Title: Memphis Soul Song
Author: Tirya King
Feedback: Mais oui!
Archive: Tell me where it's going and it's yours!
Timeframe: A few months before Apocalypse but after Cajun Spice… so it's a bit AU
Summary: In order to save Rogue's life from a prophecy made about him, Remy is deliberately cruel to her. A cure is found for mutations, and she is the test subject. However, this cure leaves her feeling weaker and weaker by the day with no end in sight.
Disclaimer: Remy's eyes are red, Rogue's are… not blue. I don't own X-Men, so please don't sue! The song 'Memphis Soul Song' belongs to Uncle Kracker and whoever wrote it. It is a lovely song and the lyrics totally apply to Remy and Rogue. If anyone makes AMV's for X-Men, this would be a good one. Hint hint.
A/N: This is my first X-Men story, so be gentle with your flames . I am pleased to say that I no longer criticize those who complain about writing accents for Remy, Rogue, and Kurt. I know exactly how you feel now.
Memphis Soul Song
Part One: I Could Paint You a Picture
"Look, why don't you like just…"
"I said get out of here, you freaks. You don't belong here!" Two gloved fists clenched in anger.
"It's no use talking to them, Kitty. Assholes like them have their brains in their pants."
The smaller of the two boys pulled his friend back from his sudden lunge. Likewise, the smaller of the girls stopped her best friend from jumping at the jocks.
"Come on, Rogue! It's, like, just some ice cream. They're not worth it."
Rogue pushed her roommate aside angrily, pulling off a glove. "It ain't about the ice cream, Kit. These jerks can't just push us around like that. So move yo' ass, Robbie, before Ah move it for yeh!"
Robbie smiled humorously. "Sorry, Rogue, really. But this place only serves to humans. Animals eat around back."
Instantly, Rogue sprang forward like a cornered panther. Her bare hand stretched forward lethally. Instead of colliding with the arrogant jock, she found herself blocked by a large brown wall. Stepping back, Rogue found it was not a wall at all, but a man wearing a trenchcoat that smelled of spices and tobacco. She looked up at him cautiously, ready for any stunts he may pull. The jocks were nearly forgotten.
"Speakin' of guys with their brains in their pants," she muttered.
Remy didn't respond to the insult if he heard it. Instead, he turned his back on the x-girls to face the boys, as though to protect them. His voice was light and flippant as he spoke.
"Now dat ain't no way t' treat a lady," he admonished in a teasing tone.
"Those two aren't ladies, they're mutants," Robbie insisted.
Remy chuckled as though the boy had told a great joke. "Mon ami, dese are two o' de finest ladies you'll find." Kitty blushed at the complement while her companion crossed her arms and glowered, not letting the kind words get to her.
Robbie's friend, Steve, raised his eyebrows. "Those freaks?"
At those words, the Acolyte's whole demeanor changed instantly. Rogue saw his frame stiffen beneath his flowing trenchcoat. His voice was colder now, devoid of his earlier flippancy. "Remy would suggest yeh watch who yeh call freak in de future."
Whatever the two boys saw, it was evident by the sudden shock on their faces that it was frightening. They backed away from Remy slowly, fixated on his face. He stepped forward deliberately which set them off running at once. They were out of sight within moments, words of 'demon,' 'devil,' and 'freak' hung in their wake.
The Acolyte was still drawn up to his full height, facing away from the two mutants. Neither girl knew what to do, not even the usually bold Rogue who never backed from a challenge. He was as taut as a bowstring, ready to strike out at whatever set him off.
Rogue shook her head to clear her thoughts. For one wild moment, she had wanted to reach out to him. Those words must have hurt; they would make the most callous of mutants feel a good sting. Yet she pulled her hand tightly against her, lest it betray any concern for him. Eventually, it was Kitty who broke the silence. It only made sense since of the three, she was the one who couldn't take silence very well.
"Umm… like thanks, Mr. Gambit."
"Not that we needed the help," Rogue added proudly, more sure of herself now that her friend had broken the silence. Her voice was as full of the disdain as she usually saved just for him. Yet, lately, it was more out of habit that she said these things rather than mean them. Just as it was the Acolyte's role to take all her words in stride.
But today, he did not play this game. He did turn around to face them. When he did, the girls could see what it was that had frightened the boys so. Normally hidden by holograms, Remy's devil-like eyes shone brightly through the sunglasses he was wearing that day.
Rogue heard Kitty gasp slightly despite herself. It was little wonder the younger girl was startled. He looked every inch the dangerous mutant Magneto had hired. And this dangerous mutant was now angry and pointed in their direction.
"Yo' not freaks," he insisted to them as though trying to convince them. His accent became thicker as his agitation increased. 'Don' let dose fils d'unes chiennes tell you dat." (sons of bitches)
"That goes both ways, Swamp Rat," Rogue said, surprising herself that she would try to comfort him of all people. "Yeh ain't a freak any mo' than we are. Yeh don' let them talk to us like that, but yeh don' say anythin' when they call yeh a devil. Don' be a hypocrite."
"Yeh mean dat, chere?" he asked after a moment. For the first time since meeting him, Rogue thought she heard a bit of uncertainty in his voice. It sounded too similar to her brother and she decided she didn't like it. Maybe that was why she felt so driven to return him to normal… well as normal as Remy could be.
"Lordy, don' take it like a marriage proposal. You're an asshole an' yeh make meh sick. But yeh bein' an asshole ain't got nothin' t'do with yeh havin' different eyes." She decided to stop before his ego repaired itself. At least the hurt expression was off his face and that was good enough for her. Tugging Kitty after her, she muttered, "let's go, Kit. Ah've lost mah appetite."
When they were far enough away, her roommate phased her way through Rogue's grip. "Rogue, wait, like what was that all about? Is there, like, something going on? And you totally didn't tell me?! Rogue, how…"
"Can it, Kitty. There's nothin' to tell yeh. Ah don' know what you're babblin' about."
"Gambit, duh! That was so sweet how you stood up for him."
"Stood up nothin' yeh nut job! Ah called him an ass like Ah do every time he butts his head into mah business."
"You don't yell at him like you do to us. You totally don't mean it with him. And you only called him an ass after you made sure his feelings weren't hurt." Rogue didn't look at her as she walked, but she could imagine the girl's eyes filled with hearts and sparkles as her imagination ran away with her.
"Look, you're jus' lookin' deeper into things that ain't there. He's an ass, he's th' enemy, and he's into th' skin-on-skin thing, which Ah can't exactly help him with. So not only is there nothin' between us, there can't be anythin' between us."
Her friend just rolled her eyes. "Ok, now you're just, like fishing for excuses. You so totally dig him."
"Yeah, like Ah dig an axe buried into my skull with handcuffs on and tied to a rock at the bottom of the ocean."
Kitty smirked mischievously. "You always did prefer the kinky masochistic stuff."Rogue growled menacingly that wiped the smirk off her face. "If yeh don' shut up right now, Katherine Elizabeth Pryde, I'll develop a sadistic side too."
Kitty paled a few shades, knowing it was no bluff. "Shutting up now."
The argument ended at that, because just then Kitty's cellphone rang. It was a cute little diddy that left Rogue slightly nauseous. Kitty smirked at her friend's sick expression and let it ring a few extra seconds in retaliation. It seemed she had a sadistic side as well.
"Oh answer the phone already before Ah shut it off permanently," came the scathing threat from Rogue.
Her fellow X-girl did as she was told, ending the goth's punishment. "Hello?"
"It's Scott," came the terse reply. "Took you long enough to answer."
"Oh, uh, hi Scott," she laughed nervously. "Like, sorry about that. What's up?"
"Find Rogue and come back to the mansion quickly. We need to suit up and head out."
At this the valley girl grew more serious. "Why? What's wrong?" She saw Rogue's head turn in her direction, a worried look on her face.
"The Professor got a new signal from Cerebro on a mutant in Massachusetts. We need to get to the mutant before anyone else does." Then he hung up the phone before she could reply.
"What's going on?" Rogue asked as they practically ran back to the mansion.
"Like, there's a new mutant that the Professor found. They want us to get to them before Magneto does."
"Or worse, the FOH," Rogue added. Kitty didn't answer, but she didn't need to as they both sped up together.
"So where in the world are we?" Bobby asked, alternating between making ice darts and throwing them at the ceiling of the van. If the others were annoyed by it, they were too tired to say anything. They had been in the car for what felt like hours and lost for the majority of that time.
"Who knows? It wasn't mah bright idea to park the Blackbird 5 towns over," Rogue yawned and leaned back in her seat. Her legs were propped up on the seat in front of her.
Scott frowned and tightened his grip on the wheel. "Look, Otis Air Base is nearby and if they caught us flying over Cape Cod, they'd…"
"Ah know Ah know," she drawled. "They'd be on us like FOH at a mutants' rights meetin'. We may as well not have flown at all."
"I don't recall asking your opinion on the matter. The van works just as well as the Blackbird."
"An' it takes twice the time. Ah don't recall askin' to come on this little sight seein' tour of backwater New England. Ah don't do the whole recruitin' spiel. That's Jean's forte. Why ain't she here?"
"She has a physics exam tomorrow and needs the extra time to study."
"Oh right. She can skip out 'cause o' some test, but we can't? It's not like we have anythin' we could be doin' besides signing up miniature super heroes."
"And what would you be doing instead, Rogue?" asked Amara in a moment of bravery. "Reading this week's goth vampire story up in your room?" She withered back into her seat when the patented Glare of Death was sent in her direction.
"Look, can we just stop fighting?" Kurt asked. "We're almost there. See?"
As he pointed, they saw a small sign on their right that said 'Welcome to Mashpee: home of the Wampanoags.'
"Oh happy day," Rogue grumbled crossing her arms. Between the run-in with the two FOH wannabes, Gambit, and recruitment, she was not having the best of days. "An' what the hell is a Wampanoag?"
"Like cheer up, Rogue," chirped Kitty leaning forward through Rogue's chair and chest to talk. "Just think of it, like, as someone new to torture. And besides, a Wampanoag is a Native American of that tribe."
"Ok, number one: don't phase through meh, it gives meh the creeps. Number two: how in the world did yeh know that? And number three…"
"We're here!" Jubilee chimed in excitement. "24 Farley Road."
The house was nice, even among the expensive summer homes that filled the area. It was nothing spectacular though. Just a nice ordinary house in a nice ordinary town. Nothing to suggest a mutant lived there. And if what the Professor said was true, a very dangerous mutant at that.
"Alright, let's do this thing," Scott said, pulling into the driveway. "We don't know what Justin Bower's family will be like so be on your best behavior."
"Ja, muzzer," Kurt saluted smartly, earning a scowl from his leader and a smile from his sister.
Once they had all piled out of the van, they made their way up to the door and rang the bell. A young woman appeared at the door. She looked barely old enough to be a mother, and it was obvious she had also been aged prematurely. Her blue eyes were puffy and red, from crying no doubt. Her short brown hair hung limp and dull. She carried herself like a woman heavy with burden.
"Can I help you?" she asked warily.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Bower," Scott said in his best professional tone. "You don't know us, but…"
"If you're from the FOH, I already told you that Justin…"
"No, no, you misunderstand. We're not from the FOH. We're actually like him, and we want to help him."
Her nervousness visibly eased somewhat. "Like… him? You mean you know what is wrong with him? You know how to cure him?"
"Can we come in?" he asked. "This may take some time to explain."
"Oh, yes, of course. Come on in."
Once inside, the six X-men arranged themselves on various couches and chairs and prepared to explain the situation to Mrs. Bower.
"First we would like to offer our condolences about your husband. He passed away only last week, didn't he?" Scott began.
The young woman nodded, composed for someone who had just lost her husband. "Thank you."
Rogue picked up on the lack of emotion from the woman right away. "Excuse meh, Mrs. Bower, but yeh don't seem very upset that yo' husband just died a coupla days ago."
"Rogue…" hissed Kitty, but Mrs. Bower waved her off with a gentle smile.
"No, it's ok. If the Good Lord saw fit to take Adam from me, who am I to argue? And please, call me Heather."
"The report says that Adam committed suicide," Rogue continued despite pointed looks form her teammates. Heather shook her head at her words.
"Justin's step-father did many things that were not always… acceptable to society," she discreetly pulled her sleeve down over 5 small healing bruises, "but he would never commit suicide. Something drove him to take that gun to his head. He saw something in Justin's paintings that day. His half-mad ravings before he died convinced me of that."
"Is that how Justin's powers manifest?" asked Kurt curiously. "Through his paintings?"
Heather shrugged at the boy concealed behind the holo-transmitter. "That is something he would be able to explain better than me."
"Have you seen the painting?" Kitty asked.
"No, Justin keeps it covered day and night. He is afraid that whatever is there will do that same to me."
"Have you ever suspected him of being a mutant before now?" asked Scott, taking control of the conversation.
Heather shook her head, wringing her hands in agitation. "Well, his father was… unusual. It had never bothered me; just another thing that set him apart from everyone else. But I never thought something like this could be passed on. I should have been more attentive to what was going on."
"This isn't your fault, Heather," Bobby reassured her. "Mutation isn't something that happens because of what a parent does or doesn't do. We're just born this way."
"A mutant," she smiled sadly. "My son the mutant. Then there is no cure. Justin will be like this forever, then, won't he?"
"We can help him," offered Scott. "The Professor teaches us to control our powers so we don't hurt anyone or ourselves. He can help Justin too."
The young mother nodded sadly. "I won't agree to anything unless he does too. I think you should talk with him now."
"Is he home?" Scott asked, looking around as if to conjure the mysterious mutant in the living room.
She pointed to the stairs. "He hasn't come down from his room since Adam shot himself. His room is the third on the right. If you'll excuse me, I need to get dinner started. Will you be staying?"
Bobby's eyes lit up at the sound of food. "If you don't mind," he said before Scott could politely refuse. Her lips drew up in a slight smile, not so pained anymore.
"Then I'll be sure to make plenty. It will be nice cooking for more than two."
When she was gone, the X-Men prepared to go up the stairs, unsure of what they would find in the boy's room. Used the wrong way, this new mutant's powers held potential for great destruction. They didn't want to give him any inclination to join the wrong side.
"I want everyone on their guard," Scott repeated, emphasizing his worry for the situation. "We don't know what we're dealing with. But no one upset him. If what Mrs. Bower says is true than he has the power to make you do things."
"But he's a painter," Bobby said confidently. "What can a painting do?"
"Put a bullet through your head apparently," muttered Rogue, feeling more and more unease at the situation. There was something incredibly wrong about a painter who had the power to make you kill yourself.
The young leader of the X-Men was the one who knocked on the boy's door. "Come in!" called a voice on the other end. Entering the bedroom, the others heard soft classical music in the background, something by Bach. Canvases on easels littered the room and paintbrushes and palettes on nearby stands. There was hardly room for the small bureau and bed tucked in the corner. The paintings were all unfinished, each in their own various states of completion. Some depicted still-lifes, others showed quiet scenes on a river, or a family playing in a meadow. All magnificent and done with an obviously talented hand.
One painting stood on its own in another corner. This one had a sheet covering it, hiding the scene from the view of others. Could this be the one that drove Adam to his death?
"Come on in," young Justin said again from his seat by the window. He wore a black tie around his eyes and maneuvered his way to the group using a long plastic stick to grope around the room. The boy was blind? Then how could he be the painter of all these marvelous works?
"You're Justin Bower, right?" Kitty said, speaking for the group of mutants.
"Yeah I am. I heard you talking with my mom. You're mutants too? You think you can help me?" His voice was hopeful and near desperate.
"Ve'll do our best," Kurt added. "Ve all live together in a mansion in New York. Zere's a man zere, Professor Xavier. He helps us cope vith our powers."
"Is this something that can be cured? I have to paint. I just got accepted to an art school in California. How can I go if I can't see?" He sounded upset and it was then that they saw him clutching a letter of acceptance to one of the best art schools in the country.
"Why can't you see, Justin? Why did you cover your eyes?" asked Scott, thinking back to when his own powers manifested. He had duct taped his eyes shut, afraid to open them for anything. The professor had found him wandering the streets like that, a poor young boy who was forced to blind himself lest he destroy whatever he looked at.
The boy's lips thinned into an ironic smile. "Because whenever I look at someone now, I have to paint what I see. If I don't I go crazy. But if I do… well, you saw what happened to Adam."
End Part One
A/N: This story should be about 10 chapters long or less. Also, I know there isn't much Romyness going on here, but I need to set up later chapters. Keep checking back for updates, but I can't promise that they will be soon. College and a plethora of other stories do take up a considerable about of time.