Disclaimer: You know I don't own them and I know I don't own them. Marvel and Fox are the lucky ones.
Notes: Rogue just wouldn't shut up and let me sleep on Sunday morning. Thanks to Meg, Jen, Dot and Pete, who I drive crazy with all this stuff. Also, I was inspired by rereading Shana's "Perfect Ring of Scars" and Sare's "No Secret At All" when writing this. If you haven't read those stories, go now! Read them. Or I'll hunt you down and make you. I could, you know. <g> Also, I swear I wrote this before Jenn posted "Change to Color". Really.
It's amazing sometimes how fast it happens. I always thought there was a sign before things changed, a hush, a moment of decision, but it's not always so apparent while it's happening.
One minute, Scott and Jean were the poster couple for happiness, and the next, Scott was in a room next door to me and Jean was throwing herself at Logan. Who was only too happy to catch her.
Nobody understood what happened, least of all me. Nobody talked about it, at least not with me. By that point, everyone assumed I was over Logan -- I was with Remy, had been for months -- but still, it hurt. Some part of me felt that it was okay if I never had him, as long as Jean never did either. And I'd figured as long as Scott was around, she never would.
Remy watched me cautiously those first few weeks. Everyone did. I think they thought I had inside information on the breakup. Or maybe they thought I'd throw a tantrum or something. I don't know. I locked myself in my bathroom and cried in the shower, and that was it. It hurt, but I would live.
I knew how Logan felt about Jean -- it was in every thought we shared in my head. He wanted her more than any other woman he'd ever met. But there was something missing -- some tenderness or care -- that would have marked those feelings as love. He wanted her, and he'd take her if she offered, but he'd had no plans to break apart what appeared to be a happy couple. He'd never admit it, but he's hung up on honor, like someone in one of those dumb kung fu movies he's always making me watch.
Whispered scandal rocked the school and made things tense. I was a junior member of the X-Men and allowed to go on rescue missions, and there were times when I wondered how we got anything done, with the pressure that built up in the Blackbird whenever Scott, Logan and Jean were in it together.
That's when the Professor decided that splitting up was a good idea. Suddenly, Ororo was in charge of Logan and Jean, and Scott had Bobby, Remy and me to order around. It was a good system, and it worked.
Time passed. Things changed again. Remy and I broke up. He told me he thought we should see other people. I knew he was already, so I agreed. And spent another night crying in the bathroom.
Red and puffy-eyed, I went down to the kitchen very early the next morning, hoping to get out to school before anyone saw me. I didn't want their pity -- poor Rogue, who finally got a man and couldn't keep him.
I didn't count on Scott. He was already there. I swallowed and tried to act normal. Of all the people in the place, he was the most likely to understand, and the least likely to say anything. Which was good. But I guess I didn't know him as well as I thought.
"It gets better," he said tersely.
"Does it?" I asked. "You're not exactly a walking advertisement for moving on."
His mouth tightened. "I deserved that, I suppose."
"Yes. No. I don't know," I said. "I have to go."
There was no reshuffling of the teams. There was surprisingly little tension between me and Remy, even after he and Jubilee started dating. I'd always known he wasn't going to be my one true love. Hell, after seeing Jean and Scott break up, I wasn't convinced that there was any such thing as one true love.
A few weeks later, we were celebrating my twenty-first birthday. There was a truce in place, because Logan had made it known that he would be *very* unhappy if anyone made a scene on my "special day." Even after he and Jean were together, he and I were still closer than most married couples ever get. Even Jean couldn't change that. I don't think she wanted to, either. I think she liked the fact that Logan hadn't built his world around her, as Scott had.
Anyway, we were in the local tavern -- finally I got to go to the place they all went after missions -- and there was some heavy drinking going on. I participated fully, which makes my memories of what happened next a little hazy. But I do know this. Things changed again.
Scott and I were dancing. Very closely. He felt really good pressed up against me. I found myself wondering what he would taste like. He must have been thinking the same thing, because he whispered, "Want to help me move on?"
And we left together.
We went back to his room and carefully, so carefully, so different from Remy and his casual, reckless hands, Scott kissed me and touched me and made me realize that even when you're not in love, your body will respond. And that's all right.
I left his room early the next morning, not knowing that we had just broken everything wide open.
I slipped down to the kitchen, looking for some bottled water to take back to my room, my head hurting a little from the amount I'd had to drink. Jean and Logan were there. But something was different. Instead of Jean sitting on his lap, which was usually how you'd see them, they were on opposite sides of the table. There was no talking, none of Jean's cheery chatter about her plans for the day interspersed with Logan's grunts. I figured they were hung over as well, which was dumb, because Logan, at least, doesn't get hung over.
I wasn't thinking. I wasn't even a little embarrassed over what had happened last night. We were all adults, right?
I pulled a bottled water out of the fridge and said, "Mornin'."
Logan's eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. He looked like he was ready to fight. Feeling like I had walked into the middle of a scene and didn't know my lines, I said, "Thanks for the party. It was great."
"You had fun last night?" Logan growled.
It didn't seem like the kind of thing that would piss him off, but then, you never know what's going to set him off. "Yeah," I said, suddenly defiant.
He stood and loomed over me. "You fucking slept with One-Eye last night and you can stand there and look me in the eye?" He was incredulous.
"What's it to you, Logan? You're sleeping with his ex." I wasn't afraid of him like everyone else in the place. I knew he'd never intentionally hurt me. I'll admit I felt a little shaky, but I didn't show it. "It's none of your goddamned business who I sleep with."
I don't know what he was going to say next, and I never found out, because Ororo walked in, looking for Jean. I fled back to my room and spent the rest of the morning there.
Later that afternoon, Scott and I were working in the garage. "Last night," he began, out of the blue.
I looked up at him. "I had a lot of fun."
"We're not doing it again."
My eyebrows rose in surprise. "Did I ask?"
"I can't use you like that," he said abruptly and walked out.
I went after him, my hand on his arm stopping him. "Like what? You didn't take advantage of me, Scott. I wanted to. It wasn't like I was expecting a proposal this morning."
"No," he said, and he was angry, but not with me. "I wanted to get back at Logan. Take what he took from me."
That hurt. It's one thing to know you're being used for comfort, and another to be used for revenge.
"Why are you telling me this? I don't want to know this."
"You need to know, Rogue. You need to see."
"Scott, what are you talking about? See what? I don't understand." He shook his head and was back to being Fearless Leader.
"You will." And he shook my hand off and left.
I continued to work on the old car we were rebuilding. It was one project that had brought Scott and Logan together. They'd been almost friendly until things changed. Logan hadn't worked on it since he and Scott switched places in Jean's bed.
I was still trying to figure out what Scott had meant, still trying to get over the hurt of his words, so I wasn't paying attention as closely as I should have, and I cut myself. I headed down to the infirmary for some bandages and I heard them.
Jean and Logan, arguing. "He had no fucking right to touch her."
"She's a grown woman, Logan. They're free to do whatever they please."
"And it's all right with you? Your Scottie boy is screwing another woman right down the hall and it doesn't bother you?"
"What do you want me to say? If I say no, you won't believe me. If I say yes, you'll get angry because that means I still care about him."
"Which you do. You can't fool me. Oh, you wanna have fun, Jeannie. You wanna get your kicks with me, but you and I both know this ain't gonna last. You're gonna go back to your Boy Scout and he's gonna welcome you with open arms. At least, before last night that was the plan, wasn't it." It wasn't a question.
She gasped. "Do you think I planned what happened?"
He nodded grimly. "Yeah, yeah, I do. It's too damn neat. Too damn quiet between you two."
Jean stood. "This isn't about me, and you know it."
"You're right. It's not. He took her. He took what's mine, what I was told I couldn't have." I was shocked. I leaned back against the wall, trying to control my breathing. They were so wound up I don't think they knew I was there, but I didn't want Logan to notice me.
"Over and over you people told me, 'she's too young, it's just a crush, you're no good for her, you'll break her.' And like an asshole, I listened. I agreed. I'm too old. I'm a fucking animal. She deserves better than someone who doesn't even know his own name. I wanted her to be happy.
"Does she look fucking happy to you? She needs me and I need her, and you can all go to hell. I *am* an asshole for listening, for not knowing that loving her would be enough. For not taking her with me when I left that first time. For being led around by my dick and hurting her by being with you." His voice was full of self-loathing.
I couldn't get over the fact that he said he loved me. Oh, I knew he cared about me, wanted to look out for me, maybe loved me like a little sister. That's what they'd all told me time and again those first few months while he was gone, and then again when he came back.
I must have made a sound, because suddenly his head snapped up and he looked around, sniffing the air the way he does when he senses danger.
I stepped into the room, pretending I'd just got there and hadn't heard a word. "I'm sorry to interrupt," I said, and my voice sounded like it belonged to someone else, "but I cut myself and uh, I need a band-aid." I held out my hand as proof, 'See, I wasn't eavesdropping.'
Jean snapped on the rubber gloves and washed the cut out. She painted it with peroxide and I hissed as it bubbled. Logan stalked around the room, radiating tension. As soon as Jean finished sticking on the band-aid, I was out of there. I didn't want to know more; I needed time to absorb what I'd heard.
Logan left the next day. He was gone for three months.
Jean and Scott began a tentative reconciliation, small steps toward not taking each other for granted. He still lived in the room next to mine. I understood now what he'd been trying to tell me, and I thanked him.
"Don't thank me, Rogue," he replied, his voice rough with an emotion I couldn't identify. "I played my part in hurting you, and I'm more sorry than you'll ever know."
"Everybody gets hurt," I replied, thinking I was wise, "I'm just glad you also knew how to make it better."
When Logan came back this time, I was ready. He showed up late one night, at the door to my room.
"You wanna blow this joint, Marie?" he asked, tenderness in his voice. He held out a gloved hand and I took it. We left together. I knew I belonged with him, and he with me, despite what other people might say. They don't understand what it's like to live with someone in your head, to know him so well that you can forgive what seem like the biggest betrayals, because he tried so hard to do the right thing, even if it turned out to not be the right thing at all.
I've learned that while some things change, some never do, like the thrill of hearing him say my name when we make love, and the love I feel when I wake up with him next to me in the morning.
We'll head back to Westchester eventually. Things will change again. And sometimes, they'll even change for the better.
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