Title: Almost a Woman|
Summary: On her 22nd Birthday, Rogue waits for an old friend.
Genre: Romance, Angst, Rogue/Wolverine
Notes: I have to admit. I'm obsessed. This would be couple touched me, and darnit, I don't care about the age difference! ;-)
And there's a danger in loving somebody too much
At time she felt like she belonged to the night.
There was an ethereal glow in the night sky around her, in every object that surrounded that made the young woman venture a sad smile of absolution. To dwell in the darkness was her curse, her own loneliness making her wonder if perhaps this was some sort of punishment for a past life.
For she knew she belonged to the night. Like Storm, the ability to control the darkness, the light, the whirling maelstrom of winds, Rogue knew her place.
It was not a place she wanted to be. It was not a place she asked for.
Her dark eyes were thoughtful as she slid her arms around herself, walking in her dark purple evening gown, the only bright spot on her, her white bangs, hidden by the large cloak that she still carried with her after all these years.
The moonlight shone through the shadows of the balcony, and tipping her face to it, she gently lowered the hood back, exposing her face, usually the only skin that she allowed to be exposed. Except tonight. Tonight, under the hood was only the dress, and the ever present gloves.
It was her twenty-second birthday.
They were calling her a woman now.
Her eyes swam with maturity, with depth. As an X-men, she had been exposed to more and more fighting as she had learned to master her gift, and use it save humanity for a race who felt what she never could, human touch, physical love.
In her mind she could sense, could feel the memories and life forces of the men and woman she had touched, the pain, the sorrow, the wise years.
In her mind, she felt much older than her age. In her mind, she thought perhaps she WAS much older than her twenty-two years. The white locks that had been burned into existence that day long ago when she had been taken by Magneto were a constant reminder.
Externally, aside from those tell-tale eyes, they were the only reminder. It was so easy to forget what she was. what she could do.
To the normal human eye, she was every bit the sensuous woman that many perceived her to be. The face that had once been young and innocent had lost the baby fat that had surrounded it and trimmed to that of large eyes, pouting lips, and skin so soft it appeared to be painted on by brushes.
Her body was now trimmed with curves moved with an elegant grace, and it had been whispered among the academy that Rogue was perhaps one of the most beautiful women to have entered the Academy. Among the stunning looks of Storm, Jean Grey, and the other Mutants that now stood beside her, she was still a blessed Southern Belle, with the honey accent and the sparkling eyes.
But she was still Rogue.
In the backs of their minds, she knew the truth, what they whispered behind her back, what everyone knew and no one had the courage to say to her face.
Rogue was almost a woman.
But never a real one.
She swallowed, and closed her eyes, feeling the wind flap around her body, whirling the cloak around her.
"Happy Birthday," she whispered softly to herself, hands gripping the bars, looking over the darkness of the grounds of the mansion that had been both a haven, a home, and a prison.
The coldness of the bars seeped into her skin despite the black gloves, and she yet she paid it no mind. She was used to the cold.
She would never know warmth, and she had never felt more alone.
When he entered the mansion, same as before, in the jeans and faded demin jacket, he felt as if he was the only person who hadn't changed.
The mansion had grown, and although Professor X had welcomed him with open arms, it was clear to Wolverine that the years had dimmed the X-men's fleeting of knowledge of himself.
He had left seeking answers, and what he found instead were memories.
Walking into the large hall, the crowd of youngsters, some elevating, others showing off, stilled.
There had been silence until one beautiful woman had stepped away from the crowd, hands outstreched.
Jean Grey was still as beautiful as the day he had met her. The warmth in her voice was sincere, and when Logan took her hand, he felt the cold metal of a band on her finger. Looking down, he fingered the gold ring slowly, and looked up to meet the eyes, or rather. eye, of Cyclops.
"Decided to make an honest woman out of her?"
Scott, in his usual way, merely grinned a small, self assured grin, and then extended a hand.
"Logan. If I shake that hand of yours you promise not to impale mine?"
"Now that's just a chance you'll have to take."
Scott merely took his hand in challenge and shook it, his grip strong and firm. It was clear that he hadn't changed, he still had that self assured, gentlemenly look about him.
Damn, he was cocky.
"It's been a while, Logan." Storm's ebony skin was glowing with remembrance, and when she came forward, she gently laid a kiss on his cheek. "We're glad to have you back."
Feeling a surge of anxiety at the affectionate embrace, Logan coughed, stepping back. "Are you having a party?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact," Jean smiled and found her eyes searching the room. "It's. where is she?"
Rogue. A wave of unfamiliar tenderness suddenly flooded his body at the mention of the girl he had left behind.
"She's still here?"
"Of course she is," Cyclops said, his glasses glinting as he looked for her. "Or. at least she WAS."
The mutants looked around the room, Cyclops' glasses glinted as they searched. Wolverine's eyes led him to an open door, the balcony barely within view.
Storm followed his eyes, and she nodded. "She likes to go out there from time to time."
Wolverine nodded back, and said simply, "I'll go say hello."
Scott was about to say something, but Jean merely squeezed his arm, and slowly shook her head. "Send her back in when you can."
The strong man looked back, and nodded shortly, crossing the room and silently walking through.
The figure at the other side never even look at him.
For a second he almost didn't recognize her. It had been years, admittedly, but this woman, so completely feminine and graceful, couldn't possibly have been the insecure, sad teenager he had left behind those years ago.
He paused, watching as he saw eyes brilliant with tears lift skyward, and it was then he knew it was her. The bangs escaped the hood and the shocking white was suddenly vivid.
It was Rogue.
He stepped forward, feeling suddenly nervous, unsure. It had been years... she had changed, that was almost sure, and although they had shared the connection ever since the day she had hidden herself in his camper, he wasn't sure what they shared now.
Memories? A connection?
Was there really any such thing?
She paused, and suddenly turned, slowly, regarding him with a placid face. When her eyes finally focused on his own, she smiled, tipping her head to the side.
"I knew you'd come back. I was waiting for you."
He gave her an uncertain look, and he answered gruffly. "You did?"
"Yes." A finger rose to the side of her head, and she tapped it lightly. "You're still in here."
"It lasts that long?"
He was quiet, looking away, and she merely smiled and turned back. "Here." Her hands slid to her neck, and with a slight snap, her hand came down, and dangling from it was a small metal chain...
A familiar metal plate was attached to it.
"I've saved this for you."
He stared at it for a minute, then let his eyes rest on the slender neck and cleavage where it had rested. He swallowed and slowly reached for the gleaming metal.
He looked up at her, and when she smiled, he suddenly pulled his hand away. "I can't take that," he said gruffly.
"Why not? It's yours." Her accent was still present as she drawled at him, and for a split second, it dawned on the Wolverine how ... sexy.. she was.
He winced and crossed his arms, looking annoyed. "I gave it to you."
"No you didn't, you said that -"
"Are you calling me a liar?"
She raised an eyebrow at the snap, and finally just shook her head and reattached it around her neck. "Thank you," she said, moving her hands to the bars yet again.
The man who felt as if he was a beast looked at her, his eyes roving up and down, and finally turned away, in a voice that seemed pained.
The sound seemed to amuse her, because a dry smile slid onto her face. "Ah was a kid Logan," she drawled. "Ah didn't know my place in this world."
He chuckled. "And you do now?"
"Well...not exactly." she admitted, shrugging. Looking at him, her eyes twinkled. "Have you?"
"No." The answer came quickly. "Though I'm beginning to think that who you are is less about what you are, and more about who you know... what they know about you."
Her smile slid off her face as he stared at her. "So loners...," she began thickly. "If no one knows them.."
"Then they don't really know themselves," he confirmed.
Her bangs swayed around her, the wind picking them up, and her face was hidden by them as she breathed, "Great."
He frowned, and moved closer to her, resting back on the bars and staring into her face.
"You know you're not alone, Rogue."
She shrugged, looking very much like the child she was when she whispered, " I haven't forgotten what you did for me, Logan. I've never forgotten."
"Good," the answer came with a tender smile. "Because neither have I. But don't tell me I've been the only who'se done that for you."
She was quiet, and her answer was soft, "Well, the only one that survived."
The smile slid off of his face. "What? What do you mean?"
She ignored the question completely. "Not bein' alone. It's a nice fantasy. But we both know the truth..." she waved her hand in front of him, and a smile drifted slowly across her face, fading away just as slowly as it appeared.
He felt his soul wrench at her sad eyes. She didn't deserve this... this pain that was in her... she was a pure soul. Not a beast, not like he was. Reaching up, he caught her gloved hand in his, holding it firmly. "Hey," there was a gentle, almost angry tone in his voice that didn't quite match his gruff face, and she looked at him suprised, her eyes floating down toward the contact. He felt himself swallow, and released her hand quickly. "You know, physical... intimacy...it's not everything. You gotta know someone... inside."
She was quiet for a moment, her eyes regarding him with some unease. "Have you had that?" she asked quietly.
He shrugged, and crossed his arms, looking away. "I thought I did."
"She grew up."
Silence followed the last statement, as her eyes suddenly flew to his. The intensity in his dark eyes seemed to seep through her, because immediately she looked away, shivering slightly as her hands stole up to cover her arms, rubbing lightly.
A low blush had floated up into her cheeks and she merely looked over the balcony again. "You know... that thing you said about physical intimacy?"
"It means something if you can't have it."
He was silent for a moment, and suddenly swallowed. His heart was beating fiercley underneath his metal ribs, and his hand stole out lightly to rest on her own.
Her eyes floated down, and Logan continued the caress, sliding his hand up her gloved arm, to her shoulder, gently, softly, sweetly.
Her breath was suddenly rapid, her chest suddenly heaving when she felt his fingers on her skin. Immediately shivers, a warning signal of sweeping energy shot through her, and panic overwhelmed her.
"Don't do that," she almost shouted, pulling away, her eyes flashing angrily at his touch.
His hand froze in mid air, and Logan looked startled. "What?"
"Logan... just... don't. You don't know what you're doing."
"A touch won't kill me."
"Yes... it will," she hissed, tears suddenly in her eyes. "Don't you get it? Lotsa things changed. Mature... develop. I'm not the kid you left behind," she whispered fiercely, her accent thick in her emotion. "Ah've hurt people.. Ah've KILLED people. Ah've..." her hand gripped the bars and suddenly in her anger, the bars split in two.
His eyes floated down, widened in surprise. "You... you have strength?"
Without saying a word, she only nodded, hunched over the broken metal. "I can fly too." She chuckled grimly. "'Ain't that something?"
"How did you-"
"I absorbed them permanently from someone who didn't let go fast enough."
Logan looked away, suddenly realizing her pain. His eyes closed, and suddenly it didn't matter. She was important to him. She had always been important to him...
Turning to her, his hand reached for hers. "Rogue-"
"Rogue!" Both pairs of eyes looked up to find a handsome blonde haired boy about Rogue's age, standing in the doorway.
She stiffened, and suddenly put ona smile. "I'll be right there, Bobby!" He nodded and crossed his arms, waiting.
"Who's that?" Logan asked, his voice low and he leaned closer to her.
"Bobby. 'Ice man'. He's supposed to be escortin' me tonight. Made me promise."
Logan's brow creased, and an uncomfortable knot suddenly wrenched itself into his stomach. "You're dating him?'
"More of a pretense, really. He's... never given up on the fact that he thinks there could be an us."
"You don't think they're could?' he asked softly.
"I don't like to give them hope. As long as this..." Again she raised an arm, not touching him. "is going on... I can't get close to anyone."
He swallowed, and heedless of the watching suitor, gently took her palm, and pressed his lips to the gloved hand. "Why is it always the unnattainable ones?"
She didn't say a word.
"Rogue!" A distinctly Irish voice suddenly was heard, and again they turned to see an older man stand next to Bobby. He was scruffier, his hair was dark brown and unruly, and he was holding a pack of cards in his hands. "What're doin' with that jerk, darlin'?"
"Darlin'?! Another one?" Logan hissed, his hands suddenly clenched as he glared.
"A new recruit. Not exactly broken in yet. More of a wild card, literally." She shrugged. "Another one that doesn't get that I can't exactly persue a relationship." She chuckled as Bobby and the older man seemed to glare at each other.
"What's his name?" Logan grumbled, crossing his arms.
"I don't like him," was the immediate response. "He looks like a thief."
"Maybe that's cause he is one." Rogue smiled, amused by the reaction. "And you don't like anyone."
"That's not true," his eyes flickered over to her, and he said quietly, "I like you."
She was silent for a moment, and suddenly her eyes softened, seemed moist, as she raised a gloved finger and slid her hands tenderly across his stubbly face. "I like you too." He closed his eyes against the contact, and the beautiful mutant smiled, breathed, "Welcome back, Logan. We missed you."
She pulled away from the railing and gently fixed her dress, walking away from him.
Watching her go, he felt a tightening in his throat and he growled, "Marie!"
She paused, and then turned, an eyebrow cocked.
He opened his mouth, and found he could think of nothing to say.
"I... Happy Birthday."
Her mouth drifted into a sensous smile, and she nodded, walking back to the two men waiting for her in the door way.
Wolverine stayed on the balcony for a long time.
In a time when everything had moved forward, he had stayed the same... nothing had changed inside of him, and everything had changed around him.
It was new, what he was feeling, what he wanted.
But he had always felt something for her... always had known that she had understood him, accepted him... even that dreaded night when she had tried to wake him from his nightmares, and gotten impaled as a result.
If it was someone that knew him, it was Rogue.
Maybe it was time someone found a way to know her... to get inside that protective shell... No woman like that deserved to be locked up.
It was Rogue.
He closed his eyes, and let his breath out, feeling a stab of pain as the knives slid out of his hands. He inspected them, and then slid them back in.
He would find a way. A stupid thing like odds had never stood in his way. He would do it.
Because it was Rogue. She was almost a woman now. She deserved to be treated like one.