Sugar-spun chicken wire binding his guts. No, fairy-dust supernovas causing the tiny blood vessels in his brain to explode. No, a rosebush blooming inside his chest, its silken, powdered silver blossoms caressing and gentling him, even as its vines with thorns of razor pearl entwined his heart, squeezing 'til blood dripped along their lengths.
No...it was like...it couldn't...he had no words for it. It was the sweetest, purest agony, a never-healing wound bleeding ambrosia, so hideous and wonderful he could hardly bear to touch it, but couldn't keep away. Pain because of the pleasure or pleasure because of the pain, there was no way to tell. It just...was. Had been. Would be.
Always would be.
A conflagration burned in the center of his recollection; part of him embraced it, dancing recklessly in the white-hot flames. The other bits huddled on the shadowy outskirts of his mental labyrinth, frightened away by the fire like a wild animal.
Hidden in a corner somewhere, the intensity scared him. Bold, bright-colored emotions and thoughts raced through him; fierce and tangled, but so smooth. It confused him, but...at its rushed peak, he experienced a kind of Zen the likes of which he'd never known, ephemeral clarity that almost ached in its flawlessness.
The Beast reveled in it, the strength of this feeling drawing it as anything so visceral and passionate would. The Man in him wanted to run as far and fast as he could from it. Yet he couldn't deny his disturbing captivation, for even as he railed against it, half of him held on just as tightly.
He wasn't sure how it had gotten to this point. How it had even started, really.
He knew when it had, though. There could be no mistaking that...
For so long, he'd wandered, alone in each way he'd wanted, but also in the ways he hadn't. He'd been in solitary confinement inside his empty mind, every bit of human warmth and emotion deadened.
Not dead, though, or else he would have been, too, during those horrible first years. Xavier had touched on the fifteen years he'd traveled from town to town as a brawler, but there had been five before those, when the Beast had overpowered the Man.
He'd existed as little more than an animal in the Canadian forests; naked, feral, killing caribou with his teeth and claws. He'd eaten the meat raw, lapped up the blood like a dog, and hated himself with the last vestiges of humanity left in his soul.
Healing factor or not, he'd almost died during those black days.
Eventually, he had been able to muster the will and the strength to bring himself back, the Man usurping the Beast, as Oak King to Holly King.
That had been just the beginning of his struggle. Every moment since, every one of them, he'd had to fight for it, waging war with every breath to be something so many took for grant; human.
It wasn't easy. In ways, the fifteen following years had been even harder. War is Hell, and, like any veteran, it numbed him. But there had always been stirrings beneath the ice, a tiny flickering spark of hope that someday, somehow, it would change.
There'd been times that was the only thing that kept him going.
In his darkest hours, he'd held on to it with every ounce of mettle in him. (The irony of that term amused him even with its sting.)
When his strength was almost gone and he was on his knees, it became the prayer on his lips. It was the desperate need inside him, surfacing with a wordless cry to God for Him to send something. Never forgiveness; he didn't deserve that, he knew. But courage, relief, a break...all those, and things like them, yes.
There was one other supplication he'd made, only once, and he would die before admitting it; for something to make him into more than just a human being, but into a person, who felt and lived and was whole.
And He had given it to him.
The first prayer of Logan's life had been answered, when he'd least expected it, where he'd least expected it.
Hitching a ride alongside his beloved motorcycle.
His sweet, shining Marie...Rogue...
The transformation wasn't immediate, but the second he laid eyes on her, a switch was flipped, and slowly the anesthetic that had dulled his sensibilities began to wear off.
He'd tried to leave her behind, but hadn't gotten more than a few yards before he experienced his first clear emotion in twenty years-- A pang of guilt.
Not a fantastic start, but it got him to stop the truck.
Things snowballed from there. Nothing big at first, nothing momentous, just a little flash every now and then. Empathy, because she was hungry and cold just as he had once been. Worry, because she was too young to be by herself. Half-amused, half-grumpy irritation, because she kept trying to mother him. Fear, because there was something waiting for them that was large and vicious where she was small and gentle, and because she was trapped, with no way to run from that something.
Before he realized what was happening, it was more than casual concern he had for her, it was genuine affection. And though it was strange after such a long time, and he felt awkward and rusty from disuse, it was so...nice, to care about someone. All those years, he'd been -- in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind -- afraid he wasn't capable of that kind of emotion, and now he'd discovered it was more than just possible, it was something he was good at.
Far too good at, for his own well-being. Between Rogue and Jean Grey, he'd nearly killed himself.
Ah, Jean...and Scott.
In his new emotional freedom, he'd gone a bit crazy with it, letting his feelings run roughshod over his good judgment (which had never been his strong suit on the best of days). He had flirted with and lusted after her, knowing that she was taken, and hadn't given a damn about stepping on her intended's toes.
A month later, and he would have handled the situation better, used what little finesse he had, kept in control. Then again, he might have done it all exactly the same way, just to piss off One-Eye.
In the end, he'd done the right thing, and it wasn't as hard as it probably should have been, for reasons that somehow managed to incite in him both feelings of unease and guilty delight.
Jean herself had probably been the one to kindle it, all by innocently teasing him in med lab about Rogue being "taken with him." At the time, he had brushed it off with a flip remark, but the idea stuck, tickling and whispering to him from the back of his mind.
It was a flattering notion, that such a pretty girl would care about him that way...and since when did he think of her in terms of beauty?
When they said goodbye, it was even worse. Logan had hardly been able to keep his eyes off her. Had her gaze always been soft like that? Her mouth interesting, quirky, endearing? He was absolutely fascinated with discovering every feature, every lash, every curve in her face. How had he never noticed these before? He'd seen her more than once, even looked at her up close and in detail.
And he'd had to go. This treasure was waiting before him, and he was walking out on it mere moments after its unearthing. Her unearthing.
So many opportunities missed, so many words he hadn't said...he'd felt a stab of pain in his chest, and automatically clutched his dogtags.
Wait-- His dogtags.
They were yanked off in seconds, and he'd barely resisted the urge to kiss them before giving them to her, as he had done many times for luck when no one was looking. As he had done to her forehead on top of the Statue. His lips had burned from the memory of it.
When he left, he did so with heavy thoughts on his mind and his promise to return ringing in his ears.
It didn't stop ringing for days.
The feelings that had just begun that day only grew, the further he got from Xavier's school. From Rogue.
Thoughts of her dwelled in his mind twenty-four hours a day, striking him at the oddest times. He'd be toeing out the kickstand on Scott's bike, and her scent (unscented Dove soap, ironically enough, the bottled kind meant to be used with those...shower-sponge-thingies he never remembered the name of), would fill his nose, leaving him standing in the parking lot of some bar, sniffing around like a lunatic until it faded away.
Or he'd be cooking, (...badly...) when out of the blue he'd start wondering what her cloaks were made of, and what the hair beneath would feel like beneath his fingers. He almost set his dinner on fire once that way.
Then there were the instances when memories would rear up and bowl him over completely, make him drop everything to just...think, roll them over in his head; playing with them, changing them here and there, adding to them. What if he hadn't let go of her on the train, had kept hold of her instead? He wished that he had. A chance to cradle her, and rest his cheek against her hooded head would certainly not be squandered anymore. What would have happened if he'd felt the way then that he did now? Magneto would have had to pry her from his cold, dead arms, that's what. He'd have ripped him apart with his bare hands, or gone down trying.
One night, he woke up in a cold sweat, having dreamt of when he put his claws through her. He'd felt horrified at the time it had actually taken place, but now...the very idea of it made his stomach wrench, gave him the shakes, nearly made him hyperventilate that first time.
But it wasn't until he began having a constant mental dialogue with her that he realized the truth-- He was spellbound. She had him tucked neatly under her precious little thumb, so utterly taken that if he wouldn't quite jump off a cliff the instant she asked, he would definitely hold negotiations with her over the specifics.
Once upon a time, he would have felt caged by the hold she had on him. Now...he'd come to accept it, even found it sort of nice to be alone, but somehow not alone.
The change that acknowledgment brought was undeniable.
Suddenly, knowing she could never be touched skin-to-skin was agony. Then Logan started spending his nights thinking of the many ways to get around that, a brand new favorite torture to inflict on himself.
The postcards he sent her occasionally changed from a single-worded "Hi" to "Wish you were here..." and "Miss your pretty smile." He got a P.O. box in a town a few hours away from Alkali Lake and gave her the address, hungry for contact from her. He heard sappy, saccharine love songs on the radio, and pictured dancing with her to them, even going so far as to shuffle through the steps by himself, eyes tightly shut.
Sometimes, he wondered if there wasn't a part of her inside him, as there was of him in her.
Now there was a thought to take his breath away. That she knew him in ways no other did, that he'd been inside her in a more intimate way than any physical method...half of him loathed that his nightmares and few bitter memories had been inflicted on her, while the other half found the concept so incredibly erotic that he could practically hear his glands go into hyperdrive.
Then a wave of shame always passed over him. It was sick, a fully grown man like him thinking things like that, wanting things like that, from someone who was barely more than a child. He could be her father, or, if some of his resurfacing memories were true, her great-grandfather.
No other conclusion; he was a pathetic, dirty old pervert.
But oh God, leave him to his perversion then, because that little girl made him feel like nothing else could. His love for her -- and that's what it was, he couldn't lie to himself -- was something sacred, pure, holy. It was the only clean thing inside him, and he'd never let anything take it away.
Besides, she wouldn't be so young forever. In time, she'd be an adult (Consenting adult, his hormones had immediately piped up), and all he had to do was wait. For Rogue, he could be patient.
Waiting became an unspeakable torment, but he'd held out. He bought her flowers for her eighteenth birthday; a bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots, and a red rose bud, as he remembered from...somewhere that in the language of flowers, they meant "You are young and beautiful."
All were sent anonymously, but he'd known that she would understand who they came from, and, hopefully, their meaning.
In the months he spent biding his time, his passion only intensified, soaring to exhilarating and -- a small voice in the back of head admitted -- often terrifying heights.
He'd been so determined to hang on until he was sure she was ready, but his resolve ebbed, worn away by visions of Marie, running in circles through his brain in an eternal loop.
His devotion to her...it was compelling, dizzying him with its power. Logan couldn't help but be swept away by it, wave after wave after wave of longing and tenderness and love so pristine, it pierced him like a sword.
Washed him away...all his concerns and grief away...
Down inside, so far in no telepath could reach it without tearing his mind apart, he was worried maybe he would end up committing seppuku with that blade. It was this tiny piece of his consciousness that was getting nervous about where he was heading, was all too aware of the danger.
The rest of him ignored it. He was so wrapped up in these feelings, she all but mummified him, but it didn't matter. Nothing did anymore, except the pull.
Pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling...
...he bolted upright, awakening mid-cry as he clutched his stomach. Sleep made his thoughts confused and sluggish, but there was one thing that was still crystal clear; it wasn't a dream. There really was something pulling him, tugging on his insides like a child would the bottom of his shirt.
Drawing him, causing his already painful need to expand, desire and desperation spinning him round and round, just like the pictures of her in his mind. It was triggering his fight-or-flight response, but neither of them were applicable, so it only added to his crazy, jumbled state.
He had to run. He had to battle. What? There was nothing to run from, or that needed battling...he needed her so badly, he could practically smell her...blood was roaring in his ears, he could practically smell it...no, not battle, he had to take back, had to give, had to run to, had to be there for...
What?! The pressure in his head had built up so high he thought he might be having some kind of stroke, and he squeezed his eyes closed, teeth bared in a silent snarl as something started to give...oh God...pain...capillaries in his nose ruptured and hemorrhaged...oh sweet Jesus, it hurt...
The word rang through his head, shrieked in his veins, and pulled at him so hard, Logan came right out of his bed, continuing on to stumble into the bathroom.
Meaning, at last; he could have sobbed in release, but grabbed his toothbrush instead, and started scrubbing.
Everything made sense now. He had to go to her. Now. As soon as possible.
Spitting out his mouthful of minty foam, he dashed out to throw some clothes on. If he'd stopped to look in the mirror, he would've seen the wild look in his eyes.
It wouldn't matter. All that mattered was getting to her.
Even though he openly disliked Scott, he grudgingly recognized old One-Eye's children should rise up and call him blessed for installing the Little Red Button on his motorcycle, for it brought him to Westchester County, NY in half the normal time, and time was more than of the essence, it was his savior, hated enemy, and entire scope of reality all rolled into one.
He left the bike (Marie, he'd called it sometimes, made for some very interesting double entendre, such as "Damn, I about broke my back riding Marie last night" and "Just give Marie a little juice, and she really goes wild"), by the gates, and passed through them with nary a look backwards.
Getting into the school was ridiculously easy; they'd installed fingerprint and retinal scanners on the front door, but his data was already in the computer -- thanks to Jean, he suspected.
The voice identification system proved to be more of a nuisance than an actual challenge. "Open up," he ordered.
A woman's clear, vaguely sultry alto purred in response. "Error: Unrecognized command phrase. Verify wording, and try again."
His patience was beginning to wear thin. "Open. Up." Logan repeated through gritted teeth.
"Error: Unrecognized command phrase. Verify wording, and--"
Frustrated crackled between his eyes. He'd come hundreds of miles, was so close to her, and now this bucket of plastic was getting in his way...his claws popped out with a deceptively delicate *snikt*. "Hocus-pocus, dogs fly with umbrellas, open fucking sesame! Now, let me in, dammit!"
This time, a recording of none other than his own voice was spit back at him. "'Let me in, dammit!' Recognized, Wolverine command phrase. Welcome, Logan."
He would've laughed, if not for the burning, roiling craving that chewed on his nerves more incessantly than a nic-fit. Jeanie knew him much too well. But Rogue knew him better.
The pull flaring up anew, he crossed the threshold, and nearly stumbled, catching himself just in time. It really was remarkable how she easily she made his concentration lapse.
Now, to find her.
In one of the letters she'd sent him (every one of which he kept in the pocket of his leather jacket, much too precious to leave his side), she'd mentioned the fact they had given her a room of her own next to Scott and Jean's, after an ugly incident involving a sleepwalker in the dorms who fell into the wrong bed.
She'd chatted about how it was nice having a little privacy, but he could read between the lines; she was lonely, even lonelier than before. Even understanding the necessity, he wanted to gut them all for giving her more pain.
Well, she'd never be lonely again, if he had his way tonight.
Just had to remember where One-Eye and Jeanie's room was...
It took him a good twenty minutes to do it, most of which was spent wandering around lost and trying to find his way out of the girls' shower.
When he did reach the right hallway, he walked to her door, and paused, running his hands over its carved wooden lines. He couldn't believe it. After almost a year, after all the suffering, after the growing he'd done for her...here she was, just on the other side of this final barrier.
The time had come for him to bypass it, and any other obstacle that might stand between him and the first woman he's loved in a very, very long time.
Logan took a deep breath, mainly to assure himself that this was all real, wasn't a cruelly delicious dream, and twisted the knob with a steady hand, opening the door.
She was awake, standing by her bed and staring at him in shock. He blinked. So did she.
One thought pirouetted erratically through his molasses filled brain. I'm actually here. In this room. With her.
"I thought...you...what are you doin' back?" Rogue stammered finally (her accent was so light now, he observed dimly) and went scarlet. "I didn't mean it like that. It's just...what are you doin' back?"
All he could do was stare at her, mesmerized. God, she was so beautiful. She was so beautiful and soothing and brave and alive. How could the people who lived here bear not touching this exquisite creature?
The pull in his guts was almost gone, but the sense of urgency that came with it was not, and he couldn't help stepping forward, closer to her. "Yeah, well, gotta' check if the X-geeks are treating you all right" was his gruff reply.
No, no, no...that wasn't what he wanted to say. Where were all the lines he'd thought of? All the witticisms? Hell, he'd even take the bad poetry he'd written about her in his head once while really bored and lonely.
Since no words were coming to him, he let his body speak instead (as it was much more eloquent anyway) by leaning into her, curling his torso ever-so-slightly around her. "I missed you, darlin'."
His re-emerging memory had picked up its feet a little more while in Canada (or was it because of this radiant girl?), and he'd been surprised to find his speech patterns shifting to accommodate. He said things like "bub" and "darlin'," referred to himself as a "Canucklehead," and had the damnedest urge to launch into a spiel about him "being the best at what he does." That, and his sudden disturbing interest in spandex.
The X-Men were never going to let him live it down if it turned out he--
All mental rambling stopped the instant she trained her dark, luminous eyes on him. Oughta' be registered as lethal weapons, he thought inanely.
"I missed you, too," She murmured, quiet hope glittering in her gaze, but her voice tight with pain; she was thinking he would never return her feelings, he realized.
His heart couldn't quite decide between breaking in two or beating right out of his chest because she'd affirmed her feelings for him, so it settled for holding perfectly still. "C'mere, you," he rumbled, enfolding her in a hug.
She wrapped her arms around his waist, and laid her head on his chest with an almost-sob. Logan stared down at her, eyes misting over; he'd cherished her from afar for what seemed like his entire life, and now she was really here, giving him the greatest honor and dearest gift of letting him hold her.
Praying that if this were a dream let him never wake from it, he buried his face in her hair, marveling at the sensation, and feeling the need in him rise.
He pressed a kiss to her white-streak, and another, and another, inhaling her scent so deeply it might brand itself to his nasal tissue, analyzing the changes in it since he'd gone. New shampoo, smelled like mangoes, strawberry conditioner...made him think of a fruit salad, but she was in there somewhere, so he liked them by default.
Rogue melted into him, surprised, but never as pleasantly before in all her short years.
The pressure returned to his skull, but he was beyond caring, and all he wanted to do for the rest of his life was hold onto this amazing person and breathe her in...
But something gave again, and it was as though a dam had burst. Every thought, every feeling, every thing he'd held under tight rein flowed unchecked now, carrying him out in the tide, along with whatever control he'd had over himself.
And the little segment of him that was still rational screamed for him to stop, before that became an impossibility.
One hand tangled in her hair, pulling her closer, while the other slid over her back and shoulders, exploring what he could reach and fervently wanting what he couldn't.
She hesitated; faint apprehension was there now, he could read it by her suddenly indecisive stance, but eagerness too, and joy. Real joy. He made her feel all these things. Knowing that filled him with wonder, and...other, louder things.
Rainbows swirled and flashed around the edges of his vision, and he registered that his lips were moving, vocal chords shifting, chest vibrating, generating words of love and veneration, but language meant nothing to him anymore, so the specifics were lost.
Tears were running gracefully down her cheeks now, and they smelled warm and sweet, everything different about them because they were born of happiness. Her voice -- shaky and husky and vulnerable -- cut through the haze in his mind like a bullet of pure light. "I love you, Logan. I love you so much..."
Coherent thoughts shattered as champagne glasses in his head and passion overwhelmed him, swallowed him whole.
His hands were running over her with frenetic energy, unintentionally rough in their hurry to stroke, pet, and touch all of her at once.
Her scent betrayed everything she felt to him, and right then it spoke of trepidation and arousal intertwined; his rush of aggression scared her a little, but excited her, too. It was a heady, intoxicating mix, and it made his head spin, his body ache with desire.
She gasped as his questing fingers found her breasts, arching against him. Grinning/snarling, he kneaded them, and wrenched another from her, laced with a soft moan.
If he'd had the mental capacities free, he would have been very sure he wasn't worthy of her or her love. Low, nearly canine whines accompanied his every exhale, and he was vaguely aware that she was panting lightly, leaning into his grasp.
Touching her like this...no Elysian Field, Summerland, Heaven, or Valhalla could be better than this.
And it wasn't enough.
He looked down at her, saw her lovely features, her expression so full of warmth and sincerity, and knew he'd never wanted to kiss anyone so badly in all his life, remembered and not. He wanted to worship every inch of her as the immaculate temple she was, and to never caress her skin was unthinkable.
Even if it were possible, he still didn't think it would be enough to satisfy him. This girl embodied every virtue he treasured, every bit of tenderness in his soul-- She made him whole. He had to exalt her, touch her, be with her each moment of each day for the rest of time. Nothing less would do.
With that decided, he reached out, and laid his fingertips against the smooth, pale flesh of her cheek.
Electricity shot through him where his skin met hers.
The connection opened between them immediately. Rogue jerked in shock, and twisted away from him, confusion practically radiating from her. "Don't--"
Logan moved in like a predator, pushing her onto the bed, and followed her down, pinning her with his weight. She fell beneath him with a quiet yelp, and he scented real fear on her for the first time that night.
"What are you doing?" she cried in alarm, young and frightened and unable to understand.
A finger to her lips silenced her with a jolt. "Shhhh."
This time, he placed both hands on her, cupping her face, and felt the life begin to pour out of him and into her.
Before when he'd touched her, it'd been...difficult, and he had been paralyzed by it. Now he wasn't resisting or even just surrendering his energy, he was freely giving it, actively willing it to pass through his fingers to her. There seemed to be something else, inside of her, that was pulling on him, helping him.
She was crying again, horrified; screaming at him, begging him to stop, trying to fight him off. But she was so much smaller than him, he easily overpowered her, holding her there though she kicked, bucked, and squirmed.
The Man thrashed and clawed inside his head, frantic to halt the madness, and while the Beast thrilled at dominating its chosen female, it shied away from the draining, unnerved. All that really mattered to him was giving her his love. Had to show her, give it to her...
"Don't! Please, Logan...please! Stop it!"
Weakness was starting to set in, and distantly he heard someone pounding on her door, trying to get in.
Time was running short. Bending down, he gazed steadily into her eyes, hating the terror he'd put in their depths, but there was no other choice to make. "It'll be over soon, baby," Logan whispered, lifting a hand to smooth her hair from her forehead, and covered her mouth with his own.
Her lips were soft and yielding-- A little chapped, but just as warm as he'd imagined them. Oh Lord, if only he had time to do this properly, teach her what a kiss could really be like...
It was worth it. It was worth anything, even his life.
Images of the past whirred in front of his mind's eye. Most of it was dark, cold, a wasteland, until near the end, when summer came to his soul. She was a blessing, a gift more precious than any, and he thanked God for every moment she'd graced his life.
He broke the kiss tenderly, and was a little startled to find tears of his own trailing down his face.
What she did to him, even now.
His bones were aching sharply, telling him his healing factor was close to gone, which meant it was almost finished. Good; he didn't want her any more traumatized than was absolutely necessary.
Tired...just wanted to sleep now...he slumped forward, resting his head in the niche between her neck and shoulder, and breathed in the scent of her skin...mangoes and strawberries...
"I love you, Marie." Logan sighed so very gently, and let his heavy eyelids close at last.
Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, please...stop him, please...please...
Her voice was gone from shrieking and crying, but she could feel it beginning to heal already, which only made her want to shriek and cry harder.
It meant she'd taken nearly all of him.
His breathing was getting more shallow with each passing second...why couldn't she move him? Sweet Jesus, help her move him before...before...
In her mind, she was pleading with God, with anyone or anything that might listen, praying with so much of her heart, she thought it might simply evaporate at any moment. De profundis clamo ad te Domine... she beseeched over and over and over again. Jesus...please...de profundis clamo ad te Domine...please, God, please...de profundis clamo ad te Domine...
All wrong. It was all wrong. She didn't know any Latin (...de profundis clamo ad te Domine...), hadn't heard it outside of TV and movies (...ad te Domine...), had been born and raised a Baptist, so she certainly didn't speak Church Latin, (...Domine...), and how did she know it was Church Latin anyway?
There was shouting in the hallway, and the sounds of her door cracking ringing out were like voices of angels come to save them both.
Relief washed over her; rescued! They would pull Logan away, and he would be all right, and she could kill him for this, and then love him for a hundred thousand years...
...but he wasn't moving. She couldn't feel his warm, sultry breath on her throat.
She wasn't absorbing him anymore.
Rogue's heart stopped beating. Nonononononono...this wasn't happening! "Logan..." she whispered huskily, shaking him.
He had to wake up, had to wake up, just had to wake up...
"Logan..." she said again, and shook him harder. Her eyes were hot and damp, her words trembling and strangled, and everything was becoming blurred. "Logan, get up!"
...had to, had to, had to, had to...
Borrowed strength flooded her, and her insides lurched in dread. She sat bolt upright, and pulled him into her arms, rocking him back and forth with her whole body, putting more and more of determination into it because maybe if she just tried hard enough this nightmare would end. "Get up! Logan, you open your eyes right now!"
And it finally hit home that he wasn't going to come back, no matter how much she yelled at him, or shook him, or rocked him.
A pit opened up in her stomach, and threatened to suck her soul down into it forever. "Get up, get up, get up! Logan...Logan, no...oh God...help! Help me! Somebody help me please!" she screamed, weeping and crushing him to her, trying to force the life back into him. "Don't do this! Logan, don't you do this to me! Oh my God, no...no!"
Two hands seemingly materialized on his shoulders. Jean Grey-Summers' hands.
Jean carefully tried to remove his body from her, but she snarled, clutching him tighter. "Don't touch him!" she roared, fiercer than any of them had ever seen, probably more than she'd ever been in her life.
Logan's legacy, no doubt.
Oh Lord, oh Jesus, oh merciful Father, he was gone. He was gone, and he was never coming back. She was never going to see him smirk knowingly or trade insults with Scott or smoke horrible cigars anymore, and he was never going to put his arms around her again...
She was never going to hear her name from his lips again.
An incomprehensible sense of loss fell over her, smothering her beneath layers and layers of grief. Driven by the most primal of instincts, she threw her head back, and howled her agony. "LOGAN!"
Rogue barely felt Jean embrace her, or Scott gather them both up and just hold them, or Professor Xavier's gentle, soothing touch on her anguish-wracked mind.
Tears poured out from her eyes, blinding her, dripping off her chin in rivulets. She was never going to heal from this, she was going to have a gaping canyon inside her for the remainder of her days, she was going to curl up and breathe her last, if only to get away from this pain--
::You runnin' again?::
Hallucinations? Fine. Great. Absolutely wonderful. She didn't care anymore, she just wanted to die--
::Don't you ever say that!::
She nearly jumped out of her skin. That voice...heaven above, if it was real, then that would mean...
"Logan?" she gasped thickly.
Jean and Scott stared at her, surprised by her seemingly random outburst.
::Yeah, it's me, darlin'. You didn't think I'd leave you that easy, did ya?::
The distinct image of Logan shrugging, and rubbing the back of his head popped into her mind. ::Dead? In a way, I suppose. But in other ways, I'm very much alive, if you know what I mean.::
Only he would be cracking pervertedly wise at a time like this. She couldn't help but let out a weak laugh.
Now the Summers were looking at her like she'd lost her mind, which perhaps she had. Or maybe she just had a supposedly dead man she happened to love living in her brain now.
Somehow, she had a feeling her life was about to get very interesting indeed.
De profundis clamo ad te Domine
Translation: From the depths I cry out to you, O Lord
Have no fear, true believers (or maybe you should?). This is just the first in a trilogy, aptly called "Breath From Another," taken from the song of the same title -- other than that, it doesn't have a lot to do with these fics. I just thought it was pretty and shiny.
*glares at her Greek chorus of plot bunnies, hanging from her nose, ears, elbows, and ankles by their pointy little fangs* There, I wrote Story #1! You guys satisfied now?! Sheesh...determined little buggers...