A/N: The last chapter at long last. It may be short, but hopefully it's sweet…I've never been too good at endings, but hopefully all your questions will be answered. I'd like to make a shoutout to those few of you that have hung in there since the beginning, four years ago…You rock! And if you've been reading and haven't reviewed yet, here's your last shot!
On with the show!
Rogue surfaced from the depths of sleep slowly, taking time to fix the residual images of dreamland in her memory. In the two days since she and the others had been safely returned to the Xavier Institute, she had had more than a few memorable dreams.
Except that they weren't really dreams. In truth they were bits and pieces of EM's memory that she hadn't been able to process immediately after she absorbed him. Now that some time had passed these memories were fading, but what she had already pieced together from them and the other knowledge she had obtained from the evil mastermind was more than enough to understand what was going on.
She looked around her room with bleary eyes, relishing the feeling of waking up slowly after getting enough sleep. This was only the first night that she had been allowed to stay in her and Kitty's room since her return—even if there wasn't really anything wrong with her.
In fact, she reflected as she began to get dressed, nothing had ever been so right. Her powers were remaining dormant for the most part, and although there had been a few very minor flickers of absorption here and there, she had every intention to relish her newfound ability to touch for every moment that it lasted. Mr. McCoy hypothesized that the sudden onslaught of such an overabundance of energy had "short circuited" her powers: they had overstretched their limits in trying to take in so much, and would not be able to take in much more until they had sufficiently recovered from the strain. If the way EM's powers refused to fade was any evidence, that recovery was still a ways off.
She froze for a moment as a splash of color on her nightstand caught her attention. She barely even needed to get closer to see that the small rectangle propped against the lamp was a playing card bearing the Queen of Hearts, but she still crossed the room to be sure of it. With a small frown she snatched it up and stuffed it in the back pocket of her jeans. There was no doubt as to who had left it, and if that maddening Cajun thought that just because she had kissed him he could come waltzing into her room while she was asleep…
Although she had to admit that it was probably something that he would have done whether she had kissed him or not.
Still, she had responsibilities to take care of, and she would not give that Swamp Rat the pleasure of being the first on her list, even if it was just to yell at him. She allowed herself a smirk as she left her room. Yes, she'd give him a nice, long wait—after all, she knew no better way to frustrate him than to ignore him.
It was a strange feeling, to leave so much of her skin bare. The movement of air across her bare flesh felt so wonderful as she made her way to the medical wing. More than that, she felt free, unrestrained. It was so strange that this was everyone got to feel every day of their lives, took for granted every day of their lives….But not her. She would savor it for as long as it lasted.
Still, as she entered the Beast's domain, she braced herself for human contact. She might love it, but after so much time avoiding it, she had to admit that it was unnerving. And she would probably encounter it here.
It seemed that at least half of the Institute had taken up residence in the medical wing shortly after her return. Of course there were those that had joined the crusade against EM (excluding Logan, of course), but if you added to that the X-men that had caught EM's illness, and the mutants that had volunteered to help Hank, and all the visitors, the mansion's hospital had easily been the busiest part of the building. Now that a week had passed it had emptied out somewhat, but there were still several residents—namely, those that were recovering from the "SPD".
She exchanged a cordial nod with Mr. McCoy as they passed one another, but even if she had wanted to talk he was up to his elbows in things he had to do.
Rogue headed straight towards the room the Professor was staying in. It had been rattling to realize that even he was mortal; he had been among the first at the mansion to come down with EM's disease, and as a result was still one of the weakest inhabitants of the med bay. He had only woken up from the coma it had put him in two days ago. Still, he had insisted that she keep him up to date with her gleanings from EM's mind as soon as he knew what was going on.
"Hey Professor, how ya feelin'?" she asked as she perched on the edge of a bedside chair.
"Quite a bit better, actually," he replied with that paternal smile of his. "And it seems that you are, as well."
She flashed a grin at him. "Hey, Ah'm outta the med bay, my powers are still down, what's not to be happy about?"
"I'm glad to hear it." He hesitated a moment before adding, "Rogue, I don't want to get your hopes up, but Henry and I have been discussing the matter, and we believe that this may provide the key to gaining control over your powers. Perhaps when I've recovered more…"
"Ah'm used to not gettin' my hopes up, Professor. You just worry about checkin' outta here." She tried to sound nonchalant, but couldn't hold back the smile that tugged at the corners of her lips. Logically she knew that she was just setting herself up for disappointment again, and yet some part of her felt that Xavier was right—not just that she could win control, but that she would.
"I'll do my best," he told her with an amused smile. "Am I to take it that there is no news?"
"None that changes the story, anyway," she agreed, trying hard to keep herself from thinking of the more grotesque of the scenes from her dreams.
Together, she and the Professor had worked out the key points of the entire episode with EM. EM had been deceiving Magneto the whole time, developing a way to destroy mutants instead of humans—a way that was not, in fact, a disease. EM had instead found a way to use small mechanical devices to employ his powers from afar, allowing him to sap energy from mutants hundreds of miles away. The more power he gained, the more devices he was able to operate, causing the "disease" to spread. In fact, everything about Remy spreading and/or releasing the disease was completely fabricated to manipulate Magneto and the X-men.
EM was able to store up the energy that he leeched in his body and use it to do almost anything. But when Rogue absorbed him, he lost control of the things giving him energy—and the "disease" was "cured".
Rogue had put him in a coma—probably one that he would never awake from. Somehow, she couldn't make herself feel remorse—especially when she considered that EM had been trying to develop a true disease that would accomplish his ends. Logan or Xavier or someone had gotten some sort of government organization (most likely SWORD or HYDRA or something along those lines) to destroy the lab so that those findings would never be discovered by the wrong person.
Rogue tried to focus on these facts and tune out EM's personal life—because she had no desire at all to feel sympathy for this crazed mass murderer. That didn't mean that knowledge didn't exist in the back of her mind, but she was doing her best to forget it entirely.
In short order, Rogue's conversation with Xavier drew to a close, and she left the med bay as quickly as was possible. She had been kept in there far too long for her liking; although she had been allowed to move about the mansion freely for the past few days, she had still been forced to spend the night in case of any unexpected manifestations of EM in her sleep. Beast was finally convinced of her safety since she hadn't unconsciously used his power since the first night after their encounter, but six straight nights in this place was six nights too many.
The kitchen was her next stop. She briefly inspected a muffin to make sure that it wasn't of Kitty's making, then took a seat on the counter to finish her breakfast. She thanked her lucky stars that she was just finishing when she heard the telltale sounds of two of her female teammates approaching, engaged in an apparently engrossing conversation.
"So I told him he should just mind his own business," Kitty was saying as she entered the kitchen with Amara. That line was just too irresistible.
"Oh yeah, like you're one to talk," Rogue cut in with a smirk, jumping down from the counter, secretly marveling at the texture of the empty paper muffin cup under her hands as she went to throw it out.
"Hey Rogue, I didn't know you were up," Kitty exclaimed, apparently disregarding her sarcastic comment. Kitty had been looking somewhat under the weather since they had gotten back from EM's lab, mostly as a result of a bad reaction to the drugs that had been used to keep her sedated.
"Look, I'm going to go find Jubilee," Amara informed them. "Later."
Rogue sighed as she watched Magma's retreat. Amara and Jubilee weren't speaking to her because they were convinced that she and Remy were an item and thought she was undeserving and/or had stolen him. It was such a trivial thing to be upset about in her opinion—especially since there was nothing going on between her and the Swamp Rat.
"She's just jealous," Kitty pointed out cheerily, proving Rogue's mental point.
"Of what? There's nothing to be jealous of," Rogue informed her irritably. She started walking, just for the sake of walking.
"Well, you did kiss Remy, didn't you?" Why did Kitty always seem to fixate on such unimportant details?
"I should never have told you that," the Southerner grumbled.
"But you did," Shadowcat chirped gleefully. "And even if you hadn't, it's like so obvious that the two of you have a thing."
"A thing," she repeated skeptically. "How amazin'. My world will never be the same because Remy and Ah have 'a thing.'"
"Remy certainly hopes so."
Rogue closed her eyes in defeat. She should have known. She really should have known. After all, he did have a habit of turning up at the most annoying time possible—why not now that he and Peter were living at the institute? She wondered briefly if he just lurked, waiting for the right moment to strike.
Kitty giggled a little too happily for Rogue's liking. "I think I'm gonna, like, go catch up with Amara or something. Bye!"
Rogue couldn't help feeling a sense of abandonment as Kitty strolled back down the hallway the way they had come.
"So why don't y' tell Remy 'xactly what kind of a t'ing y' an' him have," the Cajun suggested with that infuriating smirk.
"Easy," Rogue retaliated, picking up her pace with a purpose. "He annoys me, Ah kick his butt. Nothin' to it."
"Dat stings, chere," he lamented, a comically tragic expression on his face. "After all we been t'rough…"
It was strange. Somehow, Remy wasn't quite so annoying anymore. She found herself being more amused than fed up with all the banter…She wondered whether that was usual for guys that you gave your first real kiss to. Then again, Remy was anything but usual.
"Well, sometimes Ah let him take me on his motorcycle," she conceded with a small grin. Did they have "a thing"? Maybe Kitty was right.
After all, she considered as he acquiesced, she wouldn't let just any guy put his arm around her waist while they walked to the Institute's garage together, now would she?
Besides, Remy had a motorcycle. Having a relationship with him couldn't be as bad as all that.