There were no more soldiers at the mansion.
When the X-Men first returned, there had been a few left on guard, growing increasingly nervous as they waited in vain for new orders from Colonel Stryker. Logan had wanted to slaughter them—an idea which Mister Summers had taken to with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Professor Xavier had other plans, however, and soon half a dozen dazed and pliant soldiers were sent wandering off into the night. They would come to somewhere down the highway, with no memory that they had ever worked for a man named Stryker, or that Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was anything more than a swanky private academy.
As the adults tried to regroup and care for the rescued students, Rogue retreated to the lower levels. Unlike the ravaged upper floors, to her relief, the bland silver-blue corridors down below showed little damage. She didn’t want to see the ruin that had been made of her home.
It was at about this time, when she felt hurt and lost, that Jean Grey would have quietly come up to her and given her a hug.
Half-formed thoughts and plans drew Rogue to the medlab—to the place Miss Grey had so often inhabited, taking care of cuts and scrapes. She felt a little closer to her lost teacher as soon as she stepped through the doorway… until she saw him.
William Stryker had been tied down on one of the beds. Someone—presumably Magneto—had given him a savage going-over before he was left to die; he was injured, and it was unlikely he could have gone very far even without the restraints. However, they had learned all too well the tragic lesson that this man must not be underestimated.
That Logan had saved Stryker from a watery grave didn’t surprise Rogue. He still wanted answers… or at least, he had, before they lost Miss Grey.
Not two hours ago, he had come close to destroying that final link to his past. During the tense and silent flight home, he nearly snapped once, nearly ripped Stryker apart in a fit of rage and grief. It was Rogue who had interceded.
Everyone probably thought she did it from the goodness of her heart, and she couldn’t help but smile at that. Sweet, gentle little Rogue. Yeah. Right.
There was no mercy left in her—not with Logan and Magneto and John in her head. Not with those angry, bitter voices crying out to strike back against the pain she felt.
She’d had the beginnings of a plan when she spared Stryker’s life, and it took shape fully as she stared at the paunchy, grizzled man lying helpless on the bed.
Stryker would receive swift justice, and Logan would have his answers.
From Logan’s tortured memories of violation and suffering, she felt she had a pretty good idea of what the inside of Stryker’s mind was like. She shuddered at the thought of the man feeling pleasure each time Logan had cried out in pain. If she saw his brutality from both sides—felt both perpetrator and victim inside her head—would it drive her mad?
Or would she learn things about her friend Logan that she would never have wished to know?
It didn’t matter.
The genocidal scientist turned his head as she stepped toward him. Even in his helpless condition, his eyes were full of hatred and loathing—even though he knew she had saved him from Logan’s wrath. Whatever or whoever she was, she was a mutant, and he only knew one way to feel toward her.
Slowly, before his eyes, she peeled off her long gloves. It was doubtful that he realized why she wore them, but he clearly understood the cold determination in her gaze.
As she reached down to touch his face, Rogue saw fear in Stryker’s eyes… and she was glad.
© 2003 Jordanna Morgan
© 2003 Jordanna Morgan