Rescue: Part One

Mouth set in a stubborn line, Rogue plodded through the snow and into the woods, trying to run away from her temper and her anger.  Large snowflakes caught in her hair and settled on the shoulders of her parka but she hardly noticed as she struggled to get a hold of her anger.  Little things seemed to set her off these days, but it was only because of the building stress of having to live in such small quarters with too many teenagers and a sense of impending doom that she couldn't seem to shake.  Ever since the world had learned of the existence of mutants, she felt like she'd been living in a box and no matter how fast she moved or how far she went, she couldn't seem to get out of it.  It was a feeling that she thought she'd finally gotten over when she joined the X-Men but now she realized it would be something she'd have to live with for all her life.  The nature of her powers prevented her from getting too close to anyone and that only furthered her feelings of being trapped…and alone.

Tears stung her eyes but she refused to let them fall.  Tears were a sign of weakness and she was far from weak.  The old familiar feelings of being misunderstood and misjudged had come back with a vengeance when she had to endure the whispers and stares that she thought she'd gotten away from.  She put on a good show of not caring but she did.  Too much.  Clenching her fists, she quickened her steps and finally reached her destination.

The woods edging the Xavier Institute were full of small nooks and crannies that Rogue knew like the back of her hand.  Her particular favorite was a small opening along the tree line that allowed her to swing her legs over the edge of a small drop into a steep slope.  She felt like she was hidden from the world when she sat there but at the same time, felt like the whole world was opened up before her as she looked down at the tiny roads and houses, and the seemingly endless horizon.  She was no nature person and, for the most part, birdsong got on her nerves, but the silence that came after sunset was a relief. 

Not caring about the snow, for her parka was long enough to sit on, she sat and lost herself in the ribbons of colors that stretched across the sky as the sun slowly dipped and the moon rose.  The back of her feet bounced off the cliff face as she swung her legs to a rhythm that only she heard. 

The light breeze blew her hair and snowflakes across her face and it was then did she smell something burning.  She felt a prickle on her skin immediately on the defensive, she crouched low to the ground, starting to reach for her communicator.

"Don' fear, Chère, it's jus' me."

In the growing darkness, a form stepped out from the trees, a lit cigarette in hand.  She quickly recognized one of Magneto's Acolytes and her lips twisted.  The two times they'd met, he'd managed to get under her skin and this time was no different.  He didn't have to say much for her heart to start racing and her mouth to suddenly go dry.  He was much taller than she was and well-muscled, but she didn't let that intimidate her.  What did make a chill go down her spine were the glowing red orbs that were his eyes.  They were the same red as the lit tip of his cigarette and she felt like she was looking at dancing red lights as he moved towards her.

"What're you doin' here?  Shouldn't you be gettin' ice cream fo' Magneto or somethin'?" she said more angrily than she meant to.

His teeth flashed white as he stopped to stand directly in front of her, invading her personal space.  He blew a stream of smoke over her head and then looked down at her, an eyebrow arched.

"Naw, it's Piotr's turn t'do de groceries.  So what you doin' out here all by yo'self?  Shouldn't you be doin' yo' homework?"

"What d'you want?"

"Jus' a smoke'n some good conversation, if you don' mind."

"With me?"

"You see anyone else 'round here?  Where you from anyway?"

Rogue sat back down and took the same position she had been in before she was so rudely interrupted.  "What's it to you?"

He sat next to her, their arms brushing before she moved away.  "I'm jus' curious.  I'm from N'awlins."

"Mississippi," she muttered.  "Ah figured you for a swamp rat."

"And proud of it.  See, dat wasn't so hard.  What's your real name?  Unless it really is Rogue."

She wasn't surprised that he knew her name and was vexed that she had no idea what his name was.  "Ah prefer Rogue."

"A mystery woman."

She glanced sideways at him.  "Listen, ah didn't really come out here to talk."

A muscle in his jaw jumped and his eyes narrowed a little.  "I ain't keepin' you."

She jumped to her feet and let out a yell as she lost her footing on the now packed snow she'd been sitting on.  To her horror, she fell over the edge and she felt his fingers close over her hand before it slid out of her glove.  She fell, landing hard on the slope beneath and she gasped with pain as her ankle snapped.  Then, she rolled uncontrollably down the steep slope and hit her head hard on the ground, losing consciousness.

Rogue awoke to a crackling sound and her name being called repeatedly.  She opened her eyes a fraction and the light caused a sharp pain in her head.  She moaned and turned away.

"Keep your eyes open, Chère," the low tones of her rescuer bade her.  "You took a bad spill and I tink you hit yo' head pretty hard."

"When did you become a doctor?" she said hoarsely.

"Well, at least I know you're alright since you haven't lost your edge," was the dry response.

Rogue tried to sit up but was having difficulty so he helped her along, leaning her up against something hard.  Blinking several times to clear her vision, Rogue saw that they were in some kind of cave and there was a cheery blaze set up near the mouth of it.  Outside, the snow was falling hard and was already beginning to block the entrance if not for the fire melting it.  He crouched in front of her, his red on black eyes raking across her face and she had to look away as her heart began to beat a nervous tattoo.

"Where are we?" she asked.  "What happened?"

"You fell and been out fo' at least twenty minutes.  I had t'carry you."

"Oh.  Thank you," she said grudgingly.

"I tink saying dat hurt you more den the fall."

"What's your name?" she finally asked.

He smiled.  "Remy but my workin' name is Gambit.  'Bout time you asked, Chère."

"Ah figured ah should find out so ah'd know where to send the thank you card.  Ah better call home cause they'll be wonderin' where ah am."

Remy held out the broken communicator that he must have fished out of her pocket.  "I already tried dat, but you crushed dis ting good."

Rogue took it and sighed.  "Ah don't suppose walkin's an option."

"I wouldn't try t'get up on dat ankle.  Looks t'me like you broke it."

Rogue noticed then that her ankle was tied tightly with her scarf.  Reluctantly, she had to admit she was glad he'd been there or else she'd probably be buried under a foot of snow right now judging by how thick it was falling.  It was fairly warm in the cave thanks to Remy's fire but she wondered if it would be enough.  He followed her gaze.

"I gathered as much wood as I could before de snow covered it all, but I dunno if it'll hold until de snow stops."

He reached out and pulled her hood over her head.  She noticed that he wasn't wearing much other than his trenchcoat which couldn't provide much warmth.

"I'll be fine," he said, reading her thoughts yet again.  "I can warm myself up with de same kinetic energy I use t'light up my cards.  I must say your concern is touchin'."

"We can't stay here," she said worriedly and pointedly ignoring his last words.  "The snow's not fallin' hard yet.  You can walk to the mansion and get help."

"I hate t'break it t'ya, but I ain't no boy scout.  I t'ought 'bout dat already and wid all de snow dats fallen, I wouldn't know de mansion from a tree."

"Couldn' you light your way?  Burn a pathway through the snow?"

He made a face at her.  "Tryin' to get rid of me already?  But we jus' met, Roguey."

"Ah'm just sayin' ah don't think it'll be safe for us to spend the night in here while there's a storm when we have a chance of getting saved."  She glared at him.  "And don't call me that."

He laughed.  "I wouldn't worry too much, Rogue.  I'm sure yo' friend Storm is out dere lookin' fo'ya."

Rogue's heart sank.  "No, she's up in Boston right now with Logan."

Remy's face hardened and he walked over to the mouth of the cave, visibly shivering as a gust of wind blew his trenchcoat open.  Rogue could see then that the snow was up to his knees and was getting higher by the second.  He turned around and gestured outside, and she nodded, feeling the cold all of a sudden, realizing then that she only had one glove on. 

"Where's my glove?" she asked.

"It must've fallen back dere," he replied. 

She shoved her hand in her pocket and clenched it into a fist.  She moved her gaze to the fire but she could see him moving towards her out of the corner of her eye and she tensed up.  He stood next to her then lowered himself to her side and she was too weak to protest when he put an arm around her to bolster her up. 

"I can't put more wood in de fire, Chère," he said apologetically.  "We gotta conserve dem for de rest o' de night."

"Ah know," she said.  "Ah just wish ah'd put on some long underwear."

"You said it right," he said with another shiver.  "Don't hit me or nothin' but body heat…"

Setting her jaw and stubbornly ignoring the fluttering going on in the are of her stomach, she inched closer to him and put his arm around her shoulders.  She could feel his eyes on her face but wisely kept quiet.  His warmth was welcome and he must have upped his energy output because she felt like someone had dropped a blanket on her.  She felt comfortable for the first time since they got into this predicament, and her eyes drooped.   

"No sleepin', Rogue," he warned.  "If you have a concussion, you won't wake."

"Ah'm so sleepy," she muttered.

"Talk t'me."

"'Bout what?"

"I dunno.  What you runnin' away from?"

The point-blank question felt like an intrusion and the surge of temper she felt woke her up immediately.  She started to move away from him but Remy kept her firmly at his side.

"Come on, tell me.  It'll keep y'awake."

"Ah just wanted some time alone."

"In de snow?  I don't buy it."

"Oh, yeah?  Well what were you doin' near the mansion grounds anyway?"

"Touché.  If you really wanna know, I was spyin'."

"Couldn't do much spyin' way out here.  You spyin' at the birds?"

He laughed, a deep sound that made her toes curl.  "Somethin' like dat.  I like it here.  Dunno why.  Peaceful I guess."

"Or you're bein' lured by the X-Men," she pointed out.

"Doubt it," he said wryly.

"You like Magneto that much?"

"Naw, he's not exactly de easiest man t'get along wid an' de arrangement is temporary.  I tink our time is comin' t'an end really."

"Tired of fetchin' the ice cream?" The look she sent him was sly.

Remy grinned and Rogue was beginning to like seeing the deep creases that lined the sides of his mouth when he smiled.  Quickly, she pushed that thought out of her head as quickly as it came.  Whether or not he wanted to be, he was still the enemy and she had to tread lightly with him.

"It's jus' time for some new faces, dat's all."

"You're not going home?"

He looked down at her.  "Not ready t'go jus' yet."

There was something in his face that made her blush and she had to look away.