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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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xmmfic: jus ad bellum, epilogue 2/2
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
This is where I say it's repetitive. This is pretty much scavengered from the earlier post of the end of Part V. Just skip or go withit. There are some differences, since i updated this to match the canon of Interlude V.

God, I confuse *myself*. I must have been having some bizarre mental breakdown during this period. I cna't think of another reason I did such *odd* things to this story.



Xavier freed my hand while Jean paced the floor just behind him. I could see the strain etching her forehead--it was so easy for her--no, so hard for her to search a mind. Whatever I'd showed her--and God knew what that was, *I* couldn't even figure out what was going on in my mind now--it was screwing with her head badly.

"Your power's still there, Rogue," Xavier said slowly. "Jean, did you--"

"Yes and no." Jean paused in her pacing, turning to look at me with haunted eyes. It hurt to look at her. Mouth tight, she unbent enough to stop moving, though I could see her quiver in every muscle, just needing something to *do*.

"Excuse me?" It was so rare to see the Professor look so surprised.

"It's like--I did that. I can see--I can see it, that's--" She stopped, frowning. "But I don't have that kind of power."

"Yes you do." The words snapped out involuntarily, and I shut my mouth tight as the two of them looked back at me. "I don't--what the hell is wrong with me?"

"When did this start?" he asked, practical to the core. I clutched the tags that I'd kept against my skin since I'd come down here, even dressed in a medical gown and examined within an inch of my life. "Your hair--" He still looked at a loss about that--I had the same feeling, and I still hadn't had the courage to look in a mirror. "And your clothes."

Yeah, I knew all about that. I hadn't even realized it until Jean peeled them off me as I shivered, unfamiliar coat and shirt and jeans and boots, in a pile on the floor. They still lay neatly folded in a chair. I couldn't bring myself to let them out of my sight.

"There's burn line on them, and it's not from Johnny." Jean stopped, frowning again. "At least, not from downstairs. It's--I don't know how to explain it, Professor."

"I fell coming out of the store," I said, confidently, because that made sense. At least, some sense. "Then John--"

"Who?"

They both stared at me. I wondered why. "The guy that helped me. John. Andrews." Still blank. "Look, the blond? Who called you--"

Jean flushed. "I didn't ask Scott for his name."

Staring at her, I tried to remember. "I--" When had I asked his name? It was fluid on my tongue--

--*mutie bitch*--

--but I *knew* him. I'd seen him before, somewhere, curled up on himself, staring up through hazy blue eyes from the dust of the yard--and God, my head hurt. Pressing my fingers into my temples, I stopped fighting it.

Show me, dammit. Let me *see*.

"Did you--touch someone?"

I shook my head. "No. Nothing like that I can remember. I just--it's like, my mind's blank. I can't feel anything at all. Everyone in my head is gone." The Professor and Jean nodded understanding--they'd felt that. "Jean--Jean you said, I changed everything. What did you see?"

Jean stopped for a second, eyes growing distant and hands flexing at her sides. The Professor turned to watch her, little frown line forming between his brows. I almost thought I could see him reaching out, trying to follow along, and then Jean came back out of it.

"I can't--touch it." Jean shook her head, touching a hand to her temple. "I saw--I saw something. But I can't find it now."

This had to be how insanity started--one day, you're buying tampons. The next, you've lost your active schizophrenia and no longer hear voices.

"You told Scott he promised something. You told Johnny--"

"Fire," I said, and frowned. It wasn't anything like a memory. It was like touching another mind, the first rush before the pull started. When I was them and not completely me. "Professor--can you look again? Maybe bring down the shields?"

Jean looked at me carefully. "I can't rebuild those, Rogue. I have--I have no *idea* how those appeared. I don't think--"

"You built them." That I knew. Not memory, just plain old common, that is a pencil, that is a tree, the sky is blue knowledge. "You can unbuild them. You can rebuild them, too."

They both stared at me, and it wasn't creepy, this knowing, though it should have been. It should have been completely weird, but everything was just falling into place so easily, but not at all.

The Professor frowned more. "I don't know if I can."

Jean started a little.

"What?"

Xavier was frowning more. "It *is* you, Jean, that built those in her mind. But I have no--this is utterly beyond my experience." I could feel him teasing and testing the edges, frowning more, but not angry so much as curious, intrigued. "It's flawless."

I shifted on the bed, bringing him back to me. "Sir--Professor--" Biting my lip, I looked at him. "What is wrong with me? I mean--how could Jean do something that she can't do and doesn't remember?"

"Good question," Xavier said slowly. "We can't--shouldn't unbuild them. Not until we know what they are. But they *are* yours, Jean. You should be able to go through them."

I would never understand the science of telepathy. Jean started, then slowly came to the bed, glancing back at Xavier with wide, completely unbelieving eyes.

"Whatever happened, it's behind those shields," the Professor said, testing each word. "I don't know--I can't break them, even if I should think it was a good idea. But you can slip through them. They belong to you."

"Created in her mind." Jean was still shocked by that, all over again. Her eyes turned to me, looking into mine, then her hands settled on my temples, fingertips light and soft. So sure that my skin couldn't hurt her, and strangely, I was sure, too. It couldn't. "I don't know how I did it."

"Concentrate. Ground and center." I'd heard this lecture before, when they were trying to teach me to control my powers. "Reach out, recognize them as yours. And--"

The Professor's voice vanished as Jean's eyes widened, held in mine. Hands clamped down on my head like a vise and Jean let out a muffled sound, and the *rush* started. Not my skin drawing her, nothing I could describe as anything. Like a cool wind blowing through my mind. Like the taste of blackberry pie in late summer. The bitter flavor of hot black coffee.

A skin I slid into like it was my own, and I knew--

Oh God, I *knew*.

*****

{--"No more legends, Logan. No more lies. There won't be another Rogue."--}

The irony didn't escape me at all.

Jean kept her promise--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.

The design was a little different--set on the top of the tower at the edge of the Salem camp, radius running at thirty miles in all directions for the leading edge of the wave. As I stepped out on the platform, under the pre-night grey sky, I could see far below the spread of humans outside--not that the buildings could block the radiation, but they weren't taking any chances. This was their last hope.

Seven years that seemed far too close all of a sudden, even free of shackles. I wrapped my arms around myself and thought, a little wistfully, of the jacket I'd left on Logan's bed.

The tags were cold metal around my throat.

I felt Magneto behind me, close and strangely warm. Six of the camp guards had accompanied him up, setting up the machine for its last trial run, but I'd expected that part, and turned my head away to watch the sky for a minute. Perfectly clear, a hint of the stars that would color the sky, the 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 the stairs, coming to a stop only a few feet away. "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. "Let's--let's get this done, okay?"

Magneto silently moved away and I shivered again as his hand left me. I stared into the sky and thought of Logan--not the one with Jean that I'd broken with a touch and a smile and a lie. The one who taught me and trained me and loved me with everything in him and left me when I stopped being someone he knew.

*You don't have to do this.*

Pretend Logan was nothing like the real thing that once lived in my head, but he'd do for now.

"Polaris is gone," I murmured. "If I don't--he'll find her. He'll use her. He knew--he knew from the trials that it had to be me--you knew too. If I didn't do it, he'd force it. Or do it himself. Look down."

*Marie--*

"Rogue." I stopped, drawing in a breath. "It was--was what I was, who I was, as an X-Man. Rogue." 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 shivered again, nothing to do with the wind that cut through my shirt like it was nothing. "I want--I want to say something that will make this make sense, something that can be told when they ask why I died and what I died for, but I don't know. I want something better on that tombstone--I want the truth."

*Truth is relative.*

I thought of Scott downstairs, all the compromises he'd made, the decisions that haunted his mind like the specters 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 see him do this, become what he'd always, always been.

"No, it's not." 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 never seen. "I would have chosen this, you know. I would have. This way. Before." Before, when I'd been just Rogue. Before I'd realized how much had been taken from me--Magneto had taken my mind the first time, but this place, this world--they'd taken my dream too. They'd taken away Xavier's student, the X-Man, the believer. They'd left--me. Who didn't know what the hell to believe anymore. This was as close as I'd ever get again.

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 was being held by Jean so he couldn't stop this.

God, couldn't think of that now. I'd fall apart right here, and there was no one to catch me.

"Tell me this will work."

*It will.*

"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."

Here it was. I was making that last lie, the biggest lie, the truth.

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.

For an endless second, nothing happened. Blank, open space, and the moment was sharp and clear and I knew everything--*everything* was going to fall apart right now, because I could never do this alone.

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.

The taste of Belgium chocolate and the death of Xavier, his head in my lap, Scott in an Amsterdam hotel staring at the city streets, and watching Auschwitz fall around me, Kitty's 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 burned remains of a couch behind him.

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 that told me he understood.

--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 know.--

--They'll all know what I died for and why, Logan. And it will be for mutantkind and it will be for all the right reasons.--

He nodded slowly, considering me as I'd seen him study a thousand enemies in more lives than I could count between us.

But he knew other things too, and waited as I drew myself together, stepping back, and I opened my eyes.

Magneto was watching me 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 different 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.

"I know why," I said slowly, and he tilted his head, coming to a stop only inches away from me. "Why I'm doing this."

I turned toward the waiting platform, Magneto pacing behind me Carefully, I stepped up and the posts were ready for my hands. No shackles this time--the one difference, the big one that kept me even, made this more real in some indefinable way.

Magneto stood before me, stripping off his gloves, and I met his eyes.

"Are you ready, Marie?"

A thousand strange thoughts chased themselves through my head--Scott and Jean's wedding only last spring when I'd been a bridesmaid and Bobby and I drank so much champagne that Logan carried us both up to bed. Giggling at home with Jubilee over a porno movie we'd found in Logan's closet years before. Hating my gloves because they symbolized everything that I was and ever would be--a mutant with the power to kill.

{--"It's not gonna always be that easy, Marie. You can't depend on your strength to get you out of any bad situation. Gotta use your head, use your instincts."--}

I know.

I took a breath and reached inside, felt the other personalities begin to shift--and inner Logan, who always knew me better than I knew myself, moved the second I did, braced warm and hard around me, the strength I needed.

I reached out and held Magneto's face in my hands.

"It was seven years ago, and her name was Rogue," I whispered softly, and his eyes widened as my skin began to pull. "Logan got Sabretooth and Toad, and I'll give Johnny Mystique, because it's his right. But you're mine."

The rush was as hot and fast and addictive as it had always been, and I held on, feeling the pull, feeling him try to push away, his power weak but reflecting off of what he'd already given me, realizing in that second what I was going to do. Gripping closer, I kept hold--dragging him into my mind, letting him rush through the personalities that inhabited my head and heart for so long.

He was building in my mind, in my memories, stronger than any of the others, brilliant and bright and I wondered a little on what he could have been, sharp intelligence and iron will--if there had never been an Auschwitz or a Miami, an island or a meeting in Amsterdam that sealed the fate of the world when Scott made that final deal.

Facing me with blazing grey eyes and the *hate*, and I took it in, tried to absorb around it, but I'd had him in my mind before--and his were the thoughts that had pushed my hands into the posts seven years before.

I felt it happen--the same with Carol that long ago summer day I could never forget, that choked second where the last of his life was jerked free of his body and into mine, and I let him fall from my fingers, my hands dropping to the posts automatically--and the power ran through me, hot and swelling faster and farther as Magneto took over, holding me in place, and I'd sort of figured that part, as the machine drew it out of me inch by agonizing inch....

...like my organs and blood and soul being drawn through my skin all in slow motion and I felt myself scream and didn't even care. There was nothing but pain and dark and the thousands of people that would *not* die today, not for me, not for anyone else.

It was right. I was doing this, and it *was* for the right reasons, all the right reasons, and that was--God, that made it *worth* it.

Time stretched and I felt myself begin to fall, felt Logan's bare hands on my face, soft and so gentle and--

Heat, amazing, breathtaking, whipping through my body, exquisitely painful and endless. Even invulnerability has limits, and Johnny was going to break them.

Finish it, Johnny. Christ, do it *now*.

--and Logan brushed his lips against my forehead and didn't let me go.

Then there was nothing else but the pure red-gold darkness that I reached for with all of my soul. I'd taken my last life--and all that was left was sheer relief that it was over.

No one would ever die for me again.

*****


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Aww, jenn, you just made me shriek at three in the morning. My roommate thanks you, by the way. *g*

There is much love in my heart right now. If this is you in a mental breakdown, I vote for having a few more. ;)

*laughs* they seem to come wiht disturbing frequency, these "breakdowns".


Okay, I've been out of the X-Men: The Movie fandom for a while now. It consumed nearly two years of my life and, if L/R was alcohol, I would have totally had serosis of the liver.

Anyway, when I left the fandom, it was pretty much because I felt like I had overdosed and was just...well, exhausted might be the right word. But I never felt as though this "fandom experience" was ever really complete for me, if that makes any sense. And a really, *really* big part of the feeling of "disquiet" had to do with this fic and the fact that I was almost positive that it was going to live in WIP land forever.

I mean, Jus was *it* for me, where this fandom is concerned. I remember finding it and dedicated almost three days to reading it from start to "finish". It's one of the best stories I've ever read from, literally, *any* fandom, and I've been reading fic for almost a decade now. Just...there really are no words for how much this story meant (and still means) to me. And how weird I felt leaving a fandom feeling like there was just something missing.

So, thanks for helping to finish something for me that I always felt weird about abandoning. And for making me *squee* like a fucking maniac. I actually woke up my dog and she's old and sleeps like the dead.

You. Rock. And I will continue to stalk your lj because I'm weird like that.

Okay, I've been out of the X-Men: The Movie fandom for a while now. It consumed nearly two years of my life and, if L/R was alcohol, I would have totally had serosis of the liver.

That is one of the best descriptions I have heard of the fandom in my *life*. Totally konw what you mean. It is beyond the crack.

So, thanks for helping to finish something for me that I always felt weird about abandoning. And for making me *squee* like a fucking maniac. I actually woke up my dog and she's old and sleeps like the dead.

You. Rock. And I will continue to stalk your lj because I'm weird like that.


*giggles* Thank you!

Jus is--still, the story I'm most proud of. It did exactly what it was supposed to do, and it did it the way I wanted it to. So yes. Thank you *very very* much.

WOOT! This rocks. Perfect ending, and thanks again for posting it. Also? This is priceless:

This had to be how insanity started--one day, you're buying tampons. The next, you've lost your active schizophrenia and no longer hear voices.

::g::

Hee.

Thanks!

I miss Rogue sometimes. She had all that insanity built *right* in.

OK, yeah, I have to join the ranks of the "OMG, I can't believe this finally has an ending!" crowd. *flails excitedly*
It's been so long since I read the rest of it that I fear I've mostly forgotten what was going on, but at least now I can re-read knowing that it does, eventually, have a finish!

*grabs onto your leg* Thankyou!


Whee! Thank you! I'm glad it pleased you so much!

(Deleted comment)
Thank you so much! I worried it wouldn't make sense, since the story is so old, but whee! It does!

Wow. This is such a dream come true! This is my favorite W/R fic for so many reasons, and it is such a pleasure to find that you've written the epilogue! Although the place you'd ended it years ago gave us a pretty full picture of where the story ends, this closure brings such warmth to my heart knowing that next time I want to read the series (which is once every... six months? I do so love it so much), I'll read the epilogue as well.

Thank you *so much* for writing this!

*grins* Thank you very, very much. I feel better knowing it's somewhat wrapped up.

Thank you, that was terrific! I love Rogue *sigh*

I stumbled across Jus I can't remember how long ago and read it...three times in a weekend. And continued reading it off-and-on, because it just got under my skin in so many different ways.

Then I recommended it to other people and they were also in the, "I can't really describe how this makes me feel other than saying, 'GAH'!" category.

Then DD posts that you've finished it.

And I finally had a chance to read this tonight and think, 'Yes, this is just glorious'.

This had to be how insanity started--one day, you're buying tampons. The next, you've lost your active schizophrenia and no longer hear voices.

This sums up just so much of Rogue's black humor in regards to the whole story (which, as soon as I have time, I must go back and read - please tell me you're posting the optionals and the epilogues in with the story, please!) and I just love it.

Thanks so much for this.

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