Title: Visions
Author: DNC
Email: craig_d@denison.edu
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Rating: PG-13--strong and (possibly) disturbing imagery.
Summary: Rogue has trouble dealing with the results of her powers...
Disclaimer: All of the characters and settings in this story belong to whoever created them first. It certainly wasn't me.
Archive: Just ask me first. I very much doubt that I'll refuse.
Feedback: I'd appreciate it (craig_d@denison.edu). It's nice to get an idea of what I'm doing right and wrong every now and then. Also, anyone who writes to me and would like me to read a story of theirs in return, feel free to ask. That would be the least I could do for someone who made the effort to e-mail me about one of mine.
Notes: Lots of angst. I don't mind it as long as no one I like dies. I don't think I could ever write a fanfic with a character death.

There were visions of frightened people walking heavily in worn out boots that seemed to welcome the mud and rain. Their shoulders slouched within soggy, faded coats bearing yellow stars. Haggard faces with tired, fearful eyes peered out from beneath matted mops of hair and dirty caps that dripped with freezing rain. And she was one of them. She walked with the men, women, and children doomed to live or die in agony. The mud was thick between her toes and her hands were numb with cold and her heart was heavy with dread, but still she walked among them, unable to pull herself out of a memory that wasn't her own.

Rogue had never lived those memories, but they were as clear as if they had been made the day before. Nearly all of it was there: a chilly, dark train that smelled of urine and vomit and death, packed with people whose souls were empty of hope; piles of shoes and glasses and coats and hats and bodies; the stench that could only be made by the burning of human flesh. Even if what was left in her mind by Magneto faded eventually, she would always remember what she had seen. Had he wanted her to see the same horrors he had witnessed? Had he thought that that would help her to accept what he had intended to do to her? But Marie wasn't angry with him. She understood his anger and felt the heart-breaking anguish that he still felt for the loss of so many of his friends and family members. In her own way, she had suffered a similar loss, for her family and friends had pushed her away when they had found out what she was. So she wasn't angry. But she was in pain with no one to comfort her.

The yellow fabric stars on dull gray coats morphed into shiny gold ones on the shoulders and chests of proud generals. Their champagne glasses clinked together gaily while she lay strapped to the cold metal table, watching them out of the corner of her eye. They were proud of what they had done to her, proud of having made her the ultimate killing machine. Not her, not Marie...Logan. Wolverine. Once again, the remembrances that were not hers had possessed her mind. And now water possessed her body. It was warm and she wished she could drown in it, but they wouldn't let her. The generals with their gleaming rank insignia, blurred by the thick walls of the glass tank, would never allow their prize to be damaged. But they weren't careful enough because she escaped, charging through freezing snow, chilling winds stinging her uncovered skin like a thousand angry bees. She ran from those who had captured her and tortured her. She ran from the life she knew she had lost but couldn't remember.

But those memories didn't belong to her, either. She had never been trapped, helpless on a table while men and women who called themselves scientists had experimented with her body like it didn't belong to her. She had never escaped and run through bitter winter, desperate to find safety. She had her own life. Marie could remember her little-girl birthdays and soft pink little-girl bedroom. She knew who her parents were and she could remember how her life had been before her mutation had revealed itself. Her journey from Mississippi to Canada was still fresh in her mind. And she'd never forget that night in the smoky bar when she had seen a troubled man fight for money and then for his life. Yet the frightening pictures were vivid in her head. She wasn't angry with Logan and she never would be. But she was afraid with no one to hold her and promise that everything would be okay.

It was too much. The horrifying memories of two lifetimes shared the cramped space of her mind. Too much pain for a young girl... And no one dared touch her, for fear that his or her life would then be counted among the ones thrashing about in her head. In refusing her those small gestures of reassurance, they were denying her the very thing she needed most. And the very thing that would have saved her from her nightly hell.

And so it was the same every night: she lay in her bed in a room by herself, where loneliness ate away at her heart. A life without touch, without knowing love and how good it could feel. A lifetime...that was too long to do without and the prospect of that sterile life chilled her to the bone. One man had understood her and had saved her in more ways than one. Her family had given up on her a long time ago, yet, because of him, she had the warmth of human contact to remember. There had been no criticism in his eyes when he had looked at her and no revulsion had quivered in the muscles of his powerful arms when he had wrapped them around her.

But that man--her protector and her friend--was nowhere to be found. She knew very well that he had his own demons to battle without having to worry about the fragile mind of a teenage girl. But he had promised to come back...

And Logan did come back. The thick, black night found Marie wandering aimlessly through the halls of the school like a ghost, cold and quiet. She saw him through the window as he walked up to the door. He entered and she stopped and watched him glance around furtively for any sign of life. His eyes landed on her slight frame and he smiled. Closing the door behind him, he spoke to her.

"How's it goin', kid?"

A simple question that so many people had casually thrown her way but that no one had bothered to hear the real answer to. The full weight of the horrifying memories of two extra lifetimes fell upon her shoulders in the brief moment following those few words. She bowed her head, screwing up her face against the torrent of tears that threatened to overwhelm her. A muffled thump told her that the bag slung over his shoulder was now on the floor. Heavy footsteps approached her. Moments later, the same strong arms that she had remembered and longed for curled around her thin shoulders. Rogue buried herself in the layers of clothing that he wore, gloved fingers clinging desperately to the faded flannel that would always separate them. She allowed her tears to fall in silence as he held on tight. As he held on...

"I'm here to stay for as long as you want me to. Everything's going to be okay, I promise."