Disclaimer: Okay, still don't own X-Men and I'm defiantly not making any money off of this so no one sue. You won't get nothing but a headache. And I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of it's references or quotes or anything else you recognize from elsewhere. Oh, but I do own Ebony and the story idea and probably any characters you don't recognize. Yay me. And I don't technically own Sakura and Eric. My friend Megan does. So let's all thank her. Everyone together, THANK YOU MEGAN.
Authors Note: Everyone, y'all need to go and read Mercury Dream's stuff. It's really, really, really, really, really good. (Did I mention really?) A Rogue's Touch and All Grown Up are my favorites but the others are all really good as well. So go read her stuff to. Now, quickly! Oh, and if any of you didn't already know, Ishandahalf has posted as well so go read that too. And another author to add to my recommendations is melissarzy1's stuff, which is also completely awesome. She'll make you a Kete lover, I swear.
And the reason Kurt and Kitty didn't back Rogue is cause this is AU and they didn't get as close in this story as they are in the series. But they're both still conflicted.
Okay guys, this is the last chapter of Wandering Souls. It's been a fun ride and worth the hassle. Look out for at least one sequel, possibly two (and possibly an epilog to this, so I guess there might be one more chapter if you wanna get technical). Hope you all are at least a little sad to see it end. I know I am.
And to all my reviewers, my aren't y'all an impatient bunch? Thanks for that. You all kept me going.
'text' internal speech
Chapter 40: Life starts anew.
It was quiet at the Bayville Museum of History as a lone figure stood silent outside the North entrance, encased in shadow, unseen save for two glowing red orbs. He slid a playing card idly between his fingers, anxious to get inside and get the job done. Unfortunately he was only one of the look out men tonight, and serving as backup for the two inside. This slightly irritated Remy LeBeau, the Prince of the Louisiana Thieves Guild, being left as a mere lookout man when by all rights he should be inside doing the job himself. But Maddie had insisted, mostly thru Sakura's persisting and the way she had of getting her way, that Eric and Kura pull the inside stuff out on their own, leaving the rest of the crew outside to cover while they got their target.
Remy had to admit one thing, despite the fact that he wasn't in there taking the ancient artifact, which if he had been they would have already been in and out mind you, and home admiring their prize, it was good to be out again. Sometimes the X-Men were just far too goody-goody for him considering he was raised a thief.
Remy watched as the guard from his side and the guard from the east wall came to the corner at the same time and stopped to chat. It was then he caught a glimpse of Tony and smirked. The bald muscle man looked like he'd much rather start pummeling the guys than to pull off this job as quietly as possible, like Maddie had insisted they do. His eyes met Tony's and the other man cracked his knuckles as if to prove Remy's earlier theory. The Cajun chuckled slightly and turned his attention back to the mission at hand. 'Mon Dieu! How long dey been in dere?'
'Quietly? What the fuck does she mean by "quietly"?' Tony thought as the guards stopped, a mere three feet from his hiding place. 'It's not like snapping their necks makes that much sound. Or just a good beatin. I'd love to throw 'em a beatin! It's not like I've had all that much action lately to keep me entertained.' He stopped as a ghost of a smile played across his lips. 'At least not THAT kind of action,' he went back to staring at the guards, who were discussing some wrestling match that was supposed to be on that weekend and other trivial items. 'This is such shit. What the fuck is taking Eric and Medusa this long?'
Rogue frowned as she watched her target idly from a nearby tree. 'How long have they been in there?' she thought as she looked down at her watch. 'Eric must beh showin' off again.'
It'd been three weeks since Cody's death, and things at the mansion had been tense to say the least. So Rogue much welcomed tonight's little outing. The Professor had called Cody's parents and told them that there had been a fire, and tragically, their son didn't make it out in time. Much to Charles disappointment, they didn't seem to care much. As his mother put it, "Our son died as soon as he turned inta one of those things." So needless to say, there weren't many questions that needed answers made up at this time.
Despite that, the mansion was still divided. Wanda, John and Piotr had debated on returning to the Brotherhood, for fear of the X-men turning their backs on them as well. Meranda was still not speaking to Hank, and Ororo and Logan weren't on very good terms either at the moment, leaving Rogue to wonder how bad she'd screwed up her parents lives with what she'd done. And Scott was treating her worst of all, not even trusting her in danger room sessions, which brought more than one X-men down on him including the Professor. Kitty and Kurt had eventually come around, as had Evan and most of the others, seeing as there wasn't anything any of them could do now to fix what had been done, but still things weren't exactly what you could call good for Rogue there anymore, and her and Remy were seriously discussing leaving with the dragons for Italy at the end of the week.
Rogue sighed and looked at her watch again. 'Kura and Eric git ta have all the fun today.'
Madison was antsy, and this was never a good thing. She crouched quietly, her body completely still behind a large bush and waited, twirling a dagger soundlessly between her hands. But patience was never her virtue, and inside she paced like a caged tigress, waiting for the opportunity to strike. 'Why did I let them go in there alone?' she thought as she glanced down at her watch. 'I always let her talk me into this, why do I do that? I mean hell, I'm supposed to be the one in charge here, but no.'
Despite the little annoyance of the length of tonight's mission, Madison was relatively happy with everything that had been going on recently. Rogue and Remy had all but bought the plane tickets to Italy and even now were on the mission with them. The X-geeks were no longer really an issue, and Maddie was given more than one opportunity to threaten Scott with bodily harm and had even took a shot at him. She would have hit him to if that stupid red haired bitch hadn't stopped the bullet just before it hit his eye. She probably could have stopped it sooner if she hadn't been so busy checking out Tony's ass. So really, Madison wasn't sure which reason made her hate Jean more. She looked back at her watch. 'Okay, this has been way too damned long.'
She tapped the come unit in her ear and growled into it, anticipation and excitement lacing her voice. "Okay, what the fuck is taking so long?"
"Patience is a virtue," Eric's voice was light as he laid down another guard with a swift kick to the face.
"Fuck off dead boy!" Madison's voice rang out. "Now hurry it up or I send in the Cajun."
"He's showing off for me Maddie and you're ruining it," Sakura retorted, her voice slightly awestruck as she watched her boyfriend take out the guards single handedly.
"He better still have his pants on," Madison's voice was low and deadly.
"Eww," Tony groaned while Rogue and Remy could be heard chuckling softly in the background.
Eric smiled sweetly at his girlfriend before he spun, knocking a heavy set guard out wit an elbow to the temple and following thru with a high front kick, taking out another nearby guard. Sakura stood leaning back against a nearby pillar, watching Eric closely as he opened up an exit for the two of them, a small four inch statue of a cured female figure cradled in her hands.
"Yes, but he won't in a little bit," Sakura replied, eyeing him hungrily.
Eric smiled seductively at her, taking her hand gently in his own and dropping a soft kiss on the back of it, his eyes never leaving her own as he led her out of the room.
"Dirty!" Maddie's voice called back as Tony quickly cut in.
"Hey Kura, move that ass!" his voice was loud and urgent.
"Why, what's up?" Sakura asked as she and Eric moved swiftly down the corridor.
"Cause sugah," Rogue began, only to be finished by Madison, whose voice was accompanied by the distinct sound of exploding cards.
"We've got company."
"Babe I'm fine, chill already!" Tony said exasperated, yet with a slightly amused smirk on his face as Madison fussed over him, re-examining the scratch on his arm, where he'd just ducked a bullet in time.
Maddie simply deepened her frown and continued to fuss with the bandage as she straddled his lap. They had returned to the base, mission successful, with only a few minor bumps and bruises. From what they could gather, one of the guards had managed to trip a silent alarm, warning the police. It was then that a firefight had ensued. Out of all of them Tony had gotten the worse of it, getting grazed when he pushed Maddie out of the way.
"She always lahke this?" Rogue asked Sakura from her place on Remy's lap, his legs on either side of her as they sat in a huge overstuffed armchair, while she watched Maddie with amusement.
"Only when Mr. Clean has a hangnail," Sakura replied running her fingers idly thru Eric's hair as she sat next to him on the couch, her legs draped over his and her head resting on his shoulder while his arms encircled her waist.
Tony merely flipped her off and looked up into Maddie's eyes, speaking softly so only she could hear him. "Nothing happened baby. I'm right here."
"But you almost weren't," she whispered back, tears clouding her eyes and voice as she forgot they weren't alone. "If that bullet had been over a fraction of an inch," her voice trailed off at the thought and she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his unharmed shoulder, crying softly.
Tony ran a hand slowly over her back, hugging her tightly and shushing her while around them, an awkward silence fell over the group. Tony looked at each of them for a moment and sighed. Maddie was a hard ass, but every once in awhile that shell broke, and it was always when one of her team, one of her family, had been in danger. And Tony was always there to pick up the pieces afterwards. Sakura tried sometimes, but he quickly pushed her away. Maddie was his, and his responsibility to protect and hold together. That was the promise he made her when they agreed to spend the rest of their lives together. And on days like this, at times like these, it forced him to admit that some of the shit they pulled was stupid. Because no matter how much he couldn't bear losing her, he knew she'd never survive if she ever lost him.
"Come on babe," he said after a moment, rising and repositioning her in his arms so she was easier to carry. "We'll go upstairs and I'll give you a massage," he kissed her temple and started for their room, leaving the rest of the Dragons to watch in silence.
It was several minutes before Eric spoke.
"Make sure that you're up to this before you decide," Eric said to Rogue and Remy as he helped Sakura rise and followed suit. A lot of the things he'd love to one day do and have with the woman whose hand was in his own, flashed before his mind, including the face of the small boy Sakura dreamed they'd one day have
"It's not always as easy as it looks," Sakura finished for him as they too headed for their bedroom, leaving Rogue and Remy with their thoughts.
"We're losing her," Meranda said idly as she sat on the swing in the back yard of the cabin up in the Canadian mountains. Logan and her had escaped there for the weekend, hoping to clear their heads and figure out where all this left them. They, or rather Logan, had told Ororo and Hank they could come if they wanted, but everyone knew he didn't mean it. Everything was changing, and they all needed to figure out where they all stood now. Now she sat, swaying slowly in the swing as she watched Logan grill their dinner.
"When you gonna tell me something I don't already know?" he asked gruffly, turning the steaks. "What exactly do we do about it?"
"I don't know," Meranda reached up her hands and spun the ropes around each other before lifting her feet and spinning out in a circle, remembering how often Rogue had done that as a child. "Let her go I guess," she replied as Logan suddenly appeared before her, grabbing both her hands in his own to stop her twirling.
He leaned over and looked her in the eye. "I don't want to." It was a simple reply, but it was enough. And Meranda more than understood.
"Tell me something I don't know," She smiled sadly up at him. "But what choice do we have? She's an adult now. We've done our job, and now she wants to be out on her own, having her own place in the world. It's normal."
Logan snorted and moved away from her towards the grill. "Oh yeah, and there's a whole lot to be said about being normal," he grunted as he flipped the meat. "Why can't she have all that stuff closer to home huh? Why do her and Gumbo think they need to leave the country to have it. And with professional criminals no less."
"Because they're young and in love and want to see the world like we did," Meranda said rising and walking behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. "And, as far as Scott's concerned, wanted for murder and tampering with evidence. Besides, they haven't even said that's what they want to do yet. So you need to pretend that you haven't been ease-dropping and I haven't been reading minds."
"Five minutes alone with Scooter and I'd have him off that high horse of his," Logan growled popping the claws of his right hand while resting his left over Meranda's, rubbing her fingers absentmindedly.
"My hero," Meranda smiled and closed her eyes a bit. "Even if they do leave, it's not like they won't be back. Or like we couldn't find her again." She squeezed him gently before pulling away and walking back towards the swing.
Logan turned and looked at her, his eyes roving hungrily over her tight blue jeans and the equally tight black tank top that barely contained her curvy muscular form. Her hair was pulled back in a large silver clip and hiking boots covered her feet as she sank back onto the swing and lifted her legs, twirling herself once again in a circle and wrapping the two ropes around one another. "Good point," he finally managed to answer huskily before forcing himself to turn back to their dinner, which if left any longer, would have burned.
"So I have a question," Meranda asked after a minute. "Are we going to talk about the other reasons we're out here, or just focus on Rogue all weekend?"
"You never not blunt?" Logan snorted, throwing the steaks onto two plates and walking towards the picnic table.
"What would be the fun in that?" Meranda laughed and spun out, stopping herself with her feet before rising and walking after him, remembering how much she liked the way his ass looked in a pair of blue jeans. She walked inside and returned with two beers. "Besides, I thought that was the primary reason for this little field trip," she handed him one of the bottles and sat on the bench, grabbing for her fork.
"True," Logan sliced off the top with a claw and chugged down half the bottle. "So let's talk then."
"Always one of your stronger suits," Meranda commented as she began to eat. "Well, do you still love Ro?"
"Yeah," Logan became suddenly fascinated with his steak as he avoided eye contact with Meranda, whose gaze was now boring into him.
"Do you sill love me?"
"That's not a lot of help."
"Hey, I answered the damned questions, what more do you want?" Logan shot back, looking up at her, now his eyes glaring daggers into her own. "Here, I've got one for you. Who do you love more, me or McCoy?"
A silence fell over the two while around them, nature went on. Logan looked at Meranda for a long time, unsure what to say next. Meranda decided not to wait on him.
"You took my heart a long time ago. You gave me a lot of things then. Love. Belief in myself and an understanding of who I was. And most importantly, a beautiful, smart and independent daughter who could kick anyone's ass that even contemplated standing in her way. How could I love anyone else more than I love you?"
Logan sighed and looked at her for a few minutes, letting what she'd just said sink in. "Point taken. But that doesn't help us much here," he said softly. "I love you kid. Always have, always will. But are we still right for one another? I mean, we're not exactly who we once were y'know?"
"Yeah. Better than most," Meranda answered, a shadow falling across her face as old wounds resurfaced. "So what do we do?"
"I don't know," Logan ran a hand thru his hair. "I can tell you one thing though. This would have been a hell of a lot easier if we'd just gotten back together when you first showed up like I'd wanted to."
"Like you wanted to? You were still with Ororo then! What'd you want us both, taking numbers at the door or some shit like that? You didn't know what you wanted then anymore than you do now."
"Why do you always have to have an answer for everything, huh?"
"Comes with being a more advanced species."
"We're both mutants Meranda, that defense don't work here."
"I was talking about being female you moron!"
By now they were both on their feet and in each others faces, fists clenched and eyes growing with anger.
"When'd you become such a damned feminist huh?" Wolverine growled, his claws involuntarily popping.
"Around the same time you became such an egotistical, sexist pig!" she shot back, energy crackling around her.
"Oh yeah sure, blame it all on me! IT'S ALWAYS MY FAULT!"
"YOU SAID IT NOT ME!"
"WELL MISS KNOW IT ALL, IF YOU AND YOUR GENDER HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS THAN WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO ABOUT ALL THIS HUH?"
Both of their breathing had increased as rapidly as their voices had risen and they stood huffing in front of one another, their blood boiling, pulses racing. Before either had a chance to actually compute what was going on their lips crashed against one another in a passionate frenzy.
Logan's hands reached down and cupped her thighs, pulling her up so she could wrap her legs around his torso, her hands grabbing at his face hungrily. Eagerly he carried her towards the cabin, slamming the door with his foot behind them.
It was early the next morning when Remy and Rogue made their way quietly into the Xavier mansion, their arms wrapped around each other. It'd been a long night. A successful one, but a long one none the less. Remy kissed Rogue's temple lightly as they entered the kitchen silently, only to be struck by the loud, multitude of voices coming from the dinning room. They both crept silently over to the doorway and paused, listening to the debate taking place within.
"I don't, like, know how you could say that Scott," Kitty practically shouted at the team leader. "As if you're holier than thou!"
"Yeah Shades, and since when do you speak for the rest of us man," Evan agreed, fuming.
"As leader I'm the one who decides what's best for this team!" Scott barked back.
"We understand that Scott, but don't you think what you're saying is a little harsh?" Jean asked, trying desperately to restore some sense of order.
"Rash how? She killed someone Jean? How do we just overlook that?" Scott challenged back.
"God you are such a tool," Wanda growled. "I can't believe you don't see this for what it is. It was self defense."
"It was murder!" Scott persisted.
"Not everything is black und vhite Scott," Kurt tried. "Und my schwester vas justified in vhat she did."
"Justified by who Kurt? There was never a trial, or even an accusation. You heard her yourself with your own two ears that night. She was glad she did it. And right now she's off with her 'friends' performing illegal acts for profit," Scott was exasperated. At this point Remy and Rogue peered around the corner into the room seeing, Scott, Jean, Kitty, Kurt, Evan, Wanda, Piotr, Jubilee, John and Amara all gathered near the table. It looked like the majority was glaring Scott down while Jean tried to remain as neutral as possible.
"I don't believe ya mate. You won't stop till they hang her will ya?" John asked, flipping his lighter angrily.
"Come on Scott, you never even gave her a chance to defend herself, or listened when she did," Amara reasoned. "You condemned her as soon as she walked out of that room."
"Besides one eye, put yourself in her shoes. How would you expect us to treat you if you'd done the same thing?" Jubilee challenged.
"If it had been me we wouldn't be in this position because I would have done what was right," Scott growled.
"Oh we forgot, we're basking in the presence of the great Scott Summers. Impeccably perfect in everything he does," Wanda growled, blue energy glowing brightly around her as she fought to contain her anger.
"That's not what I'm saying," Scott barked back, realizing, not for the first time in this conversation, that he was outnumbered. "What I'm saying is, I would have done what was right for the good of the team."
"Lets test that theory then mate," John challenged, lighting a flame and letting it grow into a ball in his hand.
Scott and John glared at each other for several minutes as around, the others watched, anger clear on most of their faces. Finally Piotr spoke.
"Dis not good comradeship."
"He's right y'all," Rogue's smooth voice drawled as she and Remy decided to enter the room, cards moving easily between Remy's fingers, and Rogue's gun's more than visible. "What ya fightin' over little ol' meh? How sweet," Rogue leveled her eyes at Scott, the challenge showing there.
"Didn' non one tell y' it's non nice t' be discussin' people behind dere backs homme?" Remy asked curiously. "It's non bon manners."
"Oh, Scott's just, like, running his mouth again," Kitty stated, glaring at the red haired leader. "We were all just leaving anyway."
"Oh no, please enlighten us," Rogue continued. "Ah'd love ta know what y'all were discussing. Especially since Ah seem ta be the target."
"Fine, you really want to know what I said Rogue," Scott said, a slight venom to his voice.
"Let it go Scott," Jean warned pulling at his arm, trying to drag him to another room.
"No, she wind's to know I'll tell her," Scott pulled his arm free and walked up to Rogue, glaring down at her. "I think, that until you're ready to admit that what you did was wrong and take responsibility for that, then you have no business on my team or at this school."
"Watch it Summers," Wanda growled as the X-men took their places. Not behind their ever fearless, ever perfect leader, but behind Rogue.
"No Wanda he's right," Rogue replied calmly, not rising to Scott's bait. "Ah don't belong here. Not as long as egotistical, overly moral, higher than thou people are too narrow minded ta see that nothin's perfect in this world, and ya can't always do what society deems as right ta survive."
"Don't tell me you're going to try to hide behind the, 'it was him or me,' defense? Come on Rogue! You're super strong and you can fly, not to mention the invulnerable, untouchable skin that covers your body. So you feared for you life right? Okay, I'll pretend to buy that like everyone else, since the guy raped you and all," as Scott spoke, Remy stiffened and anger clouded his features. He went to move towards Summers, but Rogue stopped him with a hand on his waist. She wanted to hear the rest of Scott's little rant before she let him have it. Scott, never being one to disappoint, continued. "But I don't seem to recall you having laryngitis that week, not to mention the telepath that was located downstairs, only a few feet away. So you trying to say that you're only option, in the whole universe, was to kill him, is something I find hard to believe."
"Well ain't that nice fer ya," Rogue said calmly, staring sweetly into his glasses. As suddenly as a change in the breeze, her demeanor changed and Rogue took a step forward, shoving a finger hard into his chest, sending him back at least a foot. "But let me clarify some things fer ya Cyclops," she threw as much venom into his name as she could before continuing, "one, Ah was the one up there, not ya. Ah'm the one that saw the anger and hate and," she paused to find the right word. "obsession, in his eyes. So yeah, Ah killed him, and no, Ah ain't sorry fer it. If Ah hadn't, he woulda jus' kept comin'. HE NEVAH WOULDA STOPPED!," by now she was screaming at him and could hear the footsteps in the hall, and distinct sound of wheels gliding over the carpet as the remaining students, and adults rushed towards the commotion. "So yeah, Ah did what Ah felt at the time, was the right thing. And maybe if Ah had the chance ta do it ovah again, Ah'd do it differently. But that ain't very likely, cause as long as he ain't livin', he ain't houndin' meh. Or hurtin' anyone else."
"Rogue, Scott," the Professors voice was loud and firm as he wheeled into the room, Ororo and Hank close at his wheels and the rest of the newbies hugging the doorframe, hoping for a glance at what was going on inside. "What is the problem?"
"Simple, Scott's throwin' meh off the team. And nice enough ta kick meh outta yer house fer ya," Rogue growled, her eyes never leaving Scott's.
"I'm simply doing what has to be done Professor," Scott tried to defend himself only to have Charles raise a hand and stop him.
"That's enough Scott. I told you to drop this long ago, did I not?" Charles voice was angrier than it had ever been, especially when dealing with his prized student. "We all agreed, as a family, that we must look after our own, and that Rogue was warranted in her actions. Why are you bringing this up now?"
"Because if we let her stay here then we're no better than Magneto. Or those anti-mutant activists that promote the killing of mutants on the streets," Scott tried to at least get one person in his corner.
"That's an awfully big decision you're making for the rest of us Mr. Summers," Hank said taking a step forward. "Especially without running it by the Professor first."
"Professor Xavier put me in charge of this team for a reason," Scott proclaimed, glaring at Hank. "And part of that job is making decisions like this when no one else can."
"What's gotten into you Scott?" Jean asked worriedly. "It's like I don't even know you anymore. It's like none of us do."
"Scott, we understand that you're under quite a deal of stress right now, especially with what's been going on here and the problem with all your college applications, but that does not mean you can take your frustrations out on Rogue," Charles tried again, using a softer tone. "Or the rest of the inhabitants of this school."
"Yeah Scott, it's totally, like, not Rogue's fault that none of the colleges accepted you," Kitty piped up, standing up for her friend once again.
"This has nothing to do with my college applications!" Scott practically screamed, his face turning a bright shade of red as embarrassment washed over him.
"He's right, it ain't 'bout that at all," Rogue agreed, her eyes still cold as she glared at him. "It has ta do with the fact that he feels he can't trust meh anymore. And until he can cope with all this, and trust meh again, then Ah ain't got no place here."
"Rogue, vhat are du saying?" Kurt asked worriedly.
"It means we're leavin' fer a bit Elf," she answered softly, looking out over her friends and family before letting her eyes fall on Scott.
"Child there is no need for this," Ororo began only to be cut off by Remy.
"We be needin' a break Stormy," he wrapped his arm around Rogue's waist and kissed her shoulder. "De both of us need t' be leavin' de X-Men f' awhile. Le' everyone have dere space. Cool down a bit, hahn."
"Rogue you can't leave me here with them," Wanda stated, looking at Rogue with pleading eyes.
Rogue laughed softly and hugged her fellow Goth friend. "You'll survive. Maybe even help them a bit. But it's somethin' we've been talkin' 'bout fer awhile now, and after this," she pulled away and looked once again towards Scott. "it jus' seems ta be the time." At this point the fearless leader turned and left the room.
"Where will you go child?" Hank asked, concerned for the young couple out there in a mutant hating world.
"De Dragons have a villa in Italy," Remy supplied. "Among other places. Dey offered us a room."
"Besides, Ah've always wanted ta see the world," Rogue smiled at her friends. "So Scooter's done us a favor."
"Vhen vill du leave?" Kurt asked, moving next to Rogue and wrapping his tail unperceivable around her waist.
"Aftah Mamma and Daddy git back," Rogue smiled over at him and gave it a little squeeze. "We still have ta pack."
"There's no changing your minds then?" Charles asked hopefully. Even though the man knew that not all the children that passed thru his home would stay forever, he had hoped that it would have taken a lot longer than this.
"We're pretty set on it," Remy replied grinning over at Rogue.
"We're going to, like, so have to throw a going away party," Kitty said excitedly as she launched herself at Rogue and Remy, wrapping an arm around each of them. "That'll convince you to stay." At this point all the students gathered closer around Rogue and Remy, each expressing their disappointment in the two's decision to leave, the newbies still in their uniforms from their session with Ororo.
"That's enough for now children," Charles said, trying to restore some sense of order to the room. "Now, I'm sure you've all got plans for the day. And Rogue, your parents should be returning in a couple of days from their cabin in the mountains. I'm sure you'll want to discuss yours and Mr. LeBeau's decision with them first."
"Ah think they've already figured it out, but thanks Professor. Now back off y'all," Rogue mock growled, the smile betraying her. "Ah need ta go shower."
Charles watched sadly as the group separated, several going in different directions of the house. It reminded him of how all their lives were going, in different directions. He sighed and wheeled out of the room, and into the library where Scott sat pouting his arms resting on his knees and his head resting in his hands.
"You do realize that you had no right to approach Rogue in such a manner. Or any of the others with out discussing it with me first Scott," Charles said, his voice emotionless as he stopped before his young progeny. "May I ask what has gotten into your mind as of late?"
"I don't know Professor, it's just everything," Scott took a deep breath and threw his head back, looking up at the ceiling. "All those colleges turning me down because of what I am. What's happened with Rogue. The anti-mutant propaganda that's all over the news everyday, all of it. I guess I've just lost my head for a bit."
"Yes, I see that," Charles agreed. "And it's cost us two members of our team. What do you intend to do about that?"
"What do you mean Professor?" Scott looked up at him worriedly.
"What I mean Scott, is you've been under a lot of pressure lately, as have the rest of us. Only you don't seem to be handling it as well. So I suggest you take a small vacation. Perhaps go and visit your brother in Hawaii to clear your mind. And then after your return, we'll discuss you possibly returning as team leader. Jean will take your place until then."
"Professor you can't mean that!" Scott jumped from the couch and glared down at him, shock written over his face.
"Indeed I do Scott. Your decisions have become irrational. And you can't afford that in a leadership position. I'm sorry, but until you can learn to handle stressful situations better, I can not allow the safety of the others to rest in your hands," with that Charles turned and wheeled towards the hallway. "I'm sorry Scott."
Scott stood there dumbfounded as he watched his mentor go.
Meranda sat out at the picnic table behind the cabin, a steaming cup of tea in her hand, the spoon swirling on it's own as she looked mindlessly out at the sunrise before her, watching the darkness fade away. She pulled her arms tighter to her sides and crossed her legs, trying to keep as much body heat as she could as the cold crisp Canadian air nipped at her skin.
"Little chilly for a picnic ain't it darlin?" Logan's gruff voice asked from the doorway, a steaming cup of black coffee in his hands.
"That can be fixed," she replied softly, holding out her right hand and willing it to encase itself in a bright blue flame, as they both watched for a moment before she easily extinguished the flame. "See? Not cold anymore."
"That so?" Logan walked across the yard and sat across from her. "Those eyes look colder than the landscaping."
"Haha," she replied sipping her tea.
"What's wrong kid?" Logan prodded, putting down his coffee and placing a hand on her left arm. "Talk to me."
"Nothing's wrong Logan. I'm just a little confused right now is all," Meranda replied, waving off his hand. "Tends to happen from time to time. Don't worry about it."
"Well I might be able to help if you told me what was so confusing," he offered.
"Since when have you been so up on sharing our feelings? You used to throw me in bed just to shut me up."
"Stop changing the subject or I'll have to try that method again. Now talk to me before I have to tear it out of you."
"Now that sounds like the old Wolverine there, except for the talk to me bit," Meranda grinned over at him before sighing. "Last night, didn't really answer anything did it?" she looked up at him, her face clouded in confusion.
"No, I think it did just proved how much some things don't ever change," Logan replied after a moment. "After last night, it feels like we've never been apart. Like all those years were only a few moments. Don't you feel the same way?"
"That's it, I do. It was like nothing had changed in all these years, and yet, so much has. I mean, we're two different people entirely. And we've got two people waiting on us back home, both of whom love us. I mean, we're great together, always were, but are we sure this is what we want for the rest of our lives?"
"Didn't seem to be an issue before," he growled defensively.
"Now that's not what I mean! Come on, we were kids back then, well I was. And with your healing factor, we both knew it wasn't going to be forever for us…"
He cut her off. "But that's different now. You've got that part of me now. Time doesn't matter now."
"That's the problem," Meranda took a deep breath and looked deeply into his rich brown eyes. "I'm safe for you. Especially now. I won't die, at least not for a long time. And you know I love you, and accept everything about you because you and I have the same past. The same nightmares. Ororo on the other hand, is good and sweet and susceptible to time. And very guarded with her emotions, not unlike you are. Nothing is stable there, too many liabilities. Same goes for me and Henry. We took a chance on each other once, and now everything is still the same as it always was. Same as it's always going to be."
"So what are you saying exactly?"
"I'm saying, maybe it's time we each took a chance for once. Try something that's not as safe and see where it leaves us."
Logan took a deep breath, considering what she'd said. It was true. As long as he and Ro had been seeing one another, he still kept a part of himself shielded from her, not like he was with Meranda. Had been almost afraid to let her in, because he wasn't sure he could handle the judgment she may pass on him. "So do we tell them about last night?"
Meranda let out a long breath. "I think all we need to tell them is that we did what we came out here to do. We worked it out. And anything more, we wait until they ask. I don't think we should lie to them. I don't know about you, but I've been doing enough of that to Henry."
"Yeah, tell me about it."
"So what do we do now old man?"
"Guess we go home."
"Oh thank the Goddess! I can't stand that bathroom."
"Cute. Very cute."
"How come no one ever threw us a going away party?" Maddie pouted as she watched the others prepare for the big going away party the next day. Rogue's parents had called and said they were on their way back that day, so the plan was to leave early Monday morning.
"That's because no one liked us," Sakura supplied, examining her nails.
"Jealous bastards," Maddie muttered as she turned back to watch Rogue pack. "So how thrilled are you? You're going to see the world Miss Rogue."
"It's definitely somethin' new," Rogue agreed as she folded the last of her sweaters into a box. "What's the villa lahke anyway?"
"Huge," Maddie replied flopping down on Rogue's bed. "And empty compared to this place."
"You'll have your own wing," Sakura added thoughtfully.
"Great, can't wait," Rogue grinned and returned to packing.
"We can't say that we didn't see it coming," Meranda said as she looked across the table at Rogue and Remy. They were at one of the fanciest restaurants in New York, where the two had just broken the news that they were leaving to Rogue's parents. It was Remy's hope that telling them in a crowded, public place, might extend his life a bit.
"Been readin' minds again Mamma?" Rogue asked with a grin.
"When do I stop. You wouldn't believe what some of these people are thinking right now, but that's besides the point. When are you leaving?" Meranda asked, noticing how quiet Logan was, and had been all afternoon after his talk with Ororo. Hers with Henry hadn't gone as well as she'd hoped either. He'd asked her if she'd slept with Logan, and she couldn't lie to him. He hadn't taken it well, and she hadn't expected him to, but neither one had ever agreed to be exclusive to begin with, so that helped her case a little. And they'd both ended up agreeing to start over from the beginning, no secrets, and see where it led them. She was beginning to believe that Logan hadn't fared so well with Ororo.
"Day after tomorrow. Early in the mornin," Rogue replied taking a sip of water.
"De others be wantin' t' throw us a goin' away party tomorrow," Remy said twirling a card nervously between his fingers as he eyed Logan cautiously.
"Where will you be stayin?" Logan finally asked, looking at them both for the first time, sadness in his eyes.
"Probably with Maddie and them. At least fer awhile," Rogue answered, feeling bad for hurting her father. "It won't be forevah though Daddy. Just fer awhile. We want ta see the world a little, and let things settle back at the mansion."
"We understand that sugar, it's just hard for parents to let go sometimes," Meranda said softly, squeezing Logan's hand. "Especially since we've all just found each other again." She reached out and took Remy's hand, who took Rogue's who took Logan's other hand, forming a small circle between them, binding them together as family, and sharing their strength with one another for whatever lied ahead.
"Come on Rogue, let's jet!" Maddie called from the passengers side of a black Dodge Durango as Tony honked the horn. All the other vehicles, including Rogue's Mustang and Remy's Harley, had already been sent over on a boat the team had rented, or owned, Rogue wasn't sure which, and now they were all heading over to the dock now to begin their new adventure.
"Hold yer horses! Ah got a lot a hugs ta git," Rogue shouted back as she finished hugging Wanda one more time, the last student on her list. The entire Institute had gathered outside to see the two off, except for Scott who had flown out for Hawaii the day before. The party had been a hit, and included Kitty saying several times, "See, like, how can you want to leave after this?" Even most of the Brotherhood had been given invitations to attend, and everyone seemed really sad as the night wore on. No one wanted any of them to leave, but they all knew what had to be done for the moment.
"Take care of her Gumbo," Logan took Remy's hand in a firm grip. "Or I'll have to come after you."
"Will do mon ami," Remy agreed, shaking back with just as much force.
"We'll miss you so much baby. I love you," Meranda wrapped Rogue in a hug and kissed her.
"Ah love ya too Mamma," came the tear laced reply.
"You call me as soon as you get there. And every hour after that," Meranda's voice was thick as she hugged her daughter even tighter.
"Doctor McCoy, ya bettah keep her busier than that," Rogue pleaded looking over at the blue furred Beast.
"Of course my dear," he took his turn next, enveloping her in a hug.
"You will, like, come back to see us right?" Kitty asked for the hundredth time that morning.
"Of course chat," Remy said, hugging the young girl.
Finally, there was only one more hug for Rogue to give. She stood before Logan, looking up into her fathers eyes for a long moment.
"You made me proud kid," he said softly, reaching out and ruffling her hair.
"Thanks Daddy," she held out her arms and he pulled her into a hug.
"Now don't you go and make me a grandfather before my time you hear me," he said softly into her hair, trying to hide the tears in his voice.
"Ah won't. And don't ya go givin' meh a little half-brother or sister yet either," she shot back, her voice thick with emotion.
"Will do darlin. I love you Stripes," he kissed her forehead.
"Ah love ya to Daddy," she whispered before pulling away and wiping a tear from her cheek. "We'll see y'all real soon," she said and brought each of her palms to her hand and kissed them, blowing them out to the group. "We love y'all."
"Love you too," came the multitude of replies as Remy helped her into the back of the vehicle, behind Sakura and Eric who both smiled at them before they closed the door.
"Finally," Madison said, putting more exasperation into the statement then she actually meant. They'd all received an equally tear jerking farewell from the group earlier, and was almost sad to leave. Almost.
"Italy here we come," Tony decreed, putting the car into gear and tearing out of the gate. Rogue and Remy turned and looked out the back window, waving a final goodbye to their family.
"Jus' be y' and moi now ma chere," Remy whispered into her hair as he kissed her head gently.
"May the Gods have mercy on the world," Rogue replied playfully as their lips met and the car disappeared down the road.
And that my friends, is the end. How sad huh? I almost cried. Well, I would have except for the fluffiness there at the end. And my knowledge that there will most likely be a sequel. (That is if the damned author finds time…oh wait that's me. Never mind.) So what'd y'all think? I know part of the ending might have seemed a little rushed, but there are reasons. One: I promised Ishandahalf that I would get this up today, and I hate to break a promise. Two: it's 10:26 pm and I have to get up at 5:30 am for my first day of the new semester tomorrow, so I can't really stay up until 2 to really work all this stuff out in detail. And Three, writers block was threatening to creep up on me again, like it did last night when I was working on this, so I didn't want it to win again. Hope you all liked it. R & R, and let me know what you think and if I should even contemplate doing a sequel one day or not. Take care and it's been a blast. Love to you all!