It was a common night,
Except the dying;
this to us Made nature different.
Her heart was racing and her hands trembled inside her gloves. It was him. It was Erik and she was so sure she could swear it. She couldnīt believe she hadnīt realize it before. How could I be so stupid?, she asked to herself trying to choose what to do next.
Erik was on the train and it was impossible he hadnīt recognize her. She even fell asleep in his company, for Godīs sake! Her breath caught in her throat. What seemed odd was that he hadnīt reacted to her. He had left the compartment while she slept without harming her.
The train was still moving and she had no idea where she was. Looking at her watch, she calculated there was more than half an hour before they arrived in Albany, and since the train was non-stop it was probable Erik was still on it. Unless he had decided to use his powers to leave, which would have alerted all the humans on the train. She was sure the shock would have woken her up.
“Damn him!” she muttered.
Rogue hated to be scared more than anything else in the world. Normally, she was strong and feeling this weak was horrible. Erik’s presence reminded her of that young version of herself who was alone, scared and helpless. The Rogue who hid behind a funny nickname but couldnīt understand how powerful and strong she truly was. The one who still lamented the loss of her parents and her “Daddyīs Princess” status.
Now, she was so different. Power and strength were everything inside of her. Having a place to stay gave her time to absorb all the things she learnt on the road, and to realize she wasnīt alone anymore---Logan was there for her if she ever needed him. Even if most of the time he wasnīt physically there, the knowledge that he’d come running if she called was enough to make her feel safe.
But Erik brought back all that past just by being close. The version of him that was in her head was silent, which didnīt help at all now. She needed to make a plan quickly. Being on the same train felt like a déjā vu of their first meeting. She could almost hear the sound of metal twisting and people screaming again. She hated those memories.
Rogue took her bag and stepped out of her compartment, leaving the safety—because she couldnīt accidentally touch someone--of being alone to use the human company as something comforting. Not that it would stop Erik, but it was the best option right now. She felt better by doing this. At least, if he decided to do something to her everyone would know it and the news would reach the Xmen.
A frustrated sigh escaped her lips. She didnīt want the help of the Xmen or their presence in her life once again. They would only ask questions about why she ran away and turn everything into “Poor Rogue sheīs a lonesome girl who loves to act like a rebel teenager” again. She was tired of that crap. But she guessed it was better to hear that than to be kept by the Brotherhood.
She wanted to laugh at herself again because this new life was supposed to be better and make her feel happier, but only 4 hours after leaving the School she was feeling like a stupid scared child.
The loudspeaker announced that they would be arriving at the Albany station soon. She wanted to jump in her seat like a kid ready to ask her parents if they were already there. Even the woman sitting by her looked at her with funny eyes. Rogue smiled sheepishly at her.
The entire time until the train arrived safely to Albany she looked around, ready to take her gloves off if she saw Erik or anyone working for him. But when nothing happened she started to feel stupid and paranoid. She left the train and the station, starting to doubt herself--maybe that man in her compartment wasnīt Erik. Maybe it was someone else or they were similar and that confused her. Maybe she was a little bit scared and was projecting her fear on this stupid matter.
When the cold wind of Albany hit her face, her mind seemed to become clearer. Everything was ok and the only thing she needed now was to find a small nice hotel and somewhere to have a late dinner. After all, she left the School in such a hurry that now her stomach was making sounds and demanding food.
The streets were dark, the weather so cold that her breath left her mouth in white puffs, and very few people were out. A nice shiver ran through her back as she adjusted her coat tighter around her body. Cold, that she could manage. She loved it. With all the layers of clothes she was used to wearing now--even if saying she was used to them was a lie--heat was hell. But when everyone seemed to hate the weather she felt happy. Under the fabric her skin always shivered with pleasure, enjoying the pocket of warmth of her covered skin while the uncovered parts of her skin became red from the cold.
Her steps resounded in the lonely street and she marveled at the freedom of not worrying about what people thought about her. She looked too young to be out this late. Especially alone. But she had no parents or legal guardian to give explanations to, and that made her feel like an adult even if the law said she wasnīt one.
What was the definition of “adult” anyway? Taking care of yourself? Check. Earning your own money? Check. Deciding what to do with your life? Check. Then, what was the difference between her eighteen years and someone elseīs twenty-five? She had enough people to make herself older than any living person. Well, except Logan.
She was rougher and stronger than the Xmen. Even if they wouldnīt admit it. She was the only one there who knew how to be a soldier of a war no one wanted to call so. Kill or be killed. Being nice didnīt win battles, and everyone knew it. She only had two weaknesses: Logan, and her memories of being helpless. And normally she was pretty good at hiding her fears, even if right now it didnīt seem like that.
Walking in the direction of a yellow neon sign that announced there was a hotel, she started to hear footsteps. Coming closer and closer. She could recognize the sounds of at least four people. She knew – thanks to past experiences – how a lonely young girl walking around dark streets can attract weird men. Without taking a look back, she walked faster just to see if they did the same thing. That would be an evident sign that they were following her.
And of course, she was right. They were following her.
Even knowing she could take them, all she was worried. There was a chance she would need to use her skin, and she hated to use it. Logan always said she shouldnīt run when someone was following her, because then they would realize she was aware of what was happening, and would attack her sooner. The right thing to do was to keep walking, trying to reach a zone where she could find more people. Mutants or humans--it didnīt matter. People are braver when no one can see them.
It was too late and after almost five minutes she knew she wouldnīt meet anyone. She needed to decide what to do next, and decide it fast.
Turning around slowly she looked them in the eyes – as much as the dark street let her do it – and began to calculate her strategy. Her combat skills where very good, thanks to the part of Logan in her head and the training to be a junior Xmen. With some luck she would be able to take out two of them before confronting the other two. If she was unlucky – and she was feeling unlucky after the maybe-Erik encounter and the actual situation – she would need her skin to save herself.
“Hey, pretty thing. Donīt you want us to keep you company?” said one of them, licking his lips.
“Yeah, itīs dangerous to be here all alone this late. We donīt want you to get hurt, do we?” The threat in his words was evident.
“No worries. I can take care of myself very well. Thank you.” She replied trying her best to sound calm.
“Oh, we like girls with backbone. Come on, pretty thing. Letīs be friends.” They all laughed at that and she got tired of this fake kindness.
“Look, you all better turn around and go sleep it off. I donīt want to hurt you just because youīre stupid.” She growled.
From then on everything happened too fast. The two doing all the talking ran to her, trying to hit her and make her be obedient. It was more than evident what they wanted to do to her. Rogue fought back, knocking the first one out very quickly, but for a moment she got distracted by the sound of fabric being ripped and that distraction cost her too much. The second man ripped the fabric of her left glove while trying to grab her hands to stop her from hitting his friend.
She felt the pull before she was able to fully realize what was happening. Memories, thoughts and a sick lust entered her body making her feel dizzy. It always started like this, but the strong feelings of that man were making it harder than other times for her to pull away and break the connection. She couldnīt control her body, because in that exact moment there was more of him in her mind than hers.
Suddenly, she felt two pair of arms around her shoulders and waist and Thank God the pull stopped, and she hit the ground. Her mind was confused and oh so filled with hate and a lust that disgusted her that it took her a couple of minutes to hear them again.
“Damn it! Sheīs a mutie freak!”
“What the hell has she done to him? Did she kill him?”
“Damn it! Damn it!”
She shook her head in a useless attempt to clear her head enough to figure out what should she do. The movement only scared the still conscious men, who began to kick her before she could stand up. Time and time again, she felt the pain, and it didnīt matter how many times she tried to stop them and stand up, it was impossible. The state of her mind and body was too weak after touching that man. A new blow brought more pain and soon she felt the coppery taste of blood in her mouth.
For a moment she closed her eyes, forgetting the pain as much as she was able to, and began to think that maybe it was her time. Maybe this was her destiny all along and the fact that her mutation kept her away from everyone was only a warning of how short a life she would have. No bonds that tied her to anyone. She was alone in the world, confined in her own skin as if it was the planet where the little prince lived in that story.
Oh, the irony of all this was funny.
Soon, the pain was too much for her to bear and in the back of her mind she betrayed her own rules by wishing to see Logan once more to say to him all the things she always kept buried deep down in her chest. She had promised herself long time ago she would never bother him by talking about her feelings. He would never feel the same way and it would only make him feel uncomfortable around her.
But she wanted to be selfish and tell him everything. How much she loved him, how she knew his heart from the first time she saw him fighting in Laughlin City, how she understood the painful darkness always hidden in his eyes, how she only stayed in the School because she knew that was what he wanted, and especially how he brought hope to her life, giving her something she thought she would never have again. A family.
Maybe there would be a person to miss her after all, was her last thought.
Her head hurt like a bitch, but it was her chest and her ribs that were driving her crazy. Damn, she felt as if a truck had just hit her. A truck with a foul temper.
Even in the middle of the pain and the confusion she could feel a soft bed under her and the warmth of a light comforter over her. Slowly she opened her eyes, feeling grateful for the dim light. Her head already hurt too much to add a flash of light hurting her eyes too.
“It seems our Sleeping Beauty has decided to finally wake up.” A voice said from some distance. “It pleases me to no end to see youīre not severely hurt.”
“E-Erik?” She asked, confused and suddenly scared. Her body reacted on its own, trying to make her jump from the bed and prepare herself for a probable fight to scape this place, but the only answer to her movement was a paralyzing pain.
“You shouldnīt move from that bed, my dear. Two of your ribs are broken and some others are bruised. Take it easy, please.”
“Where am I?”
“Thatīs information I canīt share right now. But you donīt need to worry. Youīre safe here.”
“Thatīs a funny thing for you to say. The last time I heard that I ended tied up to a machine that would have killed me. Please, forgive my incredulity.” He laughed at that with delight.
“Oh, how I wish more of our youngest brothers had your energy. Past is past, my dear Rogue. Iīm not interested on turning those stupid humans into mutants anymore. They donīt deserve such a great gift.”
“Should that make me feel better?”
“Arenīt you one of Xavierīs children? I thought he taught you all to be generous souls that can forgive all the sins. Iīm sure itīs somewhere in the book of the good boy scouts.”
“Iīm not one of them anymore, and Iīm not sure you know what a soul is,” she growled, feeling her headache getting worse.
“You shouldnīt say that to the man who saved you from being nearly beat to death, and God knows what else.”
Everything came back to her after hearing his words. The cold, the darkness and those men. A painful shiver went through her body and she looked at Erik with the confusion of not knowing if she should feel grateful or worried. Not that she wanted to be killed by drunken rapists, but she still didnīt know if being with Erik was any better.
“You donīt look grateful.” He said as if he was reading her mind.
“Thatīs because Iīm not sure if I should be grateful.”
“Will we have to repeat all that “Youīre evil” argument again? Youīre alive, no harm done. At least not by me. I think we should leave it as a tie. One bad action, one good action.”
“Thatīs easy for you to say, Erik.” He laughed again.
“Erik, huh? I wonder where all that familiarity comes from.”
Her cheeks turned a very light shade of red, and she hated herself for it. She knew better than to trust him, but there was something in the way he talked that made her want to do it. Just like the Professor-- his way of talking to her was soft, well-mannered and elegant. No one would have said Erik was the leader of the Brotherhood. Too polite to be that evil.
“I guess Iīm the one to blame for giving you a part of me that may be still inside of you. I donīt mind it. It reminds me of my friendship with Charles and how he used to call me by that name.”
“Yeah, thatīs really sweet and all that, but I would like to leave.”
“No one is stopping you. You can leave whenever you want, but I would love your company. Now that you have left Charlesī side, maybe itīs time to hear the other side of this story.”
“Thank you, but no thank you.”
She tried to move to see if it was true that she was allowed to leave, but she didnīt have the chance to do it. When she moved enough to try to sit against the headboard of the bed her ribs protested with a wave of uncontrolled pain. She wanted to scream and growl at the painful response of her body, but her pride stopped her from doing it. Her vision became blurry with the unshed tears.
“It seems to me that your body wants you to stay.” He smiled at her with a touch of irony.
“Damn you!” she screamed, tired of all his games and the pain and her shitty luck since she left the School. If that man wasnīt right there in front of her she would have been crying like a baby.
“Itīs not nice to see a young lady like you using such a vulgar language. Please, rest up; you will be my guest for some days. We will have time for you to hear some interesting stories.”
“Wait, before you ignore my wishes and leave me here, I have a question.” She looked at him to see if he was willing to answer and when she saw a gentle nod she kept talking. “What were you doing on that train? I donīt believe in coincidences.”
“Neither do I, but believe it or not it was a coincidence. One you should be grateful for. I was curious and followed you after we arrived in Albany and then I saw what those barbarians were trying to do. And they fear us. “ He snorted. “Itīs us who should be scared of them, but not anymore.”
“So, youīre telling me everything was a lucky coincidence?”
“Yes, my dear. There was no way I could know you would be there. Or, was this a planned trip?”
She lowered her gaze, giving him an answer without words. As suspicious as it seemed, he was right. There was no way Erik could have known she would be on that train. He wasnīt a mind reader like Xavier.
With that, Erik exited the room and left her alone. The pain was strong, but what worried her more than anything was her actual situation. She could still hear the thoughts of that man who touched her--which meant sheīd killed him or by now he should have vanished--and she didnīt know where she was.
Rubbing her temples she sighed tiredly. She had no luck, this was her fate. The only thing she could do now was to forget about everything and try to get better. She was a light sleeper, she would wake up if they tried to do something to her.
It seemed as if tomorrow would be a very important day.
Tomorrow would be the day everything changed, even if she didnīt know it yet.