Title: This Journey Called Life
Author: Kim
Email: kimberly.h@worldnet.att.net
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Rating: NC-17 for profanity, sex, some slight goriness
Summary: Sometimes, things aren't always the way they seem.
Genre: X-men Movie Logan/Jean, mostly Logan/Rogue, Character Death
Disclaimer: Wish I owned them but I don't.
Archive: Anywhere, just send me a letter to ask first!
Feedback: I'd appreciate it if you'd send me any kind of letter, good and bad.
Notes: Okay, this is the tale I started writing awhile back, and after what seems like an eternity I finished it. There are some slightly disturbing issues: adultery, character death. If you can't tolerate a major X-Men character death, even your favorite, then I'd suggest you skip either that part or this story. Also, there's sex in here, so if you are underage, then skiddaddle. I hope you all hang in with me until the end.
Thanks: Thanks to my friend, Mira, who gave me such great feedback. It encouraged me to finish this thing to the end.

Sometimes the gift of life can be the cruelest irony of all. We are often left to wonder about our miseries, and the uselessness of the suffering we endure. Even more so when the people who suffer these cruelties are helpless to stop what comes their way, be it through the forces of God or the forces of nature. Regardless, all people suffer, both innocent and evil, some more than others. The saddest realization is that most of the suffering is brought on through sheer ignorance at man's failure to be open to what he cannot understand.

This irony is the cause of life's turmoil and so many are left to flounder around in the river that drowns them. There is no help to save them from their watery depths, no helping hand to reach into the liquid mass and pull them to safety.

The attitude of man is to each his own. With this mentality, people are left to struggle alone, while others who have the capability to help, turn the other way.

In a perfect world, we could understand and embrace each individual's imperfection and live a life of harmony and unison. In a perfect world, we could depend on others to be our savior when we feel the most oppressed. In a perfect world the burden that weighs down on our shoulders could be lessened by the help of someone willing to help lighten that load.

But sadly, this is not a perfect world, and that is not what we are here for.

Perhaps, we are all put here to find our path; to embark on that journey in which we are all destined to go, and to find a way of putting meaning into our suffering. Sometimes, Grace will smile down on us and offer a companion to journey with us. Others are meant to go that distance alone. Always alone.

For one girl, she has a path she is forced to follow because of man's ignorance and unwillingness to help what is different. She is different, and she was set down this path in her attempt to fight that age old struggle that life is. Maybe, just maybe she will finally come to terms with the purpose of her existence and find where in this wretched world she truly belongs.

Rogue, a girl barely in her twenties, was a beautiful creature. Her skin was as white as the moon that shone on her, bleached by the lack of exposure to the sun. Her hair floated around her as the soft breeze caressed each strand of white and brown, coaxing it into the dance it created.

Her beauty is deceiving, for by fault of nature, the innocent pallor and silkiness known as her skin was made to be a silent killer. Since that dreadful day when she found out about her ability to kill any person she touched, she took all measures to hide her fatal skin. But there was no need for such cautious measures tonight. With no one else awake, at least in touching distance, she abandoned the layers of scratchy material that usually hid her creamy skin from the world and donned attire appropriate for the humid night.

The youthful girl crept from the quiet stillness of the house she called her home and slowly made her way up a dirt road. The black night and slight hint of the moon leading her way could not hinder her walk down the path she has walked on every night for the past three years. This path was as familiar to her as the face she saw when she looked in the mirror. She could suddenly go blind, and not even that could stop her from setting foot on this road she had so well memorized.

Her shorts inched up her slender thighs, as she set to a faster pace, intent on reaching her final destination. Concentration marred her delicate features, until at last, the forest surrounding her made way to reveal a clearing she claimed as her own.

The sight never failed to take her breath away, as she took a seat on a rock that was always hers on these nightly rendezvous.

The clearing was actually a flat of land that led to the edge of a cliff hidden away by the dense forest. The grass was remarkably green, with little daisies and wildflowers blooming on every patch of green they could set their roots in. The moon, once concealed by the thick wood, shone brilliant and clear, proud to provide luminance on this little spot. The edge of the cliff looked out onto the vast sea, sparkling in the twilight of the moon shining from high above. That seamless expanse of blue was seemingly endless.

From where she sat on her rock she was afforded the perfect view. It was always in this have where she allowed herself to release the tension, the anguish, and the loneliness she faced throughout the span of the day. If she didn't have this spot to clear her thoughts, she knew she'd dwindle into nothingness. She needed this outlet, if only to keep her from dying inside...to keep her human.

Deep in her heart, she knew why she came here. It wasn't only to escape the harsh pressures she faced as a mutant. It was her sanctuary where she could give into the luxury of remembering him.

A rueful smile formed on her lips as she realized she could no longer bring herself to say his name aloud. It had been three years since he vanished from her life... three long years. Each day was an even bigger struggle for her to learn to move on. Time was supposed to heal wounds, but for her, they only grew deeper.

'Maybe it's because I can still feel his damn presence in my head.' Rogue shook her head. He was still in there, even after all these years. He may have been gone physically, but he remained in her, his feelings and spirit running through her, entwined with her own as if they were one.

The physical separation, though, weighed heavily in her heart. She wanted him with her, just so she could touch him even if it was through her thick gloves. She wanted to be able to talk to him, have him lash out at her, and to return to her side to whisper sweet nothings to her.

Rogue knew she loved Logan with all her heart. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Each and every member of the X-Men worried as days grew on and she fell further into despair after Logan departed. She hated the way everyone tiptoed around her, treating her like an imbecile, and she could feel the Professor poking around in her head trying to decipher what mental state she was in. He probably didn't find anything too alarming, so he left her to her grief. Everyone else just chalked it up to being a schoolgirl consumed by her crush. No, she knew that it wasn't just a silly girly crush. It was something that exceeded words, transcended time, that left her heart quaking to the very core at the mere thought of how intense her love for Logan was. Whether he knew it or not, she would love him through her lifetime and for all eternity.

Slowly, Rogue broke the gaze she held of the sea. She looked down to her hands where she clutched the dog tags Logan had left for her those years ago. Unconsciously, while musing on her thoughts, she had somehow released the chain from inside her blouse, where it usually remained captive. She continued watching as her knuckles turned stark white from the grip she used to crush the tags to her thumping heart.

Time dragged on with each day she waited for him, but she couldn't bring herself to abandon him. He had promised her his return, and short of her death, here she would be when he arrived.

Tears escaped from her eyes and her throat choked on the unspoken sorrow she felt.

"Logan." She whispered through the tears. "Where are you?" Her soft voice intermingled with the sudden cool breeze that drifted by her and out across the sea. Hopefully that little breeze would be the carrier of her solemn message delivering it to the rightful recipient.

She closed her eyes to clamp down on the oncoming tears. Blinking rapidly to clear her blurry vision, she looked directly at the lone moon. With the tags against her heart, she spoke through the lump in her throat, "Come back to me."

Rogue took several deep, calming breaths regaining her lost composure. With leaden limbs, she steadily rose to her feet and turned to move down the pathway she used to get there. Before disappearing into the dank, isolated forest, she turned to look back at the moon, which glistened in the night. With a sigh, she ventured down her route back to the mansion.

A lone figure sat at the end of the bar, staring intently at the television screen. Instead of seeing what went on in the day's news, his sight was unfocused with muddled images and blurry visions. His mind was on other matters. Matters that plagued his animal heart.

Logan half watched what was happening on the screen, all the while, volleying the half-empty beer bottle between each of his hands. He became fed up with the incessant chattering of the news anchor. He pulled his eye away from the TV. His parched throat scratched with thirst and he automatically brought the condensed bottle up to his chapped lips, taking one large swig. He drowned his sorrows in his drink wanting to lose himself in a larger stupor in order to forget. Forget what? Everything.

'How ironic coming from a man who has nothing to forget in the first place.' Logan felt a sardonic smile cross his hardened features.

'God, Wolverine, how long has it been since you've been home? Can you even call it your home? Who are you? Where do you come from? Where do you belong?' Logan shook these all too familiar thoughts from his head, knowing the answers to each. Or, more likely, not knowing the answers. During these past years, his attempt to discover his history had led to nothing more than a renewed sense of self doubt, contempt, and loneliness. He left no lead unturned, but in the end he had come up with nothing. Nothing except for the fact that he was three years older and had no friend in the world except himself.

Logan was a man tortured in the depths of a lacerated soul. Most days he felt like the animal he was created to be. It was during those times he could feel the claws beneath his skin, itching to come loose and tear into something, anything...if only to rage on, allowing him to forget that somewhere in this beast lay a man. A man who yearned for the only tonic that quieted his feral urge.

He knew what that tonic was. He had left it years back when he started this whole damn conquest to discover the truth. He had left her, not too long after swearing to protect her. He felt like such a goddamned hypocrite. Instead of staying to protect her with every inch of his being, he fled.

The beast that was Wolverine and the man that was Logan had waged a silent war, demanding, convincing himself he didn't need anything or anyone. The more humane side, who stopped the truck to let that lost teen into his truck, stated that maybe he did. Maybe he could seek refuge in the celestial woman that was his Rogue. The man in him had wanted to stay and be one with her, but the wounded animal that lay hidden away in his body came alive and angered at the thought of being so needy. He felt much like a dog that limps along a dirt road all because he refused the help of the one kind person who tried to mend those wounds. And much like the dog that ran, so too did he. It was what he knew best.

So here he sat, a lone patron in a dirty, smelly, no where tavern, draining the bitter, piss colored liquor down his throat to forget his troubles, if only for one day.

Instead of having the desired effect, the alcohol loosened him up, permitting him to go where he normally banished his thoughts...or better yet, to the fantasies that showcased none other than the one he wanted body, mind and soul.

Slowly, Logan's eyes flickered shut. Immediately he could see the little angel, Marie... Rogue, flashing her pearly teeth in a dazzling smile that was meant only for him. Her cherubic face gazed at him in doe-like wonder, while her rosy lips were screwed in an attempt to conceal the squeal of laughter. His nose could almost smell the sweet scent of peaches drifting from hair that was unlike any other.

He felt like such a perv, his nasty thoughts taking advantage of such a young girl. But the vision of Rogue calmed his spirits like nothing else could and chased away his loneliness.

His eyes remained closed as he saw her whole body, which probably during this time, had gestated into that of a woman. He could almost feel each soft curve as he ran his hands over the swell of her waist, slowly gliding past her scrumptious bottom, and crossing against her soft back where he would pull her into the tightest embrace he could manage. It was immaterial that he couldn't touch her in reality, but it was his fantasy and this suited him just fine. All he wanted to do was hold her. His imaginary self relished the idea of being able to hug her, touch her in ways that no man could. In his heart, he had staked the claims on her as his. In his bestial mind he had marked her as his territory.

Logan suddenly became aware that he wasn't in some pleasant cosmic universe he'd created for himself, but in a dingy, gloomy bar in a bumfuck nowhere bar. His hands were suspended in midair rubbing an imaginary figure that didn't exist except in the recesses of his mind. He turned his head to find that the few customers in the place had stopped what they were doing and stared with their eyes wide and brows cocked. The bartender stood with the same look. The dishrag in his hand stilled and was left to wait until it's owner got over his surprise and continued on with his duty.

What a silly sight he must have been!

Probably one of the few times in recorded history, Logan blushed a very crimson red. His mouth opened and shut, while his brain knocked around figuring out a lame excuse. He gave up when his mind drew up a blank and clamped his mouth shut. He climbed off the barstool and took the forgotten beer bottle in his hand, chugged what remained, and dropped it onto the bar with a loud clatter.

Quickly, he grabbed his leather jacket, which remained on the stool next to him and rushed to the door. Not one to leave while looking extremely stupid and without the very last word, he stopped at the door turned around and gave the bar patrons a salute and a wink of the eye. And with that, he ran out the door.

One night, back at Xavier's school, Jubilee and Kitty noticed Rogue moping around. Instantaneously, they knew where her thoughts had strayed. She just sat in the study with a cup of hot chocolate in her hands, staring into nothingness, looking much like the lost little girl that she was. They exchanged looks and crossed to where Rogue sat.

"Come on, Rogue. Why don't you get out of those clothes and come with us?" Jubes asked.

Rogue eyed her as she and Kitty sat on the coffee table in front of her. Her suspicious mind wondered at their scheme then asked, "Why the hell should I do that?"

Kitty gave a whiny sigh, her shrill voice ringing in the quiet of the study. "Because! We never have any fun anymore, Rogy! We're hitting a club tonight, and we want you to come with us. Please, for my sake, just stop looking so depressed and at least pretend to enjoy the idea."

Rogue looked at Jubilee and Kitty, who at this point gave her puppy dog faces, pouty lips and all, knowing she would relent. Rogue mentally cursed at these two girls, but gave in anyway.

"Which club are we going to?"

Both girls shrieked with laughter and high fived, shouting, "Club Infinity!"

Inwardly, Rogue groaned. That just happened to be the most popular club in town, where people of all ages, legal and illegal went. There would be lots of people. Lots and lots of people. Just the thought of a crowded, smoke filled room, with droning music earsplitting enough to make a young person go deaf, made Rogue's stomach sink at the thought. 'Ugh, me and my promises.' Despite the fact that she, Kitty, and Jubilee were all the same age, she felt entirely too old to be doing anything of this nature. In many ways she was. She had a multitude of people beyond her years already rape her mind, depositing thoughts that didn't belong to her.

She could almost see Logan's face grimace at the thought of a club.

With a heavy sigh, Rogue got up and padded to her room to get dressed, leaving the two teenage girls as their babble buzzed on and on.

While at the club, Rogue sat alone at a table hidden in the corner, away from the maddening crowd. The last thing she wanted was to wreak havoc in a place like this. Accidentally bumping against a person, skin-to-skin, and sucking the life energy out of them was bound to do the job. So she was left at her table, in the shadows, watching while her friends slithered with some guys they met over on the dance floor.

Rogue's mind ticked off the reasons she had gone with them when all they did was have fun without her. They'd been there for hours and all Rogue wanted to do was go home, take a steaming hot shower to wash off all the grime and smoke that had collected on her, strip into her nighties, and fall into an oblivion of sleep, dreaming of Logan. Even sharing his nightmares through the course of the night seemed more appealing to her than having to reject each drunken bozo that came by, the foulness of their breaths suffocating her with their lame pick up lines.

The smoke inhalation and the flashing lights, not to mention the dense population choked Rogue. She could feel the beginnings of a migraine form between her temples.

'Fresh air, that's what I need.' Rogue pushed, and shoved, and shimmied her way to the door trying her best not to make contact with the club goers. She had to fight hard to ignore the hand that grabbed her ass. She was almost regretful she'd worn pants when the jerk that copped a feel deserved a thunder shock. With a sigh of relief, she reached the door and slammed it with her fists, venting all her frustration at the innocent piece of dirty metal.

It was dark outside even with the streetlights dotted throughout the street. She had gone to the back exit of the club and not a soul was in sight. Rogue thanked the heavens for that. The darkness loomed around her, but Rogue breathed it all in. The air was warm and the night clear, so enchanting, that Rogue couldn't resist the urge to watch the skies. As she looked to the brightest stars, her thoughts drifted to Logan once again. Little did she know that this distraction would be the biggest mistake of her life, causing it to change...forever.

Logan shoved the door to his motel room open and threw his jacket onto the nearby chair, narrowly missing it. Logan peeled the clothes that stuck to his perspiring body, save for his boxers, thankful for the relief from being covered on such a warm night. His damn day just got better when the air conditioner in the rancid room conked out.

Logan kicked the crap out of the dead machine, briefly considered using his metal claws on it. He thought against it and gave up with a huff of anger. He flopped unceremoniously onto the squeaky bed and laid spread out, gazing at a dirty wet spot on the ceiling.

He felt numbed through and through, but gradually the effects of the alcohol had taken its toll. Combined with the lukewarm air in the cramped room it did the job of rendering him useless. His eyes lost the battle to sleep and he fell into a deep slumber.

If a person walked in on Logan while he slept, they would immediately know that he was suffering immensely. His eyes were screwed shut, rivulets of sweat poured down the sides of his face and into the hair on his face, as though a faucet had been turned on. The nostrils of his nose flared with such intensity as loud, shallow breaths were being taken. He was having a nightmare.

This nightmare, though, was unlike any other that he'd grown accustomed to suffering through. Those specific ones caused him to literally feel physical pain, but were immediately forgotten once he awoke. This dream left his soul shattered into millions of pieces, abandoned, and helpless in a state that was beyond repair. He would wish no such feeling on any other living being.

In his sleep-induced state, he could see a young woman standing by the side of a road next to some kind of club. Or at least what he assumed it was a club, since boisterous music boomed from the inside. Logan's gaze traveled down the agile figure of the alluring woman. She stood watching the heavens above, her hair shining under the gloomy glow of the streetlamp beside her. He spied the bolt of white hair mixed with the darker strands.

Logan's heart rate doubled when he realized that the young woman was Rogue. His dream self was so jubilant when he spotted her that his feet were spurred into motion. But as he drew nearer, he felt his heart plummet to his feet when he saw a man clothed as dark and sinister as the night, come from behind her. The man grabbed at her sleeved arms, viciously securing them behind her back. Logan could see Rogue wince in pain, but she continued struggling with all the fire inside of her. Logan attempted to go to her side, but his feet were planted to the ground. An invisible force held him back making him useless to her.

Before she could even scream, the man in black took a syringe full of amber liquid and thrust it into her exposed throat. Logan watched in horror as a trickle of blood slid down her pale neck. He screamed and lashed out but to no avail.

She collapsed into the man's arms and he collected her limp body and escaped into the night. Not one witness was in sight except for Logan's dream self. He tried to get to her, but it was too late. As he chased after her abductor, the visions surrounding him turned into a deep fog, and suddenly the ground beneath him gave way. He was falling into nothingness at a break neck momentum. All the space around him had disappeared and he plunged further and further without any hope of righting himself onto safe ground.

"NO!" Logan sprang upright, sweat drenching his entire body. He was quaking with fear, and the adrenaline in him didn't cease its rapid course, dashing through his pulsing veins. Something horrendous had happened and he knew in the pit of his heart that it had to do with Rogue. She needed him and he wasn't there to help her.

Logan wasted no time gathering his belongings, sprinting back and forth to collect everything he owned. Whatever it was, whatever had caused this dream to leave him in its anguished condition, he knew in his heart that the dread he felt was all too real. He threw everything onto Cyke's motorcycle, and hopped on. His mind kept replaying the events he saw in his dream, and as he sped off into the night, Rogue's limp body burned in his mind's eye. He whispered her name in a desperate mantra, frantically trying to convince himself that everything would be alright. He knew one thing, that if anything had happened to her, it would be his fault. And no one would be able to convince him otherwise.

'God bless One-Eye for turbo speed on this damned thing.' The rapid pace in which the motorbike went was the only relief that filled Logan's body. He could feel the balistic rage in him surface, the alloy metal claws in his hands ready to rip through his taught skin. Logan tried unsuccessfully to will himself into believing that it was just a stupid dream. That he'd arrive at the School for Gifted Youngsters, find her sitting silently in the library reading because she couldn't sleep, and feel like a ridiculous fool. The butterflies in the pit of his stomach fluttered so anxiously he could almost hear their wings beating on the walls of his insides.

The scenery on either side of him blurred into one shadowy mesh as he sped through the landscapes of the land of the free. Dawn broke; relief flowed through his body when he caught sight of the elegant mansion sitting alone at the top of the hill. He made his way through the gates and came to a screeching halt, nearly sending him head first onto the concrete pavement. He stumbled off the bike and pounded on the oak door.

The atmosphere in and around the house assaulted Logan. The dread and grief so evident that he knew at once the unthinkable had happened. His impatience escalated since the door had not yet been answered. As he threw his hand up to beat against the door one more time, it creaked open to reveal Jean. The normally beautiful composed doctor's face was blotchy and her eyes red rimmed from crying.

In actuality, she didn't seem too surprised to see him as if she'd been expecting him. Her greeting was welcoming and warm nonetheless. If it had been any other time before he had realized his feelings for Rogue, he would have been the happiest man and would have loved to see her asshole boyfriend's reaction. But as it was, he was here because he loved Rogue and something terrible had happened to her. Not once during this time had his anxiety lessened, but intensified.

"Logan... I don't... I can't...Oh God, Logan! Why?" Jean wasn't making any sense and he told her so. She wiped her mottled nose on a torn up tissue. Her back straightened, her professionalism returning.

"Follow me," was all she said and she turned to walk down the hall. Logan tried to concentrate on the setting, hoping it would tamper down the stone that grew in his gut. Not much had changed. A few new pieces of furniture here and there, but it was magnificent as always.

Dr. Jean Grey led him into the infrequently used auditorium, which was filled with people. Logan couldn't ignore the shared despair that spread through each person in the room. His heart ached for the truth and feared it at the same time.

Jean gestured for him to follow her to where the rest of the X-Men were seated, all watching intently as the Professor wheeled himself up to the microphone and began his speech. His quiet words were detached as he spoke.

"A sad day has settled on the grounds of our school. A very important and beloved member of our school is no more."

Logan's mind whirled around, confusion setting in. The Professor didn't mean what Logan thought he meant, did he? Impossible. Logan's foot began tapping on the wooden floor, impatiently waiting for Professor Xavier to continue.

"The girl who we've all come to know and love as Rogue was found earlier today, her body hidden away in a dumpster. We cannot divulge the details as of yet, for it is an ongoing investigation, but remember her in your prayers and mourn for her as the beautiful soul she was. May God be with her and with us all during this difficult time. If you feel the need to talk to someone, your professors and myself are available to counsel with you. Thank you."

The Professor wheeled off the stage, sadness settled on his wise features.

Logan couldn't believe his ears. He stood shell-shocked. Whatever it was, he wasn't prepared to hear that the only person he loved, his little Marie was gone. She was an angel now, but in all honesty he couldn't bring himself to believe she was dead.

"She's not dead!" he yelled at the remaining members of the X-Men, his shout echoing in the large room. Scott Summers, though his eyes were shielded from view, sympathized with Logan and attempted to comfort him. Rogue, after all had been one of his more cherished students.

"I know you can't accept it Logan, but.." Logan lashed out at him, "She's NOT dead! I would know it!" and with that he shoved Scott's hand off his shoulder.

Ororo Munroe approached him cautiously, seeing all the turmoil that boiled in his eyes and in his stance. She acted like the very goddess she was, a tamer to the earth and sky, as well as to this enraged man.

Compassionately, she said, "Logan, we all loved Rogue as much as you did-"

Logan harshly interrupted her, stating, "No you don't understand! You're heart hasn't been ripped from you and torn into pieces..." Realizing that he released too much information, he stopped mid sentence and pressed his lips firmly shut, stopping from saying anything more incriminating. He couldn't look the others in their faces. He tore his gaze away from the shocked expressions that regarded him closely.

Ororo took his larger hand in her clammy ones and led him out of the auditorium. Feeling cold and numbed to the bone, Logan gave her no trouble.

He looked at her in confusion as they entered a different part of the mansion and asked, "Where are you taking me?"

She didn't look at him when she answered, "To see her body."

Logan had expected that Rogue would be held in the morgue, but instead she was in one of the family bedrooms. This particular room was in a whole other wing, in the more private quarters of the large estate. The air was stale from the lack of use since it was away from the other wings occupied by the faculty and students.

Ororo opened the door with a reserved reverence. She had infinite respect for the dead instilled in her from her days in the tribe that shunned her. Ororo stayed in the doorway, allowing Logan to pass her into the room. She watched him as he glanced around the room, taking in the new surroundings. A melancholic look took residence on her exotic face.

"Take all the time you need," and with that she shut the door firmly behind her.

Logan barely registered Ororo had left, his whole attention was on the person on the made bed.

At first, Logan couldn't do anything but just gape at the ashen figure lying still on the bed. Still, she was so still, so white, so lifeless, like a rag doll tossed carelessly aside with no further use. The shock of her colored hair even with the two strips of white, stood well out of place. She was so unlike the beautiful individual with such spitfire passion and love within her. No, this couldn't be Rogue.

He finally uprooted his heavy feet and dragged himself to where she lay. His breath hitched when he came closer, allowing the conclusion that this was really her. A moment before, a stony mask had clung to his exterior, but seeing her as pale as the white lace dress she wore was more than his self-control could handle.

The mask chipped away as the shock wore off, replaced by the actual misery he felt inside. He felt like half of his soul was missing, ripped away from its partner and no longer one of a whole. Logan crashed to his knees, his whole body drained of all the rage and anger he felt earlier. He felt tired, haggard. He laid his head on the bed beside her fragile arm and sobbed with all that was in him. The pain he felt could no longer be contained and as time passed, he growled with the hopelessness that consumed him.

Sluggishly, he picked his head back up to look at her, waiting, watching for any sign of movement, hoping that this was all a horrid nightmare. He almost begged with an absurd inclination to wake up. No such relief came to him.

He saw her hands placed delicately atop her chest grasping a lily, as beautiful and fragile as she was. Logan could no longer take the resistance of touching her porcelain skin. Ever so cautiously, he released one of her hands from their position, taking care not to disturb the little flower and held her smaller hand in his larger one. He waited for that jolt to come draining the life from within him, prayed for some sign to prove that she wasn't really dead. Nothing came. Logan stayed like that, watching her angelic face, eyelids closed and the splash of lashes resting on the unblemished apples of her cheeks. He stayed long after the tears had subsided.

After an indeterminate amount of time, Logan brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it. He slowly stood, his knees cracking from the long held position. He stooped once more to kiss her.

Brushing hair from her forehead, he placed a tender kiss on where the hair once was, then brought his face within millimeters of her lips. With the final resolve he had, he closed his eyes and pressed his lips lovingly to hers, once again hoping she would be Snow White and the magic would wear off. That she'd float slowly back to life with the power of a kiss. Nothing happened so he broke the contact and erected his back into the coldness he felt. He turned to leave and looked at her one last time before shutting the door.

Logan fell against the closed door and slid down, the oppressive weight he felt more than he could bear. His mind roared back to life and he became more aware of his surroundings. He became aware of something very alarming. After the initial shock of seeing her there, no life inside of her had finally subsided, the spot where Rogue always lay in his heart should have felt empty, but it was still surprisingly full. He looked up in shock. His mind told him that it was impossible, but his heart wouldn't let the thought go. He tried to deny that it just wasn't possible, but he couldn't.

He had seen her body, touched it not moments ago, and yet, here he was conjuring up an idea so absurd. The wheels in his head started turning, gearing up at the idea that had filled his thoughts. He couldn't explain his gut instinct and if he'd learned anything, it was to go with his intuition. What if... just what if Rogue wasn't really dead? That body may have looked like her, but what if it really wasn't her? If Rogue were really, truly dead, he would know it...feel it. Wouldn't he?

Wouldn't he?

Location: Unknown
Time: Unknown

The gentle caress of air from the vent blew across her face, disturbing the tumble of hair that lay around her. Tiny strands loosened from the rest of her hair, tickling the sides of her face. An annoyed groan came from the woman's lips as her hand moved to brush away the bothersome strands.

"Just a few more minutes mom...I'll...I prom..."

Suddenly the girl startled awake, confused by her surroundings.

Rogue's eyes were frightened by what she saw. Sleep was long forgotten as she stumbled to her feet. She absorbed all that she saw and desperately tried to remember how in the hell she ended up here in the first place.

Long hours of drug-induced sleep and a head rush finally caught up with her causing her stance to sway with the unexpected queasiness. Rogue reached out to take support of the wall that was within touching distance. She took several shallow breaths trying to regain her composure and willed the ill-timed headache away.

After a few minutes she seemed to feel a bit better so she scanned the room to find any clue that might give away the reason she was here, or where HERE was. Rogue looked down at her feet feeling the cold tile floor for the first time. On her mission to look down she also noticed that she wore nothing but a thin, see-through hospital gown. Her hands flew to the back of the gown and her eyes bugged out when she felt nothing but a tiny paper-like string holding the two ends of fabric together.

'What the hell kind of freak show is this?' she thought as her eyes searched the room.

The room was a moderate sized cubicle. All four walls were covered with white padding and the floor was as bleached looking as the walls. There were no outlets except for the door in the far right hand corner, no windows were available save for the little looking box on the door, but the lid on the other side covered even that. There was a tray slot closer to the ground, but that was too small for her to fit through and too far down to be able to reach the door handle. A sterile looking metal toilet and sink were in the corner opposite the door. A cot lay just across from the "bathroom" and the sheets were covered in... yep! You guessed it, WHITE. The atmosphere absolutely screamed a hospital and had just about the same appeal as one. 'No scratch that. More like a loony bin.'

Rogue's feelings were in turmoil as she realized that there was no way out. She was truly stuck in this place and no one could help her. Except for...the Professor! She tried mentally calling him, hoping that it would work even if she weren't a born telepath herself. Her brows knitted together as her eyes shut in concentration. She rubbed at her temples forcing her brain to cooperate in contacting the Professor. Some way let him know she was alive.

"That won't do, Marie." A voice erupted from out of the blue. A microphone was hidden from view. The piercing echo boomed thru the room, its loudness rumbling against the tile floor. Rogue clapped her hands over her ears to soften the ringing that resounded.

With her hands still on her ears she wildly glanced all around the room trying to find where the voice originated. For the life of her, Rogue couldn't figure out where the annoying sound was coming from.

"Who are you?! What the fuck do you want with me?" All the tension and exasperation from her situation finally took flight. "I'm of no use to you! Dammit! Let me go!" She screamed from the tops of her lungs, her shout reverberating against the walls of her jail cell.

The monotonous voice had stopped at her tirade, but continued before she could cause another outburst.

"On the contrary, Marie, you are quite essential to our program. From now on there are no connections between you and the outside world, physically or mentally. You are now a part of the Judas Project. This will be your home from this day forth. All people who once knew and loved you have now forgotten your existence. Your presence is essential to this project. You are the key to helping the world be rid of mutants. Once and for all." And with cold finality the monotone disappeared.

Rogue was horrified beyond words. 'Help this shit hole get rid of mutants?! Were they insane?' Probably, but that was beside the point. Rogue shouted out, "I'll never help you! There is no chance in hell you'd ever get me to betray mutants! I have two words for you, assholes. Fuck YOU!"

The last of her words echoed in her ears mixing with the ringing that came from her pounding heart. She fell to her knees in grief and covered her face, trying to capture the onslaught of tears that had begun cascading. She felt something bump against her breast, something she had not noticed before. She reached into the shirt to pull out the offending object.

It dawned on her that the offending object was Logan's dog tags. She thanked the gods that somehow these heinous people had managed to find some compassion (if that's what it was) in their callous hearts and let her keep the most precious thing in her life.

Her vision blurred with tears as she stared at the glinting metal. Her thumbs stroked the indented word "Wolverine." Her eyes drifted shut dreaming of the home she was taken from, the people who no longer knew if she were dead or alive. Mostly she thought of the man whose name was engraved on those tags and meant more than anything else in her world.

Something about one of the tags caught her attention. She looked at the second tag more closely because it looked suspiciously different. Instead of being the pair that belonged with Logan's first one, this one had her own name "Marie" engraved on it. A bar code was stamped below her name. She was nothing more than a cow sent off to the slaughterhouse.

These people weren't compassionate! It was some kind of cruel joke. She had become their slave and this was their reminder that she belonged to them now and that the world she once knew was torn from her grasp forever.

The hopelessness in her heart ached more than words could express. It combined with the knowledge that a terrible change would be coming to the innocents... to all mutants. Her friends would all be among them if she didn't get out and fast.

All she knew was that she couldn't stay here; she had to get out somehow and warn everybody. One phrase resonated in her head... 'But how'?

During the middle of what she assumed was night (all lights had been switched off) she heard a loud rumbling approaching her room. She ran over to the door and pressed her fingertips and ear to the frigid metal door. The rumbling was definitely getting louder and there was a distinct pitter-patter of footsteps all heading towards her room.

Rogue pushed away from the door, anxiety crossing her visage. She desperately sought a place to hide or to at least convince her would be abductors into thinking she was gone. The only space available was that of the crawl space beneath her cot and without much thought she climbed under, holding her breath. She waited for that door to come bursting open.

She didn't have to wait long because almost an instant after she climbed under the bed the door opened, white light flashing into the pitch-black room. People hidden behind surgical suits and masks wheeled a gurney into the room. For almost a split second she fooled herself into believing she had deceived them. That flutter of hope died out as soon as she saw the padded feet from where she hid. More feet rounded the bed and gloved hands grabbed at her arms and legs pulling her from her sanctuary.

She shrieked vile words at them, spit curse words back and forth. Her southern accent thickened with the passion and hatred she felt in her body. She kicked and punched at the people who held her down but it was to no avail. They thrust her upon the gurney, cold, uncaring hands buckling her down with straps. One by one each strap was locked into place, bruising delicate skin as they went. No further movement was allowed. Rogue shook as much as she could to resist, looking almost as if a demon had entered her body and taken violent possession. One would think an exorcism was about to be performed, but not was such the case.

A man in a white lab coat broke through the array of uniformed people, a syringe of bluish liquid ready to be injected. His face was hidden by the bright light, which shone from behind. Rogue's eyes widened in fear and she released an animalistic sound, gripped in the terror that consumed her.

The man in the coat viciously caught her arm and as if in slow motion, the needle came slowly toward her pinched skin. Time came crashing back into reality and the pain of the needle's entrance caused her to cry out for help one last time. The doctor withdrew the needle and signaled for her to be wheeled away. As the gurney was wheeled down the hallway, Rogue had drifted into an unnatural sleep. The only sign of her existence was the cry that still echoed in the room where she was held captive.

Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters
Several months later

Logan sat unmoving in his room. He felt like a zombie with no reason to move or live. It had been months since that unforgettable day he'd lost Marie. Or at least he had finally convinced himself that it was Marie. He didn't have a sudden epiphany as to where she may be and the connection between her and Professor X and even Jean had been severed. Life around him had moved on while he sat and waited as time wasted away. Life for him was all about numbers. One hundred and two days, six hours, twelve minutes and ten seconds since she died...disappeared...whatever. Fifteen seconds...twenty-two seconds.

Sure, he had moved on a little. He officially became one of the X-Men. He couldn't bring himself to leave the place when he knew this was Rogue's home. He'd even taken the room that was hers before her death, leaving it in exactly the same condition with a few minor adjustments. For instance, his underwear and the like had been placed beside hers. In the closet, he had made a little space to accommodate the few clothes that he had. Her cute little outfits she owned were still hanging proudly, untouched since the last day she had rifled through them. He would sometimes imagine her hand grazing each garment as she stood contemplating, her head cocked and brows pinched trying to decide what to wear. He even had his shoes next to hers on the closet floor.

In the bathroom, he had moved some of her belongings over to make room for his razor, shaving cream, etc. The shampoo bottles remained under the cabinet, and even the ones she used before she was gone still remained where she left them in the shower. On his hardest days, Logan would find himself drawn to the medicine cabinet where he would pull her perfume from its place and lift it to his nose, smelling, trying to remember her.

Each passing day never went by without a thought of her. And each thought of her never passed without a slow ache building in his bruised heart. He missed her, missed everything about her. Plain and simple. He missed the way she smiled, the way she smelled the way she...

There he went again running away with his thoughts of her.

'This will be the cause of your demise, Logan.' His all knowing brain suggested.

"I know that! Maybe that's a good thing. I can finally be with her. No wait! Shut up! Great! Now I'm talking to myself." His mouth shut with a distinctive snap, his face growing red at how angered he was with himself.

His mind continued taunting him, 'It's all your fault you know. If you had only been here like you said you would, but no, you had to go and be all macho, putting on that fake bravado appearance that any blind person could see through. If only you hadn't left, if only you had stayed by her side, if only you had shut up and listened to your more human half instead of the whipped dog one. If only...if only...' his mind could go on for hours contemplating at least five-hundred ways he had failed Rogue. He supposed it was his contrition for being such a dumb ass.

If this weren't bad enough, he dreamt of her at nights too. Some were good some were bad, but they were always of her.

Logan decided he needed to shut his mind off and stop thinking before he needed to be hauled off to the mental hospital. He sat once more on the bed drifting off into zombie mode, to a place where he felt nothing but cold emptiness.

Location: Rogue's Room
Time: 6 months since abduction

Rogue's body was limp on the bed where they left here every day for the past...God knows how long. Her hair was greasy and tangled from months of not bathing, her body odor foul to anyone else's senses. Of course, she had become immune to her own soiled smell as well as all things she used to consider normal. Namely human feelings. She no longer had feelings, no emotions. Everything inside of her was dead. If this was the job these people of the 'Judas Project' had set out to do, to break one more measly mutant's spirit, then they were doing one hell of a fucking fine job.

Over the course of the months she'd been detained, her body only grew weak and thin from the stress and malnutrition in which it suffered. She was just a lab rat. These people wouldn't bother cleaning or feeding a lab rat and they treated her with the same negligence.

Her spirits were as broken as her body felt. Rogue ached in parts of her body that she didn't even know existed. The monotony her life experienced was causing her thoughts to become more and more deranged. She spent most of her time, arms wrapped securely around her knees, as she rocked back and forth, back and forth, singing to herself, mumbling nonsense. She didn't have to look in a mirror to know the dead eyes of a corpse reflected back at her.

It was the same since that first day. Every night these people cloaking their treachery behind their surgical scrub outfits came to her like thieves in the night. And every night the same bloody doctor in the same bloody lab coat would approach her with the same bloody syringe and inject her till his heart's content.

She had tried for the first few weeks to defend herself, to break free, but the furthest she ever reached was the door to her room before the bastards grabbed her and thrust her down onto the gurney. After that she just gave up fighting. Their gloved hands would buckles those straps, imprisoning her to the metal bed. SNAP! SNAP! She would count them off as she heard each strap close, bounding her to the bed. There were five. Like the five wounds of Christ. Two to hold down her wrists, two for her feet, and one larger one tightened across her middle.

She let them run their tests, poking her with more needles, prodding her with exploring fingers, attaching her to machines that beeped loudly. She could hear it in her head.


Rogue felt their violation, sympathizing with rape victims, concluding that everything about her had been raped, her body and her mind. She didn't ask for the thoughts of the people she touched, and she didn't ask for these people to touch her with their latex covered hands.

She wanted to kill those machines she was always hooked to and everyone else that had done this to her. As time dragged on, her slight hope that her knight in shining armor (Logan, her mind supplied) who would save her from this black pit of hell, died. At first, she had cried herself to sleep, but the tears had ceased to come. She was empty. Her water had run dry.

Rogue didn't know what those doctors wanted from her, what those tests were for. Hell! It had been months since she'd spoken to anyone. Even that damned monotone voice from the first day never returned. All she knew was how she felt. After the doctors would cut her open, inject hundreds of different fluids into her system, pinch, prod, poke, she'd finally fall into that blessed oblivion and in the morning, when the lights had been switched back on, would she awake to find she was still in this horrific nightmare. After living this way, she pitied the poor frog Ororo had them dissect a few years ago in Biology. She knew exactly how the frog felt, except he had the privilege of being dead when he was cut into.

After awhile though, it dawned on her that something had changed. The natural buzz from her mutation followed her like a shadow, but after months of treatment, of the horrible experiments she endured, she could feel the shadow fade away. It was on that day that she felt the slightest amount of happiness she'd felt in a long time. She looked down at the necklace around her neck and looked back up. Her eyes no longer saw her prison walls, but something she hadn't seen in a long time. Hope.

"Good God, Wolverine. They've made me human."

We'll never know why things happen the way they do. Maybe it's meant to be that way because there's not always an answer to a question. Life isn't some systematic list that comes with instructions. You do this this way, and you do it that way, and bam! Everything works out. No, sadly, life just isn't that easy. It was never meant to be.

Obstacles are put in our way in order to teach us hard lessons. It's up to us whether we'll use that lesson for good or for bad. Whether we'll pick up the pieces and make do with what we have or if we'd fumble into nothingness growing bitter as we grow older. But if you were to continue down that dark path, you'd only look back to realize that you went the wrong way and by then it would be too late. You can never turn back the hands of time.

It started off just like any other mission. Bad guys versus good guys, bad guys causing chaos around the humans, X-men go to save the day, yadda, yadda, yadda. If only Logan hadn't been so obtuse. It wasn't like any other mission at all. It would prove to be one of the darkest days in the history of X-Men.

Professor Xavier sent an urgent message among all members of the X-Men via ESP. Logan was in the kitchen helping Storm make dinner. He sliced and diced at those veggies making the tossed salad like no one else could. Storm was about to put the brisket in the oven when the message came. She turned to see Logan with the same expression on his face, fist still caught in mid-air.

He caught her look and they nodded knowingly. Logan slid the metal knives back into his fist. They both dropped what they were doing and walked towards the door. As he let Storm pass through the door first, he bent closer to her ear and said, "Looks like dinner's gonna be cold again tonight."

She didn't look at him, but he could see the smirk pressing on her face. They exited the room to answer the call.

All members gathered in the meeting room. Once they were all settled they directed their attentions to Xavier who waited patiently to begin his oration.

"It seems there's been a disturbance downtown."

"What kind of disturbance?" Scott Summers, the faithful leader of the X-Men interrupted.

Xavier's mouth frowned a little. "A group of rebel mutants who were imprisoned in the downtown jail succeeded in breaking loose. They're holding all officers and staff as well as human prisoners at the detention center hostage. The leader of the pack, Predator, is a very dangerous cold-blooded murderer."

Logan mumbled under his breath, "Oooooh. Toughguy." Jean sensing his agitation smiled a little in his direction.

"In any case," he continued, "I know fairly little about this new group. I have tried telepathy to get into the mind of Predator, but I have had no success at this time. I believe that he may have the power to block any type of telepathic powers from being used against him. If I'm right, then this would suggest that his mutant abilities are for more superior than we realize. I believe that he has the ability to absorb any kind of power used against him and use it against the very person he absorbed it from. So please proceed with extreme caution." Professor X insisted.

The group seeing that the Professor was finished with the briefing, scattered to go change into their outfits.

Cyclops was ready before the rest and he sat at the controls of the Blackbird waiting for the members of his team to arrive so they could get this show on the road.

One by one they crowded into the high tech jet and strapped on their seatbelts. Logan winced at Cyk's jerky take off.

"Hey One-Eye! When we get back, I'm going to pitch in to help pay for some REAL flying lessons. My stomach has been doing some funny stuff due to the pathetic stunts you call flying." Logan quipped from the back seat.

Cyclops took it all in stride, his calm exterior not once losing its cool. "It's probably all that raw meat you chow down at din din time, Wolfie."

Logan hid the grin that came from the jibe. He'd never let on, but he liked jerking the boy's chain, loved getting under his skin. He liked it even better when One Eye would try to throw a jab back at him. Out loud he said, "yeah, yeah keep talking."

With that the jet blasted off faster than the speed of light.

As Blackbird neared the chaotic scene each member groaned inwardly at the destruction that had been caused. Police vehicles from other parts of the city were parked around the complex, red and blue lights blazing in the dim sky. Winter had drifted in, the ground covered with snow sleeping all around. The frigid air made each person outside miserable. If possible, the temperature seemed to be dropping by the second. The night haze began floating in, draping the city in a tent of blue/gray paint.

Officers stood behind their cars, guns steady and ready to fire on command. The higher ranks were negotiating a plan, talking into their walky talkies. Agents in blue barked orders right and left, messengers running around in circles trying to get the commands delivered. Snipers were camouflaged on the juxtaposed buildings targeting the jail. Men dressed in black were huddled together at a van watching a screen and waiting for a plan to be agreed upon.

The choppy sound of a helicopter circled around and around, doing nothing but adding to the loud noises that surrounded the area.

From the bird's eye view, the X-Men could see into the compound. The inside was as haywire as the outside. The mutants who had started this whole ordeal were running around waving guns and all kinds of paraphernalia in the air. Others stood on the brick walls, firearms aimed to shoot. The hostages couldn't be seen, but were assumed to be captive inside.

Cyclops lowered the jet onto the roof of a nearby high-rise. He told Storm to fly out and assess the situation. The rest gathered together ready to make their way over to the jail. With assured stances, Cyclops, Jean and Logan hopped from one roof to the other. They slinked from each obstacle looking like jaguars moving in on the prey. They came upon the wired link fence surrounding the jail. Making sure they wouldn't be seen, they rounded to the far back fence where they dropped onto the softened ground. Storm created a diversion in order to take the attention off of her approaching teammates.

She flew high into the air, her eyes becoming a solid mass of white marble. She spread her arms like an eagle and beckoned for the clouds to bow to her whim, for the storms to arise. The clouds around her darkened in anger and snow flurries began falling from the heavens. Her body and hair clad in white were camouflaged in the blankets of ice that fell.

She then flew to where her team was. Just as she landed next to Logan, Cyclops focused his ruby visor on the weak fence burning a large whole in it with his rays. It was surprisingly quiet on the lot they had entered, but they knew these things could be deceiving. Like the pink panther they maneuvered their bodies keeping hidden by any wall or covering they could use. They decided to split up, Jean and Storm heading inside to find the hostages and Cyclops and Wolverine to battle on the outside.

As the two men rounded the corner of the brick building, they could see Predator with perfect clarity. He stood high on the watchtower taunting the police and anyone who dared to challenge him.

"You want me?! Come and get me!" Predator screamed maniacally. "I'd like to see what you puny humans could do to me." He then glared menacingly at the humans below.

Logan thought Predator was one of the ugliest sons of bitches he'd ever set sights on. The man, no, monster stood a good seven feet high. He looked like a blown up beefcake, the muscles on his body entirely too big for the size of his head. The prison issued shirt barely covering the wide girth of his chest. The buttons looked like they would explode at any second. The man had a face as ugly as his body. His hair was scraggly, falling over his face like a series of rat-tails formed in a circle. His eyes were blacker than coal, flecks of yellow in the irises; the pupils were the slits of a snake. The nose on his face was disproportionate, being fat and broken, almost as if Wolverine had used his metal bones to crack the nose into that swelled and slanted state. The hatred spewed forth from his eyes as a snarl came spitting from his mouth. His teeth were well in view, pointed and razor sharp like a shark's.

The two X-Men glanced apprehensively at one another. Simultaneously, each released a breath they hadn't realized they'd been holding. They wondered how the women were fairing, but instinctively knew they'd be able to take care of themselves. Cyclops hid behind the corner and pressed his leather clothed back into the brick wall. He looked directly at Wolverine, the command understood by the wolfish man. He held up his hand and without a word passing between the two men, he counted off with his fingers. One...two...three...Go!

They ran like mad men into the wrestling ring. As they drew closer to where all the convicts were, hell broke loose. The police had decided to blast a bomb thru the front brick wall, and hundreds of policemen infiltrated the compound their guns pointed, set to attack. Wolverine and Cyclops stood stunned for a split second watching the war of the worlds that had been let loose. Predator came bounding off the 2-story watchtower, landing like a cat on its feet. Men in blue fired their weapons as mutant men aimed back with a variety of powers. Bullets flew all around, rays of blue, yellow, red shooting from the men that shot them. Predator grabbed at his enemies lifting and sending them into walls effortlessly.

Without further thought, Wolverine unleashed the angry metal claws that had been scratching to come out. His face hardened into a scowl as he took off towards Predator's direction. Cyclops' disapproving shout mixed into the snowstorm, which continued to fall relentlessly.

Predator could sense the smell of Wolverine before he even crossed his path. He kept his back to Wolverine in an attempt to catch him off guard. As Wolverine leaped into the air, claws ready to kill, Predator swirled around slapping the man onto the ground. He had used his hand like a bug swatter and Wolverine was just another pesky bug. Predator jumped onto Wolverine, his full body weight crushing the man into the snow. He lifted his own hand ready to strike when a red blast shot him away. Wolverine looked up to see Cyclops behind him, his hand resting on his recently used visor. They exchanged relieved smiles that died instantly when Predator bounded towards Cyclops, mad rage pumping in his veins.

"You stupid mutant!" He screamed. "Don't you know what I can do to your pathetic body?" Cyclops continued to shoot his rays at the beast, but they weren't having any effect on him.

The maniac mutant just bellowed his laugh at Cyclops' attempt to destroy him.

"Let a real man show you how it's done." And with that, he shot rays from his eyes at Cyclops. Wolverine by this time had sprung into action. He tackled and killed in order to reach where they were. He jumped to tackle Predator before he could pull another move.

"Nooo!!" But he was too late. As he forced Predator and himself to the ground, Predator's final shot hit its target. Straight into Scott Summers' heart.

Wolverine acted without thinking, a blind fury overtaking his senses. He grabbed Predator's shirt and tore his harsh claws into the evil man's heart. Blood gushed forth, splattering onto Wolverine's leather uniform. He kept his claws in the larger man and yanked them upward. Predator's eyes clouded as blood filled them and death passed through. With a sanguine cough, the man's life left him and Wolverine threw the heavy man's lifeless body to the ground.

Everything had happened in split seconds. When he turned, he saw that Scott had sunk to his knees, blood pouring from his wound. His mouth was wrenched wide open at the shock and pain of his own power being used against him. The next few moments seemed to pass in slow motion as Logan tried to hurry to the fearless leader's side. Just as he knelt next to him the image he saw would haunt him for the rest of his days. Scott Summers' weighted body at last fell soundlessly into the gentle snow. As his head hit the ground, his ruby quartz visor came loose falling a few inches from Scott's head. Blood dribbled from his mouth.

The bloodshed and the gore faded into the background as Logan watched the young man's startlingly blue eyes gaze lifelessly at the heavens above. The visor that had once covered those eyes sat inches away for the power it protected would never be used again.

Life had come and passed just as the snow around them slowly stopped its tirade.

Location: Unknown
Time: Nearly two years after Rogue's abduction

Tonight was different. She could sense it. Rogue sat frozen on the cot, waiting for the men she detested to come. They had done every violation against her possible. She had no more fight left in her body, no more zest to fend them off, so she just waited to let them do what they needed.

Tonight would be different though. She heard footsteps clicking down the hall.

It was time.

Instead of the numerous soft-footed sounds she had grown accustomed to, she heard what sounded like three people. The door opened slowly revealing that she had indeed been correct. Three people stood at her door, her eyes squinting against the bright light behind them. One man and one woman were dressed in the standard scrub suits. They stood on either side of the same doctor that had tortured her night after night, month after month. The two orderlies came into her room and all she could do was stare at them. They grabbed her rather roughly and hauled her into a standing position.

The man secured one arm while the woman secured the other. The doctor in the white lab coat stepped into the room, the furthest he'd ever been since she was here. He came to stand in front of her. For the first time, she got a good, clear look at his face. She felt a shiver go through her spine at the discovery that he looked like any normal person. A person she could see herself go to when she got sick.

'Great, Ted Bundy Jr.' she thought mournfully.

The man just stood towering over her, staring with intense, darkened eyes. His eyes flicked from her face down to her feet then up again, his head not moving a centimeter.

His rubber-gloved hand seized her trembling chin. A single tear found its way down her chin as her eyes stared, frightened of the man.

He leaned toward her. It took all of Rogue's strength not to flinch at the disgusting man. She almost succeeded until he whispered into her ear, "It's time."

He pulled into an upright position once more. With a flick of the hand, the two orderlies bustled into action cracking a handcuff over Rogue's tender wrists hauling her out the door and down the hall to meet with her destiny.

The distance they walked to the operating bay was more exercise than Rogue received the entire time she was imprisoned. Her limbs ached from the lack of use, her head groggy from the suspended time she stood vertical. She'd been so used to being drugged, NOT being drugged was horrifyingly strange to her now. She let the people at her side lead her to the sterile room behind the swinging metal doors.

Her mind started racing a million miles a second, exaggerating thoughts and possibilities that would explain why she was being led to this room without being in a gurney. This was definitely not protocol.

For some heart pounding minutes she actually believed that they were going to operate on her while she lay awake. The thought of a scalpel being incised into her while she sat watching terrified her beyond belief. Her thoughts immediately swam to Logan, sadness filling her. The thought that she would never see that brute man again was unbearable.

Her bare feet padded softly against the hard tile floors. Once they entered the operating room her eyes took in anything they could see. She saw the operating table and all the surgical equipment around the room. Her eyes widened at the sight of the table.

The doctor saw her reaction and alleviated her worries.

"Not today, Miss Marie. We have something else in mind for you," his quiet tone soothing doing little to calm her anxious feelings.

She couldn't resist. She had to know. "What DO you have in mind, Doctor?" she asked with purposeful harshness.

The doctor willfully ignored her, instead walking ahead to a door on the opposite side of the operating room. He turned the handle and held the door open for her. The orderlies walked through the door with her and sat her in the chair in the middle of the room. She winced as the frigid metal shot through her thin hospital gown. A shiver ran down her spine... and not only because of the cold.

The room itself reminded Rogue of an execution chamber and the chair they placed her in looked like an electric chair, except without the headgear on top of it. It did, however, have leather shackles on the armrests. The gloved hands of the orderlies worked clinically and efficiently in strapping her into the chair. They moved further down the chair to buckle her ankles into place. She couldn't move at all.

The doctor dismissed the two assistants. They shut the door behind them with a definite turn of the lock on the outside.

Rogue's look was a poisoned tipped dart aimed directly at his head. He continued pacing to and fro not bothering to talk to her. His face changed expressions every few seconds while he stayed deep in thought. Rogue's head followed him as he paced, wishing he'd stop because he made her more jittery with the ticking of the clock. She thought he could burn a path into the floor with all that walking.

After an eternity the doctor stopped. He turned to grab a wooden stool by the table, which was filled with all kinds of needles and liquids. Her eyes remained on the table of torture until she felt the doctor's close proximity to her.

He turned his piercing gaze towards her, a lock of chocolate hair tumbling in front of his eyes. Rogue took a really good look at him. He wasn't old at all, not like the kind of person she imagined a mad scientist would look like. He was sort of handsome in a weird way, but he was demented. She kept repeating that to herself over and over.

Finally, the doctor broke eye contact and hung his head, shaking it loosely from side to side.

"Miss Marie, the Judas Project is done testing on you." He started.

"So...so I'm free to go?" she stammered in her southern belle accent.

His eyes filled with regret. "Not exactly. I shouldn't even be telling you this." His eyes filled with something else. He brought his expert hand up to her face inches from touching it.

Her eyes widened and she snapped her head away from him. "No! You don't know what you're doing!" His hand dropped, a sardonic smile filling his features.

He looked her directly in the eyes and said, "Yes I do." With that he brought his hand back up to her unwilling face. Slowly, achingly slowly his skin made contact. Her eyes were wielded shut, her breath refusing to come out as she waited for her power to set in. Time lingered and yet nothing happened.

She pried her lids open, gradually turning her head back to meet the doctor. She was in shock.

"Ya...yer not dead?!" Rogue asked, not yet willing to believe.

The doctor shook his head negative. "As you can see, our work has succeeded. In time, there will be an all mutant ban. You were one of the most powerful mutants we'd ever seen. So we knew we needed you. Using you as a subject has allowed us to come up with a powerful agent that will be used on all mutants in the near future. There will be a national emergency. The president will release a warning about a viral outbreak. He will force a demand that each and every person go to the hospital to receive a vaccination. This vaccine that we've created will be injected to all beings, human and mutant. On humans, there are no side effects, except successfully securing their bodies from passing any dormant mutation chromosomes onto their offspring. The effects on the mutants though will be devastatingly acute. Some will not be able to tolerate the vaccine, while others will change from the inside out into human. What's the sacrifice of a few mutants for the well being of the human race?"

A cold smile settled on his lips and Rogue no longer saw him as handsome. He was the ugliest thing she'd ever seen.

"And you, my dear, have been the sole reason for our success. Your body has allowed us to create the Judas vaccine. I must say that your time here has not been a waste." His hunger filled eyes skimmed her body.

"I've enjoyed every minute we've had together. I'm almost sad to see it come to an end." The lude way he said this was not lost on Rogue. This time when his hand moved back up to her face, she spat on him, all the repressed anger and hurt and fear for her race culminated in one. The doctor's face burned red with fury but quickly disappeared when he took out his crisp handkerchief to wipe off her saliva. Without looking her direction or giving her another thought, his hand moved to the table and lifted a vile of amber liquid. Rogue watched in disgusted fascination as he drained the fluid into a syringe.

"Don't worry, ROGUE. You won't remember a thing. Ever." And with the finality in his tone, he gripped her head by yanking her loose hair cruelly back. She grimaced in pain but that quickly disappeared when she saw his hand descend with the needle. Her hair was so tightly pulled she feared a sudden move would snap her neck in two. So she was left helpless as the needle pressed deeply into her temple, drilling until it tore into her brain.

Rogue was out cold in a matter of seconds.

On the other side of town at the same time, something entirely different was happening to the love of Rogue's life. It was about six months after Scott's death. Everyone in the mansion felt the oppressive weight in the loss of their beloved leader. Dr. Jean Grey was left like Logan, to mourn the passing of what could be termed, her soulmate. Xavier was left no choice but to afford the position to Logan, who deserved the responsibility immensely.

At first, Logan had refused it time and time again. His waking thoughts were agitated at the thought that it was his fault Scott Summers was dead. Similar to when his Rogue died, his thoughts were constantly filled with what ifs. Logan couldn't help but feel like a venomous poison to those that came in contact with him.

He had been up in Rogue's...his room thinking about her, and a bit about Scott, but mostly her. The ache in his chest still remained, but he was learning to move on. Sleep refused to come to him, so he decided to get out of bed and go to the kitchen to grab some warm milk. On his way to the kitchen, he spotted the dimmed lights in the library on, so he poked his head in to see who was awake at this ungodly hour. Though the person's back was to him, he could smell exactly who it was.

"What are you doing up, Jean?" He spoke in an almost whisper, but she released a startled gasp anyways. She tried wiping her fresh tears away from her face. She couldn't bring herself to face Logan's probing eyes, so she trained her attention on the blazing fire ahead of her.

Logan was by her side in no time. He sat close by, but still had a respectable amount of space between them. He gently put his hand on her back, willing her to turn his direction. She hesitated then turned around to look him square in the eyes. Her own were wet with unleashed tears.

Jean moved her lips, but nothing came out. She tried once more, asking a question that caused Logan to feel the lump build in his own throat.

"How did you do it, Logan?" she asked in her hushed voice.

He knew perfectly well what she was asking, but he didn't want to answer such a personal question. "Do what, Jean?" he asked innocently, his eyes breaking contact.

Jean blinked and looked at his profile. "How did you make the pain go away? How did you move on when she....Rogue died?"

Logan took a deep breath desperately trying to keep up his macho act, but it tattered away when the memories assaulted him. He turned his eyes back to meet hers. "It doesn't. I feel her every second of every day. And if you think I moved on, then I must have done a bang up job lying to everyone. And to myself."

Jean couldn't speak a word, so she just nodded and turned her gaze back to the fire. Logan frowned, and moved a few spaces closer to her on the couch. "Hey." He said waiting for her to answer. His hand moved to touch her, but she suddenly turned one-eighty and grabbed his face. Before he could protest, Jean lowered her lips to Logan's, effectively shutting him up.

Whether it was despair, loneliness, longing, desperation, or the need for human contact, Logan gave himself into that kiss. For just a second, he could pretend it was Rogue. He dear, sweet little Marie. All the hopelessness and tension released as his lips dueled with Jean's. He was brought back to reality when he felt Jean's tongue pry his mouth open massaging her tongue against his.

Logan broke away and panted hard. "Jean! You don't know what you're doing. You're grieving. I know it's been months since Scott passed on, but we can't do this! This isn't you!"

Jean shook her head almost viciously. "This IS me, Logan! I know we have a connection, I know you want this too. I can feel it in you. In here." Her hand moved to his heart. "I'm so tired of crying. I loved...love Scott, but my heart tells me to move on. I feel it when I'm with you, Logan. Can't you?" Her eyes pleaded with him to understand.

Confusion was running a marathon in his head. He kept thinking about Rogue, how he was betraying her. Then he kept thinking about how it felt good to be wanted, to have human contact again. To be able to touch flesh and blood. His heart raced as he forced himself into makeing a decision. Jean was right, maybe it was time to move on. He closed his eyes and thought, 'Rogue, I still love you.'

When he opened them, Jean was staring intently at him. He gave into his passion and surrendered himself to her.

Emmy Woodson was on her way home from a blowout party at Club Infinity. It was THE club in New York, people from all over came to dance there. It probably was a legend in the making, like Studio 54. She cursed aloud as she walked through the empty streets anger reddening her bronze features. Her friend had set her on a blind date and she thought he had potential when he first showed up. But now....she wanted to scratch his eyeballs out with her nails. The asshole decided he'd much rather screw the drunk blond on the dance floor, so he left with her. And the jerk left Emmy WITHOUT a ride home.

"Men!" She muttered under her breath. Emmy blew hot air into her gloved hands attempting to warm them from the biting winter air. She pulled the fur collar of her leopard print jacket more tightly around her neck. She heard a rustling just inside the dark alley causing her to jump almost a foot into the air. Emmy was about to run away when something behind the dumpster caught her attention. Not one to be a scaredy cat (at least not an admitted one) she ventured to see what it was.

A hand! Bile started climbing up her throat. Dead bodies around New York wasn't uncommon, but she'd never had the pleasure of seeing one before. As she turned to run away, the hand moved, placing its palm right on a filthy puddle of...something. Whoever this was was alive. Emmy still wanted to run, but the good Samaritan in her told her to march over to that dumpster and find out what was wrong.

Taking a very deep breath she released it, making a billow of fog form. Bit by bit, she inched her way over to the dumpster, grimacing as the acrid smell of rotting stuff drifted to her nose. Emmy couldn't help feeling like she had jumped into a horror flick like 'Scream' or something. She passed the dumpster a little and turned to get a better look at the body.

Her hand trembled nervously while reaching out to touch the body. The body moved! And Emmy jumped back, a shocked scream bouncing through the alley.

Emmy came to her senses and noticed that the body was a girl. And a naked one at that! This spurred Emmy into action.

She bent near the girl and tried to pull her from where she rested. The girl groaned in pain when Emmy rolled her over.

"You poor dear. You must be freezing! Didn't your mother ever tell you not to go prancing around naked during the winter? Summer's fine, but not winter!" Emmy managed to get the girl into a somewhat standing position. She still leaned against the dumpster for support. Her head just lolled limply from side to side. No response came from her.

'Oh dear,' Emmy thought. She looked at the girl trying to assess the damage, but other than a couple of abrasions and the fact that she was naked and stoned, the girl seemed all right. Emmy also noticed that the girl had long reddish/brown hair, with two parts of white on the front. 'Neat do.' Something glinted on the woman's breast. Emmy tried to grab at it without copping an accidental feel. She sighed in relief when she succeeded. Her eyes squinted in the dim light as she read the name on the tag.

"Wolverine!?" she nearly shouted. "What the hell kind of name is Wolverine?" Emmy looked at the other tag. 'Marie'. Now that's more like it.

Emmy took off her jacket and wrapped it around Marie.

"I know it's not much, Marie, but it'll have to do. I know it's a shitload better than being buck naked."

"Well, Marie. Looks like I've got a new roommate for the time being. Since I'm doing you this gigantic favor, you have to help out. Now put your arm around my neck like so..." When Emmy draped Marie's arm around her neck, it just slid off like a wet noodle.

Emmy groaned in frustration. "I guess it's true about what they say. When you want something done, you've got to do it yourself."

She pulled Marie away from the dumpster, holding her breath as best she could. Marie smelt no better than the dumpster had.

"Whew girl! That's it, I'm going to soak you until Jesus' second coming. And you'd better be awake by that time because I'm going to make you pay for the dry cleaning bills on these clothes."

With that, Emmy half walked, half dragged Marie all the way back to her apartment.

The harsh light shined in her eyes. She could feel them sticking needles all over her body. Her bones felt as if they were being ripped out one by one and replaced into the deflated skin from which they were taken. She whimpered because she could see her internal organs congealing. A man clothed in white pushed the hanging light more directly over her closed eyes. She couldn't move, but she was awake, so awake. And she could feel everything they were doing to her. Her head screamed and kicked when she heard a small metal saw roar with life. The doctor used the saw to slice into her shaved scalp....

"AHHHHHHHH!" Rogue jumped up from her reclined position, the scream piercing every crevice in the cramped apartment.

Reality settled back in and Rogue pushed away from the bed. She began panicking at the sight of the unfamiliar room. Her nimble hands sprung to her hair, her face, over the cotton pajamas she wore. Her mind raced with bewilderment, apprehension, fear, and curiosity all at the same time.

A very peculiar girl with hot pink hair rushed through the hallway, eyes suspiciously scanning and alert to any problem. She held a baseball bat in her hands and pointed it towards the invisible intruder. Her left hand roamed the wall for the light switch. When she found it the room became bathed in a soft yellow glow.

Emmy saw Rogue standing like a deer caught in headlights. The adrenaline in her body drained with relief that it was only Rogue. She placed the bat against the wall in the hallway and walked towards Rogue.

"Oh, Marie. Was that you making all that racket? You scared the living shit out of me! I thought some burglar broke in here."

Rogue's face squeezed with confusion. She felt so lost, more alone in the world than she remembered. She tried hard to remember anything, but her mind drew a complete blank. Not one memory came to the rescue. Rogue looked up in baffled terror.

"Excuse me, miss. Bu...but...who's Marie?" her southern accent thick as molasses.

After that night he kissed Jean, Logan took up the ritual he'd stopped doing after Scott died. Ever since he learned about where it was Rogue had been taken from and killed, he made it a nightly mission since then to walk there. To 'Club Infinity.' It was the last place she'd visited and he wanted to share it with her. He never went in of course because clubs just weren't his thing. He knew he was entirely too old to be spotted at a dance club, but this never wavered his devotion to make the journey every night. He would walk down these streets at the oddest hours of the night and stand by the lamppost he had seen in his dream.

When he'd close his eyes the vision would always play clearer than videotape. He could see her standing under this very streetlamp, unaware that she was being stalked. And every time, he'd see the black thief come from behind, grab her, and plunge that stinging needle into her neck. His heart plummeted every night. After Cyk died everything was so hectic. The X-Men ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. The Professor had remained stoically calm, as usual, but the pressure weighed on Logan to be the new leader. He didn't want it, he still didn't want it, but rationally he knew there was no one else to do the job. So he took Cyclops' place beside Storm when they were sent to do a mission.

A niggling pang of guilt shot through his heart at the thought of how irksome he was to the young guy. By this time, he was used to feeling guilt so he welcomed it. He felt it was punishment and repentance for the reason he was who he was.

Logan reflexively rubbed at his knuckles feeling the metal structure just beneath that thin layer of skin. Nights ago he'd had that encounter with Jean. He had something new to feel guilty about. Jean was Cyk's woman. Rogue was his. Just because both of them were gone, didn't mean he and Jean could go around and do things. So they were lonely, so they were frustrated, so they were angry, so what?

It had been almost two years since Rogue died, five years since he'd last seen her, and still she managed to stay rooted to his heart. He had feelings for Jean ever since the beginning. But those were physical attractions. Rogue was the one who truly caught his attention. She made the Wolverine want to settle down. She made him want to care. She made him love in a way he'd never known before. Up until he'd met Rogue, he'd been obsessed and angered about his lost identity. After her, it all seemed trivial. He no longer cared about the past. He wanted to care about the future. A future with her.

He knew that even if he didn't have that dire need to return that awful day, he would have returned sooner or later. That's what loving her had done to him. When she died, he became Wolverine again, but with a more compassionate side. She had changed him for the better.

Now after all this time, he felt like he was betraying her by allowing new feelings for Jean to come into play. Hell! He even felt like he was betraying Cyk. 'What a tangled web we weave. Indeed.'

So here he stood, at the back of 'Club Infinity' under the very spot his angel Marie had been taken from, mixed emotions tugging at his heart. The blaring music was muted through the closed doors. A chill had invaded the night air and leaked into Logan's bones.

He had to decide. Would he move on? Could he move on? Jean was a definite possibility. He could easily see himself marrying her. But what about Rogue? Would this be fair to Jean? Rogue? Cyk? Himself? He decided that he needed to give it a chance. And whatever happened from there would happen.

Logan shoved his gloved hands into the depths of his jacket pockets and walked away from the club, vanishing as quickly as he appeared.

1 Year Later

"Marie! Promise you'll come tonight! Club Infinity, meet me at the entrance at around midnight. Okay?" Emmy's brows knitted together imploring Rogue to take pity on the poor girl. Her short hair, which was now blue flopped against her head as she tugged on Rogue's hand. Tugging it as though it would make a world of difference in swaying her decision to go dancing.

"I promise, you'll have plenty of fun! You're with me, so how could you not?" She stood with her hips tilted to the side, hands on hips. It was almost as if her stance said, 'how in the world could you think otherwise?' Rogue cocked her head at her friend, and then gave her a lopsided smile.

"Fine." She drawled in her sweet accent. "I'll be there."

Emmy jumped up and down gloating with a huge smile that stretched from here to Timbuktu. The customers in the small diner looked at her annoyed so she stopped her happy dance. She coughed a little to hide her embarrassment from the glaring old couple at the booth across from her. She leaned across the counter opposite of Rogue and spoke conspiratorially.

"Oh yeah. Johnny-boy is going to be there. He told me specifically that he hopes you'll be there tonight. He has quite an impressive crush on you, seeing as how he's practically like a male whore!"

Rogue's brow jumped to her hairline. "I KNEW you had a hidden agenda!" Her pearly smile betrayed the stern agitation she was supposed to be projecting.

Emmy just smiled and leaned in to make air kisses against each of Rogue's cheeks. "Yeah, well. Too late now, you promised, Rogy!"

"Get outta here now! You're gonna get me fired, Em. Unlike you, I actually have a job to do." Emmy just waggled her blond brows at Rogue, her blue hair standing on end like she stuck her finger in an electric socket. Rogue just rolled her eyes as she watched her friend strut to the door, catching a few turned heads, her skirt sloshing from side to side exposing quite a scandalous view.

She took up the discarded dishrag and mopped up the splotches of dirt on the counter. Her thoughts drifted to the past year since Emmy found her. For the life of her, Rogue felt like a one year old because she couldn't remember anything beyond that point. She only knew what Emmy had told her. She was found stark naked beside a dumpster, filthy and smelly. She had nothing with her except the necklace around her neck, the same necklace which hung securely around her neck right now. It was tucked safely way under her blouse, the only link to her past. That night, when she awoke in Emmy's place, she'd been terrified, not only because she wasn't where she was supposed to be, but because she couldn't remember where she was supposed to be in the first place. Hell, she couldn't remember who SHE was then and she still couldn't now. It was all so damn frustrating to her. She didn't even know her name, so she took the only names she could think of, the names on the tags. So on that night, one year ago, she became Marie Wolverine.

She thought that after a year, she'd be closer to some kind of truth about her past. Here she stood long after and she still knew as much as the day she was found. Oh, she had flashbacks alright, but they were just pieces of a puzzle...a puzzle her mind refused to put together.

They usually came to her in her dreams. Some were nightmares that left her spirit broken and alone. Others were filled with love and longing and those were the ones that gave her hope. She didn't like thinking about those horrid nightmares, they were just too frightening to fathom, but the loving ones... They always had the same star player, a man. She could see his face so clearly.

He was such a beautiful man, quite older than she was. At first she thought he was her father, but when she had several fantasies involving him, that theory was quickly discarded. She had no idea of who he was or where he came from. It gave Rogue comfort to think that such a man could exist since her dreams always featured him. The man was unlike any she'd seen. Certainly not like the horny jocks that always tried to pick her up at work. He was dark, brooding, intense...his hair stuck up with two wayward points on each side of his face. She found it incredibly endearing since they looked like little German Shepherd ears. He had sideburns that went out of style a long time ago, but it suited him. His eyes were haunted, except when they focused on her. It was like a light had been rekindled when he was in her presence. She could see his robust body, curved in the most delicious ways. He looked perfectly toned, each muscle rippling as he walked.

One time, she had a dream or memory of this man locked in a cage, a wrestling cage, his back to her. She remembered the desire that flushed her body as she watched the muscles in his body pull taught from the strain. He stood waiting for his opponent to launch an attack and when he did, he was waiting alert and ready to strike.

That was just one example. Some would be tender and innocent, but the feeling left her aroused and ready for him. Some would feature him naked and aroused and excited for her. Always for her. Either way, whenever he filled her thoughts one thing remained the same: The security and love she felt when he was present. From what she gathered, if these were really memories, then he must have been integral in her life.

She had one flashback where she saw his hands unleash metal claws. She thought it was odd, but she'd seen mutants around, so it might not have been that odd. The thing is, most humans and mutants didn't intermingle, so why would she be having fantasies about a man who could possibly be a mutant?

It all seemed strange to her but she felt sad in her heart at the thought that she would never see this man if she couldn't remember. She prayed to God every night asking for a sign to point her in the right direction. She just hoped that she was a good enough girl in the past to be blessed with such a grace.

Before her thoughts could venture into more detail, the manager called her attention.

"Marie! Table 5!" the raspy voice shouted from the back, riddled with years of smoking tobacco.

"Alright!" Rogue shouted back. She grabbed a pad and pencil and started toward table five. Her thoughts of the past had been pushed back, while the dread of going clubbing with Emmy re-emerged. Whatever she had been through it was possible one thing hadn't changed. Obviously, she'd never been a fan of dancing or of clubs.

Rogue rushed to "Club Infinity", relieved to see Emmy standing up front next to the beefy bouncer. She was relieved they wouldn't have to stand in the line that was backed all the way down the block.

"Shit, Marie! Where've you been? Rocky here would only wait so long!" Emmy spouted the words, ticked off at her friend's tardiness.

"I'm sorry, Em! The old witch made me lock up tonight. Then I had to rush home, take a shower and dazzle up to meet your expectations. So? What do you think?" Her words spewed from her mouth and as she finished, she twirled in a small circle ready for Emmy's inspection.

Since she'd only been to 'Club Infinity' a few times before, she wanted to make an impression. Nearly all club goers were dressed to the hilt, making most celebrities look like yesterday's old newspaper. So she wore a tight black leather dress she bought last week. It was backless with a single tie that went around her neck. It did great things for her cleavage, and it's short length allowed for a great view of her legs. She even sprung for the clunky heels that went great with the outfit.

"Girl, you look killer. Are you trying to show me up?! Johnny-boy is going to die of blue balls before the night's out."

Both girls let out amused laughs and turned to walk into the crowded nightclub.

For the first duration of the evening, Rogue had insisted on sitting out while her friends were out boogying to the techno beat. She had to admit that they looked like they were having a lot of fun. Emmy spiraled out of the dance floor intent on making Marie come with her. She barraged Marie's thoughts and demanded she come out to the dance floor. Or in Emmy's terms, "shake that groove thang."

Just as Rogue got up, the front door opened and closed again. She didn't know why that captured her attention so she shrugged off that nagging feeling and strutted to the dance floor, joining other dancers in some bump and grind.

Logan couldn't believe he was doing it again tonight. For the past week, he'd come strolling down to 'Club Infinity' to relive the past. He'd been married to Jean now for the last 8 months and was happy as could be expected. He thought he'd gotten passed all this. It's been almost three years since...since...he knew since what, but his mind wouldn't let him think it out loud. He'd dated Jean since that night after the kiss. That was the last trip he'd made until now.

It all happened so fast. One day he was mourning Rogue, then he was kissing Jean, then Jean popped the question. To him! 'Who'd a thunk that old Wolverine would get proposed to?' and all in all, though it was a bit rushed, he was happy. For the most part.

Then last Sunday night came and it reset an old pattern. He couldn't sleep that night no matter what he tried and so he'd gotten out of bed determined not to wake Jean. The first night she woke when he'd tripped over his pants, but he assured her that everything was okay and she could go back to sleep. He said that he just felt like taking a walk, but by then she had drifted to sleep.

So he'd put on his coat and made that trek down to this club and down memory lane. That first night was the hardest because old memories he thought were locked tight came flooding open when he stood under the streetlamp. He allowed himself to reopen those memories, almost relishing the feelings it brought him. Even if they were good or bad. Every night since then, he'd repeated the same routine. Before he and Jean became official, he made her swear not to pry into his head, no matter how tempted she was. He explained that it wasn't that he didn't trust her, but he wanted to keep those thoughts private. He made her swear that she wouldn't do things that he himself couldn't do, namely telepathy. He hoped to God she had kept her end of the bargain because he was starting to feel like an adulterer right about now.

By the time his mind had stopped thinking enough for him to take in his surroundings, he realized he had taken a different turn tonight. Instead of going to the back like he always did, he ended up in front. He could see the line still jam packed, people's feet getting tired standing and waiting before they could even use them on the dance floor. Poor pathetic fools. He was about to turn away when a scent stopped him. It was very faint but painfully familiar. 'Rogue?' His mind shook at the impossibility yet he'd know that smell anywhere. He walked up to the bouncer and demanded that he be let through.

"Hey man," the fat man in shades said, "You have to wait in line, just like everybody else. To the back!" Logan just didn't have patience for this. He almost used his claws as a way to gain him access, but he was pretty sure that was the one way they'd forbid him from entering. Instead, he pulled out his wallet and pulled two one-hundred dollar bills. He held the two bills between his index and middle finger, his head turned up toward the man in shades. At first, Logan thought the guy was going to refuse, but then his tubby fingers grabbed the bills and he pulled the door open, waiting for Logan to enter the energetic world of 'Club Infinity.'