Announcement!! As you can see, I've changed my authors' name. But it is still me:)
Yes, I know I haven't been keeping up with my writings. And for that my dear readers, I am truly sorry. I've been so busy lately that I keep putting it off, and then I look up and another week has gone by.I hope y'all are still interested in this story; because I really am starting to like writing it again.Though come one people. Only four reviews?? I find that painfully insulting. Though I love the four of you that did and I'm VERY grateful to you all. –sigh- But so many people added me to their author/story alert that I was hoping for some more reviews.But! All is not lost! I am back with more story for you, and now, you must read! And review!Now, a special thanks to the loyal readers who took a bit of time out of their busy schedule. I love ya'll!!
Black Rose TD: That's ok, I don't mind you showing up anon. :) I was just wondering if there was something weird going down with my comp. Thank you! I'm SO glad that Thom's character is going over so well with everyone! Oh, and I really wouldn't try and take him from Rogue. –rubs scar on head- I tried to just borrow him once, and well… let's just say she was VERY ticked. And yes, poor Hank. I do like him so, and I think he looks cute too. All blue and fuzzy. So is Kurt for that matter… Ummmm…. I wonder if Rogue would mind me borrowing her brother instead… -runs off calling for Rogue-lovestoread: I'm glad you love this so much too! I like that part that you mentioned from last chapter best. –grins- I thought it was one of the funniest parts I've had. I'm glad you like Thom too. :)
knoxvilleloversc: Thanks! I'm hoping that the story line will be really original. I wanted to try something new, and I'm SO glad that you like it!flamingrose: Thanks for reviewing! Here's your update, and I'm sorry again that it took so long.
A gentle hand on her arm woke her from a sound sleep. She jumped, spinning in her bed to confront her attacker, hands up at the ready to fight. She'd been having a dream where Sabertooth was chasing her and she was losing ground. He had just reached out a hand to grab her arm...
"Easy there darlin." Logan's voice, though gruff, was kind. "I didn't mean ta startle ya that bad."
Rogue took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down. She reached up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and nodding that it was ok.
"How ya feelin?" There was just the hint of worry behind that question, and Rogue hid a smile.
"Ah'm fine. Still tired though." It seemed to hit her then that he was in her room, standing by her bed, and she certainly hadn't heard him knock.
"Hey! What are ya doing in here anyway? Is something wrong?" The annoyance from the first part of that sentence died out into worry as she looked up at her teacher and friend.
"Naw kido, nothins wrong. I just came up here because Hank sent me." Rogue paled a little and Logan lifted his hands to stop her from talking. "He's fine, but Hank says he starten ta come 'round. The Prof thinks it might be a good idea if you're there when he does."
Rogue nodded and slid out from under her blankets. She and Logan didn't speak again as they made their way to the sub-basement. Though she wanted to get there quickly, Rogue found her feet wouldn't go any faster than a slow walk. Thoughts of what she had to say filled her mind and she wanted to run back to her room and hide under the covers forever.
But she had made a promise.
They made it to the med-bay without seeing anyone, and Rogue let out a mental sigh of relief for that. She hadn't wanted to have to talk to anyone right now. Well, almost anyone.
She walked ahead of Logan as they entered the room, moving to go stand beside Thom's bed. He was making soft noises in his sleep, and she wondered if he was talking. She reached out to touch his arm. This time she'd had the foresight to grab her gloves off her dresser before leaving her room. His eyes opened almost immediately and she gave him a small smile.
"Ah said Ah'd be here when ya woke up." she said softly
He grinned back, shifting a little so that he could look at her easier. His voice was almost back to normal and his eyes perfectly clear as he said
"I was wondering if I'd been having a dream, or if you'd really come earlier. I don't get to see many pretty girls in their pajamas, and now I've gotten to see the prettiest of them all twice. I'm one lucky guy." His voice was playful and she blushed redder then an apple. She hadn't even thought about that. She crossed her arms over her chest, her blush didn't stop darkening. He laughed softly and squeezed her hand.
"Sorry, that probably wasn't the best of lines was it?" He said, his voice sounding serious, but his eyes twinkling all the more. She couldn't help but smile back.
"Naw, not really. But Ah'll let ya off tha hook this time since you're hurt. And since you saved mah life." Rogue mumbled softly, still trying to will her face to stop burning.
The amusement left his eyes instantly, replaced by anger. And it looked to Rogue as if he was fighting desperately for control.
"That is what I need to ask you about Rogue. Do you have any idea who that was? He seemed to be talking to you; did you know him?" A vein on the side of his temple was throbbing, and he took several calming breaths, his hand still gripping hers.
Rogue blinked a few times to clear her vision. For the briefest of seconds, she'd thought his skin had rippled, flashing a bright silvery green, the texture changing entirely.
Man! She thought, resisting the urge to rub her eyes. Ah must be a lot more tired than Ah thought Ah was.
"Yeah, Ah know who he was. But Ah have no idea why he was after meh." Rogue said with a sigh, switching her mind back to the subject at hand and still dreading what was coming, "His name is Victor Creed, he's real crazy, and he's bothered us from time to time. Trying to cause trouble." Worry and confusion filtered into Thom's angry expression. "But don't worry," Rogue said quickly, "we brought ya here so you'd be safe. He can't get anywhere near us now." She winced inwardly as she realized she'd given him the perfect opening to ask. Sure enough, he did,
"Here? Exactly where is here?" His voice took on an even more curious tone. "At first I thought it was a hospital, but I doubt you'd come to see me in your night-cloths if it was." He continued to watch her expectantly.
" 'Here', Mr. Rodgers is the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters." Came an all-too familiar voice to Rogue as the Professor wheeled in from across the room. Hank stood behind him, a stack of papers in hand. Both teens sat up a little straighter unconsciously; even from his chair, Xavier exuded a powerful presence. "And I am Professor Charles Xavier." His voice was calm and kind as he wheeled up and stopped next to them.
"Institute for Gifted Youngsters?" Thom said; it was obvious that he was confused; he glanced at Rogue, waiting for her to say something. But she wouldn't look at him, preferring to stare at her gloved hands. So Thom looked back toward the Professor.
"Yes, though that name does not capture the true purpose of this school." The Professor paused, watching the reaction of their visitor. "We are a home and training facility for mutants." He stopped then, gauging Thom's reaction to this news. Rogue too was waiting, waiting for the explosion of anger or fear that had become so commonly coupled with the word 'mutant'.
It never came, and she peered up at him. Thom looked a little surprised, but other than that, there was no anger or fear in his features. She was so surprised and taken aback that she nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard Thom speak.
"Well then. I'm glad y'all came along when you did. Judging by these bandages, I was worse off then I'd care to admit." His voice was serious, but other than that he seemed calm. The Professor seemed a little surprised too, though pleasantly so. This was going much easier than he'd worried about.
"I'm glad that we were able to help you Thomas. And I am also very grateful for your assistance in saving Rogue. From what I've heard, we owe her safety to you."
Now Thom blushed a little, glancing over at Rogue with a smile on his face.
"I did the only thing I could do, sir. She needed help, and there's no way that I was going to let that monster carry her off." Despite the slight blush, his voice was steady and warm, and his eyes never left hers. And after a moment she smiled back at him.
"Never the less, we are in your debt. And you are welcome to stay here for as long as you are in need of care." The Professor stated.
Rogue still couldn't believe it. This couldn't be right! How could this not bother him? Had he been hit in the head a bit harder than they'd all thought?
The Professor must have been reading her mind, or he had come to the same conclusion. He leaned forward in his chair, his fingers making a steeple in front of him.
"I must say Thomas, that your reaction is not what we expected," Xavier gave Rogue a kind, knowing look "Most of those who find themselves in the company of mutants, are… less then ecstatic about it."
Thom smiled; his shoulder's rising in a slight shrug.
"Well sir, I don't think being around mutants is a problem for me." He grinned, looking thoughtful, "But then again, that might be because I'm one too."
"What!?" Both the Professor and Thom turned at Rogue's outburst. She covered her mouth, embarrassed by the volume of her own voice. But she was just so shocked!
"Ah mean…. Ummm… Well ya never said anything before….." her voice trailed off, her cheeks once again burning as she watched Thom.
"Well, as I recall, neither did you." Thom said, though there was no anger in his voice. "You are a mutant though right? If you are here in this 'mutant school' that would mean…" he too let his voice trail off, waiting.
She could only bring herself to nod.
"Well then. I must admit that I'm a bit surprised that you knew Thomas. I was under the impression that you were unaware of your mutation."
Now it was Rogue and Thom's turn to stare in surprise at Xavier. He motioned toward Hank.
"When you were brought here Thomas, Hank did a few routine blood tests as well as X-rays. It is procedure to do so when a person has been injured, we must look for any possible infections or unknown bone and tissue damage. And it became obvious to Hank that you did indeed carry the mutant gene."
At the words 'blood tests' and 'X-rays' Charles thought he saw a flicker of something pass through Thom's eyes. Worry perhaps? Fear? But he couldn't be sure; it faded just as soon as it had appeared. He decided to wait until he had the boy alone before asking him about the other items he and Hank had been discussing. Though he was quite sure Hank might have an aneurism if he had to wait much longer to ask.
Charles finished with, "So that is how I came to know about your mutation. And it is why I would very much like to extend an invitation for you to join us here."
Rogue's eyes lit up at the thought, though her mind was in a blur after that last little bomb shell. Not only was Thom a mutant, the Professor had just invited him to stay!?! She didn't know what she wanted to do more, jump up and cry 'Yes!!' or fall over and faint. Then a horrible thought crossed her mind. What if he says no? She decided to just stay put for the moment. But she did turn to gauge his reaction.
He seemed to be in deep consideration over what the professor had said. His eyes were staring off into space, as if he was a million miles away. Looking at him, she couldn't help her mind from running over the events of this past month. She was so amazed at the shocking fact that he was a mutant. She had been so afraid since she'd met him that he would find out what she was and hate her for it. And now, in these few moments, all this new information was running through her mind at an extreme pace. She didn't know what to do with herself.
After a moment, his eyes seemed to clear, their focus coming back. To her surprise, he turned toward her; his face taking on a questioning look.
Why's he lookin at me like that? She wondered. This ain't ma choice!
Except he was still looking at her, as if searching for something in her eyes. She couldn't help a little smile crossing her lips, though why she was smiling she didn't have a clue. He hadn't said yes yet. But when she smiled, he seemed to find whatever he'd been seeking. An answering smile danced over his face, and he turned back to the Professor.
"Well sir. I don't know enough about you, or this place to say that I'll stay long term. But, if you'll have me, I wouldn't mind in the least given' it a chance." He reached out his un-bandaged hand to the Professor, and with a smile, the older man wheeled over and took it firmly in his own.
"I believe that is a wise decision Thomas, and I truly hope that you will come to see this as your home. After the events of yesterday, I think I can say with certainty that you will fit right in amongst the others."
Rogue was fighting, and fighting hard. At Thom's statement that he'd stay, she had almost done one of the two things she'd been considering a moment before; though she was still unsure which it would have been. She didn't want to seem like a complete idiot and do something stupid, but she couldn't help the feeling of excitement that was running through her. But worse than that was the burning blush that began to creep over it when she saw that Thom was looking at her.
Oh great! Now he's gonna think that Ah'm some sorta blushing fool that can't keep it together. Why do Ah have to be such a freak?
Though if she had been able to read his mind at that moment, she would have been unable to find the word 'freak' in any of the thoughts he was describing her with. And her blush would have turned her the color of a plum if she had been able to see any of those thoughts.
She managed to make some of the color leave her face and tried to force herself to calm down. But that didn't mean she wasn't just as excited about these events. She wasn't able to calm the pounding of her heart. She just couldn't wait to tell the others!
As she looked at Thom, it made her feel a little better that he too was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. She didn't know it then, but he was thinking that just her reaction to him saying he'd stay was worth everything he'd been through.
They might have sat there smiling at each other until the end of time if the Professor hadn't cleared his throat, calling their attention to him. Rogue's blush returned when she saw the amused looks on the faces of both her teachers. But it wasn't enough to wipe the smile completely off her face.
"Now, I believe that you should return to your room for a few more hours of sleep Rogue." Xavier said quietly. That was the second time someone had told her to do that, and she didn't like it this time either. Though if Hank was hard to argue with the Professor was even worse. But he made a good point a moment later when he said,
"I know you would rather stay, but I'm sure that Thom needs his rest; and you do as well." His tone stated that he would hear no arguments on the subject, and Rogue's sensible side knew he was right.
Thom noticed the Professor and the blue gorilla/man in the lab coat (the one they called Hank) exchanging looks. He had a feeling that they both wanted Rogue out of the room to talk with him. He didn't know whether that was good or bad. But Hank (from what Xavier had said, he was a doctor) was looking at Thom with a look of interest and a hint of excitement.
His dormant side stirred in warning at that familiar look. Thom had seen it several times before, and it never boded well for him. He hoped that he was wrong, he didn't want to have to lie to them, but he might not have any other choice. He didn't know any of them well enough yet.
Still, he thought, it would be better talking to them along than with Rogue here. He didn't think he could even stretch the truth with her sitting there looking at him.
"Yeah, you should probably go on." Thom said cheerfully. "I promise I won't go anywhere."
She grinned at him, and then forced her features into a serious look. "Ah don't think you could go anywhere if ya tried." Her voice was mock-stern, and he smiled at her for it. He had been hoping he would be able to talk to her, learn more about her. Perhaps she'd even tell him what her mutation was. But it looked like he'd have to wait for another time on that as well.
Rogue patted his shoulder gently, giving him one last smile. "Ah'll see ya in tha morning Thom." She said softly. She nodded to the other two men in the room before making her way out. Thom saw her yawn and rub her eyes as she exited his line of sight. He let the creature's scenes fallow her as she walked down the hall and entered the elevator. He felt her steady heartbeat as she traversed a maze of hallways and passed many different doors before coming to the one she wanted. He didn't pull back until he saw her safely enter the room, close the door behind her, and slip into the waiting bed.
When he did pull back, becoming again completely aware of his surroundings in the medical bay, he realized that the Professor and doctor were watching him, both with varying degrees of curiosity on their faces.
He kept his face from turning red with embarrassment and worry, barely, and sat up a little straighter.
"Well, since y'all are still here, I guess that means we need to talk." Thom said his voice no longer as cheerful and light as it had been for Rogue's benefit. His former tone was replaced by one of a more serious kind.
"Indeed it does, Mr. Rodgers." The large ape man took a step forward, extending his huge hand. "I do not believe we have as of yet been properly introduced. My name is Doctor Hank McCoy. I am the school's resident physician."
Thom took the offered hand, noting that the man's handshake was both firm and gentle; as if he was being careful not to injure Thom's already sprained wrist. Thom found himself taking a cautious liking to him.
"Pleasure to meet you sir. And please, call me Thom. Only my grandfather goes by Mr. Rodgers, and even he hates it." He regarded him for a moment before saying, his tone a little less guarded, "I believe I have you to thank for saving my life sir, if it wasn't for you, I'm guessing that I wouldn't be here right now."
The other man smiled a big, toothy grin. "I was only doing my duty… Thom. And I'm happy to say that I was able to help you." Hank said kindly, gently releasing Thom's hand. "Though I cannot take all the credit, Jean Grey was responsible for stopping the bleeding when they were bringing you here." Thom's eyebrows rose slightly in surprise, he made a mental note to thank her when they next met.
Thom glanced back and forth between the two older men. So totally different in appearance, and yet the expressions on their faces were so similar. He didn't need to be told they were both men of science. They had discovered something that puzzled and interested them. And now they wanted to learn more about it.
Though he didn't fault them for their curiosity, he had seen that look too many times on other faces to like its implications.
"So…" Thom decided that he didn't want to wait for what he already knew was coming. "What did y'all need to talk to me about?"
He noticed that the doctor glanced toward the Professor, a questioning look in his large brown eyes. Xavier nodded slightly, gesturing for him to speak. Hank turned back to Thom, his voice soft but excited as he spoke,
"Well, as Charles…Ahhh… Professor Xavier told you, I did a variety of test to ascertain your medical state when you arrived. But it was not until sometime this morning, when I was looking over the results of those tests, that I noticed a particularly remarkable phenomenon." He had to pause to take a breath then. As he did so, he reached into the stack of papers he was still carrying, and pulled out a chest X-ray sheet.
"As you can see, there is a serious difference between your arterial cavity and that of anyone I have ever before seen or heard about. It was such an amazing discovery, that at first, I was not sure if I was truly seeing it for what it is." His voice had gone from excited scientist, to amazement as he spoke. "It does not seem as something that would happen when your mutation surfaced. I wished to know if you were aware of this…condition. Though I cannot see how you could not be."
Thom looked over the familiar picture. He was indeed quite aware of what lay beating in his chest. Yet he studied the image with great care before speaking, trying to decide how best to go about what he had to say. As he'd been thinking before, he didn't want to have to lie to these men. He hated that, and it went against everything he had been taught, and everything his people had stood for, for generations. He resolved to tell them as much of the truth as possible, and just try to leave out the…dangerous… parts.
"Yes sir. I'm aware of it. It's hard not to notice that you have two hearts. You're right though, it didn't happen as a result of my mutation. I was born like that." He stated this so matter-of-factly, that it seemed as if he thought it was normal. But if the consideration that this was a mutation had amazed the doctor, the fact that it wasn't shocked him even more.
Charles had to catch himself before a chuckle could escape him at the sight of Hank's flabbergasted expression; though he too was surprised at both Thom's condition, and his reaction to it. The good doctor's face was almost too funny to look at.
Thom was also trying hard to cover a laugh as he watched the reaction of the once very self-possessed man in front of him.
"Well…umm…I…" Hank stuttered, for once at a loss for words. He quickly regained his composure, tidying the stack of papers in his grip. "As I said before, it is a most interesting case. If you would not mind Thom, I would like to run a few more test while you are incapacitated; all with your permission of course."
Thom put on a neutral expression, hiding the frown that threatened to cover his features. This was what he was worried about. What the others had warned him of. He had kept his identity well concealed for so long, but he knew there was a possibility of the doctor finding it if he was looking too much. But some deep and buried instinct within him said that he could trust these people; that if he could have confidence in anyone it would be them. And he couldn't just leave, not after what they'd done for him.
Not to mention the fact that he'd be hurting Rogue if he did.
Don't do itssssss!A voice long ignored whispered in his mind's ear. You can't trussssst any of thessssse.
Right, now you're telling me this? I'm in the middle of them now, I can't leave. Thom thought back fiercely.
Yessss!! Leave them! Now, get out. Out! Can't trusssst them. It snarled back.
What, you'd have me leave her too? He said, trying desperately to keep his calm. Is that what you want?
The angry creature simmered down again, knowing it had been beaten. It wouldn't leave what it had claimed as its own treasure, any more then Thom was going to leave Rogue.
When he was sure he could speak again, without any anger showing in his voice, he said in the most cheerfully nonchalant tone he could,"Sure. I don't see why not."
Hank nodded with a smile, glad that the boy was willing.
The Professor on the other hand was troubled. Unlike Hank, he didn't think Thom's pause had anything to do with the question he had been asked. He had seen a strange look pass over Thom's face, and for a moment he seemed to have been in a different place. He had not been reading the boy at the time, but now, he almost wished he had been. For the briefest moment, Charles had though he felt the presence of another in the room. He wanted to know where that had come from.
"Wonderful! I am glad that you find no objection in it." Said Hank happily, blissfully unaware of the worry going through his friend and co-worker's mind. "But, now is not the time for such things. I think it best that you rest Thom. You are still in serious condition, and right now the best medicine is sleep."
"I agree." The Professor's voice rang out softly, yet forcefully as he and Hank began to leave. "There will be plenty of time for us to talk tomorrow if you are feeling up to it Thom. Until then, I believe Hank is right, you need your rest." He didn't admit that he wanted time to reflect on what he had thought he'd felt.
"Alright Professor." Thom's voice did indicate a great weariness, and he was very glad that their interview was over. "I think I will try and sleep for a bit, I am kinda tired." His voice began to fade out, and before he could even completely finish speaking, he had drifted off.
A kind and knowing smile passed between the two men as they left the medical bay. Hank said a quick goodnight to Charles with a yawn, his exhaustion finally catching up to him. Charles returned the sentiment as he too headed off to his room. But as soon as his friend was out of sight, the worried frown once again settled on the man's gentle features.
Ok, I've had that one written for a while, but I wanted to add more to it. But everything has been so busy lately that I haven't had the chance. I don't want y'all hating me for not updating, so I'm posting this now. :)