Rogue walked down the hall to the room that had been designated for the support group. The Professor had talked about getting in a psychologist or counsellor to officiate the meetings but had decided, after consulting with a few of those who had expressed support of the group and would be participating, that they would be more comfortable opening up with someone they knew and trusted. Ms Munroe had offered to oversee the group, her personality was a good fit being empathic and encouraging, while also strong and calming.
When she entered the room, she was surprised to find there were already several girls there, everyone looked nervous, and a few looked on the verge of tears. Spotting any empty seat next to Jubilee, Rogue took it, shifting around until her baby bump was comfortable. She noticed their eyes on her, some surprised, some sad, all compassionate. She hadn't said anything to the other students about how she got pregnant, she assumed some thought she was just a slut and had been sleeping around, though after today she supposed everyone would know, even if she couldn't bring herself to share her story.
Logan had encouraged her to but aside from him, by default her roommates, and the small group of teachers, she hadn't yet found the courage to open up and talk about what had happened. She wasn't sure she wanted to but she would sit in at least, and try.
Ororo entered the room shortly after, smiling encouragingly at the group in attendance, she couldn't help the pang of sympathy and regret that washed through her, sympathy for what these girls had suffered, regret that they hadn't realised or made more of an effort to support them earlier. Taking a seat, she called the meeting to order, the group was meeting in a small classroom at the end of the hall, the door was left open for anyone else who wanted to join but far enough away from the main school body that no one would be overheard by passers-by.
Logan stalked silently down the hall, he knew where Marie was, he knew what would be happening in the meeting. He had been watching girl after girl slip down the hallway for the last half an hour but what struck him the most was the small group of boys who hung around, some looking almost longingly down the hall but refused to step foot down there. Finally making up his mind Logan stood, glancing encouragingly at the boys, before he turned and walked toward the room in question, he missed the curious, hopeful looks shared by the boys but not the tentative footsteps as some began to follow him.
When Logan stepped into the room several people looked confused, some looked uncomfortable, the girl who had been speaking, quietly and haltingly, stopped. Everyone stared in silence, except Marie, she smiled at him, through tears, before she reached over and hugged him as he sat down beside her.
Ororo was obviously unsure what to say or do, she was clearly curious about just why exactly he was here. He decided to put her out of her misery and open up, not least of all because of the curious faces now peering around the door frame into the small room.
"You're all wondering why I'm here, aren't you? My presence probably makes some of you uncomfortable, and for that I'm sorry but ... survivors, because that's what you all are, come in all different shapes, sizes, and genders. This group isn't just for the female survivors, you guys can come in," he gently prompted the boys gathered at the door, several of them took him up on the direction, slipping silently into the room and taking seats, others stayed and continued to watch.
"You're not a survivor, no one can hurt you," one girl whispered bitterly, from the other side of the room, as she swiped at her own tears.
"I guess that depends on your definition of hurt, I can't be physically injured, for long, but some hurt goes deeper than just the physical. This is going to surprise a lot of you, most of you... everyone except Rogue. You all know I was in at least one lab. I can't remember a lot about my time in there, what I do remember usually comes back in nightmares, sometimes those nightmares are being chained down in a tank of liquid and having molten metal drilled into my bones, sometimes those nightmares are being beaten and tortured, chains weaved with barbed wire, baseball bats full of nails, juiced up cattle prods... Sometimes those nightmares are being drugged and tied down, chained up... violated." He stopped as he saw the looks of understanding cross the faces around him, Rogue laced her fingers through his, and squeezed his hand comfortingly. He didn't like to talk about the labs, and when he did, never in the entirety of the experience. Rogue was the only one before now to know everything he knew about his time in the labs, and only because she had seen his nightmares.
"You've probably all heard this before, but what happened to you is not your fault, you didn't do anything wrong, you didn't do anything to deserve it, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and some evil fucking people took advantage of that. Maybe you were hungry and needed food, maybe you had nowhere to sleep, maybe you had nowhere to hide, maybe you couldn't run away. It doesn't matter, it shouldn't have happened but it did, and it wasn't your fault," he said calmly.
One sobbing girl to his left, probably no older than fourteen, softly asked, "How do you live with it though, knowing what they did..."
"You do just that," Logan replied, "You live, nothing pisses off evil people more than seeing those they tried to hurt holding their heads up high and keeping on going. You fight, you build yourself up and try your best to protect those around you. Don't live in the past, don't let that experience hold you back, be everything you can be not what they tried to make you."
"Sometimes I feel like the bad person..." another girl spoke, "I want to hurt him like he hurt me..."
"No, you don't," Logan assured her, "You want him to know what you felt, and know how it hurt you, you want him to understand and you want him to make it better somehow. Nothing he can do can make it better, nothing he can do can undo what was done, nothing will make him understand how it made you feel. I don't know if that helps though, these people, they don't care, sometimes they are so evil they can't care."
"I just want to make them pay for what they did, I don't care if they feel sorry, or if they understand how I felt, I just want to kill them," another girl said bitterly, "And that hurts me more, because I feel like I lost a part of me, the nice part that would never want to hurt anyone..."
"That's a normal feeling, it doesn't make you a bad person, you want to protect yourself, and those around you, by any means necessary," Logan stated, though maybe that was just him justifying his own behaviour, as far as he knew most of those who had done him harm were dead by his own hand.
Slowly the conversation began to shift back to people's individual stories, more of the boys slowly filtered into the room as they got more comfortable with the idea of being included. Plus, no one thought any less of the Wolverine for being here, the guy was the biggest badass on campus, if he could live through something similar to what they had, and talk about it, what did they have to be afraid of.
The meeting lasted a lot longer than the hour it was scheduled to but no one complained. Logan held Rogue's hand as she eventually broke down and detailed what had happened with Sabretooth, she likewise held Logan's hand securely when he was asked for more details of his treatment in the lab. Even though the details he gave were horrific Ororo, and probably most of those in attendance, could tell his story was still sanitized, and a good thing too, Ororo imagined there would be enough nightmares tonight with stirred memories without fuelling them with more graphic imagery.
When the meeting was over several students approached Logan, thanking him for giving them the courage to speak. Ororo watched in awe as he tenderly reassured, and comforted each teen that came to him, even going so far as to hug one girl as she sobbed on his chest. Logan might be a badass but he was also a good man, even if he did try to hide that fact sometimes. Personally, she felt like she understood him a lot better now, and she could understand why Rogue felt the way she obviously did about him.
"Thank you, Logan," Ororo said to him gratefully, once most of the students had left. "I think you helped them a lot more than I ever could have." Predictably Logan just shrugged and grunted a half-hearted acknowledgment in response, before turning his attention back to Rogue.
Ororo watched with a soft smile as Logan helped the girl out of her seat, hugged her tenderly, before leading her out of the room and off to bed. She couldn't help but feel like the pair were a lot closer than anyone else thought, not closer physically but closer on a much deeper, emotional level. She wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they eventually became a couple, the sneaking suspicion that Logan was just waiting for her to be old enough was a surprisingly welcome acknowledgment.
Late the next morning, being a Saturday, Logan made his way to the kitchen to grab breakfast for him and Marie, unsurprisingly her sleep had been interrupted by nightmares so he was leaving her to sleep in.
As he approached the kitchen, he nodded in greeting to Charles, who was nearing from the opposite direction. As he got closer to the room he was aiming for he could hear the conversation inside, or rather, the interrogation; it seemed the gossip mill was in full swing this morning.
"I cannot comment, on who was there, what was said, anything, if you think there is information to be had, take your rumours to the individual in question," Ororo stated in exasperation.
Logan grimaced resignedly before entering the room. Unsurprisingly neither Jean or Scott wanted to start that conversation directly with him it seemed.
"How was Rogue last night?" Ororo asked with a smile.
"She had a couple of nightmares but she's good, she's still asleep so I figured I'd grab food for her," Logan replied, he wasn't going to offer anything further, if they wanted to know they would have to ask. It didn't take long for Jean to speak.
"There's a rumour going around that you were at the group meeting last night, is that true?" she asked, ignoring the 'are you insane' look Scott was shooting her.
"Yeah, I was," he answered.
"I don’t mean to step out of line here but, don't you think it would be healthier for Rogue if she took some steps to... recover, without you there to hold her hand?" Jean suggested.
Ah ha, so that was her problem, she had been making more and more comments trying to push him to take a step back and let Rogue 'do it on her own' for a while now, and it was really starting to irritate him. Sure, Rogue could do this but he wasn't about to abandon her and make her do that.
"You know, I managed to get out of Rogue why she called me as opposed to telling anyone here when she first found out she was pregnant… she told me it was because she knew I would understand what she was feeling," Logan stated, waiting to see if those hearing his comment would come to the right conclusion. "I didn't just do what I did last night for Rogue, all those kids needed it, they needed someone who would really understand, and no offence to 'Ro, that wasn't something she could really do."
"Are- are you saying..." Jean eventually proposed, looking wide eyed between Logan and Ororo.
Neither replied, leaving the group to come to their own conclusions, as Logan continued to make breakfast for himself and Rogue. Nothing was said for several minutes until Rogue and Jubilee walked in.
"You should still be in bed kid," Logan smiled at her, "Seeing as how you're up though, sit down, your breakfast is almost ready." With a grin Rogue hugged him, and thanked him, before taking a seat at the crowded kitchen table.
The girls chatter, light and happy, as if they didn't spend the night before reliving some of the most traumatic moments of their lives, lulled the rest of the group into a feeling of ease. No more was said about Logan's involvement in the group.