Also ... a HUGE thanks goes out to my PERFECT beta, thekatebeyond and to goodisrelative who gave me the PERFECT summary for my story, sight unseen!
Since her successful procedure courtesy of Worthington's quest to “cure” his son, Rogue had been working as a liaison officer cum student recruiter for the Xavier School for the Gifted. It was her job to meet with parents and do her best to mitigate the turmoil of finding out your child is a Mutant and will most likely face a lifetime of adversity. She never quite got over the irony of her position.
At first, she was a pariah amongst her friends. She had lost the respect of Storm, her closest confidante, and even Bobby didn’t look at her the same. He did his best to understand her decision, but in the end, he could not seem to reconcile what she had done with who she had become. He stayed though.
After Phoenix had all but destroyed everything that Xavier had built, Logan could not remain. She knew over the past decade or so, he had avoided settling anywhere, but when he arrived at the school, he found himself with a family and a home. From what she could discern, it was as though he thought he was being punished for wanting it all.
For Rogue, though, there was nowhere else for her to go. So she stayed. She did her best to work things out with Bobby, but it always felt like she was settling. It wasn’t fair to Bobby, but he seemed to accept it, to encourage it. Anything to have her.
She found she couldn’t quite respect his decision, but who was she to judge in light of her “relationship” with Logan?
Life settled though, as it often does – just as she and Bobby had. A day finally came where she thought herself comfortable with whom she had become and her position in life and at the school. But those days never last.
Sometimes she felt the pull, like a phantom limb. It would come at the most inopportune times, such as a meeting with distraught parents while shaking their hands, or when offering comfort to a new Mutant still finding their footing in this brave new world they had discovered. The worst, though, was when she lay in bed with Bobby, their bare skin in constant contact. It was those nights where she'd wake up, drenched in sweat, a terrified scream caught in her throat.
Then it progressed beyond that. At first it was a tingling sensation, like she had slept on her arm. All pins and needles down her arm, between her fingers, beneath her fingernails. It was almost painful. Secretly, she welcomed it.
At first, she didn't tell anyone – least of all Bobby. Instead of full disclosure, she opted for white lies. When she started wearing long diaphanous nightgowns to bed, she told Bobby it was because of the late autumn chill and assured him he would learn to think it was sexy. There would be a moment of dark doubt, but then he would smile and run a loving hand down her arm.
Soon, though, it became obvious to those close to her, and she knew she could no longer hide.
“Rogue, darling, is ... everything alright?” Ororo reached out a tentative hand to Rogue's shoulder, her boat neck collar exposing her delicate collar bone and a slender pale shoulder. When Rogue pulled back instinctively, 'Ro pulled back as well.
Rogue pulled nervously at her collar, doing her best to cover her exposed skin and cursing her carelessness. “No, 'Ro. There is nothing wrong.” Gathering her scattered paperwork, she did her best to avoid eye contact with Ororo, letting her streak of white hair fall over her face.
Storm let her walk away, but Rogue could tell she knew something was not as it was supposed to be. Or that something was exactly as it should be.
She had hoped she hadn’t drawn too much attention to herself, but that little illusion was shattered the day she heard the familiar roar of his motorcycle. Wolverine was home.
She did her best to conceal the excitement that burned through her body, to hide the hopeful light that shone in her eyes, but Bobby noticed anyway.
“Just go,” he growled.
Without thinking twice, Rogue leapt from her chair to hurry down the hall to the foyer. She ignored his muttered comment. “Now I know how Scott felt.”
For a moment, the joy was spiked with bitter pain - but only for a moment.
He flashed her a dark look and her steps faltered. Without so much as a greeting, he grabbed her by the elbow, making sure not to grip her arm below her ¾ length sleeve. She allowed him to lead her into Xavier’s old office, which was now Ororo’s office.
“Logan, what’s the matter?”
He stalked to the windows, refusing to look her in the eyes. “How long?”
“What are you talking a-“
“Dammit, how long, Marie?”
She coughed and nervously wrung her hands. “Almost two months now. At first I thought I was imagining things, but it kept getting stronger.” She couldn’t bear to look at him. His shoulders were so tense, his posture rigid and on guard. She turned away.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He sighed and his shoulders relaxed. He looked defeated. But what war he was waging now, she didn’t know.
“You weren’t here. Why would I tell you? It isn’t like you could have done anything about it.”
He finally turned to look at her, his dark eyes glaring at her. Without much notice, he stalked across the room. It only took a few steps. He reached up to put his hands on her shoulders and he looked so broken when she visibly flinched. “Fuck, Marie. You honestly think I could hurt you?”
She glared at him. “Why not? You’ve broken me twice already.”
This time it was Logan who flinched. He let his hands drop to his sides. They quickly found their way to his jeans pockets. He coughed. “You look nice. All grown up.”
Narrowing her eyes at him, she almost resisted the urge to respond. She could never deny him anything though, and found herself smoothing her skirt over her hips and adjusting the hem of her shirt. “Thank you,” she whispered.
He continued to take her in. Her smooth, upswept hair; her form fitting pencil skirt; her crisp white button-up shirt … it was a lot to process. “You’ve changed so much.”
Rogue sighed. “Yes, Logan. Everything changes.” She ran a shaky hand over her hair in an effort to calm herself. “What are you doing here, Logan?”
His mouth twitched. “Bobby called me. Said you were hiding something, but you won’t talk to him. Said something about you always changing the subject.” He watched her reaction to his words, and it was apparent he saw something. “’Ro said something too.”
Instead of answering, she turned to look out the window, her reflection softly mingled with the image of the school yard behind the glass. “It’s back.”
He nodded his head. She had only confirmed what he already knew.
“How you feel about doing this job?”
Unable to hide the wobble in her knees, she quickly found one of the lush leather seats and closed her eyes in an attempt to fight off the tears. “It’s difficult at times. Seeing these children go through what I did, seeing them struggle to find their place in the world. Bringing them here, showing them that there is a place for them. And then knowing I may not have that any longer. I feel as though I’m in some sort of limbo.” She ran a weary hand over her eyes and regained her composure.
“No, not in the least.” Straightening herself in the chair, she stood and smoothed her skirt once again. “Will that be all? I have a student waiting for me to show her around the grounds. Just brought her in from Buffalo. Perhaps you’d like to meet her?”
Wolverine flashed a smile and said, “I doubt I’d be much help. Probably do more to scare her away than make her feel comfortable.”
Rogue dipped her head to hide the tight smile she felt on her lips. “You didn’t scare me away.”
“You’ve always been an exception to every rule, though, haven’t you?” He ran a hand down the side of her face, a friendly gesture that turned into something else when she reached up to hold his hand where it was.