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Poison Ivy by dee
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Author's Notes:
Inspirations from: Blyss' S/R/L love triangle challenge; David Mack's 'Kabuki' (where all elegant and dark angst begins for me); The Princess Bride (one line for contrast); Victoria's "The Best-Laid Plans" (especially for the dancing and the glasses); Stabbing Westward, VAST, Kittie and NIN. I remain a little embarrassed at how popular this story was. I don't think it's my best work, but it suited the fandom at the time.
And this is what it all comes down to. I stand in the rain and scream in anguish, the sound ripping my vocal chords out through my throat and I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. Don't you fucking get it? It's all coming to pieces. These aren't rain drops stinging my tear-streaked cheeks, they're little bits of reality, of sanity. I'm Chicken Little and the sky is falling in on me.

I sink to my knees in the mud and I don't care if it sucks me under and drowns me. It's my fault. It's all my fucking fault.

* * * * *

That was now, this is then. Stop, rewind. Back to a confused girl with too many people sharing her mental space needing to talk to someone, anyone, everyone. Pouring out her confused mind to Jean, her anger to the Professor, her sore heart to Scott. An odd choice, but the way the cards fell.

No, not that far back.

Every story starts with something changing. Look some time; they all do. This time the story starts with a bike just tucked in the garage, like it had always been there. My heart thudded in my chest as I ran gloved fingers over the metal. It was still warm, not sun-warm or engine-warm but Logan-warm.

He was back and the dog tags around my neck laughed as happily as I did as I ran through the corridors. People stopped to stare; so many things that weren't expected of me. The grin, the run, the bursting into the Professor's office without knocking to fling myself at the man standing in front of the desk. Not a good idea, but I knew he wouldn't hurt me. And he didn't. He swung me off the floor and off my feet and into a bone-crushing hug that was everything I had waited eighteen months for.

"Say you're back to stay," I demanded, not letting him go until he repeated my words, gruff in my ear, and then I laughed, and there were tears in my eyes, and I remembered what fully-fledged happiness felt like.

God, what a fucking innocent. Not laughing now, that happiness burnt to ash in my mouth and the tears burnt from my eyes and no ability to cry any more.

Of course, the situation didn't go to hell in a handbasket overnight. Everything seemed just peachy for a week, maybe even two. It's difficult to tell exactly when it started coming unravelled. Lots of little things.

Like when I suddenly realised that I was included when he clapped his hands at the start of his defence class and said: "Come on kids." I was just another kid. A special kid, but a kid. A little sister. No matter how much I wanted it - and I did, dammit, more than anything else in the world - I would never get more than that hug. I didn't even get the occasional kiss on the top of my head any more, and I knew that was because he didn't want to 'get my hopes up'. Sweet, yeah? But I didn't want fucking sweet, all right? I wanted it hard and hot and all those things I saw in his eyes when he looked at Jean.

I poured all of this out to Scott in an empty classroom, pacing and screeching and swearing like I was in a damn Tarantino movie. I told you he was my emotional confidante. It just happened that way. You can't talk to the Professor about these things, and I didn't think Jean would appreciate my Logan-heavy rants, and Scott, when you get right down to it, has this amazing capacity to listen. He just sits there, hidden behind those glasses of his that are like a reality-buffer, and absorbs it all. All the fear and the hate and the fevered wonderings.

He absorbed this too, and then I realised what I'd said. About Logan, about Jean and I thought that might just have been unforgivable. But when I told him I was sorry, he just took me by the shoulders and hugged me. Held me close and stroked my hair and told me it was all right. Like he did every time. And I cried onto his shoulder, like every time, and blew my nose on his clean handkerchief, which he always had, like the gentleman he is. I'd remember later, though, the clenching of his jaw before he pressed my face to his shoulder. I'd remember it and know that it had started unravelling for him as well.

My therapy sessions with Scott were usually perfect for shedding my emotion, but this time it hadn't worked. A seed of something remained lodged in the pit of my stomach. I watched Logan watching Jean, watched her be everything he desired just by existing and maybe by being out of reach as well. And as I watched, the seed germinated, sent out roots into turbulent bile, sprouted into something small and twisted, dark and very vicious. I swallowed hard and pretended to ignore it, but late at night I lay in my bed and stared at the ceiling and I nurtured my little plant with all the fetid fertilizer I could dredge out of my mind. I was a dedicated gardener.

So it was that by the time we went out to celebrate Jean's birthday it was flourishing, close to flowering. The lot of us - teachers, kids and all - hit this Mexican restaurant bar deal called Montezumas. Apparently Jean loved the place, and I have to say it had a fun atmosphere. We took the weather with us, though, the constant storm-cloud I travelled underneath and a look on Scott's face like he could curdle milk with one glance. I wasn't the only one watching Logan and Jean. But no one else seemed to notice and I wondered if they were all blind. Or if they only saw what they wanted to see.

When the music started playing the kids hit the floor, Jubilee in the vanguard. They didn't even ask me, because I don't like dancing, even when I'm as well-wrapped as I was that night. Tonight, though, I wanted to get away from that table, where there was tension apparently only I saw. I just couldn't leave, somehow. I knew Scott was going to ask Jean to dance, and he turned to her. But she was looking the other way, laughing with Logan, a little flushed and tipsy after three Coronas. He clenched his jaw, and turned to me, and I knew he needed to leave as much as I did now, so when he held out his hand I took it without saying a word, and he led me to the dancefloor. I don't know if they watched us leave; I didn't look back.

The music was something Latino and slightly techno, and Scott surprised me by having a fair degree of dancing skill and flair. He'd obviously had lessons at some time, and even though I hadn't, it was so simple to let him lead. It drew a few whistles and comments, and that brought a faint smile back to his face. He looked so young and handsome, and I suddenly recalled a clenched jaw and a hug in an empty classroom and my stomach lurched.

"Jean's an idiot," I said blankly.

No comment for so long, but I knew he had heard me because the smile disappeared again. And then finally: "Maybe she just doesn't realise what's she's doing to me."

The music ended, and he spun me out, but I stepped right back beside him, close enough to touch without meaning to. The next song began, a pulsing bass and insistent melody. A swaying, grinding tempo. "Then make her realise," I whispered.

Oh God, it'd be a blessed relief to be able to claim innocence, to declare I hadn't meant it to sound like that, but I can't. I knew what I was offering in that moment, and so did he, his eyes boring into me behind those red glasses. I stared back, unrepentent, almost brazen. I wanted this. I wanted Jean to see, to realise that she wanted Scott, not Logan. I wanted Logan to realise I wasn't a kid any more. I wanted him to realise that he wanted me.

And as my gaze drifted from Scott's eyes to those stern, defined lips, I realised part of me wanted to do this just for its own sake. To be held against a male body; his male body. That's the part that exulted when his hand slipped around my waist and tugged me closer. I swayed into the music, against him. Tilted my head back, eyes slipping closed. I looked up, though, when he stepped back, but he was spinning me out, and then back in again, this time to face away from him, but snuggled so close against his body. I fit beside him like we were meant to be like this, leaning my head back against his chest. His breath warmed my ear as he leaned over me slightly, and we moved together, his arm around my waist and my gloved fingers threaded through his.

"Rogue," he whispered, named me, and he was right. In this time and place I was Rogue, not Marie, never Marie, and my blood pumped in slow time to the music. I wanted to stay this way forever.

But of course I couldn't. "Cyke." Logan's voice was like a bucket of cold water over my head, and I jerked away from Scott, turning. Scott turned too, but he didn't release my hand, his fingers remained tangled in mine. Logan looked disapproving, to put it mildly. He looked ropable. "Your fiancee would like a word," he half-snarled.

We both looked over to the table, where Jean sat, face pale and lips pressed together tightly. Scott looked back to me, and then, ever so gently and carefully, he pulled his hand away from mine. My arm dropped back to my side as he turned and walked away from me. Towards her.

My plant flowered, bore fruit, and I bit deeply into it, through the hard skin, to the soft flesh beneath. I savoured the rich juice, the texture of it, the taste. A fruit called 'hate'. And its bitterness was so sweet on my tongue.

I must have swayed as if to follow him, because Logan grabbed my elbow in a hard grip. I turned to him, a cool smile on my lips and mischief in my eyes. "Are you going to dance with me then, since you took my partner away?"

A curt shake of his head - Logan doesn't dance. But his instruction to go play with the other kids seemed to stick in his throat. And instead, he said: "Come on, I'll teach you to play pool."

So he did, showing me the lines and angles, and how to hold the cue. And because I was Rogue, not Marie, I leant back into him as he had his arms around me, lining up the shot with me. The ball went ricocheting away from the middle pocket, and Logan stood up quickly. I smiled. "Seems to me like I'd do better playing by myself." So I did after that, bending further than I probably had to, arching my back like a cat, and feeling his eyes on me all the while. And I didn't have to imagine it was hot and hard, because I knew it was.

He fled at the end of the game, and I stayed, and played at being Marie a while with the other students, but I didn't fool myself. I knew I was still Rogue, and I glanced over towards the table, not even attempting to disguise it, over to the table where Logan sat in smouldering silence, looking at me and at Jean, who sat on Scott's lap, another Corona down and beyond tipsy now.

Scott and Jean had sex that night. I assume, like most people, that they had sex fairly frequently. They were, after all, engaged and living together. But the entire house knew about it that night, because it was screaming, wall-thumping, furniture-moving, ecstasy-and-agony sex.

I lay in my bed and thought about dancing, and Jean's pale face. Then I thought about Logan's eyes on me, and I decided to cut down the plant with the bitter-tasting fruit. To throw it out and never think of it again.

But hate's a weed, like poison ivy. You have to pull it out by the roots to really get rid of it.

The next morning it was just me and Logan at breakfast, too early for the rest. And there, over toast and Corn Flakes, he talked to me. Really talked. About my studies and his trip and the team and world affairs and everything and nothing. It was a conversation between adults, an exchange of opinions between equals. I looked him in the eye and he didn't call me 'Kid' once.

He left when the others started arriving, but I stayed and paid no attention to the chatter around me. I say and thought some more. About Rogue and Marie, this time. How Marie was a kid that no one took seriously, but Rogue was a woman who was taken seriously because she made it so.

Jesus. I'd tear heaven and earth asunder to be Marie now. Little Marie sitting in her room and pining. Not Rogue, on her knees in the storm, with guilt at her back and oblivion before her. But that morning, in the kitchen, I stepped through a doorway, closed the door, and left Marie on the other side. I made my choice. And no matter how much you want to, you can't go back.

When I left that kitchen I was buoyed up by hope and dreams. I wanted to smile at the whole world, but mostly, I wanted to tell Scott. To tell my therapist that I was cured - Rogue was cured. She was on top of the world, and it was all sunshine and roses from here. And he could tell me with a smile that our exercise in jealousy had worked last night - Jean had seen the error of her ways. I would thank him for listening to me for so long, and we would share one last hug. Two unlikely victors in the game of love.

Hah. What a fucking laugh.

He was distant in his class. Almost distracted. Of course, no one else seemed to notice; they really were blind, I decided. Something was bothering him, enough to show up through that inpenetrable composure, and I wanted - needed - to know what could rattle him so bad. Perhaps repay him in kind for all the trouble he had helped me through. So I lingered after class, and no one batted an eyelid. They knew Scott was my Agony Aunt. They thought it was weird, but they knew it all the same.

He sat behind his desk and watched me approach, and because of those glasses I couldn't tell what he was thinking. But I wanted to, all of a sudden. "I was going to tell you all these good things," I said. "About how I've figured everything out and I feel in charge now and it's all going to be fine. But that seems a little heartless. What's wrong?"

He looked a little startled, and I wondered if he thought I was as blind as the rest of them and hadn't even noticed. "You've figured it all out? How did you manage that?"

Hardly an adroit change of topic, but I'd go with it for now. Maybe if we talked about me for a bit, he'd feel he could talk about him. I sat on the corner of his desk nearest him. "You told me how, actually." He had too, holding me so close and naming me true: Rogue. And I realised this, and my hand moved of its own volition out to brush away a lock of hair on his forehead. "I gave myself a name, but you gave it meaning."

He caught my hand before I could touch him. His fingers completely encircled my wrist and I could feel the warmth of his grip through the satin of my gloves. He looked at me, I know because I could feel it, and I didn't want to think about that suddenly. Didn't want to consider it, or why; I didn't want to talk about me any more, so I said: "I heard you and Jean made up last night. Seems like our cunning plan worked." Trying to joke about it, light-hearted, but somehow his gaze negated that, and it fell into the space between us, which suddenly seemed too small and yet so large.

Scott let my wrist go, and I put both my hands in my lap. "You ever wonder why people change, Rogue?" he asked, and his voice was low and scratched and there was a sort of direct bitter hurt there that I'd never heard and didn't want to hear. "She never wanted it hard and fast and up against the wall before, but she loved every minute of it last night. Am I supposed to blithely not wonder why? Oh, she screamed the right name. This time."

His voice cut straight to my bones, flaying me alive, and I never wanted him to feel this much twisted pain. I reached out to him again and this time he didn't stop me. He stood up to meet me, and I slipped off the desk and stepped into his arms.

One last hug, I'd promised myself. Except this wasn't a hug. This was an embrace. The differences were subtle, but stark. In the way his entire body cradled mine, holding me so carefully like I was something precious. In the way my heart sped up, and my breath came out as a gasp against his collarbone.

I turned my head so my hair was against his neck and my face was pressed into his shoulder, but it wasn't like every time. There were hot tears burning my eyes and he whispered my name - my real name - "Rogue," and I realised how naive I'd been to think that it was all resolved, that it had been so simple.

This isn't a fucking fairytale. Life is pain, princess. And it wasn't until the next moment that I realised just how much it could truly hurt.

The next moment when the door opened, and Jean was two steps into the room and three words into her sentence before she fully saw us. "Scott, I just-" He released me, or I sprang away, but I turned, and saw her green eyes wide as she gasped. Then she turned, and ran - sprinted - out of that room. Scott was across to the door in a moment, but he stopped there, and looked back to me.

I had leant back against the desk, my hand pressed against my stomach, but it couldn't stop the trembling, and I wondered if shivering were normal. His attention was more than I could handle, and I choked out: "Go!"

And he went.

But he might as well have stayed because he was still there. There in the impression of hands on my back, the vision of red glasses behind my closed eyes, a lingering heat in my stomach.

Scott and Jean had an argument that night. Maybe they had them all the time as well, but we never heard them, just like we never heard the sex. But this was a screaming, ranting, swearing, mirror-breaking fight.

I hid in the library, but Ororo found me. She held me while I cried and she told me that it would be all right, people had arguments and relationships came through them stronger, welded closer by the heat. And that just made me cry harder, because I didn't know which was worse; Jean and Scott splitting up, and losing whatever may have been between me and Logan, or Jean and Scott staying together, and Scott never holding me like that ever again.

I wondered when I became so selfish, but it was a half-hearted, indulgent thought. Not like now. Now I would happily tear out my own heart, find that selfish corner that wanted Logan's growl and Scott's listening and Logan's eyes and Scott's embrace. Find it and burn it.

But I know the truth. I can't do it, because it's not just part of my heart. It's my whole heart. My whole being. Me. The plant I nurtured has spread its roots throughout my world. The tendrils creep into every crack, every crevice. It's like ivy. Poison ivy. I can't get away from it, I can't get it off me. I'm held together by it. Tainted by it. Steeped in revulsion.

So I fled from the library and Ororo because I felt like a hypocrite, sitting there and listening to her gentle words. I ran up the stairs, and along the corridor, and past their door.

Which opened. I turned, and watched as Scott marched out, jacket in hand. He stopped and looked at me, those red glasses and his jaw clenched so tight I thought it must ache. It was a moment that stretched into infinity, in silence, and I wondered what I'd do if he said my name.

He didn't, though. He turned and went down the stairs two at a time, and then Jean stepped into the doorway, watching him go. So she didn't see me until she turned a moment later, and then she froze. Just looked at me with eyes that were dead and dull and yet glittered in some way entirely unwholesome. I couldn't move, like a bird caught in a snake's stare. From somewhere far away there came the sound of a motorbike's engine, and I knew that the bike whose arrival had begun this whole web had departed again. The spell was snapped as she stepped back into the room, and slammed the door so hard the whole house quivered.

Or maybe that was just me.

I know Jean went to Logan that night. I knew it because I lay sleepless in bed, just staring at the ceiling, and I heard the creak of doors, and the soft fall of footsteps, and the whisperings, and finally the soft, muffled moans. I lay there, and stared at the ceiling, and listened to the sounds, and didn't sleep. But even without that, I would have know by the way Logan didn't meet my eyes at breakfast the next day. The way he didn't stop to talk to me. And even though I had my back to the door and I don't have his senses, I still knew he stopped in the doorway for a long minute and watched me.

I left as soon as Jean arrived. I couldn't have told from her. She didn't look radiant, or smug, or like a woman newly ravished. She looked tired, and unhappy, and for the first time I'd ever seen, she looked old.

I got through that day, and the next, and don't ask me how because I don't know. But I did, and a week passed in some sort of strange limbo, like time wasn't really moving. Jean didn't go to him again and I know that because I'd forgotten how to sleep now, and lay awake every night staring at the ceiling and listening for noises. Logan still didn't talk to me, though. And Scott didn't come back.

And then one day the phone rang after breakfast, and I ran for it because I knew who it would be. I was right.

"Rogue," Scott said. And then: "I'm coming home."

I went up to Logan's room, even though I knew he would be down in the Danger Room, tearing innocent programming into shreds. His bed was neatly made, and I sat on it and stared out the window. There was an even cloud cover that made the day look as dull as Jean's eyes. I stayed and watched until a black bike turned into the gate, and came up the driveway, and after a moment the engine stopped. Still I sat there, and it grew darker, but I didn't turn the light on. When Logan came in, he'd know I was here.

He did. He opened the door and inhaled, and heaved a heavy sigh. "Marie," he started, "what are-?"

"Rogue," I said sharply. I turned, and I could only see him as a silhouette in the light from the doorway.

"What?" He took another step into the room and closed the door, and I couldn't see him at all.

I stood, came around the bed to face him in the gloom. I could see him that close, and then I took another step forward, invaded his personal space, but he didn't step back. "Rogue," I repeated. "It's my name. Say it."

He shrugged a little. "Rogue."

"No." I reached up and placed a gloved hand on each side of his head, held him steady and looked into eyes that were almost black in this light. "Say it like you mean it."

A long moment, then his hand came up, drifting through the air in slow motion. His fingertips hovered so close to my lips. Then he combed through my hair, and I arched my neck a little as the chestnut strands slithered through his fingers. He touched me, his hand on my clothed shoulder, and then he traced along the neckline of my top, a wide dip across my chest. All through it, I looked into his eyes, pools of darkness I thought I could drown in.

"Rogue," he said, half a growl, half a reverence.

My stomach wrenched and my eyelashes fluttered closed. His hands closed on my hips and then there was no distance separating us, just his clothes and my clothes and we were bound together with heat. He pushed me back a few steps until there was a wall behind me and then he lifted me, pressing against me. I wrapped one leg around his hips and my head sagged, my hair falling over my neck. I felt his teeth through it, and the warmth and heat of his breath. When he moved against me it was hot and hard and heaven.

And then, as clear as a bell, I heard Scott saying: "She never wanted it hard and fast and up against the wall before."

"Stop!" I gasped. He did, pushing back so fast I fell, my legs unable to support me, and I crumbled to the floor. Sagging against the wall, and my breath was coming in heavy sobs but there were no tears. Not until he swore explosively, yanked the door open, slammed it shut behind him. Then they came, scalding paths down my cheeks as I shivered in the darkness.

Later - not long, or forever - I crept back to my room, and locked the door, and that night I slept, passing into blissful nothingness.

Scott moved into an empty room. The first day, he and Jean talked. Or not. Whatever they did, it was behind a closed door, and quiet. Their neighbour-disturbing days were done. The second day, he moved his things into the new room, and only Ororo helped him. Jean just sat and looked blankly at the wall, and Logan shut himself in his room. The students were almost terrified; this relationship had been like an oak tree, all solidity and continuity and eternity, and now it was over. They all thought that's why I was silent too, and no one knew it was because I was wondering if Jean stared at the ceiling all night now, and if she'd hear if I opened my door, walked down the corridor, slipped into a newly occupied room. Would she hear the muffled moans?

But I didn't do it. I didn't even talk to Scott at meals. Or Logan. Or look up from my plate. It was a week of nightmares and nothing. The tendrils of poison ivy had slithered into my subconscious, and they were strangling me. I would have screamed, but I worried that if I opened my mouth, they would crawl right down my throat.

I avoided Jean too. I couldn't bear to look at her any more. I was sure she looked worse through my eyes than she really did. No one could really walk slightly hunched over all the time, like they were worried they might fall apart. No one could look like their heart had already stopped beating, and their body just hadn't realised yet. No one could feel like she looked through my eyes. So she didn't, and I told myself that, and it made me feel better, and I knew it was the truth as long as I didn't look at her too much.

Xavier's Mansion is a great place to be found, though. Scott found me in the gardens, a little bench tucked in amongst the rose bushes, where I'd gone to pretend that surrounding myself with beauty meant I had some inside me as well. Sprawled on the bench with eyes closed and head tilted back, trying desperately to soak up some of the weak sunlight daring the overcast sky, I didn't even know he was there until he spoke. "You're so beautiful."

My head jerked up and I sat up a little straighter, startled. He was barely a metre away, standing opposite me on the path. There was a faint shadow around his chin; he was forgetting to shave sometimes these days. We were all coming apart a little. He still looked beautiful, though. Like a fallen angel.

He took one step towards me and stopped, hesitating, and that made me smile. I raised my hand to him and he took it, entwining his fingers in mine. Took another step in, and now he was standing between my knees, and he leaned over me, placing his other hand on the back of the bench to balance. He pressed his lips to the top of my head, just above my hair line, and I could feel the harsh rasp of his stubble against my forehead. He was so close to touching me that it made me tremble and shrink back, sliding down a little.

"Oh God, Rogue," he breathed, and I realised he was trembling too. He sank slowly to his knees in front of me, one hand holding mine, the other trailing down the back of the bench to lie beside me.

Him trembling like that made me feel so in control, so powerful. I carefully disentangled my fingers from his, and brought both hands up to his face. Along his chin, I traced my fingers, up around his ears, and then along the frames of his glasses. And when I took them and tugged at them slightly, he knew what I wanted. His tongue came out to moisten dry lips, and he whispered, hoarsely: "Take them off."

I did. I removed them ever so gently, and placed them carefully in his hand. And with his face naked and his eyes closed, he looked even more like an angel than he had before. Close enough to warm him with my breath, I traced my fingers over his face again, but now it was all accessible. Beautifully defined cheekbones, and somehow the ridge of his eyebrows was one of the most elegant things I'd ever seen. I brushed a gloved fingertip along eyelashes long enough to be the envy of any girl.

And he groaned my name and sank lower, but pulled me close to him and buried his face in my sweater between my breasts. "Rogue," he said, "you can do it. You can make it all right, I know you can."

Could I? His action had pressed Logan's dog-tags into my skin, cold and sharp, where I wore them under my clothes. How do you tell someone who thinks you're their angel of salvation that you're lost and dirty and torn and bloody? That there are things in your heart you don't even want to look at any more so you pretend you don't have a heart regardless of how fucked up that is.

I turned my head, put my hands on his shoulders and pushed him away. "I don't even know what's right any more."

Scott resisted me for a moment, but then he went with it, leaned back and stood up in one graceful movement. He put his glasses back on as he turned away, and just like that the reality buffer was back up. It was implacable Scott who stalked away from me, around a bend in the path and out of view.

I leaned back on my bench and tried not to cry again because I was tired of crying. Instead I pretended that the world didn't exist, that I was floating in nothing, but that didn't work either because there were raised voices somewhere and they were getting louder and I recognised them.

"...think you're the answer to every fucking maiden's prayers, don't you?" That was Logan, and of course he would be shouting at...

Scott, sounding more angry than I had ever heard him. "What the hell would you know about it? You haven't listened to her. You have no bloody idea."

It was more than I could handle. I was on my feet in a moment, marching along the path, rounding the corner. They were facing off against each other from two metres that might as well not have been there. I wondered who was going to swing first.

"At least I'm not using her for some sort of revenge sex. You think fucking Marie will get your Jeanie back?"

"Shut up!" I screamed, and they both looked at me, and I could see shock written plainly, even on Scott's face. "Just shut the fuck up, both of you."

I turned and ran, and by the time I reached the house the first fat drops of rain that had been threatening all day started to fall. I took the stairs two at a time and flung open the door to my room, intending God knows what. But I stopped dead at the sight of a folded piece of paper sitting on the floor, obviously having been pushed under my door. 'Rogue' it said on the outside in block capitals, and I picked it up, opened it. The message inside was written in a flowing, feminine script I immediately knew was Jean's. It said simply: 'Come to my room. There's something I think you should see. - Jean'

I didn't want to go to her room and have to look at her or anything, but I left the paper on my desk and went, just a few doors down. The door was ajar - it must have been when I came past just before. I knocked quietly, called out: "Jean?" No answer, and I pushed the door open a little further, just enough to peer inside. Strewn out on the bed were the contents of a small box. I took a couple of steps in to pick up the box and turn it over. A chill ran through me; it was a pregnancy test. The simple kind. The 'if it turns blue' kind. I sifted through the things on the bed, but there was no little indicator, blue or otherwise. Scanning the room, I noticed an envelope stuck to the closed bathroom door. It, too, had 'Rogue' written on it.

My stomach twisted, and I knew I didn't want to know what was in that envelope. It was as if Jean was there though, physically pushing me across the room. My fingers felt numb as I peeled back the tape holding it to the door. Pulled it open. The first thing that tumbled out was a little indicator stick. Blue. It fell through my fingers and I pulled out the single sheet of paper.

'I was going to leave a great big letter here. A full and detailed explanation of who, what and why. Especially why. But I don't have to, do I? Because you know it all. You saw it all, you heard it all and you certainly fucking did it all. Well, now you've got it all too.

'Open the door.'

The numbness had spread from my fingers to my arm to my heart, and I reached out and pushed the door open to reveal her bathroom. Her beautiful white bathroom and her beautiful white skin and flaming red hair, but her green eyes were closed and she was lying in a bath full of blood.

I screamed then. It ripped out of me from the bottom of my stomach and I staggered backwards, falling over a corner of the bed and tumbling to the floor, my scream stopping as my breath was pushed from my lungs. But I had to get away, and I turned and crawled until I could lurch to my feet and run, pushing out the door through a sudden mass of people. Through the hands that reached out to grab me, down the stairs, and out the door. I ran and ran, out into the rain, into the storm, away from the nightmare that stayed with me like the paper I still clutched in my hand. The ink ran, but the truth stayed. And when I realised this, I stopped, because there was nowhere to go but here.

And this is what it all comes down to. I stand in the rain and scream in anguish, the sound ripping my vocal chords out through my throat and I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. Don't you fucking get it? It's all coming to pieces. These aren't rain drops stinging my tear-streaked cheeks, they're little bits of reality, of sanity. I'm Chicken Little and the sky is falling in on me.

Each little bit stings, a little bullet of actuality. Scott saying my name; Logan's groan; the dullness of Jean's eyes; Jean bathed in red; a little blue indicator. A pregnancy, and she was right, I had seen and heard and knew it all. Screaming sex and muffled moans within two days and how do you tell who the father is then? And does it really matter, because neither of them wants you any more.

They want her, the little one, the young one, Rogue... like a sibilant echo, like the name of the snake in the Garden of Eden, you whisper it as you slice into your wrists and you're a doctor, so you know how it's done.

Rogue, Rogue, Rogue. I would give my life to not be Rogue. To be Marie, and safe in my room, wondering about what might have been. But she's dead too; Marie is dead. She's a walking corpse held together with poison ivy and named as Rogue in a fevered whisper in dark corners and rose gardens.

I sink to my knees in the mud and I don't care if it sucks me under and drowns me. It's my fault. It's all my fault.

Oh God, don't you get it? It's all my fucking fault.