It happened when he was in the danger room. He had started to push himself to train harder the day after the incident in Rogue’s room. Ever since, he had felt unbalanced and not quite as strong. He was too light, too agile, his swings not quite as fast as his feet.
He was fighting Sabertooth and Mystique now, pushing harder than he had before, trying to meet new bars everyday. He needed to feel that he contributed to something, anything, and with his adamantiam missing, he felt second string. He needed to build himself back up, make himself useful again, to feel like a man again. But there was too much missing.
He swung with a ferocious howl, hitting Mystique square in the jaw. He watched as she stumbled a little, and his heart hit his stomach. She didn’t fall. She didn’t have to catch herself. She gave a smirk and kept coming.
He growled and threw another punch, this time hitting Sabertooth in the gut. He pushed himself even further and was shocked by the familiar pain that emanated from his knuckles.
“Terminate simulation.” He hadn’t heard himself say it, hadn’t even thought to do it. He stared down at his right hand as Sabertooth disappeared. He couldn’t remember a time when he felt so relieved to feel that pain. Opening his fist, he looked up, knowing what he would have to do. She would need to know about this.
She was sitting on her bed, reading a magazine. Well, not actually reading it, more like looking at it while her mind raced with all of the questions and curiosity of what she and Jubilee would talk about later. She still had an hour and a half to kill, and she knew that it was going to be torture. She flipped another page, sighing, before she heard the knock on her door. Sending out a mental probe, she smiled when she saw who it was, jumping up and running to open it.
He stood outside the door, wondering what he was going to say. Would she understand this? Would she want anything to do with it? Either way, she had to know, had to be prepared. She had to figure out how to work through the pain this would bring, and it wasn’t something she should be surprised about. Hell, if it happens during a fight, she could get killed.
She paused for a second, though. Gathering her composure. She didn’t want to come off as a child. She was stronger than that, and there was a reason why he hadn’t been there before. Maybe he hadn’t forgiven her, yet.
But that wasn’t the only thing that worried him. He couldn’t help but think about that fateful day three weeks ago. The things she had said. The psychics had both assured him that it wasn’t her, that Phoenix had been in control. That she had used all of her feelings to warp and twist her feelings. But that was what stopped him. She had to have those feelings in the first place, didn’t she? Was she really angry with him? It was possible.
“Too late now,” he thought as the door slowly opened.
“Hey.” She said as she opened the door. He stood there, looking back at her. His hands were tucked into the pockets of his jeans. His shoulders were hunched. His hair mused. He had obviously been working out. He didn’t say anything, just kind of looked past her. Her stomach hurt just looking at him. “Did you need something?”
“Yeah. Can we talk?” His voice was a bit of a whisper. Rogue stepped aside and Logan walked into the room, still a little slouched over. He didn’t smell any kind of hatred on her.
“What’s up?” She asked as he took a seat on the bed. He was looking around at the room, and she couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed.
“Like what you’ve done with the place.” She was a little shocked by the comment, looking around at the bare walls, the plane table with nothing more than a night lamp on it.
“Yeah, great.” She said as she rolled her eyes. She wasn’t sure if he was trying to crack a joke or what, but it was a little annoying. “Look, Logan, if there is something you want to talk about, spit it out. You’ve never acted like this before.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s just that, I kind of figured that this was something you need to know about. Something that you should see.” He held up his hands for her. She raised a curious eyebrow at him, wondering what he was getting at. She jumped when three claws shot out into the air, faster than his other claws had, harsher. Seemingly more dangerous if that was possible. Thicker. “I found out about them a few minutes ago, when I was downstairs. I guess, I guess I’ve always had them. But… I don’t remember.”
She didn’t know what to say. She walked to him, sitting next to him on the bed. Grabbing one of his hands, she looked at them carefully. They were longer than the others, at least by an inch. Thicker at the base. Made of bone. “Does it still hurt?”
“Not really, not like the others.” He was looking at them, too, also studying them. “They feel more… natural. Almost as if this is what they are supposed to be.”
“That makes sense. They seem… more deadly, more wild.” She let go of his hand as he let the claws slowly sink back in. “There is a chance that you have these, too, now. I mean, you’ve never shown any signs of a physical mutation before.”
“I’ve never touched any one with a physical mutation before,” she reminded him with a giggle. “I don’t know.”
“Look, I don’t want to ruin your evening with the Canary. Why don’t we ask Emma to take some x-rays tomorrow to find out.” Logan knew what she was thinking. It was the same fears he had. Would she be able to handle this kind of pain? Would she have a choice? “Besides, I think she will kill me if we canceled on her. How about I run out and get you guys some burgers for dinner?”
“Sounds good.” She smiled as he stood to leave. “Logan?”
He was already at the door when she called out to him. Turning, he looked at her quizzically. “Yeah?”
“Are you… Are you still mad at me?” She was wringing her hands in her lap, but her eyes were locked on his. “About what I did to you?”
“I was never mad at you, kid. It wasn’t your fault.” He said, letting go of the door handle and turning around. “You couldn’t help what you did. You were being used, and with any luck, we’ll beat this. And, maybe, you can have that normal life you want so bad.”
She smiled, feeling a tear crawl down her cheek as she tucked a stray hair behind her ear. It was as if all the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.
“Rogue?” She looked up, not expecting him to still be there. “You still mad at me?”
“No. Not anymore. I’m not sure that I was ever really mad at you. I mean, I was, at first, but I don’t think that was me when… when I took everything from you. I don’t think I was that angry.” His eyes bore into hers, looking for any thing that might signal a lie, but he couldn’t find it. Nothing. She was honest, but, then again, she always had been. With him, anyway. He turned to leave again, ready to hurry out before the annoying girl came in.
“Yeah Rogue?” He stopped again, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“It’s Marie.” He left smiling. They were going to be alright.
“OhmygodhowareyoufeelingI’vemissedyousomuchthereissomuchthatIhavetotellyou!” Rogue couldn’t help but laugh when she opened the door to Jubilee later that evening. The girl threw herself into Rogue’s arms again, babbling everything in one breath. She had to peel the girl off of her, holding her at arms distance as they smiled at each other.
“Breath, Jubes. Breath. Remember? Sentences?” They giggled at each other as Jubilee took a deep breath.
“Ok, first of all, how did you manage to give Bobby two black eyes with one hit?” Jubilee asked, throwing herself on to Rogue’s bed. “I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!”
“Don’t you pay attention? Logan taught us that in training. You just have to pack enough of a punch and hit a certain spot on the bridge of the nose.” She took a seat across from her, leaning against her pillows. “It was after he showed me what I needed to know about his abilities, and I froze my hand before doing it. He was right, though. There really isn’t anything special about his abilities, just as long as there is moisture in the air.”
“What about the others?”
“Well, Pitor and I are going to start tomorrow, and I’m thinking about drawing that out just a little so that I can talk to him. I have a feeling that he’s not going to be allowed up here.” She smiled, thinking of her old team mate. They used to be a strong force together, with her ‘borrowing’ his abilities. They had formed a tight bond because of this, and she had been the first he had ever told about his crush on Kitty. The irony was that she and Bobby used to fight about how close she and Pitor were getting. And now look. “He’s got to be hurting over everything.”
“Yeah, he took it pretty hard. I think that was one of the reasons he wanted to see you bad enough to risk sneaking into here. He wanted to plan a retaliation.” Jubilee couldn’t help but giggle, remembering the look of determination on his face. “He even yelled at Emma once.”
“What did she do?” After spending so much time with the telepath, Rogue knew that she could have a short temper when provoked.
They spent the next hour and a half, gossiping about anything that came to mind. Jubilee told her of the new classes and the work they were doing. About how they were being pushed harder than before. She told her about how everything had been since Xavier’s death and Scott’s return, and how everything seemed to get tense when Emma and Storm were in the same room, which wasn’t often. They talked about the prom and dresses as they gobbled down the burgers and fries that Logan had dropped off before running away as quickly as possible. And, finally, they talked about the dates they should bring and the new boys.
There were a few that Jubilee wanted Rogue to meet, in particularly a Cajun that all the girls seemed to be melting over. Rogue promised that she would let Jubilee introduce them, although she didn’t see how something like talking in third person could be attractive. Actually, Rogue felt that it would probably get on her last nerve.
There was a knock on the door as they were giggling over some antic a couple of the younger students had tried to pull on the senior students. Rogue felt her muscles tighten just as Emma walked in. For a second, she felt herself panic, wondering if maybe Phoenix was trying something she hadn’t felt yet.
“Sorry to have to cut it short, ladies, but Rogue should really rest for tomorrow.” Emma held the door open as Jubilee reluctantly pulled herself from the bed. She hugged Rogue one last time.”
“I have some time in the rec room tomorrow. While everyone is having dinner. Meet me in there,” Rogue said with a smile, trying to cheer her friend up. “And bring Kitty with you.”
Jubilee flashed an evil grin before skipping her way out of the room.
Emma closed the door softly behind her before joining Rogue on the bed. The younger woman had a feeling she knew what was coming next.
“Rogue, I am so proud of you. You’ve done so well, but…” Her voice trialed off as she thoughts about how to go along with this. She had never been good at lectures, instead, usually trying to empathize with her students. She reached out and grabbed Rogue’s hand in her own, wanting the girls undivided attention. “Just be careful.”
“This is about Bobby and Kitty, isn’t it?” Rogue asked, a sick feeling in her stomach. Emma shook her head yes.”
“You have to let it go. I know how hard that sounds, but, Phoenix will use it against you.” Emma sighed, pulling her hand away. “That’s what she does. She festers on those bad things you try to bury deep down. She feeds and grows off of it and twists it to her own use.”
“You’re talking like you’ve been through this.” Emma looked away from her, breaking eye contact swiftly. “Which one were you?”
“I was the one that got left. And the other one.” Emma sighed, not wanting to share this, but knowing it had to be done. “It was a long time ago, after Scott and I graduated. Jean was three years older than us and she had already graduated and was in college. She was usually away at school.
“When she came back, well, there was an instance attraction to Scott, and vise versa, but Scott and I were together and talking about going away to school together. We were going to get married.”
“But,” Rogue asked, feeling a need to know the story. She wasn’t sure why, but this might be a clue as to what she was dealing with.
“But he decided to stay here. Go to school and join the team. We got into a fight and broke up. A week after I left, he and Jean went on their first date.”
“I’m sorry, Emma,” Rogue whispered, wishing that there was some way to comfort her.
“No, it was a long time ago, and I’ve moved on. It hurts, but, you’ll learn, your first love always does.
“Anyway, after a few years, we were both able to see each other again without all the pain, but there was always that jealousy residing inside of Jean. That need to be number one. About a year before you and Logan showed up, I was here with one of my students. One that needed more structure than I could give. I was getting her settled in and then I was going to go home. I was only going to be here a week.” She paused here, remembering that long ago night. “Scott was helping me get some and, one thing led to another, and we ended up in bed together. It wasn’t his fault anymore than it was mine. It was just that attraction we had.
“Well, Storm walked in on us, not thinking to knock. She went straight to Jean, and that should have been the first warning. Jean hit the roof. I don’t know what happened after that. I left that night, and haven’t been back until I came to help you.”
Rogue didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t picture Scott involved in such a tangled web. But, then again, what did she really know about her former teachers? She hadn’t looked through Jean’s memories, instead opting to hide them away. “Did you ever try to apologize?”
“Once or twice. But that’s beside the point,” Emma said as she stood. “It was that and a few other things that might have happened through out her life. Someone getting more praise, another being held in a higher esteem. A young girl being held in a higher light by a feral mutant.”
She paused, and Rogue had the sickening feeling that she was talking about her and Logan. “Don’t hold on to it. Get your revenge and back off. It’s that jealousy and anger that will let her come alive again.”