obeyed. They reached a gate. The girl punched in a code and doors opened, a light disturbing her tired eyes. She blinked several times as the girl dragged her along.

"WhatÖ" she was having trouble speaking. "Ödid they do to me?"

"Experimental drugs to reverse your skin. I have it too, and they wanted to use you to find a way to reverse it. They were getting closer, but at the same time, making you weaker. I couldnít watch it, even if it meant my freedom, get in," she said, stuffing her into a van.

Her eyes automatically closed, but she tried to keep them open. She lied down and tried to focus them.

"PleaseÖp-please talk to me, say anything," she pleaded.

"Itís okay, Iím just driving. Please stay conscious, please donít fall back asleep."

"Where are you taking me?" she whispered, her eyelids becoming heavier and heavier.

"Iím taking you back. Itís ironic isnít it? We use each other to try to heal when all the while weíre all weíve got. I hope youíll someday forgive us. We didnít want to kill you, we just knew we might. But it was wrong."

"You-you were trying to make it so I could be touched?"

"Yes. Iím like you, Iím of the same mutation. Weíre rare, but I know how you feel everyday, but if I wanted it that badly I shouldíve forced them to make me the test subject."

She was having trouble processing what the girl was saying.

"There were several experiments," she said. "WhatÖwhat day is it? Where am I?"

"Itís been days, but itís over now. Iím gonna make sure youíre safe."

It was silent. The girl got nervous. She reached one hand to the backseat to tap the woman.

"Hey, hey, donít fall asleep, Iím trying to get you out of here, donít leave me now. Can you hear me?"

"Yes."

"So where are you from? You soundÖsorta southern."

"D-doesnít matter."

"Boy do I know that line by heart. But you obviously found a home, where people care."

"TheyÖare they okay?"

"Well to tell you the truth, I donít know. Weíve been hiding from them, you understand. Because we had you."

"My headÖ"

"Donít, donít fall asleep, come on, talk to me. Just for a little while. Tell me about them. Itís a school, right?"

"Itís uhÖmore than a school."

"You a teacher?"

"Sometimes, Iím more often an X-Man," she said, her eyes so dizzy she had to put her head down.

"What do you teach?"

She frowned in pain, her head was spinning. "Powers," she whispered.

"Here, eat this, itís not much but maybe itíll help."

She opened her eyes to see the girlís hand holding a candy bar. She strained her hand to grasp it.

"Thanks."

"Youíre obviously sweet as hell, to thank someone like me."

She inhaled the candy, hoping it would give her some source of energy, someway to keep her eyes open.

"Feel any better?"

"I donít know."

"Well, weíre getting there. Iím speeding about forty miles over the speed limit, thank God no ones on the roads and itís three AM."

"Maybe thatís why my head is spinning."

"Sense of humor, thatís the first sign of survival."

"WhoÖare you?"

"Can you understand if I donít particularly think itís a good idea to tell you?"

An exhaled laugh came from the woman.

"Yeah, I bet. ThisÖhappened to my friend."

"What?"

"Experimentation."

"He alive?"

"ThatÖthatís his power, he survives everything."

An exhausted sigh came from the woman in the backseat.

"No, donít do that, come on, tell me what happened to him, stay awake."

"M-metal, they put it all over his insides, grafted it to his entire skeleton."

"Good Lord, thatísÖdoes he know why?"

"No."

"Can you tell? How did you find out if it was on the inside?"

"Claws," she said wearily. "They come out."

"Claws? You mean the metal?"

"Y-yes. It comes out of his body as claws."

"What do you mean it comes out? When?"

"Whenever he wants. When heís in danger, itís a defense."

"Sounds like it would hurt like hell if used as a weapon."

"It does."

"What do you mean by that? He stabbed you?"

"No, no not intentionally. HeÖwas remembering being experimented on in a dream and I woke him up and he stabbed me as he woke up."

"Where?"

"Right through my heart, all three of them, right through my body."

"Are you serious? My God, what happened?"

"You say youíre like me?"

"Yes. I am."

"His power is to heal rapidlyÖso I touched him, borrowed his ability."

"How did he take that?"

"He was fine, after a lot of rest, he healed."

"Was he then afraid of you?"

"N-no," she said, still struggling with her dizziness. But it helped to talk. "He held me, through clothing of course. But when I was killed a few years ago, he touched me again, brought me back to life. I woke up in his arms and I pushed him away from me becauseÖwell you know why."

"Oh yes, I do know. You can rest assured youíre not alone in this prison of hell. Watching but never being."

Somehow it soothed her to hear someone else say those words. And mean it.

"You ever killed anybody?" the girl asked.

"Yes, but thatís something I definitely donít want to discuss. I hurt someone else though, thatís how I knew."

"Who?"

She felt so drugged she barely cared what she said. "The first boy I ever kissed."

"That had to suck, my God, how humiliating. Iím so sorry. Well, just to make sure you know youíre not alone, I killed my father."

"How?"

"I touched him. And when he started toÖI cupped his face begging him to tell me whatís wrong. I didnít know it was me, so I held his hand tightly as my mother called an ambulance."

"Iím sorry."

"It took me until I touched my best friend to begin to realize. Sheís stillÖstill alive but only by the respirator."

"I knew right away, I donít know how. I just knew I couldnít be touched. As he struggled to breathe I was crying and my mother tried to hold me, I shocked her when I shouted at her not to touch me. And I neverÖI never told her why, or that I was sorry."

"Forgive yourself for being the way you are."

"You say that, but do you believe it? Do you forgive yourself?"

She was silent a few seconds. "Sometimes," she replied.

"Not to change the subject butÖhow come you didnít bring me a bra?"

The girl burst out laughing. "I was in a hurry," she laughed. "As soon as I get you back you can put as many on as you like?"

She smiled. "I wasnít complaining, I was justÖnoticing."

"You close with the guy you touched?"

She thought of him. "Yeah, ironically. I saw him in a bar when I was seventeen, and a guy tried to kill him. His claws came outÖthen I knew he was, like me. Not exactly like me but a mutant. I hitchhiked with him and the rest is history."

"Yeah well, if he stabbed you and you touched him Iíd say youíre at least even. Odd relationship though, Iíve never heard killing each other was a bond. But with mutants, God only knows. So who else is in your mutant family?"

There was silence.

"Hey, did you hear me? Hello?"

She turned to the backseat where the woman was passed out.

"Shit," she said, speeding up more.


Chapter 7

5:14 AM

"Scott, wait!"

"No, Iím leaving."

"God, youíre as bad as Logan, will you wait a second," Storm said, running to the front door to catch him. "Listen, youíll need backup-"

"No, what Iíll need is you looking in your own direction, all right? Go."

Storm handed him a small device.

"If you need me, just tell me, and Iíll be there."

"Thanks."

When she had left, he opened the front door and a body collapsed on him.

"Oh my God, Rogue," he cried, holding her lifeless body in his arms. "Storm! Storm sheís here!"

Storm came back around the corner. "God, Iíll get her a blanket!"

Scott held Rogueís defiled and lifeless body in his arms. "Rogue, can you hear me, itís me. Itís Scott, can you hear me?"

"Here," Storm said, wrapping Rogue up. "Can you carry her?"

Scott gave her a look of irony. "What do I look, weak? Move."

Lifting Rogue up from the ground he carried her to the exam room. Storm ran ahead to get help. When he finally arrived with Rogue in his arms, Jean was there.

"Put her here," Jean said, setting up equipment.

"What can I do?" Storm said.

"Tell Logan."

"Yeah, then maybe heíll shut up," Scott said.

"Scott, donít be a prick," Storm said. "Iíll get Xavier too."

Storm ran out of the room. Scott hovered over Rogue.

"Do you know whatís wrong with her?"

"No, not yet," Jean said.

"Will she live?"

"I donít know, she doesnít look good," Jean said, inserting an IV into Rogueís arm. "Apparently someone else has used this arm, Iím gonna use the other. Would you set up the EEG, just put the tubes on her."

Scott came quickly over to the other side of Rogue. "Yeah, sure, thank God Iíve watched you do this five hundred times."

The doors burst open, scaring Jean half to death. Logan, Storm, and Xavier came over. Logan looked down on her with fear so intense he trembled a little.

"Whatís wrong with her?"

"I donít know yet," Jean said, checking her heartbeat. "Her heart rate is slow."

"What does that mean?" Logan demanded.

"It could mean a lot of things."

"Logan, calm down for a minute, weíre all trying," Storm assured him.

He put on some latex gloves and held Rogueís hand.

"Rogue, can you hear me," he said.

She looked lifeless. Storm pulled up a chair, knowing Logan was going to be here for a while.

"Sit down," she said softly, pushing his shoulders so he would obey.

Jean set up the EKG and drew some blood. Xavier came around behind Rogue.

"You gonna read her mind?" Scott asked.

"Yes. It may help us save her."

They all watched and waited as the Professor seemed to be succeeding in reading her mind. When he finished and looked up at everyone, his eyes were sad.

"She isnít able to communicate with me at the moment, what I know is that experimental drugs were used on her for the past four days. A young woman who shared her mutation freed her. The young womanís family was attempting to find a way to reverse this mutation, and use Rogue as a test subject. The young woman set her free, drove her back here, was very good to her. But there were several things done to Rogue, that may effect her life."

"What does that mean?" Storm asked. "Sheís gonna be okay, isnít she?"

"I donít know," the Professor said.

"All her vital signs are poor," Jean said. "A coma would be the least of her worries. Her system seems to be weakening immensely."

"What can you do?" Scott asked.

"I can try to revive her system a little with nutrients while I figure out what the problem is. Storm, can you hand me a TPN?"

"Oh, yeah," Storm said.

"Whatís a TPN?" Logan asked.

"Total Parenteral Nutrition. Itís a way of giving her food intravenously."

"Is that all you can do for her?" Logan asked.

"Until I know whatís wrong with her, itíd be dangerous to give her anything else."

Scott caressed Rogueís thick hair. "Come on, baby, donít leave us."

"I need some room to work on her, can you all just go for a bit? Iíll tell you as soon as I know anything."

They all for a few seconds looked at Jean like she was insane, but Storm got them out.


"What the hellís taking her so long?" Logan said.

"Try to be patient," Storm said.

"The longer it takes the worse news itís most likely to be," Scott replied.

The doors opened and Jean came through. They all stood up, eagerly waiting. Jean just shook her head.

"Sheíll only last a few days at most," she said softly.

"What?" Storm said. "Are you sure?"

Jean hesitated, then nodded her head. "Yes."

"W-why?" Scott asked. "Whatís wrong with her?"

"Her entire body is failing. All of her internal organs. Her brain chemistry is eating at itself. Whatever experimental drugs they gave her is killing her. In a few days, her body will have destroyed itself and there isÖabout zero chance of survival."

"Thereís nothing to be done at all?" Xavier asked.

"I-I donít know what they gave her, I donít know what they did to her and even if I did, I wouldnít know how to reverse it in a few days. You all wanna see her?"

"Is she in any pain?" Storm asked.

"No, that I can promise. Why donít you all go in one at a time?"

Logan hadnít said anything, but now he finally managed to speak.

"What about if I touched her? Wouldnít thatÖheal her? At all?"

"Yeah!" Storm said, a gleam of hope in her voice. "This time sheís not in a coma, her organs are failing."

Jean nodded slowly. "Are you sure, Logan?"

He gave the most ridiculous, ironic frown. "Is that a real question? Why are we standing her talking?"

"All right, after you," she said.


"Now I want to watch what happens to her system when you touch her, so hang on, lemme set up the EKG and EEG again."

"Arenít we wasting time here," Logan bitched, getting a little impatient.

"No, weíre not," Jean said, a little irritated herself.

Storm silently said a prayer.

"Ready?" Jean said.

"Yeah," Logan said.

Placing his head on Rogueís face, he waited for the pain then he would know she would be all right.

"Feel anything?" Scott asked.

"Not yet," Logan said, and then he took her hands and pulled her up into his arms, catching her back and holding her against him. Like he had the last time, holding her face against his chest.

When nothing happened he looked up at Jean.

"She is breathing on her own, right? I mean, she is alive?"

"Yes, her heart is beating, why?"

"Last time, with Magneto, she was dead, so it took her a few seconds to respond."

Logan cupped her face with both hands and looked at her face, holding her up.

"Can somebody please tell me why she wonít-"

"It worked," Xavier said. "Whatever they did to her was for the purpose of making her skin safe for anyone to touch."

"Well thatís great except for the fact sheís now going to die because of it," Logan said.

"Oh my God," Jean said, realizing the sick irony of this. "Logan I-" she couldnít think of anything near intelligent to say.

Jean covered her eyes with her hand as she cried softly. Storm and Scott took off their gloves, anxious to touch her for the first time, forgetting for a minute that there were tears streaming down their faces.

"Marie," Storm said, shaking. "Marie, weíre here, your skin is okay now, you canÖdo anything now," she said, tears falling unbidden down her face.

Storm kissed Marieís cheek and caressed her hair. Scott and Jean also reached to touch her. It was like they had never touched skin before as all their hands reached for a touch of Rogueís skin. It was like a stampede of hands across Rogueís face and arms.

"Good thing sheís asleep, sheíd be scared to death with everyone hovering over her," the Professor said.

Jeanís professional strength was waning now. Tears fell down her cheeks and onto Rogueís skin.

"Iím sorry, Iím so sorry," she told her, apologizing for not being able to save her.

Scott pulled Jean from Rogue, holding her.

"You did the best you could," he told her.

"Why donít we all say goodbye to her one at a time. All of you, go take a minute for yourselves, Iíd like to talk to her," Xavier said, giving them a chance to pull themselves together.

"Okay," Jean said. "But first Iíd like to stop the intravenous feeding."

"Why?" Storm said frantically.

"Because I donítÖwant to force her to live like this any longer than she has to. Sheís going to die, I donít want to force her to live a little longer without any hope of getting better. Let her go, I have to set her free. She always felt a prisoner in her body, Iím not going to keep her here when sheís not really here anymore."

Jean just barely managed to say that without crying too much. Removing the needles and the wires from Rogueís failing body, she held her breath and kept a straight face. Once done, she exhaled.

"All right, letís give the Professor a minute with her."


Once alone with Rogue, Xavier moved up beside her, watching her. Paternally caressing her thick mass of dark hair, then taking her hand, it was hard for him as well to hold it together.

"If you can hear me, and thereís any way you can tell me what you need, what you want, Iíll have it done instantly. You were alwaysÖso strong and so loving. I apologize to the bottom of my soul for not protecting you and there is no justification or forgiveness necessary, but I loved you very much, as if you were my own."

He took her hand and kissed it, then sat there, listening to the quiet.


Storm stood very quietly, leaning back against the wall, holding her breath and blinking away the tears that uncontrollably formed. Her heart clenched in fear of losing her best friend, losing Rogue. She held her breath so not to hyperventilate in panic, thatís how strong this fear was. Jean had silent tears streaming down her glossy face, and Scott stood, waiting desperately, as if he didnít quite believe she was really gone. She looked at Logan, he wasÖstill. His face angry but still. She wondered if she should go to him or let him be. Sheíd leave him alone, he didnít want sympathy.

The Professor came out.

"Scott, would you like to see her next?"

Scott nodded mutely and went inside. The room was dim, the only lights that were on were the ones on her. He found the irony in that. And the fear of the moments to come in which she would take her final, shallow breath. Cupping her face and kissing her cheek he sat down.

"Hey kiddo," was all he could think of to say. "I thinkÖI donít know what I think. I think Iím gonna beg you about now toÖif thereís any way you can, I want you to fight."

He took her hand into his trembling one.

"Can you feel me? Youíre not Rogue anymore. Youíre completely Marie. I want you to fight this so you can experience it. So you can remember it. I know that where you are and where youíre going seem so beautiful and it is, Iíd go with you in a heartbeat but we all love you so much kid, and if there is any strength left in you, fight. Stay with us."


Storm went in next, and she gasped to keep from sobbing when she stepped in the room. She had a hard time walking over to her best friendís lifeless body. Reaching Rogueís bed, Storm smacked her hands down on it for support. Anger grew inside her.

"Why?" she said. "I donít know what to say to you to make you stay, and I donít know how to tell you goodbye because I donít want to."

Storm ran her fingers through Rogueís hair and did her best not to cry loudly.

"So you know what, Iím not going to leave you, and Iím not going to let you go so easily. Youíre not gonna be alone, we are all here and we all love you. And I think you need to see Logan, so Iím gonna go get him. Iíll be right back."

Storm went outside where Scott and Jean were.

"Whereís Logan?"

Jean turned to see him gone. "He was just here-"

"Dammit, does that man ever stay put!" Storm exclaimed, walking down the long hallway.

"Where you going?" Scott said.

"Iím gonna find him!" Storm shot back.

Jean rolled her eyes a little and pushed through the doors to go back to see Rogue. Scott followed as Jean pulled up a chair and rolled it over to the computer system.

"What are you doing?" he asked her.

"I havenít told anyone but Iíve been working for the last year to myself try to find a way to stop Marieís skin from harming others so she can touch people. And now that there is no time to waste, Iím going to try to take some of her blood and study it to know what they did to her so that maybe I can find a way to fix it."

Scott sat next to her. "Are you sure? Can you forgive yourself if you canít find something in time?"

"I donít know but if I sit around and donít try, I can promise you Iíll never forgive myself."

"What can I do?"

"Help Xavier," she said looking into his eyes. "You keep me strong, Scott, I love you." She reached for his hand.


"Logan!" Storm shouted as she walked past the mansion to the forest.

She sighed as thunder cracked through the air.

"Logan, Iím getting mad, please just answer me?"

"All right! Quit yelling at me," he finally said and she whirled around to see him.

She smiled. "Did anybody tell you how sexy you are when youíre angry?" she teased.

He gave a little laugh.

"Thank you, a smile, you make me work so hard, Logan," she said.

"She all right?"

"No different if thatís what you mean. I take it you donít want to see her right now."

He looked away.

"Hey, Logan, I know you and I understand that. Itís hard to watch someone you love be hurt. Youíre not alone here."

He felt alone. He couldnít deal with seeing her die, for the first time not having the power to change it. He had always been able to help her before and all of a sudden he had to let her go? Storm could see he was feeling helpless in his eyes. So did she. There were no words she could say to ease his pain. Especially when she was every bit as angry with this as he was, so any soothing words would be lies.

"Why donít you go for a little while, Logan?"

His eyes met hers then. "What are you talking about?"

"Burn off a little bit of the anger. Get on Scottís motorcycle again and just drive. And youíre lucky you heal because in the distress weíre in I wouldnít want you getting on that thing. But go, for an hour or so. I will find you if something happens. But right now you need to get some of the anger out, and breathe in that fresh air and curse God out. Please," she said.

"I donít-"

She had the thunder crash again, which shook him a little in fear. He looked at her furious yet firm eyes and knew he should just go.

"All right."

"Thank you, youíre so agreeable, Iíve always loved that about you."


Chapter 8

The next two days were quiet mostly, waiting, fearing, with no change in Rogueís condition. Storm hadnít left Rogueís beside in those two days. She ate bits and pieces mechanically but continued to talk to Rogue, and exercise her muscles for when she woke up. Storm concentrated on keeping her as healthy as possible, it was all she could think about without crumbling.

Jean had been working more on a cure, gathering quite a bit of data but she knew it wouldnít be soon enough for Rogue for her to find enough to develop a cure. She watched Storm continuously read as she left the room. She ran into Scott and Xavier.

"Still talking to Rogue?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, she wonít stop, she wonít sleep and when she finally passes out she wakes up instantly and starts talking to her again. Sheís not in a coma, sheísÖ" Jean didnít finish.

"Let me try," Scott said, kissing Jean softly on the lips.

Walking in, Scott was depressed by what he saw, it hurt him to see Storm in this much pain over her best friend. It was hard enough to see Rogue like this when he loved her, but Storm, if she was this bad now, when RogueÖhow was Storm gonna be?

"Öand the last question is, what do you expect best from a relationship? A, trust, B, romance, C, connection. Well it depends on the relationship but letís say connection just because weíll get a higher score. All right, if you were stranded on a deserted island, who would you like to have with you? A, James Bond, B, Fox Mulder, or C, Fabio? Fabio ainít all heís cracked up to be first of all, secondly, which James Bond? We talking Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan? So letís put Fox Mulder, at least he dealt with mutants, he wouldnít be that surprised. Okay-" she was interrupted by Scott behind her, rubbing her shoulders.

Tears formed in her eyes as she lie her tired head against his chest.

"Come on Storm, stop for a little while. Eat a real meal, get some rest."

She cringed as tears fell. She shoved him away in tears.

"What if she can hear me? What if for two seconds she can hear me and she knows from that that weíre all here and she fights?"

Scott sighed and she knew he didnít understand.

"Just go away, Scott." She turned back to Rogue and grasped her hand. "Itís okay, Iím still here. So is Scott, weíre all here honey. Lemme get out this book I just bought, itís a romance novel so if itís any good, weíll enjoy ourselves," she said wiping her tears.


"Storm asleep?"

"Yeah, I gave her something that would increase her fatigue so she could sleep. Would you take her upstairs and tuck her in?" Jean asked Scott.

"Of course."

They walked in and Jean immediately went to check Rogueís vitals. Scott waited beside a sleeping Storm.

"Anything?" he asked.

Jean licked her lips then met his eyes. "Sheís uhÖsheís weakening."

Scott swallowed. "How long?" he squeaked.

"It could be anytime now," Jean said softly. "Go, go take Storm to bed, Iím going to stay with Rogue."

Scott concentrated on Storm and gathering her limp body into his arms to carry her upstairs. Jean watched him as the door closed behind him. As soon as he was gone from sight she placed a hand on Rogueís forehead, brushing the hair back from her eyes. Jeanís eyes closed as huge tears fell and she began to shake. Kneeling, Jean placed her head on Rogueís heart.

"Marie, pleaseÖ" Jean didnít even know what to ask. "What are we going to do without you? You were a part of us, an X-Man but so much more than that. I canít keep coming in here every hour to check you when I know youíll only be weaker. I tried so hard to give you what you wanted, to let you touch without killing."

Jean looked up to see Logan standing in the doorway. She lifted her head off of Rogueís chest.

"Sheís still with us," she told Logan. "Come here."

Logan walked over to her, Jean on the other side of the bed.

"Take her hand," Jean told him.

Logan did. Jean smiled.

"Good, she knows youíre here."

"You sure?" he asked.

"I wouldnít lie about that, not even for you," Jean said.

Logan barely noticed the door shut as Jean left the room. There was nothing. It was too quiet. The room was translucent, unreal. Logan looked at the monitor showing a steady heartbeat, but even he knew it was weak. Dropping her hand, he leaned over her, placing each of his hands on her shoulders. He gently pulled her up, her head falling back in the process. Cupping the back of her head he pulled her body against him, holding her. His fingers traced her face lightly, this was after all the first time he could.

"Some kind of sick twist of fate that you canít even enjoy that you can be touched, that you donít even know. If Iíd known I would only see you for a few days," he said but didnít finish. "I close my eyes and I can only imagine what they did to you. Did you ever open your eyes for a minute and see things you wish you hadnít? Someone got you out of there. Someone brought you back to us, only for your body to begin failing."

He kissed her forehead and held her face against his.

"Youíre still warm."

Pulling her back a little he looked at her face. With an arm behind her back and his hand cupping the back of her head he looked at her. She was paler than usual, but he wasnít surprised. Her eyes were so limply closed, she was relaxed. What the fuck, she wasnít relaxed, she was dying!

"Rogue," he said cupping her face. "Rogue, can you open your eyes?"

He knew she wouldnít, but how could he not ask? She was the one person who was never bothered by his sarcasm and his charming attitude.

"You donít know or you donít care?"

"Pick one!"

Lying her back down on the bed, he pushed her sleeves up and looked at the bruises from injections.

"Shit," he whispered, looking at the wounds.


"Iím gonna go see her," Scott said.

"No donít!" Jean said. "Loganís in there."

"Oh God," Scott said. "HeísÖnot going to handle this well."

"No, heís not. But how could he?"

"Heís gotta be losing it inside."

"And I donít think itíll be long before he starts losing it on the outside."


That Night
2:14 AM

No one slept, no one spoke. Because everyone knew tomorrow when they woke up, she wouldnít be there anymore. Everyone knew it, but no one said it. Scott dozed off and Jean went outside for a walk. Storm sat on the roof smoking a cigarette. Logan was the only one who actually slept.

The Professor had tried to but something awoke him. He heard something, not something aloud, but something someone was thinking. It was coming from the lab. Was it Rogue? The Professor went downstairs to the bottom floor and went into the lab. Before he opened the door he knew who it was.

"Eric," he said.

Eric turned back to face his friend and adversary.

"YouÖyouíre trying to save her," Xavier exclaimed.

"I gave her a vaccine, Charles."

"Where did you get it?" Xavier asked.

"It was delivered to me."

"How did you escape the prison?"

"I havenít. You know that."

"Why?"

"Because she is still one of us. I heard the rumor about her and someone say that it would happen to all of us. It wonít. If it works, sheíll awake on her own. Give her some time."


Chapter 9

4:12 AM

She couldnít sleep so she took a long hot shower. Stepping out of it she put on some clothes and looked in the mirror.

"I look like shit," she whispered to herself.

Proceeding to put on makeup as she turned on the stereo, she waited until everyone else woke up and got out of bed. Several minutes later she sat on her bed and read a magazine. She couldnít believe it when she saw a photo of herself as one of the visitors of Magneto. She was the supposed daughter of Charles Xavier, a life long friend of Magneto. What kind of mutant was she? She was an X-Man who was thought to be untouchable, until another mutant did.

"Get a life," she said, flipping to the next page.

Then she heard something. Slowly putting the magazine down she got up and left her room. Going down the hall she heard which room it was coming room and opened the door. Loganís room, another bad dream. Damn the man needed some prozac for this. Walking over to him she leaned over him, then remembered and moved back. This time she shouted his name so heíd instantly wake up.

"Logan!"

"What?" he said as he opened his eyes.

"Itís okay, just a dream," she said standing against the closet.

He stared in such a way she wondered what was still wrong. Moving over towards the bed she sat down on the edge.

"Hey," she said softly. "Whatís wrong?"

He blinked and rubbed his eyes. "Youíre awake," he said.

"Yeah, I woke up and couldnít go back to sleep, you all right?"

He grabbed her by the shoulders and clutched her to him.

"Logan, donít!" she said, trying to pull back. "Iíll hurt you-"

"You donít know?" he said, pushing her back and looking at her.

"Know what? Logan, let go of my arms-"

"It doesnít matter anymore. Anyone can touch you," he exclaimed.

Putting his hand to her face she waited for it to hurt him and as it didnít she began to cry.

"No," she said shaking her head, refusing to believe it. "No, youíre just stronger than most people, let go."

"Youíre all right," he whispered. "Youíre alive. Come on," he said grabbing her hand and running out of the room with her.

He began shouting everyoneís name dragging Rogue to the main living room.

"Logan! What are you doing?" she whispered. "Have you lost your mind?"

He didnít listen. Suddenly Jean and Scott burst through the door in their pajamas. Rogue was terrified, what the hell was going on?

"Marie," Jean said breathlessly.

Storm nearly crashed through the door.

"Is she gone?" she asked frantically.

"Ororo?" Rogue said, confused.

Storm looked across the room to see Rogue. Tears swelled in her eyes. Rogue walked towards her, not understanding what was wrong.

"Iím not going anywhere," Rogue said softly.

Storm ran and jumped into Rogueís arms.

"Youíre not dead, you made it," Storm said as tears rolled down her face.

"What are you talking about? Nothing happened, I just woke up-"

"It worked," Xavier said, walking in.

"What worked?" Scott said.

"Magneto, he saved her life," Xavier said, barely able to believe it.

Rogue was beginning to freak out a bit.

"What are you all talking about," she said, backing away. "I was never about to die-"

Jean rushed forward to Rogue. "Marie, look," Jean said, pushing up the sleeves to Rogueís shirt so she would see the bruises. "You were abducted, Marie, they injected you with experimental drugs, they may have done other things to you but thatís all we know. They got your skin to be non-toxic to others."

Thoughts rushed through Rogueís tired mind as tears gathered in her eyes.

"You were dying and Magneto gave you a vaccine and saved your life," Xavier said. "Do you remember?"

Jean, who was holding onto Rogueís arm gently, saw Rogueís terrified, widened eyes.

"Marie," she said. "Marie, itís okay now."

"You remember," Xavier said to her.

She blinked several times as the memories of the tests flashed in her eyes. That girl, that poor girl who helped her. Rogue shook her head disbelieving and backed away further, tears forming. She became faint and began to lose her balance.

"Rogue!"

Jean instantly grabbed her. Falling into her arms, Rogue moaned in agony.

"God," Rogue breathed.

"Itís okay," Jean said. "Itís all right, shh," she said into Rogueís hair.

"No Iím okay, I donít feelÖ" she pulled back and looked at the bruises across both her arms. "Theyíre recent," she stated. "When I woke up I didnítÖremember."

"But you do remember?" Scott asked.

She looked up at him. "When I opened my eyes, yeah. And the girl who got me out of there. I didnít remember going unconscious. I was in the car with her, she was driving me back. SheÖshe had what I had, the same mutation."

Storm cupped Rogueís face and she gasped at the initial fear of hurting Storm.

"You donít have that mutation anymore," she said.

Tears fell over onto Stormís hands. She couldnít help but fall over into Stormís ready arms. They were warm and enfolded around her. Storm caressed her hair and ran her hands down her back comfortingly. She sobbed into Stormís arms.

"Marie," Storm said.

"Yeah?" she sobbed.

Storm whispered in Rogueís ear so no one would hear.

"Itís not really a hug if you donít hug me back."

Carefully, Rogue touched Stormís back, then slowly tightened the embrace. Storm pulled back and kissed her cheek. The tears wouldnít stop flowing from Rogueís unbelieving eyes.

"Okay, move, there are others here," Jean said.

Storm moved aside and Rogue laughed, wiping her eyes.

"Come here," Jean said, embracing her. "Thank God youíre all right."

"Yeah, I wondered why I looked pale in the mirror," Rogue laughed.

"When did you get the time to shower and put on makeup?" Jean asked, feeling Rogueís nearly dry hair.

"IÖdonít know, I donít remember being unconscious at all."

Jean pulled back just enough to look at her.

"You fell into a coma before you were kidnapped. I touched you and gave you my powers in hopes you would talk to me through your mind."

Rogue remembered. "I reached for you."

"Thatís right," Jean said, smiling. "You reached for me and I took your hand, you remember that?"

Rogue nodded. Jean pulled her into her arms again.

"Oh thank God youíre okay. We love you so much. Itís so good to finally be able to hug you," Jean said, caressing Rogueís face.

Tears flowed and Jean smiled.

"Stop crying," she grinned.

Rogue laughed. "I canít help it," she said, wiping her face.

"All right all right, move! My turn," Scott said.

Rogue looked over at him, grinned and ran into his arms. Lifting her feet off the ground in the embrace, she looked into his eyes and Logan was a little uneasy about how close they were and the way she was looking at him.

"I knew you couldnít go on without me, Iíve always been your biggest hero," he said to her.

"Youíre a pain in my butt," she said back, still in his arms in the air.

Rogue jerked free and smacked him in the shoulder.

"Yeah but you love me anyway."

"You are such a pig," she laughed.

Then she looked over at the Professor. He smiled at her, waiting. Silence took over the room. Tears began to flow again and she ran towards him, kneeling to embrace him.

"You feel all right, thank God," he said.

"Thank you for being the only one to ever include me as a member of something so special, and for loving me," she said, rubbing his back with her hand.

The doors burst open again.

"Am I too late?" Bobby said.

"No, sheís fine," Storm said, bringing him in. "Sheís fine."

Rogue looked up at Bobby. "YouÖcame?"

Walking over to her and cupping her face, he looked thoroughly at her.

"You always were one for surprises, Rogue. Thank God," he said pulling her into an embrace.

"I shouldíve set up a ticket line and got paid," she laughed.

Pushing her back and looking at her he said, "And youíre fine, youíre okay?"

"Yeah-"

"Nothing hurts?"

"Well, leftover bruises from what they did to me. YouÖyou know I can be touched now?"

"Yeah," he said softly. "It happened while you were asleep. Iím glad you got to wake up to experience it."

Seeing she was doing her best to contain a sob, he pulled her to him and held her as she softly cried.

"All right, how about you let me just check you-"

"Please no more tests," Rogue pleaded with Jean.

"No, no tests, lemme just check your heartbeat and pulse and blood pressure. Thatís all. Itís okay."

Rogue looked to Xavier. "Magneto saved my life?"

"Yes."

"H-how?"

"He gave you a vaccine."

"Why?"

Xavier smiled, understanding how no one else could ever expect Magneto to ever have a heart.

"Because you are still a mutant, and he fights for mutants to live, even the ones who disagree with him."

"Can we all clear out so I can get this done and she can go to bed?" Jean said.

Bobby tugged on Rogueís hand that heíd been holding and she turned to him.

"Youíll stay?"

"Are you kidding? Of course Iíll stay."

She grinned and hugged him goodbye.

"Kiddo, you ready for another joke of mine?" Scott said.

She laughed. "Scott, go to bed, andÖthank you. I sort of remember how you helped me."

"Oh good. And I promise next time you cook Iíll say something really nice-ow!" he said as she hit him playfully.

Leaving with Bobby and Xavier, Scott gave her the devilish smile that made her roll her eyes. She turned and Storm was right in front of her.

"Honey, donít go anywhere, please. I just got you back, give me a day, give me a day and weíll go out together-"

"Shh," Rogue said, taking Stormís hands. "Of course, more than a day, Iím okay, Iím sorry I scared you."

"Did they hurt you badly?" Storm asked softly.

Rogue inhaled then nodded. "Yeah. Yeah but Iím okay now. Go, go sleep, Iíll see you in a few hours."

Storm gave her one last hug and left. Jean, Rogue, and Logan remained in the room. Rogue instantly began walking to the lab, once there she hopped up on the bed.

"Okay doc, do whatever you need to."

Jean looked at Logan and knew it would just be easier to let him stay. Rogue laughed and Jean looked at her.

"Iím sorry," Rogue said. "I just know what youíre thinking and youíre absolutely right."

"Oh, you gonna try and read my mind now?" Jean teased, taking her pulse.

Rogue looked over at Logan. His eyes were still nervous, she could tell he wasnít sure she was okay. He wasnít going to come to her so sheíd reach for him.

"What would I do without my regular everyday claw guy," she said, reaching for him with her free hand.

"And what would I do without hearing you talk non-stop for fifty hours at a time," he said taking it.

"You havenít slept well," she noticed. "Iím still glad I woke you."

"So am I," he said. "She all right?" he asked Jean.

"So far sheís fine. Deep breath," she ordered and Rogue complied. "Does this hurt?" she said, touching some pressure points.

"No," Rogue replied.

"Can you follow my finger with your eyes?"

"I thought you said just my pulse, heartbeat, and blood pressure," Rogue said.

"Hey, Iíve been watching you for days now, seeing you get weaker and weaker only to wake up and have you appear normal, so bare with me."

Rogue followed Jeanís finger as she moved it side to side and up and down.

"Good."

"She all right?" Logan asked again and Jean wanted to punch him.

"Iím fine," Rogue assured him.

"Yes, sheís fine, and if youíd ever let me tell you before you nagged me, Iíd appreciate it."

"Oh well touch you," Logan shot back and Rogue laughed.

"Logan, donít be a jerk. Jean, thank you for everything, Iím sorry I left-"

"You didnít leave, you were taken, itís okay, as long as youíre fine. Get some sleep. Youíre beautiful," she said, then looked at Logan and knew it was her cue to get the hell out of there.

As soon as Rogue and Logan were alone, she looked up at him.

"Do they actually expect me to be able to sleep?" she asked him.

"Well, if youíd known how bad off you were these last few days, youíd understand."

"I didnít even remember immediately. I think I remember you held me, Iím sorry I couldnít reply to you. Iím sorry I couldnít open my eyes."

"You act as though you had some choice in the matter."

"I know youíre wondering if my experience was like yours, but I donít think it was. No matter how unpleasant it mightíve been. But I donít wanna think about that now," she said, looking at her hands, knowing she could now make contact. "I didnít remember what it felt like to touch someone. I still donít, I mean I still hugged everyone through material. Bobby and Storm held my hands though."

"Come on," Logan said, pulling her off the bed.

She ran with him along to the other part of the mansion. As she ran with him she still continued to cry for what had changed on her skin. Entering a room he pulled her to him and she tightly embraced him, shaking a little from tears. She truly had forgotten what skin felt like, what it felt like to connect skin. It had been six years since she had. His embrace was so strong, she felt safe just like she had the first time heíd held her on the train.

"Logan-"

He pushed her back for a second and began unbuttoning her shirt.

"Take this off," he said quickly before bringing her towards him again.

She drew in a sharp breath at the feel of his hands on her bare back. Tears streamed down her face as she clung to him, his smooth hands stroking her back before holding the back of her head against him. She felt him kiss the top of her head, then his warm hands encased her face to kiss her forehead. He felt her shake in her tears, of disbelief, of fear that it would dissolve, and of shock.

Tilting her face a little, her eyes were shut tightly as the trail of tears were translucent in their brightness. His hands were really holding her face, really holding her, really touching her, without causing him pain. Realizing that she hadnít touched anyone yet by her own choice, with her own hand, she reached out a timid hand to touch his face, fear flooded her mind as her fingers ran along his face. Logan pressed his hand over hers and she flinched a little at the feel of his hand covering hers. Encasing her face in his hands, he kissed her forehead again, his breath brushed her cheeks as he licked her eyelids shut then marched his way down her face with his tongue and lips to the hollow of her throat where this tongue caressed the rapid pulse that beat like music to his ears.

It wasnít until that moment she realized this was turning into more than an embrace between friends. Maybe that was naïve but she was so overwhelmed at being touched at all she wasnít thinking about how she was being touched.

Brushing his fingers against her cheeks, she opened her moist eyes as he leaned in to kiss her. Fear rushing up inside her she turned her head to the side.

"Donít," she whispered, memories haunting her.

His hands turned her face back to him.

"Donít think about before," he said, leaning down to capture her lips with his.

Fiercely running his lips over hers, enveloping her top lip and holding it lightly in his, feeling her shake from tears and he slipped his tongue into her mouth enticing her to join his in an erotic competition leaving them both weak to a point she had to pull her mouth away a little, exhaling as she gripped his face in her hands. His hands slid up into her thick hair as he trailed soft butterfly kisses along her jaw across her closed lids and rimed her ear hotly. Turning her face back to his she drew his mouth to hers once more. Their mouths crashed together in a burning cascade of urgency Rogue consumed herself in. She ran her hands up his back under his T-shirt, stroking the skin until she reached his shoulders, pulling him against her body. Lips never parting she edged his shirt slowly upwards as his hands went to her neck, then shoulders.

Shivering a little in his touch, his hands slipped beneath the straps to her bra as he walked backwards with her against him towards the bed. Cupping her waist as he sat down, she kissed him deliberately and fully as he began to pull her on top of his lap. In her bra and jeans she began to climb onto him and then fear drew up inside her. Surprising him she tore her mouth away.

"No, wait a minute," she said, pulling out of his arms and turning away from him.

The cloud of heat that had surrounding her body was slowly cooling down. Instantly he felt guilt. What the hell was he thinking, sheíd been experimented on and in a coma and nearly died and only five minutes ago she had realized her skin was no long lethal to whoever touched her. Standing up and going to her he embraced her from behind.

"Iím sorry, did I make you do something you didnít want to do?"

"No," she said softly, tears still threatening her as she looked at her hands in the dark. She moved back to the bed where she sat down. "No itísÖIím just nervous that itíll go away."

That was the last thing he expected her to say and didnít know exactly how to respond. Sitting down beside her, he could feel how upset and saddened she was. Why wasnít she happy it was gone?

"What do you mean?"

She was stroking her own arms, rubbing harshly as if not believing her skin wasnít toxic. "I donít know what theyíve done to me and the last thing Iíd want is for it to use itís effect all up only for my skin to return to the way it was and hurt you."

Shaking her head she sighed.

"Itís ridiculous. Magneto saved my life and you know how absolutely fond of him I am, what if he saved me but that whatever he gave me to bring me back to life will also reverse what they did to me?"

Logan shook his head and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"No, thatís not going to happen, Jean-"

"Jean doesnít know what they did to me, I donít even know."

Turning her to him Logan tried to reassure her.

"No, they were attempting to reverse the mutation and they did. The only thing Magneto did was save your life, God knows why, but he did. You think Xavier or Jean would allow you to think you were fine if you were in any danger to yourself or anyone else? Do you trust them enough to tell you the truth?"

"Of course I do," she exhaled.

Tipping her chin up she looked into his hazel eyes. Feeling his hands slide down to her bare waist, he lifted her up and over him so she was straddling his lap again, her hair creating a curtain around their faces. Letting the fear go and embracing this lost gift of being able to touch. Closing her eyes as she leaned her forehead in to touch his, she stroked his shoulders and then glided her hands down his torso when he suddenly grabbed her wrists and held them tightly. She looked into his eyes then took his hand and gently licked between his fingers where the blades came out.

He nearly jerked his hand away in shock and arousal. For someone he had stabbed right through the heart with that part of his hand, her kissing it, licking it, taking care of it was certainly something he didnít expect. Rogueís only response was to continue tracing her delicate tongue along the patterns in his palm. She then licked each long finger in turn, from base to tip, saturating the hand with her kisses and her mouth. It was a blatantly erotic movement, and Logan was far from unaffected.

With his other hand he cupped her face and brought it towards him, never wanting to sacrifice the connection. They kissed softly at first, but neither one could hold off any longer. His lips brushed past hers as she sighed to the hollow of her throat. His tongue swept along her collarbone with light feathery kisses that lessened the reality of the world around her into the feeling of each cell and fiber inside her being unfolded and released into the endless world of a touch. Rogueís fingers ran through his hair as his tongue drifted across the rise of her breasts down into the soft valley between them. After only a few dashes of his tongue over her heated flesh, his smoldering gaze sent a jerk of energy through her body. She flinched as the tips of his fingers touched her cheek possessively, but her eyes never left his.

"Are you sure?" he asked her, giving her one more chance to back out if she wanted to.

"I donít even care what youíre really trying to say," she exhaled huskily. "I just want to you hold me," she whispered.

Moving his hand to the back of her neck, he drew her body hard against his. Taking her mouth once more, it was an intense kiss, more violent than necessary, leaving Rogue no way not to respond as he ravaged her soft lips. The flames flowed inside of her, seeming to come in an instant. With bruised, passion swollen lips, she desperately needed to breathe and turned her head for an instant to gasp for air.

Rogue was breathing deeply in and out, her breasts rising and falling with each breath. She looked at him with a daze and desire pooling low inside her. Physically unable to move, she said nothing, but waited. Logan's eyes stayed with hers, until he looked down hungrily and began licking her cleavage. Dominatingly, his lips and tongue over the delicate flesh, the contours of her breasts, his tongue lapping over each curve and valley. Rogue's eyes closed instantly as the sharp waves crashed through her, and she felt her heart rate increase as well as the heat engulfing her entire body.

Logan's hand cupped the bottom of her breast as his mouth continued to savagely devour her. He peeled the black cup down to take her nipple into his mouth. Rogue's eyes flew open as he did that, whispering his name as her head fell back in abandon. In response to her passion, he became more demanding, lashing his tongue over the hardened nipples and then enveloping as much of them as possible into his mouth and ruthlessly sucking.

"Logan stop," she whispered, breathing heavily in and out.

He lifted his head and ground his mouth hard on hers while teasing her nipple with his insistent fingers. Gently pinching her nipple as he bit at the skin just below her ear, she wrapped her legs around him so her heels met at the base of his back. He explored her mouth, tasting and teasing, and the power that flowed from him into her excited her, enticing her to scratch her sharp nails harshly against his back. His hands continued to do wicked things to her nipple, sending jolts of pleasure through her as his mouth consistently pushed away all other thoughts then this second, this place, this touch. Moaning into the kiss she felt his hands go to her back, unclasp the bra and pull it free of her arms and her breasts. Sighing with relief that her tightened breasts were no longer confined to the firm material, she heard Logan throw it to the floor. When his hand cupped the taut flesh and ran his finger back and forth over her nipple, Rogue adjusted herself more firmly in his lap, scooting up closer to him as she drew her tongue into his mouth, urging his to caress with her own.

"Logan," she said, pulling back to look at him.

Though whatever she had intended to say sheíd forgotten as soon as he looked at her. She felt his eyes go right through her, knowing her, burning through her. It was tantalizing yet very seducing. Gathering her closer into his arms he turned her and laid her down on the bed, her flushed face and swollen lips inviting him to continue. Gliding her hands along his broad shoulders, pulling his body against hers, she traced his skin with her wet mouth, tears still streaming down her face that she could touch and be touched and be held with the warmth and the fire she had forgotten existed. Even when he felt her tremble from her tears, he knew where they were there and wanted even more to give every touch she had ever been kept from.

Loganís hand went to her jeans where he impatiently worked to slip them off her body as quickly as possible. With her cooperation and her hands ridding him of his pants, he gathered her close again, ravishing her lips and combining her hair with his spread fingers. Her mind spinning uncontrollably there wasnít time to think, or reason, or to be in anyway sensible. And how could she be after six years of not being able to feel skin, to now feel nothing but skin.

She finally felt her mind stop whirling when he held her face in his strong hands. She opened her eyes to see his smoldering gaze staring at her mouth. Rogue suppressed a shudder of desire as he rubbed a finger over her bruised lips. His breath brushed against her face as he darted his tongue at the tender flesh behind her ears, drawing her lobe into his hot mouth, causing the pulse in her heart to beat louder and louder as she closed her eyes and reveled in the feeling. She audibly gasped when his tongue began to outline her ear, his lips nibbling the shell of it.

Her hands rested once again on his arms as she clung to him, feeling no barriers between them. She felt his skin hot against hers. He held her face in one of his hands as he thrust himself slowly and smoothly into her. Her eyes closed as she hissed softly. He inched his hands down to her lower back to help her arch against him. He moved smoothly in and out of her, very slowly. He slowly traced her body with his hands Ė shoulders, breasts, ribcage, waist, abdomen, and her hips. He increased the pressure, intensifying the pleasure while kissing her mouth. He remained very close over her, protectively as they kissed, their lips doing most of the action, she was now almost as aggressive as he was. He moaned into her kiss when she constricted herself around him. She arched against him, tilting her head back as her hair dangled against the pillows. He touched the skin of her arms as he drove more deeply into her, pulling her up further to plunge into her one last time as they began to shudder in their climax.

Under the covers, Rogue held Logan in her arms, then leaned back to look at him. Running the back of her hand over his face, he caught it and kissed it. She smiled warmly at him.

"Thank you," she whispered to him.

"For what?" he whispered back.

"Knowing that I could be touched and that I could feel someone elseís skinÖand wanting me to feel as much as possible," she said, a tear running down her face. "And Iím notÖsome naïve schoolgirl, I know you have your life and I have mineÖbut thank you. For wanting me that much."

Pulling her close to him, he ran his fingers through her hair.

"When you wouldnít healÖwhen I touched you, I swear Iíve never been so scared in my life. So you canít get hurt again because I canít help you."

"You just like being the hero," she said smiling. "I promise you I will never hold you to anything because of this."

Instantly he sobered up. "What do you mean?"

"Logan, Iím not crazy. Iím not someone who believes in things that can never be. Iím not expecting anything from you. I care about you and I do feel safe when youíre around but I know you have your own life-"

Logan encircled his arms around her and kissed her gently. He didnít want her to finish what she was about to say. She shook for a minute at first, realizing she still wasnít used to skin contact. She felt nervous with her hands not being gloved, even though he had been touching her for a while now. The kiss growing and turning deliberate and devouring, he pulled her halfway over him, her hair falling against his chest and shoulders. Nipping her lips he pressed her against him as his hands slid up and down the beautiful line in her back. The tips of her nipples brushing up against his chest and his mouth engulfing hers into a rage of lust made whatever it was she had wanted to sayÖforgotten for the moment. Tearing her lips from his she smiled as she moved off of him.

"Youíreócrushing my breasts," she said, moving herself to his side as they both exhaled a laugh before kissing again.

Catching her mouth and plunging his tongue deep into her mouth, he sat up, taking her body with him. Her hands slid up into his hair as she trailed soft butterfly kisses along his jaw across his closed lids and rimed his ear hotly. Their mouths crushed each otherís desperately before softening their lips and opened their mouths further, caressing the caverns of their mouths and tasting the inner recesses. Logan gripped Rogueís face and tilted it back for better access as their tongues thrust and swirled around the other accumulating as much of each other as possible. Rogueís lips softened against his as she kissed him deeper and slower, her hands caressing his skin and pressing herself against his hard body. Exhausted and leaving his mouth, the tips of her fingers skimmed over the bulging muscles of his chest as she lapped at the hollow of his throat trailing a path down the side of the his shoulder, sucking as much of his taste as she could. Loganís hands cupped her shoulders as the tip of his tongue embroidered her ear and moved to capture and suck the lobe. Digging her nails into his back he raised her up a little Loganís head lowered, his tongue followed the contours of her breasts, tracing each gentle curve and valley, his tongue lapping at her baby soft flesh. Tenderly he sucked each nipple, rolling them on his tongue as a deep hum of ecstasy escaped her lips. The sounds of her pleasure spurred him on and he became more demanding, lashing his tongue over her stiffed tipped nipples before returning to her parted lips and softly kissing them, one hand holding her face and the other fondling her breast. Rogue tore her mouth from Loganís and dragged her aching lips across his cheek to his ear. She outlined it with her tongue, tracing the concavities and driving him utterly insane.

Pulling her face back up to his to attack his mouth, she steadied her hands on his shoulders and straddled his hips, settling herself snuggling onto his lap. He dipped his head once more and when his mouth covered her nipple, his hands pulled her closer so she impaled herself around him. The night splintered around her. Her world rocked, tipped on its side and threatened to send her crashing over the edge. Lying her back down, he licked her stomach as ribbons of pleasure unwound inside of her. Dipping his tongue into her navel, her body shuddered, Rogue's fingers dug into his shoulders. Her head tipped back and arched herself against him. She wrapped her legs around his hips, pulling him harder, more closely to her. She buried her face against his throat, pulling tighter and tighter against him. Arching. Twisting. Seeking salvation she wrapped her arms around him and sat up a little, tightening her inner walls around him, driving him to the edge as he grabbed her hips for one more thrust as the world seemed to fall away into shattered pieces of memory.


"You still have nightmares?" she asked him softly.

"Sometimes," he said truthfully.

"If you promise not to stab me will you hold me?"

Without a reply he gathered her closer, both lying on their sides. She exhaled and closed her eyes painfully, thinking about how long she had wanted to have someone hold her as she slept, skin to skin, when she didnít have to worry about killing anyone else she cared about. He promised heíd take care of her and he was.


Chapter 10

Rogue opened her eyes slowly, then felt the urge she did everyday to close them again. Unable to resist she shut them and exhaled, and heard the birds sing loudly outside her window. At this particular moment she wanted a shot gun to get them to shut up. Burying a pillow over her face she tried to drown out the sound, and failing she threw the pillow away and sat up.

Logan was gone. She wasnít worried, in fact she was grateful. The last thing she needed was Storm or someone else walking in on them after last night. They would instantly form an opinion and interfere like nobodyís business to protect her feelings. Well, she didnít need protecting, she knew what theyíd done last night and she had no intentions of expectations Logan shouldnít have to give. He wanted her to feel as much as she possibly could and she did. She knew he would do anything for her and that was enough. She didnít have to have him be hers to know how deep their connection was. Showering and changing into some clothes, she realized most of her shirts and blouses were long-sleeved. Had it all been inside her head or could she now really feel another personís skin without killing them?

She opened her bedroom door and walked down the long, metal hallway to the eating room. As soon as she walked through the doors there was clapping and laughter. Smiling in tears as she saw the party they had set up for her, Storm came over and hugged her.

"Oh come on, you didnít think weíd actually sleep last night did you? But you sure slept a long time, how do you feel?" Storm said.

"Fine," Rogue replied, hugging her back. "Iím fine. Thank you all so much," she said.

Lifting her hand and reaching for Stormís flawless face, her fingers made contact with her skin. Storm smiled and covered Rogueís hand in hers.

"What are you thinking?" she asked.

"I was just trying to remember the last time my mother gave me a kiss or my brother pushed me or my best friend holding me. I thought if I touched your skin itíd be easier to remember," Rogue said softly.

Scott came over behind Rogue and embraced her.

"All our arms are around you, kiddo," he said and placed a kiss on top of her head.

"Thank you, Scott."

Rogue looked over at Jean. Her eyes were loving yet shy. Jean was always conservative and shy around Rogue and even Storm, Rogue never quite understood the full reason why.

"I have something for you," Rogue said, walking towards her. "I uhÖI know you never left my side when I was sick and I finally figured out the person I would give this to."

Rogue unclasped her necklace.

"This is a very small dream catcher, itís supposed to catch bad dreams and keep you safe when youíre sleeping. My mother gave it to me and told me to keep it until I found someone who I wanted to pass it on to. So you hold it, you keep it, until somewhere in your lifetime you find someone you want to give that to. Someone who touches you, even for a moment that you want to give something back to."

Rogue took Jeanís hand, placed the necklace in it, and closed Jeanís hand. Jean embraced Rogue as tears fell down Rogueís face.

"Okay," she said, patting Jeanís back. "Okay, I now need your help."

"Sure honey, what do you need?" Jean said, her fingers running through Rogueís long hair.

"You and I talked to each other through our minds when you gave me your power. Why did you risk hurting yourself?"

"Because I wanted to give you a way to communicate with me," Jean said lovingly. "I wanted you to tell me how to help you."

"I can still feel you inside my head, I have your memories. Thatís how I know you never left my side and that youíve tried for years to find a way to help me. Thank you."

"What do you need help with?" Jean asked.

"I need you to read my mind, Jean. I need you to read my mind and see what I saw when they took me."

Jean looked at her questioningly. "Why? You want to find them to seek revenge or something?"

"No! No I uhÖI need to know what happened, and I need to know what Magneto did."

"You want to help the girl," Xavier said.

"Yeah," Rogue replied, looking at him. "These people werenít trying to kill me. I may have been their Ginny pig but that girl saved my life and I need to do what I can to help her. Please Jean, read my mind and tell me if you recognize anything."

Logan walked over behind Rogue. "You sure you want to remember?"

She turned to him. "Logan when you stabbed me and I touched you to heal, I saw what they did to you, what you saw. I promise you what they did to me was not the same."

"God I hope not, Iím really not up for reading that again," Jean said.

Storm came up to Rogue. "Iíll never forget the first day I spent with you, when I was teaching. And I asked you if you suffered afterwards."

Rogue laughed. "No, since I didnít hear one word you said," she laughed. "Kate and everyone kept asking me all these questions, it was a littleÖunnerving."

"Like what?" Scott asked, stealing an apple from the table.

"Kate asked me if it was true that Logan had metal claws coming out of his hands andÖwhatsherface, I canít remember asked me what kind of mutation that was and I was likeÖIím sorry Kate, wasnít that you walking through a wall?"

Storm threw her head back in laughter. "Yeah really."

"Yeah I think you would know if they were metal claws since he stabbed you through the chest," Scott said casually.

Rogue gave him a look. "Scott, donít be a prick."

"Yes, I appreciate that charming addition to your optic blasting little mind," Logan said warily.

"And then John dropped the ice that Bobby had made," Storm remembered.

Rogue rolled her eyes in memory. "I know, that was an eventful day." Rogue laughed again. "Months later when Kate then asked me if being stabbed hurt and you crashed the thunder," Rogue giggled.

"Well come on," Storm said. "No, it felt real good! What kind of a question is that? Oh, and her next one was better. Hey Rogue, but sucking his mutation fixed you? Jesus Kate sheís not a Buick."

Rogue was now laughing so hard tears were coming down her face.

"Stop it," she told Storm. "This was serious, come on, letís get serious," she told herself as well as Storm.

"You remember after Magneto no one would shut up so I gave that little speech? I told the class no asking about why he chose Rogue, no asking what it was like to have his powers, not to mention what it was like to be in the Liberty torch, no asking why you now had white streaks in your hair, no asking why Logan saved you, no asking if sheís sorry he did because of how close she came to killing, no asking if he was going to be okay and if you felt guilty, no asking if he only did it because he stabbed her and NO asking how she had enough power to wipe out New York City now leave her ALONE!"

Rogue laughed so hard at the memory it was a silent laugh, her face now all red.

"Would you STOP making me laugh so hard?" she pleaded out of breath.

"Yeah I flew Logan up to the damn thing, he clawed it and sheís left with a stylish new streaked hair."

"Okay!" Rogue said as everyone else in the room held smiles at their memorable stories. "Storm, now youíre making me sick to my stomach, stop."

Storm put her arm around Rogue. "You were always an X-Men, Iím so glad I donít have to stand in front of you and teach you like I know what the hell Iím talking about."

"God, so am I," Rogue replied and Storm gave a playful wack to her arm.

Scott hopped off the table he was sitting on.

"Thank God for Rogue, you made Storm so much more open and easy going."

"Too bad Iím still working on you," Rogue said, smiling at Jean.

"Oh please, just tell me, would you like me to read your mind now, later, and where?" Jean replied.

Rogue originally thought she wouldíve liked to have been alone, but the four people around her she loved and trusted so much, she realized she wanted them to be there for her.

"IídÖlike you all to stay with me unless it makes anyone else uncomfortable."

"Are you sure?" Logan said, a hint of nervousness in his voice Rogue missed.

Jean was already raising her hands to either side of Rogueís head.

"Try and relax-"

"Jean," Rogue smiled. "I know that part."

It was only two seconds after Rogue spoke those words that she realized why Logan had said that. Theyíd been together last night, Jean would know! Pushing Jeanís hands away harshly, she looked up into Jeanís brown eyes.

"No!" she said. Then, she regretted having been so harsh but the thought of Jean knowingÖJean of all people, wouldíve made Magneto sucking the life out of her more preferable. "Iím sorry," Rogue said immediately to Jean. "There is something I donít want you to know and IÖexcuse me."

Rogue turned and walked quickly from the room.

"What did I do to terrify her like that?" Jean asked.

Storm watched Rogue leave the room and then turned back to Jean. "Nothing," Storm said. "Jean, can you read certain things in peopleís minds without having to read anything? Can you scan?"

"What does she want to hide?" Scott asked.

"Scott, donít you own one or two thoughts that you would never want anyone else to know?"

That shut Scott up. Of course there was. What was he thinking?

"I wonít be able to read what she doesnít want me to if she is tense with some thoughts and calm about others," Jean says. "The thoughts have to be relaxed for me to be able to open them."

"Iím gonna go after her," Scott said.

"What the hell for?" Logan said.

"To ask her what sheís cooking for dinner, Logan, what do you think?"

"DonítÖdonít start," Storm said. "Scott, go on, Logan, be quiet for a minute."

Logan couldnít believe of all the luck Scott would be the one to see Rogue at a time like this. Did she regret it or feel bad about it? He hadnít exactly always been the most charming person but Rogue had always seemed to the one who didnít notice. Notice or care, one of the two. She always felt comfortable giving him the bullshit he deserved and was always unfazed by his anger and his bitterness. She could always make him say things he would regret speaking allowed, and now Scott was going to go comfort Rogue about his wife almost reading the mind of her friendís last nightís experience with a sort of X-Man team member who hasnít been around for four years?

The day couldnít get any better.


Rogue stood on the balcony, overlooking the land and the horizon. There was a slight breeze that swept her inside a little peace. With her elbows on the railing she bowed her head in her hands. Fuck. Of all people, for Jean to run into a memory of Logan sucking her boobs would NOT be a good thing. She didnít want anyone to know yet, because everyone would judge. She wasnít embarrassed or ashamed, but damn, the thought of someone reading your private thoughtsÖwhy hadnít that occurred to her before now? But then again, why was she hiding it? Like they wouldnít find out?

Scott walked up behind her, Logan watched from the door.

"You all right?" Scott said.

She turned just a little to see him.

"No, I feel like a complete idiot bitch."

"Donít. Someone reading your mind can freak you out."

She snorted in disgust with herself as she faced the horizon again. Scott moved to stand beside her, looking where she looked.

"Was there something specific you didnít want her to know?"

"I donít know, I guess something popped into my head that I didnít want anyone to know and I freaked."

"Something youíre ashamed of?"

"No," she said easily. "Just something Iím not up for sharing at this time."

"Well, she says that if youíre tense with some thoughts those are the ones she canít read."

"I have to apologize to her, Iíve just felt so invaded by all this crap that Iím very easily agitated. Jean touched me when I was in my coma so I could talk to her, and sheís still with me. Inside my mind. And I know she feels nervous and a little guilty. For nothing. I wanna tell her Iím sorry," Rogue said, turning around.

Scott reached forward to cup her face and she gasped, her hand grabbing his. Then she smiled.

"Sorry," she said softly. "Guess Iím still not used to it."

His thumbs caressed her soft cheeks as Rogueís big brown eyes smiled at him. Logan rolled his eyes. Jesus McFuck, is he necessary? Releasing her, Rogueís eyes widened and she grabbed the railing.

"ScottÖ" she said.

Reaching for her, cupping her waist with worry he said, "Marie, whatís wrong?"

"IÖdonít know, IímÖreally weak-"

Already reaching to pick her up she fought him.

"Scott, donít go nuts, itís probably nothing, listen to me-"

"Donít fight with me, Marie."

"I donít have the energy to fight you," she said breathlessly.

"Then youíre really in need of a doctor," he said, throwing her up into his arms.

"Scott," she whispered, her heeled feet hanging over his arm. "Thank you," she said.

Logan watched Scott take Rogue in his arms inside through the end door instead of the door he was by. He had this overwhelming sense of jealousy and anger. He wasnít needed. She didnít need him, while heíd been gone sheíd been here, become an X-Man, all these people loved her and would give their lives for her. She was strong and on her own and loving it. She had all these people and he hadÖher. In some strange way. She had welcomed him back, her eyes had connected. Sure it was a different world for her now, she wasnít a little girl who needed to hitchhike with himÖbut she still held him and put up with all his crap.


Chapter 11

Jean came in the room instantly and saw Scott carrying Rogue.

"Oh my God, what happened, put her down here," Jean said, getting a bed ready.

"Iím dizzy and weak, thatís all," Rogue said, trying to make it light.

"You nearly died, you donít get to be dizzy and weak without being cautious," Jean said, taking Rogueís pulse.

Professor Xavier came in.

"She all right?" he asked, wheeling over beside her.

"Iím conscious," Rogue said, reaching for his hand.

Charles instantly held the young womanís hand. "Marie, Ericís intentions were good, he was not blocking my ability when I found him beside you."

"Where is he now?" she asked.

"Iíve traced him, he is still in the prison, but I know he has his connections. I am working hard to follow all his visitors and their actions."

Rogue nodded and concentrated on her breathing.

"What are you feeling?" Scott said.

"DizzyÖfaint."

"Well," Jean said. "You appear fine, your blood pressureís a little low, have you eaten?"

Rogue hadnít even realized that she hadnít eaten at all.

"No, nothing."

"Well, then your blood sugarís low causing the weakness and fatigue. Marie, you nearly died, eating would be a way to regenerate."

Rogue giggled. "All right, donít scold me, help me up and Iíll eat something."

Scott helped Rogue off the bed and walked beside her to the kitchen. Logan and Storm were in there.

"Marie," Logan said, which stunned her. "I figured youíd be in here next. Storm is whipping something up."

"How the hell did you both know?" Scott said.

"He told me," Storm said. "Marie, sit down. Youíre tired."

She sat Rogue down in a chair. Rogueís eyes were having a little difficulty focusing but she would be all right. Jean and Xavier came in. Rogue really wanted Jean to read her mind and tell her what she was having trouble remembering.

"Jean," Rogue said reaching out a hand for her. "Sit down across from me."

Jean took her hand and sat down. "MarieÖdammit, Scott, would you bring her some orange juice or some drink that will give her vitamins?"

"Yeah."

Logan put a plate of food in front of Rogue.

"Eat."

She saluted him. "Yes sir."

She had barely eaten two bites before she started talking again.

"Jean, Iím sorry I ran out like that. I still want you to read my mind I just-"

"Shh, I know. No one wants their every thought read, I will not search for thoughts you resist me to. You have that power. Thatís why you have to relax for me to be able to see anything."

"Okay, then please read my mind."

"Eat first," Jean said.

"Why do you want to remember this so much?" Scott asked.

"The girl," Xavier said. "You want to help the girl."

Rogue turned to him and nodded. "Yeah, how could I not?"

"She reached you," Xavier said.

"What girl?" Scott asked.

"The girl that returned Rogue to us."

"Come again?" Scott said.

Tears sprang to Rogueís eyes as she covered her mouth with her hand.

"Give her some time, Scott," Jean said. "Marie, you got a letter from Bobbyís sister, she is still just as crazy as usual."

Rogue smiled. "Whatíd she say this time?"

"She wanted to let you know that should you want to have a baby she would carry it until term for you so you wouldnít kill it," Jean said.

Rogue gave the most incredulous face, then couldnít help but laugh.

"Where does she come up with this stuff?" Rogue laughed.

"I have no idea. She loves you she justÖ"

"Is weird!"

They laughed again. Rogue ate everything they gave her until she couldnít eat anymore. She hadnít realized it had been weeks since she had physically eaten. She wasnít particularly hungry but wasnít about to say no to the doctor. She wanted to talk to Logan, she watched him carefully and he was uneasy, distant. Why did he always close himself up? She had to work so hard to get him to talk, he wouldnít talk very much with her if there was anyone else in the room though. She wondered a lot of things, and knew he was wondering about her. He was acting so damn weird if he didnít cool it they were gonna know something was up. She tried to help.

"Logan, what are you so bitchy about?" she asked with a smile.

"I am not bitchy, thank you very much," he said, pulling up a chair.

"Surreeeeeee," Scott replied.

Rogue just smiled. "You know, you two have such a grudging respect for each other you both make me laugh."

"Oh please," Scott said, sitting down beside her. "You, just, shut up and eat."

"God, Iíve thought that forever, I just never had the guts to say it," Storm said.

"All right, look, will you eat?" Scott said, taking the fork and beginning to spoon-feed her.

"Scott, donít, get that thing away from me."

"You have to eat-"

"Well if all of you would SHUT up I might have a chance."

"Why donít we clear out a little," Xavier said.

"Well, call me crazy Xavier but sheís not staying alone for awhile," Logan said.

And in two seconds flat they had arranged it all for her. She would always be their baby. They loved her but from the first time theyíd all been together, she was the one they had to come and rescue. It was sweet but sometimes it just stunned her. They all kissed her cheeks for the first time, she felt like a pampered princess.

"Hey Rogue!" Danny said, coming into the room. "Whatís up? I hear you can be touched?" he said giving her a hard kiss on the head as she rolled her eyes.

"Dammit, Danny, go away," she mumbled.

There were smiles on Jean and Stormís face. Loganís was purely a "who the fuck is this" look.

"Whatís wrong, baby?" he said sitting down.

"Danny, I realize itís a difficult concept for a bitch magnet such as yourself to grasp this, but did anything revolving around the idea of donít try to piss me off IMMEDIATELY ever come to mind?"

Scott couldnít help but laugh.

"All right, could everyone just get out, please?" Rogue said.

"Yes maíam," Storm said. "Men, please come with me," she said.

Danny, Scott and Logan left the room with Storm, but only because she practically pushed them out. Rogue was alone now with Jean.

"Do you think Iím okay for the long term?" Rogue asked Jean.

"I canít see any signs of any kind that you wouldnít be. But I will take care of you, Marie."

Rogue smiled warily. "I know, I love you all so much but I donít want to be taken care of."

Jeanís beautiful face nodded. "I know. I know youíre capable, but from a medical standpoint, I have to watch for signs."

Taking another bite of the food, Rogue giggled. "You know itís a two way street now, since you touched me. Youíre inside my head now. And I know what youíre wondering-"

"Itís none of my business," Jean said, reading the thought Rogue was thinking. "Please, donít explain anything."

Rogue could tell Jean didnít know she and Logan had spent the night together, only that they had gotten closer. Rogue was content to let her continue thinking that.

"Iím sure Logan still cares about you," Rogue said softly.

"I love Scott," Jean said firmly.

"I know you do," Rogue said. "Thatís why I can talk to you truthfully. I would never be discussing this if I thought there was any chance you would break Scottís heart. Because I can tell you I would snatch him up in a heartbeat."

Jean exhaled a laugh with Rogue. "And Iím sure you would be someone he could-"

"Jean, he thinks Iím still his baby. You all still think Iím the baby."

"You werenít the baby when he picked you up in his arms, the way you looked at him-"

"What way?" Rogue said.

"Itís okay," Jean said smiling. "I know you didnít mean to look at him the way you did. But stay away from him other than friendship," she teased.

"Deal."

"Marie are you stillÖin love with Logan?"

Marieís eyes shot up to look at Jeanís. "Still?" she said incredulously. "I didnít know I was. However I appreciate you telling him how taken I was with him after he saved my life the last time."

Jeanís face went white.

"You touched me," Rogue said, answering the unspoken question. "I know things now. With every person who has touched me."

"IÖdidnít mean-"

"I know," Rogue said. "And I know that you really are a good girl and that Logan had a side of him that could allow you to be a bad girl. Thatís okay, itís totally normal. But you really thought I was in love with Logan? I mean I figured you assumed I had a crush on him-"

"You didnít make it that obvious, he was the one that couldnít let you out of his sight for more than five minutes," Jean remembered. "But you were pretty much the one who could really speak to him and make him listen."

"Oh, sure," Rogue said.

"Youíre also the only person that could be stabbed by him and have no reservations about trust with him."

"We do have a lot of trust. I donít know, I was just never bothered by his tendency to be a pain in the ass," Rogue laughed.

Jean laughed with her. "I read his mind once and I saw what they did to him. It terrified me. So forgive me for being a little nervous to see what they did to you. I love you."

"I love you too. But I have to know what they did to me, and what Magneto did. And who she was, the girl that saved me."

"Marie-"

"Donít! Donít, listen to me, I have to know. I will not live my life on a what if."

She closed her eyes and tears slipped from beneath them. Jean reached forward and wiped them away with her elegant fingers. Rogueís eyes opened and filled with love as she looked at Jean.

"Well now you and Logan have something more in common. He wonít stop till he finds out either. But of course I will help you. I would do anything."


Chapter 12

Two Hours Later

"Your blood pressureís slightly elevated."

"I wonder why," Rogue smiled.

"I need you to relax if you want me to read your mind, you know that."

Rogue took a deep breath. "All right."

Jean closed her eyes and locked her hands around the air surrounding Rogueís mind.


<<"Donít, donít you die, dammit, help me!" the woman said. "Sheís going into cardiac arrest! Get over here!"

She felt the stiff jerk of the shock against her heart, forcing it to beat.

"Donít you die! Stay with me, here, stay with me!">>


<<"What the hell was in that drug? It was NOT supposed to hurt her, what the fuck was in it?"

"Itís going to take a few times to get it right-"

"Right? Is that what you think you even came close to accomplishing? You nearly killed her, you have a goddamn long way of going!"

"Youíre the one that picked her and you knew there could be consequences-"

"Donít you double talk me you son of a bitch. I picked her because there wasnít a whole lot of options. Now I will save my daughter and your life depends on your finding the right drug for her. Now Iím going to examine her and your drug and you had better pray that your next attempt on her is a helluva lot more successful!"

"You know though that you may kill her in the process. Thatís of course why you abducted her."

"Well as long as we figure it out, finding the answer, thatís all I care about."

"What are you doing now?"

"Sheís semi-conscious.">>


<<"And just to give you a small piece of what youíve been without," he said, pulling her glove from her and grasping her bare hand in his.

She gasped in fear but nothing happened. He smiled cruelly at her.

"If you could gain this ability back, how far would you not go to gain it?" he said.

Shivers coursed through her at the way he said that, and she pulled her hand free. She stood up to leave.

"You will be the one lost if you do not see what I am saying is true, that what Iím trying to do is protect our brothers and sisters-"

"Oh enough with your saving the day crap," she said, wiping a tear from her face. "You preach about all the good you can create but what you really want is control. You want to eliminate them just like they want to eliminate you-"

"We are the future! They wonít exist much longer but they can stop us from existing!"

She shook her head. "No. You wonít exist, we will."

He slowly stood up, looking down on her like she was that little girl heíd nearly killed. Her strength cracked as her eyes widened in fear. He reached forward and cupped her face. The guard was watching intensely now. Rubbing his thumbs paternally over her cheeks, tears fell over his hands.

"You know you were so much sweeter as a little girl," he said and kissed her forehead.

Feeling a touch, even of a man she hated, brought her heart leaping up into her chest and she felt a chill of reality. She wasnít non-existent, someone in the world could touch her. His eyes stared proudly down at her, knowing exactly what he was doing to her. She pushed him away from her angrily. "Stop it!" she hissed.>>


<<"You ever killed anybody?" the girl asked.

"No. But I hurt someone."

"Who?"

She felt so drugged she barely cared what she said. "The first boy I ever kissed."

"That had to suck, my God, how humiliating. Iím so sorry. Well, just to make sure you know youíre not alone, I killed my father."

"How?"

"I touched him. And when he started toÖI cupped his face begging him to tell me whatís wrong. I didnít know it was me, so I held his hand tightly as my mother called an ambulance."

"Iím sorry."

"It took me until I touched my best friend to begin to realize. Sheís stillÖstill alive but only by the respirator.">>


Jean took her hands away. She exhaled.

"Did you see anything?" Rogue asked.

"Oh yes. Marie Iím so sorry."

"W-what?"

"Magneto. Heís obviously had whatever it is he gave to you for a while, and found a way to use it so he could touch you in the prison. Just to hurt you."

"You see anything else?"

"What they did you to."

"And?"

"The scanned your entire body and experimented with various vaccinations and light treatments and skin samples that were inserted into you."

Rogue sat up. "Yeah but who? Who was it? Where was it? Did you see me in the car? Did you see the girl?"

"Yes, I did. I canít determine how long it was though, how long you were in the car, I can only read your mind, not hers. I can ask the Professor to attempt to use Cerembro, but heíd have to read your mind first to see her."

"No," Rogue said, hopping off the couch sheíd been lying on.

She put on her leather jacket and her boots and rolled her fingers through her hair.

"Iím not gonna do this," Rogue said, shaking her head. "Iím not going to search for answers in a place I may never find them. Iím going to the source."

"Marie, wait!" Jean said chasing her.

"No, Iím so tired of this-" she bumped into Storm in the middle of that sentence.

"Did it work?" Storm said.

"How can I tell?" Rogue said, pushing Storm out of the way.

"Wait, what are you doing?"

"To Magneto-"

"No youíre not!" Logan said, catching her and holding her shoulders tightly.

"Get your hands off me, Logan, get out of my way," she said shrugging herself free of his grip.

"Rogue-"

"Donít!" she said turning around, fierce determination in her eyes. "Donít say anything, donít try to stop me, donít try to warn me. Magneto doesnít get to fuck with me and then not tell me why. He almost kills me then four years later saves me? How did he get here? How did he get put back in prison? Why me? There is a far more larger goal to everything he does than you think."

She exhaled and looked at them all for a second, then she turned and left.

"Well how you gonna get there?" Storm asked.

"Iím gonna fly!" Rogue said slamming the door.

"Good," Storm said. "Then I can go with her. Iíll be with her. Pardon the momentary wind Iíll create," Storm said, rushing after her.

All were quiet for a minute. Then Logan finally found the words to speak.

"Did she just say she could fly?"

"She didnít tell you?" Jean asked.

"When the hell did that happen?"

"She absorbed another womanís powersÖpermanently. Thatís why she was able to survive, she absorbed some super-human strength of her own."

"AndÖyou were gonna tell me when?"

Scott smiled. "Well come on Logan, did you think she could be an X-Men without having some powers? The Professor had been hoping to train her to control her skin, but it wasnít successful."

"How did I miss all this?" Logan thought, aloud.

"Kinda happens when youíre not around," Scott said, smacking Logan on the back.

"ScottÖ" Jean said but he already left the room. She looked at Logan. "Let her be. She has powers similar to Sabretooth, she is very strong now. Let her go alone."

Jean went to follow Scott.

"What the hell am I supposed to do in the mean time?"

"Clean your room!" she said back to him.


Three Hours Later

After an exhausting attempt to keep up, Rogue finally landed, her boots lightly hitting the ground. She hadnít used her cape this time but that sure as hell didnít appear to matter. Storm landed behind her, bumping into her.

"Damn, what a rush."

"Storm-"

"Donít, donít honey. Iím going to wait out here for you. Go ahead."


"All right Magneto, whyíd you do it?" Rogue said, slamming her hands on the table in front of him.

"I see your thriving again-"

"Cut the crap, give me my answer because I sure as hell donít need to say thank you until I know what price I am to fulfill."

Her eyes blazed and her hair fell far below her shoulders. She was beautiful, completely grown up and ready to face him.

"Why do you expect thereís a price to pay-"

"Because you coming to my rescue out of the goodness of your heart is crap, so tell me the real reason, and donít waste my time. Who were they?"

"Who?" he said smugly.

"Did I ever tell you I accumulated some new powers or did you already know that by having some thugs follow or investigate me?"

"What you obtained from Ms. Marvel? Yes I heard."

She smiled cruelly. "Good," she said, taking his hand and twisting it to the breaking point. His face flashed with pain. "So why donít you tell me, before Iím arrested for injuring a prisoner?"

"They took you to experiment on you-"

"I know WHY, I donít know who!"

"Do you want to seek revenge? They were only trying to fulfill your lifelong wish."

"Iíll ask the goddamn questions, Eric, tell me who they were."

He said nothing and she realized he didnít know. She threw his hand away from hers angrily.

"Okay you donít know, but you do know what you gave to me. What was it? I need more of it."

"Did it not work?"

"I need more of it," she said again. "What was it? What does it do?"

"Gives you your life back and finished the project they were so close to obtaining. They were missing an important ingredient to reverse the action. That was all the vaccination gave you. Your newfound strength pulled you the rest of the way. I corrected the one ingredient they had backwards."

"Where did you get it?"

He said nothing.

"Fine, then give me another dose."

"Now that may take some negotiating-"

"Really?" she said walking over to him, tightening her hands around his neck. "If you donít help this mutant, you will never live to help the rest of us live."

She cut off his circulation until he struggled to speak. She loosened her grip slightly.

"Paper," he said.

"Oh, you gonna write it down? Good."

She pulled a piece of scrap paper from her pocket.

"Write it."

He wrote something for her, it looked like directions.

"You leading me to it?"

"Yes. Go there, youíll find it there."

She wanted to say thank you but didnít. Leaning down face to face with him, she spoke.

"Why? Why did you help me?"

His eyes narrowed a little. "I like you. I always liked you."

What made her want to throw up was that he meant it. She gave him a look and left.


Chapter 13

Three Days Later

The X-Men were a team again, acting as one for the goal Rogue so desperately sought. She was first, Storm and Scott beside her, Logan and Jean behind. They walked together through the woods, not speaking at all, until someone from came from the trees, heading directly for Rogue. Rogue wore her body suit but Jean wasnít about to take any chances.

Jean stopped him. She held him still, in the air where he wouldíve just landed from his leap.

"DonítÖtouch her," she told the mutant.

Then with her mind she threw him back into the distance.

"Damn youíre good," Rogue said to Jean with a smile.

"Thank you, youíre not so bad yourself."

"Who the hell was that?" Logan asked as they continued to walk.

"Does it matter?" Jean asked. "We havenít met every mutant in every project around the world, Logan."

"But he obviously knew Rogue," Storm said.

"Maybe he knows what Iím after," Rogue replied.

The freezing air made no difference to Rogue and her determination, though her cape flapping around was beginning to get to her. It was in unison with Stormís. The next step Rogue took was on ice and it cracked as she fell through, screaming as her body shot into cold water.

"Rogue!" Storm said, rushing to her, reaching for her hand.

Scott and Storm each hand one of her hands but couldnít for some reason pull her out.

"Oh my God," Rogue said as they struggled. "Itís frozen around me, I canít move."

"It canít freeze around you that fastóoh shit," Scott said. "Jean can you move the ice from her and bring her out."

Jean tried, cracking the ice as Rogue screamed as it froze again immediately around her. She was chattering by this point as her lips turned blue.

"Rogue, hold on," Scott said, standing up and aiming his visor at the ice.

Though it cracked, it formed immediately again around Rogue.

"Do it again," Jean told Scott, and Iíll try to move her before it reforms.

"Logan, help me pull her," Storm said and Logan was holding Rogue in an instant.

Scott fired the optic blasts and Jean did her very best to move Rogue, just barely succeeding.

"Sheís further out, do it again!" Storm said. "Itís forming too quickly for this ice to be just normal ice!"

Logan bent down, cupping her face in his hands to hold her. And of course he couldnít fucking revive her, all he could do was hold her head up.

"Wolverine, smell anything," Scott asked.

"Yeah, ice," he retorted.

Rogueís eyes opened and she cringed in pain.

"Rogue, Rogue, stay with me," Logan said. Storm took her hands.

"It hurts," she whispered.

"Here," Storm said, rubbing her hands against Rogueís. "Can you feel me?"

"AÖlittle," she said, closing her eyes and shrieking in pain.

Scott broke the ice and Jean joined in to pull her out, setting her down.

"Rogue!" Scott said, reaching her.

Jean bent down and took her pulse.

"Shit, itís weak."

Scott pulled Rogue into his arms, holding her in hope of body heat. But then a sheet of ice formed completely around Rogue.

"Oh my God, whoís doing this?" Jean said.

"Shoot it," Storm said.

"Iíll kill her," Scott said.

"And how long inside ice do you think itíll be?" Logan demanded.

"Someoneís here!" Storm said.

"Robert! Come here."

Bobby came running towards them. He kneeled beside Rogue.

"Christ, what happened?"

"It keeps forming on her, someone else has your abilities," Jean said. "Warm her, please, please Bobby."

"All right," he said, pulling Rogueís face and body against hers.

They watched as he melted it off of her, the water seeping from her body. He didnít stop then, he warmed her until she could open her eyes. When she did, she gasped for air and coughed out water.

"Itís okay," Jean said, smacking her back to help her coughing. "Youíre okay, breathe."

She sucked in a strained breath. "Oh J-jesus."

"Will they freeze her again?" Logan asked.

"No, they wonít," Storm said, standing up.

They looked where she looked and saw a figure of a woman.

"Iím cold," Rogue said again as the ice began to form.

"Okay, come here," Bobby said, sitting down and pulling Rogue against his chest, holding here as she felt her back warm up against his chest.

"Donít let me go," she chatted.

"I wonít, Iíll keep you warm."

Jean held the woman still as Stormís anger overpowered her judgment. Her eyes turned white and she electrocuted that woman beyond repair, blowing her away. Rogue was still breathing heavily.

"Okay, okay it stopped," she said weakly.

Bobby ran his hands over her face, which Logan noticed fully.

"You all right?" Bobby asked her, his hands brushing her wet hair from her mouth.

"Couldnít breathe," she exhaled.

"What are you doing here?" he asked her, turning her and holding her face in his hands.

"What are you doing here?" Jean said, checking Rogue over a little.

"I live not to far from here and someone was blown to my feet. So I walked a little ways and heard screaming. Thank God, Rogue," he said, kissing her forehead.

She could still barely move but nodded gracefully. Logan was royally pissed. He couldnít save her any longer and all of a sudden curly-haired Iceman could? If he could get his fucking hands off her maybe Rogue could breathe better.

"Okay, we need to go back," Jean said, seeing Rogue still slightly weakened.

"NO!" Rogue said. "No, let me heal, I will. But Iím not leaving here until I get what Iíve come for."

"What are you looking for?" Bobby asked.

Now fully recovered, Rogue pulled out the piece of paper Magneto had given her.

"Bobby, where is this place?"

His eyes showed only disappointment. "RogueÖthis address was bombed four days ago, killing everyone there."

"By whom?" Rogue demanded.

"Who knows? The government, enemies of this organization. Iím sorry. What was there that you needed?"

Rogue exhaled. "Answers. Where is it though? Or where was it?"

"Half a mile east of here."

Rogue stood up and began to lift off, but Logan grabbed her cape.

"Whoa, what are you doing?"

"Iím going there, let go of me."

"Put your feet on the ground and wait for us."

"No," she said, only slightly above him. "Go back, this has obviously been a mistake, I donít want you all caught in the middle, Iíll go myself."

"Have you noticed a couple strangers have tried to kill you?" Logan said, grabbing her hand and pulling her back to the ground.

"Yeah, well, what else is new?"

"And donít fly, it gives me the creeps," he said.

"Marie, weíre all in on this with you," Storm said.

She looked at all of them. "I have gotten in trouble so many times and all of you have done everything you could to keep me alive, all you went through with Magneto, every piece you all fulfilled to save my life, I get a little tired of asking. Please just go back."

"What do you expect to find there, everythingís destroyed?"

"I wanna know if she was there."

"Who?" Scott asked.

"The girl," Jean said. "The girl that saved Marie and brought her back."

"Everyone was destroyed-"

"Bobby! Donít, she could have survived. And Iím going to find her," Rogue said, and before anyone could say another world she flew away.

"She is so stubborn," Logan said.

"Yep," Scott said. "I knew when you touched her there would be consequences."

"Scott, should we go after her?"

"I think so, donít you? Sheís nearly been killed several times in the last half hour. For whatever reason, people still want her dead. Iceman, did you see who the person was? Did you recognize her?"

"No, but you say she had my powers?"

"Yeah, she could freeze Rogue, you saw it."

"All right, Iíll take you to where Rogueís going."

"Whereís Logan," Storm asked.

They looked and didnít see him.

"Well my guess is he couldnít wait for us so he went after her already," Jean said.

"Can he ever get over being the hero?" Scott replied.


He saw her, bending over some woman. Her long hair nearly touching the ground and her cape covering her protectively. She looked up and saw him.

"Sheís dead."

He stepped towards her and looked at the unconscious girl. If she was dead, she hadnít been for very long.

"How do you know?"

"Because when I touched her nothing happened."

"Rogue, thatís gone from you now-"

"No, no, she didnít hurt me. Sheís dead. She had what I had. She had my skin. And I came here because this is where Magneto found what he gave me. Guess she found it too, but some bastard wanted to end whatever this place used to be."

Tears slipped down her face but she remained casual. She looked back at the body.

"Funny, I didnít even know her name. She didnít know mine. But what she told me made everything in my life different. Guess it was meant to be, we werenít successful mutants."

"Why do you say that?" he asked softly.

"Because if I had a child Iíd kill her giving birth to her," she said bluntly. "So my particular kind would never have lasted forever. The point of a mutation is to further advance yourself for protection. Believe me thereís no greater protection than killing anyone who touches you, but to propagate, you need contact."

"But you can have kids now," he pointed out.

She smiled sadly at him. "Why? Why would I do that? At best she would kill me, and at worst, she would live her whole life in her own prison. I would never do that to anyone. How cruel would I be to bring someone into the world if there was even the slightest chance she could get her motherís genes."

He didnít know what to say, and she kneeled in front of the body. Rogueís fingers caressed this womanís face. She noticed a necklace on the girl. Tipping the heart of it she read it.

"Her name was Kara," Rogue said. "Now sheís out of prison though, I bet she feels more alive there than she ever did here."

Logan closed his eyes in pain. He hated hearing her pain. Rogue reached behind the girlís neck and took off the necklace.

"She worked so hard to save me, I wanted to give her a piece of what Iíd been given. Probably some rich republican asshole bombed this place knowing mutants lived here. Iím going to keep this, wear it so that I know why Iím this lucky," she said looking at the necklace. "Because of her. She had guts. She put me before herself. And when youíre as desperate as we wereÖ" she trailed off, then sighed angrily. "Itís over now."

"RogueÖI could try to save her. It worked with you. You were dead but I brought you back, if you want I could try-"

"No," Rogue said, shaking her head. "What would she come back to? Imprisonment. No, now sheís free," Rogue smiled, fresh tears streaming from her eyes.

Jean, Scott, Storm, and Bobby came up at that point.

"Wait," Storm said softly. "Let her be, give her a minute."

They watched Rogue and Logan.

"You did all this because you wanted to help her?" Logan asked.

She looked up at him and nodded. "Yeah. She got to me, not just because she had my mutation but because of what she said and what she did. I was so drugged I could barely keep my eyes open but I heard her. Those were her clothes I was returned in. I teased her about that, in the backseat of her van as she drove me back. I looked like a groupie," she smiled. "She didnít have any food but she gave me her candy bar, hoping it would me the adrenaline high."

"Did it?"

Rogue smiled. "I donít know, I was too drugged, I passed out. Was better than beef jerky though."

Rogue placed a hand lightly over her face again.

"If you had killed me with the experimentation, I wouldíve understood. Desperation can do anything," she told Kara. "Youíre cold. Your bodies cold, youíre not. I know youíre not. Someone once told me that America was supposed to be the land of tolerance, of freedom, of peace. But it isnít, is it?"

She exhaled.

"Screw em, youíre free now. I just donít want to leave your body like this. I mean I know youíre not in it so you could care less but Iím old fashioned."

Rogue reached behind her and ripped her cape off her suit.

"I didnít have a chance to tell you I could fly, and since youíre the one way above me itís only fitting."

Rogue covered the girl with her cape.

"You donít look dead. You died pretty, trust me, itís rare," she smiled.

Standing up, Rogue faced Logan.

"Well, guess I did what I came here to do. Letís go back."

His hand reached for her face. "You sure?"

Rogue nodded a little, smiling. She still hadnít memorized what it felt like for someone else to be touching her. It was weird, she felt warmth from his hand, from his body heat. She felt the molecules travel. It felt good.

"And Iíll talk your ears off on the way home."

He put his arm around her and began to walk.

"No, you can fly home with Storm thanks."

She smacked him playfully. "You suck," she smiled.


Chapter 14

That Night
8:02 PM

"All right everybody," Rogue said, bringing out food from the kitchen. "Eat up."

She placed her very own feast before everyone else. She had artichoke dip, nachos, homemade hamburgers and hotdogs, and even homemade French fries.

"All right! FOOD!" Scott exclaimed.

"Whatís for dessert?" Bobby said.

"Shut up and eat, dessert later," Rogue said as she stole a cracker and sunk it into the dip. "This is my thank you for all of you helping me."

"Since when do you cook?" Logan asked.

"SinceÖshut up," she said prettily. "I had to learn to cook after what you fed me."

"Hey, I wasnít a train with a restaurant on the side. YouÖyou were the biggest pain in my ass."

She raised her eyebrows in surprise and smiled. "Oh I was the biggest pain in the ass?"

"Would you like to take a trip down memory lane? So first you get me into a fight-"

"ME! No, you got into a fight! I kept you from being stabbed. Bite me, Clawboy."

"Fine," he said flatly. "So then you sneak into my trailer, piss me off but still I donít ditch you like I shouldíve, then you ask me if I have anything to eat, then you tell me my place is a dump-"

She burst out laughing. "I never said that, all I said was-"

"Oh, and what was the adjective you used to describe it more pleasantly to keep me from kicking you out?"

She closed her eyes, remembering how stupid the word was.

"Cozy," she replied.

"Oh like that didnít tip me off you were full of shit," he said.

She laughed again, so hard she gripped the table for support. "Shut up," she laughed.

"And then you distract me by criticizing my driving-"

"Oh now you are WAY lying, I said put your seatbelt on-"

"I donít need a seatbelt-"

"Fine! Most normal people do, I wore one and I didnít even get knocked out. You went flying through a window, banged against a tree and flew so far I couldnít see you. And then Sabretooth came along and threw you to the hood of the car right in front of me, scaring the hell out of me-"

"And then we came to your rescue," Scott said.

"I swear to God Scott, when you blew the seat so I wasnít trapped and Storm held out her hand, I thought I had already died and this was some alternate universe. But I didnít have a lot of options since the trailer was about to blow up, so I took a leap of faith and grabbed your hand," she said to Storm.

Storm giggled. "You mean you feared me?"

"I didnít know what the hell was going on," Rogue laughed. "But the blast from Scottís eyes was a little bit terrifying since it missed me by about half an inch."

Suddenly Kate ran through the door. "Rogue!"

Rogue opened her arms just in time for Kate to run into them.

"I just heard, oh Iím so glad for you!"

Rogue wrapped her arms protectively around Kate.

"How you been sugar?" Rogue asked Kate.

"Oh, busy, crazy, but now that your skinís fine we have to go to the bar get drunk and sleep with some guys."

Rogueís eyes widened as she attempted not to smile. She made a slightly embarrassed face.

"WellÖIíllÖJesus Kate," Rogue said, shaking her head laughing. "Do you ever think before you speak?"

Kate smiled then looked and saw Logan.

"Hey! The claw-guy."

"Oh God," Rogue said, embarrassed at Kateís bluntness. "And Iím sure he enjoys that name, Kate."

"Nameís Wolverine, thank you Kate," Logan said.

She extended her hand.

"Good to meet you."

"Good to see you again, Kate," Storm said. "You were the one who never kept her mouth shut in my class," she said standing up to hug her.

"Jean," Kate said, running to her to hug her.

They all laughed and talked for a few minutes until Scott noticed Rogue was gone.

"Whereís Rogue?" he asked.

"She wasÖjust here," Storm said.

Logan wiped his mouth and stood up. "Iíll find her."

"As usual," Scott said.


Rogue was on the roof, smoking a cigarette slowly, staring into the far distance.

"Rogue?" Logan said.

She looked down.

"Would you get the hell down from there?"

She placed the cigarette in her mouth and floated down to where he was.

"Whatís wrong?" he said.

"Nothing," she said softly.

"Donít pull that with me, Rogue," he said softly. He ripped the cigarette from her lips. "Donít do that, this crap will kill you."

"Coming from the cigar smoker of all time," she replied.

She turned and faced the land. He placed his hands around her shoulders and pulled her so she rested her back against his chest.

"What are you thinking about?" he whispered, his voice soft and smooth.

"When you were gone, did you find anything?"

"Iíve told you-"

"I know, but was it the truth? Because if you havenít, youíll leave again. And I just want a heads-up before you leave."

Crossing his arms over her, holding her against him, he kissed her head.

"I have something I want you to have now," she said, turning, her hair so full and unbidden, she looked almost unreal she was so beautiful. "When I was a little girl I didnít know a whole lot about time, its importance I mean, I didnít know that everything ends or how quickly it passes or the precious moments that blow into your life and blow out. And when there was a hurricane when I was about eight andÖdestroyed, everything was destroyed. I had gotten in a fight with my best friend, who to this day I still love, and I had written him this letter of apology and didnít mail it. And when he flew through my window with the debris, dead, I learned for the first time what time was."

Rogue reached behind her neck and unclasped her necklace.

"This is something my older sister gave me to remember what time was, whether you lose it, canít remember, or are wasting it. Maybe it will help you find the time youíve lost."

The necklace had a miniature hourglass dangling on it. She placed it in his hands just the way he had placed his army tags four years ago.

"But I want it back," she said.

"Iím gonna stick around for a while," he said with a smile.

She exhaled, relieved, and pressed her forehead into his chest, placing her hands on his arms.

"I know you canít live without me," he teased, putting his arms around her. Then he turned serious. "Rogue, what else are you gonna do now that you can be touched?"

She pulled back and looked into his hazel eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"Do you want to see your parents?"

She looked shocked, angry, and hurt.

"What?"

"Do they even know youíre alive?"

Rogue closed her eyes and shook her head quickly. "I-I donít know. No I donít want to see them. I left five years ago, I donít even know if they still live where they lived. I left because he wouldnít get out of my mind and I had to get as far away from him as I could."

"Whoa, who?" Logan asked.

Tears fell from her eyes as she looked at him angrily. "The guy I kissed. When he kissed me, I didnít just take his life force, I took his mind. I could hear and feel everything. He was inside me and would not leave me alone. And when I became an X-Men I learned to cope with that. Every person Iíve touched, I have a piece of their mind. I told you that on the train. For Godís sakes I can even know what Jean thinks. Because she touched me."

She covered her eyes with both her hands.

"And itís exhausting," she sobbed. "I donít know how Xavier can stand hearing what people think, itís awful."

He took her hands from her eyes. "Rogue, thatís not what Iím talking about. Iím talking about your parents. Wouldnít you want to know that your child was okay?"

"Dammit Logan," she mumbled. "And what am I supposed to tell them? What viable reason could I have for disappearing and now showing up, grown and a mutant whoís true family is the X-Men?"

"Youíre afraid they wonít love you anymore?"

She shook her head. "No, thereís nothing I can give them other than a lousy explanation and two seconds worth of happiness before I leave again to come back here."

"All right, all right," Logan said. "But will you think about it? Just a little? Not now though."

She nodded. "Yeah." Then she raised her head and the wind blew her cape a little. "Dammit," she said.

"What?"

"Someoneís here," she said, looking over the balcony to the front of the mansion. "Come on."

Together they went downstairs and Rogue ran to the front door.

"Whatís wrong?" she said to the person, instantly.

Rogue looked at this young man, obviously sick.

"IÖdonít know, thereís a doctor for mutants here though, right?"

"Yes," Rogue said, turning to Logan. "Get Jean."

Logan obeyed.

"Sugar, can you walk?" Rogue said, reaching to help the guy walk.

"Yes, I think so."


Once placing him on a gurney, Rogue helped Jean get everything setup.

"EKG and EEG," Jean said.

"I know," Rogue said.

Storm was getting the wires hooked up as Jean took the guyís heart rate. The guy grabbed Rogueís hand and she gasped. He looked at her with desperation.

"Itís youÖMarie."

All eyes turned to the man. They saw Rogueís uncomfortable face.

"No," she said, trying to pull her hand free. "No, Iím sorry, youíve mistaken me with someone else."

The man shook his head. "NoÖyou left but itís still you. You left before I could tell you."

Rogue couldnít stand his hand imprisoning her wrist.

"Please let me go, please let my hand go," she shivered, getting more desperate.

"Marie, you werenít the-"

"Let GO!" she said, breaking free so hard she fell to the ground and hit her head.

"Rogue!" Jean called.

Logan kneeled and gathered her up in his arms. She had tears streaming down her face.

"Rogue, you all right?" Logan said, holding her face.

"Just get me out of here," she whispered.

"All right," he said pulling her off the floor. "Come on," he said helping her from the room.

After they left, Storm looked at Jean. The man had passed out.

"How could he hold her hand like that? With her powers of strength?" Storm asked Jean.

"I donít know yet."


Logan took Rogue to the veranda on the roof at the center of the mansion.

"Thank you," she said, taking a deep breath. "Iím sorry that guy just gave me the creeps."

She rested her elbows against the railing, overlooking the grounds. Logan, totally confused by what he had just seen, walked over to Rogue, grabbed her arm and turned her around.

"Rogue, what just happened?"

"What do you mean?" she said, trying to act clueless.

"Who was that guy?"

"I donít know," she said, lying badly.

"Well he seemed to know you."

"So he knew my first name, for all I know he read about me as being an X-Man."

She was so dodging the question.

"Rogue, try and tell me the truth because you suck at lying. Have you ever seen that guy before?"

She closed her eyes in thought. "He seems familiar but I donít know who he is."

"What about him scared you?"

"His gripÖhis grip on my hand. For a few years now Iíve had superhuman strength, but his grip was too much for me."

"Why did him holding your hand freak you out?"

She shook her head slowly. "I donít knowÖmaybe when I know what his mutation is Iíll understand."

Rogueís eyes then darkened, and she locked the door that allowed anyone onto this veranda. She turned to Logan and pushed him up against a wall, kissing him swiftly, barely giving him any choice in responding or not.

"Make love to me, Logan," she said, engulfing his lips with hers, removing her jacket and her shirt in a fluid motion.

Seeing his surprised eyes lock with hers, she kissed him softly on the lips as she slipped her hands underneath his denim jacket. Continuing the final buttons of his shirt she peeled it off of his beautiful chest, stroking her hands along his shoulders, arms, and down his torso. Though surprised, Logan wasnít about to turn away from this. Knowing he was responding she lifted her head up to his, kissing him urgently, crashing into him, meeting his passion and giving him all of hers until the kisses had to slow and deepen.

"I want you, Logan," she said, sliding her hand downward, inch-by-inch down his torso, over his nipples and down the lean muscles of his stomach.

As her hand crept lower she slowed down, then slipped down as she caressed him through his pants for a moment. Sliding down to her knees, she unbuckled his belt easily, and began unzipping his fly. Loganís mouth hung open and he didnít know whether it was from shock or arousal.

Immediately, she took him into her mouth and he jerked in surprise. Rogue used her hands to press his torso against the wall, keeping him there. Removing her mouth to his disappointment, and starting at the base, she licked all the way up, making slow, lazy circles around him before taking just the tip of him into her mouth, suckling very lightly. Attempting both to stop her and urge her to take all of him in her mouth, she remained holding him, sucking him, licking him, taking a little more of him in at a time. With her suction increasing she raised her hands to his back, running her hands along the beautiful skin, moving to the front, stroking his thighs with her nails and fingertips, and just when he gasped and tensed near climax, she slithered her way up his body, kissing and gliding her hands along his torso as she went, then she met his mouth and an electric jolt coursed through him as she leaned her body against his, feeling him hard against her.

"Now, Logan," she whispered hotly in his ear as her fingers caressed his hair.

Clutching his hands to her shoulders, he unclasped her bra immediately and took an already hardened nipple into his mouth. Throwing her head back in abandon she aligned her body into the contours of his, clinging to him as he opened and closed his mouth over her nipple, she cupped the back of his head for support and cried out his name.

"Make love to me now," she whispered before trailing her tongue in small, tantalizing circles along his neck.

Tracing his hands down her waist and hips, he found the bottom of her skirt and slid his hands up her thighs, bringing the skirt up as well. Rogue stepped out of her heels and urged Logan on as she cascaded her mouth against his. Slipping a hand beneath her underwear, Logan felt her lush skin before peeling the unnecessary fabric down. With her skirt still on, but peeled up, Rogue pulled her hair out of the twist it had been in, and lowered herself to the ground, dragging him with her.

Logan looked down at her not only wanting, but determined face, and placed his fingers in Rogueís mouth. Forcing them between her lips and demanding she respond, she massaged them with her tongue, licking them and taking them into her mouth the same way she took him into her body. Never releasing his fingers she sucked the flesh as she encased herself harder around him with each aching thrust. Rogue sat up completely as they began obtaining their simultaneous release, Rogue captured his mouth with hers, swallowing each otherís cries of ecstasy to keep anyone in the household from hearing too much.


Chapter 15

It wasnít as if she had behaved like a whore, Logan is gorgeous thank you very much, and she wanted him. He certainly hadnít refused either. But afterwardsÖafterwards she felt like sheíd been cured of some disease instead of having great sex. What had happened that had instantly given her this need for sex at that particular moment? And she wasnít stupid either, she knew Logan with fifteen years of nothing to do, that heíd probably had sex with half the worldís population. She wasnít naïve in thinking that if she fucked his eyeballs out enough heíd stick around, so to speak, and she wouldnít even want to do that, should it work. She knew who he was, sheíd always known and sheíd always cared about him anyway.

He was her best friend, someone she trusted more than anyone else and someone she knew better than anyone else. He was never going to stop until he found the answers about who he is and that is completely his prerogative. Of course he would want to search for his life, the only problem in her mind was that he was so busy in search of his life he wasnít making a life with what he has now. For fifteen years all heís done is search for the past. When he couldíve been having a life instead of looking for one.

God when she was with him though she felt safe. Now she was embarrassed as hell but didnít want to let him know that either. At worst, she just wanted sex, and men admit that all the time, did she need to follow societyís double standard that if a man wants sex itís normal but if a woman does sheís a slut? Of course not. It had just been the situation, she still felt weird about it.

Rogue went downstairs and found Jean.

"Howís he doing?" she asked.

"Mike? Heís going to be fine."

"Whatís wrong with him?"

"He was extremely anemic, but heís going to be fine." Jean stood up and guided Rogue to a corner. "Marie, what happened between you and he last night? You brought him in and then you panicked, why?"

"Jean I donít know exactly. He is familiar to me, I couldíve known him, but when he touched me-"

"Something about when he touched you? Did you feel anything unusual?" Jean asked with a little fear in her voice.

Rogue licked her lips. "Do you know what his mutation is yet?"

"Well often mutants have more than one, if he could successfully hold onto you then he must have some abnormal strength, like you do. Or something similar. Iím not sure he knows his mutation, it still may be forming."

"What do you mean? Heís not a teenager."

"Rarely but it happens, mutations begin at puberty but are not fully accumulated until many years later. I am still learning, though I am much better than four years ago."

Rogue smiled at Jean, proud of her. "Yes I know. I know you could take Magnetoís powers of controlling metal for a run. But you donít only control metal."

"Thanks. Iíll never have the psychic ability that Xavier does, but I have some. Would you like to see him?"

Rogue shook her head. "But his name is Mike?"

"Yeah, does that ring a bell?"

"Not really. When will he be up and about?"

"This afternoon probably."

"All right, thanks."

Rogue then went over to Charles Xavier.

"Morning," she said, kissing him on the forehead. "How are you this morning?"

He reached for her hand and smiled. "I am fine, Rogue, and yourself?"

He knew about her and Logan, he was different than Jean in that he could hear thoughts without intentionally reading oneís mind. But he would never tell her, her wish to keep it a secret was her right.

"Could be better," she said, pouring herself some orange juice. "Didnít sleep well last night."

"Something about Mike?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I donít know why he gives me the creeps."

"Well donít force it, some things are less pleasant than others and thereís no rush to discover it."

Rogue smiled and sat down across from him. Scott came in, leaned down and gave Rogue a kiss.

"Morning sugar," she smiled then looked back at Xavier. "So, was Scott good as a young boy?" she teased.

"Oh yes," Xavier smiled, drinking his tea.

"Why are you wearing your gloves," Scott asked.

Rogue looked at her hands. "Oh, geez, I didnít even realize. Iíve only been this way for a week, I donít always remember."

They heard a clap of hands as Storm came in the room. "Hey, howís everybody?"

Logan came with Jean and Storm. While Rogue wasnít paying attention, Jean began to remove Rogueís gloves from her hands with her mind.

"Hey hey HEY!" Rogue laughed. "Bitch, donít do that," she laughed. "Youíll scare the hell out of me."

"Okay well, if any of you had plans with Marie today youíll have to change them because sheís mine today. Marie, get your cape, weíre going to lunch," Storm announced.

"We are?" she asked.

"Yeah, I havenít gotten you all to myself for awhile, letís go."

"Now?"

"No time like the present."


"Youíre not eating much," Storm noticed.

"Iím sorry, Iíve just got a lot going on in my head right now," Rogue replied.

Storm called a waiter over. "Two cosmopolitans, please."

"What are you doing?" Rogue asked.

"Iím getting you drunk, what does it look like?"

Rogue smiled. "If I tell you something, will you keep it between us?"

"Yes, I can tell youíre about to explode so let it out."

"I slept with Logan," Rogue said flat out.

Storm held her fork right in front of her mouth, staring at Rogue, then lowering the fork she turned around.

"Hey sir, could you make that a martini without olives? They take up too much room."

Then she turned back to Rogue with her mouth half open.

"Okay, Storm? How many fingers do you see?" Rogue said, flipping her the bird.

Storm laughed. "All right, slut, how was it?"

Rogue rolled her eyes and took a bit of food.

"It wasnít good?" Storm asked in response to Rogueís silence.

"No, Storm, it was fine. It wasÖsurreal."

"Surreal? Why?"

"It was the night I could be touched. It was the night I woke up. I donít remember being sick, I went upstairs, took a long shower, did myself up since there was absolutely nothing to do since you all were asleep, and as I read a magazine, I heard Logan. He was having another bad dream. And I went to wake him up."

"Did you stand back?" Storm asked.

"Yes! Shut up, yes I did. And I didnít know anything was different. He woke up and hugged me, I tried to push him away but nothing happened. And then next thing I know all of you are holding me."

The drinks arrived. "All right, thank you very much but itís the sex I want to hear about. Who initiated it?"

Rogue looked at Storm. "He did. I wasÖjust in tears, Iíd forgotten what skin had felt like. I didnít even realize how it was changing into something else for awhile, I was just so caught up in my skin being able to have physical contact."

Stormís eyes were now attentive and full of subtle happiness.

"That sounds very intense, sounds very meaningful and beautiful. Iím glad. Iím also proud that you could keep it a secret. Heís gorgeous though, good job. I have one question though."

"What?" Rogue said, now able to eat.

"You know how he is incredibly resilient, does that hold truth in recovering quickly from the first time to do it again?"

Rogue made an exasperated noise and covered her eyes with one hand.

"Storm-"

"Donít Storm me, you just had great sex with Wolverine. And youíre not giving me details."

"Well we stopped to talk before the second time," Rogue said casually, taking a bit of food.

"To talk," Storm repeated.

Rogue rolled her eyes again. "Yeah."

"You had sex since that night?"

"Uh huh," Rogue said, swallowing the cosmopolitan. "Last night. On the roof."

"On the roofÖof the mansion?"

"Yeah."

"Damn, thatísÖspontaneous sounding. Wait a second, is this why you ran when Jean was about to read your mind?"

"Exactly."

"Soís Logan gonna stay here with you? Or are you going to go with him?"

"Neither," Rogue said, now having an appetite to eat. "Just because we slept together, that doesnít bind him to me. I know him, and I know heís never going to stop until he finds his life, or what was his life. And I understand that, but Iím not going to follow him all over the face of the earth when Iíve found my home, my place to be."

Storm was amazed by Rogueís maturity. With a guy like Logan, a lot of women would follow him forever with their tongues hanging out and never have a life for themselves. Storm mightíve been one of them.

"Are you in love with him?"

"Yeah, I think so," Rogue said lightly. "I love him, I know who he really is and I still love what I see so, yeah, I think so. I know everyone thought I had this huge crush on him and honestly youíd have to be dead not to but it was never that that drew us together. The first time I saw him I knew he was different, and I knew he wasnít quite as big a jerk as he pretends. He was the first person I ever reallyÖtalked to after I left home. And I know he refused to talk to any of you about his past but he did trust me enough to tell me a little. Heís never broken a promise to me."

Storm nodded in agreement. "He was ballistic when we all thought you were going to die. He was ballistic four years ago when Magneto took you."

"I donít know why, I mean there wasnít something specific that made us acquire so much caring, I hitchhiked with him and nowÖ"

"When Bobby saved your life and was holding you, I thought Logan was going to explode."

Rogue smiled. "Good."

"Oh youíre gonna be a heartbreaker," Storm grinned. "You already broke Bobbyís heart."

Rogue laughed in confusion. "He was never gonna be able to touch me, what kind of life is that?"

"He can touch you now," Storm reminded her.

"Please donít tell Jean about Logan and myself, I know she had and may still have an attraction to him and I donít want to cause an uncomfortable situation between anyone."

Storm shook her head in disbelief. "Youíre amazing, you know that?"

"No, Iím just me. Can we fly home?"

"Yes, I donít wanna take a cab or a bus either," Storm smiled.


Okay, where the hell were they? He had to get going and he knew sheíd kick his ass if he left without telling her. How long does it take to eat lunch? Walking around the mansion grounds killing time, he came around a corner and did see her. Her long brown hair and her streaks he could see at least. She was chatting with Iceman of all people. He could see her suave and casual body language and he could even tell her facial expressions even though she was facing away from him. He couldnít hear what they were saying and was frankly grateful, but he waited.

"Iím gonna come back," Bobby said smiling. "Youíre never gonna get rid of me."

She smiled at him, love in her eyes. "Iíd never wish you away. You have and are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. You looked at me and gave me a home, gave me a person I could go to. There was nothing about me you didnít accept and you did everything in your power to give me security, and a home. And a friend I could count on."

Logan, now a little closer rolled his eyes. "Brother," he murmured.

What made things worse was she placed a hand on his face, caressing his face! She turned her hand so she brushed his face with the back of it. Her long nails tickled as he smiled and caught her hand.

"And now Iím going to do something Iíve always wanted to," he said, gripping her face and pulling her mouth to his for a deep kiss.

Rogue was stunned at first but didnít refuse. She kissed him back, placing both hands on his chest in the process. First, he nibbled at her mouth from corner to corner, turning her naturally pink lips to a deep rose. His lips gently parted and brushed against hers, coaxing a sigh of response from her as her lips opened to seek his. Suddenly, he was no longer tentative Ė his mouth plundered hers, taking her breath as he gave her his. Their tongues met and melded, each intent on tasting to other as deeply as possible.

"Looks like youíve got a little competition there," Storm sneered in Loganís ear as she walked by, and continued walking.

Logan seriously wanted to say something along the lines of bite me, but refrained. Finally, they stopped, and to his annoyance, she had this overwhelmed look on her face. From someone named Bobby of all people.

"Iíll see you later," Bobby said to her.

"Okay," she said nearly shyly.

Watching Bobby leave, Rogue felt like it was her first kiss. Her first date. Sheíd known Bobby forever but he is kind of a first dateÖtype. She turned around and bumped into Logan.

"Ouch," she said. "What are you doing?" she asked him.

"What am I doing?" he repeated. "What are you doing?"

"Iím going to plan for my next group with my kids."

"What was that?" he demanded, and it dawned on her he had seen.

"Bobby?" she said, trying to play innocent.

"No, what the hell was that?" he demanded again, not buying her act.

She was having a hard time not smiling at the cute way he was losing it.

"Um," she said, now smiling uncontrollably. "It was just a kiss."

"Really?" he said, widening his eyes. "Just a kiss?"

She nearly screamed as he roughly grabbed her arms. Her eyes widened in fear as she gasped.

"Logan, what the hell are you doing?" she demanded, momentarily terrified.

She heard his breath catch in his throat as if he were about to say something, but he only kissed her.  Something changed after that.  His anger was nearly a tangible entity enveloping them.  She could feel it around him.  When he kissed her, she let him, wanting to become a part of his anger, but the kiss itself teetered on the edge of pain.  His tongue plunged into her mouth with a bruising forcefulness that left her breathless. 

She tore her head away and sucked in a breath.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"What the hell were you doing?" he shot back.

She almost smiled, he was the one feeling insecure and not her. She felt the urge to kiss him and fall to the ground but saw a student behind him. She grabbed Loganís leather jackets and pulled his face close to hers.

"Letís continue this conversation somewhere else," she whispered.


Scott shook his head. He couldnít decide which to do first. Barf or get a gun. He went back inside, slamming the door open.

"Scott, whatís wrong?" Storm said, organizing files with Jean.

"Logan, what else?" he muttered, getting a soda.

"What happened?" Jean asked.

"If he hurts Rogue-"

"Whoa, whatís Rogue got to do with anything?" Storm asked.

"In broad daylight, outside, he was yelling at her about God knows what, and then the son of a bitch grabbed her and I swear I thought he was gonna hit her."

Stormís eyes widened. "Are you serious? What were they fighting about?"

"Oh who knows! But then he kissed her and dragged her off somewhere."

Jeanís eyes nearly crossed at that 180 flip. "What? I thought you said they were fighting?"

"Hang on," Storm said. "Are you saying theyíve gone somewhere toÖ"

"Yes. If he gives her a choice. You know Iím debating whether or not to go over to him and beat the shit out of-"

"Ho!" Storm said, in attempts to shut him up. "What do you mean if he gives her a choice?"

"I swear I thought he was gonna hit her."

"For what?" Jean said. "Should we try to talk to them?"

"Trust me, at this point, I donít think Loganís willing to listen to reason."

Storm was slightly irritated by Scottís overreacting.

"Okay, Scott, first of all, Logan would never force Rogue to do anything and second of all, Rogue if youíve forgotten has super-strength powers so she is not at all defenseless. She can also fly, in case youíve forgotten that as well. If she is with him somewhere itís because she wants to be with him."

Storm left the room with an aggravated sigh. Scott noticed Jean hadnít said anything and concentrated on something with her back turned to him. He leaned over, she was writing prescriptions.

"Iím sorry, Jean, are you thinking about Logan?"

Jean angrily took off her latex gloves and pushed Scott against the wall.

"Dammit, Scott, you listen to me one last time. For a few minutes four years ago I noticed Logan. He was different, he was dangerous, and he was there. But I love you. I have loved you my whole life and Logan is never going to settle down and be a human being, heís not going to stop until he finds out who he is and who took away his memory. I donít want to be any part of that, and I never did. I love you. I married you and when I saw Logan again, not only was my temporary interest gone, but so was his. I care about Marie and I want everything for her to be perfect, but Iím not the authority on her life, so I worry, and thatís it. Thatís all I have permission to do. It is her life, she chooses it. I chose you. Are we clear?"

Scott had never seen Jean so furious and direct.

"Yes."

Jean wished suddenly that he could see her with his naked eye without killing her. Maybe he couldnít see her quite the way she saw him, but he could feel her the same way she felt him.

"Good, then make love to me right now."


"Logan what are you doing?" Rogue said as he dragged her along the mansion grounds.

There was a door he opened and shoved her into. When he shut the door behind him, she realized this was a tiny storage room without a light. He gripped her arm and pushed her harshly against the wall, his lips descending down on hers. He pressed and moved deliberately against her, separating her lips and moving to envelope her top lip between his before making a clean sweep of her lower, fuller lip, pulling it into his mouth, running the leaning edge of his tongue across it, while his thumbs brushed her cheeks lightly. The kiss now stealthily advancing, Rogue knew it was only because he had seen her kiss Bobby. Angrily she tore her mouth away from his.

"Stop it, you only want me now because you saw that I wasnít just going to sit around and wait four more years for you to show up and grace me with your presence again," she accused.

"Whereas you have absolutely no problem making out with whatís his face in broad daylight but you flip out at mind reading just in case Jean or Chuck come across what we did."

"That was only because I didnít want Jean to see what we had done because God knows you may still have the major hots for her! You should thank me, now if necessary you might still have a shot if you get rid of Scott first!"

Her eyes blazed fire and he kissed her. It was an angry kiss, which she met with equal anger. He bruised her mouth, forcing her lips apart and plunging his tongue into her mouth to battle with hers. But their anger gave rise to passion, and suddenly she felt his hands brush past her shoulders to her arms, taking the material of her shirt with his hands, leaving her shoulders naked. The kiss grew slower as she felt her rage drain away. Nipping his way across her lips, his hot mouth found her cheekbones, her eyes, and finally the edge of her jawbone just beneath her right ear.

He bit down gently on the lobe of her ear, his tongue slowly exploring the shell of it. His soft breath sent shivers down her spine. Pulling her blouse down her arms so only her breasts held it up, she felt his hand slid to her stomach and glide down beneath her skirt.

"Logan," she murmured, a little surprised at his deliberate touch.

"I need to touch you," he whispered desperately against her cheek, a single finger began to move sensually against her tiny jewel.

Attempting to adjust herself she placed both hands on his broad shoulders, supporting herself as the heat enclosed around her body like a shield of desire. He stroked her heated skin with his long fingers, his middle finger circled her clitoris and then slipped inside her wetness, drawing a gasp from her. Logan kissed her lips softly while he listened to her shallow breaths as she slowly drew his long finger in and out . . . in and out . . . faster and deeper until she was on the brink of orgasm. Logan opened his lips and lightly bit the tender skin between her neck and shoulder, moving his hand furiously as she came and cried out his name.

Her world in a daze, she felt his fingers hurriedly unbuttoning her blouse and pushing both sides aside and away from her body. His hand slid feather light down her arm in a caress that electrified her body to brush her taut nipples. Logan pulled back and stared, his eyes darting over her body like naked flames. Rogueís breath caught slightly as a shiver of expectation ran down her spine. His lips were hot as they traveled down her body making her back arch. He rolled her breasts in the firmness of his palms, bending to nibble at her tightened nipples.

"Logan, Logan, stop," Rogue said, pulling his face up to hers. "Please stop, Iím sorry," she said, tears nearly forming as she pulled his body to hers for an embrace. "Iím sorry, Iím sorry," she said, realizing that this was one of the suckiest places to stop at.

Logan, caught completely off guard, tried to hold her back, without doing anything else sexual, though it was harder to do than he thought. Cupping her face he tilted it to him so he could look at her eyes.

"What? Whatís wrong?" he said breathlessly.

"I canít," she whispered.

"Why?"

She licked her lips, savoring his taste.

"Because after we make love, youíll still leave," she said softly. "And forgive the expression, I donít want you to fuck me and then leave."

Her breathing came back to normal as his eyes sobered and grew serious.

"Then come with me," he said. "Come with me this time."

God how she wanted to. It had been forever since sheíd run, and she had to admit it was something she missed.

"I canít," she whispered back. "I canít leave them, Logan. You keep searching for what will make you feel whole againóand maybe it will, but I created a place where I can feel whole. And itís here, as an X-Men. And if it was for a set time, I want you know I would go anywhere with you. But you could search your whole life for who you are and I would be nobody. I would just be standing next to you. I love you Logan, but I need a life too. And I pray you find out who you are so that you will be satisfied. But I donít need to know who you are. Because I do. Youíre not searching for who you are, youíre searching for who you were. I know who you are."

He closed his eyes painfully, his forehead touching hers in the dark room.

"Who am I?" he asked her.

Closing her eyes, she just simply felt. She brushed her fingers along his neck and up his jawline to his lips, where she outlined them with her long fingernails.

"Youíre you. Youíre strong, youíre angry, youíre scared-"

"You sure know how to build a confidence."

She exhaled a laugh.

"Weíre all scared, Logan. Shut up."

She traced her fingers around his gorgeous face.

"You have a tough shell around you in which you pretend to be a complete asshole, but you have so much passion in you, to care, to protect. You have so much passion, that passion that drives you to find out who did this to you. And sometimes you forget that youíre still living, without what you had or knew before. AndÖwell, you know youíre gorgeous-" she said and they both broke out into a soft laugh. "And you have an ego that Montana doesnít even come close to being able to hold. Youíre sarcastic and pessimistic but fiercely loyal and you have a sense of honor about you. But more importantly when you say youíll do something, you do it. I believed you when you said youíd take care of me and I believed you when you said youíd come back. Course that was nearly five years later, but you still did it. And all you have to do is come back again."

He cupped her face and kissed her forehead. "I take it thatís my cue to leave."

"Leave this dark storage room or leave Westchester?"

"This room, without touching you."

"Logan, I doubt sex is something youíll lack in your journey."

"Ouch."

She smiled. "I donít need to be every other girl youíve slept with."

"Youíre not."

"I know, and I donít want to become one."


Chapter 16

Storm waited from a distance for Rogue and Logan to come out of that storage room. She hadnít known exactly where theyíd been but that was as good a guess as any, somewhere on the grounds. She could tell from the look on Loganís face that he didnít get any sex, and for some reason Storm was glad. He left four years ago and how many times did he think he was gonna get her? Hello, he can go back on the run and get as many girls as he wanted. Watching Rogue leave, she walked over to a still Logan.

"Hey," she said, tapping a hand on his shoulder. "Come on Wolverine, get a drink with me."


"SoÖwhen you find your life, what are you gonna do?" she asked, downing a Kamikaze.

"Donít know, depends on what I find," Logan replied.

"Well, what if you find out youíre three hundred years old and your wife and two kids died about a century ago?"

"Is that a serious question?"

Storm smiled. He had to hand it to her, she was gorgeous. "Absolutely."

"Well, Iíll guess Iíll visit the graves, try and remember, and then move on."

Storm raised her eyebrows. "Really? You think you could justÖmove on?"

"As opposed to what?"

She smiled. "As opposed to trying to figure out every detail of your lives with them."

"Like I said, Iíd try and remember, Iím not making a damn documentary."

Storm took another large sip. "Hmm, all right. So what if you find out you have a wife somewhere, and you go back to her but you donít remember?"

"What the hell is this, twenty questions?"

"Nope, just trying to get you to think," she said with a smile.

"About what?"

"Well sweetie, you seem to have based your entire life on finding your life. Iím trying to get you to think beyond that, since there is the possibility you may not like what you find, orÖyou may never find any answers, and then what will you have done with your life?"

"Well since I canít fuckiní age-"

"Oh honey, yes you can," Storm reminded. "Donít let your ego go haywire on me."

Logan put his drink down. "Well youíre just loads of fun tonight arenít you?"

He stood up.

"Hey! Where you going?"

"Iím gonna take off."

She stood up. "Not without saying goodbye to everyone youíre not, you did that last time, youíre not doing that this time. Not if I have to make a tornado and blow your ass back there."


Rogue stood looking out her window. Sheíd left her door open and someone walked in. She could feel his presence and now remembered.

"Come to show me your mutation?" she said, not turning to face him.

"Why did you forget me?" he said.

"Because I suppressed the memory." Rogue swallowed. "You havenít changed, even your mutation was something you did anyway."

"How do you know what my mutation is, Marie?"

"Iím not Marie. Not anymore."

He moved towards her and she could feel his body heat right behind her. The urge to vomit was immediate.

"Your parents looked for you for two years after you left. They didnít know what happened to you. None of us did. Though mustíve been pretty embarrassing for you."

Tears built up behind her eyelids, stinging her. She concentrated on the view in front of her.

"Get the hell out of my room. I never wanted to see you again and I still donít."

"You helped me to Dr. Grey. Reminded me of old times. When I fell off the swing when we were five, you saved me. You and I were a team."

"I shouldíve let you die, before you could ever turn against me."

"How did I do that?" he asked innocently.

"Fuck you," she whispered. "Get out."

"I didnít do anything you said no to."

She then turned to him, eyes so intensely angry he was momentarily stunned by her fury.

"You drugged me. You wanna know how sick that is? You took away my right to even have an opinion. So I donít even remember what happened, I only know that you obviously didnít do as much as you wanted because Summer took me to the hospital and you hadnít raped me. I had to lie to my parents and say it was someone other than you because of how close our parents were."

"Parents, donít they get in the way of anything?" he said snidely.

Her eyes narrowed. "You are the most disgusting excuse for a human being. How do you live with yourself?"

"How did you live knowing you could kill anyone you touched. Powerís an intense thing, isnít it?"

"Well see thatís the difference between us. You see it as power, I donít. You make the people who want to eliminate us right. You arenít a mutant, youíre a sociopath and a criminal, drunk with power."

"Who couldnít be in love with power?"

"Oh you go to hell," Rogue said, moving aside and heading out her door.

He reached gently for her hand, catching it before she had gone too far. She gasped when he touched her hand, feeling his mutation work instantly. She tried to snatch her hand away.

"Let me go," she said, but he pulled her to him, kissing her softly.

Her mind was frozen, she felt drugged and helpless. And she felt his mutation. She felt him backing up, pushing her along with him until her bed met the back of her thighs and she fell backwards on it. She murmured no several times and then her mind and ability to function seemed to cease.


They were all laughing. Charles in his chair, Scott and Storm on the couch, Logan on the side of the couch and Jean faithfully by the side of Charles.

"So, Logan, you at all willing to become an X-Man this time around?" Xavier asked.

Logan smiled. "Not this time but I promise to come back, and Storm is welcome to come and get me anytime you all canít live without me."

"Oh please," Scott said.

"Wait a minute," Xavier said, his eyes serious and in thought.

"What?" Jean asked. "Whatís wrong?"

"ItísÖRogue, sheís being assaulted."

"Where is she?" Scott said, standing up.

"Her room," Xavier said.

The entire gang got up and walked quickly up to her room.


"Stop," Rogue said, barely audibly.

The door crashed down to the floor and Scott and Logan ran in.

"Get off her!" Scott said and Mike obeyed.

Storm rushed over to Rogue, whose blouse was open. Storm slid her hands underneath Rogue and lifted her up. Jean sat down and took her pulse.

"Rogue, sweetie, Rogue?" Storm said, brushing her hair away from her eyes.

"Her pulse is elevated."

"His mutation is to stimulate anyoneís libido by touching them," Xavier said.

Scott leaned in and punched Mike, knocking him to the wall. Logan extended his claws, holding Mike by the throat.

"Logan donít!" Rogue said, then coughed, wheezing. "Donít, just leave him alone. Iím gonna throw up," she told Jean.

"Shh, okay, come here, bend over," Jean pulled Rogueís legs over the side of bed and bent her head down forward. "Deep breaths, deep breaths Marie."

Rogue breathed in and out deeply, grateful to be facing her feet and not able to see Mike.

"Get rid of him!" she sobbed loudly, coughing again.

"Let him go," Xavier said.

Logan did, reluctantly and Mike began walking out.

"What are you doing?" Scott demanded.

"Heís taking a walk to the lower floors where he will be locked up for the time being," Xavier said.

Logan was amazed. "Youíre good Xavier," Logan said.

"Storm, sheís pale, would you get her some water?" Jean asked.

Storm leaned Rogue against Jean and went to get the water. Logan immediately sat down on the other side of Rogue.

"She all right?" Logan asked Jean.

Huge tears slid from Rogueís eyes. Jean rubbed her back and arms as Rogue rested her head against Jeanís shoulder.

"Youíre all right, itís gonna be all right."

"He wouldnít stop," Rogue sobbed softly.

"I know," Jean said. "But itís okay, weíre all here now."

Storm came back in with the water and kneeled in front of Rogue.

"Here ya go," she said as Rogue obediently drank it.

It was then that Rogue noticed her blouse. Looking down, her hands tried to button it up but they were shaking too much. Logan reached forward and began buttoning them up for her. Rogue put a hand over her eyes and did her best not to cry audibly.

"Why donít some of us clear out?" Storm said. "Marie, do you want me to stay, do you want Logan to stay?"

Storm took Rogueís hand from her eyes.

"Look at me, you are fine. Do you hear me?"

Rogue nodded.

"All right, letís all take a hike, give her some air."

"Yeah, Iím gonna go check on Mike," Scott said angrily.

Jean, Storm, and Xavier left. The room was dark, but had enough to light that everything was visible. Rogue was exhausted, and angry. Logan rocked her gently in his arms until the crying ceased.

"Iíve known him all my life," she said. "Michael Joseph Cameron."

Rogue ran her fingers through her hair and wiped the stained tears from her face.

"I grew up with him until we were about sevenÖhis parents were best friendís with mine," she said, the verge of her crying was evident in her voice. "And then they moved away for about ten years. And when he came back I knew he was different but I didnít know how different."

She drank some more of the water, then tilted her head to the ceiling as two tears fell from her closed eyes. Loganís heart was scared for her, he reached for her face, so she would know he was there.

"He drugged me, so I have no idea what did or didnít happen. And I suppressed the memory. But I never thought six years later Iíd be in the same place again. He was so lucky, he got the mutation of his dreams. And thatís why IÖ" she didnít finish, but he knew what she was talking about.

That night on the roof. She slowly lied down, facing away from him. Logan reached over to the chair where there was a blanket. He covered Rogue with it and lied down next to her, pulling her to him in a spoon position. She trembled and he tightened his arms around her.

"Did you ever tell your parents?" he asked softly.

"No. Even if they had believed me his parents wouldnít have so it wouldíve only caused ugliness."

"I believe you. Do you want to take a shower?"

"IÖI just wanna be quiet," she whispered. "Be still."

"Okay, just one question. Ever since Iíve come back you havenít had a minuteís peace, is it always as interesting as this?"

Rogue exhaled a laugh. "No, itís not always like this. Sometimes I sit on the couch and watch television."

"Ohhh, that sounds good. Try doing more of that."

"Thanks for the advice."

Before he knew it, she was asleep. Her tears and trembling ended. Her breathing was even and her grip on his hand loosened. He made sure she was covered by the blanket before he sat up. The moon was bright enough there was sufficient light in the room. Getting off the bed as quietly as possible, he looked down on the floor where a pad of paper was. Picking it up he read her words. Her writing was veryÖfeminine.

I stand, no perfume, no makeup,
Itís me, so what if my face is bear?
Dressed up, in fatherís old sweater,
When I slam the door, and run down the stairs.

I promise this room,
Anywhere the wind blows,
Anywhere the sea breaks,
Anywhere the earth quakes,
Let this world explode.
Take me to a new place,
Got nothing in my suitcase,
And Iíll goÖanywhere the wind blows, Iíll go.

"What are you looking at?"

Logan turned and looked at Rogue, fully awake with an arm propped up so she could rest her face in her hand and face him.

"I found this," he said, handing her the pad.

She took it and nodded. "Oh."

"Pretty powerful stuff there, you write it?"

"No," Rogue said, leaning over to her CD player where she pushed play.

The words were now as music.

"Wow," Logan said.

"It was a song, it is a song that always gets to me. Less now that I can have physical contact, but it will always be there."

"Whoís singing?"

"Lauren Christy."

"Who?"

"Exactly. She wasnít too famous from what I know. But I was flipping through channels one day and saw this movieÖSeven Girlfriends and it was cute so I watched and this was the theme song and it justÖI donít know, I got hooked. It made me think of things, made me feel. Made me wish. Itís justÖeven though I have a life, sometimes I feel it just moves on without me, and Iím so empty Iíll just go anywhere."

"Whatís it called?"

"Anywhere the Wind Blows. Was it all a nightmare? Or did it really happen?" she asked him.

She could just tell by his face that it had.

"Thank you for staying."

"Can I get you anything, Rogue? I mean, please give me an occupation because you wouldnít let me kill that bastard."

"Come here," she said.

Rogue reached for Loganís hand, pulling it around her waist and to her lips as she lied down with him beside her again.

"Iíd much rather you be with me than trying to take revenge. Besides, if I had my wish I would kill him by touching him."

"Oh so now you want that ability back," Logan teased.

"I still havenít gotten used to itÖbeing touched I mean. Sometimes when I thought Iíd forgotten I would touch my own skin and wonder if it felt the same as everyone elseís."

"It does, and it did. I can assure you that."

"You always found a way to touch me when I couldnít be touched. Youíd still hold me or take my hand or acknowledge my white streaks after Magneto. You made me feel not quite so trapped."

"Yes well, Iím full of charm, always have been."

She grinned. But than pure hatred choked her. "God I hate him," she hissed. "He makes the government right. He makes them right to want to get rid of us. He rapes. But he doesnít just rape your body he rapes your mind, so youíre so drugged you lose the strength to say no. And your bodies flooded with sexual desires and your mind freezes. I know I said no again and again but I didnít have the strength to even make it audible-"

"Itís not your fault-"

"I know that," she said firmly. "But that doesnít make me feel like I donít have this sheet of filth over me, and itís like it hardens and encases me."

"Then break it," Logan told her. "Break this sheet that is surrounding you."

"Weíll stop him, call me a murderer but I would rather see him dead than on the streets. I will never allow him to do that to other women."

"Ahh, thereís that post feminist icon I knew was in you. Well please, if you would like me to shove my claws through his body, just tell me."

"Thanks, but Iíd like to stop him, and Iíll find a very unique way to do so."

"I canít tell you how much youíve changed, Rogue, you amaze me."

She turned around to face him, her attractive face and lush body once again made it hard to think about leaving this room without touching her.

"I grew up. It happens. I know youíve worked very hard not to call me Kid anymore."

"I take it you didnít like it back then, either."

"No, itís kinda a way to make me sound like Iím not an individual. I just kinda blended into the rest of the universe, I had a name, two in fact."

"They call you Marie now."

"I know. They donít want me to feel like the wanderer. We all call each other by our real names, except Storm. Ororo is so hard to say. Try saying it three times fast."

"Promise me when I come back you wonít be married," Logan said.

She smiled. "You know I canít promise you that. I canít promise to put my life on hold for the man who will never settle down."

Logan grabbed Rogueís hands and held them firmly above her head, looking down at her.

"You know, I really do not like your way of saying Iím the one who will never settle down. You ran along time yourself there."

She looked up at him, smiling, not the least bit intimidated.

"Yes, and I created a place for myself, Wolverine. You donít want to be a part of anything, and thatís what makes you a real pain in the ass, because I know you love all of us, even Scott. But weíre too ridiculous, the X-Men, to meet your standards of whatís cool. But when we need you and youíre with us, I know you love it, you get to play hero."

He looked down at her, how perfectly at ease she was. Then he remembered when she told him she loved him. So easily, in the middle of a conversation, not even noticing when he didnít say it back. Or if she did mind, he could see no sign on it. Her hair was messy and everywhere. Her body rose and fell with each breath. Leaning down he took her lips in his and immediately felt her body tense up. He ripped his mouth away and cursed himself silently. Moving off of her he sat at the edge of the bed, his face in his hands.

"Logan-"

"Donít, Iím sorry. Could I have had a little more tact in my time picking-"

"Logan! Itís okay." She crawled over to him and took his hands. "Stop thinking that you did anything wrong. When you asked me not to be married when you come back you were asking me to be a constant in your life, and I will be. And if you ever need me, you know you can call and Iíll be there in two minutes. But this is killing me, Logan. And I need you to do me a favor. I need you to go. Now. Because you keep giving me hope that youíll stay when I know you wonít. But I will hold my breath until you come back again, and I will be here."

Cupping his face she kissed him softly. Her eyes were so magical as she gently pulled away.

"Iím proud of you, Rogue. Youíve become a person most of us donít ever become, and you did it without physical contact of any kind. You did it feeling trapped. You know what you want, you know whatís mature, and you have things you live for."

"You could too if you give this life a chance."

He kissed her again. Then he stood up and walked to the door. She held her breath so she wouldnít cry. He looked back, she wasnít facing him.

"Iíll be back."

"I trust you. Where you headed first?"

"What was that line? Anywhere the Sea Breaks?" he said.

"You know something you have that most of the male population lacks? You listen to me," she said. "Now go, because the sooner you go, the sooner youíll be back."

~~~~The End~~~~


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