Chapter 1

“Okay, Ah can do this. It’s not that hard,” Marie said softly to herself as she crept down the main staircase of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. “Everyone’s sleepin’. No one’s going to know that Ah’m leaving. No need t’ panic.”

Every time that the steps creaked under her feet, Marie stopped dead in her tracks, straining her ears for any sign of someone approaching. Only when she was sure that the silence was complete did she continue on.

The regret that Marie felt was only slight. She knew that she should feel worse than she did. After all, she was leaving without telling anyone and “borrowing” Scott’s new motorcycle. As awful as she felt about doing so, her reasons for going was far more important than the trouble she would get into once she returned to the mansion.

Rogue, where are you going?

Coming to a complete stop, Marie cursed under her breath. She had hoped to be at least past the city borders before Professor Xavier realized that she was missing. Not that she really expected as much. Xavier was a telepath and often knew what she was thinking before she did.

“Ah’m going t’ find Logan,” Marie said outloud, crossing her arms over her chest in a vain show of defiance.

Rogue, we’ve had this discussion before....

Marie shook her head, anger shining brightly in her eyes. “No we haven’t, Professor. Not since Ah was eighteen. Ah’m twenty-two now. Logan’s been gone fer five years. He wouldn’t stay away so long if somethin’ wasn’t wrong.”

There’s no way you can be sure of that.

“Yes Ah can,” Marie shot back. “Ah’ve been inside Logan’s head. Ah know him better than he knows himself sometimes--”

I’m not disputing that, Rogue.

“--and Ah know that he wouldn’t willingly stay away fer so long. He wouldn’t stay away from me fer so long,” Marie whispered, fingering the dogtags that she had worn faithfully for the past five years.

Now, Rogue....

“Ah’m going, Professor, and nothin’ you can do will stop me,” Marie declared vehemently.

I really do wish you’d reconsider, Rogue.

“Well Ah’m not goin’ to, Professor. This is somethin’ Ah need t’ do fer myself,” Marie insisted, pleading with the professor to understand.

Very well, Rogue. I wish you luck. I hope that your journey is successful.

“You an’ me both,” Marie whispered under her breath. Then, a bit louder, added, “Tell Scott Ah’m sorry about his bike. Ah’ll try t’ bring it back in one piece.”

I’ll be sure to tell him in the morning. Be careful, Rogue, and return to us soon.

“Ah will, Professor.”

Feeling more at ease than she had a few minutes before, Marie walked confidently through the vast halls of the mansion. After five years, she knew the many twists and turns like the back of her hand. She also knew the lower levels in ways that few of the mansion’s inhabitants did.

For the past few weeks, since she had decided that she was going to look for Logan, Marie had spent as much of her free time as possible going over maps of northern Canada. On her own normal paper maps, Marie had marked down every military compound in a five hundred mile radius of Alkali Lake. There were more than twenty of them, some of which had been abandoned as long was she was alive. If Logan was searching for his past, those were the areas he was most likely to be in.

Or so she hoped.

Logan wasn’t the easiest person to figure out and even after having him inside her head, Marie still found him hard to understand. That was part of the appeal, though. If Logan was as easy to read as Scott or Bobby, he never would have intruiged her the way he had. Of course, Scott and Bobby had never risked touching her, either. They, and everyone else, always remained at a safe distance. Unconsciously making sure there was no way for her to touch them. Logan, on the other hand, hadn’t shied away from her poison skin. Even after he had felt its lethal touch, he had still held her without fear.

What the Professor didn’t know was that after five years of Logan fading from her mind, his presence had suddenly flared back to life a few weeks before. She had felt him as clearly as she had those days after the battle on the top of the Statue of Liberty. The connection had flared only briefly, and for a few seconds, but it had been tangible enough for Marie to know that it was real. That Logan was really in her head.

It was odd to feel his presence again after so long. It was also comforting. For those few moments, Marie had felt a sense of hope. If Logan was in her head, that meant he was still somewhere out there. That he was still alive.

It had long been Marie’s greatest fear that Logan was dead. The weeks had turned into months and there was no word from Logan. Marie had often hoped for a postcard, but knew that one wasn’t forthcoming. Not from Logan. He wasn’t the write home kind of guy. He was more of the I’ll-see-you-when-I-see-you kind of guy.

Even in the middle of the night there were lights on in the mansion. The Professor refused to plunge the mansion into full darkness at any hour. The mansion was a beakon-- a lighthouse --for persecuted mutants who had very few options in the world they lived in. It had been Marie’s safe haven for the past five years. Since the night she had arrived with Logan. A part of her knew that she had loved him even then, but it was only when he had touched her and not run away that she had known for sure.

“Ah’m gonna find ye, Logan,” Marie whispered as she straddled the sleek seat of Scott’s motorcycle that he had bought to replace the one Logan had taken five years before.