Note: Warning! To all of you who were satisfied with the somewhat finality of the previous chapter, do not read any further. Those of you who are imaginative and don't mind filling in the blanks, read on...

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Chapter 26

Epilogue

(Kenny Cruz)

They all stood on the open field in the outskirts of Buffalo. Very few people spoke, most using the time of silence to think about their life and all they would be leaving behind.

One man stood tall above the others–not so much in height, but more so in spirit. He zipped down his jacket, the coolness of the early morning finally rising to a temperature he could bare. Having spent all of his life between the desert of Nevada and the hot beaches of California, he still was not use to the cool summers of the east.

He was strong, yet slender. He had dirty blond hair, which he cropped off the night before, feeling as though he needed a new look for the new phase in his life. He knew he was destined for greatness–that his life would be much more than the mutantswho stood and waited around him. He knew he was special and that he would be standing next to Magneto, not behind him.

For some reason, the his eyes settled on a young black man, who had wondered into the crowd. The man looked as though he were lost, uncertain of what was to come. "Hey," he greeted the other man, who stopped next to him.

"Is this…"

"Yup," he responded instantly, with a twinkle in his blue eyes, having heard the same question from other late arrivals.

I can't believe I made it! Ro-Joe felt like kissing the ground and probably would have; however, he didn't want to draw attention to himself. Last thing I need is to be recognize and be rejected from going to Asteroid M. "So where's the big guy?"

"We still have a couple of minutes," he answered, eyes still searching the early morning sky. He glanced back over to the other man, who looked antsy, his body making jerky movements as he tried to survey the landscape. He's obviously very nervous. Being the type of person who enjoyed meeting new people, he extended his hand. "My name is Kenny Cruz, by the way."

Ro-Joe just looked at Kenny, his hands still deep into his pockets. "Cool."

Kenny drew his hand back, finding it odd the man who he just introduced himself to, did not return the favor. The longer he looked at the uneasy man, the more it triggered something in his memory. "You know, you look kinda familiar."

Shit! His head immediately zeroed in on the ground as though it were the most interesting thing in the world–finding that the only way to avoid eye contact. The media must be flashin' my picture all over the television now if this guy recognizes me. "Is that so?" He mumbled.

"Have I seen you somewhere before?" He asked, the curiosity getting the best of him.

"You must be mistakin' me for someone else," he lied. "I'm sure all us black people look alike to ya white guys."

"I'm sure," he agreed with a smile, but he still could not shake the sensationthe man before him was indeed familiar. "But I know I've seen you somewhere before."

Ro-Joe's heart beat increased in reaction to the intense stare he was receiving. He had come too far to have everything fall apart right when it was within his reach. "You got the wrong guy."

"Nah, I don't think so," he stated with absolute certainty. "You're name's Ro Joe Johnson."

"That ain't my name."

He stepped closer to the other man, "Now I know for sure it's you."

Ro-Joe took a quick look around him, trying to see if he could find a clear path in case he needed to sprint out of the area.

"Don't worry; I'm not going to finger you out."

This dude really ain't gonna let up. It was as if the man could see right through him. "Like I said, I ain't the guy."

He sighed, shaking his head, knowing he had him at a disadvantage. "Before you dig a deeper hole, I feel that I should let you know something. I sense things. Right now I can see the monocular structure of your body. I see the increase of your heart beat and the configurations in your brain. I can tell when you are telling the truth-but most importantly, I can tell when you're not."

Ro-Joe straightened up his stance, not one to back down. "And?"

"And," looking him over one more time as if to make sure, he added, "you're not."

(Scott/Jean)

Scott rolled over in his bed, curled beneath the sheets. He had spent most of the night pleasing his wife and had finally found himself settling into a deep sleep.

"You have 30 minutes to get yourself together and meet me in the Control Room!"

Scott's eyes flashed open covered by his shades, as he heard Xavier's blaring voice echo through his mind. The professor was still in Shi'ar–of that Scott was certain–which meant Xavier wanted to speak with him through the video camera.

Shit! It must have something to do with the Report I sent him last night.

Jean woke up from her sleep, having heard the same telepathic message because of the telepathic connection she shared with her husband. "Ohh, my poor baby," She cooed as she rolled over to stoke his chest. "Don't worry," she said, pausing to yawn loudly, "everything...will be all…"

And then nothing.

Scott noticed she had fallen back asleep and wished momentarily that he could have it so easy. "Thanks, dear," he whispered, running his fingers through her hair. "But I don't think so." Giving her a quick kiss on the forehead, he jumped out of bed and headed directly for the bathroom.

(Rogue/Bobby)

Rogue slowly opened up the front door of the mansion and quietly closed it behind her. She had just returned from the cliff were she and Remy had watched the beginning of the suns' rise over the horizon. That moment had been as close to perfection as she could ever imagine, she didn't want it to end–but it had to end, sooner or later.

Rogue decided to fly home while Remy drove the car. Flying was faster and she needed to get back to the mansion in a hurry to return the bracelet before Scott would notice it was gone.

Ah wonder exactly where Remy is right this moment–Ah mean, Ah wonder where mah boyfriend is... She giggled like a little girl when she finally realized that she had a boyfriend...a real boyfriend. How pathetic, she thought, willing to laugh at herself.

"Rogue?"

She jumped, being caught off guard, but spun around quickly when she recognized the voice. "Yah are the best friend ever!" She yelled as she ran to Bobby and pulled him into a tight hug, mindful of her super strength.

He held her close, his face covered by the fullness of her hair. Her happiness could only mean one thing, he thought troubled. He shook his head, cursing himself for believing in something that he knew now was impossible. "I guess that means you two are on again."

"Damn straight, thanks tah yah."

Gambit was so full of it. I knew he would take her back. "It was that easy, huh?"

"Not so. Granted, it took a li'l beggin' on mah part, but come on, was there ever any doubt? Who could resist this?" She asked humourously as she struck a sexy pose.

Even though it felt like his world had came crashing down, she was able to instantly turn his mood around with her infectious attitude. "I'm happy to see you smiling again."

She nodded firmly. "Ah'm happy tah be smilin' again."

And then it happened. He saw something in her eyes–it was a quick flash–but he knew it was something. Nervousness, sadness, doubt? What it was exactly, he wasn't sure, but it caused an uneasiness in him. "Rogue, just be careful."

"Ah'm always careful, sugah."

"I mean it, Rogue," he pressed forward, not wanting her to be so dismissive. "Don't go rushing into anything--I mean, this is still Remy we're talking about and it's not like he's going to change over night."

Here we go... "Bobby…" she started to protest.

"He's still the lady's man," he continued knowing the truth would hurt, "I just hopeyou get bored of him before he gets bored of you…"

Gritting her teeth to control her outburst, she replied, "Thanks a lot, Robert."

Oh-Oh, she called me Robert, which means I crossed the line. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to come out like that. I'm just looking out for you."

"Well, Ah don't need lookin' after." Rogue crossed her arms and turned her nose up at him.

"Rogue." He said, almost begging for her to face him. Taking her hands into his, she looked back at him despite herself. "I really am happy for you. I'm just hoping for the best, whatever may come."

"Same with meh." Standing there with him, remembering all they had shared together, caused her defenses to drop long enough to confide in him–something she couldn't even let her new boyfriend know. "It's jus' that Ah'm so scared--promise yah won't tell Remy Ah said that?" she asked, squeezing his hand.

Oh, Oh. "I won't."

She let out a deep breath, relived she was able to confess out loud what she had always kept so quiet. "Ah'm jus' scared of mahself." Searching for the right words, she continued, "Ah know what Ah want, it's jus' sometimes Ah lose track and jus' get messed up and stuff, ya know?"

"No," he answered truthfully.

Of course he's gonna say no. How could he possibly understand when Ah don't fully understand what's goin' on either. "It's like today, Ah know what Ah want–Ah know who Ah am, but Ah can't predict that tomorrow will be a good day."

He actually listened to her, knowing she felt helpless and wanting to rescue her. "So, you're telling me that today is a good day?"

"Yeah, I know it is."

"You know what you should do?" He asked, giving her dilemma some thought. "Anytime you're having one of your good days, write it down in a book, you know, so you have a record."

She scrunched her face as if she had just tasted something bitter. "Yah wan' meh tah keep a diary?"

"Yeah, I guess," he said with a shrug. "So when you're having a bad day, you can look back and read what you wrote before and know it's the truth–know what's real."

"That is a pretty good idea." Surprise Ah never thought of it before. It may jus' work. But the more she thought about it, the more uncertain she became. "Remy will hate it though. He always says it's never good tah keep a paper trail."

Bobby sighed to himself. The philosophyof a criminal. "Rogue, not everyone's private thoughts, if uncovered, would result in a 25-to life bid."

"Hardy, har-har," she fake laughed, slapping her knee. It really is a good idea. "Ah'll do it," she said assuredly, her eyes suddenly resting on the metal briefcase placed beside Bobby's feet. "What's in the case?"

He followed her gaze toward the floor, grinning. "Stacks of hundred dollar bills."

Rogue rolled her eyes, wandering why she even bothered to ask. "If yah don't wanna tell meh what's really in there, jus' say so." Giving him a friendly pat on the arm as she headed down the hall toward the mansion elevator and said, "See yah later."

(Scott/Bobby)

Scott sprinted from the boathouse across the estate toward the main house. He was making really good time and figuredhe should be in the basement, sitting in the Control Room with approximately 15 minutes to spare. Which will be enough time for me to go over exactly what I'm going to say to the professor. Maybe he'll take it easy on me...most likely, he won't.

As he reached to push open the door, it opened before he had a chance. His teammate standing before him. "Hey, Bobby!"

Bobby had a bright expression on his face. Hey, now I don't have to drag this case all the way over to the boathouse. "Just the man I was looking for."

Scott looked his friend over, amazed by his transformation. Wow! This is a complete 180 compared to yesterday. "You seem to be in a rather chipper mood."

"Maybe it's the weather, or maybe it's because we're on vacation..." Taking the briefcase from behind his back, he presented it to Scott. "Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I have a briefcase filled with over a quarter of a million dollars."

"What?" What's he up to now? The leader thought, finding it hard not to feel troubled.

"$325,000 to be exact. You know, for the security installation that I broke." Bobby was smiling proudly, though he was somewhat disappointed Scott didn't seem to share in his enthusiasm.

The leader was stunned as he examined the outside of the metal briefcase. "Bobby, you didn't have to do this. There's no way the professor would ever expect for you to pay that bill. It was an accident."

"I know I didn't have to do anything, but this is just to even the score–so X won't think I'm a total idiot."

"He never thought that before," he said holding out the briefcase for Bobby to take it back.

He stepped away from Scott, not wanting the money in his possession again. "Just take the cash, will ya?"

Scott reluctantly gave in as he stepped fully into the house. "I really don't want to–and where did you get this kind of money from anyway? Are you now indebted to the mob?"

Nope, I'm indebted to Betsy–which probably worse than the mob, he thought, thinking it best to keep that tidbit to himself. "It really doesn't matter where I got it from. Just know everything is on the up and up."

"I guess that rules out Remy," he quipped, which reminded him about the ultimatum Bobby had made to him the other night. "Speaking of which..."

"You've made your decision?"

He sighed heavily. "Actually I have. I spent much of the night thinking about everything you said to me."

"That's weird. I figured you'd spent much of the night fucking Jean."

He smiled smugly. "That too."

"And?"

"And it wasn't easy. Not because I don't value our friendship, but because I knew whatever decision I made, you or Remy would be hurt."

This doesn't look good. Bobby nervously bit the inside of his cheek. "So what did it come down to?"

He hesitated a moment, looking to the floor to gather his thoughts. "It came down to who could I live with hurting." Looking back up at his long time friend, he said, "So in the end, I choose..."

"Wait a sec, Scott," he held his hand in the air, motioning for Scott to stop talking. "I've changed my mind."

"You what?"

"Maybe I was bluffing before and if I was, you called it; but I really don't want to leave here." Begrudgingly, he added, "And I don't want to be the cause of Remy leaving either."

"What changed your mind?"

"There was a misunderstanding between me and Rogue. We cleared everything up."

"Just like that?"

He dusted his hands together for dramatic effect. "Just like that."

Part of him wanted to get to the bottom of why Bobby changed his mind; however in the end, he decided it would be easier to just forget the entire incident ever happened. "Whatever. I'm just glad you can find a way to stay on the team with Remy."

"For the record," he said, letting his curiosity get the better of him, "who were you going to pick? Me or Rem?"

He shook his head in disbelief. Yes, I'm still dealing with the same insecure Bobby. "Do you really have to ask?"

"Damn!" he cursed, snapping his finger in mock anger. "That Cajun has all the luck."

Scott chuckled, playfully punching him in the arm. "Are you kidding me?"

He laughed as he put his arm around Scott's shoulder. "Like I said to Jean the other night: We Originals have got to stick together."

"The first five X-Men," he stated, reminiscing.

"I owe you one."

"You don't owe me anything."

He looked at his long time friend, wanting to say something more, but knowing he didn't have to. With all that they've been through over the years, times like these, many words weren't needed–and few words spoke volumes. "Thanks, Scott," he said sincerely.

Wait a second? What is he doing over here so early in the morning. "Where were you off to in such a hurry? You just about knocked me over, coming into the house."

He slapped his forehead. Oh shit! I almost forgot. "Xavier called me in for a meeting in the control room. He just finished reading my report about the last couple of days. You want to tag along?"

"Uh...hell no!"

"What about us originals sticking together?"

"Hey, Xavier always said that we could refuse suicide missions." Bobby headed toward the staircase, before yelling, "Good luck!"

"Yeah well, I changed my mind," he yelled after him, "I'm kicking you off the team in favor of Gambit!"

It was too late to make good on his threat. Scott could hear Bobby laughing hysterically as he rounded the corner.

(Logan/Rogue)

Logan sat in the control room at the master computer which had a screen too big for what he was prepared to do. He began typing on the keyboard, knowing he was given an opportunity that at any other time would have never been possible.

Now that the mansion security was partway down (thanks to screw ups involving him and Bobby) computer files which were otherwise top secret could now be accessed. Logan was prepared to break X-Men rules, especially when he was convinced the answers he was searching for lay hidden somewhere on the hard drive.

Within no time, he was in the area he was looking for, unsure of what was ahead. The screen had a list of names of all the X-Men, both past and present. He quickly skimmed through the list of names, highlighting Rogue's name with the curser:

Rogue (enter)

Restricted File! Password Required!

Logan banged his fist on the consol. It seems like not all of the computer system is down.

He moved the curser up to his name:

Logan 'Wolverine' (enter)

Restricted File! Password Required!

Shit!

Again he searched the list, stopping once he reached another name that might have some slight connection with Rogue.

Jean 'Marvel Girl' Grey (enter)

Access Granted

Logan sunk into his chair with relief. At least this idea wasn't a total waste of time. He read all the titles of the filesunder Jean's name including one regarding her background, another explaining her powers, one which outlined her transformation into the Phoenix as well as another explaining her death. None of the files were anything Logan was interested in and he was about to give up until one file title stood out:

Xavier Report: The Appearance of Onslaught (enter)

Access Granted

Logan eyes scanned over the many letters on the computer screen. Jean had written a full report on Xavier and the experiences that lead up to Onslaught. No one on the team ever heard the full story of how Onslaught came to be–only Jean and Xavier had that knowledge. But I'm so sure I can find the answers I have about Rogue somewhere in here. I remember hearin' whisperings about Onslaught bein' apart of the professors dark memories.

His eyes froze when it reached a pivotal part in the essay written in Jean's point of view:

...and then I was taken into the astral planes by Onslaught, forced to walk through the shaded mind of the man I thought I knew more than anyone in the world. At first, I thought I had the upper hand as I toured Xavier's mind, showing Onslaught the best of who I knew Xavier to be...

(1)Jean: Let's take a little flight down memory lane so you can get the facts straight. I've known professor Xavier since I was a child. He took me under his care from the time I first began to manifest my powers. I trusted him completely and totally from the moment we met–and coming from a telepath, let me remind you–that's saying a lot. Best example. When he was forced to fake his own death in order to advert an alien invasion, I was the only one he trusted with the truth. Not Scott. Not Hank or Bobby or Warren. Just me. We really are of the same mind. Nice try...but he's a father to me, and I know him like no other.

Onslaught: Oh, really? You naive girl. If you truly want to know Xavier's mind...you've got to dig deeper than that. I know you think your precious father-figure is the emotional puritan you claim he is...the eternal paragon of honorable and forthright behavior you believe him to be...then take a look at this repressed memory...

Logan eased forward in his chair, completely taken in by the story and eager to reach the conclusion. I wonder what the ol' man's been repressin' all these years.

Onslaught burst open a securely locked door that stood tall in Xavier's mind. Looking through the wide hole in the damaged door, I saw an early scene of me and Scott with the professor–we were new to the life of being an X-Man. We were about to head out on a dangerous mission when our teacher warned...

Xavier: Be careful, Jean.

Jean: Don't worry, sir. Remember how well you've trained us...

It was thenthe professor went silent, seemingly in deep thought. Though he said no words out loud, now that I was in his mind, I was a privy to what he was thinking...

Xavier (thoughts): 'Don't worry?' As if I could help worrying about the one I love. But I can never tell her. I have no right...

Logan just about fell out of his chair in complete shock. X was in love with Jean? He felt like spitting to get out the disgusting taste that was left in his mouth. She was still a kid when she joined the X-Men and he practically raised her, the sick bastard. At least when I hit on her, she was legal…I think.

Logan sat dumbfounded. He could not believe what he was reading. Uh-uh. No way this is true. Onslaught mus' have created that memory jus' to screw wit' Jean. Logan continued on with the report:

I was in complete disbelief with the scene from Xavier's mind replaying right before my eyes; however, soon all my doubts were proved wrong...

Onslaught: Pseudo-daddy dearest, disgraceful.

Jean: No. I don't understand! He never...this isn't real! You created this.

Onslaught: You're in his mind. You know it's real.

And it was real. All that was revealed to me was the truth.

It was then that I was thrown into the darkest area of Xavier's mind. It was filled with thousands of camped doors, locked with repressed memories of God knows what, as Onslaught explained:

Onslaught: Relax. It's not a torch he's been carrying (for you) believe me, he locked it away long ago...forgot about it. Like every other negative emotion Charles Xavier ever felt, he entombed it...tamped it down...buried it.

Onslaught: Face the truth, Ms. Grey. No man could be the saint you make Charles out to be. He may not even realize it, but in order to project that image...he's spent his entire adult life repressing every fear, every rage, every passion, every prejudice, every black thought he's ever experienced...

Logan stopped reading; It was as if a light bulb turned on in his head. Shit! Xavier had been suppressin' all of Rogue's bad memories as he did his own! Onslaught appeared 'cause Xavier had been denyin' so much of his urges that it all came out as pure evil. So not knowin' its eventual affect, Xavier mus' have suppressed most of what happened to Rogue in Genosha.

The question is, what exactly did he suppress and how does it connect with her bein' scared of me and bein' so clingy to Gambit. The more he thought about, the more his earlier suspicious at the boathouse seemed to make sense. She mus' have been raped and he erased the memory for her. My healin' power mus' have healed her right up afterwards, as if nothin' had happened.

He rubbed his chin in deep thought, remembering how scared Rogue was when he approached her after she used the bracelet. She didn't even want to be left alone with me and didn't even know why. Maybe Xavier's locked doors aren't holdin' up anymore in Rogue's mind...maybe she's startin' to remember enough to be scared, but not enough to know why she's scared...

The Control Room doors opened suddenly, cutting directly into Logan's train of thought.

Shit! He swerved around on his chair, his eyes connecting with Rogue, who looked like a deer caught in headlights. "What're ya doin' here?"

"What're yah doin' here?" she countered, eyeing him with the same amount of suspicion she felt directed at her.

Both stared at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. Just as Rogue decided to take the first step, Logan spun around in his chair at the same time.

With his back turned to her, Rogue quickly headed over to the area where she stole the bracelet from hours before and stuffed it into a closed-in space in Scott's area. Simultaneously, Logan's fingers speed over the keyboard as he quickly copied the file onto a blank CD and exited out of the highly secure file. By the time he ejected the CD, he spun back around to see Rogue in the same spot she was standing when she first entered the room.

He looked her over, curious as to why she seemed to be in such a good mood. "What's that smile for?"

"This smile?" She asked pointing to her lips as her smile grew wider with each passing second. "Ah'll have yah know that Remy and Ah are back together again, thank yah very much." She gave a little curtsy.

"Really?" He really didn't care to take whatever she was saying seriously.

Rogue waited for him to say something more, wanting to get a better reaction out of him, but had to settle for one of indifference.

"For how long?" He asked despite himself as he got up from his chair.

Bingo! "Ah knew yah couldn't leave things well enough alone," she said angrily, though she was happyhe provided an opportunity for her to rant. "Yah're so pessimistic, but Ah don't care. Yah can't bring meh down from mah high."

His eyes dipped down her body as he suddenly realized why she was in the basement. She mus' of had the bracelet. He so badly wanted to smack her, just so he could knock some sense into her. "Do ya think this is a joke?!" He stepped in front of her, inches away from her face. "Ya jus' put the bracelet back, didn't ya?!" He sneered.

She looked at him comically, showing no signs she was taking him seriously.

"We ain't gonna have a repeat of the other night. I'm tellin' Scott."

Shit! "Don't yah dare!" She said grabbing him by the shoulder and spinning him around. "Especially after Ah caught yah goin' through some files yah have no business bein' in." The fact that she entered the room and saw Jean Grey's private files on display on the large screen did not escape her.

Shit!

They were at a stand off; both taking the time to weigh out their options, trying to figure out which one had more to lose.

Rogue was first to speak, knowing she was the one who was most vulnerable. Scott would skin me alive if he found out what I did. "Listen, Ah didn't use the bracelet, okay?"

He scoffed at her words. Why should I believe her?

"Honest," she said, her eyes pleading with him. "Think about it. Eight hours wouldn't even be over by now."

She's right. "That's the only reason I believe you," he replied sharply. Having calm down, he said, "I should go back to giving you more karate lessons. I have a lot of free time on my hands…"

"Sorry, Ah don't. Ah plan on spendin' every minute with the Thief. Ah've got a lot tah make up for, fuck karate."

"It ain't about karate anymore. It's about ya and the bracelet."

"Ah don't need your help. Didn't yah hear meh? Everythin' is goin' good between Remy and Ah."

"But once ya get back the bracelet, your relationship will go down hill."

She rolled her eyes. "Again with your pessimism."

"Don't ya remember anythin' that happened the last time ya turned it on?"

Her mind wandered over the series of events that happened the day before. She couldn't settle on anything specific, her memory hazy during that period of time because the bracelet was used improperly, never mind the alcohol she consumed. Anyway, Ah don't have tah answer tah him. "Ah remember what Ah need tah," she lied.

"Ya were scared t' be left alone wit' me."

Yeah right! He's like one of mah big stuffed teddy bears. "Me, scared of yah?"

"As a matter of fact, ya only seemed comfortable around the Cajun."

Ah wonder why that is? "So Ah was scared of yah, right now that is the least of mah concerns. Jus' as long as Ah'm not scared with Remy, Ah don't give a shit."

"Remember last night when we were talkin' 'bout Genosha…"

She let out a fake loud yawn, showing her growing boredom with his recurring line of question. "Yeah. Ah thought we finished that conversation."

"I jus' found some stuff out and…" he stopped speaking and froze in his spot, sensing something she could not.

"What?"

Logan held his hand up, placing it on Rogue wrist. "Hold on. Be cool."

Seconds later, Scott stepped into the Control Room, immediately taken abackthat the room was already occupied. "What are you two doing in here?" He asked accusingly, feelingthe entire situation looked a bit fishy.

"Nothin'," Rogue replied, awkwardly scratching her elbow, wanting to find something–anything to do with her hands.

Scott looked her over with growing concern. Without another word, he headed over to his private area located in the corner and slid open the compartment. The Genosha bracelet was where he placed it the night before–although he wished he had left a marker in order to tell if had been moved.

"Lookin' for somethin'?" She asked innocently as she twirled her hair around her finger.

She seemed a little too cocky for his liking. "Not anymore."

"Thanks for the meetin' last night, Scott," Rogue said, wanting to change the subject before Scott started to ask too many questions. "It really did a lot for our solidarity and all that good stuff."

"Ya helped smooth out a lot of things," Logan was willing to admit sheepishly.

Rogue linked her arm with Logan's. "Yeah, we work best when we're stickin' together."

"Speaking of sticking together," Scott said matter-of-factly with a big phony smile. "I'm here because Xavier scheduled a meeting. He finished reading my report about the last couple of days. You can stay if you want..."

"See yah," she said with a quick salute as she dashed by him toward the exit.

"Later," Logan called out, still linked together with Rogue as they passed through the door.

The door shut in Scott's face, leaving a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Solidarity, my ass," he mumbled bitterly to himself.

Rogue paced the hallway, suddenly overcome with how much trouble she had gotten herself into over the past couple of days. "Like hell Ah was gonna stay in there. With all the shit Ah got into, Xavier's gonna have mah ass!" Fuck! When X gets back Ah'm gonna be read the riot act.

Her words caused Logan to find an opening to go back to what they were discussing before Scott interrupted them. Speaking of Xavier... " 'Bout Xavier and Genosha…"

"It's too early in the mornin' tah play detective." Stepping into the elevator. As the elevator door was closing, she added, "Yah're far too wrapped up in mah life; get your own, get laid."

Logan stood in the basement alone. Why the fuck am I killin' myself to help her when it's clear she doesn't even give a shit? He paused a moment, finding the answer to his question. Because...I was the one who got her into the shit in the first place.

He knew then, whatever it took, it would try to make everything right.

(Bobby/Remy)

Remy finally made it back from the cliff. He parked his car in the garage and walked down the path to the main doors.

He noticed Bobby sitting on the steps of the Mansion, seeming content with just taking in the cool breeze of the early morning. He jogged up the steps, giving a slight nod of his head to Bobby as he passed him by, reaching for the door nob.

"I heard."

What? He paused a moment, unsure of what Bobby was referring to.

"I bumped into Rogue; she told me the good news." He didn't look at the thief, preferring to stare at the trees in the distance.

Remy nodded his head in understanding, remembering Rogue mentioned Bobby told her where to find him. He was de only person dat knew where t' find me last night. If it wasn't for him, Rogue would have been flying in circles. "So, ya told her where t' find me?" He stated stroking his chin, clearly in deep thought.

Bobby nodded his head in response even though Remy's words sounded more like an accusation than a question.

His lips curled into a reluctant grin. And so, because of Bobby's interference, my tortuous life, will remain so. "I don't know whether t' t'ank ya or pop ya one in de mout'."

He was taken back by Remy's reaction. "A thank you would be nice."

"Merci," he replied with a slight bow of his head.

"Just don't let me regret my decision."

"We're on de same page, homme." Pushing forward on the door nob, he whispered, "I've been t'inkin' de same t'ing."

Bobby sat dumbfounded as the door shut behind him. Rogue's already questioning her relationship with Remy and now I see he's doing the same thing. It that moment he was all certain he set his best friend up in a relationship that was doomed to fail. Instead of telling Rogue where Gambit was last night, I should have just kept my big mouth shut.

(Xavier/Scott)

Scott tried to compose himself. He stood alone in the Control Room, trying to prepare for the upcoming meeting with Xavier. He looked up at the large screen, his hand over the button he had to press in order to open the communication line with Shi'ar, yet he hesitated.

Scott was nervous, he who spends his life facing death with enthusiasm, was still nervous with the anticipation of having to answer to the professor. After all the years as an X-Men, the notion of displeasing his mentor was his greatest fear and he knew nowit would never go away.

Before he had the chance to stall another couple of minutes, he pushed the button, Xavier himself appearing on the screen with a stern expression.

"You're late," he stated simply, though it had its intended effect on Scott.

"My watch was 30 seconds too slow and…" he stopped with his excuse once he noticed the serious expression on Xavier's face. I better just cut out the bullshit. "It won't happen again, sir."

"I received your report."

Judging by the prof's demeanor, I already know this isn't going to go well. "Listen, I can explain."

"There's no need to explain. Everything was typed quite clearly on paper," he said holding up the report so that Scott could see it in his hands. Flipping through the many pages, he said, "To summarize your last couple of days; we are behind in our security update, our codes are all messed up, my priceless vase is no more, we are $325,000 dollars in debt…"

"Actually, we managed to get the money for the security system--no extra charge to you," he stated holding up the briefcase, giving it a firm pat.

"But it will still take at least a month to get another order."

Shit! "True…"

"And if that weren't enough…Rogue can now control her powers thanks to Hank." He paused momentarily, out of everything that happened, the situation with Rogue was the one he was most worried about. "Why didn't you inform me the minute he made the device."

"I didn't know. Hank kept the researchto himself and then gavethe braceletdirectly to Rogue before I had the chance to stop him."

"I should have been told."

"You were, I wrote it out in the report."

"Cyclops," he replied in a disapproving tone.

Scott sighed, knowing he gave a lame excuse. "You're right. I should not have waited so long."

"Giving her the opportunity to touch would be disastrous. I've always warned you about that and by what you wrote in the report, I was dead on. She was clinically dead-twice!"

"I know." Shaking his head, he added, "It should never have happened."

"Where's the bracelet now?"

"I have custody of it. I told her she cannot use it until either you or Hank comes back."

"The bracelet is not to be used unless I come back, understand?"

He lowered his head. "Yes."

Xavier leaned back in his chair, folding his hand on his lap. "What's the state of Gambit and Rogue's relationship now?"

"I'm not up to date on it. Yesterday there seemed to be a great deal of tension between them, but today she seemed in good spirits."

He nodded his head, using the silence to contemplate the worst that could happen. "If she can have control over her powers and is back together with Remy, you know what that means, don't you?"

"Chances are, their days here are numbered."

"What the hell was Hank thinking when he gave the device to her, I'll never know," he said as he rubbed his temples trying to ease his aggravated state. "I will be here in Shi'ar for a couple more weeks."

"Okay."

"I want constant updates on the team. You said that they will be staying on at the mansion?"

"I'm pretty sure about that."

"How the hell you managed to keep everyone at the mansion despite all that took place is beyond me. The final meeting you had with everyone at the boathouse really worked wonders. If you can keep everyone there it will be a testament to your ability as leader."

Scott smiled, even though he wanted to keep a serious attitude. The fact that Xavier gave him a small compliment surrounded by a lot of criticism was all he needed to keep him in a good spirits for the rest of his life.

"It is imperative everyone remain," he reiterated, to highlight its importance. "The situation with Magneto does not seem to be settling and I want the team to be on stand-by, just in case."

"Yes, sir. I'll let them know."

"Make sure you keep up with Gambit and Rogue. They are to be at the mansion upon my return."

Clasping his hand behind his back, he nodded. "I understand."

"Good. That is all. Professor, out."

"Gee, that went better than I thought," he said sarcastically, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

Xavier remained in the same spot, his eyes focused on the blank screen. He knew he would soon be returning to the mansion, he knew he would have to deal with Remy and Rogue and he knew the situation with Magneto would soon be coming to a head. He sat back in the chair, exhaling loudly. In the next couple of weeks he will have to make tough decisions, but in the next couple of minutes he would wonder if he could live with those decisions.

(Betsy/Rogue)

Rogue speed walked through the many rooms on the mansion's ground floor on her way toward the grand staircase. She darted into the living room, noting that it was the quickest way to her final destination. She was almost there–a couple of steps and a turn around the corner would have led her up the stairs and to the left, two doors down to Remy's room–almost...

"Good morning, Rogue."

Rogue spun around and noticed that Betsy lying down on the couch for the first time. She stopped a moment, taking the time to contemplate Betsy's early morning greeting. With a nod of her head, she agreed, "It is a good mornin', isn't it?" Beaming brightly, she added excitedly, "Like, the best mornin' ever!"

Betsy sat up on the couch, intrigued with Rogue's pleasant appearance. "I wouldn't go as far as saying the best morning, but…"

"Maybe it's jus' meh," she interrupted as she plopped down on the couch beside Betsy, the memory that she was heading to Remy's room temporarily forgotten.

Her eyes traveled down Rogue's body and back up again, settling on her delighted green eyes. "You seem to be glowing."

"Honestly?"

"Uh-huh." Looking at the middle of her body, she teased, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were pregnant."

Rogue let out a nervous laugh. "Thank Gawd yah know better." Ah can't stand the li'l buggers. Her mind raced with thoughts, wondering if she should confide in Betsy and tell her the good news. Two of the people I told already were far from happy about mah news, why should Ah expect any different from Betsy. Especially since she really can't stand the Cajun. Still, Rogue could tell Betsy seemed eager to hear what she had to say and she was far too excited to keep the news to herself. "Brace yahrself," she said as Betsy leaned forward with anticipation. "Remy and Ah are back together...really together, no more games."

"Really?" She asked, able to keep the look of disgust from appearing on her face.

"Uh-huh." She had a bright smile on her face and secretly wished that Betsy would have had the same expression–to share in her joy.

"Well," Betsy paused a moment, searching for the right words to say. "I wish you both the best of luck."

Oh mah Gawd! "Thank yah, thank yah for sayin' that Betsy!" She felt as if she could kiss the assassin. "Ah mean, Ah know Remy is not your favorite person by far, but jus' sayin' 'best of luck' is better than all the other crap Ah've been hearin' this mornin' from Logan and Bobby."

"What do you expect from those two losers. Logan's just an overall asshole and poor Bobby's just helplessly in love with you."

"In love with meh?" Rogue shook her head profusely. "That's a good one; yah seem tah be confusin' him lovin' meh with bein' in love with meh--he's not." And if yah saw what he did for meh yesterday yah, would know. Why would he sent meh in search of Remy if he loved meh. "But yah're right about Logan bein' an asshole--can't argue with yah there."

Betsy was barely listening to Rogue, her mind already focusing on how she could bring up something she had spent all night thinking about. "I never got the chance to really talk to you last night…I wanted to talk about the other day when you almost died," pausing a moment, she added, "though technically you did die."

"But thanks tah your calm under pressure, Ah was given a second chance."

"I wasn't so calm, believe me."

Rogue gave her a warm smile. "We already talked about this. Ah thanked yah and everythin'."

"Yes, you did. But I've been doing a lot of thinking." Gathering her thoughts, she explained, "I'm reminded of an ancient Chinese custom…"

Rogue snorted, rolling her eyes. "Please, Psy. Yah're about as Chinese as Ah am pigmy. As a matter of fact Ah'm probably more Chinese than yah; Ah'm always orderin' Chinese takeout like every week and Ah'm really good at origami--better than yah…"

"May I finish?"

She nodded her head in response as she sat back comfortably into the couch and waited patiently for her to continue.

"They say once you save someone's life, you become responsible for them until they do the same for you…"

"Yah're kiddin' meh, right?" Rogue was ready to laugh, but stopped when she realized Betsy seemed as if she were serious. "So yah are now responsible for meh?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "I guess so."

"Bullshit," she said, not ready to buy the Ninja's new found philosophy. "Then how come yah've never said this before? We as X-Men have saved each other lives countless times already without hearin' that responsibility crap from yah."

"Think about it. Back then we were in constant battle. We would save each other's lives like 5 times in one day, that philosophy wasn't necessary. But now, on our down time, I think it can really come into play."

Crossing her arms over her chest, she asked in a confrontational tone, "And what if Ah don't want yah tah be responsible for meh?"

"You don't havemuch of a choice."

Rogue looked away from her, not knowing how to accept her gesture. Why would she even say somethin' like that tah meh?

As if sensing Rogue's thoughts, she took a breath and said, "I'm sorry for the way I've treated you since…since…"

"Since Ah returned…without Carol," Rogue finished her sentence.

"You have to understand, she was my best friend."

"Ah understand. Ah know how close yah two were. Ah envied that." She bit her bottom lip, not liking to reminisce on that time in her life. "Yah never really treated meh bad. Yah jus' never seemed tah care, is all."

"I don't know why I was angry with you, it's not like it was you're fault." She thought back to a time that was so long ago, but for a telepath with a strong memory such as herself, it seemed liked yesterday. "If there was anyone to blame it should have been Magneto," she stated through clenched teeth. He had, in essence, killed someone she loved.

"But yah can't blame him," she whispered, her eyes suddenly taken on a glistening faraway look. "He gave meh mah life back."

She observed Rogue, ready to admit it was right for Magneto to give the southerner back her rightful body, considering she would have liked to have had the same fate. "Maybe you're right."

"Yeah…maybe," she replied too soft for Betsy to hear.

Placing a hand on her knee, she said sincerely, "Again, I'm sorry."

"It's all water under the bridge," she replied with a dismissive wave of her hand, her mood already shifting back to happier thoughts. "Still, Ah'm glad we talked about it."

"Me too."

Her eyes drifted down to Betsy's hand, resting on her knee, she noticed a broken nail on her otherwise perfect manicure. "What happened tah your nail?"

She looked at her hands, rubbing the broken nail on her ring finger. "Fucking Wolverine happened to my nail!"

Holy shit! She rumbled with Wolverine and lives tah talk about it. "Now Ah'm interested! What's the story?"

"It's a long one." Tucking her hair behind her ear, she said indifferently, "He was trying to choke me and shit."

"What?!" she asked covering her hand over her mouth in complete shock.

"Seriously, Rogue, you don't know what I've gone through these last couple of days."

"Hell, yah're actin' like mah last couple of days was a stroll in the park."

Her lips curled into a small smile. "See, we need to start hanging out more often."

"Ah'd like that," Rogue replied, a little unsure of her words. "Really, Ah would," she added after some thought, more sure of herself.

"I'm holding you to that," she said as though they had just entered a binding contract. "What are you doing later on today?"

"Ah don't really have any definite plan…mos' likely Ah'll be doin' somethin' with Remy."

"I wouldn't want to spoil your plans," she lied. "What are you doing now?"

"Now?" Rogue's eyes circled the room before answering, "Talkin' tah yah."

"Great! Let's go hang out for a bit, maybe go out for some breakfast." She noticed a slight hesitation on Rogue's part then added, "I promise to have you back before your boyfriend gets worried."

She couldn't help but smile brightly having Remy be referred to as her boyfriend for the first time–by someone else–without a hint of sarcasm. "That sounds like a plan," she stated with a reaffirming clap of her hands. "Ah gotta go shower and change."

"Well, take as long as you need–an hour or so. I have to take one of my 15 minute power naps. I've been up all night." She could tell Rogue was about to ask why, but quickly cut her off. "It's a long story."

Betsy had no urge to tell Rogue she had spent the night awake because she was keeping a mental link open with Ro-Joe and tracking his every move. She also didn't want to tell Rogue what happened a couple of hours before when Ro-Joe managed to cut off her telepathic link. I've spent the last hour trying to see if I could reestablish the link to no avail.

Rogue decided not to push the issue even though she really wanted to hear the entire story–they would have the rest of the day to talk about all that stuff. "Ah'll meet yah out front."

"I'll be there." Betsy watched as Rogue made her way up the staircase, disappearing around a corner. She reflected on how she and Carol were the best of friends.

We had so much in common our friendship just came naturally and grew into something that was truly deep. But, Betsy was willing to admit she had gone through so many changes since she and Carol were friends and she wondered if they would have still been so close. Since I've placed in a Ninja Assassin's body and had a change in personality, I wonder if we would still have been so close? There was no way she could have an answer to that question now.

She bit her bottom lip, wondering how her little breakfast date with Rogue would go. Hopefully we'll get together and become the best of friends... She shrugged her shoulders as she headed for her bedroom to have a power nap, and if I find out we have nothing in common, it'll still be okay, I'm really good at faking.

(Ororo/Remy)

Ororo splashed cool water onto her face, washing the sleepiness from her eyes. She had managed to sleep well through the night, her troubles returning as she woke up, growing every minute like the light from the sun peaking across the horizon.

She already had the day all planned out, intending to keep herself busy enough so she wouldn't have to think about...

Logan, she spotted one of his jerseys carelessly thrown across her hamper. Ororo picked up his shirt and rolled it in a bundle and shoved it deep down inside the hamper and covered it with her other clothes. If only burying everything else in my life could be so easy.

She opened the door of the bathroom and as she stepped out, a figure swooped into her room though the window.

"Surprise!"

She jumped, having been startled by her intruder.

Remy! Clenching her teeth, steaming with anger, she fumed, "If you only knew how close you came to being greeted by a lightning bolt..." She brushed by him and roughly slammed down the open window.

Before she could continue ranting, he removed his hands from behind him, showing her the beautifully crafted stone object he held in his hands.

"Oh, my statue!" I had totally forgotten that he still had it. Her anger at the thief had already begun to subside. Taking it from him and looking it over to make sure it wasn't damaged, she noted, "Albeit, a couple of days late, but I'm glad it's back all the same."

He followed her with his eyes as she placed the family treasure on her dresser and fiddled with finding the perfect position on the surface. "Ya sure ya don't wan' t' sell it?"

"I'm sure," she replied annoyed he would ask her again. Once Ororo was satisfied with the setup, she turned to face her friend, noticing his upbeat attitude for the first time compared to the solemn Remy from the night before at the boathouse. "You seem to be in a rather good mood. Did I miss something?"

He plopped down onto her comfy chair by the window. "I've spent de night talkin' wit' Rogue."

She raised a brow as she sat down on the edge of her bed facing him. "And?"

Looking very pleased with himself, he answered, "And…we're givin' it another try." He saw her open her mouth to say something, but he interrupted her before she got the chance. "I know ya may not wan' t' hear dat but…"

"Forget about what I've said in the past," she cut him off. "All I know is today you are happy. I haven't seen a smile on your face for a while…I'm glad it's back, even if Rogue is the reason why it has returned." Her words were harsh, but the sparkle in her eye took away the sting.

He wasn't so sure how to take her comment, but realized it probably wasn't the time to talk about his relationship when he knew she was experiencing a breakup. "Listen t' me here talkin' 'bout how good I have it when I know ya've been goin' t'rough some t'ings." He eased off of the chair and sat beside her on the bed, taking her hand. "How are ya doin'?"

Her mood suddenly shifted to the point where Remy's happiness could not brighten her day. "Better…much better." Turning her gaze toward the window, she said sadly, "I've decided to move on."

"So ya broke up wit' de mystery man? I mean, I know ya said dat ya weren't goin' t' go back t' him, but I know ya still have feelings for de guy." Watching her movements closely, he asked, "It's really over?"

"Yes, it is." The tears she had been holding back since the night she flew away from Logan began to well up in her eyes.

Before the tears could roll down her cheeks, Remy was by her side, pulling her into the warmth of his embrace, stroking her long hair with his fingers. His heart was breaking with her, the only person who knew what she truly was going through.

"Shhh, It'll be okay." Pulling away from her, he wiped the tears from her eyes with a neatly folded handkerchief, he carried in his pocket. "Hey, if I'd known ya'd still be single, I wouldn't have gotten back together wit' Rogue."

She laughed–it was a soft laugh, a sad laugh, but it was still a laugh. Leave it to Remy to be the one person able to put a smile on her face when she never thought she could ever smile again. "Thanks, Remy."

"For what?"

"For everything." Thinking it over, she added, "But most importantly, for being here."

"I wouldn't wan' t' be anywhere else, chere," he responded truthfully.

Sniffing and wiping her face dry, she nudged him with her elbow. "Go, Rogue's probably looking for you."

"I was at her door before I came here knockin'. She didn't answer; I t'ink she's in de shower or somet'ing." Refocusing his attention back on where he felt it was most needed, he added grinning, "Besides, ya can't get rid of me dat easy."

She didn't smile with him, her thoughts already trying to figure out how Rogue and Remy actually got back together. "Did you go back to her?"

"She came t' me," he answered, looking over her head. "Practically begged me t' take her back." Proudly he made eye contact with her, reminiscing on his composure hours before. "Ya should have seen me 'Ro. I was so close…so close t' lettin' her go forever."

"What changed your mind?"

He stopped momentarily, searching for the most truthful of answers. Instead, he decided to go for the easiest answer. "I…I still love her."

"So?" She asked plainly, almost harshly. "I still love him. What changed your mind."

"De truth?"

She nodded her response.

"Rogue has de bracelet now," he sighed, willing to admit male pride was the driving force. "I don't t'ink I can stand even de t'ought of her bein' wit' someone else."

Ororo shook her head knowingly. "Of course…I mean, you put in your time, right? The last thing you want is for any Tom, Dick, or Henry, walking in and getting everything you've worked so hard for."

Hearing it from her mouth made everything sound so calculated even though he knew it was the truth. "Do ya have t' say it like dat?"

"And what happens next?" she asked pressing forward, "After you two consummate your relationship. How long is it suppose to last?"

"We're not goin' t' t'ink 'bout de future."

"Stop being ignorant, Remy," she said shaking her head. "What about the future? Can you actually see yourself marrying her?" Of course the answer was no–she would have bet her life on it; but the look in his eyes–the way he looked to her bed sheets the second she asked about marriage. Ororo's mouth dropped open.

"By the goddess!"

"What?"

"Are you, Remy LeBeau, actually thinking about marriage?!" Those words coming out of her mouth would have seemed so impossible at any other time and yet at that very moment actually seemed possible.

"Did I say anyt'ing 'bout marriage?" He asked defensively.

"You didn't have to."

Again he looked away from her, suddenly finding it hard to maintain eye contact. "I don't know what ya're talkin' 'bout."

"You're really serious, aren't you?" she continued to ramble on, "About this entire relationship…you're really serious."

"Enough 'Ro," he said as he held up his hand, motioning for her to back off.

"To think, you are actually thinking of settling down. I would have never guess that of you." She pinched his cheeks she and gushed, "I am so proud of you, Remy."

"Hold on, hold on," he said, brushing her hands away from his face. Before he could stop himself, he added, "She hasn't said yes yet…"

"Yet?" Ororo laughed out loud, surprised to have caught Remy in a slip of the tongue. "So you are thinking about it!"

"Jus' drop it," he said sharply, strongly, bringing her fishing exhibition to a halt.

"Fine, it's dropped…for now." She tried to keep a straight face...it didn't last long, soon enough, she was beaming.

(Bobby/Betsy)

Bobby waiting at the entrance of the hall that lead into the women's section of the mansion. Yes it was still too early in the morning to expect the X-Men to be running around the mansion on what was to be there vacation; however, Bobby could not wait any longer.

He made his way to Betsy's door and tapped lightly for a full minute before the door opened.

The ninja stood in front of him, her hair tussled, her eyes still tired. She looked like a woman who was awaked out of a deep sleep. Still, to Bobby, she looked beautiful enough to take out into town even if she happened to be wearing a small white t-shirt stopping just below her bottom.

"Bobby," she said as she yawned, her 15 minute power nap had turned into a half an hour slumber. "don't you know what time it is?!"

Not letting her irritation deter him, he said brightly, "And there she is–the most beautiful, intelligent and did I say beautiful, philanthropist in the world."

She stood straight, basking in the glow of compliments coming from her teammate. Suddenly, she wasn't tired anymore. "Why, thank you."

"No, thank you," he countered letting go of her hands. "You really got me out of a jam and for that I am truly grateful."

"Ahh shucks, don't mention it," she said with a wave of her hand, acting as though she were embarrassed by all the fuss he was causing. All the attention was good, but she had other things on her mind. "Did you give Scott the money yet?" She wondered innocently.

"Yeah, just a while ago. He was suppose to have a meeting with Professor X today, so I'm sure he's already told the old guy the good news."

Perfect. She smiled, hoping that her expression looked genuine instead of mischievous. "That's great to hear."

"And don't think I'm a total bum. I have a couple of grand saved up to start paying you back."

"Oh Really?"

"I know you joked before that it'll take me three life times, but I will give you back all the money." Scratching the back of his head, he mumbled, "I'm just going to need a while to get my hand on that kind of cash."

"Well, I don't have a while, Drake. The longer you take to pay me back, the higher the interest."

His body froze. Hold Up. "Interest?"

"Yes, interest." As if he were a little boy, she explained, "I didn't become a millionaire handing out loans without expecting to get back more in return."

"No, you became a millionaire the instant you were born into your wealthy family."

"And I stayed a millionaire because I choose my investments wisely," she countered as she stepped to his face. "Don't freak out on me now, ice cream. If my little arrangement isn't to your liking, you can always give me back the money and we can forget this entire exchange ever took place. I won't even ask you for the days interest I lost taking so much cash out of the bank at once."

"Aren't you sweet," he said sarcastically. Clasping his hands together, he pleaded, "Come on, you know I just gave the money to Scott to give the professor. There's no way I can get the money back now without looking like a complete jackass."

She leaned against the doorframe and casually crossed her arms. "You've seem to be in quite the predicament." With a flippant attitude, she explained, "You don't have the cash and I don't have the time to wait for the cash." Betsy paused a moment, giving him the impression she was actually thinking through a fair resolution. "But maybe I can arrange for a way for you to pay me back."

"How can I pay you if I don't have enough money?"

She quickly scanned over his body, looking to see if he was wearing anything of worth. "You can always pay me in goods..."she said as she traced her fingers along his lovely gold watch.

He clutched his watch in eeriness. My grandpa gave me this–the sentimental value is through the roof.

Looking him directly in the eyes, a sly grin crept over her face as she slowly licked her lips. "...or services." Making a quick kissy face with her lips, she kissed the air as she let go of his wrist and took a step back into her room.

Bobby stared at her unsure of exactly what had just happened–unsure of how to react.

"Have a pleasant rest of the day," she called out before closing the door in his face.

(Magneto)

The winds began to pick up around the gathering of mutants as they waited for the opportunity to start their lives over on another world.

Ro-Joe rubbed his hands together nervously, his growing doubt beginning to get the best of him. "Hey, Kenny. Are you sure we're at the right spot?"

"This has to be it." Looking around at the masses, he added, "Unless everyone here got the same wrong information."

"I don't know, it's too quiet." He looked over both shoulders uneasily, half expecting a parade of FBI agents to jump out of the bushes and arrest him. "This could be a setup."

Kenny shook his head. "Even if..." his voice trailed of as they heard a rumbling throughout the crowd.

A female nearby pointed to the early morning sky, "Look, there he is!"

There was a glowing light high into the sky speeding toward the earth. Had the mutants not been aware of what was to take place that day, they would have thought it to be a meteoroid plummeting toward them.

As the light approached the crowd, they were able to make it out to be a man inside a type of large magnetic bubble that had four large pods attached to it. The crowd watched in awe as the pods landed on the ground; Magneto stayed hovering over them in all his glory.

"The man sure knows how to make an entrance," Ro-Joe whispered to Kenny, who nodded in definite agreement.

There was a hush throughout the crowd as all waited with a shortness of breath for the great one to speak.

"Behold," he stated in a commanding voice, causing all who heard to tremble in fear as well as anticipation. "I am here to give life to all mutants who wished for death. I am here to give water to all mutants who thirst. I am here to give food for those mutants who hunger..."

Kenny gazed around at all the desperate faces in the crowd. "I know he's paraphrasing and replacing the word people with mutants," he whispered to Ro Joe, "but if I were Jesus, I'd still sue him for copyright infringement."

Despite trying to keep a straight face, he burst out into laughter.

"Shhh, shut up!" a mutant who was standing next to them yelled.

"...and you can never return." Magneto continued on, "Those of you who are willing to take the next step towards our rightful place as the superior race, step forward now."

Ro-Joe watched as a lot of the mutants seemed to contemplate their final decision; However, he knewthere was little choice for him. It was either life or death and he really wasn't feeling suicidal that day.

Before the others could make their first move, Ro-Joe took many steps forward, so much so, he found himself in front to the man he had placed all his hopes on.

"I will follow you anywhere, leader." He bent down, surprising himself at how humbled he felt at that moment.

"Get up," he commanded with an outstretched hand.

Ro-Joe stood up, so overwhelmed he could cry–if only there weren't a bunch of witnesses.

"Where you are going, there will be no need for such formalities. We are all one people, we are all brothers." With a wave of his hand the first of the pods opened. Staring down at the man before him, he stated, "You may enter."

One by one, the mutants walked single file into the pods. Magneto like the Pied Piper leading the way into paradise.

(Logan/Betsy)

After a long satisfying shower and a change of clothes, Betsy made her way down the stairs knowing she had plenty of time to spare to wait for Rogue's arrival.

Feeling thirsty, she headed to the kitchen, hoping they had juice left in the fridge. To her surprise, Logan happened to also be there, the look on his face spoke in volumes what must have happened the night before when he left her in search of Ororo.

Logan looked at her and daming fate for having himrun into her. It was bad timing...he was too weak...he couldn't stop himself...

He looks so sad and pathetic. Even she felt bad for him–sort of. "I told you this would happen," she stated softly with a sigh, the phrase 'I don't you so' written all over her face. With a glass of juice in her hand, she sat down at the kitchen table. " 'Ro didn't take you back. You should have listened to me then maybe you would have maintained some dignity."

He walked up to her in silence. Normally, he would have had better sense and kept on walking, but today was not a normal day, he actually set out to look for her, but still some part of him was hoping he wouldn't find her. But she found me. "Psy." Inwardly, he cursed himself for what he was about to say next, but was prepared to go through with it. Lowering his voice, he said, " 'Bout that offer ya made t' me last night."

Her entire attitude lightened up as she inched forward on the edge of her seat. "I'm listening."

"What would ya say if I decided t' take ya up on it?"

Try as she might, she could not keep the smile off her face. "I don't know. Have you decided?"

"I don't know."

She focused on the glass on the table. "Then I can't help you."

"Would ya do it for me?"

She paused a moment as if she really didn't know what he was referring to. "Do what?"

"Ya're actually gonna make me say it, huh?" She didn't say yes, but he knew that was the answer. If she knew she could break me, she'd ask me to kiss her feet. "Would ya help me get 'Ro back."

"My goodness," she exclaimed acting as if she were truly surprised. "You are actually asking for my help?"

"Ya know I love her," he said with all the intensity that was pent up in him. "Ya know I'd do anythin' t' get her back."

Betsy rolled her eyes, feeling as though she could puke listening to his love speech. "And I also know you are in a temporary state of insanity."

"I want ya t' do this for me." Bending down on one knee so that they were on the same level, he looked her directly in the eyes. "I need ya t' do this for me."

"And I will…" Taking a quick glance at her watch, she added with disappointment, "Oh shoot...except for the fact that it is now 7:01 in the a.m."

Logan looked at her quizzically. "So?"

"So, my offer expired at exactly 7:00." Shrugging her shoulders, she added, mocking the feeling of sadness, "You're a minute too late."

Son of a bitch! "Ya gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me."

Betsy leaned in closer to him, their nose almost touching. "Look at me, Logan. Does it look like I'm fucking kidding." She chuckled mischievously, taking pleasure in seeing the look of disbelief on his face. "You had your chance and you blew it. I warned you the offer wouldn't be around for too long."

"The fuck ya did." Logan had to dig his fingers into his knee to keep from striking her with a tight fist. "Ya never intended on doin' shit for me--it was jus' some sick experiment."

"Maybe you're right, maybe your wrong--hadn't thought much about it," she answered truthfully. "Anyway, the one thing I do know is I love dangling the carrot in front of your nose."

"Lyin' bitch."

"You bet I am," she replied as he stood up, she getting up as well. "And don't you dare try and take the high road now. You were willing to have me lie to 'Ro to save your ass. 'Ro deserves better."

Pointing his finger at her, he warned, "Ya better stay the fuck out of my way."

"You better stay the fuck out of my way," she fired back as he stormed out of the kitchen.

(Jean)

Jean stirred in her sleep. Her eyes slowly began to open as the night lamp came into focus. She smiled warmly as the night with her husband replayed in her mind.

"Honey," Jean whispered lovingly as she rolled over to face Scott. "Honey?" She called out louder once she realized he was not lying next to her.

Jean sat up in be, remembering the telepathic message she received earlier. "Oh yeah. The dreaded meeting with the professor." She wished she could be at his side while he was being chewed out by Xavier, however she also knew that Scott would have preferred to face the professor alone. Besides, she had more pressing matters to deal with.

As her smile widened, she swiftly removed the covers from over her and hopped out the bed and walked bare feet to the washroom. Jean looked at her reflection in the mirror. She noticed the change in her appearance–she seemed as if she were glowing. She excitedly ran her fingers through her tousled hair and was about to leave the bathroom when she remembered why she was there in the first place.

Jean opened the medicine cabinet to retrieve her prescription bottle. "Geez, I almost forgot," she mumbled as she tried to wrestle the small pill from its package. The pill broke loose and slipped from her fingers, falling on the floor less than an inch from the toilet.

"Shit," she whispered as she dropped to her knees to retrieve the dirty pill. She held it in her hand and thought, This must be a sign. Without another thought, she dropped the pill into the toilet bowl and flushed.

"I didn't swallow that pill because it was dirty," she reasoned to herself, "too bad I don't have the same excuse for not swallowing the other pills." With a shrug of her shoulders, she placed the package back in the medicine cabinet.

As she walked out of the bathroom, she placed her hand on her flat stomach, wondering if there could be anything inside. "If it's a boy, I think I'll name him Hubert. If it's a girl I'll name her...Margaret." With an added bounce to her step, she mused, "Wouldn't it be great if we had twins!"

(Betsy/Remy)

As she waited for Rogue, Betsy shut the blinds in the foyer. The beaming rays of the sun were beginning to annoy her, making it hotter in doors without the nice breeze to balance everything out.

Remy walked into the room, spotted the Ninja and quickly turned around to walk out the same direction he had just entered.

"You actually did it," Betsy called out as she slowly clapped her hands, leaning against the wall. "Can't believe that you did. I've got to hand it to you, Gambit."

He spun back around, curious to what she was talking about. "What did I do?"

"Rogue just told me the good news." She watched as he nodded his head as confirmation, smiling smugly.

First Bobby and now Betsy...Rogue's been busy yakkin' t' everyone 'bout our business. He was happy with the fact Rogue felt it necessary to tell everyone what was going on between them–taking it as a positive sign.

Betsy felt comfortable enough to drop the happy act she was pulling for Rogue's sake by showing Remy how she truly felt. "So you managed to worm your way back into her life."

He could tell that she was steaming underneath her cool demeanor and despite his better judgement he decided to engage her in conversation. "Jealous?"

"Oh please," she answered, dismissing his words with a snicker. "I can think of better things to do than be the better half of a lying son of a bitch."

"Better t'ings like what? Bein' all alone wit' only your finger t' keep ya company?"

"Jealous?" She asked in the same tone he had asked her earlier. Sticking up her middle finger as proof, she added, "With the fact you don't measure up?"

"Now ya know that's a lie. Considerin' dat same hand has already been on my dick." He took a step, closing the gap between them. "Ya know, ya said somet'ing t' me de other night dat I let pass. I wasn't in my best state of mind den, but I sure am now."

"Oh, are you talking about my warning?"

"I'm talkin' 'bout your threat. Don't mess wit' de devil, Betsy," his red on black eyes began to burn in the dim room, "I don't take threats too lightly."

She nodded, able to acknowledge they were on the same footing. "And I don't make them too lightly."

"Be careful, Psylocke," he cautioned in a hush tone. "I'm goin' t' be watchin' ya."

"Good, I've always love to be the center of attention," she replied flirtatiously. "But really, I would love nothing more than to go back and forth with you all day, but I'm about to meet someone and go out for some breakfast."

"Yeah right," he wanted to laugh, but nothing came out. "Who de fuck in deir right mind would voluntarily wan' t' spend time wit' ya?"

"That would be your girlfriend." She loved his shocked expression. "Seems like we will be spending a lot of time together."

"Ya better keep your mouth shut when it comes t' me," he stated, too caught up in the moment to hide his insecurities.

"Hey, Rogue made her bed and she will lie in it." Narrowing her eyes, she added softly, "Just as long as when she does, you're not there beside her." Betsy said all she wanted to say feeling very satisfied with their conversation. She spun on her heels as she turned to leave when Remy grabbed her by the arm and forced back toward him.

Betsy found Remy directly in front of her, his eyes seeming to burn with intensity, given off a dark glisten. He still held onto her, not wanting her to leave him again until he was finished.

"I'll admit, I don't know what game ya're playin' now…"

"It's not a game. I truly enjoy her company…"

He roughly yanked her in closer to his chest, causing her to shut her mouth in the process. Slowly he leaned into her, his lips brushing against her ear as he repeated, "I said, I don't know what game ya're playin now...but if de game ends wit' me not bein' wit' Rogue…"

The fact that his voice trailed off and he didn't finish his sentence, caused a chill to go down her spine. "What?" She asked, trying to coach him into saying anything incriminating. "What?!"

The fire in his eyes began to cool off as he exposed a devilish grin. He let go of her arm and brushed past her as he walked away.

"What?!" She turned around to see his back as he strolled out of the room."You wouldn't dare," she stated firmly, though her voice quivered at the end. For she knew, somewhere deep down, that whatever it was...he would dare.

(Sinister)

Sinister silently prepared the instruments he would be needing for the surgery. The boy stood by the man with no expression almost as though he were in a trance, in his own little world.

Once the scientist had all the tools he needed in place, he looked down at the boy by his side. "Each time I do this procedure I take less and less time. I'm becoming quite fast setting up," he said pleased with himself.

The boy looked at him with a smile on his face, mirroring the older man's expression. He lifted his arm, indirectly showing Sinister the envelope he was playing around with inhis hand.

It was then Sinister realized the boy swiped the letter he received from Ro-Joe the night before from where he had discarded it.

He wanted to slap the boy for taking things he had no business touching, but for some reason he was suddenly interested in the letter. He grabbed it out of the boys hand and ripped it open. Gently he unfolded the note which was written in beautiful cursive:

Mr.Essex

I'm writing to you as a last resort. As we all know, Remy LeBeau was in your employee for a long time before he joined the X-Men. How long? I don't know for sure; however, I'm sure during his stay with you, he was up to a lot more than just leading the way during the Mutant Massacre...

The boy yawned loudly, his actions taking Sinister's attention from the letter. He placed the quiet boy, know more than 3 years of age, onto the medical bed. The boy laid motionless, having been in that position many times before, as the older man tighten the clasps around his hands and feet.

The scientist smiled with anticipation of getting his hands into his patient, still he went back to the paper, wanting to finish the letter:

Of course all I have to go on now is pure speculation, which is why I am writing you now. If there is anything in Remy's past that would jeopardize his stay at our quarters, I would like to know.

What's in it for you? As I see it, a Remy who is kicked out of the X-Men and forbidden to return to his Guild, is a Remy who is ripped for the picking.

If there is anyway that you can be of help to me, call me on my private line at...

Sinister stopped reading, his eyes lifting off the page. He crumpled the paper in his hands and tossed it into the garbage can, making a direct hit.

"Ms. Braddock seems to think I have the time to be a pawn in one of her games," he said looking down at the boy below him as he picked up his surgical tools. "Little does she know, I have no more use for Gambit," he said with a smile as he cut into the boys soft skin.

The boy did not return the friendly face, his teeth grinding down on the material placed within his mouth to stifle his screams. How could one so innocent be born only to bare so much pain? It was because he was created to bare the sins of another man. Water began to swell up in his eyes, giving way to form into a tear.

"After all," Sinister added, pressing down deeper with the scalpel as blood streamed out the boy's body, "Gambit's already given me what I wanted."

The boy began to blink profusely, trying to stop the water from falling, but it could not stop. If the devil were to cry, he would look exactly like the boy because only one so evil could be born with red on black eyes.

To Be Continued...

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(1) Script formatted dialogue swiped from X-Men 53. My fav line from that comic (which I didn't include in this story) was when Onslaught told Jean "Scott hasn't had an independent thought since he was 15." It's funny to hear that coming from Onslaught/Xavier.

Endnote: Why did I have all those open ended scenes? Interactions was suppose to be the first in a series of stories that have all been planned out.

Scenes with Ro-Joe, Kenny, Magneto and Sinister were all setups to the next story (which I intended to call Reactions, but then I realized how corny it sounded) along with Logan helping with the uncovering of Rogue's memories.

Not to mention Jean's maybe pregnancy and Scott's reaction, Xavier's return to the mansion. Oh, and Betsy's (who is like my fav, with all her stirring of the pot) ownership of Bobby, her interest in Ororo and Logan...but the most fun I have writing (and when I say writing, I mean, little notes and the running log I keep in my head) is Betsy, Rogue and Remy (it's like another love triangle). But I wanted to keep the running theme of Rogue being the one to prove herself to Remy in the next phase of their relationship. In a sense, Remy has the upper hand in the relationship and the question is, can he hold on to it (Upper hand, I know this was a theme for an episode of Seinfeld).

So this is what I meant when I wrote the warning above. If you like thinking about what was to come next in the story, the above was a brief starting point for you all to continue on your own, in case I don't ever get around to writing it.

A sequel should be as good as or better than the original and if it isn't, it should be scraped. So I won't do a sequel unless it's up to standards and I won't post the sequel unless I plan to have regular updates. Consideringit takes me forever to finish a storyI've started, don't expect to see the sequel to this one. Which leads to my new philosophy: Long sporadic updates is a form of torture.

Yes, this story was very soap opera-ish, but that's pretty much how I intended it, take it for what it's worth. I'm sure my other two stories (which have a definite beginning, middle and end as well as one plot device) makes up for the never ending style of Interactions.

A special thank you to everyone that read and reviewed Interactions–it's the sole reason I continued writing and finally finished the story:

Marie 3, Mara Kraus, Kris, Laura Night, Joanna, Slugzilla, Girl of Green, Jen, Julz, Ame, Rogue 007, T., Rogue Runaway, Sirena Farren, Pagie, Wildcard 00, Metroprincess, Disturbed Courtney, Inuki, V, Krissy, Nancy, Stormy Summers, Cali G, Cecil Rosanna, Sunburn, Rogue BHS, Justine, Cancer, Jean 1, Liz, britt, rogue advocat, tehme, Stormkpr, Suz, Erin, Anita Marie, Lateo, Blue, Amy, Aaron, Amanda, Skittle Kicks, Storm 1663, tea-girl, Kelly, Te, Opaque, Scarlet Rogue, Kathryne, Mist Maker, BJ2, Glass, Ragdoll, Red Dragon 948, Drama princess, Gadget Broadway, Blimey The Toad, Ninamonkey, the Rainmaker, Jas, noir star, Barbara B, Bronny, Stormfreak, Sania, RogueChere, wmlaw, desi, Lil' Nell, Orlando, Jelispar, Diabla-Traviesa, Nikia Johnson, Anna, b, AciDevil, Baloo, Jassu, 4Rogue, wolfhound, Trepidatio, Sandra, X, Malice Shaw, Rhianna1, Sidheranma, tiki wolf, Lucky439, Samandiriel, Stacey, Magdalena3, Dark Dragon1, Dusk, windchime83, Jade Montrose, Samman, Those Crazy Penguins, May, che, M. Pear, someone, Berry, Plumeberry, Randirogue, Rupeshwari, Stormgirl302, cruzstar, BerryQueen, Anon, wicket, Jubes2681, PrincessButtercup, MatchboxZen, lovelyaceinthehole, rhapsody, Jillian, La Magdalena, Ice Drop, Coyote-Sin, Swizzle, blink, Crystal Blue, Showstopper, Stacey, black-fey, R., mind, Natalie, Silverblade1, Lady, TG, Rebecca, Blue Phoenix, Ebil, Samson, Neurotic Temptress, Alwaysright1, Sora Kinometo, Scrambled Thoughts, NI, Kanshisha Tenshi, comicfn, Yumiko, foofighta, LadyVader5, summers2004, Rory Rogue, Amanitas, chaoscat, brattax 23, Bree, Ning Ning, Ludi, Rogue4787, jadedbeauty, Erin, Rogue Smile, Javed Chaudhry, and last, but not least, Telepathic Angel! ( if I missed you, let me know–it wasn't intentional)

Also, thanks to everyone that sent me an email. I loved all the personal chats and have gotten to know some really great people.

And to everyone else who read the story, thank you and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

SLH ;o)