AN: I own nothing and no one portrayed here.

I'm not sure where to begin, it's been so long. What happened, you ask? Life happened. These stories were started when I had little else but work and my computer, and I have so much more than that now. Since last I wrote I have joined the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and taken up fencing, which I love very much. After being a solitary witch for years, I've joined a coven, and have made many new friends in both groups. When summer comes I'll be going back to school for culinary arts, as I hope to be a chef. My apologies to those who have waited (and waited), but with so much going on I've had neither the time or inspiration to write. I hear the voices of my characters calling me though (getting cussed out by a pissed off Cajun is no fun, let me tell you), and find myself once again at the keyboard to finish their tales. Anyone who wants to throw vegetables at me, I fully deserve it. And if anyone is still reading I thank you again, and again for your patience.

O-o-o-o-O

Beep…….beep…….beep……..

The monitor ticked off its mechanical song, telling Rogue that the person laying in the bed was still alive, still breathing. She hadn't left Remy's side since Dr. McCoy placed him here in a corner of the medlab. That had been hours ago. When they arrived back at the mansion, Beast had had Remy and Magneto taken to the medical facilities immediately. He had been sickened when he removed the bandages and found what Essex had done. Rogue could see the strain it took the large mutant not to plant his fist through the wall. She had been disgusted too. Hopefully the material taken from their heads had been destroyed in the explosion, along with the man who did the taking.

Not finding anything wrong with them other than the holes in their heads and the sedative in their systems, Beast had put both Remy and Magneto on monitors and set them out of the way for observation. Rogue had sat at her lover's side ever since. She could hear what went on around her but didn't acknowledge it. Her focus was completely on Remy.

The Morlocks were being given temporary housing at the mansion while their wounds healed and until their home could be repaired. The more seriously injured were in beds here in the medlab, until they could join the others upstairs. Feral and Thornn had beds next to each other and the two sisters talked quietly, giving dirty looks at Riptide every so often. Beast had the man under sedation, as the damage Masque had caused to his face made it difficult to breathe and kept him in constant pain. Not that McCoy felt any sympathy for the man beyond that of a doctor, but the man's screams were disturbing the other patients. The other prisoners were in holding cells, with the exception of Pyro, who had gone upstairs with Piotr and Xavier shortly after their arrival at the mansion.

Storm was in the library with Kurt, Kitty and a pot of tea. Ororo had finally broken out of her silence, but the other two mutants were keeping an eye on her in case she flipped out again, or tried to go after the prisoners downstairs. Evan's body was in a refrigeration unit pending burial, but Ororo hadn't found the words or the courage yet to call her sister and tell her that her son was dead.

While wounds were healed and others mourned, some went into denial. The minute they had returned to the Institute, Scott had gone on a mad search contacting local airports, government agencies, even NASA, to try and find some trace of Jean. Surely a woman flying through the sky wasn't an every day occurrence. He'd had no luck though. No one had seen her, or if they had they weren't talking. He refused to give up though, and the last anyone had seen of him he was still making calls and looking up flight reports.

While all this went on, Rogue continued to sit by Remy's side, holding his hand with her gloved one and brushing his hair out of his face every once in a while.

"It's almost funny" she whispered, glancing down at their joined hands. "You sat by my side, and now I'm sitting by yours. I can't find anything funny right now though. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. You're supposed to be awake right now, helping me make Logan have kittens." Oh that stupid, stupid man. If only he hadn't gone through with this, if he'd only taken Xavier's offer….. But then we wouldn't have known what was going on and the Morlocks would be killed or captured. Rogue thought sadly. No, Remy had had to do it. She knew he'd never be able to forgive himself if he hadn't. The price we're paying though….won't you please just wake up, damnit!

"How is he?" Came a quiet voice from behind her. Rogue turned and saw Piotr standing there, looking grave as he saw his friend.

"The same" she sighed. Letting go of Remy's hand, she sat so she could face the tall Russian more comfortably. "How are you?"

"Better" Piotr nodded. "The Professor and I talked, and he is going to help with my sister. We've already contacted the hospital she's in and arranged to have her brought to the States. She'll have the best medical care and I'll be able to see her whenever I want."

"That's wonderful" Rogue smiled faintly. She hadn't known what Piotr's situation was, but she was glad that it would work out. He seemed like a very nice young man. "Are you going to stay here then?"

"Yes. I've had to do some bad things to protect my sister, and I need to make up for them. I want her to be proud of me" Piotr said, pulling up another chair.

"I'm sure she will be. What about John? Will he stay?" Rogue asked. The Australian was insane, but amusing. And a talented writer, if you were into that type of book.

"It took some negotiating, but he agreed to stay. Wolverine wanted to confiscate the flamethrower and all his lighters, but Professor Xavier is allowing him to keep one lighter at any given time, along as he promises no fires on school property. He's going to set up a special Danger Room program where John can light up all he wants. You should have seen John's face." Piotr said, cracking a smile.

"They'd better fireproof his room" Rogue muttered.

"I think he'll behave" Piotr responded. "He saw that fire girl he's so crazy about and left to talk to her when we finished. I doubt he wants to get kicked out now."

"Oh god. Poor Amara."

"Maybe" Piotr shrugged. "Maybe she will help him grow up though."

"Is that possible?" Rogue asked doubtfully.

"Who knows? I never thought I'd see Remy get serious about a girl, so anything's possible." With that they both glanced at the person they cared about in their differing ways. He was so still and quiet, so different from the lively person he normally was that it was depressing.

"I never thought I would be close to someone like this, Piotr" Rogue whispered. "He's helped me stop being so afraid of myself."

"He will wake up, Rogue" Piotr said quietly. "Nothing kills cockroaches."

Rogue was going to make a sarcastic comeback but the sound of something shifting on the bed grabbed both of their attention. "Who head dent?" came a sleepy murmur.

"Remy?" Rogue asked excitedly. "Remy? Are you okay? Come on, swamp rat, wake up!"

Remy's eyes cracked open, and a sleepy smile came over his face. "Oh purty muffin, how I love raisins" he mumbled.

Rogue looked confused, but figured it was due to the drugs he had been given. "Come on Remy, wake up. You've been lying in bed too long" she smiled, happy that he was awake, no matter what silly things he was mumbling about.

Slowly, Remy stretched and shifted in the bed, then looked up at Rogue. "Is the taxi underwater?" he smiled, reaching his hand up to her face. Rogue quickly grabbed it before he could hurt himself, and kept it in her gloved one. "What are you talking about, Remy?" she asked, frowning a little now. "Can you go get Dr. McCoy?" she asked Piotr. The young man nodded and left to find the doctor.

"How are you feeling, Remy?" Rogue asked, putting their joined hands in her lap. "I've seen a pirate ship collapse" he shrugged. Rogue wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. Did Essex scramble Remy's brain somehow? "Um…..okay" she finally replied. "Dr. McCoy will be here soon and he'll check you out."

"The chickens are quite sexy tonight" Remy grinned, tracing his thumb over her clothed wrist lazily. Thankfully for Rogue she was spared having to answer that because Hank came over a moment later. "Ah, our Cajun transplant is awake" he said happily. "And how are you feeling today, Mr. Lebeau?"

"Melba toast and gravy would be lovely" Remy said, playing with Rogue's fingers now. McCoy blinked. "I see what you mean" he said to Piotr. "Remy, do you know what day it is?"

"Library of Congress" he responded confidently.

"I was afraid of this" Hank sighed. "Essex cut into the front part of the brain, which controls thought processes, among other things, and Remy's are now a little…..off kilter." Rogue's eyes grew wide with horror. "Do you mean he's……brain damaged now? Can it be fixed?"

"Yes Rogue, thankfully the brain can adapt to damage and retrain itself to work around it. I'm not sure how long it will take yet, I'll have to do some tests to see how far the damage goes. In the meantime though I'll need to keep him down here to keep an eye on him" Hank said, looking at Remy regretfully. "I'd like to get my hands on that doctor" he muttered angrily. "He has no right playing with people's bodies like that."

Rogue looked down at hers and Remy's clasped hands, his fingers stroking her palm. He seemed okay, he was awake, talking and moving, but when he opened his mouth……..something surreal came out. It was like his brain couldn't pick the right words for what he wanted to say. It could have been worse, it could have been much worse, she kept reminding herself.

"Piotr, could you tell the Professor that he's awake?" Hank asked, and the younger man nodded and left the room. Then he turned back to Rogue, who remained quiet.

"I don't want you to panic, Rogue. I know it seems scary, but new developments with brain injuries are being made all the time. Depending on the extent of the damage I think he has a very good chance of recovering." During this, Remy sat on the bed and clutched Rogue's hand, a look of disbelief on his face.

"Are the British raiding pins and needles?" he asked with concern.

Hank paused, not sure how to translate that question. "If you're asking me if you'll be okay, Remy, then the answer is yes."

If this wasn't so serious, Rogue would have laughed at the nonsense coming out of Remy's mouth. There wasn't anything funny about this though. Not a damn thing.

"So what do we do now?" she asked McCoy.

"Well, let him rest, have something to eat if he's hungry, and I'll do some tests later when he's more awake. Right now I need to check on our other post surgery patient" Hank said, referring to Magneto, who was on the other side of the room. "We'll help him, Rogue" he said comfortingly, laying a hand on her shoulder for a moment.

"Thanks. I know you'll do everything you can" she gratefully, and McCoy left them to check on his other patients. Okay, so how does one communicate with a person who can only talk nonsense? Rogue thought to herself. "Alright Remy, since we're having problems in the communications department, how about this: You nod your head for yes, and shake it for no when I ask you questions. Okay?" Remy paused for a moment, then nodded.

Rogue smiled. It was a start. "Good. Are you hungry?" Remy nodded. "Would you like a sandwich?" Another nod. "Okay, I'll be back in a few minutes" Rogue said and got up, kissing the top of Remy's head before leaving the room.

Oy, this is going to be a long day.

O-o-o-o-O

Piotr was just leaving Xavier's office after having given his report on Remy when Logan walked in. He sat down in one of the chairs and almost lit up a cigar when he remembered the no smoking rule in the mansion. It had been such a trying day that he'd nearly forgotten. Charles noticed the near blunder but didn't say anything.

"Are you going to let the kid keep pushing himself like that?" Logan asked, referring to Scott. The young man was exhausted but he wouldn't stop to rest, eat or anything; he just kept up his relentless search for Jean.

"Short of knocking him out, I don't think I could stop him" Charles said, shaking his head slightly. "He needs to do this. I think only exhausting himself will allow him to accept the truth. I don't think Jean is coming back; or if she does she won't be the same person we knew."

Logan nodded, not knowing what to say. Jean's transformation had completely taken him by surprise, and as much as he'd like to help his student, there wasn't much he could do in the face of what seemed to be an internal struggle. Xavier's voice broke him from his thoughts. "Is the fire under control?"

After making sure everyone returned safely to the mansion, Logan had returned to the lab to help put out the fire and clean up from the explosion. "Yes, it's put out but there's not much left of the building. The lab was completely destroyed. There's a problem though" he paused a moment, fingering the cigar in his pocket. "We searched afterwards for bodies and there were none, nor any remains. I don't know how, but Essex somehow managed to get out of there."

O-o-o-o-O