Deus Ex Machina
by Lassiter

Fairy tales have proper endings. They have closure. The bad witch dies. The princess marries the prince. The world is saved. Or, she thought that was how they were.

"The original fairy tales weren't sunshine and roses at all," said Jean, rubbing the salve into Rogue's bruise. She wore disposable rubber gloves that she got from Dr. McCoy. "The Brothers Grimm cleaned them up for public consumption."

"How bad were they?" asked Rogue. "Before Grimm screwed around with them?"

"The wolf raped Little Red Riding Hood."

"Okay, stop there."

Rogue had more bruises than usual. It hadn't been her day, right from the morning's (forgotten) biology test to the afternoon's Danger Room session. Jean, being Jean, offered a helping hand upon seeing that Rogue could hardly walk straight. Rogue, being Rogue, brushed her off. Then apologised and accepted the help, and wouldn't admit to herself that it was because she wanted to know exactly how Jean would help. And now, shirtless, face down on her bed, with Jean rubbing her back with salves, Rogue wouldn't admit to herself that this was sort of what she was hoping it would be.

Touch. Touch is a luxury.

Does it hurt, Jean wanted to know.

Yes, Rogue lied.

Jean's hands were soft.

"There goes my childhood," Rogue muttered. "Where'd you find your fairy tales?"



"You like to read?"


Jean chuckled lightly. "On what?"

"Don't know," Rogue replied stubbornly. "It just does."

"Whatever you say. Tell me if I hurt you."

Rogue's gut instinct kicked in. Scott. Since a while ago, yeah, she mused, and quickly terminated that line of thought. After all, how stupid would it be to hate someone just because they were themselves. Besides, the two overachieving perfectionists, they deserved each other.

The air was cool on the sticky skin of her back. Jean kept up a regular motion. Wax on, wax off. Rogue felt like a windshield. But-- she was self-conscious of the heat creeping into her cheeks and the restlessness at the pit of her stomach--in a good way. The bad kind of good way.

"I guess you'll think twice about wishing life was like a fairy tale, huh?" said Jean.

"I never say stuff like that. I mean, people should be smart about happy endings."


"Yeah, you know, as in there aren't any. No deus ex machina. Well, unless you count the Professor."

"Deux ex machina," said Jean. "So you do read."

"Seventh grade social studies."


The massage was done soon enough. As much as Rogue had tried to store the feel of the telepath's slender fingers on her back in her memory, she could feel it slipping away even as she watched Jean close the door. If things were different, things could have ended up another way, she thought, and blushed when she realised how stupid that sounded.

Deus ex whatever.

She didn't know how she felt right now. The best way to describe it was, if Rogue could do whatever she wanted with Jean and to hell with consequences, she would beat the crap out of her. Kiss her first, wildly, tasting her as much as possible. Maybe the taste of Jean would last longer than the memory of her touch. Then beat the crap out of her.

There was a conversation held in soft voices just outside the door. Rogue couldn't hear the words at first. She could identify voice.

She heard Jean say, "No, just a little bruised up, but she ought to be fine in no time," and she groaned and buried her face in her pillow.

Rogue supposed she should be happy that Scott had asked after her at all?

She listened for their voices long after Jean and Scott had disappeared down the hall. She wanted another massage. There was that restless feeling at the pit of her stomach again, and she wanted another massage. And not just her back this time.

Rogue closed her eyes and waited for sleep. She was too tired to think about 'happily ever after' right now.


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