A/N: This is from Rogue's POV. Since she absorbed some of Scott's memories, it's almost like she already knows the school before even getting there. She also has some of Scott's personality and that colors her narrative here.
Westchester, New York
“Start talking,” said Logan.
At first I had trouble starting. And then when I finally did, I had trouble stopping.
I looked at the man with the metal claws in his knuckles, the other man with a pair of white fluffy wings sprouting out of his back, and the woman who’d just wiped a snowstorm out of the way of this funky sci-fi flying jet we were in, with just her thoughts. I looked at them all in the eye.
And I told them I could suck their powers right out of them with nothing but a bare-skin touch.
The Angel guy’s face hardened but he kept his thoughts to himself. Storm looked concerned and immediately started asking me a lot of questions about how long had Scott held on to my wrist, how long he’d been out, and the one question she didn’t ask but I knew she really, really wanted to - How long was too long.
I bit my trembling lip down hard. Didn’t wanna think about the first ever time I had sucked the life out of Cody, my… someone I once knew. Didn’t wanna know what’d happened to that trucker in Montana who offered me a ride and then tried to force me into the back of his truck.
Yep, that’s me. Rogue - a thief with no morals – the one who can steal your memories, your personality, your whole damn life, and apparently your mutation too. Guess I was destined to be alone forever. Not even mutants would want me around knowing what I could do.
I looked down at my hands, the black gloves hiding the venomous skin underneath. What would happen if I burned the skin off of both my hands? Would the curse go away?
Logan. He was the only one who didn’t look at me like I was responsible for Scott’s current state. Instead he looked… impressed maybe? Guess I didn’t know him enough to know what it meant when Logan was *not* frowning.
“You saved our lives back there. From the… uh…”
“Sabretooth,” Warren supplied.
Logan rolled his eyes a little. “What he said.”
I knew there was a reason why I’d trusted this man that first night in Loughlin City. It wasn’t just that we shared a genetic kinship. This may not go down so well with Wolverine, but I felt safe with him, strangely protected by and *in* his gruff silences and cold demeanor.
“So…” Logan cleared his throat.
I looked up at him and nodded, giving him the go ahead he was looking for. Clearly, Logan had questions too. He gestured with a chin towards the man slumped in the seat just in front of him, who’d been unconscious ever since… well, just ever since. I was surprised Scott actually stayed awake for a few (very crucial) seconds to help me before passing out. The last two guys had passed out pretty much instantly, and one of them I know for sure didn’t wake up for three weeks.
“Those… blasts… out of your eyes?”
“They were red. And powerful, and beautiful, except for the fact that they drilled right through your door and through that… that guy…”
“Sabretooth,” Warren interjected again. It was my turn to roll my eyes. Talk about tacky namesakes. Didn’t the guy know the dumb cats went extinct ten thousand years ago?
Logan smirked, looked back at Scott, his expression transforming into one with so much concern and, possibly fear. Maybe something more.
It was in that moment that I felt the first stirrings of jealousy in the pit of my empty gut. For God’s sake, I didn’t even know this guy! I quickly turned away and towards my window so Logan wouldn’t see what I feared he might see in my eyes. But Logan wasn’t interested in anything, anyone, but Scott.
I sighed deeply. What else…
Pain. Limitless, insurmountable pain. That’s what I remembered best from my twenty-second trip inside the head of one Scott Summers. I could sense Logan’s eyes train on me, but I didn’t give him a chance to probe any further. Crossed my arms and closed my eyes, keeping my face turned away.
Besides, it was taking all my physical and mental strength to not let the new visions and voices melt my brain down to a puddle of overheated slush. Holy freaking Jesus. The first two guys – I could still feel them inside my head. But both of them and maybe another four humans put together couldn’t possibly equal the enormous rush of power and emotions that I’d absorbed from Scott. The phantom throbbing of my temples never really left, but it was milder and easier to deal with now. I wondered how a man could walk around with this… this *thing* pounding all day and all night long, twenty four seven, inside his head.
And I thought *I* was the phenomenal freak. At least I wasn’t hurting myself.
Warren spoke up suddenly. “Prepare for landing.”
That was when I *really* looked out my window at the landscape of New York beneath. Soon we were hovering just above a sprawling estate flanked by massive lawns, a forest area on one side and a crystal blue lake on another. There was a really, really big house in the middle of it all, and if I wasn’t mistaken, it had the same grandiose type architecture as some of the great castles of Europe I’d seen in the movies.
Huh. A castle with a basketball court out front, that by the way, split open in two to let the jet through – now that was something you didn’t see in the movies. I caught Storm smiling at me, or more specifically, my open mouth and wide eyes, and I quickly looked away.
“Welcome to Xavier’s School for Mutants.”
Logan was the first one on his feet even before we landed. He started unbuckling Scott who looked like a ragged broken doll that’d just had all the life sucked right out of him. If not for the confusing mesh of safety straps holding him down tight, he would have been thrown off his chair a long time ago.
I waited and watched, and was probably the only one close enough to hear the words Logan mumbled to his unconscious charge. “Hey, look, kiddo. You’re home. I brought you home.”
// Home… once upon a time, maybe. When I was useful and I was worthy, but not anymore… //
I shook my head jerkily, forcing myself to concentrate on the *real* instead.
Storm led me out the hatch, followed by Warren and Logan came out last, once again holding Scott in his arms like a child. His head was leaned against Logan’s shoulder and both arms had been folded limply at his middle. His mouth was slightly open which to us was a very good sign. It meant he was still breathing.
Someone screamed. A shrill woman’s voice came floating to us from a distance and I turned to find a tall woman with flowing red hair all the way down to her waist come running towards us. She was completely panicked, and I slunk behind Storm just in case. Something told me she was not going to be very happy with me when she found out what had happened to Scott, who, clearly was her… *something*.
Maybe he was her brother – they sure looked very alike – they were both so tall and slender and beautiful. Boyfriend maybe? But I’d seen definite sparks between Scott and Logan back in Alberta. Cheating boyfriend then. I couldn’t help but hope. That way, maybe Logan would not be so ‘taken’ after all?
// Ex-girlfriend, thank you very much. And just so you know, I never cheated on her. Never. //
Right, thanks for the electric jolt, freaky wired brain. And bummer.
“Jean,” Storm intercepted her before she could reach Logan and Scott. “He’s alright. Vitals are stable now. We just can’t seem to wake him up.”
// And you can’t, not for three weeks. //
Jean Grey had eyes for no one but Scott in a stranger’s arms. She barely looked up at Logan, okay maybe once. Narrowed her eyes at him as if trying to read his mind, which would make sense. She was a telepath after all. Logan on the other hand had no way to know who she was.
Jean took one step towards Scott and the Wolverine suddenly growled low in his throat, threateningly. I could see him visibly pulling Scott’s body closer into his own in a way that practically screamed ‘back off, he’s mine’ and chances were I wasn’t the only one who noticed it. Storm definitely did.
“Logan, this is Doctor Jean Grey. Jean, you know Logan.”
They stared each other down for what felt like centuries. Oh for God’s sake, this was just ridiculous.
Jean cleared her throat and took another step towards Scott, obviously refusing to be intimidated by Logan’s pack-animal charades. I watched as she put a hand on Scott’s forehead and held it close to his nose and mouth. Then she picked up a wrist to look for his pulse. All that time, Logan sniffed and glared at her, doing some reconnaissance of his own.
Abruptly she turned on her heels. “Follow me, quick.”
Logan strode after her, and when I tried to do the same, Storm put a hand on my shoulder and held me back.
“Doctor Grey will make sure Scott is okay, Marie. You don’t need to worry.”
I wanted to believe her, I really did. Simply nodded my head and hugged myself, not sure what was expected of me.
“Would you like to grab something to eat? You must be hungry.”
Oh God, I was famished. But… I looked at Logan’s retreating back and felt the weariness return. I’d followed that man all way from Canada, and I knew he was preoccupied and all but, he didn’t seem mighty concerned about me.
“Tell you what,” Storm continued. “How about I show you the guestroom where you can drop your stuff off and freshen up. After that let’s go down to the sickbay together and see how Scott is doing?”
I looked down at my boots. “Doctor Grey might have questions for me…”
“Marie, look at me.”
I gulped hard and looked up.
“It wasn’t your fault. You’re the one who saved the day, Rogue. You saved both Logan and Scott from a terrible mutant.”
I shrugged. It wasn’t me. It was Scott all along.
“Scott’s been sick for a while now. It’s why he is so weak and couldn’t use his own powers. But for some reason, you could. He couldn’t have done anything without you, Marie.”
“What if he doesn’t wake up?”
Storm grinned at me like she knew something I didn’t and she probably did. “That is Cyclops, my dear, the leader of the X-Men. You can’t keep him down too long. Trust me, I *know*.”
I didn’t know what that meant – what any of that meant. Warren had disappeared shortly after we landed. Storm handed my rucksack to me. I slugged it over my shoulder and started to follow her out of the hangar, watching her sleek black cape glide behind her elegantly, making her look totally regal. Like an African Queen or something.
“Hey do you think Logan might be hungry too?”
I just shrugged, sure, if he’d stop worrying for Mr. Cyclops.
// Fucking Johns… //
Storm put an arm around my shoulder and I almost didn’t flinch, but I clamped it down quickly enough. “Yeah I think he might. We’ll drag him out to the kitchen with us, how about that?”
I managed to smile back.
The mansion was freaking ginormous and so totally awesome on the inside as well. Never-ending corridors, beautiful antique-ish furniture, super extra high ceilings, and then there were the kids. Lots and lots of kids… some normal looking ones, others not so much.
Storm, whose real name was Ororo Munroe as I soon found out, was a teacher here at the school. We’d walked into the fag end of lunch hour, which was why there was so much activity on the first floor. I saw kids as young as nine or ten, as well as kids about my age lounging about in classrooms and the dining area. From the full-length windows we passed, I could see some of them playing outside on the basketball court as well. If it weren’t for the occasional bursts of fire and kids speeding with a ball from one end of the court to the other under a second, this could have been any regular public school across America.
But it was not.
“I’ll give you a proper tour of the entire property later, Marie. Would you like that?”
Didn't actually need one. Thanks to the new presence in my head, the place already felt like home. “Sure.”
She took me to a dorm room on the second level with two beds. It was really spacious, almost like it wasn’t meant to be a dorm room but just any regular bedroom when it was constructed.
“Take any bed you like. Go ahead.”
I put my rucksack on the one closest to the door even though the other one was next to the window and had a lovely view of the lake. Took off my overcoat and adjusted my jersey, pulling it down towards my hips. Kept the gloves on, obviously.
“You can have the room all to yourself for now. You might get a roommate later if…”
“I ain’t stayin’ long.”
She turned to me in surprise.
“I-I mean… I don’t know what Logan wants to do…”
“Are you and Logan…?”
No. We were not anything. We were nothing. I didn’t even know him and he didn’t know me. But damn it, every instinct in my gut told me that Logan was the only one I should trust. Even though, Ororo really was quite nice actually, and the kids downstairs looked happy, like they belonged.
Ororo smiled at me gently, and approached me which just made me want to retreat for some reason because her kindness was scaring me. Why was she being so damn nice?
“Marie, I don't know Logan but I feel it might be best for him to stay too. We’d very much love to have you both here. Logan has been invited to take up a teaching position here at the school…”
I couldn’t help but smirk at the funny visual that hit me then, and she wasn’t too averse to smiling herself.
“And you could pick up your education where you left it off with us. Scott, Jean and I are all qualified teachers. And then we have Professor Xavier and Doctor McCoy…”
She went on for awhile about stuff she thought I wanted to hear, and it all sounded great but… I needed to talk to Logan. I needed to know if he cared, or if I was on my own on this one. Again.
“Can we go see Scott now?”
Ororo sighed and nodded. “Okay.”
The medical facility was in the basement six levels below. Everything here was the exact opposite of the floors above the ground – cold stainless steel (or something metallic like that) replaced the warm mahogany wood panels. The temperature was a few degrees lower, and the artificial lights were stark and clinical as opposed to the cozy sunshine streaming in through the windows above. No windows here either.
I followed Storm quietly as she led us down to the end of a corridor that looked a lot like a tunnel with rounded walls leading up into a shiny bomb shelter. Warren was there, standing with his fists on his hips, leaning against a glass enclosure wall, looking at something on his right intently.
“How is he?” Storm asked as we approached. Her voice was low as a whisper but still managed to echo through the hallway.
He shook his head. “What’s this gonna be – like his third time in a coma?”
I flinched, but no one noticed. We stopped next to Warren and turned towards a glass enclosure that looked a lot like a hospital ICU with three beds. Scott lay on the farthest one, stripped of his clothes and possibly naked under the white sheet covering him from the waist below. There were wires and electrodes and such attached to his body running down to the monitors behind him, I guessed, and a breathing tube was taped to his mouth. From this distance (which was about forty yards or so) he looked thinner, and weaker. *Paler*. As did Logan, standing at the opposite end of the room on his own, arms crossed and eyes glued to the ailing man lying before him.
“How’s Jean doing?”
“Still worked up. And that guy’s presence in here isn’t making things any easier.”
I tried to look like I wasn’t paying them any attention.
“I really don’t know. They were having a heated argument about something when I walked in. Shut up pretty damn quickly,” Warren turned to Storm then and hiked his blond eyebrows. “Unresolved sexual tension or plain old lovers’ envy?”
Storm sighed, she sounded almost exasperated. “Now’s not the time, Warren.”
“Hmm. Maybe both.”
So this Angel character was an asshole, this much I had surmised by now. For some reason he didn’t like Scott too much. Although, I did notice how he’d been bothering his lip and frowning just before we walked in, only to suddenly twist his mouth into a smirk when he spotted us. I wondered what their story was.
// What’s to tell? He hates my guts. He hated me when I was leader of the X-Men and hated me when I was with Jean. Now I’m neither but he hates me anyway. //
Okay! I grimaced and shook my head again.
“Good news is that Hank and Professor are on their way, should be here any minute now.”
The Professor… unlike Warren, the Scott inside my head seemed to trust this man completely, dead *blindly*. It was the kind of faith only a child could have in a devoted parent.
// He’s not really my father. He’s adopted. I mean, I am. Uhh, he adopted… me. From the streets of New York. //
I shivered a little, feeling guilty for knowing so much about Summers. Like I was intruding on the deepest, darkest and most intimate moments of his past life and I couldn’t even switch them off.
Doctor Jean Grey spotted us then and after sending one warning glare of sorts towards Logan, she came out to meet us, her long white coat flowing behind her tall, elegant form.
“I’m sorry we haven’t met properly. I’m Jean.”
She extended a hand towards me that I took. Something in my face must have made her frown like that. Or maybe something the telepath in her was reading off me.
“It wasn’t your fault, Marie. I don’t blame you for anything.”
Yeah, right. “He’s in a coma.”
She squinted a little. “Technically, no. I think he’s just… all drained out. I’m sure once we can get some fluids and energy back into him, he’ll wake up.”
I stared at her, not believing my own ears. “Really?”
Jean smiled and nodded, and I couldn’t help but let loose a giant sigh of relief. They probably didn’t mean to but they were all staring, and I had to get away. Now. “Can I go inside?”
“Sure. Just let him rest, okay?”
I nodded and pushed the door open, closing it ever so carefully behind me. It wasn’t Scott I needed to talk to, it was Logan.
The tall, gruff looking man didn’t seem so tough right then. Instead he looked just as lost and confused as I felt inside. He looked up at me but didn’t give any indication about whether he was glad to see me or if he just didn’t care. I walked up to him quietly anyway.
“How you holdin’ up?”
Funny, I was about to ask him the exact same question. “Fine. You?”
He nodded once, looked back at Scott. The monitors beeped a steady rhythm around us and I wondered if Scott could hear us talking.
“Are you stayin’?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“When will you know?”
He decided not to respond. I could now understand the intense frustration I was channeling from the Scott inside my head. It was incredibly hard, trying to get through to this man. Hard, but not impossible.
“If you go, can I come with you?”
He looked up at me then, surprised, clearly not expecting the question. My face must have fallen because his eyes suddenly softened. But his face just twisted into a deeper frown.
“Any ideas about this joint? What do these guys do here?”
“Just a stupid school, I don’t care.”
He exhaled, scratched at his jaw then crossed his arms again. Looking at me with steel in his eyes.
“Look, kid, I can drop you somewhere if you want. But…”
Something inside me protested with a raw emotion so heart-wrenching, it brought tears into my eyes. Emotions that I suspected, weren’t all mine. I crossed my arms and turned away, biting my damn lip down again to stop its painful quivering. I was amazed at how peaceful Scott looked on the outside, with so much pain and torment and restlessness brewing inside. I wondered who felt more alone and more… more *betrayed* by Logan’s latest rejection – Scott or Marie.
“Kid…” Logan sighed behind me. I didn’t turn to face him.
“I don’t do well around other people.” He whispered by way of his idea of an explanation.
“Neither do I.”
I looked into his eyes.
“Neither does *he*.”
Logan straightened up, frowning so hard at me I thought his brows might just break in two.
// I… I want you to stay! Please tell me everything that happened back there was not for nothing… //
“Don’t be a fucking coward. Obviously everything that happened in Canada meant nothing to you.”
“Tell it to his face before you go.”
I turned away and went closer to Scott’s bed, reaching out to touch his arm but withdrawing at the last second. I was alone after all, again.
And so was he.
A soft, mechanical whirring sound approached us from behind and of late all my reflexes were always to make a run for it, but not this time. Instead I felt this amazing wave of pure, unadulterated relief wash through my mind, and I turned towards the man in the wheelchair filled with hope. And assurance.
And a grudging surrender.
“You must be Marie!”
I nodded before I realized the deep, kind voice was actually coming from inside my head.
// Yeah, he’s a showman like that. //
In that case, bet I could give back just as good.
“Hello, Professor Xavier. How was your trip to DC?”
The corners of the old man’s eyes crinkled deeply as he flashed me a wide, knowing smile.
I noticed how Logan looked a lot more baffled and threatened by the telepath’s antics and he was growling deeply in his throat. I wasn’t surprised to see the Professor not looking surprised at all. Instead I was practically expecting the words that followed next to disarm the all-mighty Wolverine at once.
“Thank you for bringing my son home.”
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