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After Midnight

Rogue / Logan fic (Post X3)
Genre - Songfic
Rating - PG
Summary - A little view into Rogue's own little world when Logan left and what she does to cope with him gone. 

The road was always quiet at this time of night, the animals never crossed her path if they didn't need to even the deer knew her scent by now.
Trees lined the private roads that criss-crossed the grounds of the mansion and she always spent a few hours just walking here if she could, her mind on neutral, her skin not an issue to the wind or rain. Here she could just `be' for a while, the memories of missions being settled by her feet as they took her down the roads and paths that others shunned. Only the ground staff knew the true extent of the roads here but she'd been exploring their twists and turns for nearly a year now.

These walks had helped her through the pain of her mutation resurfacing; her skin had become ultra sensitive for a while making even silk feel like hessian. Spring and summer this year she'd walked out here along the back roads nearly naked, letting the air soothe her skin, she'd always come out after midnight and go back
before dawn. Her teaching position at the school allowed her to do this, she was the arts and humanities teacher, something that suited her down to the ground.

She'd started just after Jean had died, the walking seemed to help the pain she'd felt, the brief thirteen weeks of freedom she'd had and she'd spent most of it wrapped up against the winter chill. Her mutation had come back with a vengeance just as the sun had begun to
warm the ground, Logan hadn't even waited until Christmas, he'd high tailed it out of the mansion as soon as it had looked like everyone was coping well enough without him.

Logan.

There was a subject she tried (and more often failed) to keep her mind away from; the way he'd just closed off when they'd come back. The news of what he'd had to do was quick to spread around the school and she'd been mortified, Bobby was even giving him a wide berth as if he'd lash out and kill him too. Everyone was waiting for
him to fall apart and when he didn't they just moved on to the life they were trying to live without Charles. Ororo was in charge now, she was doing everything she could and what with Hank dropping in and helping out there really wasn't much for Logan to do but sulk and mope.

She'd tried to sit with him several times but he'd just looked right through her and moved away, giving her enough clues for the remnants of his personality to tell her that following him was a `BAD' idea.
It was at Christmas that the entire truth about what he'd done that night had come out, how he'd organised everyone, kept everyone focussed and safe. He'd led them all. Showed them how to fight well and how to survive it, not danger room tactics like Scott, but real blood and bones fighting, how to duck, using the ground around you,
to throw opponents off by using the other fighters around you. Pete had a new respect for him and had given him a level of respect that she'd only ever seen him give the Professor before. He'd led them through the fire and for the first time she'd wished she'd had been there to help him but she hadn't; she'd been fighting her own battle
and had lost in the end.

Now as she walked along the dark leafy lanes she could almost feel the forest around her breathing; the tension easing out of her body as she walked along. Her feet taking the usual route leading her around the wall of the mansion, the long walk taking at least three hours from start to finish. Her mind went back to the last time she'd seen him, sitting under the porch and looking at the leaden sky filled with snow. He'd been so distant then; so far from her touch, she hadn't even touched him, not skin to skin it had been too new still to her she hadn't even thought of touching Bobby until she'd caught him with Kitty. That relationship was something she
wished she'd never gotten into; Bobby. What on earth had she been thinking? He wasn't her kind of person, he'd do the `right' thing nine times out of ten and she'd been on the side of self preservation, Logan's point of view. He was her own little version of Scott, and as soon as she'd seen Bobby with Kitty it had solidified it for her in her viewpoint. Kitty was the next one to take on Jeans crown, she'd never even been a contender, not in Bobby's affections or the house popularity contests either.
Her mind wondered how Logan would've taken the news about her break- up with Bobby? Would he have been pleased to know it or would he have felt pain for her? It was all academic anyway, no one knew where he was and the only person who could've used cerebro safely was dead.
Pulling her soft coat around her Marie took a side path, she'd go up to the ridge tonight, have a look over the grounds from the small hill. It always helped to clear her mind and she needed it clearing now especially with Logan crowding her mind.

The view was breathtaking, the twinkling of the stars above her always managed to calm her heart; no matter what was happening to her she could always draw on the silence of the night. She'd pulled away from the rest of the house slowly; she never even recognised it at first it actually came home to her the night she'd walked in on
the return of the `women' of the mansion coming back from a night out. Ororo had looked a little sheepish as she'd stood there with Kitty, Anna, Jubilee, Emma and Rose. They'd been out to New York obviously to have a blow out to relieve tension that built when you taught at the school, she hadn't been invited and she'd made a quick
exit from the hallway. She'd still caught the echo's of their conversation, something about her being `unapproachable', Ororo had countered with `Yeah we all know who she takes after'. The sniggers that had come afterward had made her cheeks burn for hours, Ororo
had tried to make it up to her the next day but the gap was there and it had begun to widen that night until it was the calm professional gap it was now.
She still went on missions, collected kids who were a
little `difficult' to get to, her mutation giving her a way in with most kids. Even when she said the words about them being accepted and being able to have a place they could belong to she didn't really feel it herself; she was still an outsider since her mistake of taking the cure. No matter how many times Ororo told her she was
welcome she knew inside that she disliked her because of her choice to touch the people she loved came above the use of her gift for the betterment of others.

Her breath fogged for the first time that night and the sigh had a sound to it that caught her unawares "Oh Logan," her heart was heavy, empty of anything but duty, of work. She needed to get away, to run but she couldn't run from here it's where he knew she'd be.
He was still inside her head and she prodded him sometimes just to see if the connection was there, he'd faded but she hadn't let him go. The rest were nearly gone but not Logan, she'd moved the craving for beer onto juice, even the cigar cravings onto just the smell of
them. But the one thing she couldn't get rid of was the need to feel him near her. No one came near her anymore; hell she couldn't blame them but it hurt to have a wave of revulsion go ahead of you. She put a brave face on and tried to carry on with the life she'd chosen, at least here she wouldn't be killed for her mutation.

Turning her head to the sky she felt the warmth of her tears as they wound down her skin; silent and as powerful as the sky above her.
The hurt radiating out of her to be lost in the cold darkness above; soaking up all she could give it, the autumn winds making the leaves rattle on drying twigs as nature got ready to sleep. It had been a year, a year of coping, of being what everyone expected her to be; to follow a course she'd needed to explore, only to find it wasn't what she'd needed in the first place. All she'd needed had been wrapped up in adamantium and he'd been wrapped up in the grief of killing the one woman he'd loved with everything he'd had. She'd been `the kid'; the one person he could look after and when she'd taken the cure she'd just smashed his heart. He'd brought her back
to life twice by using his `gift' on her, she'd taken that option away from him, destroyed the purpose of him being there. She'd shown him she didn't need him and that had made the gap between them; she'd spent hours contemplating what she'd done that night she'd left. The look he'd given her as she left, when he'd called her `Marie', the softness that had come over his face, the way his body had been turning toward her own. As if he'd been waiting for her to reach out to him, so he could hold her tight to him, he'd have taken her if she'd asked him, talked to her about her reasons why she was doing it. He wouldn't have talked her out of it, oh no, he'd have made her look at everything, the real reasons why she was doing it and he'd have told her that he didn't care as long as she was happy and that she was doing it for *herself* not for a boy. She had done it for a boy, for Bobby if the truth had been known and Logan had known that but he was willing to let her make the mistake.
And for that she had to love him; he'd been willing to let her grow up, to make the error and live with it. The cure hadn't changed anything about her, she was still afraid to touch, still uptight about showing skin, still unable to reach out and take what she wanted. When her skin had switched back on she'd changed then; then
when it no longer mattered about who she could touch, that was when she'd worked out what she'd needed in the first place. Belief in herself, in her own mind and her own capabilities, she'd run to the cure as if it had been just that, a cure to solve *her* but it wasn't it never had been. Only she'd seen it too late to realise the
damage she'd done to everything and everyone around her.
Bobby had left her for Kitty, Ororo didn't trust her, the kids made fun of her when they thought she wasn't listening, she went on missions alone to pick up kids that no one else could get near. She had a life true, but it was painful and lonely and she wanted so much more than it was giving her.

Sighing against the wind she pulled the coat tighter wishing it was warmer when the solid weight of a pair of arms wrapped around her from behind. Her nose sending signals of cigar smoke and dust, the pale shapes of hands rough and worn covering her dark coat as they gripped her through it. Silver shining from the buckle on his boots
as she leaned back into the embrace that was there, solid, warm, comforting. His chin resting on her hair as she felt him breathe behind her, the arms wrapping harder around her, holding onto her as if she'd blow away in the breeze.
Emotions she'd squashed down were pushing themselves forward, things she'd wanted to say rose unbidden in her mind but lodged in her throat. Their meanings lost in the touch that was enclosing around her, wrapping her up in the one thing she'd been missing, Logan.

He turned her round to look at her, but she kept her head down, unable to meet his face without breaking apart. She'd grown up but he was still a part of her that she was unable to deny needing, and that would kill him if she tried to keep him. He allowed her to keep her head down, his sighs telling her of his emotion, the rumbling
purr as he pulled her back into his arms, into his chest. She knew he'd missed her as much as she'd missed him, when she finally cleared her throat enough to breathe without hurting her arms snaked around him. Letting herself admit that he was real, that he was here and not a fantasy brought on by her mind, mouth finally free she
whispered into his chest, "It came back." The silence that followed wasn't uneasy, it felt natural, normal, his reply almost offhand but the meaning behind the words not unnoticed by her mind.
"Don't care, it's not the reason I came back." This time he moved away a little forcing her to look at him, she could see where the year had aged him, where the road had taken pieces of his soul. It was in his eyes, in his arms, in his scent, it was in everything he did and it screamed out to her; he was hurting and he'd come home to
her, finally.
No one else would see it, no one else would even notice the differences in him but they would be as stark as winter and summer to her and that was the reason he'd come back, he'd needed her to remind him of who he'd been before everything had happened. Just like she needed him to remind her of what she'd needed to hear that night of her decision; the one that had brought her to this point.

The pale cold hand ghosted over her skin, tracing the shape of her cheek and she saw the warmth she'd seen that night return to his gaze. She meant too much for him to try to describe it to her but she knew it by the purr of the piece of him in her mind how much her allowing him to be this close to her meant. The moment seemed to crawl on forever, his entire attention focussed on her face, on her
emotions, on her soul, as if he could read everything she'd been through, tattooed on her skin for him to read. His hand finally dropped to her shoulder resting around her neck, his other hand still wrapped around her waist. Her own wound around his leather coated back, without making a sound he pulled her back off the ridge, taking the long route back to the mansion. Finishing the walk
with him, complete in silence, no longer lonely but calm, completed for a moment in time. Tomorrow was tomorrow, they had now, the rest would come in time.
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