Rogue snuck back into the mansion early that morning, trying not to disturb the people in the house who had actually spent the night sleeping rather than running about with a certain thief.
She felt wiped. Both physically and emotionally exhausted by everything. All she wanted to do was collapse into her bed and spend several blissful hours dead to the world.
Apparently the universe had another plan.
Sitting on her bed was a small white envelope with her name written on it. Inside was a piece of paper with a time and address written on it and nothing else. Rogue knew that it wasn't from any of the X-Men. They would have signed their names or just told her themselves instead of writing a note, and she had just seen Remy so she doubted it was from him.
Rogue searched her room for any other little "gifts" or clues as to who sent her the note. After finding nothing she sighed and glanced at the clock. If she was going to go to this mysterious meeting, she had to leave in less than two hours. If she tried to grab a hour of sleep, she just be worse off than if she stayed up.
Rogue sighed and headed towards the shower. Maybe breakfast and a lot of coffee would be enough to keep her functioning for a little while longer.
Downstairs, after showering, Rogue found Logan glowering at the coffee maker, watching the drips of dark liquid fall into the pot underneath with agonizing slowness. It made her smile to see the man that struck such fear into people's hearts glaring at an unaffected coffee maker.
Logan was truly an amazing individual. He was just as scary of a person to cross as his attitude suggested but there was another side to him. A side that made you desperately want this man as your friend and not just an ally. There was a wicked sense of humor and a kindness buried under the hardened warrior.
She never failed to be shocked by the way that, even covered in dirt and blood, he could inspire trust in children. It was like they saw straight through the harsh exterior to the soul inside and knew that they would find shelter there from all the world's pains. She still remembered how, a year ago, they had found a little girl, no older than five, caught in one of the mutant riots. Her purple hair had given her away as a mutant and the mob had been chasing her down. She had run straight to Logan like a compass needle pointing north and clung to him. Even after they had gotten the situation under control she had refused to relinquish her death grip on the older man. And Logan hadn't tried to force her to let go. He had just accepted her needing him with that silent wisdom of his. For a week they had been inseparable. And when they had found out that the girl was from the local orphanage, it was Logan who had called Xavier and told him, not asked but told, that Xavier would be getting things arranged for her to live at the school.
And it was no coincidence that Logan always seemed to have his own special herd of students following him. For someone who was at heart a loner, he "adopted" more children than anyone other than Xavier.
Rogue grabbed a cup and quickly snatched the pot, putting her cup under it to catch the still falling liquid from the machine.
"Hey!" Logan growled out at her, "Stripes, just because I love ya darlin' doesn't mean I won't kill you for stealing my coffee."
Rogue laughed and poured the coffee from the pot into a second mug, which she then presented to Logan with a flourish.
"I would never dream of stealing another man's caffeine."
Logan just grabbed the mug from her and took a sip, still watching her as if he still wasn't sure she wasn't going to try and steal his coffee from his hands. As Rogue tried to coax the coffee maker to work faster, she glanced at Logan.
She was glad to have been this man's friend. He had taught her so much over the years. How to fight, how to drink and even how to just deal with life. That last one was the hardest thing to teach and the most important thing a person could ever learn. Not to mention he had forced her to learn Japanese. There were some stories the old man refused to tell in any other language. Truthfully, she had sped up her learning time through use of her powers but it had still taken his prompting to make her want to learn.
And it had been worth it. Logan told great stories.
When the coffee maker had finally produced enough of the dark fluid of life to fill another mug, Rogue filled hers and sat down at the table across from Logan who had started reading the morning paper.
She should probably take someone with her when she left. That would be the smart, responsible thing to do after all. Especially when one was going to a secret meeting with an unknown person or persons for an unknown reason. Actually, the real question was why the heck she was going. After all, if any of her kids had tried to do anything this stupid she would have read them the riot act for weeks.
So. Okay, in the interest of being a good role model (even though none of her kids were even in this country to see her make the attempt) she would take back up with her on this meeting. And taking Logan as back up was seeming like a wonderful idea. At least that was what her brain, now nourished by heavenly java juice, was telling her.
Rogue shook her head in exasperation at her own thoughts. She only got this eloquent when she was really bloody tired or drunk. And though she was on a liquid diet today it seemed, the drug in the liquid was more of the caffeine variety than the alcoholic type.
Stimulants. No depressants. Depressants bad.
Alright, so the higher brain functions were still not working properly. All the more reason to bring someone with her.
"Hey." Rogue said, kicking Logan lightly under the table to get his attention.
Logan looked up, eyebrows raised in silent query.
"You got any plans today?" Rogue asked.
"Nothing that can't be put off. You need something, darlin'?" he asked, putting down the paper.
"Yea. Take a look at this." Rogue said, pulling out the note from her back pocket and tossing it across the table.
Logan scanned the paper quickly before looking back at her, "You know who sent this?"
"Not a clue." Rogue said, taking another sip of her coffee.
Logan looked at her for a second, thinking, before nodding, "When did you want to head out?"
Rogue smiled at the easy acceptance Logan gave the whole situation. Partly it came from being an X-man. No one could live like they did and get too excited over something like an anonymous note. But a lot of it was just the fact that they knew each other. They had worked together before and each knew how the other one thought. Logan knew she was going to go and the only reason he was seeing the note was because he was being invited along.
Rogue glanced at her watch, "Leave in a half an hour?"
"Sounds good to me." Logan said, returning to his paper as Rogue got up to refill her mug. She definitely needed more coffee in her system if she was going to be staying awake for what was coming. After all, it didn't look good for the heroes to fall asleep during the bad guys' speech about world domination or whatever it was the bad guys were going to be babbling about this time.
Rogue and Logan left without telling anyone else. Logan understood why without having to ask. She had a new life, one away from the mansion, with its own responsibilities and problems. And those problems were no longer automatically the problems of the X-Men. Logan could understand that. He also had a life outside of the X-Men, one that he didn't always want them to be a part of. And so they left without telling anyone they were leaving or why. Hopefully they would be back before anyone decided to come looking for them.
The place they were headed was close to the old Brotherhood house. The Brotherhood had moved out of that house a long time ago, but Kitty had told her that Lance had bought the place and still owned it. Something about protecting it from people who wouldn't appreciate the house's unique character. Rogue had smiled when she heard this. It was something so typically Lance. Covering up his sentimentality with a joke. But she was glad that the old house was owned by Lance. She had some fond memories of living there despite all the bad. Maybe someday she and Lance could fix the place up a little, kind of as a thank you to the house that had taken in the world's misfits and sheltered them.
Logan grunted and pointed his head at the place they were headed. He had recognized the address earlier of where they were going as an old empty lot. It looked just as he had described. The grass and trees had long been dug up, leaving nothing but trash and dirt to accumulate.
Rogue slid off her bike, removing her helmet as Logan got off his bike. She loved Logan's bike. It was a beautiful machine, full of power and grace. Not, she thought looking down at the bike she had been on with a small smile, that Scott had bad taste in bike either. Logan took off his helmet, and looked over at her. She always thought it was great that Logan wore a helmet. He claimed it was because it was the law and he didn't want to have to deal with some traffic cop and tickets. But Rogue suspected that it was really that Logan, even though he could heal from anything, didn't want to take any more wounds than he had to. After all, just because the man could heal, didn't mean he couldn't feel. And Rogue knew from person experience that blows to the head hurt like hell. She knew if their roles were reversed, she would put as much padding between her and the world as possible.
Rogue, without thinking, summoned Logan's powers in her and sniffed the air, trying to scent out who had been in the area recently and if anyone was nearby now. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Logan doing the same thing and almost laughed at the picture they must present.
The air was full of the overwhelmingly sweet smell of rotting garbage. It masked the subtler smells that would have told her who or what was in the area. Rogue gave up with a frustrated snort. She was not good at reading the world through smell. Maybe Logan would be able to make out something she couldn't. It was one of his specialties after all.
Everywhere there were signs of scavengers. Rats darted through the shadows while crows circled over head. Rogue squinted up at the birds. One of those was too big to be a crow. It must be a...
Mystique landed, changing her form while still in mid air in a move that Rogue couldn't help but admire. She knew for a fact that doing a trick like that and making it look as easy as walking took a good measure of pure grace and skill. The first time she had tried to do it, she had managed to land flat on her face, but not before knocking over a table and shattering several glasses.
"Mystique." Rogue said, trying to hide her disgust.
"Rogue." The woman nodded to her, before nodding at her companion, "Logan. Thank you for coming."
Rogue snorted, "Yeah, well, curiosity was always one of mah vices. What do ya want?"
"I need to talk to you about Irene." Mystique answered, a flash of remorse crossing her features at the mention of the dead woman, "You received her journals?"
"How...? Never mind, yea. Ah have her journals. Ya can't have 'em." Rogue said, wondering anew about those books.
Mystique sneered, "I never want to see those things again in my life. They are cursed. They ruined more lives than you can imagine."
Rogue started at the anger in the blue woman's voice, "What do ya mean?"
"I came here to warn you, Rogue. Those books hold Destiny's prophesies. In them is the future of the world. The entire future is written down up to and beyond the end of the world."
"Wait! The end of the world? What are ya talkin' about?" Rogue interrupted.
"Destiny saw there was an apocalypse coming. Soon. The end of the world. And after that, the world was reborn." Mystique took a deep breath, meeting Rogue's eyes, "Irene died, knowing she would die that day at the hands of people who were coming for those journals. That is how you got them."
"Irene...knew?" Rogue asked, already knowing the answer.
A strange look passed Mystique's face, "Yes. If she had told me before...But she didn't. Instead she wrote me a letter, telling me. And so I have come to warn you. I would have destroyed those journals but they are yours now. Along with the future of the world."
With that Mystique turned to leave.
"Wait!" Logan growled out, "Why don't you want something like that?"
The other woman half turned back, looking over her shoulder at them, "I worked for over ten years with Irene to stop some of the prophesies in those books from coming true and it destroyed any happiness my life may have had. I have too many regrets to take even one more step down the path to hell those books represent."
With that the other woman walked away, disappearing as she changed form into a cat and sauntered off.
Logan and Rogue ended up sitting outside the Mansion on the front steps. Rogue wasn't willing to go back yet and face anyone and Logan was worried about her.
"What are you going to do kid?" He asked, glancing over at her.
"I don't know. If what Mystique said was true than those books are important but...And someone is after them which means it is only a matter of time before they track me down." Rogue said, staring out over Xavier's perfectly kept estate.
"Having the future written out ahead of time is a big weapon." Logan pointed out.
"I know. Which means that they can't fall into the wrong hands." Rogue agreed.
"Now darlin', don't go takin' this the wrong way but who would you trust the future to? Who's the right hands?" Logan asked, lighting a cigar as he waited for her to answer.
Rogue fidgeted slightly as she struggled to take in everything Logan's comment had just implied. The books were given to her by Irene, who was killed by someone who was after them. But Mystique seemed to think that the books were too dangerous for anyone to have. Which is why Irene sent them to Rogue and not Mystique. But if Mystique was the one advocating their destruction, what did that mean? The shape shifter was a confusing one, her motives were never clear and her plans so multi-layered that one was never sure when you had gotten to the bottom of one. Was Mystique manipulating her in some larger game or was she truly leaving the game like she said she was?
Rogue didn't know enough. She wanted to talk to Mystique more but the shape shifter had said all she was willing to say. Rogue couldn't help but wonder if the other woman was still acting out some small part as dictated by Destiny's prophesies.
A part of Rogue, the child she had been, wanted to believe that she could trust the X-Men with this. They were her family and the "good guys". But she had grown up and learned some harsh truths about the world. She knew the lines were never clear. And if she was being honest, they never had been. She had a history herself of playing on multiple sides depending on the situation. She had started out with the brotherhood, and then joined the X-Men when Mystique screwed up and her lies got revealed. But she still had fond memories of the Brotherhood and could never make them the "enemy" in her head. They were always people, old friends and allies, to her. And then there were Magneto's Acolytes, another group that were never simply the "bad guys", but rather individual people.
A lot of this she blamed on her mutation. Having people's memories, motivations and emotions pour into her made it impossible to think of someone one-dimensionally. There were all these extra little facets to their characters that made it impossible to keep things neat and clean. It was one of the reasons Rogue had always liked to study history. Historians often would give you a simple, clear cut answer to any question you asked. But if you asked the right questions you were suddenly flooded with the thousands of tiny little factors and the individual people's contributions to any one historical event till you were forced to acknowledge that there was too much going on at anyone time to ever truly understand why something happened just the way it did. It let Rogue know that she wasn't the only one confused by people as she listened to historians argue over some ancient leader's motivations for attacking his neighbor.
If she was going to be honest, she knew that the best thing in to do, if Mystique was telling the truth, was destroy those books. But she couldn't. They were the true legacy of the woman who had raised her and she wanted to read them. To understand why Mystique had done the things she had, to know the truth about the world and the X-Man in her wanted to save the world. And knowing the future was the best way to do that. Right?
Rogue sighed and shook her head, "I don't know. I just...don't know."
Rogue walked quietly down the hall. Hank was somewhere down here, translating a book that she no longer was sure should be translated.
Walking into his office, she found him surrounded by piles of books and papers in something that could only be described as organized chaos. Hank was sitting in the middle of it all, absorbed in the papers he was reading and absent mindedly eating a sandwich.
Rogue cleared her throat and smiled as the large man jumped.
"Rogue!" Hank exclaimed, "I did not hear you come in. Please, take a seat."
Rogue glance around and eventually excavated a chair out from the pile of books that it had previously disappeared under. Plopping down, she glanced at the books she had just moved. Many were medical text with such long titles that Rogue feared what was written inside. A few papers had notes and pictures scribbled in the margins, completely undecipherable to anyone who wasn't a large, blue mutant genius in a lab coat.
"Rogue, I am sorry to say that I have no knew information on the journals you brought me. They are a complex make-up of several languages and codes that will take me quite a while to unravel. It will be a challenge." Beast said, looking rather pleased with the puzzle he had been given.
Rogue smiled at her old friend wryly. He was enjoying having a puzzle to solve that did not have life or death consequences, she could tell. And she was about to take that nice, safe puzzle away and replace it with something dangerous to the world.
"Hank, I was wondering if you could...hold off on the research for a while." Rogue began cautiously.
"If I might ask, why? Earlier you seemed eager to understand these books." Hank asked, peering at her and a thoughtful look crossed his face. "Might this have anything to do with the intruders last night?"
"I think they were after the books." Rogue admitted.
"But then, logically speaking, it would be even more urgent for us to decipher these books to find out why they are wanted. Unless there is more that I am missing?" Hank asked calmly.
Rogue looked at Beast's large blue frame and made a quick decision, "Hank...I found out that those books...They are Destiny's predictions."
Hank nodded, "Ah, I see. And those people after them wish to read what the seer had to say. Do you by any chance know how far Destiny was able to see into the future?"
Rogue looked grimly at her friend, "Till the end of the world."
Hank agreed to stop researching the texts till she asked otherwise. He was able to understand how dangerous such information could be. How even knowing how the future will go may destroy it.
But he also encouraged her to speak to Professor Xavier. Rogue wanted to, but a part of her wondered if the Professor would be able to understand the dangers of the future. What if it said somewhere that one of the X-Men died? Would Xavier be able to let that happen if he could stop it?
Everybody had to die eventually. Did she really want to know when her friends and family would die? Even if it was of old age, in their beds after a long and happy life. Did she really want it spelled out for her exactly how much time she had with them?
But what if the future needed to be changed? What if that was why Irene had sent her the journals? She and Mystique had worked for years trying to change the future. Wasn't that an indication that they felt it needed to be changed? Was it horrible? So horrible that any future was better?
Shouldn't the end of the world be fought against?
Rogue looked down at her gloved hands. Slowly, she pulled one off and felt the air touch her hand. Staring at her hand she wondered if other people appreciated the abilitly to touch the world. Not just other people, but the air as the wind pushed it through the grass or the page of a book as you turned the page. It had taken her months to be able to function with gloves on. People "saw" as much of the world with their hands as with her eyes she felt sometimes. In a way, that meant she was half blind. Simple things like how much pressure to apply when holding a potato chip, something most people didn't even consider, with her gloves on became difficult.
Staring at her hand she wondered if the fact that she was half blind in the world made her a better or worse person to decide the fate of the world?
AN: So I refound this story and added a new chapter to it. Sorry about being a slow author and all that. I also went through the other chapters and touched them up. What can I say, I'm a Poli Sci major on the night of the election. I need something to take my mind off the coming civil war.