I am so sorry everybody! I didn't mean to take this long, but things just got so busy! Last semester was such a hassle, and I had to work, too, that it took me a while to get time to sit down and work with this chapter. And now this semester I have nineteen credits of upper division history and English courses… Ah me! But don't worry, I promise not to forget this story!

I am so glad that you guys like this, though! Makes me very happy! This chapter would be longer, but I've just been so hurried… Don't worry, the next one will probably be longer and funnier, as I have dastardly plans for Mystique regarding Wolverine. Just out of curiosity, would anybody be interested in seeing them end up together as a couple? I've always thought that there was a fine line between hate and passion that could easily be crossed. I would love to hear your input!

And I just want to apologize beforehand at the serious tone of this chapter. This is supposed to be a humorous story, but I needed some seriousness in it to balance it out. Don't worry, Kurt and Wolverine and Scott – and the torture of the three of them by aforementioned blue invisible mutant – will return in the next chapter.

Hope you guys enjoy the chapter! And anything you want to see in the story, just let me know, and I'll see if I can fit it in! I totally had a different idea for the beginning of this chapter, but then the idea of what would happen if she woke up was planted by my lovely reviewers… So please, tell me more!

Closer to God

Chapter Five

She was utterly warm and content, every bone in her body certainly having melted away to become a puddle of liquid. Full consciousness or awareness hadn't completely penetrated just yet, but she was okay with that. She just wanted to cuddle in her nest of covers against the superheated pillow that was obviously the length of her body. Perhaps a bit longer, actually.

Rogue moaned in sheer bliss and snuggled closer to said pillow, trying once again to find the peaceful slumber she had just been experiencing. Only, when the pillow moved in response to her own shifting, a little jolt of shock went through her. Pillows weren't supposed to move, were they? Last time she had checked, they were just inanimate objects. Trying to work her way through the fog that crowded her mind was difficult, and more than a little painful, and it was with great vexation that Rogue pried one eye open to find out why her pillow was moving.

A round, firm pectoral wasn't exactly what pillows were supposed to look like.

Suppressing the instant shriek that rose up against her lips, Rogue forced her body to utter stillness so that she could survey the situation, completely and fully awake. She didn't want to look up, was afraid of who she would see if she looked up, so she decided, instead, that she'd look down. Without moving, her eyes slid downwards, taking stock of everything. She was sprawled half over a very well formed masculine torso, the rippling muscles so well toned that a god would surely be jealous. Around the bicep of the arm that she was not lying on, there was a circular tattoo, and right beside the hair that trailed in a thin line down the top of his groin was a tattoo of the queen of hearts. Rogue gulped when she realized that the man she was lying on was completely butt stark naked, the sheets coming to the very edge of his groin, thankfully covering the bulge there, and then dipping down to reveal the top of a thigh and narrow hip. What was worse was that Rogue was fairly certain that she was completely butt stark naked, too, the sheet that covered the man coming up to the curve of her buttocks and leaving the rest of her creamy flesh bare.

Now it was time to face the music. Heinously aware of the arm that was curved possessively around her back, Rogue's eyes gradually drifted upward. Slowly… slowly… slowly…

"Christ," she muttered. It was Remy. Of course it was Remy, the gods hated her, remember? His beautiful auburn hair was tousled around his head, he had a shadowy growth of beard on that too-handsome face of his, and Rogue was pretty sure that his lips (so sexy!) were curved into a blissful, goofy sort of a smile that usually was seen only on men after having wild, fabulous sex.

Shit. Shit shit shit. Shit shit shit and more shit.

Did they…? She couldn't remember, actually. She couldn't remember much of the previous night, and she was starting to get a ferocious headache; which meant that the reason she couldn't remember involved alcohol. Why in the hell had she allowed Remy to talk her into going out with him? The bastard probably had this all planned out. Of course, how he knew that tequila was the one form of alcohol she couldn't tolerate, she didn't know, since she was fairly certain she had never told anyone that. Maybe he had bribed Jean; the redhead certainly had a reason to be annoyed with Rogue, even if the stick up her butt did make her kind of a tight ass, no pun intended.

Gently extricating herself from his arms (and studiously ignoring the soft little whimper of protest he made in his sleep when she was gone), Rogue sat up and rubbed her temples. Her head was pounding, she was naked (although, after a quick peek, she was relieved to find out that she had on some underwear – she was too cowardly to check if he was the same, although she was fairly certain he wasn't), and her temper was building in steady increments.

Remy made a little smacking sound in his sleep, and Rogue turned evil eyes on him. How dare the bastard sleep on peacefully like this when she was fully aware of the situation they were in (even if she wasn't, really, fully aware of it). The first time she had sex, and she didn't even remember it! With a furious little growl, Rogue slammed her hands flat against his shoulder and shoved with all her might, sending him flying off the bed. Her actions woke him, obviously, and he tumbled to the floor in a heap of naked flesh (and what an ass that boy had! Not that she was looking…) His yelp of surprised pain would have been comical if she had been in a mood to laugh.

"Merde! What the hell is going on?" Remy shouted, startled from a sound sleep and very pleasant dreams, shooting to his feet. He slapped his hands to his chest, where he usually kept his cards, but when they only met bare flesh, he stopped. And stared. And remembered. "Merde…"

Rogue was all but livid, so angry that she didn't even care that the extremely handsome Remy was standing naked in front of her or that she was just as naked. Dragging the sheet up around her shoulders and slipping out of the bed on the other side, she turned on him with flashing emerald eyes, "Remy, what happened last night?"

He gaped like a fish, grabbing a pillow to protect his modesty (although people would normally question whether or not he had any…), "I…I… nothing!"

"Liar!" Rogue snarled, holding the sheet around her chest with one hand. With the other, she grabbed his lamp off the bedside table and flung it at him with all her might. Poor Remy, her aim was all but perfect, and as his reflexes were rather slow this morning, he had time only to make sure that it hit his shoulder instead of the original target, his head.

"Non!" Remy shouted when Rogue moved to grab something else and throw it at him. "Nothing happened, petite! I swear! You passed out! We didn't do anything!"

Holding his clock threateningly, Rogue asked, "Then why are we both naked? Huh? Explain that, swamp rat!"

Remy stuttered over his words, trying to get something out, but it obviously wasn't working. With another shrill screech emitted from between her teeth, Rogue flung the clock at him, hitting him square in the stomach. More projectiles followed that, forcing Remy to give up any sense of modesty in the face of self-preservation and use the pillow to direct the heavy, painful objects away from his malleable flesh. It didn't occur to him to throw anything back of fight her, despite her very real intent to do him bodily harm. However, they were both shouting at each other at the top of their lungs, she calling him all sorts of foul things while Remy tried desperately to defend himself.

Of course their ruckus caught the attention of others. Within minutes, the door slammed open, and Wolverine, Kurt, and Scott all tumbled in, ready to fight. When they saw the state of undress that both Remy and Rogue were in, Remy with a hand covering his prized jewels and Rogue clutching Remy's sheet over her body, three identical roars of rage could be heard miles off. Poor, poor Remy was simply not going to have a good morning.

Wolverine rushed Remy, and he swore he saw his life flash before his eyes right then and there. Grabbing him by the throat, Wolverine slammed the very naked Remy into the wall, while Kurt and Scott rushed over to Rogue, who was shouting at Wolverine to leave him alone. It was a riot of voices as everyone in the room sought to be heard (or freed from ridiculously strong fingers wrapped around a throat…) Scott and Kurt were trying to see if Rogue was okay, Rogue was screaming at Wolverine, Wolverine was threatening all sorts of deaths for Remy, and Remy was just trying to breathe.

Mystique, meanwhile, had been drawn to the room by all the noise emitting from it. When she saw what was going on, she recoiled in horror, "Dear God! What's going on?"

How much had she missed? She had just wanted to give the two lovebirds privacy because there were some things a mother just should not witness, so she had waited until now to come see them, and look what she found! The shouting had attracted the attention of other students, evidenced by the large crowd of them gathered outside of the door, but it didn't look like intervention was on any of their minds. Fortunately, however, having a telepath in the building was a very handy thing, indeed. A very harassed looking Professor Xavier wheeled through the students, followed by Ororo and Jean and firmly closing the door on the entire spectacle amidst a chorus of disapproval from the students.

After several failed attempts to try to draw the attention of the five people in the room, the Professor finally shouted at the top of his lungs, "QUIET!!"

It was the equivalent of pouring cold water on the members of the scuffle. Rogue, Scott, and Kurt snapped their mouths shut; Wolverine even managed to keep his growling down to a minimal hum. At the ferocious look sent his way by the Professor, Wolverine huffed, rolled his own eyes, and pried his fingers loose. Remy fell to his knees, grabbing his swollen and bruised throat and coughing repeatedly to drag air into his abused lungs. Rogue looked like she was inclined to go over and help him, but Scott and Kurt's hands on her arms prevented her from movement. Mystique stood in the background, watching everything with a worried expression; not once did the idea that this was somehow all her fault even cross her mind.

"Now that we are all a little calmer," the Professor began, "would someone care to tell me what is going on?"

Four people began speaking at once, a jumble of voices with different versions of the same story. Knowing that this wasn't going to get him anything but a severe migraine, Xavier held up one hand, effectively silencing them all once again. "No, I believe we should start off with Rogue, as I think she is probably where we are going to find most of the answers."

Red suffused Rogue's cheeks, very close to the color of the underwear she wore, "Well, Professor… I, um, shit…"

He scowled at her while she massaged her temples, "Rogue, there is no need for that kind of language. What do you have to tell us?"

"Other than the fact that I've got a killer hangover and I wish everyone would just not shout? How about, I can't remember a single damn thing from last night?" Rogue snapped, starting to feel prickles of unease beneath her skin.

That probably wasn't the wisest thing to say. Three male voices clamored to be heard once more, angrily demanding a recount of the previous night from Remy, who was still in no state to defend himself. Kurt didn't help matters by recounting his own participation in the story.

"Last night, when you came home, meine Schwester, you were drunk! So drunk you could not walk straight! And that… that… that… Gambit was with you. You absorbed me!" Kurt finished on a high note, pointing a finger between the two of them.

Rogue winced at the pitch, "Did I really? I'm sorry, Kurt…"

"You got Stripes drunk? I'm gonna kill you!" Wolverine snarled, taking a threatening step toward Remy. The Cajun, sensing imminent danger to the continuance of his existence, scooted back on his butt to the corner of his room, holding his hands up defensively.

Xavier, however, stalled him, "Logan, leave the boy alone. I'm fairly certain that Rogue didn't get drunk unwillingly."

Rogue coughed and flushed some more, tucking her chin into her neck and giving her best pathetic puppy-dog look when Wolverine turned his angry parental unit glare on her. She was fairly certain that she hadn't gotten drunk unwillingly, it was the part after that that she wasn't certain about.

The Professor continued the conversation without admonishing her, "Now, Gambit, if you are sufficiently restored, if you would so kind as to tell us what happened last night?"

"It's obvious what happened last night, Professor!" Scott said indignantly, his hand flexing on Rogue's upper arm. "He got her drunk and then had sex with her!"

Remy leapt to his feet, regardless of his nudity until Jean and Ororo both went into coughing fits. While he wrapped his comforter toga-like around his hips, Scott and Wolverine glared at the two furiously blushing women. Rogue didn't blush; she'd obviously already seen it all.

"Non! Nothing happened last night between the petite and Remy! Swear it! She passed out!" he repeated the same things that he had said to Rogue.

And Scott gave the same accusations as Rogue, "Then why are the two of you naked?"

Rogue was rather curious about that, too, so she made sure she paid close attention, despite the hammers that threatened to push her eyes out of her sockets.

Remy was silent for a moment, his eyes on her face, before saying, "We probably would have, but she passed out halfway through. After Rogue teleported us up here, I honestly did try to get her to go to her own room, but I was a little buzzed, and, well… the petitemeans… thepetite is very attractive and very persuasive. I gave in. But I swear, nothing happened. I passed out shortly afterward, which is why she woke up here instead of in her own room."

The room was silent. Remy obviously was serious; he rarely spoke in the first person unless what he said he expected to be taken with the utmost sincerity. Rogue felt something tighten in her chest, a brief welling of some emotion that she refused to name, as she stood there watching him basically admit something that most men would be embarrassed to admit. While she was grateful that nothing had happened, and she did believe nothing had, there was still some little part of her that was… disappointed, in some sense. Of course she would have preferred to remember her first time, but still, for some inexplicable reason, she was actually a little depressed.

When nobody said anything, Remy turned in a panic to the Professor, "I swear it! Nothing happened!"

Xavier nodded, the ghost of a smile hovering on his lips, "I believe you, Remy. While I am disappointed at the both your behaviors, I am glad that you did not allow yourselves to get completely carried away. The next time you feel the need to take a minor and get her drunk, please don't."

"What, that's it? That's all you're gonna do, Chuck?" Wolverine asked, his eyes wide.

"I do believe they have learned their lessons," Xavier said, that odd little demi-smile still there.

Wolverine and Scott started to stutter in astonishment. Kurt turned to his sister, yellow eyes somber on her face, "Was kann ich für dich tun?"

Rogue arched an eyebrow, though it hurt to look at him. It hurt to look at everyone, the pins and needles piercing her eyes and skin making it almost painful to simply be conscious.

"Warum fragst du das?"

He pulled her into the corner, slightly away from the squabbling X-Men, "You do not look like you feel well, sister. And your actions last night were not usual."

A spasm of guilt crossed her face, "I am sorry that I did that, Kurt. I have no idea why I did it."

"I know why you did it, and for anybody else, it would have been understandable," Kurt said, placing his large, three fingered hands on her shoulders. "But you are not someone I would have expected it from."

Mystique rolled her eyes; really, what did the boy think, that his sister's blood was made of ice? When a woman had a scratch, she had to itch it, and any sort of hindrance would be dealt with in the most expedient way possible. That meant absorbing Kurt and leaving him unconscious on the floor of the Mansion's entrance so that other early bird's could take pictures of a blue furry mutant sleeping with his mouth hanging open and drool puddle around his lips…

"How can I help you?" Kurt asked, recognizing the emotional turmoil his sister was in.

Rogue opened her mouth, prepared to answer him, but no words came out. Her lips snapped shut on a huff of breath as all color left her face and her body instinctively hunched over to protect itself from the pain that suddenly gripped it. She had tucked the sheet around her chest, leaving her arms free; they now rose to her middle where it felt as if the organs there were twisting in a fiery pool, threatening to claw their way out of her body.

"Rogue?" Kurt asked when she whimpered, her eyes glazing over. He called her name again, but she didn't hear him. The pain, first only minimal, had grown so very rapidly, taking over her body, taking over her mind.

Mystique, standing behind her children, watched the events unfolding in panic. Eros had said that this new, forced evolution would be painful for Rogue, but since Mystique hadn't seen anything to that effect yet, she had hoped he had been exaggerating. However, as she watched Rogue fall to the ground, her body convulsing over and over while her back arched off the ground in unnatural angles, Mystique wished she could be better prepared for the totally new, maternally bred feelings of motherly terror she felt as she watched Rogue suffer. Her daughter's hands clawed at the carpet, desperate to find something to hold on to, to keep the pain at bay, her knuckles white and her face strained as her body tossed about. The entire room was gathered around her, afraid to touch her, afraid to make matters worse. Remy (who had somehow managed to get into a pair of pajama bottoms while the others had been arguing) and Kurt were pressed closest, identical expressions of panic and fear on their handsome faces.

The noise level of the room had risen again with the onset of Rogue's seizures, everyone frantic to try to figure out what was going on, to try to get through to Rogue. Deep, hoarse, whooping coughs of pain were the only sounds she was able to make as blood dribbled out of the corner of her mouth, mixing with the tears streaming down her face. Remy and Kurt tried to hold down her shoulders, tried to calm her, both visibly shaking with the intensity of their emotions, but nothing seemed to be working, and no one knew or understood what was happening. Even though Mystique couldn't be heard, she screamed in time with her daughter, screamed at the X-Men standing behind Remy and Kurt, helpless to do anything, feeling more helpless than those X-Men, wracked with guilt, knowing that this, at least, was her fault.

The door slammed open just as Rogue's seizures seemed to begin to calm. Hank McCoy, obviously summoned by Professor Xavier telepathically, came lumbering into the room. The X-Men standing around and doing nothing to help the situation moved to give him berth, though Wolverine and Scott had to practically grab Remy and Kurt beneath the armpits to get them away from Rogue so that McCoy could get to her. Small tremors still wracked her body, her head tossed back and forth while she mumbled incoherently, and though her eyes were open, the irises were rolled to the back. McCoy knelt next to her, scooping her up into his large arms and briskly carrying her out of the room.

Miraculously, or thanks to Xavier, the halls were completely deserted, but McCoy had an X-Men train following him as he carried Rogue, still wrapped in Remy's sheet, to the MedLab. To his credit, he didn't ask what she was doing in a sheet, or what she had been doing in Remy's room; McCoy was an extremely accepting man and took most everything in stride. One had to living in a house stock full of horny teenagers.

McCoy placed Rogue's body on a gurney; she had stopped seizing completely, but the result was a limpness of limbs that made her heavier than natural for someone of her light weight. Mystique watched as McCoy, Xavier, Storm, and Wolverine shooed the younger members of the X-Men out of the room, having to get physical in the case of Remy and Kurt. She had felt rather like she had been tossed into a whirlwind, Rogue's sudden seizures coming out without warning and sending the people around her into such a frenzy of action that Mystique was fairly certain the rest of them were exactly sure what to think, either. Everything had simply happened so fast. Mystique was trying, unsuccessfully, to suppress the guilt that was biting on her ass with razor sharp teeth.

"I warned you that there would be pain."

Jumping about a foot off the ground, Mystique screamed and turned in a half circle. Eros leaned lazily against the MedLab wall, his arms crossed over his impressive chest. Today all he wore was a simple pair of leather pants; really, the man wasn't a god, he was plain evil, a demon sent from hell to torment her.

Snickering, Eros nodded, "Well, love has a way of tormenting people."

"Are you reading my mind?" Mystique asked, her attention momentarily turned away from her daughter.

"There's no need to; you're broadcasting loud enough that I'm surprised Xavier can't pick you up," Eros answered, waving a hand at Xavier.

Mystique was tempted for further comment, but decided, for the first time, to try to take the higher ground, "What's happening to my daughter?"

Eros and Mystique watched as the three men of the room turned their backs as Ororo shifted Rogue around and got her into one of those dreadful hospital gowns. Rogue's skin was paler than normal, almost a sickly green, and even Mystique could tell that it was sticky and clammy from sweat. Her face was distorted in grimaces of pain and every once in a while she would mumble something beneath her breath. Mystique was too frightened of what she would see to go snooping.

"Her evolution is progressing," Eros said, his tone now serious and quiet, as if he, too, were discomfited by seeing Rogue in pain.

"How?" Even though Mystique didn't need to whisper, she found she was doing it anyway.

Eros shook his head, "I cannot tell you that."

"Cannot or will not?"

He cut his eyes to her, annoyed by the challenge, "Cannot. Even I do not know such things. I am merely your liaison with the Others because Hermes has more important things to do than council an errant mutant. The Others do not tell me everything, and if they did, I do not think they would wish for me to inform you until they are ready for you to know."

"The Others?"

"Don't ask."

Remy sat on the floor outside of the MedLab, his head in his hands and his elbows propped on his knees. He didn't have much of a hangover, but he was wishing he could claim one. This day was just not going very well at all. He hadn't intended for the two of them to wake up in the same bed, especially in their state of undress, and he certainly hadn't intended for the entire Mansion to come and see the spectacle. Frankly, he was impressed that Wolverine had had the control not to kill him; impressed and grateful. While a tiny part of Remy's brain said he'd be willing to die for Rogue, he didn't want to die because an overprotective mutant got the wrong impression of a very bad situation.

And now… now Rogue was sick. Or something. Remy wasn't exactly sure what was going on. One minute everyone was yelling at each other, trying to talk about everything, and the next Rogue was flopping around on the ground. He had never been so terrified in his entire life, and that was saying something. It was as if something had gripped his heart and squeezed tight, watching her go into seizures, because he had not been able to help or even understand the reason behind why she was having seizures. That probably was the worst of it all; the lack of understanding, which meant a lack of being able to help. He knew that Rogue wasn't epileptic, he knew she didn't have seizures, so what was happening to her?

Surely it wasn't alcohol poisoning? She hadn't had that much alcohol, and any sort of negative effects would have set in by now if she had had too much.

Everything was just happening so fast. Remy felt like Storm had created one of her tornados and tossed him into it. Actually, he wouldn't be surprised if the weather witch decided to do just that. She was as protective as a mama bear, especially when it came to the very lonely mutant that Remy was fairly certain he was falling for.

"Tell me the truth, Gambit. Did you and my sister do anything last night?" Kurt asked. The blue mutant as sitting next to Remy, looking as dejected and worried as Remy felt, and not in the least threatening.

In responsive to the whispered question, Remy shook his head and said, "No, we did nothing. She truly passed out, and I did, too."


Remy just jerked his head. They lapsed into silence. The silence stretched into long seconds, and then into minutes, and then into hours. Remy didn't know how long they sat there, he and Kurt, but it stretched interminably. Scott had paced in front of them for a short while, but eventually he had been called away, instructed by the Professor to see to the younger mutants. After Scott left, nobody came out into the hallway. The Professor, Dr. McCoy, Wolverine and Storm all stayed locked in the MedLab, and while occasionally either Remy or Kurt could hear short bursts of conversation, for the most part, the silence was deafening.

Remy had not moved an inch since they had brought Rogue to the MedLab; he had just started to doze off in exhaustion when the doors finally opened with a soft swish. McCoy stood there, next to the Professor, both of them looking drawn and haggard. Remy and Kurt leapt to their feet, looking expectantly between the Professor and McCoy.

"Well? Is she okay?" Kurt asked, when neither McCoy or Xavier said anything.

"Yes, she seems like she will be fine. Just tired. She's asleep right now," McCoy said, giving what was obviously supposed to be an encouraging smile to the two boys.

"Why did she start to have seizures? What's wrong with her?" Remy asked, running his hand through his hair and making it stand out wildly.

The room grew silent again. So silent that it was uncomfortable. Remy wanted to scream at the two of them, wrap his hands around their throats until they told him what was going on.

Finally, Xavier said, his voice disturbed, "We don't know, exactly. She didn't have too much alcohol, yet she has no genetic predisposition toward seizures. There was nothing… physically wrong with her."

"Physically?" Remy and Kurt said at the same time.

Xavier and McCoy looked between themselves, and then Xavier looked back at the boys, "I spent some time in her mind and it was… chaotic, to say the least. There was so much going on, it was difficult to find her. Actually, I was unsuccessful in finding her completely, although I do believe she is hidden somewhere within her own mind. All of the psyches of those she has absorbed, though, seem to be anxious over something, but I could not seem to gather what it was, exactly."

Mystique, hovering anxiously behind the two older mutants, was a rather large, unattractive ball of guilt at that moment. She knew what was going on, what the psyches were anxious about; she wondered if her own, still contained in Rogue's mind, understood what was happening and decided to blab to Rogue. That probably wasn't the case, though; after all, if that little part of her hadn't told Rogue the entire truth about her past, then she doubted she would tell her what her real self had done.

Now, though, through her machinations, her daughter was lying all but comatose on a sterile gurney in a tacky white hospital gown, and the boy she was supposed to be getting to fall in love with Rogue now had a death warrant out on his head a la the Wolverine. And, to make matters worse, she was all but certain that the Professor knew she was around. Well, it was bound to happen, after all; if he didn't, as a powerful psychic, sense her, Mystique would begin to question his so called abilities.

Yeah, everything was going just peachy.


"Oh la la, chere, your eyes sparkle like a thousand of the most brilliant emeralds."

"Oh please, Gambit, don't give her that melodramatic French crap. As if she'd want a con artist like you. She wants a real man, like me."

"What kind of real man only has one eye, Cyke? She wants someone fast, don't you, Roguey-pie?"

"Yeah, with a four second detonation pattern. Get real, Speedster. She wants someone to rock her world. What d'ya say, baby, you, me, making our own kind of earthquake?"

Rogue lounged on a luxurious, Egyptian cotton divan, draped in diaphanous ivory scarves that revealed as much as they hid, covered in jewels of the most brilliant clarity from head to toe. Her hair was pulled back in Grecian style, a tiara nestled into the brown curls, and she watched the half naked men argue for her favor. She was in a room that was an exact replica of a Mediterranean agora, the throne room of kings and queens long gone by.

In front of her, each wearing identical scraps of white gauzy fabric that served as loincloths and golden manacles around their necks, Gambit, Cyclops, Quicksilver, Avalanche, Colossus, and a variety of other equally handsome mutants vied for her attention. And she gave it, indulgently and graciously, calling to each of them in their own turn. Her slaves, her beautiful protectors. They were guarding her from the Nameless, from the One that Threatened. It beat at her ornate doors, a rhythmic thud that would not go away. But these were her Darlings, they would not let anything harm her.

"You know you want me, chere. Everyone wants a piece of the Rajun Cajun," he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, making her smile.

"You've been obsessing over me since we first met," the Cyclops said, puffing out his chest and flexing his arm muscles with a winning smile.

"Da, but you love the big, tall, and dark, no?" Colossus said, giving an equally goofy pose. "The muscles, they are fabulous, no?"

Rogue swung her legs over the edge of the divan, and immediately all talk ceased. She stood, the queen in front of her people, tall and regal. The noise, the pounding, it wouldn't go away. Why wouldn't it leave her alone? She stared at the golden doors, designed with intricate murals, shuddering with the force of each pound. THUD! She stepped down off her dais, and was instantly surrounded by her protectors. THUD! They pressed against her, wrapping their warm, reassuring masses around her body, Gambit and Cyclops closest of all. THUD!

"Why won't you leave me alone?"

Remy sat next to her bed. He had been sitting here for nearly four hours now, still wearing the pajamas he had hastily put on earlier that morning. It seemed like years ago now. All he could think about was the girl lying so pale and still in the bed, looking like she was merely asleep instead of in the coma that Hank had announced she was in not thirty minutes ago. He held her hand, her cool knuckles pressed against his lips, and stared at her. McCoy hadn't said when she would wake up; it could be a day, it could be a week, it could be… never. With comas, things were less certain; and if she didn't wake up in six days, there could be permanent brain damage.

And the worst part about it, they didn't even know why she was in a coma. As Dr. McCoy had said in that annoyingly sympathetic voice of his, there was simply "no medical explanation" as to why she wouldn't wake up, or what had triggered this sudden illness. Remy translated that to mean that Dr. McCoy actually had a fairly good idea, but refused to tell anyone, because it didn't fit with any real medical explanation. But since the whole concept of mutation shouldn't be real, anyway, Remy was fairly certain that the laws of medical explanations could be ignored and a gander considered as good as a guess.

Remy looked to the left, then to the right, before he leaned closer to Rogue's ear, placing the back of her hand against his cheek, "Chere? Can you hear Remy, chere? You need to wake up now; the whole Institute is in an uproar. Thepetit Kitty-cat can't stop crying, and even ol' Red looks pinched around the mouth. Don't you want to wake up to see that, Roguey? Of course, you've always been more beautiful than her, but now, with the worry lines, Red ain't looking so great. Come on, chere,Remy knows you're mad at him, but really, is this the best way to get back at him? Promise, on every single jewel that Remy ever stole, that nothing happened last night. Just wake up, open those bon eyes of yours and tell Remy to go to hell, won't you?"

But there was no response. Just the steady and slow rise of her chest, in tune with the beeping of the instruments that she was hooked up to. Remy sighed; this was going to be a very long night.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeppppppp.

"Jesus!" Rogue's eyes snapped opened, the word a gurgled protest as the definitive sound of her death rang in her ears. The beeping had been a peripheral awareness, but now that the flat-line announced her state, Rogue panicked. Hyperventilating, a million thoughts went through her head at once.

'I can't die! I'm too young to die! I can't die, not when I haven't even had sex! I can't go to Heaven a VIRGIN!! This isn't fair! I didn't even get to say goodbye to anyone, or… or… Wait a minute…'

As logic started to rear it's ugly yet welcomed head, Rogue realized that there was something very off here. If she were dead, her heart certainly wouldn't be racing, and the scent of a clinical, sterile hospital room wouldn't be heavy in her nostrils. Nor, she was sure, would she be aware of the fact that the white surrounding her looked exactly like the walls of the infirmary at the Institute or that her body hurt like hell. Frowning, Rogue forced her poor, scrambled brain back into semi-working action. She was aware, and that of all things should tell her that she wasn't dead yet. While she had no idea what the hereafter would be like, she was pretty sure that she wouldn't be much aware of her surroundings or any aches and pains in her body.

So then what the hell was that sound? Where was the flat-line coming from? Blinking rapidly to clear the panic-induced haze that had clouded her eyes, Rogue looked around and realized that the flat-line was coming from the machine that was not a foot away from her head. She was on a gurney, in a drab hospital gown and in one of the freezing rooms of the infirmary. Why was she here? And why was the machine flat-lining?

The answer came in the form of the grunt on her other side. Gingerly turning her head (again wondering why it felt like it was near to bursting with a heavy liquid), Rogue saw Remy, bent over at the waist, his head braced on his arms, which were in turn braced on the side of her bed. He must have shifted and pulled on the cord that was connected to the heart monitor, and when it had disconnected, it had gone into flat-line. How he was able to sleep through it when it had woken her up out of God knows what, she didn't know. Feeling the panic rise again at waking up in the infirmary without any memory of why she was there, Rogue coughed.

The sound, however, did not wake up Remy, who was obviously passed out in exhaustion. So she forced her throat, as dry as the Sahara, to manage, "Remy."

When that didn't work, Rogue scowled. He was not being very helpful. Here she was, lying in the infirmary, feeling like her head had just exploded and trying to fight the fear of memory loss, and he was sleeping! Ungrateful boy. Nevertheless, she had no idea how to get his attention. The flat-line was an annoying buzz on the other side of her; she obviously wasn't being monitored if Dr. McCoy hadn't come racing in yet. And here she thought she was a valued member of the X-Men; some valued member, if everyone slept through the sound that theoretically announced the cessation of the beating of her heart.

Huffing, Rogue wiggled her fingers, determined that she probably had enough strength to move them, and managed a sort of warped crawling drag of her hand toward Remy's face. And flicked him. Hard. On the nose.

Yelping, Remy reared back, his hand instinctively going to his nose. Rogue puzzled at his appearance; there were large bags underneath his eyes, and a heavy growth of stubble on his chin, as if he hadn't shaved in days. He looked tired and excessively weary, yet when he realized that her eyes were open and she was staring at him, excitement entered his beautiful eyes and he jumped up so quickly that his chair fell back with a clatter.

"Chere! You're awake!" He took her hand between his and looked so happy, she expected a puppy-dog tail to start wagging at any moment. Then he noticed the flat-line, and frowned, "What the hell…?"

It took him a minute, but eventually he realized that he had dislodged the monitor from her. Smiling sheepishly and offering apologies, he placed the monitor back on her, waiting a moment for the machine to start beeping normally again. That done, he said, "Wait one moment,chere. Remy just gonna go get McCoy."

He dashed out of the room, running so fast that he slipped a little on the slick floor. Rogue snorted, wishing she had had a camera. And then she wished that she couldn't smell; she must have been out for a while, because she smelled terrible. And felt terrible. Where was Dr. McCoy? Her head felt like lead and her mouth like cotton. She could barely move her body, and there was still that fact that she had no idea why she was in here that was hanging over her shoulder like some deathly spectre.

Mystique hovered next to her bed, happy that her daughter was awake, but worried. Though Rogue couldn't see herself, Mystique could. Rogue's eyes, usually a beautiful, luminous green, were now hard and sharp, a pale, pastel emerald that was so unnatural it was almost as if her eyes were blind, though Mystique knew they were not. Her hair, too, had seemed to grow longer, caught in heavy tangles around her head and shoulders now, but when she stood the mass would probably fall to just beneath her shoulder blades. The peachy glow that she had gained was gone, her original alabaster returned at such a startling degree it was as if she had no color in her skin at all. Taken in whole, she looked like she was hidden behind ice, so vastly altered that Mystique wondered how the others would respond.

Remy came rushing back into the room, McCoy and Xavier on his heels. Mystique could tell that McCoy was embarrassed; his ruffled fur attested to the fact that he had been asleep. Mystique couldn't completely blame him, though; this was the fourth night since Rogue had gone into her coma, and everyone was exhausted and beyond wrung out. The Wolverine and young Gambit had been her daughter's constant companions, although Wolverine was now out doing his usual rounds since it was now just past three in the morning. That brought a wry smile to Mystique's lips; it was the same hour that she had given Rogue the succubus serum. A coincidence? She doubted it.

"Hello, Rogue. How do you feel?" McCoy asked as he started to check on her vitals.

When Rogue indicated that she couldn't speak, McCoy and Mystique frowned in union. But then McCoy sighed sadly and patted Rogue's arm, "Oh well, don't worry, my dear. You've been through a trauma; this is to be expected."

Xavier, having rolled up next to her, asked, "Do you remember anything that happened, Rogue?" Mystique could tell from the Professor's expression that he was disturbed over her new coloring, and from the looks on Gambit and McCoy's faces, it was obvious they were just noticing it, too.

A little jerk of her head indicated that she didn't, so Xavier explained to her what happened. A stricken look entered her eyes, but it was obvious she had no more idea than Beast what had happened to cause her coma. The last she remembered, Xavier divined from her mind, was the argument in Remy's room, and then, well, no more. At least no more physical memories; she seemed to have flashes of odd memories that Xavier supposed were from her psyche, hidden within itself during the coma.

"Vos yeux…" Remy said, brushing a finger over her cheek, his own eyes turbulent.

"We will discuss this later. Right now, I believe Rogue is very tired and should try to get some sleep," Xavier said, taking Remy by the arm and pulling him away.

"Sleep! She's been asleep for four days!" Remy protested, stumbling back.

Xavier shook his head, noting Rogue's heavy eyelids, "Nevertheless, that was not sleep, it was a coma. She will merely be asleep, Remy, not in a coma. You should go back up to your room, she will wake up after she has rested some, and maybe then she will feel up to talking." When Remy protested, Xavier said firmly, "No, Remy, you will not stay down here another minute. You need to get some real sleep in a real bed. Do I have to force this issue?"

Looking mulish, Remy shook his head and followed McCoy out of the room. The Beast was going off to get some files he had dug up on similar cases, leaving the Professor alone with a now-sleeping Rogue.

"Mystique, I know you're there."

She almost shit a brick. Jumping about a foot in the air as Xavier's gimlet gaze swung to her direction and pinned her down, Mystique hunched over and started to idle away.

"Don't you dare try to leave, Mystique. It took me a while, but I know you're there. What have you done to Rogue?" Xavier demanded.

"I didn't mean to hurt her." Was that her voice, all whiney and pitiful? Mystique curled a lip at herself, but what could she do? Her daughter was in deep trouble, and it was all because she, selfishly, wanted a body. Once again, Mystique was forced to question whether or not her actions toward her daughter had justified Rogue's own behavior in pushing her off a cliff. It had been a question that had been plaguing her for days now, and she really, really didn't want the answer to it.

Xavier nodded, "I don't doubt that you didn't mean to hurt her. Nevertheless, your plan, whatever it is, backfired. What is going on, Mystique? What are you doing here?"

"Can you see me?" When he shook his head, she continued with, "I want a body, Xavier. And the powers that be, whoever the hell they are, made a deal with me. If I did something for them, they would return my body to me."

Xavier scowled, "And what, exactly, was it you promised in return? Why does it involve Rogue?"

"You aren't going to like my answer."

"I rarely do."

Now she scowled, but she said, "If I get young Gambit and Rogue to fall in love, they'll let me have my body back."

Though he wasn't eating anything, Xavier choked, his face flushing and his eyes rounding, "You promised what, Mystique? Do you really think that by manipulating your daughter's love life, she won't be more inclined toward revenge once you have your body back than ever?"

Feeling defensive, Mystique said, "If they love each other, why would they care how it happened? And besides, I do have a few words to have with my daughter when I get my body back! It's not like she's the perfect daughter, anyway. She pushed me off a cliff!"

"You used her to help release Apocalypse! What did you think she would do?" Xavier demanded. "Mystique, I don't think Rogue is going to appreciate this. Were you the reason that her hormones were off the other day?"

"If she even finds out," Mystique snapped, deliberately ignoring the second question. "How is she ever going to know, anyway? Do you think she'd believe you if you told her? And I have a feeling that these powers-that-be won't take too well to you interfering, old man."

Xavier opened his mouth, then shut it abruptly, his eyes distant. It was obvious he was having a mental conversation, but with who, Mystique didn't know. Whoever they were, they were telling Xavier something he didn't want to hear but was accepting anyway, so Mystique assumed that it was aforementioned powers-that-be informing him that Mystique was right. He sighed, scowled, rubbed his temple, and then focused his glare in Mystique's general direction. He may not be able to see her, but he could tell where her psychic energy was.

"Fine, Mystique. I won't tell Rogue what you are doing. And I won't interfere. But I would like to point out that your actions will not win you any favors in her eyes, no matter what you think. I'd recommend you tread carefully with Rogue, or that cliff will seem a kind comparison to what she will want to do to you," Xavier warned, starting to wheel out of the infirmary. He stopped just at the exit, saying, "When were you planning on informing Wolverine of the nature of his relationship with Rogue?"


Rogue sat on her bed, iPod firmly in ears and a book in hand. It had been a couple days since McCoy had said it was okay for her to leave the infirmary, and Xavier had officially withdrawn her from school until they could determine the source of what was happening to her. Everyone in the Institute seemed to be on edge around her, afraid that she might break at the slightest touch. And frankly, she didn't much blame them. She looked like some sort of twist on an Albino; super pale skin and eyes, though her hair was still as dark as ever, if a little bit longer than it should have been.

It bothered her that she had no idea what was happening to her body. For a person who had very little control of her body to begin with, at least knowing what it was doing gave her some measure of comfort. Now she didn't know, and she felt like an invader trapped in her own skin; it didn't answer to her anymore, so why did her psyche bother staying there?

The situation with Remy, though, confused her the most. She remembered the incident of waking up in his bed, half naked, though nothing had happened. And she had been told that he had stayed by her bedside the entire time she had been in the coma, accounting for the weary, unshaven boy she had see upon waking up. How did she feel about that? She didn't quite know; the fact that he had stayed by her, that he was so worried about her, touched her. No one ever worried about her that much, with maybe the exception of Wolverine and Kurt, although even those two had left her side. Only Remy had stayed, and that knowledge was like a bubble inside her chest, sweet and tender and fizzy. She held it to her chest, her secret bubble of happiness, too afraid that if she let it pop and wash over her, it would dissipate and disappear, along with Remy. Now that she could touch, things were so different.

Grunting, Rogue took off her earphones, turned off her iPod, and set down her book. She was alone in her room, it was Saturday, and the rain was falling was depressing consistency. Kitty was off somewhere, probably teasing Kurt and Piotr as she was wont to do, and the Professor had given strict warnings to any students not to bother Rogue. Wolverine had backed that up with promises of four a.m. Danger Room sessions should anyone disobey the Professor. And while Rogue liked the solitude, something inside of her was restless.

Suddenly, the faint sounds of a guitar reached her ears. Her brow furrowing, Rogue swung her legs over the side of the bed, stood, and cocked her head to the side, trying to determine where the guitar was coming from. It sounded like… it sounded like it was coming from the window! Walking over to the window pane, Rogue looked outside, squinting a little to see through the rain.

"Oh my god…" Her breath came out in a swoosh and her hand came up to her throat as that bubble started to expand within her. Standing outside her second story window, a guitar in hand and completely soaked to the bone, was none other than Remy LeBeau. Rogue's hands slipped in her hurry to open the window, and for once she was grateful that there was no mesh covering there to hinder her head.

Sticking it out a little and getting more than a little wet, Rogue looked down at Remy and said in a voice loud enough for him to hear, "What are you doing, crazy man?"

His grin was devastating to her senses, "Remy be serenading you, chere! He wants to make you feel better!"

He stood there, wearing only a pair of jeans and a button down shirt, his feet bare and his long auburn hair plastered to his head, and started to sing. His voice was surprisingly beautiful, a deep, husky bass, and he obviously knew how to play the guitar well. Rogue felt her heart stop, and then speed up rapidly as she realized what he was singing. There, standing in the rain, looking as earnest as ever, Remy sang one of Hoobastank's songs, "Disappear". She listened, transfixed, as he sang, crooned really, the ridiculously romantic words that seemed to wrap themselves around Rogue's heart and tie a string that would never come undone. She didn't care that she was getting just as wet as he was, that her white shirt was now plastered to her own body.

All she cared about was the music. About the meaning behind the words. She didn't even care that this entire situation was so mushy that on any other day it would make her gag; it was happening to her not somebody else. He was singing this song for her, and while logically her mind insisted that he was a ne'er-do-well Lothario that would love her and leave her, another part of her, a deeper part of her, gagged and bound that first part and trapped it in a closet.

When he finished, he just stood there, staring up at her. She wanted to move, really she did, but she just found she couldn't. Even though she shivered in the cold and her skin prickled and her hair dripped all over her, she could only stand there and stare.

Rogue was finally urged into action when he smiled. She smiled, laughed, turned and ran all the way down the stairs, through the hallways and past the incredulous looks of the other mutants, and then finally out the door. In a mimic of Remy's own silly running, Rogue slipped as she hit a patch of mud outside. But she soon caught her balance and dashed all the way around the mansion and back to the side where Remy stood. He had set the guitar down and, when he saw her, opened his arms wide.

As she flung herself into them, the only thought her mind was a simple one.

'I'm home.'

Ahhh, yes, we all love sappy endings, don't we? Well, sappy chapter ending, anyway. Obviously the story isn't over yet! I was just in an exceedingly sappy mood when I wrote this last part, so I hope you folks don't mind! I figured since I put a little drama into this chapter, I should at least give ya'll some sap to work with! But don't expect this all the time – I fluctuate between adoring and despising sap, so depending on my mood, I'll either end a chapter with sap or with humor or, possibly, with drama.

About the song, I didn't feel like putting the lyrics in here because that always takes far too long to read. If you want to read the lyrics – and I recommend that, since they are so amazingly romantic! Love that song! – I'd suggest going online and finding them. It really is a good song.

Anyway, like I said in my intro, I'm going to be really busy this semester, but I promise to make time to write on this story. Such a release. There will be more humor and more drama, and probably a dash of tragedy/angst thrown in, just because I'm a sucker for angst that ends well.

See you guys in the next chapter! Hoped you enjoyed!

Midnight Pomegranate