Velocity (Girl on Fire)

an X-Men movieverse story

by dirty diana

Written for Leyenn in the X-Men movieverse ficathon, July '04.

For Rogue, time split apart in Boston, Massachusetts. It split into two sections, up and down, east and west, before and after. Before, she was just Marie. Now she doesn't know who she is, only that she's a jumble of thoughts and pieces. She can't seem to figure out what goes where.

No one else knows either. They don't know what to do with her.

Except wait.

"You really okay, kid?"

Rogue frowns at him. She wishes that everyone would stop asking her that. "I'm fine," she says.

"Yeah?" Logan asks. "You're not going to set me on fire, are you?"

Rogue just makes a face. She doesn't tell him about the dream that she had. Holding on to his hand, the both of them frozen and motionless. Logan's face was pale, the both of them washed away in a sea of flames.

All the dreams are like that, an endless train of fear and fire.

The professor tells her that it won't last forever. She tries to believe him. But this feels like forever. It feels like her body is spiralling away from her, out of her control, upwards in a puff of smoke.

But then she looks at Logan, and she looks at Scott, and she can't say anything. Because at least she's still here.

Sort of.

Rogue wonders if it's her fault that John isn't coming back. She wonders if maybe they traded, and now he's got a little part of her with him now. The part that never wanted to be still.

Bobby tries to give her a gift.

"What's this?" Her voice is harsh. She snaps at him all the time now, and she can't quite bring herself to feel bad about it.

Bobby's face falls, but he holds his ground. "It's a lighter," he says, even though that's obvious. She turns it over in her hand, and the shimmery purple finish glints against the light. The smooth metal must be cold to touch, she thinks, but she can't tell through the fabric of her gloves. "I thought maybe...I thought it might help."

Rogue scowls. She doesn't know what's wrong with her, that she can't stand the sight of Bobby anymore. Can't stand his bright eyes, or his smile that says everything is going to be all right, when obviously it isn't. "Help?" she repeats. "Now I need help?"

"No," Bobby says quickly, and that just makes her madder somehow, that he won't even say what he means. "But just keep it, okay?"

Bobby can't get out of her room fast enough. Rogue turns off the light, rudely hitting the switch with the heel of her palm. She sits down, sinking into the bed, and flicks the lighter open. The flame hurts her eyes, too bright in the dark.

She stares. The flame calms her nerves, just the bare knowledge of it calms her, light glittering gently off the walls.

And even though she knows that the fire is hot, her skin feels chilled suddenly, like the breaking of a fever that she has been clinging to for days.

She shields the flame with one hand, and wriggles her fingers experimentally. Then she concentrates.

The fire grows.

It dances upwards, end to end in a chain of flames. Rogue watches it, willing the blaze to change, to grow. Until she can no longer stand the sight of it, and she closes her eyes.

Then she throws the lighter into a drawer. She doesn't look at it for days.

Tonight, it is one more dream that wakes her up. Despite the open window, dragging in a shifting autumn breeze, she feels feverish, pinned down beneath her own body's heat and unable to breathe.

She climbs out of bed. She creeps downstairs in only her nightdress, her bare feet light on the stairs. The door to the quad creaks when she opens it, and she has to tug hard at the handle to budge the heavy old wood.

There is no moon tonight, the sky hidden by dark, restless clouds. It has started to rain.


She recognises the voice without turning to look, the sound steady and cool in the darkness. Rogue almost calls her Professor Munroe, then has to stop, because she's not really a student any more. She has the uniform to prove it, one that clings and itches at the wrists. So she doesn't speak at all, for a moment, watching the rain come down.

"Aren't you going to tell me to come inside?" Rogue asks her finally. Storm has moved to stand beside her, making no noise as she steps through the wet grass.

Storm shrugs, a graceful slip of movement that is lost in the darkness. "I suppose that you will," she says, "when you want to."

Rogue doesn't have anything to say to that. Her hair is getting soaked, at the back of her neck, clinging heavily to her shoulders.

"Besides," Storm adds, nearly minutes later, "I never understood why people are so afraid of the rain."

Rogue smiles absently.

Storm smiles at her. She holds out her hand, and the rain collects like a puddle in her palm. The drops bounce and splash, on their way down into the dark, slippery ground.

Rogue watches her, faintly hypnotised. Storm's skin looks cool, shimmering and damp with the rain. Rogue is jealous, suddenly, jealous that Storm can breathe without burning.

Storm doesn't flinch when Rogue reaches out, and touches her. The wetness on her skin comes away underneath the rough material of Rogue's cotton glove. And her head hurts, because she doesn't even know if this is her, or if it's John that always thought that Storm was this beautiful.

"You should go inside."

Rogue shifts, pulling at the wet and clinging fabric f her nightgown. Even soaked through she is still too hot trying hard not to think about fire. "I thought you weren't afraid of the rain," she says.

"I'm not afraid of anything," Storm answers. She says it softly, with just a whisper of breath, and Rogue believes her. "But it's late. You should get some sleep."

Slowly, Rogue takes her hand away. She thinks about sleeping. She knows that she'll dream, restless and feverish. She knows that she will dream about fire. "It's not that easy," she whispers.

Storm stares at her. Her eyes are dark, almost black, and Rogue wonders how come she never noticed that before. "It never is," she says.