There are several differnet endings for Jus. Most are variations on the same ending by pov--the original idea was it would be Marie through her death on the statue, then a jump back to the normal timeline, but that didn't happen for various reasons. After I finished Part V, which includes everything here up to the Interlude 5, I got *really* frustrated with it, and right now, I have no idea why, but I cut this ending off and switched over to Scott POV to do her death, then sent the bulk to be beta'ed over the course of a few months. I wasn't happy with it, and honestly, I don't know why. I like this one better. I mean, I really like this one better. It also highlights that wow, me and first person pov have a seriously purple relationship. Huh.
Anyway, I don't know why I did that, and knowing me, I probably never got around to telling anyone either. Later, for Katherine, I tried to do the normal timeline ending, set after Interlude 5, and used cuts from this to do it, but that--didn't work either. I'm not sure exactly *why* I have such an aversion to writing it--I know she went back, that's always there, but it feels like that's a completely different story to tell and not one I ever really needed to, not like this one.
So. This picks up where Part V left off, as a part of that, then switches to Interlude V in the next post; after that, the unfinished normal timeline ending I wrote for Katherine. It's *really* unfinished, and all of these are repetitive, since I borrowed from each to create them.
But I still want to know why I cut this. I had to have had some reason, but for the life of me, I can't find it.
Logan glanced up from the couch when I walked in, a frown line cutting deep between his eyebrows, putting aside the book he'd been reading.
"Where've you been?"
I pushed the door closed and leaned against it, taking a long breath.
Before--long before, a week or so before, a life or so ago, one universe over to the left, I'd been able to hide from Logan pretty damn easily. A seven year crush, a wealth of vicious jealousies, and any emotion under the sun. He could see through it occassionally, granted--he knew me far too well--but I'd perfected the art of being the sweet younger sister/surrogate daughter in his eyes to match the me in his mind.
Lying--I'd been lying my entire time here, in some way or another--with my words, with my name, with my body, with my history. Lies to conceal the truth I didn't want revealed, and I'd been damn good at it.
I could do this. I could.
"Talkin' with Scott, sugar," I said, crossing the room and dropping carelessly on the couch. The dark head tilted as he studied me, taking in my scent.
"Something botherin' you?"
Lies were a lot like the truth, when you knew how to spin it.
"It's tonight," I murmured, and Logan leaned back, nodding slowly.
"Yeah." Little breath, let out in a hiss. "Scott called, said I didn't need to be there. He and Jeannie think they found a way to make it work."
"They did," I said steadily, keeping my eyes fixed on the far wall. "The--they found a way. It'll work. Perfectly. It'll all work out."
An arm slid around me, pulling me close, and I drew in another breath before melting into him.
"You drew my picture."
A moment, where I felt him stiffen beside me, and I shut my eyes, letting time stretch. Waiting.
It was rare, I knew that. Love, the real thing--this kind, this feeling, this sort of promise, this sort of devotion. It was everything I'd ever wanted, the kind of crap that romance novels make millions of dollars on. It was real, and it was--God, it was good. Turning, I looked into the hazel eyes and smiled.
"I love you. Remember that."
I leaned forward before he could answer, kissed him, let him feel it--and when his hands touched my face, I opened my mind and let Jean's shields slip--felt the shock in him, the leak, and closed my fingers over his shoulders. Holding the moment, holding the kiss--and when he went limp, I pulled back.
My face was slick with tears and he was in my mind--and so were a thousnad pictures that were all he'd had of me for so long.
Choking, I stood up and went to the bedroom, fumbling through the dresser until I found the tags I knew he'd put there.
Let myself slide down the wall and gripped until the blunt metal cut into my skin.
* * * * *
*"No more legends, Logan. No more lies. There won't be another Rogue."*
The irony didn't escape me at all.
Logan wasn't there. I couldn't even be sure he was awake yet, and with any kind of luck, it'd be over before he recovered. That was something.
Not much, but something. I couldn't let him see me die again. I was glad Jean would be there for him when he woke up.
I left the car outside the camp entrance, wading through moving bodies several feet deep around the edge of the camp, the guards letting me in without a word, eyes fixed anywhere but me. I supposed they weren't sure how to react to the living incantation of their personal martyr wandering around, even blonde and all grown-up. The stairs that led to the third floor went by too fast, and I was glad on some level; every second delayed was another second I could back out and run for it, and Polaris would happily take my place--and fifty thousand human beings crowded into this camp would die.
I was brave, I thought--but never in my life had I been actively suicidal.
There were more personnel than usual on the third floor--Secret Service for Mystique, all mutant of course, who knew me on sight and nodded as I passed to the newly built staircase that led to the roof. Behind me, I could hear their murmurs in the radios to seal the camp--all gates would be locked and triple guarded until this little experiment was over.
Sort of useless, I thought. Mystique could damn well fly away if she got threatened, and I'd love to see the terrorist who could get through that mob to do anything before we could begin.
Emerging onto the platform unobserved, I took in the witnesses. Magneto and Polaris both, talking in the far corner with Mystique, scarily Senator Kelly-ish; Scott, nearest the machine; the various others who were in charge of making sure the thing worked for my last performance, unless another Rogue made the mistake of tossing herself into this dimension to die for mutantkind.
Maybe there should be some interdimensional sign to warn all Rogues off. We really weren't meant to live here.
The design was a little different, I noted in the rational corner of my mind, the one still picking up trivialities, the part of me that had gotten showered and dressed, put on make-up and put my dirty clothes neatly in the bathroom hamper. Set on the top of the tower at the edge of the Mansion, the machine's radius would run at roughly thirty miles in all directions for the leading edge of the wave. I walked forward, feeling the interested glances, the sudden silence, coming to the edge of the platform. Far below, I could see the spread of humans. Norms from the Restricted Zone, wearing their badges that allowed their freedom for this one day, hopefully to be discarded in less than ten minutes. Even if someone made a break for freedom, there was no time for anyone to run far enough to escape the leading edge. And not many of those outside the fence would want to. This was their last hope.
I was. Their last hope.
Fuck, suicide could make a girl romantic.
At least Magneto had listened to my restrictions. The only person allowed on the platform other than his entourage was Scott. The others were gathered outside the camp, watching and waiting, with the medical personnel to care for the survivors.
Seven years seemed far too close all of a sudden. I wrapped my arms around myself and felt the leather under my cold fingers, my gloves shoved into my pocket that I'd grabbed from instinct.
The tags were cold metal around my throat, fished from the dresser Logan had left them in. I had to wonder why he'd saved them.
I felt Magneto come up behind me, close and strangely warm, almost suffocating. Pulling away, I looked up at the sky. Perfectly clear, a hint of the stars that would color the darkening grey, the fat moon just breaking the horizon, and if I wasn't very, very careful, I was going to get really nostalgic really, really fast.
"You have no idea how much this means to mutantkind, Rogue," he said softly, his voice carrying on the still air, and I heard Scott's quiet footsteps as he came up within only a few feet of us. "You're changing everything again."
"I did so well the first time," I murmured, and his hand brushed my shoulder, almost as if he was trying to offer comfort. Irony again. I couldn't stop my flinch. "Let's--let's get this over with, okay?" I'd never been one for long goodbyes.
Magneto silently moved away and I shivered again as his hand left me. A few long seconds, and Scott was at my side. I turned to face him and his head tilted just a little.
"You don't have to do this." Quiet.
"Yes I do," I said, equally soft--the wind was the wrong direction for Magento to pick up our voices, and my eyes trailed to the men setting up the machine for its final use. "If I don't--Polaris'll do it. He'll use her. He knew--he knew from the trials that it had to be me--you knew it too, Scott. Look down."
"I know how many people are down there." His voice was tight. "Marie--"
"Rogue." I stopped, drawing in a breath. "It was--was what I was, who I was, as an X-Man. Rogue was my--my name." The one I'd chosen to become, person and X-Man, and I'd never suspected the differences between Marie and Rogue would be anything like this. "I never told anyone in the other world--my world--my real name. Except Logan. Because Rogue was what it was, from the day I left home." I shivered again, nothing to do with the wind that cut through my shirt like it was nothing. "It's true, you know. Your lie, it's true now."
"Truth is relative" Scott's mouth twisted, and I thought of all the compromises he'd made, the decisions that haunted his memories like the spectres of people that once haunted mine. A man who'd made guilt into a form of art, and I wanted nothing more in the world than to just hug him, my teacher and this man, who was my friend. Tell him that everything would be fine, because I really was going to change everything, right here and now.
I couldn't, but he'd understand. Eventually.
"Yeah." I smiled a little as I thought of the pictures sketched on paper and wood and cold prison stone, the captions that muttered about my courage, the visions of people who lived and died in my name on battlefields I'd seen in other memories.
I drew in a breath and tore my gaze from his, stared down at the desperate people below. Everything in my head was a wash of confused emotion and spinning pain--somewhere, far below and far away, Logan still slept, no idea of what I was doing, what I was taking from him again.
God, couldn't think of that now. I'd fall apart right here, and there was no one to catch me.
"Tell me you'll dismantle the camps. All of them."
"Tell me that the ground will be salted where they stood. Tell me you--tell me you--" I choked a little, drawing in a breath. It didn't help much. "Tell me that this time, everything's done for the right reasons. And tell people that--that I died for something I believed in. Scott, just the truth. What I did and why. Make sure--promise me they'll know. I died as an X-Man."
Here it was. I was making that last lie, the biggest lie, the truth.
I reached out, touching Scott's face briefly, and his warm fingers held mine before I pulled away.
"Don't touch me," I whispered, and closed my eyes.
Stood in the white cold light of Jean's shields, in the empty lab of my mind and reached out--*tore* them down in a great rush of feeling that left me breathless. I didn't need to rebuild this time, so didn't even bother to be careful, watch how I did it.
For an endless second, nothing happened. Blank, open space, and the moment was sharp and clear and I was alone still, standing in this endless white that went on forever. And everything--*everything*--was going to fall apart now, because....
Logan was right. I'd always depended on my strength, and he'd been it for far too long.
Then--the taste. Back of my tongue, slicking soft and rich, surrounded with the greenery of a warm summer I'd been born fifty years too late to experience for myself.
The taste of Belgium chocolate and the death of Xavier, his head in my lap, Scott in an Amsterdam hotel staring at the quiet city streets, watching Auschwitz fall around me, Kitty trapped in a Miami cell, Logan and Jubilee beside the Mansion under clear sunlight six days before he left on that last run. Silvery flashes of black coffee in the morning and Memphis blackberry pie. Carol's hands clawing at mine that one long ago summer day, the last life I'd sworn I'd ever take, and ten year old Johnny Allerdyce standing in the middle of a slum apartment, bruised and frightened and so alone. The labs. The executions. And my face at every one, in every memory.
Carol. Logan. Kitty. Scott. Magneto. So many others, so many casual touches swimming beneath. Shutting my eyes, I felt them swirl around me, bright and blinding, stood still as they coalesced and Logan stood before me, watching me with wary eyes.
--You were right.-- I said softly, staring at him. More real than anyone else. More real at that moment than I was to myself. --I'm making the lie true now. It'll all be true.--
I wanted to ask him to understand, to give me something, anything. I'd never be his daughter again, his sister, his friend. I'd given that up willingly, but--I wanted at least this.
--Tell me I'm wrong.--
He nodded slowly, considering me as I'd seen him study a thousand different plans, running through every scenario, and maybe, just maybe, he'd get it. I owed him this, owed them all this moment, this understanding.
Scott was watching me when I re-emerged and I smiled a little, feeling my body shiver, my mind almost overflowing with memory--and God, so much, I'd forgotten how it felt, how everything was so differnet when I was this, when I was truly Rogue.
How much of me had been trapped behind those walls and I blinked, clearing my head with painstaking care. Stared down at my bare hands in surprise, and Scott touched my hair lightly, almost sadly.