Twin pieces of golden-brown bread popped out of the toaster exactly ninety seconds after being installed. Kitty sniffed the redolent aroma of baked whole grain; she always loved the scent of bread—there was always something homey about it. Plucking the slices deftly out of the toaster, she set them on a plate, buttered one, and spread jam on the other. As she was pouring a glass of milk, Bobby walked into the kitchen.
"You're up early," he remarked and commenced brewing some coffee.
Kitty returned, "So are you."
"Patient duty: making Lorna some breakfast."
"She's awake at, like, nine on a Sunday?"
Bobby shrugged and began searching the cupboards for cream and sugar.
"Since when did Bobby Drake become a personal caterer?" Kitty teased as she headed towards the door.
He cleared his throat, "Since someone needed and wanted me to. Don't think I forgot about Rogue—got her taken care of, too."
Kitty waved her hand to gesture that he shouldn't bother, but she had turned the corner by then. Balancing toast and milk on a tray, she walked through the swishing doors of the dimmed Med Bay. All was quiet. A little unnerved, for she had never liked silent hospital settings, Kitty moved past the lobby to the patient sector. Rogue was situated only a few doors from Hank's office; Lorna's room was nearer the lobby. As Kitty walked past, a noise caught her attention: indistinct mumbling coming from Lorna's quarter.
Frowning curiously, Kitty drew nearer and listened closely.
"No…no…this is stupid—what did you say? Oh my God, this is insane. I'm not hearing this. I'm not—shut up. How can you be here? Who—what are you…no, they'll think I'm crazy…. These people are nice—sssh! I'm not listening. I'm not listening. No! I won't you stupid bitch—get out of my head…. Maybe I am crazy—no, be quiet…. I won't—stop. I've lost it…what do you mean you'll make me? You can't—what? Stop it! I won't let you…hello? Is someone there?"
Kitty shook away the icy feeling of alarm and pretended to come to an abrupt stop while walking. She forced a cheery voice, "Hey! I'm sorry, Lorna, did I, like, wake you up?" She approached the doorway, saw the green-haired addition to the Institute.
"Oh, that's fine," Lorna said, smiling pleasantly. "I was already up." Her eyes, the same shade of green as her hair, searched Kitty's face for any sign of suspicion.
Kitty noticed the action but was not about to let Lorna know that she noticed, or that she had overheard anything. An expression of sheepishness masked her anxiety as she gestured towards the tray in her hands, "This is for Rogue, but don't worry, Bobby'll be down any second with your breakfast."
Lorna blinked, then chuckled casually, "Oh. Guess I'll just sit and wait then."
Kitty nodded, taking the opportunity to retreat. As she headed towards Rogue's room, she bit her lip in consternation. There had been something incredibly freaky about Lorna talking to herself, especially in a voice so hushed and serious, as if she really thought there was a voice in her head. But maybe there was. The idea stopped Kitty short. Was Lorna somehow like Rogue? How was that even possible if her powers were like Magneto's? Kitty began chewing on the inside of her cheek. She needed to talk to Rogue about this.
She approached the room and knocked, received no answer. "Rogue?" She quietly entered and froze. The bed was empty. Several scenarios flashed through her mind: Rogue was kidnapped; Rogue was wandering around the mansion; Rogue was in the bathroom, but Kitty knew the truth. It was just like Rogue to leave without telling anyone, even when she was weak.
Hurt nagged at Kitty's stomach, followed by irritation. Did that girl not trust her enough to at least confide? Kitty wouldn't have stopped her if she knew it was important for her to do whatever or go wherever. She had a feeling it had to do with Gambit, who everyone had discovered was no where to be found. If Rogue went out in that condition and got herself hurt…
Kitty abandoned the food tray on a table and darted out of the room. She completely forgot about Lorna's weird episode and demanded, "Have you seen Rogue?"
"Huh? You mean the one with the white-stripe in her—"
"Yeah, do you know where she went?"
Lorna shook her head, "Sorry, I was asleep—"
Kitty ran out of the Med Bay, worry rising in her chest. Her friend could be anywhere—who knew when she left? What if she was hurt that very second, lying in a ditch somewhere after having been—
"Something wrong, Kit?" Bobby asked.
She had run into the kitchen. "It's Rogue," she hissed, "she's gone. She's snuck out, that psycho. We have to tell the Professor and Logan and try and find her before—" She couldn't even gasp as Bobby clamped a hand over her mouth. When she couldn't wrench away from his grip, she phased through him instead and glared, "Like, what the heck—"
"I know where she went," he told her.
Kitty gaped at him, flabbergasted, "Huh? How?"
Bobby sighed, "Don't, like, freak out or anything, all right?"
"Just tell me," Kitty demanded. After listening to his retelling she shook her head in disbelief, "And you just let her?"
"Well, what was I supposed to do?" Bobby huffed defensively. "Even if I thought she couldn't beat me up, I wouldn't freeze her here when I knew she really needed to go after the guy."
Kitty groaned into her hands, shook her head. "Okay…I can, like, kinda understand that. But still, do we even know if she found him? If she's all right?"
"Rogue's got the powers of dozens of mutants. I'm sure she can take on a mugger or two."
"This is serious, Bobby!"
"I am being serious!"
"No you're not!"
"At least I'm keeping my cool!"
"Easy for an ice cube to say!"
Bobby growled irritably, "Usually I do this with Jubes. And it's more fun."
Kitty rolled her eyes, huffed. She crossed her arms and began pacing the kitchen. "Look, we have to tell the Professor."
"Not yet," Bobby insisted. "You should've seen her last night. She was…I don't know. But I am…ninety-eight percent sure she's fine. C'mon, it's Rogue. Girl's got resources. And this was something she really really needed to do. I doubt she'd like it if a search posse went out and interrupted it all."
"How are you suddenly so empathetic?" Kitty raised an eyebrow.
Bobby shrugged, "Just go to be, I guess."
"Is it because of Lorna?" Kitty was almost afraid to ask. She was worried; the girl was exhibiting signs for being a nutcase.
"That the gossip these days?" Bobby smirked.
Kitty debated whether or not to tell him. She decided against it, but would inform Hank or the Professor later. At the moment, her best friend was a greater concern. "So what should we do about Rogue then?"
"Let's give her the day at least. She'll come back when she's ready."
Kitty shook her head, "God, I just hope whatever happens, she'll be okay."
Sunlight streamed through the window, carrying with it a breath of late summer air. The breeze whispered of things to come, heralding murmurs of phasing leaves, departing birds, waning light. Oblivious to it all lay a slumbering couple, shielded from the bright sun by the convenient fold of a curtain.
Rogue felt herself gradually waking. She blinked slowly several times and released a light sigh of contentment. Moving was out of the question. Her face rested in the nook between his jaw and shoulder, her right arm cuddling his chest, hand resting on the pillow near his face. She watched her elbow rise and fall with his chest while he breathed, and smiled.
Thinking back on the previous night, a subtle blush crept onto her cheeks. She could not remember ever being so bold with a guy, taking such initiative for actions she had no experience in whatsoever. And what they had done…a pleasurable shiver simmered up her spine. No other feeling in the world compared to the sensation of making love with Remy. Nothing had ever felt so right, given her such a sense of intoxicating delirium. She remembered their congruous moans of pleasure, heard again his deep, incoherent whispers of sweet nothings in her ear.
She felt him stir. His arm around her waist, loosened through the night, pulled her close once again. She felt his fingers stroking her hip, caressing her flat stomach.
"Mmm…" he sighed.
Rogue nuzzled her face against his throat, kissing the bob of his Adam's apple.
Remy didn't open his eyes as her lips traveled up to his face. "M'dreamin'," he murmured drowsily. "Or dead. Angels're only in heaven."
A light chuckle bubbled from Rogue's throat, "You're an idiot, Remy."
He grinned and rolled over, grabbing her arms and pinning her down on the bed. "Tough luck. Y'stuck wit' me."
"Guess Ah can live with that," she sighed listlessly, then looked up at him and smiled, unable to keep a façade of disinterest.
Remy only looked at her for a while, examining the lusciously green gleam in her eyes, the velvet pillows of her lips, her smooth ivory cheeks. There was a barely perceptible glow about her, this light he couldn't tear his eyes from. Dieu, she really was beautiful, inhumanly so. He noticed a blush blossom under the creaminess of her cheeks and couldn't help smirking. He leaned in, nudging her nose with his, "Makin' y'nervous, chere?"
She huffed and turned away defiantly, "Neva."
"Sapristi! Where's de fun den?" he actually pouted.
Rogue giggled heartily and pecked him on the lips, "We'll find some way ta—" Her words stopped as he returned the kiss. Surprised, but not displeased, she let him have his way with her. An involuntary moan escaped her mouth between caresses. She pulled him against her, remembering their blissful closeness from just hours before, and shuddered.
"Rogue…" he murmured against her lips, as he nuzzled her throat. He lay still then, resting in her embrace, breath smooth and even.
She frowned in concern, "Somethin' the matter?"
A moment of silence passed, then, "Has t'happen."
Rogue felt a stinging behind her eyes and quickly blinked it away. She sighed, ran her fingers through the locks of his hair. "Ah know."
He pulled away from her to a sitting position. "Dis de last t'ing I wan' do," he said.
Rogue nodded as she sat up, holding the satin blankets to her chest. "Ah know," she said again, tone assuring him of her sincerity. She rested her cheek on his shoulder, felt him wrap an arm around her back. "Ah just wish we had more time…. Doesn't feel…fair."
Remy cradled her chin in his fist, tilted her head up to look at him. "We'll have all de time in de world, chere, when I get back."
She closed her eyes as he kissed her, willed the burning sensation in her nose to go away. No crying, even though she wanted badly to go with him. Remembering the type of people in New Orleans, she grew nervous on his behalf. What if he got hurt? What if Julien and the Assassins tried to kill him again and actually succeeded? She would never accept such a notion, especially after she had felt him so close, had a taste of his irreplaceable presence. She couldn't let anyone take him away.
Remy cradled her head under his chin, stroking her hair absent-mindedly with his free hand. "Almost time," he murmured.
Rogue nuzzled closer against him, "Just wait a few moments."
He kissed her forehead, closed his eyes. "F'you chere, anyt'ing."
The morning sun continued to rise, its light brightening by the minute and casting the room in a golden hue. A warm breeze rustled the curtains, whispering secrets of coming things; it murmured of dimming light, waning days, and the fading life heralding the next solstice. The couple sat, cradled around each other, wrapped in feelings they both felt so palpably. Neither wanted to let go though they knew it to be inevitable, to be necessary for their own sakes. Uncertainty clouded their thoughts; comfort and warmth swathed their flesh and hearts. They would go their separate ways for now, but they would never forget. They were too much a part of each other.
It was past midmorning when Logan was convinced not to send a search party out for Rogue. He glowered while irritably rubbing his knuckles. "This is a bad idea, Chuck," he gritted. "The girl's head flipped out on her and you're just gonna let her keep wandering around who knows where…" He shook his head.
Ororo calmly sipped a brew of Columbian coffee. She sat in an armchair before the Professor's desk, dressed in a tank top, thin white duster, and brown pants that alloyed with her mocha complexion. "Rogue is no doubt in Manhattan if seeking Gambit," she said reasonably. "And it seems to me we have too many conversations questioning Rogue's capabilities. Of all our X-Men she has the most resources. She is not a child, Logan."
He grunted but remained silent.
Kitty released the breath she had been holding. She never did like it when Logan got all protective and scary, especially when it was over Rogue. Everyone knew the girl was special to him, probably because he saw so much of himself in her. Despite how he did not agree with her actions at times, he knew they were the exact things he would have done.
"Was there anything else you wanted to share with us, Kitty?" the Professor asked.
She shook her head and stood to leave, then abruptly sat back down. "Actually, yeah." She bit her lip, wondering if it was even her place to mention anything. If Hank hadn't reported anything abnormal, who was she to diagnose ailments?
Logan plopped down on a chair beside Ororo and poured himself some coffee. He downed half the mug in one gulp. "Well, Half-Pint? Spit it out."
"It's…about Lorna," Kitty said reluctantly. "She…uh…well, before I found out that Rogue was missing, I heard her, like, talking to herself…" She glanced uncertainly at the three adults.
The Professor raised his eyebrows but didn't appear too troubled.
"People talk to themselves all the time, kiddo," Logan smirked. He refilled his mug of coffee.
Kitty pursed her lips together. She hated being talked to like a…half-pint. "Well, duh, Logan, but the way Lorna was doing it…like, God, it was creepy. She was almost hissing some of the time, like, arguing with herself—or some voice in her head."
"Do you remember the things she said?"
Thinking back hard, Kitty found that she couldn't. "Not really. But it sounded like something was telling her what to do and she was arguing with it not to."
Ororo exchanged looks with Logan, then both glanced at the Professor.
"Hank is examining her now," he said. "I'll inform him of this, Kitty. Thank you."
She nodded and stood to leave. Before she left the room she said one last thing: "Don't mention this to Bobby. I think he, like, really likes her. It'd suck to have to worry about something that could just be nothing."
"Duly noted, Kitty."
She closed the door behind her as she walked out, chewing on the inside of her cheek. There were way too many things to think about—like always. Sometimes she seriously considered giving up the whole X-Men gig, but then she thought about all her friends, this family, and all the good they had done and…well, it was just worth it. She just had to be strong enough.
By then most of the mansion's residents were awake. Kitty descended to the first floor and could hear sounds of chatter and food preparation coming from the kitchen. She wasn't hungry and headed to the rec room. The day was perfect—not as warm as previous ones had been, but still pleasant. She opened the windows wide and basked in the sunlight while contemplating what to do. Not ten minutes into her peaceful rest, she heard a foreign noise in the distance. It was so faint, so subtle, that she thought she was hearing things at first. She sat up and looked out the window, listening closely.
The rumbling of a motorcycle. Kitty's eyes widened when she peered at the Institute's front gate. Two familiar figures stood on the street. She scrambled off her seat and hurried for the door.
The breeze gently ruffled her hair, white and auburn strands fluttering with the grace of feathers, to and fro about her sad face. She was smiling, but he knew it was put on. She was always so brave, always so composed and strong, but at that moment her eyes gave away every emotion he knew and felt himself.
Remy looked away from her face, down to his fingers gently stroking her smooth hands. Her ivory skin, once so poisonous, once so forbidden, sat upon his in a feathery tremble of gentle sorrow. He tugged her closer, breathed the sweet, flowery scent of her hair. Memories of their night together stirred into the present; he could almost feel again the arduous ripples of her heated body against his, the massage of her plush lips allaying his any and every discomfort. He heard again their harmonious moans of elation, rapturous sighs of euphoria that proved the reality of their mutual heaven. And he was leaving it all behind? For what, for a past that had always been a burden, a family and a calling that never delivered such contentment, such a divine sense of something wonderful and lasting and true…? Her breath upon his skin, her touch, her voice…
"Ah wasn't going to," Rogue said softly. Her lush eyelashes brushed against his lips as she spoke. "But if Ah don't…Ah might not…" She leaned back ever so slightly to look at him, gazing into his anomalous eyes that she loved. "Take me with you?"
Remy blinked. It was not a plead; it was not a command. She asked in a tone of such level, simple rationality that it seemed the most lucid thing in the world to do. Why not? He didn't want to leave her as much as she didn't want to be left behind…then, violently, images of her reception in New Orleans flashed into his awareness. He foresaw surprise and vehement resentment, a bitter contempt that threatened her livelihood, and hence, his. Anger flared within him, hot and surging, at the mere thought.
She read his face. Her head drooped. "Had ta try," she sighed, weakly smiling. The half-hearted gesture seemed to stab him in the chest.
"M'sorry," he said hoarsely, stroking her cheek. "Y'know I would if I could…." He kissed her gently, begging her to accept it, to not be saddened.
She leaned into him, as if trying to reclaim that closeness from the night before. Her mouth spoke no words, but told him of her agony and elation, her dread and yearning. He understood; he felt it, cherished and loathed it, too. But each passing moment, each feeling and detail of the day, the time, her, he forced into memory. He could never forget. For a while at least, memories would be all he would have.
Tears trickled onto his cheeks, but they didn't belong to him. Dieu, she didn't deserve this. She was right, what she said about always hurting. But wasn't that how it was, wasn't this meant to be blissful, bittersweet torture? The severance wouldn't last forever anyway. He would only be gone for a few weeks, maybe a couple months, with every intention of getting back as soon as possible…
Rogue sighed against his lips, head drooping forward to rest on his chin. She brushed away her tears and sniffed, blinking several times. When she finally looked at him, she smiled, beautiful eyes glistening in their green quintessence. "Don't forget me."
He almost huffed at the absurdity of the thought, "C'est impossible, chere."
Rogue laughed softly. Sardonic. Mournful. The frolicsome breeze continued playing with her hair. She shook milky locks from her face, saw something from the corner of her eye.
Remy followed her gaze. Some ways off, a petite, brunette figure was walking hesitantly down the mansion's driveway. She stopped upon realizing she had been spotted.
"Well," Rogue sighed, wiping her eyes again, "Ah think you better go. Before…"
Rogue smirked, "Before Ah find some way ta stop ya."
"If only, chere, if only."
She nodded, slowly reaching into the pocket of her jacket. "Ah went back to get this because…Ah didn't know what'd happen when Ah found you, but Ah wanted you to have it." In her palm sat a slightly bent playing card, a florid depiction of the Queen of Hearts.
A forlorn smile subtly curved the edges of Remy's mouth. "Knew y'kept it," he murmured, gently taking the card from her.
Rogue smiled with fondness at the memories, at the thoughts of their first instances together. Had it only been that long ago? Feeling a familiar burning behind her eyes, she desperately blinked to keep the tears at the bay. She couldn't start crying again.
He tucked the Queen of Hearts into an inner pocket of his trench coat, on the left side of his chest. "M'gon' hold on t'it like s'you," he promised. His gaze was steady, the red of his pupils glowing amorously in twin seas of blackness. His lips parted to say something, but closed when no words came.
Rogue looked away—any longer and she would weep. She rested her cheek against his, eyelashes brushing his smooth, tawny skin. Her breath came in frightened depletion, betraying the vastness of her sorrow. It felt as though her heart was breaking. Really breaking. "Good bye, Remy," she murmured, stepping back.
He watched her inch away, felt like something was being chipped away from him with every bit of distance she gained. He saw her sad eyes, a green that had radiated in the afterglow of their one night, now so sullen and damp. Desolé, mon ange, de tout mon cœur. "Wait f'me," he said, holding onto the last centimeters of her fingers. "Don' forget 'bout dis, chere."
Rogue nodded, promised, "Ah won't." She clamped her lips together, turned to leave, but halted as he tugged her back. She felt his kiss once again, his comforting closeness, drinking him in with desperate fervor. He kissed her jaw, her cheek, her ear, whispered, "Je t'aime." Then, as she stood to catch her breath, he mounted the motorcycle and geared the engine. Without looking back he tore away down the street.
Rogue watched the flap of his trench coat as he grew smaller and smaller in the distance. She wiped her eyes, grew surprised when no more tears came. He would be back someday. She wasn't sure how long she stood there, eyes closed, allowing the wind to caress her face, play with her hair. When Kitty finally called her name, she turned to look at her friend.
"He…he left?" Kitty asked hesitantly.
Rogue mutely nodded.
The brunette pursed her lips, put a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"He's coming back," Rogue murmured, looking off into the distance. She could no longer see him. "Ah know he'll be back…but it still just…" Her eyes drooped to the ground.
"Hurts," Kitty finished for her, voice low and downcast. She observed Rogue's vague nod, the saddened curve of her mouth, her heavy eyes. She grasped her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "It'll work out, Rogue," she promised. "Everything'll be okay. You'll see."
Rogue smiled wanly. "Thanks, Kit." She followed Kitty back through the Institute gates. As the wrought-iron bars closed behind them, she glanced back, almost seeing him there on the street as they had stood only moments before. Slowly, clouding over images of his departure, however unjustified, came a sliver of dread slithering its way into her senses. There was something, an inner feeling, a gut instinct that whispered and taunted, that warned her of…of what? She didn't know, couldn't possibly begin to guess. It was just a feeling, and there were others she felt more strongly.
She felt the warmth he granted her, the comfort, the passion to live that nothing and no one had ever been able to provide before. He had given her, taken from her, so much more than anyone.
Kitty opened the mansion's front door and stood in its passageway. She waited for her friend to follow.
Rogue numbingly mounted the steps. Suddenly, she realized she didn't even have a picture of him, nothing to remember him by. She bit her lip, wishing for a tangible image, just a sketch, something—anything—to prove that he, that they, had been real. Tears threatened to betray her irrational alarm. She had nothing of him—
Except memories. Images in her mind, feelings burned into her flesh.
She looked up at Kitty, saw her friend, saw the X-men, saw the life that had defined who she was, that would determine who she would become. And she saw Remy, her first love, the one person who could fill the void she would otherwise always carry—despite the meaningful fight for greater good, despite the family of surrogate kin, despite herself.
I'll take care o'dis, chere. Promise.
M'gon' hold on t'it like s'you.
Wait f'me. Don' forget 'bout dis, chere.
Rogue shook her head. Yes, she wanted him near. Yes, she needed him. But she couldn't lose sight of herself in the midst of this bittersweet sadness. She was here; she was alive; she would keep fighting like she always had and always would. He was with her, even while he was gone. She had the memories. She had the feelings.
And they were enough.
Rogue lifted her head with a new sense of…absolution? certainty? faith? hope? and entered the mansion. Glancing one last time beyond the gates of the X-Men sanctuary, she turned away and pushed the door shut.
Desolé, mon ange, de tout mon cœur--Sorry my angel, with all my heart.
Je t'aime--I love you.
THE END—! Can you believe it? Wait, I mean TO BE CONTINUED.
Demon In My View is officially concluded! But don't despair too much—there's that SEQUEL that I've been broadcasting for some chapters now. The story goes on…as soon as I find a suitable title for it. —rolls eyes at self— Any suggestions anyone? Has to encompass the whole "Rogue and Gambit" theme into a few words—because the sequel is going to be on a grander scale than Demon In My View .
I'm sorry about review replies. In case I forgot to say, my laptop crashed (AGAIN!) and I had to rewrite some of this chapter and the review replies got erased—they take too long to write to redo. So sorry if anybody likes them.
About the ending of this fic…don't be mad, please. The story goes on. There are some—no, MANY—things that have been left unresolved.
1 – Remy's return to New Orleans and his reception
2 – Lorna's mutation issues and her relationship with Bobby
3 – Power negating collars
4 – Sinister's activities and Morph
5 – Magneto's long happening "project"
I think that's all of them. And they're all going to make for an exciting sequel that I am very eager to write.
SO VERY SORRY that this chapter took so long to get up—and being the last one, too. Geez, I'm just awful. How long's it been? A month? That's a record for me! But with AP tests coming up and school winding down (summer's almost here…), I won't be having time for a while, but pretty soon I'll have plenty of time.
Wow. It's over (for now). Wow. I planned this ending since like Chapter 7 or something. That's a long time gone… Wow. Reflecting on it now, I never anticipated it to last or get this long. Crazy. Ok, I'll stop being such a dork.
Stay tuned for the sequel!
Love you all—I do it for you!