A/N: Yes! This is the FINAL Chapter! I'm a sucker for happy endings so prepare for a few dramatic and romantic touches as I complete one for this series. :-)
As always, thank you all very much for your reviews and I am extremely pleased that you have liked the story.
Ignoring the gloves Kurt had brought her, Rogue finished dressing and reluctantly padded out of the bathroom in her sock covered feet to 'face the music.'
Even though she knew it would spawn more questions to answer, she grabbed a chair and placed it next to Logan's bed so she could sit with him while talking to the others.
The entire team was jammed into the room with the overflow packed into the open doorway so they wouldn't miss out on a moment of this.
With a sigh, she wrapped one bare hand around Logan's then looked at the Professor.
"Where would ya like me ta begin?"
"I think we'd all like to know how it is you're awake. Up until you awoke so suddenly, we believed your condition to be quite grave," Charles said while moving closer.
"That's not somethin' even Ah really know how ta explain," her green eyes searched the gathering for the two unfamiliar faces that had saved her. "What are your names?"
"Betsy Braddock," answered the purple haired woman who separated herself a bit from the crowd.
"Nate Grey," said the young man with hair quite similar to Rogue's with the white streak.
"You two saved mah lahfe. Thank you, Betsy and Nate," she said with a smile before refocusing on what she was saying to the Professor. "Aftah getting' rid of Apocalypse things went kinda hazy in mah head and Ah just started fallin'. Ah still had, still have really, his powahs in me and Ah was invulnerable ta tha fall, but their help was an added bonus," again she smiled toward Betsy and Nate.
"You still have him inside you?" Charles frowned.
"Yes. Ah believe ya saw him in mah mind. Aftah all Ah absorbed, what he forced on ma and then what Ah took, Ah think he's here ta stay with me."
"Exactly how much did you absorb of Apocalypse?"
"A nice dose of his mutations and a not so pleasant abundance of memories. Ah know what his lahfe was lahke with the bandits who took him in and Baal who raised him as his own son. Ah know how he powahless he felt when Pharaoh Rama-Tut had Baal and his army slaughtahed tryin' ta kill En Sabah Nuhr. Ah know that until that moment he lived in peace with humans and only grew ta hate them aftah that battle. Ah know that unlike tha Pharaoh, Apocalypse wanted to use tha Eye ta bring peace rathah than rule tha world. Ah know how he laid dormant for all those years cursin' those who had betrayed him and sealed him in the Eye before Mesmero became curious about the myths of the 'most powerful mutant evah known' and became Nuhr's willing slave," she took a deep breath and found Wanda in the gathering. "Ah know that he didn't kill yer fathah."
"What?!" the Scarlet Witch pushed forward to exclaim. "The whole world saw him die, how dare you lie about something like that with me here!"
"Vanda," Kurt placed a restraining hand on the now angry girl's shoulder. "Let us hear her out. She vould not lie about somezhing like zhis."
"Y'all only saw him vanish. Apocalypse has teleporting abilities far greatah than even yours," she smiled at the blue boy holding Wanda back. "His powahs are interdimentional. He has tha ability ta travel through time and space with his teleportation as well as usin' it to send othahs through that same tahme and space. He didn't kill Magneto. To do that with a mere flick of his wrist is slightly beyond even Apocalypse's powahs. Knowin' yer fathah would nevah allow him to use tha Eye or carry out any of his plans, Sabah Nuhr used his powahs to send Magneto to a parallel dimension where he is alive and undoubtedly furious."
For a long moment the room was silent as they all absorbed this information then the estranged daughter of the lost villain gulped back her confused emotions at the news and began demanding more answers.
"How do you know all this and how do we get him back?"
"Ah know it because Apocalypse knew it and Ah absorbed it. He can be gotten back quite easily using the device tha Professah and all used to get from Egypt to Tibet when they tried to stop tha final door from openin'," she turned to Charles. "It should still be in one piece at the pyramid's remains in Mexico. Y'all can go get it at any time and Ah can take ya to him."
"What of Apocalypse?" Hank asked with a slight frown.
"He's gone. He ain't dead, though, hopefully tha Morlock's magic will work ta change that. Rahght now … he's just gone. Floatin' up thare in outtah space," she gave a little shrug with her vague answer.
"Is there a chance he could return?" Ororo demanded.
"Alwahys a chance, but it's slim ta none. He'll crash inta some othah planet long before he gets back ta Earth. Should he get lucky and surprise us all there's no way he could recovah from all that has happened and pose a threat ta us evah again. All his resources were depleted bah the physical and mental blows he sustained and bein' trapped in tha Eye again will weaken him even furthah. If necessary, he could be killed quite easily."
As most even was focusing on all she'd said thus far Jean moved away from Scott, who'd been supporting her still weak body since she got out of bed, and stared closely at Rogue.
"Rogue," she began with her eyes continuing to notice something the others had apparently missed, "you're touching Logan."
Instantly all eyes were on her bare hand as it laid upon Logan's equally bare forearm.
She ducked her head self consciously under the weight of their disbelieving stares, but didn't release her hold on him.
"Ah told ya Ah had it undah control," she told the Professor.
"I believe it's time we begin discussing this privately," Charles said before turning to have Hank clear out the room.
Kurt left only after reassuring himself once again that Rogue was ok, but Mystique refused to budge so she and the Professor remained in the room to talk to the girl.
"I have to get to Pietro," Wanda said suddenly as Betsy and Kurt walked with her away from the infirmary.
Betsy nodded at her slightly dazed friend's statement and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"If you need to talk about this, I'm here."
The younger girl nodded absently at the offer.
"Vould you like me to take you or have somevone drive you over?" Kurt asked regarding her desire to return to the Brotherhood house.
In answer, she slid her arms around his waist and sighed, "You."
"And I thought facing Apocalypse would be the weirdest part," Nate moved to Betsy's side as the couple teleported away.
Her twin wasn't far behind and when he arrived on the scene he introduced a new topic.
"When we heading home, luv?"
"I'm feeling at home here. Aren't you?" Psylocke said to her sibling.
"We've got obligations in England, Betts. Our stay here was never meant to be permanent unless we failed."
"I hate to point this out to you, luv, but only you have obligations back home. I've been trying to break away from S.T.R.I.K.E. ever since they began trying to use me. Something tells me they won't kick up too big a fuss if we stay here with the X-Men," Elizabeth said much to Nate's delight.
"You're right that I have obligations, Elizabeth. I'm not going to turn my back on them and you go where I go," Brian huffed.
Sensing a fight brewing, Nate smartly made himself scarce after verifying that his girlfriend did indeed have every intention of remaining with the X-Men as he had decided to do.
"Do you vant me to go in vith you?" Kurt asked as he and Wanda stood staring at the boarding house's front door.
"Yes, but best not to," she smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "Pietro would flip at me bringing you in and most likely ignore all I have to say about our father."
He moved to stroke her cheek before kissing it.
"Vhenever you're vready, just give me a call and I'll be here for you," he whispered.
Misty eyed at how wonderful this guy was compared to the outright jerks she'd known most her entire life, Wanda hugged him tightly then lightly kissed his lips.
"Thank you," she gave him two more quick kisses before pulling away and dabbing at her eyes to stop any emotional tears from falling. "Go take care of that sister of yours and I'll talk to you later."
After giving her a heartwarming smile, he vanished from her sight and with a sigh she turned to open the door.
Only to have it whipped open by her sibling who stood in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest, a foot tapping rapidly on the floor and a slight glare on his face.
"You're dating that rodent, aren't you?" he demanded.
"He's not a rodent, Pietro," she snarled at the insult and took on a defensive stance. "He's something you wouldn't know anything about – a gentleman – and yes, I think we're dating now."
While he gaped at her, she refocused on the bigger issue at hand and pushed past him into the house.
"Father's alive," she came right out and said it.
"What?!" in a flash he was standing in front of her.
"Rogue's awake and she absorbed enough of Apocalypse to know that he didn't kill Magneto. He sent him to some parallel dimension to make sure father wouldn't mess with his big plan."
"And …? What am I supposed to say to that? Whether he's dead or in some 'parallel dimension'," her brother scoffed at that phrase, "like those goody goodies say, he's still gone."
"They can get him back and I believe that they will."
"Why would they bother? He's their enemy. Ours to after all he's done to screw up our lives."
"He's still our father and he doesn't deserve to be trapped wherever he is. As for why the X-Men would get him, it's how they are. They're fair and help us just as much as themselves. Plus the Professor was Magneto's friend and no matter what father has done, he'd never refuse to help him in a situation like this."
Pietro looked at her suspiciously then placed his hands on her shoulders with some concern.
"You're not thinking of joining them are you? I know there's not much to keep you here compared to all they can offer with their fancy mansion and I've not been the best brother to you, but we're good now and I don't want to be separated again."
"Neither do I and I haven't thought for a second of becoming one of those hoity toity X-Girls," she smirked. "I may have feelings for Kurt and think they really are good guys, but I'm a long way from being one of the good guys myself."
Relieved, Quicksilver rather awkwardly hugged his twin.
"When Magneto comes back," she returned the hug then pulled back to look into his eyes, "are you going to be on his side again?"
"Not this time, sis. I'm done being used by him."
"Do we really want Erik back here?" Mystique asked Xavier as they were chased from the infirmary by a Rogue tired of answering their questions for the day.
"It has nothing to do with wanting it, Raven, it's simply the right thing to do."
"One of these days, Xavier, you and your team will do the right thing and not come out the winners. You've all been extremely lucky up until now - "
"Luck has very little to do with it, Mystique," the Professor came to a stop and stared at her sternly. "We earn every win we have gotten. Every time my team goes out, even if it's to face your Brotherhood, all of them and myself prepare for the possibility that we may lose and in that defeat suffer fatalities. They have all been trained to do everything within their powers to prevent the loss of their teammates even if it means surrendering the battle. You have seen them all in action. You have been defeated by them on numerous occasions. They are ready, willing and able to face any situation and do the right thing in it whether that leads to victory or defeat. Soon I hope the world will see that and give them, if nothing else, the freedom to live as normal a life as they can without being hunted for their differences."
"Ever the optimist," the shapeshifter laughed. "This world will always shun our kind. Even if the hate dies down to a point where mutants and their families are not faced with a brutal death at the hands of some redneck mob, Magneto is right in his belief that they will always fear us. When you bring him back he will continue to alienate the humans you so wish to have embrace your precious X-Men as heroes."
"That may be, but we can face that," he began wheeling away. "After yesterday, I believe we can face anything because regardless of your cynicism, the X-Men are heroes."
She was rambling she knew it, but left alone in this room with nothing to hear but the steady beep of Logan's heart monitor, Rogue felt compelled to talk.
Though she was tired as she'd told Mystique and the Professor to get rid of them, she found it impossible to close her eyes with the usually vibrant Wolverine lying so still.
It was a sight she hated seeing, him so defenseless on this tiny hospital bed.
"Is this how you felt when it was me like this?" she asked him quietly. "Aftah mah little powah struggle, did ya feel this torn up insahde watchin' me sleep and wonderin' when Ah'd wake tha hell up to let ya know Ah was ok? Ah don't lahke it. Yer tha Wolverine," she smiled at his stubble covered jaw and the wild disarray of his shaggy black hair, "yer supposed ta bounce back up aftah a foolish stunt lahke tha one ya pulled. And it was foolish, ya know? Those two telekinetics, Betsy and Nate, they had me taken care of. Ya didn't have ta try and stop mah fall."
With a half smile and sigh, she gripped his hand in both of hers and raised it to study the way his strong, blunt fingers dwarfed her daintier ones.
"But then that's what ya always do, isn't it?" she meshed the fingers of her left hand with his. "Ya've always been tha one ta catch me when Ah fall. Pretty much tha onlah one ta even notice Ah'm fallin'. Ah can't believe ya keep doin' it when Ah nevah even thank ya. Ah don't usually have much reason ta thank people, but Ah'm getting' kinda good at it so ya bettah open those eyes of yers so Ah can tell ya how much all that means ta me. 'Cause it means a hell of a lot, ya always bein' thare. And Ah'm gonna do tha same fer you from now on. Ya hear that," she squeezed his hand and gave it a little shake. "Next tahme ya think of pullin' some crazy stunt lahke ya did fer me yestahday ya bettah believe Ah'm gonna be rahght behind ya ta make sure ya don't get yourself killed. Don't do me much good havin' ya save mah lahfe so often if ya go and lose yers in tha process 'cause a big part of whah Ah even give a damn about this lahfe is you."
Tears filled her eyes at his continued lack of a response to her chattering and she pressed a kiss against each of the knuckles of the hand she held.
"Ah don't know really know anythang about love. Ahrene cared fer me, but Ah think she always held part of herself back from me. Ah guess it was 'cause she always knew Mystique would be back fer me and she didn't wanna really get too attached. Even if she has made a lot of progress in redeemin' herself, Ah can't help hopin' whatevah tha hell Mystique feels fer me isn't love 'cause Ah just can't accept that anyone who truly cared about anothah person would hurt me as much as she has. Ah've got a lot of friends here and Kurt loves me, even aftah what Ah did, Ah know he loves me lahke a sistah, but when it comes ta love love Ah got nothin' ta go by."
Having become totally focused on what she was saying, Marie failed to notice the jerking of the fingers intertwined with her own before they gripped her hand gently.
"Still Ah'm pretty sure Ah love you, Logan, whatevah that means. Ah know that ya fill a good many of mah thoughts and in really good ways anymore. Ah know that Ah look forward to every moment we spend togethah and Ah love tha fact that ya always have tahme for me. Ya talk ta me and ya undahstand how Ah feel and everything Ah say and ya even get tha things Ah can't say. Tha things Ah just don't know how ta say. And its tha same with me fer you. Ah know when yer nightmares are botherin' ya again but ya feel ya can't tell anyone what's wrong. Ah know how much ya worry about X23 and wanna go find her to protect from tha bastards that made ya both weapons against yer will. Hell, Ah swear Ah even know what all yer growls mean now. Tha 'Ah'm not awake yet' or 'don't talk ta me till Ah've eaten' or 'ya lookin' ta get clawed, bub' or, mah personal favorite, tha 'it'll be ok' growls ya grumble with when ya don't feel lahke sayin' tha words. Ah love yer growls," she sniffled and removed one hand from his to wipe away a tear.
Her hand froze in midair, though, when with a soft growl Logan raised his hand to brush it away.
Eyes wide, she snapped her attention to his face and found him looking down at her with his eyes half open and the left corner of his mouth kicked up just a little in a weak half smile.
"Ya big fakah, you," she tried to joke, but it came out with a sob of relief.
He gave her one of those 'I'm not awake yet' growls that she'd mentioned in her ramblings and she shifted to bury her face against his t-shirt covered chest as tears flowed down her cheeks.
"Stop that, Marie," he said gruffly while gently rubbing her back, "I need water not waterworks, darlin'."
His request sank in slowly, but once she realized how hoarse his voice was as he spoke she bolted upright and rushed to get him a glass of water.
While he gulped down the liquid then handed her the empty glass with a silent request for more, she stopped the waterworks and regained some of the composure the others had all seemed to admire so much earlier.
"Ya ok now?" she asked as he downed the second glass, though she referred to more than his thirst.
"I should be askin' you that," he gave her a look that said he was asking her that now.
"Ah'm great," and she was. "Ah'm awake and you're awake and we all made it and Apocalypse is gone and," her bare fingers stroked over his furrowed brow, "Ah can control mah skin."
As she had anticipated his left eyebrow shot upward at her statement and with a smile she traced the dark brow with her thumb.
"Long story," a yawn escaped her lips.
"It can wait then," he said while shifted to the right side of the bed.
"Whatcha doin'?" she asked as he began urging her to lay in the space created by his movements.
"You're sleepy, I'm sleepy and there's room for us both. Whatcha think I'm doin'?"
Uttering a slight "Oh" of understanding, she happily took him up on the unspoken offer and climbed up next to him.
No more words were spoken as they fitted their clothed bodies together on the cramped space provided by the hospital bed. Instead they silently communicated to each other what they felt as they embraced and soon were lulled into a peaceful, healing sleep by the sound of the other's breathing and heartbeat.
Author Speaking: YES, reader's that is where I'm ending the series. It's a happy ending to how I'd like things to go yet it leaves some things unknown, as does life. All can never be revealed and wrapped up in a tidy little package, you must be given the freedom to imagine your own scenarios for how everything went. ;-) This story has just pointed you in the direction I favor.
Now, like everyone else, I eagerly await the upcoming new episodes of Evolution to see how the show's writers stun us all with their plans.