Author's Chapter Notes:
Rogue makes up her mind and faces a couple of confrontations.
Once all of the kids were tucked in with reassurances and glasses of milk or water to tide them through the night, the X-Men gathered in Professor Xavier’s study. They were all serious and quiet. Even Scott and Bobby seemed to have realized that this was slightly more important than their self-absorptions.

“So, you have all heard,” Charles said softly, his eyes focused on his desk. A single sheet of paper lay on the gleaming wood.

The X-Men looked at each other, not sure how to approach this subject. There were so many possibilities, good and bad, that could come of the announcement. Only one or two of them were sure how to take it.

“Like you, I am skeptical about this ‘cure.’ To be honest, I worry that it is a trap to gain test subjects, a more sophisticated plan than Mr. Stryker’s was,” Charles stated calmly, his eyes finally lifting from the paper to survey his team.

At once, almost everyone in the room began to give their opinions, each one trying to get their point of view across. Only Rogue was silent as the arguments raged as to whether this “cure” might really work or if it was a very elaborate hoax.

Finally, Charles calmed the group down as much as he could. It was late, and so everyone began to file out of the room, heading towards what would probably be restless sleep for most. It was at this point that Rogue looked up from her survey of the rich red and gold rug adorning the hardwood floor. She hadn’t moved from her seat near one of the large windows over looking the lawn.

“I’m going to try it,” Rogue announced quietly.

Charles looked at her closely. Her chin was set with that stubborn look he had come to know so well. Dark eyes stared at him, hard and determined. She was no longer the child who had come to them a little less than two years ago, and they both knew it.

“You could be hurt. There is the very real chance that this is a trap,” he told her with no little concern.

“I know. One of us needs to check this out, though, and…what better candidate than me?” Rogue asked him. “You know me, Professor. You know how much I’ve wanted to shed my own skin sometimes, how all of the little avoidances of touch have affected me. If there is anyone more suited to do this, I’d like to know who it is. I would give anything, anything, to be able to touch someone skin to skin again.”

Charles nodded slowly. “You’re right. We do need to send someone in there, preferably someone who would be able to fight his or her way out if necessary. Do you think that you’re up to that, Rogue? I want you to consider this very carefully. There are a few other candidates, but I admit that your abilities have proven to be uncontrollable. If this is a real cure, while I do not truly approve of it, I can certainly see why it would appeal to you.”

Rogue looked at him for a few moments, clearly considering what he had said. Then she shook her head and sighed. “I can promise that I will do my best to get out of there if it’s a bad situation, but I need to be the one to do this. If there’s a chance…” she couldn’t finish, scared that if she said it aloud, it really would turn out to be some horrible mistake for her to go.

Charles stared into her eyes for a minute more, obviously trying to come to terms with the woman he was now facing instead of the child he knew. Rogue let him see her pain, her fierce need to be normal again, and her frustration at her mutation’s stubborn refusal to bow to her will and allow her the touch she craved. It wasn’t right for anyone to be so isolated, perhaps forever. She was surer of that than anything else in her life.

Finally, he nodded, more to himself than in acknowledgment of the feelings she was trying to make it plain for him to see. He’d known how she felt for some time, and the fact that she was willing to jump at this opportunity so quickly had not come as a shock to him in the least.

“Go, then, Rogue. May you find what you are searching for,” Charles told her, aware, as she was, that he had uttered similar words during the first parting of ways from his good friend Eric.

“I hope that I will, Professor,” Rogue said, moving forward to lay her gloved hand against his cheek for a moment. “Thank you.”

Rogue left quickly, not sure that she could hold in the tears that were welling up inside of her if she stayed any longer. She did have some doubts, after all. This cure was just as likely to be a trap as it was to be real. She’d been wary of “too good to be true” for a longer time than she’d lived at Professor Xavier’s school. Also, if it did work, where would that leave her? There were few chances for work for a young woman who had only a high school diploma and some interesting, not to mention newly acquired, fighting skills.

The halls of the School had never seemed so long and quiet as Rogue made her way to her room. The decision had been hers to make, and she had grabbed at the opportunity presented eagerly. She squared her shoulders as she walked and resolved to ignore all of those doubts as best she could. She couldn’t and wouldn’t turn back now.

A long shadow separated itself from the shadows near Rogue’s door as she neared. Logan’s frown warned her that he had some idea of what she was about to do.

“Hey, Logan,” she said softly, reaching out to grasp the doorknob in a probably useless attempt to escape the conversation she was sure was coming.

“Marie.” Logan reached out and laid a hand over hers where it was clutching the smooth wooden doorknob. “Running again, kid?” he asked just as quietly.

Rogue shook her head. Only Logan called her “Marie” now, although he’d started to use her nickname almost as often lately, especially when others were around.

“I’m not running, Logan. I’m just gonna give this cure thing a try, okay? If it doesn’t work, I’ll be back,” she tried to reassure him. She really wasn’t running away this time.

“‘If it doesn’t work’-- so you know it might not, and you’re gonna go anyway?” Logan asked gruffly.

Rogue took a deep breath. This was the man who had saved her life more than once; obviously, he felt he had a vested interest in keeping her alive. She’d have to approach this one even more carefully than she had with Charles.

“Logan, I have to. The Professor agrees with me on this one. If it is a trap, I’m pretty much the only X-Man able to convincingly show up at one of these clinics wanting a cure. I’m also one of the ones who are best able to get out if I have to. I--I don’t like absorbing others, but I can if I have to, if it will help me get out and tell the whole world that it’s phony. If it works, though…Logan, if there is a cure for my skin, I really want it. I don’t see how my mutation is a benefit to anything. I’m one of the few people whose mutation is more of a threat to humanity than a help if I pass it on, and I don’t want to risk that. I’d like children someday, children who can touch me and who have no chance of passing on this death sentence to humanity. So I have to try. Even if it doesn’t work, I still have to try,” Rogue told the large man in front of her. Her dark eyes pleaded with him to understand, even as they had when she’d been a young hitchhiker trying desperately to run away from her problems.

Logan looked away, his frustration obvious. “I don’t want to see you hurt, kid. I know you’ve been going through some stuff since we got back, and I was worried you’d be running soon anyway. You’re right, though. You need to try this cure. Just know--we’ll be ready to help if you need it. I promise,” he said, squeezing her hand. He’d always been pretty good at keeping his promises to her, Rogue reflected, so she knew he was serious about this one.

“I’ll be going in the morning, before anyone else is awake, I hope. I think I can get to New York City pretty fast and find out where the nearest clinic is. If you want to keep an eye on it until I’m out--well, I guess I’d appreciate that,” Rogue told him with a small smile.

“I’ll do that,” Logan said in the same gruff voice, dropping his hand to his side and turning to go.

“Logan.” Rogue’s voice stopped him, and he turned. “I’m not a kid anymore, you know. I haven’t been one for a very long time,” she said. Then she opened her door quickly and stepped in, missing the raised eyebrow of the man who stared at her closed door for a long minute before heading to his own room.

Rogue leaned against her door and took a deep breath. Two of the confrontations she’d been dreading ever since the newscast earlier had gone over relatively easily. Now she just had to pack, fall into bed and wait for the morning to come.
Chapter End Notes:
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