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Title: The Very Sickness of My Heart
Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@att.net]
Summary: How far will Rogue go to win Logan's love?
Rating: R -- language, sex, mature themes
Disclaimer: I own nothing! Nothing, I tell you!
Warning: Character death, mature themes
Archiving: Lists, Muse's Fool.
Feedback: all forms of feedback are appreciated muchly. Though no more goats, please. No room for 'em.
Notes: jenn -- without you, this would have been a lot less angsty. It's changed a bit since that first draft. Enjoy. <g>
Much of this was written to the sound of the Cure's _Disintegration_, specifically, the title track and also "Prayers for Rain."
Thanks to Jen, Pete, Meg and Dot, without whom I'm nothing as a writer, and to everyone who's ever sent me feedback. I love you all dearly.
/ / indicates italics
// // indicates Rogue's journal entries
* * indicates voices in Rogue's head speaking to her


The Very Sickness of My Heart

She isn't sure when the seeds of the plan were first sown, when honest hero worship twisted into something dark, malevolent.

To be honest, she isn't sure of anything anymore, except that she gets to see Logan every day, and in the nice weather they go outside and sit in the gazebo, enjoying the sunshine.


Those first long months after Logan left, she'd trailed after Jean like a puppy, eager to learn, desperate to please.

Jean accepted her shadow gracefully, much as she did everything else. She handled the girl's confused come-ons with aplomb, smiling in understanding whenever Logan's personality slipped its leash in Rogue's mind.

Rogue tried hard to make the others like her, accept her as one of them despite her deadly skin. But the combination of Logan and Erik in her head made her a less than ideal candidate for popularity.

She was prone to growling and stalking, and often made cutting remarks about the stupidity of others within their hearing. Most of her happiness came from curling up in the library, reading _Bulfinch's Mythology_ or Edith Hamilton. She amazed them all with her keen grasp of the tragedies of ancient Greece, and her desire to learn the language.

She had daily sessions with the Professor, working to control the personalities in her head, to overcome the nightmares with which they'd left her (in addition to her own, which were bad enough), and also to master her mutation. She learned various meditation techniques, and read all the psychology articles she could get her hands on, looking for the magic "switch" that would fix her. She began keeping a diary at the Professor's insistence.

"Allow Logan and Erik an outlet when you write, my dear, and perhaps you will have more control over them when you are with other people," Xavier suggested.

She did as he said, splitting a large notebook into three sections: one for Marie, one for Erik and one for Logan. David was so faded that she could barely feel him anymore, usually only when she caught an Ole Miss football game on television.

Erik wrote political treatises and ranted about the unfairness of all that had been done to him. He committed to paper memories that had Rogue shaking and crying after reading over what she had written. He flooded her with the feelings of watching his parents taken away to be gassed as soldiers held him back, as well as all the pain and humiliation he'd suffered in his time at Auschwitz.

When Logan was in charge, she ended up with scraps of poetry and vivid descriptions of what he had undergone during the procedure to implant his adamantium. Rereading those passages often sent her to the toilet, where she retched until there was nothing but a raw ache left in her stomach.

In her own section, she kept track of Scott's approving remarks on her math tests, Xavier's smiles, and Jean's kind words. At first, she always had good things to write. She was warm, well-fed, and safe. She was the perfect embodiment of the good girl her mother always told her she should be.

But she couldn't seem to get the hang of chemistry. Erik's voice in her head was always arguing with Jean's instructions, until she had a string of failed tests and botched lab assignments to her name.

Jean sat her down after another failed exam, and told her she needed to stop fooling around and work hard if she wanted to pass. Rogue swore she would. She needed chemistry to graduate, and she didn't want to disappoint anyone by failing.

Then, her sessions with the Professor began to sour. Not only was she not making any progress in controlling her mutation, but Erik forced his way out more often in Xavier's presence, so much so that the Professor no longer smiled at her in benign approval. He appeared to be actively avoiding her company outside their daily lessons.

Against all expectation, Logan's homecoming only made it worse.

He was her best friend, her confidante, but it was obvious to her that he'd never love her the way he loved Jean. Nobody loved Rogue that way. Sometimes she felt nobody loved her at all.

After failing chemistry and having to sit through the summer session, she decided being a good girl wasn't worth the pain and aggravation. She dredged her memories -- all four sets -- to come up with the image of a stereotypical "bad girl." She raided Betsy's and Jubilee's wardrobes for short skirts and tight jeans, lacy underwear and leather boots.

She started going into the city -- the Metro North station wasn't far if she rode her bicycle, and the train ride into Grand Central was barely an hour.

In Manhattan, she didn't stand out -- she was just one more freak in a larger-than-life freakshow, and it soothed her whenever she became rattled.

She found that her air of delicate distraction, coupled with her careless attitude and the white streaks in her hair, attracted men (and the occasional woman) by the handful. They called her mysterious, and seductive, and all the things she felt she wasn't when she was at the mansion. It felt good at first.

It hadn't occurred to her that some of them were using her. Not until the first time she overheard the two frat boys who'd been buying her drinks laughing about scoring with the mutie chick. In the bathroom, where she'd gone to wash up after going down on both of them, she retched at hearing their laughter, that they'd planned the whole thing, an exercise in humiliation, to show her just how much of a freak she was.

In her diary, she wrote of

// clutching fingers, bruising my neck, shoulders, hips.

the taste of latex covering hard, hot flesh.

hands in my hair, pushing, pulling.

sullied sheets, the smell of blood and sweat and semen.

keeping my clothes on, keeping the outside clean, so no one can ever tell

Dirty on the inside, never touching untouchable skin, but I wish

I want. I want. I am nothing but want sometimes. That is how it works. I am voracious, sucking out the souls of all those who touch me.

I want to feel their flesh sliding against my own, grinding their filth into my body as I absorb them. I am a black hole. A gaping wound in my heart, my soul, my mouth, between my legs, that nothing can fill, only Logan and he doesn't want to. Doesn't want me.

And why should he?

I am unclean.

They laugh, and it all turns black and red and gray. They expose all that I've hidden.

Let the unclean thing be known.

No more pleasure, no power, no pain, just shameshameshameshameshame...//

That overwhelming shame sent her out into the night, crying, with Erik wondering why she cared what the stupid humans thought and Logan trying to make her understand that she was more valuable than that.

The pleasure she derived from her secret adventures disappeared, lost in the miasma of guilt and shame engulfing her on the train back to Westchester. She pushed it all down, donning her mask as she exited the station and rode through the unlit streets to the mansion.

She once again became the Rogue, untouchable, inviolate, and no one could ever know her secrets.

She slipped in the kitchen entrance and down to the locker room, showering, removing the filth, because she knew Logan would smell it on her, would find out where she'd been, and punish her as she deserved.

At least, she hoped he would. She became lax, her clean-up ritual after those fevered nights less thorough as the weeks passed. She wanted him to catch the musky scent of strange men in her hair and on her skin. She wished he cared enough to hurt her for betraying him, giving to others what should have been his alone.

But he never did.


Logan met weekly with Xavier to discuss Rogue's condition. He had been shocked by her transformation in the months he'd been gone.

No longer the healthy-but-scared young woman he'd left behind, she now suffered from violent mood swings -- often courtesy of the individuals struggling for control in her mind -- and an overwhelming need for approval, which Xavier said came from the lack of physical affection in her life.

Logan spent a great deal of time with her, his heart breaking every time she had a setback and locked herself in her room. She had appropriated the room that had been his during his brief stay, and the adults felt that was best. None of the girls wanted to live with her -- she had violent nightmares and was known to sleepwalk on occasion. So, on his return, he'd moved into a room three doors down, close enough for comfort, yet far enough away to still any tongues wagging about their relationship.

He sat outside her door on the nights she screamed in her sleep but wouldn't let him in. Sometimes she allowed him to cuddle her or stroke her hair until she was warm and comfortable, and willing to let herself be carried off into sleep. Typically, though, she resisted, staring blindly into the night and telling him of the horrors she'd seen. That never failed to make him feel guilty thrice-over, first for impaling her, then for letting Magneto kidnap her, and finally, for leaving so much of himself in her head the second time they'd touched.

He wondered sometimes, usually following a hard night of drinking after she shared her nightmares with him, if they'd have all been better off if he'd failed that night on the Statue of Liberty. Then he chided himself for being ridiculous, that for someone like Marie, who had her whole life ahead of her, *of course* living was better than dying. He was certain that Xavier or Jean or *somebody* would be able to help her out, and his hope rarely wavered. But still, sometimes he wondered.


Rogue stayed at the mansion while many of the others moved on to college. She saw the look in his eyes, in the Professor's, Ororo's, the other students'. If they had been visible, she was convinced Scott's eyes would also be filled with that unspoken expectation, "Why can't you be like Jean?" and the heartfelt disappointment when she wasn't.

Inexorably, she was drawn into a competition she knew she could never win.

It didn't stop her forays into the night, just changed the tenor of her masquerade.

After a particularly brutal night, which left her bloody and bruised -- the man she'd chosen not finding her mutation an interesting kink, but an abomination before God -- she looked at herself in the mirror. The hair, the gloves, the dogtags -- it was obvious she was a mutant, she thought. She might as well shout it to the world. She longed for normalcy, and if she couldn't have it, she'd accept a reasonable facsimile.

On a shopping trip one Sunday afternoon with Jean, she realized that no one looked askance at the redhead. No one thought she was a mutant, just on the basis of her looks, and none of the men who flirted with her ever laughed about it afterwards.

Rogue dyed her hair red and dressed in Jean's cast-off clothes. She never saw the uneasy glances her teachers shared. She thought it was working. Logan spent more time with her than ever, which balanced out the Professor's and Scott's worried looks, as far as she was concerned. She cared more about what Logan thought, anyway.

Her trips to the city took on a new excitement. She was no longer Rogue, the mutant mutant; she could be anyone she wanted, and she chose to be Jean.

The red hair was a beacon, drawing men to her like moths to a flame. Once again, she felt the power and the pleasure, which kept the shame at bay.

The music was loud, too loud to hear, it could only be felt, a tangible heaviness in the air, caressing her like the glide of warm honey on bare skin. It pounded in her ears, pulsed in her veins, throbbed in a searing ache between her legs. A dozen little deaths by drumbeat and random fingers, lips and tongues. The taste of sweat, salt in her mouth, and the tang of the forbidden. She pledged her soul to Dionysus and reveled in the debauchery she found in twenty-first century Manhattan.

She wrote in her journal of one such random encounter:

//He asked me, What's your name? And I could have said, Marie. David. Logan. Erik. Rogue.

I could have said, Cybele. Artemis. Aphrodite. Alecto. Megaera.

I am all of these: life and death, love, jealousy and anger, darkness and unceasing pain. I am metal bars and metal claws, the kiss of death.

But instead, I said, Jean.

He smiled and bought me a drink. He sipped his beer, I shot my bourbon, the burn spreading through my chest, skittering down my body until it settled in my crotch. I could feel myself get wet. But not for him -- not this man who called me Jean. For Logan, always for Logan. Who would never call me Jean. Who would never touch me the way I wanted him to. Who never *could* touch me the way I wanted him to.

I didn't know his name -- didn't want to, didn't ask. And he never knew mine, but I let him take me to his car and fuck me.

I told him, You can't touch me, and he laughed.

Why not?

Because I am death to all who touch me.

Oh, Jeannie -- he even called me Logan's special name for her -- I'll be your master. You don't have to worry.

Foolish, foolish man, to dance with death and laugh, secure in your own strength.

He laughed again, as though some trick of hair dye and red silk could really make me safe for him to handle.

I told him, I like it from behind. I didn't want to see his face. I didn't want to know it wasn't Logan.

I let him bend me over the hood of his car. He penetrated me through the hole in my stockings and I imagined his hands and lips and cock were Logan's. He profaned me and I begged him for it. He was rough and demanding and when he came he grunted, Jeannie!

I imagined I was her, and I spiraled through the heat and the tension until the whole world exploded.

Logan, I said, my voice hoarse with too much bourbon, smoke, yelling to be heard over the music that was so loud it was beyond sound. Too much of everything and not enough of something I couldn't quite grasp.

That's the story of my life. I want. I want. I can have all I desire, I can fill this aching void inside if I touch him. He'd let me, too. Oh, he loves her, and he wants her, but he'd let me kill him if it made me happy.

But then he'd never touch me again. And no one would remember Marie.

No one would remember Marie.

Sometimes I think it would be better if Marie never existed. If I was always just Rogue -- always just everybody and nobody. Untouchable. Maybe then I could live with this emptiness, this ache, this nothingness inside me.

After we had sex, he zipped up his pants and told me I was a good lay. He leaned in to kiss me and I hit him, angry that he hadn't taken my warning seriously. I could have killed him. I should have killed him, just to prove my point. He was the kind of man who'd never take a woman seriously, especially not one who let him fuck her after only one drink.

But I was afraid. I didn't want him in my head. I didn't like him.

I watched him drive away, fascinated by the used condom he'd tossed into the street, and I was glad I didn't touch him.

He wasn't Logan, and I'm not Jean.

I'm not Jean.

But I could be.//

A few weeks later, she overheard Jubilee and Kitty in the locker room. "I don't know if I could handle being Single-White-Female'd like that," Jubes said, oblivious to Rogue in the shower stall behind her.

"Yeah, Dr. Grey's really got her shit together," Kitty replied, "because I would be totally creeped out."

Rogue stifled her sobs and promised herself she'd do better. She would make them love her the way they loved Jean.

She cut her hair, let the dye job grow out, and starting wearing all black, all the time.

In her journal, she wrote:

//They think they know me. They think they've got me pegged. But they don't know anything.

I'm not her, but I could be, so easily. Just a little slip, a little touch, and then they'd all have to love me, because I wouldn't be Rogue anymore. No. I'd be her.

And they'd all love me.

They'd have to.

And I could have Logan, all to myself. No more of her coy little glances. Does she think I don't see it, the way she leads him on?

She's only going to break his heart. I try to tell him that, but the words don't come out right. He just looks at me and tells me he's going to take care of me.

I know he'll never break his promise, even for her.

But I want more. I want him.

And one way or another, I'm going to get him.//


Logan monitored her carefully as she returned to being Rogue. He knew -- they all knew -- that something had gone tragically wrong with her, but because of the maelstrom in her head, Xavier had a hard time reading her accurately.

Logan, who had always been cynical almost to the point of despair, clung to vague hopes that she could be helped, that once again, the young woman he cared for so deeply would appear.

And sometimes she did. The more time he spent with her, the happier she was. She didn't lock herself in her room, crying furiously over imagined slights. She laughed and allowed him to take her into town for coffee or dessert, anything to stop her forays into the nightlife he knew she was sampling.

He'd finally noticed the night she'd come home with one eye swollen shut and a hitch in her walk. She limped down to the locker room and he could smell the blood and fear wafting off her, along with the scent of another man.

He waited outside, listening to her sob in the shower, knuckles itching to release the claws and damage whoever had used and beat her.

When she saw him, her eyes widened and she flung herself into his arms, still crying. "Why don't they love me?" she choked out. "Why don't you love me?"

He had no words to answer her, afraid that whatever he said would only make things worse. Instead, he stroked her hair, and swung her up into his arms. "Let's get you to bed, kid."

He hesitated briefly as he tucked her in, wondering if healing her would do more harm than good, if his presence in her head had been the breaking point two years before.

He hated feeling indecisive, hating seeing her in pain, so he leaned over and brushed his lips lightly against her forehead.

She pushed at him, her scent flush with terror. "Be careful!" she gasped. "I don't -- I could hurt you. I never, ever want to hurt you, Logan."

"I know, darlin'. Get some rest."

He thought, then, that he had the answer -- that he'd been able to solve the puzzle when Xavier and Jeannie couldn't. She was so terrified of hurting people that she'd withdrawn into her head.

He presented his theory to the Professor in the morning, and they decided on a plan.

Logan would keep her occupied in the evenings, and make sure she was safe at night. Xavier would continue to work with her on her mutation, while Jean and Scott would make sure she felt needed around the school.

They placed her in the gardens with Ororo, hoping that the ability to handle plants would assuage some of her fear and loneliness from the lack of tactile stimulation in her life. Ororo found her to be a silent, diligent worker, who could be drawn out for long discussions of various myths, but who had no desire to talk of herself or her fears.

They grew complacent, sure they had pulled her back from the brink with their loving care and compassion.

Once more, Xavier's approval rained down on her, and all was well with the world.


Logan loved Rogue and did his best to protect her, but he'd been unable to do so the night she killed Carol.

Carol was one of the few people with whom he'd become close over the seventeen years of his remembered life, an ex-lover who sometimes joined the X-Men on their missions, her invulnerability, strength and flight always an appreciated weapon in their war with the Brotherhood and the Friends of Humanity.

But Carol didn't know that Rogue had taken to roaming the halls at night, a sometime somnambulist, dressed in black and blending with the long shadows in the dark corridors. No one was ever sure if she was truly asleep when they'd find her, poised at the end of the hall, leaning out an open window, curtains floating on the breeze, regardless of the weather.

So, Carol made the costly mistake of trying to sneak into Logan's room while Rogue patrolled the halls in a strange, narcotized state halfway between waking and sleeping.

Rogue thought she was protecting Logan. She told him later she'd thought Carol was from the government, come to take him away to be tortured again. "But no one's gonna getcha while I'm around, sugar," she assured him gravely. He wanted to weep, a strange and new feeling that only she ever evoked, and one that would become all too familiar in the years to come.

That's what made it so hard for him to bear -- that she would ever feel it was her responsibility to protect him, when all he really wanted to do was take care of her.

The damage was done before anyone could react.

Jean and the Professor woke to the anguished psychic screams of both women, as all of Carol's essence drained into Rogue's already disturbed mind.

By the time Logan arrived on the scene, Carol was dead and Rogue was hovering near the ceiling, too terrified and bewildered to come down.

"'Oh, woe is me,'" she quoted through the sobs that wracked her body. "'To have seen what I have seen, see what I see.'"

Finally, working together, Jean and Xavier were able to calm the girl down and remove her to an isolation chamber, where they slowly tried to piece her broken psyche back together.

Logan still blames himself, though the others exonerated him long ago.


*They hate you,* Carol whispered. *You killed me, and they hate you.*

Carol drowned out Logan, who tried to give comfort, but she roused Erik, who sensed a chance to wreak havoc on his beloved enemy. Erik chimed in whenever Carol poured her venom into Rogue's ear, forcing recollections of humiliations he'd suffered at the hands of long-dead oppressors. He told Rogue that's what the X-Men had in store for her, as payback for killing one of their own.

David -- long-dormant, driven back by Logan's fierce determination to protect Rogue, even in the recesses of her mind -- found his voice again, adding chants of *Kill the mutie freak!* to the cacophony in Rogue's head.

For many months she fought, desperately trying to break free of the stranglehold Carol had on her mind. Carol had easily ferreted out her weaknesses -- her twinned desires to be like Jean and be loved by Logan -- and used them mercilessly to torment her. *He'll never love you. He loved me and you killed me. He can never touch you, or you'll kill him, too.*

Finally, in an effort that sapped Xavier's strength for weeks afterward, Carol was sealed off, walled into a tiny white room in the deepest recesses of Rogue's mind. Erik and David, too, were banished, leaving the ghost of Logan to help guide Rogue back to some semblance of sanity.

Pale and weak, she returned to the land of the living after almost a year in exile in the pit of her own mind.

Once again, their kindness poured over her, a balm to her lacerated soul --Scott's approval, Jean's soft words, Xavier's smile, and most of all, Logan's warm, strong hands upon her shoulders, anchoring her to reality.


As Rogue gained strength, she once again began to work with the Professor to control her skin, as well as the new powers she'd gained from Carol.

She began hearing the whispers again soon after, about how she was broken and would never be fixed, never be an X-Man, never have Logan's love.

She watched as Jean arranged her wedding and it was this joyous event that brought the plan, fully-formed, to the forefront of Rogue's addled brain.

"Scooter's really whipped to put up with all this wedding bullshit," Logan muttered one night, teasing Jean as she pored over fabric swatches and china patterns.

Perhaps Rogue stood downwind, or her scent was so familiar to him that it didn't register, but Logan was unaware of her presence outside the room where he lounged with Jean.

"Maybe it will be your turn someday," Jean replied. "You might even enjoy it, with the right person."

Logan's eyes darkened and his face fell. "I'll never be that lucky," he growled. "The one I want--" he broke off, determined not to dwell on what might have been.

Jean reached over and clasped his hand gently. "I'm so sorry. I wish things were different."

Logan shook his head. "It's not your fault, Jeannie. We all have to play the hand we're dealt."

Rogue sniffled at his fatalism, and the pain of his confession of love for another woman. All of Carol's whispered venom came back, and this time, Rogue couldn't fight it. She believed deep down inside that she was unlovable; that was why she was untouchable. She was poisonous as a warning, to keep people away, because she killed everything she touched, everything she loved.

She had no way of pushing those thoughts into the little white room where Carol had been sent, because *she* was thinking them, not any of the others in her head.

She spent more and more time writing in her journal, a signal to the others that things had taken a turn for the worse, if they'd only known. But they respected her privacy, her desire to have control of her thoughts, and never asked to see the contents of the notebook that accompanied her everywhere.

She wrote

//Wedding bells and flowers in her hair.

They don't want me at the wedding. I'm a reminder that we're not normal. We're all freaks, even if *she* pretends she's not. She's so fake, so friendly, but she's just hurtful. She's hurting him. Can't she see how much she's hurting him? The look in his eyes, oh, he's so sad all the time and he was never sad before, and it's all because of HER.

I HATE HER.

If he leaves because of her, I'm going to snap her pretty little neck and watch the light die in her eyes.

They can't touch me. I'm stronger, faster, and I've been touched by a god.

Not the pathetic mewling god my mother told me about growing up.

No, I've been handpicked by Dionysus. They think I'm mad, but my madness is that of a holy Bacchante.

I will go to the mountains and celebrate my lord's return, for I am his chosen bride. That is why no man can touch me without dying. I am Semele and I am sacred.

No. No. No.

Nononononononononono!

I'm Marie. I'm Rogue.

I love Jean. I love Logan. I love the Professor and everything they've done for me. They've given me a home.

I'm going to make them love me. Love *ME* the way they love her.

I'll be everything they want, everything they need. I'll be the best goddamn thing they've ever seen.

I will push her aside and claim my rightful place.

I have been cleansed through the fires of pain and death and risen again. And I will become her. I will become the woman Logan loves. I will.

I will.//

The wedding approached and Rogue grew edgier, waiting for the right time to strike.

She noticed how tense Logan became whenever others mentioned the wedding -- he was almost as agitated as she -- until he finally forbade everyone from mentioning it in his presence.

Even so, it's possible the whole thing could have been prevented if they had all been a little more vigilant, a little less sure they had everything under control.

Rogue lived up to her name; she was the one variable they'd forgotten to take into consideration. They even knew about her eavesdropping habit, and her way of discovering things they'd prefer she didn't know. But in their arrogance, they believed themselves a match for her, and reckoned without the slyness she'd developed in her time as a phantom, flitting through their lives like a dark cloud that never seemed to move in from the horizon, a storm that never seemed to break.

Afterward, her accusations of blame tortured them, because her words held the tiniest kernel of truth, and really, at first, none of them was quite sure who was speaking.

She was pressed up against the side of the open window that looked into Xavier's office. It was a beautiful June evening. She'd been out chasing fireflies when she'd heard Logan's rumble, along with Xavier's more cultured tones. She sidled up to the house, eager for more secrets. The secrets sometimes hurt, but she reveled in the knowledge they didn't want her to have. Knowing secrets gave her some measure of power, some control, when everything else in her life seemed to be slipping from her grasp.

"Do you think it's a good idea?" Logan asked. She couldn't identify the strange note in his voice -- she had never heard him sound so uncertain.

"Yes," Xavier replied. "I fear the effect of the wedding -- this tension you all feel -- It's unbalancing everyone. It's best if you go. You are always welcome here, Logan, but all of us agreed that your leaving is best."

"Jeannie--"

"Scott and I convinced her that there is nothing more she can do. Don't reopen the subject with her, Logan. It will only hurt you both."

Logan grunted and Rogue could hear him getting up to leave the room. She rushed away, but he saw her and tracked her down, cursing.

He'd wanted to present the idea to her as a /fait accompli/, but now, he'd have to speak with her about it before all his preparations were made.

He tracked her to the gazebo, a favorite haunt of hers. And haunt was the right word, he thought. In her black clothes, with her dark hair and eyes, only the streaks in her hair and the alabaster of her skin reflecting light, she seemed like a ghost or some sort of dark faerie sprung from the night.

She played with her gloves nervously, and he found himself at a loss for words, just staring into her deep, wounded eyes, inhaling her scent.

"I'm going away for a bit," he said abruptly. "I've got some business to take care of, but I'll be back."

"It's because of the wedding, isn't it?" she asked, her voice barely rising above a whisper. She hardly spoke these days, flitting through the halls like a phantom.

He nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, it is. But don't you worry about it. I'll be back," he repeated, trying to impress that upon her. He wasn't sure anymore how much she understood or remembered whenever they spoke. The Professor was right, he realized. Taking her away from here was probably the best thing for all of them.

She mimicked his nod, but knew she'd have to act quickly, do it before he left her for good.

"You all right, kid?" he asked, and he almost convinced her that he cared.

Almost.

"Yeah," she said, "just fine."

She slipped down to the lab a little later, hiding in a dark corner and biding her time, like a spider waiting for a fly.

With the wedding -- and the requisite two-week honeymoon -- fast approaching, Jean spent a good deal of each night in her office, making sure she was as caught up as possible. Not only did she have her research to worry about, but as the doctor at a school with many accident-prone children, there were often charts to update and tests to process. She knew she needed an assistant, but just hadn't had time to train one of the likely students or hire someone from town to come in part-time.

Rogue watched and waited, and when Jean took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes, Rogue sprung.

Hands bared, eyes wild, with preternatural delicacy, strange in one so strong, she latched onto Jean's neck with one hand and gently slipped the other around her mouth, cutting off her scream. Rogue urged the pull to begin, for the first time in her life wanting that connection. She used Jean's own telepathy against her, preventing her from crying out psychically.

Both women sank to the floor as Rogue absorbed the last of Jean's life.

Scott was startled out of sleep by the sudden awareness of a change in his link with Jean -- and a third presence that had never been there before.

He rushed down to the lab and found them. The women looked like some obscene pieta, Rogue cradling Jean in her lap, sobbing.

"No!" Scott screamed, waking the Professor, Logan and Storm.

Rogue smiled at her -- no, Jean's -- fiance. "Don't you love me, Scott?" she asked in a voice that was not her own.

When the others appeared, she repeated the question, and sobbed in frustration and anger as, one by one, they turned away in horror.


Rogue lives in a small room just beneath the attic, now.

Jean's telepathy was too much for her -- the voices overwhelmed her into catatonia, and broke her completely. She cannot control it, nor her skin, so Xavier and Logan decided it was too dangerous to institutionalize her; she needs Xavier's presence to keep her from invading others' minds with her madness, and to keep them from invading hers.

She is a legend among the new students, a bogeyman, the crazy lady only a few of them have seen, on warm spring days when Logan slips her out of her room while Scott is busy teaching.

She has occasional lucid days, asking Logan when he's taking her to Alaska, and what it will be like when they get there. Logan tells her all about the world she'll never get to see. He keeps his voice steady and stares blindly out at the horizon during these monologues, never letting his own pain show.

She ties him to this place. He sometimes wishes he'd never seen it, never met her.

Most of all, he wonders what he could have done to stop it from happening --all of it... If he'd taken her with him that first time. If he'd never left at all. If he'd never come back.

They sit in the drowsy afternoon shade, and when the sun dips below the horizon, he takes her back to her little room, decorated in soft shades of blue, accented with white eyelet lace.

She says the same thing every day, just before he leaves her.

"Love me, Logan. Love me."

He, who has never cried a tear that he can recall, invariably feels his eyes burn at her words, even as he finds himself incapable of giving her the answer she desires. He couldn't say it when it would have meant something, and to tell her now would be a mockery of all his impossible hopes.

He leaves, and, as he does every evening, he leans on the door after it's closed and whispers, "I do, Marie. I do."

End


The title comes from "Hamlet," as Laertes laments over his father's death and sister's madness. Rogue's quote is also from "Hamlet," from Ophelia, as she laments Hamlet's apparent madness.

All the mythological references can be found in Bulfinch's or Edith Hamilton, or at the Encyclopedia Mythica at http://www.pantheon.org/mythica - one of my personal favorite sites on the web.


victoria
The Muse's Fool: http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool


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