Author's Chapter Notes:
"So, what's the diagnosis doc?" Marie asked, trying to sound chipper. The fact that Jean had come in with the rest of the senior staff, and a big hairy blue guy Marie had never met before, to deliver her test results tipped her off that this, whatever this was, was something big.

"First things first, this is Dr Henry McCoy," Jean said, indicating toward the stranger who immediately stepped forward and shook Rogue's gloved hand. "Hank is one of the world's leading scientists in the field of mutagenic study, he's going to be assisting us in pinpointing the cause of your... illness, and a treatment..."

"What is my illness?" Marie demanded, when Jean fell silent as she stalled for time.

"Honestly, I don't exactly know, your test results have really only shown us the symptoms of whatever is going on in your body, basically that is... your body is, breaking down your cells at an accelerated rate, it's trying to rebuild them again but it can't rebuild as fast as cells are being broken down... essentially... your body is cannibalizing itself, at a cellular level," Jean said softly.

"That... sounds bad," Marie murmured, as she tried to process what exactly Jean was saying. "Does that- am I- so, I'm dying?" Marie concluded.

"No!" Jean snapped, though Marie could pick up the genuine fear in her tone. "We just need to run some more tests, and then we'll treat whatever is causing the increased cell breakdown, and then you'll be fine," the uncertainty in her voice was not reassuring.

"Right, I know you'll do everything you can Jean," Marie replied, with a soft smile. She didn't want the doctor to blame herself if this didn't work, if there was no treatment. "How long do I have before... the cellular breakdown is irreversible?" Marie posed her query as diplomatically as she could.

"We will need to observe the rate of decay but on a preliminary observation... three weeks," the blue scientist, Hank, advised. He was surprisingly softly spoken, a stark contrast to his animalistic appearance.

The room was silent for a long while until Marie said brightly, "Well then, I guess we better get to work, or at least you better, I suppose I'm still on bed arrest?" she tried to joke, ignoring the sting of tears burning her eyes.

"Yes, you most definitely are," Jean advised with false cheeriness, trying to quash her overwhelming desire to break down in tears herself.

"Would you like us to let your friends down to visit?" Scott asked gently.

"Yeah, I'd like that but... don't tell anyone I'm dying, not yet at least, I don't want anyone coming down here crying all over me, you hear me Jean, no crying until I'm dead, I'll haunt you forever one way or the other if you do, if any of you do," Marie said, swallowing around the lump in her throat that was trying to choke her.

"Is there anything else we can do to make your stay more comfortable?" Ororo queried, smiling at the girl who had been through so much in such a short time and still wasn't ready to give up.

"Send Jubilee down to decorate, this room is going to drive me mad without some colour!" Marie declared. "And ice-cream, double chocolate fudge, a never-ending supply, with pancakes, and maple syrup, and bacon, for every meal until I'm sick of it," she added with a mischievous grin; she wasn't sure if Jean would let her get away with that one.

"I'll let that one pass but only because I'm going to be insisting on IV nutrients and fluids as well, just to support your body, hopefully speed up the healing process," Jean said with a tolerant chuckle, even as Marie wrinkled her nose in displeasure at the thought of being stuck with more needles.


Marie lay on her hospital bed boredly. She had been upgraded from a standard bed to a 'deluxe' bed for long-term patients, it was infinitely more comfortable even before she had added all the additional brightly coloured pillows, and the fluffy purple faux fur blanket from her bedroom. She was taking a break from reading, she could feel another migraine coming on, so she would probably be taking a nap later, for now she was just resting and regarding the room around her.

Her girl friends had roped her guy friends into being their pack mules, and brought down mountains of 'things' to brighten her cell... uh, 'recovery room'. There was a chain of brightly coloured scarves hung like a garland around the room, and draped over the various medical machines. Fairy lights strung everywhere gave the room a much more appealing atmosphere than the clinical fluorescents. A large painting, Marie’s favourite in the whole mansion, an oil painting depicting a woodland mountain scape in full fall dress, had been commandeered from its usual position, over the mantle in the library, and hung for her, and the multicoloured rag rug from her room had been brought down to adorn the floor.

If Jean and Hank found it inconvenient to work around all the decorations, they didn't mention it. That almost made Marie feel worse, like they weren't complaining because who complained to the dying girl that the pretty things that brightened her day were bothersome. She wasn't dead yet though damn it, though it had been a week, and they still seemed no closer to discovering what was causing Marie’s troubles, she wasn't giving up. The IV treatments Jean was giving her were definitely making her feel better, and she was happy she was still able to get herself to the bathroom unassisted, though Jean insisted she be supervised 'just in case'.

She was just beginning to nod off to sleep when Jean and the Professor entered her room, both looking even more grave than they had for the last week. And teary eyed... both of them... This was not good, Marie immediately realised, all trace of tiredness suddenly gone.

Silently Jean took a seat at her bedside, level with her hip. The Professor rolling to a stop near her shoulder. No one spoke, as Jean mutely regarded the file in her hand, opening her mouth several times as if to speak but promptly snapping it shut when all that threatened to come out was a sob. After a moment she cleared her throat and began.

"Magneto's machine... worked by flooding a body with radiation to trigger cell mutation, only, it wasn't effective due to the unnatural nature of the mutation which made the cells unstable. With Senator Kelly, the only other person we know of who was exposed to the machine’s effects, his cells degraded and broke down to their molecular state. Your body was also exposed to extremely high levels of the radiation... your cells have been affected, and are degrading, your body, your immune system, has been treating the affected cells like a cancer, and been destroying and consuming the damaged cells, trying to stop them from getting out of control, becoming dominant, which is what will eventually lead to... to your systems shutting down. But your immune system is failing, the unstable damaged cells, are reproducing too fast for your body to destroy and replace... how you survived this long we don't know, your body has been fighting this so hard, it's almost as stubborn as you are..." Jean choked up, even as she smiled at Marie through her tears. Tears that thankfully refused to fall.

"So, my body is failing, and I'll die... there is no treatment, is there?" Marie asked softly, observing Jean's reluctant shake of her head. "Wi- will it hurt, when I die?" she asked softly.

Jean removed her glasses, wiping a hand over her face to brush away the tears she had promised the girl she wouldn't cry before they could fall. "No, no it won't," Jean replied with a gentle smile; she would slip painkillers into Marie’s IV before her cells broke down to a point the degradation might become painful. It was likely though that the girl would simply go to sleep and not wake up again, her heart would just stop beating when the nerves broke down.

"Is there anything we can do for you Rogue?" the Professor asked, as he watched the look of acceptance settle on the girls’ face.

"Yeah, one thing," Marie said, smiling sadly, "Find Logan, I... I want to... I need to say goodbye."

The Professor promised to find the man, though no one had heard from him in the six months since he had left the mansion. He would give Rogue this one last wish.

"I want to be alone now," Marie eventually said softly. "No visitors for the rest of the day, please?" she asked Jean, who nodded understandingly, before she and the Professor silently left the room.

As the door shut behind them, she felt the first tear drop, as she silently cried herself to sleep.
You must login (register) to review.