Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly
And her eyes were darkened wholly
~ from "The Lady of Shalott" ~
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
"Hmmm...What did you miss...?" Hank said thoughtfully.
"Well, young Sam made up a scrumptious country breakfast
for everyone, Bobby froze the leftovers to save for you, and...Oh,
yes...Logan found you unconscious in your room and brought
you here, where you have been in a near-catatonic state for
the past several hours and have just awakened."
Rogue appeared unfazed. "Well, Ah'm alright right now,
ain't ah? Ah'd like ta leave - if that's okay with you."
"Actually, I would prefer that you stay here so we can
run some tests and make sure you are indeed in good health,"
Rogue looked at Beast uncertainly, and then at Dr. Reyes,
Wolverine, Storm and Psylocke, who were all gathered around
her bed. The way they hovered over her, their brows furrowed
with concern and intensity, made Rogue begin to feel like
a caged cat, surrounded by potential enemies and just itching
And she could not understand her reaction -- these people
were her friends. Why would she feel so threatened by them?
She could not suppress her uneasiness.
Why are they starin' at me like that? It's like Ah'm
being studied an' observed, like they're watchin' every move
Ah make. Whatever's goin' on, Ah don't like it. Rogue
looked up at Beast cautiously, then at Wolverine and Storm.
They're hiding something.
"What's goin' on here, guys?"
Psylocke moved toward Rogue's bedside. "You withdrew
into your mind for several hours, and Logan, Ororo and I had
to come in after you. Do you remember any of this?"
"Bits an' pieces," Rogue said cautiously. But truthfully?
She remembered every detail clearly. "Just felt like
a real bad dream."
"Except this time the dream was real," Ororo spoke
up. "You nearly died."
Betsy continued, "Had Ororo and Logan not saved you
from that mob, you would have died a psychic death, which
would have killed you physically or rendered you a vegetable."
Rogue worked hard to appear nonchalant at Psylocke's pronouncement,
struggling to chase her feelings of fear, relief and...Disappointment?
It took her an enormous amount of effort to force these emotions
into the dark recesses of her mind.
She looked at her friends, and her mounting dread threatened
to overwhelm her.
There was more, she knew.
The way they were surrounding her, their eyes filled with
a mixture of concern, expectation and pity.
She didn't want any of it.
There had to be more.
She had to get out of there.
But she was trapped. She would have to listen to their news
and then suffer through the aftermath -- the pitying glances,
the patronizing tones of voice, the conversations that would
abruptly end as she entered the room.
Aww...forget it. Rogue snapped herself out of her
"So what part a' the story are ya leavin' out?"
Worry flashed across the faces of her friends.
Beast moved to escort the others out of the room. "Perhaps
if we discussed this in private...?" he suggested.
"Hold it right there -- all a' you."
Everyone froze in place, afraid to leave but still unwilling
to look at Rogue. "Somethin's definitely goin' on here,
an' since you all seem to know about it anyway..." She
looked pointedly at Hank. "Spill it, Beastie. Now."
Beast himself had begun to feel cornered. He cared for Rogue
and was genuinely worried for her...Her uncharacteristically
cold facade was beginning to scare him. He decided it would
be best just to tell her the whole truth.
"Rogue...You are pregnant, due in about nine months'
She took the news more calmly than anyone had expected. No
crying, no laughing -- not even a grimace or a smile.
No emotion at all, actually.
Anything she felt had been quickly hidden behind a massive
poker face, and not even Psylocke or Logan could read past
the stoic facade she had erected.
It was as if she had just gone cold.
And then she had disappeared before anyone could say anything.
"That went well," Logan said, chewing thoughtfully
on the end of his cigar.
Cecelia glared at him, then looked at Hank. "Why did
you just let her go like that? After what just happened, she
needs a full medical -- "
"Rogue can take care o' herself, Doc," Logan interrupted.
"If she can walk outta here just fine, she can walk back
in here just as fine later, on her own terms." He breathed
a small sigh as he lowered his cigar. "Gal's doin' some
serious hurtin', and it's not her body that needs healin'
With that, he put the cigar back in his mouth and walked
out of the room.
Hank spoke up. "After everything that has happened today
and in the past week, I think it best to leave Rogue alone
with her thoughts today, and then approach her tomorrow about
returning here for a -- "
The blue-furred doctor -- and everyone else in the room --
froze as they heard Rogue's voice from the doorway.
Rogue looked appraisingly at the group, still standing where
she had left them.
"Ah thought so..."
And then she was gone.
Logan found her later that day wandering the woods outside
the mansion, barefoot and still clad in her nightshirt.
Still got that calm look on her face, but it don't take
a genius to know somethin's wrong. The hunched shoulders,
the way she's fighting those branches in her way...She's upset.
Maybe she just don't know it yet.
"You gonna speak up, Logan, or ya just gonna keep followin'
me...Wherever it is Ah'm goin'?" Rogue's voice startled
him slightly. She still meandered through the woods, but her
pace had slowed, as if in invitation for him to catch up.
Logan quickly reached her, and the two walked together in
silence for a few minutes. Wolverine finally broke the ice.
"How'd you know I was followin' you?"
"Remember that 'seventh sense' Carol used ta have? Well,
Ah got that, too, if ya don't remember. Ah just don't use
it much." She yanked more viciously than necessary on
a tree branch in her path. "B'sides, Ah figured after
what all went on today they wouldn't be lettin' me go as easily
as all that."
The snap of the branch punctuated her statement.
"Ah knew someone was followin' me, an' you're the only
one who can get that close without makin' a sound."
"Not bad, darlin," Logan returned, pausing to light
his cigar. "But fer the record, no one sent me."
"Whatever you say." Rogue stopped walking and looked
over at him. She opened her mouth, as if to say something
to him, then evidently thought better of it, flying upwards
into the air in a defensive battle stance, her voice becoming
edgy. "Look. You got somethin' to say, spill it. Otherwise,
leave me alone."
"Just wanted to see how you were doin', darlin',"
Logan answered, his calm expression unchanged by her outburst.
He leaned back against a tree to puff his cigar.
"Ah'm fine. That it?" She moved to fly away.
"Not quite." Logan reached out a gloved hand to
grasp her ankle.
Rogue's face darkened. "Let go of me, Logan," she
said tersely, rising a little further into the air and lifting
him a few inches off the ground.
"If that's the way you want it, kid," he answered,
letting go. "Just keep this in mind...There's only so
far you can run from yourself -- "
She flew away before he could finish.
" -- an' who knows what's gonna be left o' yer soul
by the time you come back?" he continued, muttering softly
to himself as he made his way back to the mansion.
Continued in Chapter
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