Part Two: Wan Shang Qishou
By the time Rogue got home, dinner was already getting started. It was supposed to be her turn, but apparently a replacement had been found. She winced as she caught the scent from the kitchen.
And that replacement just had to be Kitty, didn't it? Perhaps she should have gone to McDonalds with the boys or something.
She wandered into the kitchen to speak to her hopeless roommate. "Hey, Kit, Ah'm back."
Kitty looked up from her… well… something in a pan. Her gloves were covered by cheery sunflower hot mitts and her apron was covered in some strange goo. The girl's bright blue eyes widened in concern. "Oh, like, hey Rogue. Is… everything alright?" She knew better than to ask anything too specific lest anyone be listening who shouldn't. Not an unreasonable fear in this mansion. There was always someone listening.
"Fine," the goth shrugged flippantly as she put her books on the table. "Ah jus' need t' do a favor fo' that friend Ah was tellin' yeh 'bout. Need a hand with dinner?"
Her friend's gaze went back to her hopeless… thing. "Yeah, this Shepherd's Pie is so totally not doing what it's supposed to." So it was Shepherd's Pie, huh? Is that what they called it these days? Rogue sighed at Kitty's amusing attempts to cook and put her short hair back with some clips. As she worked with the smaller girl, Kitty's voice dropped. "So you're, like, gonna do what he needs? Just like that?"
"Yeah Ah am," Rogue replied, sounding just as surprised with her decision as Kitty felt. "Certain… circumstances make it sorta necessary fo' meh t' go."
"For how long? How are you going to get permission?" she demanded in a fierce whisper. "The professor is, like, not going to just let you go cause you said so. I mean, these are the Acolytes we're talking about. They don't…"
Rogue hushed her before she let anything slip that she shouldn't. The kitchen was not exactly the best place for this conversation. "Ah know, Ah know. Ah've got it covered, 'kay Kit? Jus' trust meh. Ah'll explain t'night."
Dinner was as normal as usual. Thanks to Rogue's quick intervention, the Shepherd's Pie came out halfway edible. Most of the others didn't even notice, as most were growing teenage boys who would eat anything so long as it stayed still long enough. The girls of the house ate the food only after they saw the boys still alive and after they were assured Rogue had put forth the majority of the effort. A social butterfly the goth was not. But any food she touched was fit for the gods.
For her part, Rogue acted as normal as she could so no suspicions would arise. She was doubly grateful that the strong barriers put up against the psyches prevented any unwanted thoughts to leak to unsuspecting telepaths. Uncomfortable questions were the last things she needed right then. Her thoughts were chaotic enough without someone else's opinions on the matter. Especially when her psyches had no qualms about speaking up. And they had plenty of opinions on the matter of this mission with the Acolytes. If the Logan in her head was any indication, the larger Logan outside her head would tie her to the wall and spear the three young men with his claws before letting her go. There was certainly no love lost between the X-Mens' mentor and the opposing team.
She sighed softly, munching on some potatoes. This whole thing sounded like a disaster from the start. If this rival group were anything like the Assassins, and it sounded like they were, rescuing a boy and his mother would not be a walk in the park. And speaking of Assassins…
Rogue stabbed at her burnt meat angrily, earning some strange glances from around the table. She didn't care. Going back to the bayous of New Orleans was not one of the things she most wanted to do. She had a feeling Remy's rivals were not very happy with her at the moment. And if word got out that the two of them were in town, Rogue did not doubt Julian or his father Marius would be there to welcome them. She made a mental note to bring that up to the Swamp Rat that evening.
"Is everything alright?" Ororo's voice cut through her thoughts. At first she thought the elder mutant was talking to someone else but then she saw that everyone's eyes were now on her.
"Huh?" she blinked rather un-Rogue-like. Did she miss something?
"You were muttering about 'Swamp Rat,'" Logan explained, eyes narrowing. "That Cajun botherin' yeh again, Stripes?"
"He told meh t' tell 'im th' moment yeh came near meh again. Ah'd say this qualifies."
Rogue smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring way. "Nah. Ah'm fine, Logan. Jus' talkin' t' mahself." She hated to lie to him; he was the father she never had and she trusted him beyond anyone else. Leaving in the middle of the night with said 'Cajun' without telling him was going to hurt him and his trust in her. But there were more important things at stake here. When all this was done with, Rogue hoped she would have the chance to explain and he would understand. She didn't think she could bear it if he lost all faith in her because she ran off for the sake of a child.
He stared at her as though he knew she was lying to his face. But choosing not to pursue the matter, he returned to his food grumpily. That cued the others to go back to their own meals. The professor said nothing at all and Rogue feared that he knew what she was planning. The rest of the meal was spent in uncomfortable silence for Rogue. The other students seemed not to notice at all as they chatted about their day. Kitty was torn between concern for her friend who was obviously miserable and keeping up a normal personality so the others didn't suspect anything.
When dinner was ended, she and Kitty escaped upstairs since the cooks didn't have to be involved in the clean-up process.
"Ok, we're alone now," Kitty said in the safety of their room. "Like, spill it. What does he want?"
Rogue sat at the edge of her bed motioning that her friend should do the same. "Not jus' him. Pyro an' Colossus are in on it too."
"The other Acolytes? Why?"
So Rogue explained it to her. How Pyro's family were involved in… pharmaceutical and security dealings and how a rival… business took offense to the young mutant's return home. She told of Samantha and Kyle and their young son Andrew. Of the incident at the hotel a day ago.
"Ok, so they need to, like, get his sister and nephew back. Like, what does that have to do with you?" Kitty asked still not seeing the connection. Rogue looked down as she spoke, not wanting to see her reaction.
"When Gambit kidnapped meh a coupla weeks ago, he used mah powers t' get information on where t' get to his fathe'. Ah was able t' know everythin' th' Assassins knew, from th' location t' how t' get passed the' booby traps. They figured Ah could do th' same sort o' thing this time too."
Kitty was silent for a moment, taken aback at the news. Whatever she was expecting her friend to say, this certainly wasn't it. "You're gonna use your powers to get information? I thought you, like, were against that. Y'know, hurting people and reading their minds."
"Kit, it's fo' a mama an' her baby," Rogue defended herself. If her best friend in the whole world wouldn't understand and support her, what hope did she have of the other X-Men understanding? "Not fo' th' Acolytes. If Ah can prevent a kid's death, Ah will. Pyro says these guys would hurt 'im if they thought it would help 'em."
"Well, yeah, I know but…"
"Ah ain' proud o' doin' it. But Ah have t' do it. If th' othe's knew, they'd flip. Especially Logan." No, she wasn't proud of hurting people on purpose. It killed her a little bit whenever she had to do it on the battlefield; reminded her just how dangerous she really was. But for little Andrew she would risk losing that much more of her soul. He was innocent. He didn't deserve any of this. Rogue realized that she was already getting emotionally involved in this, that she was seeing more of herself in this mission than was wise. And she wondered if that wasn't another reason why Remy wanted her in. If he knew that she would put her heart and soul into this because she didn't want any more children to suffer. Either way, she was involved now and couldn't back down.
Kitty saw the determination in her best friend's eyes. There would be no talking her out of it. And she wasn't sure it was something that should be discouraged. If Rogue said it had to be done, she would trust her to know. And besides, it was for the sake of a child. Even Kitty understood that one must sometimes use unconventional means for a good cause. "He'll have to find out eventually, Rogue. They're gonna notice if you're, like, not here."
"Yeh can tell 'em everythin'," Rogue smiled slightly. "It's impossible fo' yeh not to. But it has t' be afte' Ah'm long gone. So they can' stop meh."
"When are you leaving?"
"T'night. Afte' Logan is done wit' his rounds at 11:30. Yeh can spill everythin' in th' mornin' so they won' worry."
Kitty smirked and played with a crease in the comforter. "Like, that'll only make them worry more. Logan will try to track you down no matter what I say." Her smile grew wider. "You better protect your boyfriend 'cause Logan will rip him to pieces when he finds him."
The gothic mutant frowned and smacked her friend with a nearby pillow. "He ain' mah boyfriend an' if Logan runs 'im through wit' his own staff it'll be his fault. Besides, since Ah don' even know where we're goin' Ah doubt ya'll will figure it out. He won' be able t' track us. Ah'll make sure o' that."
"What about Cerebro?" Kitty pointed out. "The professor will be able to track you when you use your powers on those goons."
"Ah have a feelin' we'll be movin' as fast as ya'll can try t' find meh." Rogue's large emerald eyes pleaded with her. "Please, Kitty. Make them understand. Ah have t' do this. Jus' let meh do this an' Ah'll be back when it's all ove'. Don' let them track meh down." She had never begged her friend for anything, so she felt entitled to ask for this. Besides, it wasn't as though Rogue hadn't gotten in trouble plenty of times for covering for Kitty when she snuck out on dates with Lance.
The smaller girl sighed in defeat. Alright, she was convinced, but that didn't make her any less worried. This was dangerous and she was letting her friend go out on her own with three young men who had a less than sparkling history. "Alright, fine. I'll do my best to keep them from following you. But you'll be careful right? This doesn't sound easy or pleasant. And it's not like you'll be working with, like, the X-Men. These are the Acolytes we're talking about. Not exactly traveling with the Boy Scouts on a field trip."
"Ah'll be careful," Rogue promised, thankful that she had agreed to this insane mission. "But… call meh crazy, but Ah don' think they're all that bad. Ah mean, th' only reason they were workin' fo' Magneto was 'cause o' blackmail."
Eyebrows raised skeptically, Kitty shrugged. "I don't know, Rogue, they're still crooks. Look, can you promise to call us so we know you're ok?"
"Ah'll call tomorrow night, Ah promise," Rogue assured her. "Now, let meh get ready. Ah still wanna take a shower an' pack. It's already 10:00."
Kitty let her go, satisfied that if Rogue wasn't alright, she would at least be able to call and ask for help. While she waited for her roommate to get out of the shower, she gradually grew to accept the idea more and more. Even get a little excited about the possibility of adventure.
Meanwhile, Rogue stood in the shower, not getting any more eager to begin this journey. Someone had already died, proving that these as of yet unknown enemies had no qualms about killing those in their way. Or using children to achieve their end. She did not look forward to what she would have to do, what the Acolytes had hired her to do. People would be hurt, maybe even killed by her and she had promised to do it if it meant Pyro could see his family again.
'They deserve it,' Pyro's psyche insisted. 'They took my family an' killed Kyle. C'mon, love, tell me you wouldn't mind puttin' them into comas.'
'But then they'd be stuck in here in her mind,' Jean's psyche chastised him. 'Besides, she's an X-Man and X-Men don't actively seek to hurt others no matter how bad they are.'
'Oh give it a rest with your holier than thou crap,' Pietro shot back. 'Rogue, don't listen to her. You just do whatcha gotta do.'
"All of yeh jus' relax," Rogue soothed them out loud. They were getting restless and more vocal lately. This usually happened right before some tried to take control. She was in for a few days of good long migraines. Perhaps swiping the mansion's store of Excedrin wouldn't hurt.
'Manifique,' Remy's psyche teased lightly. 'Now de othe' Remy have t' deal wit' yeh all cranky, chere.'
"If yeh can help keep th' othe' psyches in control Ah won' be cranky," she retorted, turning off the water. Her 'voices' rarely helped her in controlling the others, but it was worth a shot. Running a towel through her hair, Rogue let out a low chuckle. She really was crazy, wasn't she? Talking aloud to the voices that existed only in her head.
'Fo' you, ma cherie, anythin',' Remy replied.
But the voices were so real. She snorted to herself. Of course they were real. Psychic imprints of those she touched, or so the professor said. She looked into the mirror, staring at wavy wet two-toned hair and make-up free face. Being uncovered like this, clad in only a towel, she felt very vulnerable. And it wasn't only the lack of clothing that caused this. The girl in the mirror looked young and fresh and touchable. Rogue couldn't be that. She couldn't be touchable.
As she straightened her hair, she could feel a light headache already beginning. Her worrying was getting the psyches agitated. Rogue put down the hair-straightener and her hands up to her temples. "No, no," she shushed them. "Ah gotta do this an' Ah can' have ya'll shoutin' like this. Calm down." The dull roar increased to a moderate roar.
'Shut up!' Logan snapped at them which only added to the noise.
'Like, let the girl think,' Kitty pleaded.
'Ja,' piped in Kurt. 'You're going to make her sick again.'
"Please shut up," Rogue pleaded, holding her ears as though to block them out. "All of yeh. Ah can' think."
'Like that's a big difference from normal,' snickered Jason, an FOH member she absorbed a little while ago.
'Hey, can it!' Blob defended Rogue.
Oh great, she sighed in defeat. Now they were fighting. It wouldn't be long now until one of them turned on her.
Putting up a stronger mental wall to block them out, Rogue finished getting dressed into some dark comfortable clothes she could move in. She returned to her room, not feeling any better than when she went into the shower. Opening the door, Rogue was greeted with the sight of her best friend flitting about the room like a chickadee, happily throwing various items around seemingly at random.
"Kit, what in th' world are yeh doin'?" she asked. Her friend just smiled cheerfully, any previous depression gone. Nothing could keep her down for long it seemed.
"Packing, duh. What does it look like?" was the response.
"Packin'? Why? Yeh ain' comin' wit' meh." No. Most definitely not. It was bad enough she got dragged into this little adventure without involving another X-Man.
"Of course I'm not," Kitty rolled her eyes as though it were obvious. She ducked into the closet. "Do I look, like, nuts to you?"
"Well, from this vantage point…" Rogue smirked.
"Oh hush. I'm packing for you, silly," came a disembodied voice from the closet.
A pink miniskirt was then seen flying into a large suitcase that could fit Jamie and his many clones in it. Rogue caught it before it made it in.
"Only yeh," she sighed, "could turn a life 'n death search int' a Caribbean Cruise."
Kitty looked wary. "Are you, like, insulting me or complimenting me?"
Rogue took all the things out of the suitcase and starting putting them back. "Kitty, all Ah need is one duffle bag with a change of clothes, mah uniform, an' some othe' necessities. Not a whole wardrobe. We're gonna be travelin' fast 'n light." She eyed a tiny pink number slightly unnerved. "An' Ah certainly don' need t' borrow yo' clothes t' save a little boy."
"Like, I know what 'fast and light' means," Kitty defended herself staunchly. "Why do you think I, like, only packed one suitcase rather than two?"
Her friend gave her a wry look and stuffed her dufflebag with a few things she needed, remembering to grab some heavy-duty Excedrin. By the time she was done, it was nearly 11:30. The crescent moon was directly overhead, lending a bit of light to the grounds below. The girls watched the silent shade that was Wolverine stalk below their window as he made his final pass.
Kitty watched her best friend make her final preparations as Logan headed inside for a drink before heading to bed. Suddenly all the excitement that had come at the thought of adventure fled her. Rogue was strapping the bag to her back, preparing to drop to the ground. "Need a hand?" she asked softly. She couldn't explain it, but she was afraid that something would happen to the power stealing girl. And she was powerless to do anything about it.
"Ah don' wan' yeh t' get caught too," Rogue shook her head, not looking at her as she finished clipping the bag.
Kitty stepped forward and put a hand on her shoulder. "Then you can borrow my power. Please, Rogue." The lack of her Valley Girl voice and the close proximity alerted the goth to her friend's distress. Her determined emerald eyes softened slightly.
"Alrigh', Kit. If yo' sure." She raised a bare hand to her friend's face. Kitty nodded, willing to do anything to help Rogue in any way she could.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Just let me get into bed, ok? I don't want to pass out on the floor."
Once Kitty was tucked into bed, clutching her dragon Lockheed, Rogue sat down next to her. Kitty looked up at her, suddenly looking like a small child. "Are you sure you'll be ok? And you'll call tomorrow and if you need help?"
"Ah promise all that, alrigh'?" Rogue replied, trying to ease her fears. "Goodnigh'."
"Goodnight," Kitty sighed as she was drained by her friend's powers. She quickly sank into a deep sleep, sure to be groggy for most of the next day.
Rogue smiled at her for a moment before phasing through the building to the bottom floor and out the door.
Sneaking through the grounds, Rogue was doubly glad for the faint light of the moon. It wasn't so bright that she would be obvious to anyone looking out their window. But it also meant she wouldn't have to use her flashlight and alert anyone, especially Logan, to her activities. Phasing through the defense weapons, she shorted them out effectively. It wouldn't do for an autogun to ruin her escape. Mentally she made a note to bake something nice for Hank who would have to fix them in the morning.
Using the last bit of Kitty's powers to phase through the front gate, Rogue walked to freedom and the unknown.
The only sound in the building was the steady steps of an Australian boy as he paced. The faint stream of moonlight coming in through the windows was the only light for the group of three who did not dare add their own.
"Where is she?" Pyro demanded, fiddling with his lighter nervously.
"Calm down, mon ami," Gambit sighed, taking a drag from his cigarette. The end glowed slightly as he did so, reflecting in his ruby eyes. "Yeh'll give yo'self a stroke. Den where'd we be?"
"But it's already midnight," John continued, not hearing his friend. "What if she was caught? What if her little pet badger knows? He'll kill us, mates! He'll…"
The two promptly ignored him, used to their friend's nervous ranting. Not that there was anything they could do about it anyway.
"Badger?" Piotr asked, not quite following.
"Wolverine," the Cajun translated, having called the X-Men mentor quite a number of names of his own. He paused for a moment in thought, eyes seeming to see through the very walls. Then a smirk graced his lips as he put out his cigarette. Elle est ici."
Pyro stopped his worrying long enough to raise an eyebrow. "Say what, mate?"
Rolling his eyes, Remy stood up from his seat at the table. "De Rogue is here. Jus' round de corne'."
"I imagine the girl would not appreciate you using your empathy to locate her," Piotr grumbled in warning. He knew what the girl was capable of when angry. And they did not need two stubborn Southerners fighting with each other the whole time. Especially since Remy seemed so adept at pushing all her buttons.
"What de fille don' know don' hurt Gambit, non?" he shrugged.
At the knock on the door, Piotr went over to let their fourth team member in. "Sorry Ah'm late," she apologized as she walked in. "Ah got held up."
"No one saw you leave?" Piotr asked. Being followed by the whole worried X-Men team was not very appealing and would hurt whatever chance John had of seeing his family again.
"No." They didn't need to know that Kitty knew what was going on.
"Bon," Remy nodded in approval. Then he switched into complete business mode. This was his element. One which he took very seriously. "'Fore we leave, we need some groun' rules, hein?" He waited until he had the group's attention. "We don' know who dese people are. Dey could be anyone anywhere. An' we don' know wha' dey know. Dey could be on t' us o' non. So till we do know, ya'll can' make any calls. No talking t' people eithe'. If asked, Remy an' Rogue be givin' deux amis a tour o' de country. Our movements have t' be as secret as possible. Comprenez-vous?"
They nodded their understanding, trusting him in how to do such things.
"So what are we doin' t'night?" Rogue asked. "Yeh said we were goin' t' see yo' family?"
"Oui," he smiled. His eagerness to return home was not lost on the group. "If de Lebeau famille can' find a lead, den it don' exist. We goin' t' ride t'rough de night an' find a place t' sleep in de mornin'."
"Ya'll got a car?" she asked incredulously. If the pay was that good as an Acolyte, then she didn't think she'd mind a little blackmail to join.
"Bikes," John answered as they headed outside. He motioned to three very nice motorcycles waiting near the street. "Standard villain issue. May not look like much, Sheila, but they're quick 'n quiet."
Oh great, she thought. Riding all night on a bike was not going to be very comfortable at all. And she got to spend it wrapped around one of the gentlemen before her. "So who will Ah be ridin' with?" she asked as final preparations were being made.
"Yo' lucky 'nough t' be ridin' wit' Remy, cherie," Gambit replied, scarlet eyes dancing with humor. He knew very well that she was less than thrilled with the idea. But he was curious to see just how much inconvenience the young X-Girl could handle in one night.
"An' how do yeh figure that?" she inquired wryly. There was no doubt in her mind that he had planned it this way. It was something the shady Cajun was likely to do. She reluctantly caught the helmet he tossed her.
"Petey can' fit more 'n 'imself on de bike an' Fireball drives worse dan yo' petite Shadowcat." He watched Rogue blanch at the thought. Kitty's complete lack of driving ability was as notorious as her skills in the kitchen. For someone to be even worse than that… he could see Rogue immediately accept the less than perfect situation. Chuckling to himself he mounted his sleek bike, waiting for her to join him.
Rogue decided that it was better to be alive to smack the Swamp Rat than cement pizza because of an Aussie lunatic. Eyeing the offended Pyro like one might a rabid tiger, she strapped her bag onto the back of the bike. She climbed on, reluctantly forced to hold onto her companion's waist lest she fall off during the ride.
Remy smiled as her warmth covered his back. He certainly didn't mind the driving arrangements one bit. Besides, it was probably the only way for him to be held onto by her without getting smacked. "Don' worry if yeh need t' fall asleep," he assured her as his empathy picked up on her weariness. "Remy won' let yeh fall."
The girl said nothing, choosing to keep her pride rather than admit her weakness. She knew that before the night was out, she would probably take his offer to use him as a pillow. He chuckled again at the heard-headed fille and revved his engine. Within a minute, the four were off, leaving Bayville far behind in the dark night.
End Part 2
Pardon my French!
Manifique – Magnificent
elle est ici – She's here
Comprenez-vous? – Understand?
A/N: Well now we'll get rolling after this chapter. Coming up we'll see what measures Remy expects his teammates to go to for the sake of secrecy. And we all know how much Rogue likes being told what to do. Tempers will flare.
I've added some trivia in other stories, now it's your turn! Finish this quote: One's never alone with a …..
chica de los ojos café – thanks for the review! I figured that this at least hasn't been done before. I'm glad you like it. You'll just have to keep reading to find out ; )
sleepy26 – Thanks! Here ya go!
Fire Spirit VS Water Spirit – Lol, no no ryro. But that doesn't mean I can't have fun with it. Not a soap opera love triangle, cause those are annoying, but I'll put in some things for you ; )
Ishandahalf – And who says you can't teach a boy new tricks: )
Roguechere – Thanks! I hoped it would be original, I can't think of anyone doing this before. Just watch and one turns up now!
Sangofanatic – Breaking curfew is oh so much fun isn't it? And with three Acolytes… I'd rather not go home at all, neh?
Nuwie – Hey, you're that weird Swiss who keeps bugging me, aren't you? Lol Hey Nuwie! hugs I'm sorry with the accents and slang, I didn't even think how it would be hell for you, what a good friend I am. Just take it slow and hear in your mind as it's typed. That's not very helpful, I know. And just think, my mom is Southern, so I actually talk a lesser version of this : ) Yeah, about the French accents, there is a way to do it on my computer, but it involves a lot of work and frankly, I'm a lazy bum. You have it on your keyboard? Lucky! I have to do crazy commands to do it. So… just imagine they're there, k? Remy and Rogue are fun to write dialogue for. They are oh so much fun! In the next chapter it'll be a bit less fun and a bit more dark. He's not a fluffy little bunny all the time unfortunately. Puppy eyes : ) Yeah, there's a hint of the dear pup in Remy methinks. I need to brush up on my Chinese anyway and I know for a fact, no one else has done it in there fics so I'll just pretend that makes me original.
DaughterofDeath – love your sn! Will do!
Digi-fan girl – Thanks and here ya go!