by Te
July 2002 - January 2003

Disclaimers: Not mine, dammit.

Spoilers: Vague ones for the movie.

Summary: Rogue's growing up in her own way.

Ratings Note: R. Content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: I think this one had a *lot* to do with Jenn.

Feedback: Yes, please.


She asked him once, if he wanted his memories.

If he wanted them in any other way than this, at least -- one profoundly bruised and aging man in uniform at a time.

It was in her power to give, after all. She may have inherited Logan's blocks, but she had none of the reasons to keep them and they'd melted away like so much water with time and a little effort. A few pushes here and there. Mental tricks gleaned from the psis they meet along the way.

She hadn't understood his refusal at first, but hadn't said anything about it, anyway. She suspects it showed on her face just the same. She'd been young, and there'd been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

A lot of things learned.

Perhaps the first: what the mind knows, the body still needs to understand.

That *particular* feel when the punch you throw connects just right, when bone splinters and cracks beneath the skin.

The touch of a man, of a woman, however fleeting and ultimately deadly.

The impossible brightness of blood, even in the most questionable light.

"You don't have to go with me, Marie," he'd said, and by then she'd known him well enough to hear the dozen other things he wasn't saying, both to keep from pissing her off and to make a show about things. She'd still been young enough for that sort of thing to matter.

They'd all known it was only a matter of time before Marie went *somewhere*, the only question was where. And with whom.

She didn't believe anymore.

She thinks she stopped believing 'round about the time she figured out, really *understood* that, to Xavier, there really was something to believe in. A Dream with a capital D.

Marie never signed on to spearhead a movement.

And when she figured out that she didn't really know what she signed on *for*...

"We have a chance to do something important, Marie. Something that truly needs to be done," the Professor had said, and it had been, perhaps, the closest the man had come to pleading.

The closest he'd ever come since an Israel that didn't exist anymore, to a younger man who was now an old man in a plastic box.

Ghostly in her head.

Still, it's not like she believes in this, either.

A meaty thud, a groan. Growled words of a question asked so many times that the words don't have any meaning to her anymore. Nor, apparently, to their latest catch. Marie can see nothing but bewilderment under the pain and fear in the man's eyes, and she knows they won't get anything out of him.

Knows by the way the muscles move and don't move quite *enough* under Logan's shirt that he knows it, too. Frustration.

He may kill this one.

Marie only kills the mutants with the powers she wants. It takes time, study, care -- things that they often don't have -- but it's worth it.

Between the two of them, they're pretty unstoppable these days.

The general starts gibbering about plans, bases, experiments that have nothing to do with Logan's past but still seem useful enough, and Marie is puzzled for a moment. Logan hadn't done anything... oh.

She's smiling.

"When they are truly broken, the subtler games can begin," speaks a memory of a memory that isn't hers.

Logan looks at her, and she wonders at the blatancy of the weighing in her head. At the *consciousness* of it. How's that karma lookin' today, sugarine? She nods at him, and Logan finds paper, two pens that don't work and one that does.

"Looks like it's your lucky day, maggot. You get to keep your fingers for a while. Start writing."

Marie makes the call from a pay phone some eighty miles from where they dumped the body. It rings six times before anyone answers, which means Jean was screening. Reaching with that Phoenix power of hers that she keeps leashed fuck only knows how.

One of these days she's gonna absorb a psi -- it's only her own superstitions and a healthy dose of laziness that's kept her from doing it thus far -- get a better idea of how she does it, but that day's not today. Good enough to know that Jean is making sure that no one picks up the phone who'll want to ask questions.

Storm on the line, and the facts are passed neatly and quickly. Back on the road in less than five minutes, enough time for her to get the last few drags off Logan's cigar.

"Those things'll kill you."

And if he's wired enough to make bad jokes...

The truck -- newish, practical enough -- is pushing ninety. Not the best policy for the same night you tortured and killed a high-ranking military official. They're probably covered with forensic evidence some especially careful mutie-hater would just love to find.

Logan's itching under the skin, and it's obvious she should've responded to the joke in *some* way. If only to deflect... this.

The summer night spills out in front of them like flat cola, and Marie idly considers suggesting they stop earlier than they originally planned. She'd already planned to fuck him tonight, and there's no good reason to put it off with him in this mood.

She's absorbed enough ferals over this years to *feel* it, even if she can't quite smell it.

Makes her itch.

"Logan --"

"Why did you come with me?"

And her mouth's *just* that second too fast for her brain. "Because you're usually smart enough not to ask questions like that."

Startled little grunt, like she got him a good one in the gut.

Marie's not the type to say "that's not what I meant" when something is nothing but the truth, though, so she has no idea what to say.

More road, more night. She wants to run. Wants the trees to line this surprisingly pretty road to go back and back... shakes it off. She doesn't have the time to have someone else's fantasies right now.

Chances a look at Logan, but he's just studying the road like a map, a bottle.

Finally, "I know you were meeting with Mystique."

Marie nods. There'd been... a look. A flare of his nostrils that told her all she needed to know. "She wanted me to join her."

"You slept with her."

"I fucked her."

Another grunt, this time with less of a sucker-punch quality.

"Did you think I'd go with her?"

Logan's raised eyebrow puts her back up in a way that makes her feel young and even more pissed. "Not then."


"You don't love me, you're not interested in beating the crap out of old jarheads for fun and profit... look, Marie..."

"You're breaking up with me, and you're trying to fix me up with *Mystique*?"

"No! I... hell. That came out all wrong."

"Make it right." She can't help smiling a little. She puts an image in her head of Logan in full costume from Hello, Dolly and sends East with everything in her. Something bright and *okay* in her hoping Jean feels it and spits out whatever she's drinking.

"Look... you're drifting. I like traveling with you, the sex is great, you're a great partner overall, but Marie... are you *happy*?"

And that's just... there's a moment where she thinks she can control it. Keep it down to a chuckle or two, or at least a few contained giggles, but the moment passes and Marie loses it completely, laughing so hard she bangs her head against the passenger window, which only makes her laugh harder.

For several minutes.

After a while, the laughter dies down, and she becomes aware that Logan's pulled onto the shoulder and is looking at her with the kind of rueful amusement that could fool you into thinking that he was just a man. Any kind of man at all.

"Shit, Logan," she says when she can talk again, "who the hell is *happy*?"