She dreams of metal and she dreams of fire. She dreams of the sharp crackle of ice and the hot splatter of blood. They feel like death.
Which is right in so many ways, because that's what it is, and that's what she is, and that’s what they are to her. So many ways to kill.
They all come together inside of her, like spokes on a wheel, and she has so many choices now, so many things to play with.
It keeps getting easier, and that's something she knows isn't good. It makes the temptation harder to resist, knowing she can touch someone and leave them standing.
It was Erik who first showed her that she could control it, at least a little. She hadn't wanted to absorb him, and that had made all the difference. Logan had raced through her like an open circuit, but Erik had seeped into her, held on and on and on, and it wasn't anything like with Logan.
But then, no one is like Logan.
Afterwards, when she thought of those first few moments when his hands touched her face, she knew she'd discovered a wonderful thing--that it wasn't completely beyond her control. Not by a long shot.
Later, with Bobby, she'd taken only his power at first, and it wasn't until she forgot to think about it that she started to hurt him. It was such a small draw, though, that he's barely a presence in her mind, and all she knows of his thoughts is that he probably won't be so cavalier about her skin in the future.
John was a revelation. The energy, the sizzle of him running across her nerves, and somehow knowing exactly what to do to make the fire go away. Feeling like the flames were flowing into her, like the world's biggest static shock ever. And she hadn't killed him, and she'd absorbed only a small part of his psyche. Mostly, she'd taken his gift. His wonderful, powerful gift.
God, the possibilities.
So far all the mutations she's absorbed involve manipulating things. Ice, fire, metal. Except Logan. His gift was mainly a bad temper, although the healing thing is nice. But she wonders what it would be like, to try something else. Like the new teleporter, Kurt.
What a power. To be anyone, on a whim. And if she took a different form, she wonders, would her skin still be deadly?
She wants to know. She intends to know.
She suspects that with practice she might be able to refine it even more. Perhaps even to the point where she can touch someone, borrow their mutation, and they won't even know what she's done. What an intoxicating thought.
The only question? Who to practice on.
The only answer? The man who is hardest to kill.
They think they are special, every last one of them, but they have no idea. No idea what it's like to be able to kill with a touch, and not just take a life, but take a person, everything they are, and keep them inside. Have them. Become them.
Yes, they think they are so special. Logan, most of all. He thinks himself invincible, and a tragic anti-hero, with his amnesia, his roiling anger, his deep dark torment, his limitless rejuvenation. He's a movie producer's wet dream.
Even he can't kill with a kiss.
For all his stealth and all his cunning, he's tediously vulgar and obvious, and she knows that's Erik, looking down his nose at Logan, but she can't help it. It's so gross and ugly, the claws and the blood and the panting and the growling. He has no finesse. Erik, he knows the value of a good presentation. That being evil isn't half as fun if you don't look good while you're doing it.
Sly Erik, who's never been quite as dormant as he wanted her to think. All it took was one look at the man himself and all his cynicism, all his proud defiance, rolled through her like a wave.
So different from sweet Bobby, who hasn't yet tested his boundaries. He has yet to discover what he can do, and, more importantly, what he can live with afterwards. But he's a good little follower, and he believes in the cause, and he may never test his own limits, or anyone else's. He's probably Xavier's wet dream.
And then there is John. Angry and jealous and too proud to take Xavier's high road. Not willing to kowtow to anyone, not willing to beg for acceptance. His mutation is deadly, yet dazzling, and he's got just enough showmanship in him to relish creating a spectacle. All that fire, inside and out. No wonder Erik likes him.
She misses Erik and John, like she missed Logan while he was away. But having him around has stirred him to life, and the parts of him that still linger in her mind are drawn to the genuine article. Even the layers of Bobby and John that have settled on top of him haven't dulled his influence.
The bigger shock was Erik, and how strong her reaction to him was. She'd been just as happy to see him as she'd been angry that he was there to begin with, and that just left her feeling like she'd rather not deal with it at all.
Then that long night in the tent, Bobby snoring in her ear as she sifted through the growing chaos in her head and tried to get everyone back where they belonged. Regretting touching John and Bobby, because that only added to the difficulty and disorder, only made it harder to control Erik and Logan.
Erik in the tent to her right, Logan in the tent to her left, John right there in the tent with her and Bobby. Spokes on a wheel.
Later, cowering on the floor of the plane, feeling like her head was on fire. Bobby clutching her hand and screaming. And everything in her head flying apart. And then feeling, for the first time in many months, completely whole.
It was like an earthquake, shaking everything up, and now it's all disorder and chaos.
She likes it.
She spent months trying to maintain control, fighting to keep them all in their compartments, and all along it could have been this easy. It could have been this good.
She could have been this powerful.
The things she could have done. . .
They don't know the truth about her and the plane. They don't know how significant it was, and how it has changed things. Many things.
Because she didn't fly it.
She *moved* it.
It didn't work right, it wouldn't take off, and she didn't know enough about it to figure out what the problem was. They'd trained in the simulator, but none of them had actually flown the damn thing. The lights came on and the engines powered up, but it wouldn't *do anything*.
She sat there in the pilot's seat, gripping the controls and wishing it would just *fly*. Wishing it would just *go*. And suddenly her hands were fused to the controls, and she could feel the connection to the metal, like a thousand hot wires shooting up her arms, embedding themselves behind her eyes. Like she was part of the plane. Like moving it wouldn't be much different from moving an arm or a leg. Just bigger, and not as familiar, and she had to think about it a little more.
But when the plane touched down, she couldn't let go of the controls, and it terrified her. She couldn't find the switch in her head to turn it off and oh God it was just like her skin. She couldn't turn it off and she couldn't let go, and she couldn't move because she didn't know if that would make the plane move, too. She couldn't turn it off. Just like her skin.
Then Storm was there, talking to her, and the connection was broken and she was herself again. Just Rogue. And the plane was just a plane, not an extension of her.
But even now, every piece of metal in the house is calling to her. She can feel each one, throbbing like a smashed finger, and it's the same urge, to prod and see what happens. The flames in the fireplace are just as enticing, as is the box of wooden matches on the mantle.
And the Viking gas range, gleaming in the kitchen. . .well, it's best not to think about it at all.
Then there is Logan, who is clawing at her from inside and out, calling to her because he's in her head, and because he's a little like fire himself, hot and wild and sometimes giving the illusion of a controlled burn. And inside him he carries that beautiful skeleton. Her hands itch to touch him, to *manipulate* him. To see who burns who first.
He's going to come to see her, soon. When he figures out what's going on, the guilt will bring him to her door.
He's in for a surprise.
The lighter is on the table next to her bed. Glittering. One of John's, the one with the pin-up girl on it. She opens her hand and it slides across the table, into her fist.
She flicks it open with her thumb, in a motion that is strange, yet familiar, and then before she can even think about it, she's lit it. The flame sends a thrill though her, and her skin tingles. It's like her body's drawing energy from it, feeding off it, and she wonders if this is how John feels.
She snaps it closed with a flick of her wrist that is both practiced and awkward. Then does it all over again. Opens it. Click. Lights it. Snap. Closes it. Clink. It's mesmerizing, so she does it again, loving the rhythm, loving the sound. Click. Snap. Clink. The fourth time, it's smoother and faster. Clicksnapclink. Clicksnapclink.
It could be John grinning at that sound, at the way the lighter feels like an extension of her hand. Or it could be her.
She lights it again, then holds her finger in the flame, because it's scary and thrilling, and doesn't hurt at all. Flips the mental switch that transfers the fire from the lighter to her hand, watches it dance across her fingertips. It feels a little like Silly Putty, only more fluid. The way she's always imagined the stuff in a lava lamp would feel, if you could take it out and play with it. She rolls it between her fingers and then cups it in her hand, letting it nestle in her palm. Wonders what to do with it next.
With barely a thought, it doubles in size.
She looks at it, feeling the heat on her face, on her arm. On her hand, too, but it's pleasant, not painful. Such a tiny thing, barely the size of a tennis ball, yet the power it represents is immeasurable.
They're all her powers now.
She hears Logan's boots in the hallway long before he knocks on her door. He's concerned, and apologetic, and his eyes follow the lighter as she tosses it from hand to hand to hand to hand. She keeps it closed, because Logan yelled at John in the car, told him to stop playing with that damn lighter before he shoved it somewhere very uncomfortable.
So she twirls it in her fingers, flips it in her palm, lets Logan get rid of his guilt.
Finally, Logan asks about John.
The lighter opens before she can stop herself, and the flame jumps to her other hand, curls in on itself, swells. Logan goes completely still, and the orange glow of the fire is reflected in his eyes.
She looks at the pulsating ball floating on her palm, and wonders how long it will take Logan to figure out the truth. To figure out that things are different now.
"Rogue--" he says. But she's not interested in what he has to say. This is her show.
"I wonder," she muses, "how many mutant powers I could have. Yours. Erik's. John's. All of them?"
She closes her fist and the fire disappears, leaving behind only a tingle and a craving for more.
"Erik talked to me, you know. In the plane." She can't leave the lighter alone, so she flips it between her fingers. "He said he liked my hair."
She turns and looks Logan in the eye. "I wanted to kill him." Logan doesn’t look surprised, but it takes a lot to get that reaction out of him, so she wasn't expecting him to anyway.
"What stopped you?" he asks, and he sounds genuinely curious.
She flicks her wrist and the lighter opens. "Bobby." The sharp prick of jealousy is John, she knows. She doesn't dare light the lighter right now, for fear of the results. Fire is an emotional thing, she's learning.
"Are you staying?" Somehow it comes out sounding like a challenge, and the way his eyes narrow just the tiniest bit tells her he heard it that way, too.
"Even though Jean is. . ." She stops, not so much because she doesn't want to say it, but because she doesn’t want to see the look on Logan's face if she does. "…isn't here?" she settles on.
Now she really has surprised him. "You think I don't have other reasons to stay?"
"Yes. I do."
"What about finding your answers?" Her smile must look, she thinks, a little patronizing. It feels that way. Erik again.
Logan shifts and looks away, and she wonders what it is that he doesn't want to tell her.
"Being back there, at that place. . ." He stops, runs a hand through his hair, scratches the inside of his elbow. Stalling.
"I can remember things…" he says, and she thinks he'll stop again, but then he's talking to her, telling her things. Things he's seen, things he's remembered, things he's been told. About the tantalizing hints of his past, and how Styrker made real every worst-case scenario Logan had ever imagined about his former life.
And this should be the best moment of her life where's he's concerned, because the man who confides in no one is confiding in her, but she's barely even listening. She's thinking about the way he *hums*, like a live wire, and God, if she could just put both bare hands on him and let all that energy course through her. Touch that furnace that burns in him, that keeps him going on and on, that powers that flesh that doesn't quit. . .
She nods along as he rambles.
The lighter is warm and alive in her hand.
Logan. He thinks he can make things better. And to his credit, he usually does.
But not this time.