Forge seemed to have finished his story for now, but Rogue was not finished. Not by a long shot. She had more questions, but Logan and Scott managed to steer her father's attention away from her in order to grill him more about Magneto and this machine he'd worked on.
Wow. Her father. How long would it take before those words didn't feel foreign to her, even when only spoken within her mind? She didn't know. She'd gotten used to the idea of not having a father years ago, had accepted that Irene wasn't going to answer her questions about the man who'd played a role in creating her. So finding out that he existed and wanted to be a part of her life now was…odd, and she wasn't sure how to deal with it. Learning about Kurt was both a shock and a joy. He was a truly good man and she was happy to have him in her life. She had no kind of resentment or ill will towards him at all for any of what had happened; he was just as much a victim in all of this as she was.
Forge, on the other hand, was a completely different story. He'd played an active role in the deception that surrounded her life, even if it wasn't originally his idea. Or so he said.
Was he telling the truth? Rogue couldn't imagine why anyone would want to make up a story like this, but he'd said some horrible things about both her mother and Irene, things she didn't want to believe about the women who'd born and raised her, and neither of them were here to defend themselves. Out of the principal players in his little drama, he was the only survivor; unless one counted Magneto, but Rogue didn't expect to get an honest answer out of a terrorist, especially not one who apparently wanted to recruit her. No, she had to count on Forge for her answers, and she could think of only one way she could be absolutely sure of what he was telling her.
"Show me." Rogue said, but her voice came out quietly and the men around her apparently didn't hear her, for their conversation continued.
The idea of doing this made her nervous, using her mutation always did. As much as she wanted the truth she also did not want to hurt Forge; but Remy had touched her a few times now with few ill effects (apart from her taking on his memories, power and eyes), and the experience had proven useful in the information he'd been able to share with her. It had allowed her to deal with her surroundings when they went roller skating, and had even allowed her to see what her brother looked like. Now she was presented with someone who seemed to have the answers to the questions of her life, the answers to everything, and she found herself wanting to know. Who was he, this person who'd apparently sat on the outskirts of her life for so many years? What was he like? What did he know about her mother? Rogue found herself wanting to know that badly. Raven Darkholme was a mystery. According to Irene she was an intelligent, passionate woman who'd died too soon but who had loved Rogue before she was even born. According to Forge she was the manipulative assistant to a terrorist. What was the truth? Her father was the only person left who could help her answer that. She was tired of the important things of her life being kept from her; she wanted to know it all.
She knew she'd get much more than just memories of her mother if she touched Forge, but she told herself that he owed her this. There were almost eighteen years of catching up to do with this man, a lifetime of a relationship that he'd deprived her of. But there was no going back and doing it over. The crash course would have to do.
"Show me." Rogue said, more loudly now, a harsh tone in her voice. The voices around fell silent.
"What do you mean, Rogue?" Remy asked.
She removed her hand from his, and took off one glove, but when she answered it wasn't her friend that she was talking to.
"You tell us this whole story, and everyone else pretty much has to believe you because there's nobody to tell us otherwise. My mother and Irene, they're both dead. You're the only one left. But me, I don't have to just take your word for it. I can find out the truth for myself, and you're going to show me. Show me everything that happened. Show me my mother. Show me who you are, and why I should believe you." Rogue demanded, stretching out her hand, but there was just silence for a moment. "Do you know what I can do, did Irene ever tell you?"
"Yes." Forge answered. "Are sure you want to do this? Irene told me it can hurt you, this power of yours."
"Yes. I need to know. What about you, are you afraid of what I'll see?"
His answer was immediate. "No. The only thing I've ever wanted was to exist for you."
They were simple words, but they struck something deep inside of her, and Rogue swallowed. She didn't retract her hand though, and a moment later a larger hand surrounded it.
"Forge, you sure you should be doing that…" someone said but Rogue couldn't tell who it was.
All of her attention was focused on the hand that was clasping hers. It felt rough to her skin, and her mind registered the feeling of callouses on his palm. That was all she had time to notice before the first of his thoughts hit her. It was like diving into an ice-cold lake; startling and intense, it was hitting her all at once and she gasped out loud, feeling the weight of a man's life pour into her. This was nothing like any of the times Remy had touched her, or anyone else for that matter, except for maybe Cody. The first time had been hesitant and he'd not had any kind of understanding of what she could do. The other times were brief, light touches made with the intent of just imparting certain pieces of information.
But this…here was someone who knew exactly what she could do, and furthermore he wanted it. She could feel Forge's longing and desperation for her to know, to see everything; and caught up in the moment and the power of what she was feeling, she clutched his hand until finally someone tore it away from her. Rogue fell forward, feeling the loss as that connection was taken away from her, but someone grabbed her shoulders, keeping her in her seat. In the back of her mind part of her knew it had to be Remy, but the rest of her was too caught up in what she'd been given to really acknowledge or care about anything else.
Touching Forge was unlike any other absorption she'd ever experienced. Other than Remy and Cody, the other people she'd touched were accidents and she could always feel their hate and fear of her like a stinging, bitter liquid their thoughts and memories were steeped in. But to touch someone who loved her was something she'd never really experienced. Because that was the first thing she felt from him; a deep, abiding love that was like nothing she could have ever imagined. No hate, and the only fear she felt from him was the fear that she would hate him.
The world of her mind opened up and Rogue saw herself through her father's eyes. Memories of the few times he'd seen her in person, and she looked over these memories in wonder because she'd not seen her own face in over seven years. The picture she had of herself in her own mind was that of a ten year old girl. Naturally she knew that she'd grown up and was different now, but those changes were a mystery to her and so to see herself in the present day was almost like seeing a stranger. These images of course were flavored with the bias of the one she'd absorbed, and so she saw what the remnant of Forge that was in her mind called a beautiful young woman. When did she get so beautiful? Rogue heard a voice whisper in her mind. She sat in what looked like a kitchen, and behind her stood a man who Forge's mind called Remy. If seeing herself for the first time in years through the eyes of her father was odd, then seeing the person who'd become her closest friend by this method was even more so. Forge was grateful to Remy for having taken care of her, but he was a little wary of the man who Logan had called a thief, and part of him was jealous of how close they were.
These feelings tainted the memory for her, but as for herself, Rogue was fascinated. What she was seeing was a tall, very handsome young man. He'd described his eyes to her and she thought it had sounded kind of cool, but seeing them was something else. They were dark and intense, and she couldn't help but find them beautiful. If she didn't already love Remy, she thought she'd be halfway there just from seeing those eyes. He was tall and lean, but having hugged him before she knew he was well-muscled. Dark hair hung shaggily around the base of his neck, and a shadow of scruff graced his chin and upper lip.
The image faded though and she fell farther into Forge's memories. She felt the pain and fear when Magneto captured him…
"What makes you so sure I'll help you?"
Erik smiled, but there was no trace of pleasantness in it. "Because otherwise I would need to take a little trip. To Mississippi. There's a young lady there who I've never met, but I've wanted to for a long time."
Forge felt like his blood was turning to ice in his veins. No….
His panic must have shown on his face because the older man's smile turned cruel. "Did you honestly think I didn't know? Did you think I wouldn't find out what Destiny was hiding from me? I've known all along. Raven told me right from the beginning, in fact the child was promised to me. Destiny told her about the power girl would capable of, and Raven promised to train her for me. After she died I was told that the child had died with her, but I found out later that Irene lied."
Forge was horrified. Irene had lied to him. "No…she said you never knew…" he said quietly.
"Destiny can be quite manipulative when she wants to be." Erik said. "Is that why you've stayed away all these years? Did she tell you that you had to stay away, or otherwise I'd find out? I keep an eye on them, probably more than you do, and we've rarely seen you visit. Tell me Forge, does your daughter even know you exist?"
From there she just fell faster and faster, a cacophony of images and voices overwhelming her. Some had clear thoughts and emotions attached, while others were snippets of thought.
"I hope you're satisfied." He muttered, and closed his eyes briefly before turning around to leave the cemetery.
"Her mother and I weren't married. We became estranged, and she died giving birth to Rogue. I was fighting in the war in the Middle East when it happened. When I came back Raven had already given her best friend custody of Rogue in her will. I had been badly injured in battle, and was in no condition to take care of a child, plus Irene had decided to keep her away from me…I just want to know where she is….I'm all she has left."
The room was quiet except for the sound of the various machines monitoring the vitals of the single patient there. Rogue lay like a doll on the bed, eyes closed, connected to the machines nearby, too quiet, too still.
"You shouldn't have come." Irene said quietly, and Forge was forced to acknowledge her finally.
"You honestly expected me to stay away? You had to know I would come here when you called. I couldn't not do it; she's still my child."
"I almost didn't call."
"I wouldn't put it past you. We had an agreement though."
"It's the only reason I did." Irene replied.
Forge moved past Irene, almost shoving the blind woman aside as he entered the room she'd tried to keep him out of. He was still trying to get used to his new leg and so his steps were slow and awkward, but he made it into the room and stopped, looking around him. It was a nursery, the walls painted a soft yellow, with pictures of flowers and innocent, happy animals. In the middle of the room was a crib, and Forged looked down to see a baby lying on her back. At first he thought she was asleep, but then her lids opened and eyes of the prettiest green gazed up at him.
"She's beautiful." He whispered, feeling his heart tighten in a way he'd never experienced before.
"I named her Rogue." Irene said from behind him. "It wasn't my first choice, but having seen what lies ahead of her, it seemed the most appropriate one."
"So you've had visions about her already?" Forge knew that Irene had the ability to see the future, and while they didn't get along personally, he did respect her power.
"Yes, and what I have seen frightens me, especially now that you have returned. Come with me, there is much we need to talk about."
"GET OUT!" Raven screamed, and Forge ducked to avoid the plate she threw at him. It was a near miss though, and he was glad that she hadn't started throwing knives yet. But given this was Raven, he wouldn't put it past her for those to be next. The melody of a favorite tune tinkled from the radio in the background, and it felt incongruous to be screaming at each other in the middle of a love song, but wasn't that just typical of them? Passion and anger and unrealistic expectations on both sides: that was their relationship.
"GLADLY! I wanted to be your husband, not Erik's pet scientist." He threw back at her bitterly. "You've made it perfectly clear you just wanted a sperm donor though, and another follower for your lord and master's little terrorist army. Well I won't do it. You can find someone else to roll over and play lackey for you. I'm done."
The door slammed behind him with a very satisfying crash as Forge stalked out of the house. A little voice inside reminded him that she was carrying his child and that in doing this he was leaving him or her behind, but right now Forge was just too angry. He'd wanted to start a family with Raven, but she'd thrown his love back in his face and tried to turn the possibility of a future together into a business transaction. Well he couldn't do it. He couldn't stay with her on her terms, which ultimately were Erik's terms. The older man made Forge feel like a fifth wheel in their relationship. Raven would never side with him against Erik if it came to blows, and Forge could very easily see things going that way if he stayed.
So he wouldn't stay.
Forge groaned as Raven collapsed against his chest, but not in pain. He was still experiencing the aftershocks of the pleasure they'd just shared, and he figured she could probably get up and dance on his worn out body right now and he wouldn't care. Brushing back a strand of sweat-dampened red hair from her face, he looked up into her golden eyes. "God I love you." He murmured, feeling tired, sated and just completely happy with the world.
Raven smiled down at him. "Love you too." She whispered, before brushing her mouth softly against his. With a sigh, she laid her head on his chest and relaxed, still connected to his body.
"If you lay like that too long you're going to get a crick in your neck." Forge said, running one hand down her back. Her skin was unusually textured, which might have been a turn off for some, but he found himself loving her differences and loved touching her rich curves.
"Don't care." His girlfriend mumbled, not bothering to open her eyes.
"Well I do, you're a pain in the butt when you're in pain." Forge replied, teasing her. "Come on, get up."
"Oh fine." Raven grumbled, then rolled off of him to lay beside him on his bed. They usually stayed at his place on these nights out of respect for her roommate Irene, who, despite Raven never coming out and saying so, it was clear that she'd had more than a friendly relationship with in the past. That was fine with him; he preferred privacy for times like this anyway.
Raven stretched herself out beside him and wrapped one arm around him before laying her head against his chest again.
"Better?" she asked, a note of amusement in her voice.
"Much." He replied, closing his eyes. They were quiet for a time, and Forge was slipping into the depths of post-coitus slumber when Raven spoke again.
"Have you thought some more about the offer Erik made you? It's a very good one; I doubt even the government could give you better terms than what he is offering."
Snatched back from the arms of sleep, Forge opened his eyes in annoyance. She was right; the pay that Erik was offering for Forge's services was very good, but he'd already told the man no. Forge was not interested in creating weaponry for a mutant army. Was Erik right in that there would be a war when humans found out about the existence of mutants? Probably, but Forge was not about to help anyone strike the first blow. He wasn't a pacifist, it just wasn't a war he could see anyone winning.
"Raven if you just want to try to convince me….again…to work with Lehnsherr, then you can go sleep in your own bed. If not, you're welcome to stay here. I've already told him no, and that's my final answer. Goodnight." With that he rolled over, dislodging her arm, and faced away from her, closed his eyes again in the hopes of falling asleep.
The woman that approached him was tall and slender, with hair of a deep red color he could never remember seeing on another person before. The light of the chandelier above them caused it to glow, and it was as if the heart of the sun was caught within it. So intrigued was he, that Forge barely heard him when his coworker spoke, and so the man had to poke him again.
"Hey, man, I know she's a looker, but try to wake up, eh?" he laughed as Forge snapped out of it and looked at him.
"Oh, sorry. What were you saying?"
The other man grinned. "I'll try again. This is Raven Darkholme, from DARPA. Lucky you. I wish the government wanted me bad enough to send someone like her."
Ms. Darkholme's face showed amusement at this exchange, and the smile on her face reached her blue eyes as she offered one fair-skinned hand.
"Nice to meet you, Ms. Darkholme." Forge said, taking that hand briefly but politely.
Other names and faces floated through her mind's eye, but right now all Rogue wanted was to grasp onto the memories of her mother. Some were happy, others not so much, but they were all she would ever have of this woman so she clung and went over them, reliving every moment she could find in Forge's memory. She didn't know how long she spent in this daze, but all too soon the memories were fading away into the back of her mind where the thoughts of all the other people she absorbed went, and for the first time she mourned that loss.
"No….." she whimpered softly as she tried to fight her mind's desire to return to itself.
"Rogue, chere, you okay?" Remy's voice came from somewhere above her, and she wasn't sure how long she'd stayed like this, but as she came back to herself Rogue realized that she was lying on something but it wasn't hard enough to be the floor.
She groaned and stretched, causing one foot to fall off of whatever she was on. "What…what happened? Where am I?"
It was Kurt that answered. "You collapsed, so I brought you back here to the med lab. You've been out of it for about half an hour."
"And Forge, is he okay?" Rogue was a little ashamed that she hadn't thought more about her father's welfare in all this, but she justified it to herself as being something he owed her and after all, it turned out that he'd wanted to do this for her as much as she'd needed it.
"He's unconscious still." Dr. McCoy answered. "We brought him down here as well but I'm not sure what to do for him, if anything. Do you know how long it will last?"
Rogue shook her head and started to sit up. "I don't know. It's not like I go around touching people. Some people are out for a few minutes, some longer, and some don't get knocked out at all. I think it depends on how long I touch them."
"Well, that is something we will have to study in the future. For now though I will just keep an eye on him until he wakes up. But what about you, how do you feel?"
"I'm okay, I guess. I've never touched anyone for so long before." Rogue said, rubbing her forehead. Forge's….mind…voice….ghost? The part of him that she'd taken and that still stayed part of her, it was in the background of her mind and she could hear it like a whisper; just loud enough for her to notice but not enough that she could tell what it was saying.
"So…was he telling the truth?" Remy asked.
"Yeah." Rogue nodded slowly. It hurt to see it, to experience it, but she'd seen and felt it for herself, the best and worst that Forge had known about the woman who was her mother. The love and anger, twisted in a tangled rope that seemed impossible to unwind. There were other memories that she'd not touched, echoes of war and pain and love and friendship, but this was all she could deal with for now.
"It's all true. She wanted him to work for Magneto, and tried to use me as bait." Join us, and we can be a family together, raising the next generation of mutants. Build the future with me, with our child…. Her mother's rich, dark voice whispered within her mind, and it hurt that she would never hear it anywhere outside of her father's memory.
"And Irene…she convinced him that I'd either kill people as an Acolyte or die as an X-Man…" Rogue was unfamiliar with what those groups were but Forge's memory filled in a brief description of what she needed to know. Teams of mutants; one looking to destroy humanity and the other to protect it. It was a terrifying future to contemplate, no matter which one came true. She could still feel her father's vulnerability when he'd found her and Irene. Broken in body and fresh from the horror of war, it was too easy for her foster mother to make him believe that he was doing the right thing by walking away. And to find this out, that the woman she'd loved so much had betrayed her by driving her father away and then kept silent about it for so long, it was one more nail in the web of lies she'd found herself surrounded in.
It was all too much, and Rogue buried her face in her hands, collapsing within herself as the tears began to fall. People started talking around her, trying to be supportive she was sure, but she didn't want it, not right now. There were too many of them and she wanted nothing more than to just run away from here, find someplace quiet where she could deal with this alone instead of her pain being on display for everyone around her, but she couldn't. She was stuck here unless someone took her away, all because she couldn't see. A hand rested on her shoulder and she swatted at it before realizing that her glove was still off and she pulled away quickly.
"Go away, everyone just go away!" she cried out, but with her face buried in her arms it must have come out sounding muffled. Someone understood her however, because the next thing she knew her arm was grabbed and the familiar smell of brimstone combined with a sense of disorientation made her realize that Kurt had teleported them away. The next thing Rogue knew she was falling, and she landed on the ground with a thud, which caused her already bruised body to protest indignantly.
"Hey! What are you doing?!" she exclaimed. Experiencing teleportation when both blind and not expecting it was frankly rather scary.
"Sorry. I just wanted to get you out of there." Kurt sounded apologetic, and Rogue grumbled but decided not to give him too much grief since she really had wanted to get out of that room and away from everyone. Being completely alone unfortunately wasn't a possibility since she was in a new place and didn't know how to navigate on her own yet, but just having Kurt there wouldn't be so bad.
"A little warning first would be nice. Where are we?"
"Down by the lake. There's a little boat house here. We go canoeing in the summer, and in the winter Bobby turns it into a skating rink. It's fun. Come on, let me help you up."
Rogue felt his hand take her gloved one, and she allowed him to pull her to her feet. She stood quietly for a moment, listening. Nearby she could hear the familiar sound of water lapping at a shore, and from further on there was the sound of birds. It was better than the slight medicinal scent of the med lab, and she felt herself relax a little.
"Thanks." She muttered.
"You're welcome. There are some chairs here, if you want to sit." Her brother said, and when Rogue nodded he led her to one and she sat down. It was stiff and creaky, and she guessed it was some kind of lawn chair.
"I wanted to know…" Rogue whispered, wrapping her arms around herself. Be careful what you wish for….the old saying came to mind, and it was true. She'd wanted to know the truth, wanted to know everything; and now that she had her answers it was harder to say what hurt worse, knowing or not knowing. Ignorance wasn't necessarily bliss. Both had their own flavor of pain involved, and now that she knew there was no way of going back.
There was a creak as her brother sat down beside her. "The truth will set you free, even if it hurts." Kurt said. "I truly believe that. And I'm sorry Rogue, that it turned out like this. I was happy to think that out of the two of us, that you were wanted and loved by our mother…" he paused. "She threw me over a bridge." He continued quietly.
Rogue's mouth fell open. "What…"
"I don't know the whole story, and I think now that we will never know since both she and Destiny are gone. I'm not sure I want to know, to be honest. You're braver than I am, Rogue. For me it's easier to have a little doubt, that maybe it was some kind of accident. I'd like to think it was, instead of it being..."
"…intentional." Rogue finished the sentence for him.
She couldn't wrap her mind around it. Who would deliberately throw their own child off a bridge? She didn't want it to be possible, especially of her own mother, but after experiencing the cruelty that the woman in Forge's memory was capable of, she had to admit that the possibility was there. She didn't want to tell this to Kurt, but it seemed that he was already too aware of their mother's true nature so it wasn't necessary. Part of her was a little put out that he'd never mentioned it, but Rogue supposed she understood why he hadn't.
"Did you ever know her?"
"No." he said. "I did not meet Professor Xavier and learn of Mystique's existence until I was grown, and by then of course she was already gone. But we didn't know that at the time. With her being a shapeshifter, maybe I did meet her at some point and didn't know it? Who knows."
Of course. She remembered now him saying when they first met that he never met Raven. It sounded like he liked the thought of their mother having visited him in disguise, and Rogue liked that thought for his sake.
"But it is obvious that Destiny…that Irene loved you, regardless of whatever Mystique had planned. The lengths she went to keep you safe show this. You must remember this, no matter what you want to think of her now."
"And Forge?" Her brother had railed at him earlier for abandoning her, and Rogue wondered what he thought now.
Kurt was quiet for a moment. "I disagree with what he did. I think he should have stayed in your life and trusted in Professor Xavier enough to bring you here when your mutation developed. And he should have allowed us to have a relationship as brother and sister, even if you didn't live here. But despite that, I think he was acting out of love for you and I cannot fault him for his intentions."
Having felt that love herself, and the fear that was tied in with it after Irene's revelations, Rogue couldn't help but agree with him at least a little bit. She was definitely still angry with Forge, and thought there had to have been some other way to do what Irene wanted that didn't involve abandoning her, but her father's intentions were undoubtedly genuine.
"You think I should forgive him." She said, almost but not quite turning it into a question.
"I can't tell you what to do, but I think you should strongly consider it. There doesn't seem to have been any malice on either he or Irene's part in this." Kurt started to say, and mostly Rogue agreed with him, ignoring a small memory of Forge's that thought Irene was only too happy to keep her former lover's child away from him.
"If you do forgive him, do it for yourself. You have a chance to build a relationship with your father now, something you must not have thought you'd ever have. But you can't do that while keeping anger against him in your heart. Nothing healthy and good can come of it. You don't have to make a decision about it right away, I don't think Forge is going to leave anytime soon now that you're here, but it's something to think about."
Rogue gave a slight nod, more of an acknowledgement of what he was saying than anything else.
"Could you forgive our mother for what she did to you?" Throwing a baby off of a bridge was a little more extreme than say, raising a child for the purpose of giving her to a terrorist.
"I don't know. But I would have liked the opportunity to find out if it was possible. For years I imagined talking to her, asking why she did what she did and finding out if it was possible to start a relationship with her despite everything, but I'll never have that chance now."
She wasn't sure what to say to this, and part of her wanted to apologize again for being the cause of Raven's death, but Kurt wasn't finished.
"But she's left something good in this world." He said, clasping Rogue's gloved hand. "She created you. You and Forge are both still here, and so am I, and together we can be the family that should have been all along. I believe that. Can you?"
Family. Despite the pain and anger that still gripped her from everything that she'd learned this morning, her heart still loved the sound of this word and the promise it held. Rogue knew and loved her brother; the idea of being a family with him had brightened her thoughts long before leaving New Orleans. But now Forge was in the picture as well. Nothing she'd seen so far in his thoughts and memories indicated that he was a bad man. As time went on she would be able to go over those memories more fully to get a better picture of him, but for now what she'd seen showed that his heart was in the right place, even if he'd made some mistakes. And now he wanted to be a family with her as well, in fact from what she saw it seemed that he would not be going anywhere unless she drove him away. No matter how angry she was with him, that was not something she was ready to do. She wanted time however, to get used to his presence and know the man beyond what she'd stolen from his mind.
"I can try." Rogue said uncertainly.
"I think that's all anyone can expect right now."
"If you two are done with your little heart to heart you might want to go back inside. The others are wondering where you went; Gumbo there looked like he was about to blow something up when you disappeared."
The voice came out of nowhere and startled Rogue, making her jump a little.
"Sorry Logan." Kurt said. "Rogue was upset and I thought the easiest thing to do was just to get her out of there."
She nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I couldn't take having everyone around me like that and not being able to escape. But how did you find us? No, wait…" she said, the knowledge coming to her from Forge's memory almost as soon as the words left her mouth. "…you smelled us."
Rogue heard a chuckle. "I've got a nose for that kind of thing." Logan said.
"He's got enhanced senses. Hearing, smell, etc." Kurt explained.
"Yep. So you guys ready to go back?"
"Do we have to?" Rogue asked. Talking with Kurt made her feel a little better, but frankly she'd rather stay here by the lake for a while than go back inside and deal with everyone.
"I get you about not liking crowds, kid. I'm kinda that way myself. But you should at least go tell your friend not to blow up the building. He's a little high strung, isn't he?"
"Yeah, well, it's been a long weekend. I can't blame him." Rogue said. She wasn't sure what Remy wanted the others to know about what had gone on recently, so she wasn't about to say anything about Julien's death. That was for him to divulge if he so chose. "I suppose we should go."
Kurt took her hand and she got up, but then pulled herself out of his grasp. "Let's walk though, okay? Teleportation seems cool, but it stinks."
Her brother laughed, taking her arm as they started walking. "I will get you used to it one of these days, kleine schwester. It's the only way to travel."
"I'm going to have to teach you German as well, little sister."
Rogue shook her head. "One language at a time. I'm already learning French."
They'd barely stepped inside when they were assaulted, or rather, Rogue was.
"Chere" an anxious French voice said as she was taken from her brother's side. "Where did you go? What the hell were you doing, grabbing her and just poofing off like that?" Remy laid into Kurt next.
Rogue yanked herself away from her friend. She appreciated Remy's concern, but she wasn't really up for the overprotective bit right now. "He took me to the lake, which I really wish he'd warned me first, but it ended up being a good idea. I couldn't stand having everyone babbling around me like that."
"Oh." Remy sounded like she'd let the air out of his balloon. "You okay now?"
She let out a breath. "Yeah. I'm better now. What about Forge, is he awake yet?" Rogue wasn't sure what to do if he wasn't.
"Oui. He came out of it a few minutes ago. Says he feels like he's got a hangover. I think he'll be okay though."
A wave of relief went through her. "I'm glad. He's not…mad, is he?" She didn't think he would be, given that he'd agreed to it and all, but that was before he found out what it was really like to experience her mutation, so who knew? And despite everything, she found that she didn't want him mad at her.
"Doesn't sound like it. Do you want to go see him? The doc hasn't let him out of the lab yet, but he doesn't seem hurt other than the headache."
If I must…Rogue thought to herself, but then chided herself for thinking that. Of course she needed to go talk to him. He'd shown her what she wanted, but that couldn't be the end of it. There was still so much that she didn't know about him, and there was still the future to discuss. She was just feeling bad about knocking him out for so long, and still a little angry about what he did.
"Sure. Do we need the whole audience though? It sounds like he's given the information the others need, so they don't have to be there all the time, right?" These were some really personal, private things that she'd learned from Forge, and having to found out about everything in front of a group of people made her feel like she was on a soap opera or something.
"I can kick the crowd out for you kid." Logan offered, and it sounded like he looked forward to it. A faint smirk crossed Rogue's lips. He sounded harsh and frankly a little bloodthirsty, but Forge's memory of him showed a good man.
"Might be a good idea. Shades is back to giving him the third degree about that Magneto fellow." Remy said. "Come on, let's go rescue your pere."
"He's gonna have to give us the whole deal on that business eventually, but Cyke needs to take the stick out of his ass and remember that family comes first. There'll be plenty of time to talk about Buckethead later." Logan said, brushing past them.
"Cyke?" Remy asked.
"Cyclops. It's Scott's codename." Kurt said. "We all have them. If we're going out in a battle we like to try to keep at least some anonymity. The Professor is not ready to let the world about the true nature of this school yet."
That made sense, Rogue thought. "So what's your nickname?"
"Codename. And it's Nightcrawler. Logan is Wolverine, and Ororo is Storm. You'll meet the others later when they start coming home from school."
Remy sounded amused. "Wolverine? Grumpy, hairy little guy…okay, I can see it. But if you're trying to stay anonymous you might want to tell him to lose the black and yellow spandex."
"I heard that."
"And?" Remy didn't sound like he cared, and he started guiding Rogue. "You sure you got the right nickname, homme? With that outfit I'd think you'd be calling yourself Wasp instead."
"You think so, huh Gumbo? Well I'll be glad to show you how I sting. Hey Elf, have you told these kids about the Danger Room yet?"
Danger Room? They came to a stop and Rogue could hear what sounded like an elevator door. A moment later they descended.
"Nein, there hasn't been time. Ororo wasn't sure if Remy would be joining us."
"What's this 'danger room'?" Remy asked.
"It's our training facility." Kurt answered. Rogue heard the elevator door again and they resumed walking. "We practice with our powers and train together as a team. I'll show you later, it's amazing technology."
Logan gave a chuckle that bordered on malicious. "He may not be so thrilled about it after I've given him a private tour."
"Do not break the boy when we've just gotten him here, Logan." Ororo's voice came from further away.
"Merci, Stormy, but I don't break so easy."
"It's Storm, not Stormy, Remy."
The older woman just sighed.
Forge woke up feeling like he'd gone on an all-night bender, without the benefit of having any fun first. He'd had no idea what experiencing Rogue's mutation would be like. Irene had never prepared him, either because she didn't think the occasion would arise where Rogue would need to ever touch him, or because she didn't know what it was like herself. Now he knew. It was like she was sucking the soul out of his body, which in some way she just might have been. Definitely not something he wanted to experience again, but hopefully he wouldn't have to if she'd gotten everything she needed.
He didn't know though, because when he came to he was down in the med lab and Rogue was gone. Hank explained that she'd gotten upset and Kurt took her away for some privacy. Forge thought he knew why. She'd just received a lot of information about her mother and not all of it was pleasant. He was sorry that she was now having to deal with the truth of what Raven was, and finding out like that couldn't have been easy; but Rogue was the one who'd asked him to do it. She was also probably right in that it was the most honest way he could give her what she needed. There was no way that she could doubt him now. The only question was, could she forgive him?
Scott barely waited for Hank to check him over before starting in again with his questions about Magneto. He wanted to know where the base was where Forge had worked. Forge could only give him basics. It wasn't until after the accident and he'd woken up in the hospital that he'd even found out where he was. Besides, it was entirely possible that Erik may have moved by now. Scott didn't care, he was all for putting the team together and going upstate to check it out. Forge would have to go with them of course, to show them the way, but Hank vetoed this plan until he'd had a chance to observe Forge for a little while longer and make sure he was really okay. Scott grumbled, but he didn't have the seniority to overrule the doctor. He was in fact still trying to negotiate Forge's release from the med lab when the others returned.
Logan walked in first, followed by Ororo, Kurt, Remy and Rogue. The two younger men hovered around Rogue, and Forge couldn't help but wonder how this would play out between her brother and the man who seemed to have designated himself as her number one protector. Rogue had some decisions to make about who had what role in her life, including his own.
"Found 'em." Logan announced, with his usual gift for stating the blatantly obvious. But one does not tell this to a man with adamantium claws and a short temper, and so Forge kept his mouth shut. It was mainly his headache making him feel snarky anyway.
"Are you okay Rogue?" he asked.
"Yeah…I guess. I should really be asking you that though."
"It's fine. I've had worse." Losing an arm and a leg was definitely worse. This was just unpleasant. And from the look on her face, he suspected that she was remembering that. Not exactly among the things he wanted her to remember, but she didn't really have any control over what she received when she touched someone, did she?
"Sorry. I hope you're not seeing that memory." Forge said.
Rogue shook her head. "Not clearly. It's vague. Mostly what I got was of my mother."
"I'm sorry about that too."
"Don't be. I wanted to know. You couldn't get away with saying everything was just peachy, after all."
"Yeah." Forge admitted reluctantly. He'd wanted it to be though. He'd wanted a normal, happy life with his wife and daughter. And since Rogue had his memories she would see that.
Scott apparently decided that they'd had long enough for a family reunion, or that it could wait for later, because he jumped back into the conversation.
"Hank, he seems fine now. I think you can let him go so we can go look for Magneto."
"Forge, are you sure you're okay? Rogue's mutation is not one we've dealt with before, and I really think…"
"No, it's fine Hank. Just give me some aspirin and I should be good to go."
"Good." Scott said, satisfied. "Kurt, Storm, Logan; you're with us. Jean and the Professor can get Rogue and Remy situated. Let's go."
Forge stretched and sat up, ignoring how that made the throbbing in his head worse.
"You know, it's been a couple of weeks since I escaped. They might not even be there anymore."
"All the more reason to go. They may have left some clue about where they went." Scott said, heading out of the infirmary.
Remy studied Scott's back as the man left the room. "You know, I think I see that stick peeking out a little."
Kurt smirked while Logan snickered.
"You might just be okay, Gumbo." He said as he followed Scott out of the med lab.
"Gumbo? What's this gumbo?"
"Logan comes up with nicknames for everybody." Kurt said. "You'll get used to it."
"Nicknames, codenames; how many names do you folks have?"
"About two or three." Forge shrugged. "It can come in handy sometimes."
Kurt made a face. "And sometimes it's just annoying. You'll want to come up with a codename for yourself if you're joining us, Remy."
"He's already got one. Swamp Rat." Rogue snickered, and Forge was glad to see her feeling up to joking around.
"No, that's just your name for me, chere. I need something better than that if I'm going to be a vigilante."
"The Amazing Swamp Rat."
"We're not vigilantes."
"Sure you are. Hey, do I have to dress up in leather too? If yes, then I want black like Stormy's, not black and yellow like the Badger."
"It's Wolverine, not Badger."
"Same difference; they're both short, hairy and grumpy."
"And don't call me Stormy."
"Whatever you say, Stormy." Remy said, and turned to Rogue. "Since these guys are gonna go play vigilante…I mean superhero, or whatever it is they think they are, why don't we go check this place out some?"
Ororo nodded. "Good idea. I'll ask Jean to give you both a tour. Come on."
She led Rogue and Remy out of the lab, leaving Forge and Hank alone. The doctor shook a couple of pills out of a bottle, and handed them to his patient.
"Thanks." Forge said, taking them with a swig of water from the glass on the table next to the bed.
"You're welcome. She's a very interesting young lady. I've spoken on the phone with her before, but it's good to have her here in person finally."
"Yeah. I'm still having a hard time getting used to the idea that I don't have to hide from her anymore. I can talk to her, be in her life now. I just hope it's not too late."
"I don't think so." Hank said. "She seems open to learning about you, which I doubt she would be if she'd decided not to give you a chance."
"I hope you're right. I just can't help but wonder now; despite what Irene tried to do, Rogue is now here. The prophecy she had about Rogue dying in an X-Man uniform, there's no chance of that happening now, right? Not with her blindness. I don't doubt that Rogue can do anything she sets her mind to, but joining the fight against Magneto just seems unlikely. So she should be safe now, right?"
Hank shook his head. "Nothing is ever certain, my friend. But I hope you're right."