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As I Lay Dying

by Victoria P.

  Subject: [glass_onion] Fic: As I Lay Dying: 1/1 (XMM)
  Date: Sunday, August 04, 2002 11:49 PM
  Title: As I Lay Dying
  Author: Victoria P. []
  Summary: Rogue's last moments
  Rating: G
  Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and Fox; this piece of
  fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights. Death
  belongs to herself, and, in this incarnation, Neil Gaiman and Vertigo/DC
  Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool
  Feedback: Always welcome and more appreciated than you know.
  Notes: Thanks to Pete/Melissa, Dot, Jen and Meg. And also, thanks to
  Khaki for pointing out where it needed a little clarification.
  Title gacked from my favorite author, Big Bill Faulkner himself, though
  I don't think Marie is a Snopes. A Sartoris or a Compson, or possibly
  even a Varner, but not a Snopes. That'd be too mean.

As I Lay Dying

She knows it won't be long now; she can feel the cold settling into her bones.

She left religion behind long ago, the day she first kissed a boy and almost killed him. She doesn't worry about God or the devil, heaven or hell. She's had both here on earth; the good was so very good, and made that much more precious by the bad. She's learned, in her long life, the value of balance, and of living in the moment. Now she will choose her moment, and die.

As the gentle hand of her great-granddaughter brushes her hair --completely white now, but still as soft as silk -- off her forehead, she smiles.

Death is simply a long sleep, she tells them, or she would if she could get the words out, but talking is so difficult now. Hibernation, not extinction. As long as I live in your hearts and memories, I will never truly die.

She hears a sharp bark of bitter laughter and knows he's here, that he knows what she's trying to say.

He kept her alive and with him for far longer than her natural threescore and ten, and she knows he would give himself to her fully if she let him, that she might live while he died. But she has no desire to live without him.

She made her decision long ago, when the wrinkles and white hair became more difficult to banish, consuming too much of his strength to make her comfortable with the process.

And she's tired. So tired. All their friends are long gone, and their children, too, though grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather round her deathbed.

She sent him away at the last stage, so he wouldn't have to watch her grow sick and die while he remained young and virile, still many years from his own end. He didn't want to go, but she insisted. She felt him hovering on the edges of her life as she descended into illness, the thread of her existence spinning out quickly without him there to heal her. She ought to have known he wouldn't leave her, even at her request, and now she's glad he didn't.

She has made sure he's tied to his children's children, and their children after them, the grizzled pack leader shouldering the responsibilities for the family. Otherwise, she knows he'll become what he fears most -- more beast than man.

Over the years, she's tried to soothe away that fear, but it remains, much as her own fear of being nothing but a parasite, living off other people's lives and energy has never truly faded.

Even love can't solve everything, but they've both learned that it can make the bad things bearable. He suffers her pain; she endures. Until now.

She tries to impart this wisdom to her granddaughter, an old woman now herself, but she finds her tongue tripping over the words.

She feels a shiver run through her, as though great wings beat slowly over her bed.

He's there instantly, as always attuned to her body. He lifts her and cradles her in his arms, as close to tears as she's ever seen him in their long life together. One look clears the room. They've all been around long enough to feel the force of their grandparents' love, and to recognize when their grandfather wants to be left alone.

His lips find her ear -- "Take me with you," he begs. "Please." But she shakes her head and squeezes his hand. "Marie," he says, and, "I love you."

She reaches up and gently strokes his cheek, her bare skin finally safe to touch after all these years, and they both know the end is upon them. She's too weak to take any more of him. She can only give, now, give him the words he needs to hear.

"Love you," she whispers, and she can see Death is waiting.

"Take your time," the young woman says. "I'm not going anywhere."

"So beautiful," Marie whispers as the lights begin to dim, and Logan murmurs, "Yes, you are." And then he stiffens, alert to Death's silent presence.

"Don't take her," he says. "Take me instead."

Death shakes her head. "I'm afraid not. You've already kept her longer than you should have."

"Stay," Marie whispers, her voice faint as the summer wind in the trees. "They need you."

She feels herself getting lighter, and then she's standing with Death, staring at the fragile old body that was hers, cradled in her lover's arms.

He weeps then, silently, his shoulders heaving as the tears drop gently on her face. She can feel his kisses even now.

She knows, oh, she knows so much now. The depth and breadth of his love for her is greater than even she had imagined, so great that he'll do as she's asked and remain a constant, comforting presence for the next two generations before he finally takes Death's hand and rejoins her.

Death puts an arm around her shoulders and says, "You were lucky."

"I know," Marie answers, as they leave for parts unknown. "I know."



CJ: "You wanna make out with me right now, don't you?" Toby: "When don't I?"
The West Wing

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